ANC Central California Demonstration Delivers Message to Speaker Hastert

FRESNO (ANCA-Fresno/Fresno Bee)–Local Fresno community members mobilized on very short notice for a demonstration in support of a coordinated national effort to urge Speaker Hastert and Majority leader Frist to bring House Resolution 193 (H.Res.193) to a floor vote. Speaker Hastert was in town to support Republican state Sen. Roy Ashburn’s bid for Congress.

Area Armenian Youth Federation and Homenetmen youth–along with community members were present at the gathering organized by the Armenian National Committee Central California–Fresno.

Extensive coverage was provided by media outlets–with news crews there from local ABC and CBS affiliates–KMJ Radio; a feature article also appeared in the local newspaper–The Fresno Bee.

After the fundraising event–Ashburn said he told Hastert he supports the resolution that recognizes the slaughter of 1.5 million Armenia’s at the hands of the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1923. If elected to Congress–Ashburn said–"I would ask Hastert to bring it to a vote."

Demonstrators handed out information flyers–while enlarged poster size replicas of the ANCA postcards from its postcard campaign served as protest signs–along with others reading–"Hastert Hear the Cry From History" and "Hastert Holds the Genocide Vote Hostage."

The House Judiciary Committee unanimously approved the resolution more than a year ago–but Hastert has not brought it to the House floor for a vote.

"It has international consequences to it–and it’s something that we have to work with the State Department on and the White House" Hastert commented to local radio reporter Ron Statler about the issue.

Statler said the Speaker "declined to say what changes are needed or what the international implications are."

ANC spokesman Richard Sanikian informed listeners on air about the nationwide phone–WebFax–and 100,000-postcard campaign calling on Speaker Hastert and Senate Majority Leader Frist to take action on the measure. "After a year–he’s not gotten back to us," noted Sanikian.

Sanikian said local leaders who support the resolution include Rep. George Radanovich–R-Mariposa; Fresno Mayor Alan Autry; and Ashburn’s political rival–former state Sen. Jim Costa.

Costa–a Fresno Democrat–and Ashburn are battling for the open 20th Congressional District seat. Incumbent Cal Dooley–D-Fresno–is not running for reelection.

The Central Valley is home to more than 60,000 Armenia’s–one of the oldest ethnic groups in the area.

H.Res.193 marks the 15th anniversary of the US implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide.

If Speaker Hastert does not bring the legislation to a vote in the next six months–it will die at the end of this congressional session.

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