Vermont Becomes 37th State to Recognize Armenian Genocide

Governor James H. Douglas declares April 24–2004–’Armenian Martyrs Day’ in Vermont

MONTPELIER (ANC VT)–Vermont Governor James H. Douglas issued a proclamation last week on the 89th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide–specifically marking April 24–2004 "Armenian Martyrs Day," bringing the total number of states to have properly recognized this crime against humanity to 37.

"I’m sure I speak not only for the Vermont Armenian community–but all Armenian in thanking Governor Douglas for honoring the memory of the victims of this terrible crime against humanity," said ANC Vermont activist Kohar Der Simonian. "We trust that this strong statement from the Governor will be acknowledged by the US Congress in its deliberation of the pending resolution on the Genocide Convention."

In the months leading up to the proclamation–ANC Vermont members and activists–including Massachusetts State Republican Committeeman Bob Semonian–worked closely with the Governor’s office–which was highly responsive to the community’s concerns. Semonian spoke extensively to the Republican Governor during the National Governors Association conference held in Washington–DC in March 2004. He has since worked with local ANC activists in the effort to secure Armenian Genocide proclamations from a series of states across the country.

The proclamation notes–"since 1915–April 24th of each year has been imprinted in the memory of the Armenian people worldwide–for it was then that the mass genocide of the Armenian people began in the Ottoman Turkish Empire." It goes on to cite the importance of marking this tragedy–stating that "recognition of the 89th anniversary of this genocide is crucial to guarding against the repetition of future genocide and educating people about the atrocities connected to these horrific events."

On the federal level–Senators Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT) and James M. Jeffords (I-VT) are currently cosponsors of the Senate Genocide Resolution (S.Res.164)–which commemorates the 15th anniversary of the US implementation of the UN Genocide Convention. The resolution cites the importance of remembering past crimes against humanity–including the Armenian Genocide–Holocaust–Cambodian and Rwandan genocides–in an effort to stop future atrocities. The corresponding House measure (H.Res.193)–currently has 110 cosponsors and was unanimously carried by the House Judiciary Committee in May–2003.

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