Local ANC Chapters in Montana, Arizona and Washington Meet with Congressional Delegations

LOS ANGELESRepresentatives of local chapters of the Armenian National Committee of America in Montana, Arizona and Washington met with their states congressional delegation to garner support for the Armenian Genocide Resolution. The ANC of Montana visited the offices of US Representative Dennis Rehberg, as well as US Senators Max Baucus and John Tester this past week to discuss issues of concern to the Armenian American community and update them regarding the status of the current Armenian Genocide resolutions in the US Congress. "Here in Montana, it is extremely important to ensure that the voice of the Armenian American community is represented so that human rights catastrophes like the Armenian Genocide are recognized and understood by fellow Americans everywhere. The key to learning from historical mistakes is to realize and comprehend what has happened," said Yedvart Tchakerian, Chairman of the ANC of Montana. Tchakerian has also implemented a grassroots letter-signing campaign, encouraging Montanans to reach out to their representatives about the Armenian Genocide resolutions, H.Res.106 and S.Res.106 in the US House and US Senate. As part of this effort, he is working with local universities and other humanitarian institutions to collect signatures for letters. "These letters demonstrate the sentiment of Americans here in Montana; we believe that genocide must be recognized," added Tchakerian. In Tucson, the ANC of Arizona visited the office of US Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ-07) at his Tucson district office on April 4th to thank him for co-sponsoring the Armenian Genocide resolution, H.Res.106. The meeting was led by ANC of AZ Chairman, Yervant Baltajian who was joined by United Human Rights Council (UHRC) of Arizona Chairwoman, Salpi Demirjian. Baltajian updated the Congressman regarding the Arizona Armenian communitys recent activities and invited him to join the ANC of AZ at its annual Armenian Genocide commemoration scheduled to take place later this month in Phoenix. Demirjian updated the Congressman on the activities of the UHRC in Arizona. The two also presented the Congressman with letters signed by Arizonans from across the state thanking him for his support of H.Res.106, which was introduced in the US House earlier this year. Congressman Grijalva was one of the early co-sponsors of the resolution at the time of its introduction. He is joined in co-sponsoring the resolution by fellow Arizonan US Representatives Ed Pastor (D-AZ-04, Phoenix) and Rick Renzi (R-AZ-01, Flagstaff). It was important to have this meeting to let the Congressman know that we appreciate his exemplary support on this issue, said Baltajian. This meeting is a strong part of the growing relationship we hope to build with the Congressman his staff. Last month, Demirjian, also met with Grijalva at his Washington, D.C. office along with staff from the ANCAs Western Region office as part of the ANCAs End the Cycle of Genocide advocacy campaign. The event, organized in collaboration with the Genocide Intervention Network, brought advocates from around the country to the nations capitol to urge members of Congress to take action to confront genocide with justice. These were my first Congressional meetings and they will not be last, said Demirjian. Having experienced these meetings makes it clear that grassroots involvement is the key to ensuring our concerns are addressed by our elected officials. At Mercer Island, Wash., the ANC of Washington State (ANC WA) organized a district office meeting with Gwen Fraser, a staff member of Representative Dave Reichert, on Friday, March 16 in Reichert’s Mercer Island office. In attendance were constituents Aida Kouyoumjian, Charlotte Avedian, ANC of Washington Chairman Armen Abrahamian and former ANC of Washington Chairman Vacheh Haghnazarian. Congressman Reichert serves as Representative from the Eighth Congressional District of Washington. As a Representative, he serves on three committees: Homeland Security, Transportation and Infrastructure and Science and Technology. Reichert has a leadership role in the Committee on Homeland Security, and serves as the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing, and Terrorism Risk Assessment. The meeting began with introductions and backgrounds on the Puget Sound area Armenian community and the work and goals of the Armenian National Committee of America as a whole. The constituents then discussed previous Armenian Genocide resolutions and reviewed the status of the current resolution, H.Res.106, with Fraser. Haghnazarian and the meeting participants noted that several countries have appropriately affirmed the Armenian Genocide despite threats by the Turkish Government. They also noted military, economic, and political ties with France were not irrevocably damaged following France’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide and that bilateral economic relations between the two have increased since then. Abrahamian noted that Rafael Lemkin, the author of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, coined the term "genocide" to describe what happened to the Armenia’s. He also referred Fraser to a letter written earlier this month by the International Association of Genocide Scholars in which the association urges members of Congress to co-sponsor H.Res.106 as a means of confronting Armenian Genocide denial. "It was important to meet with Representative Reichert’s office because we wanted to ensure that our representatives are aware of the strong and vibrant Armenian-American community in the Seattle area," stated Abrahamian. Hopefully through this kind of outreach, we will engage more Armenian Americans in the political process and especially gain support for H. Res. 106, he added. The following week ANCA-Western Region Executive Director, Andrew Kzirian met with Kim Trinh, Congressman Reicherts foreign affairs aide during the ANCA’s "End the Cycle of Genocide" advocacy campaign in Washington, D.C which was hosted in collaboration with the Genocide Intervention Network. Kzirian updated Trinh regarding the resolution co-sponsorship and thanked the Congressman’s office for meeting with his constituents in Washington State. "These meetings emphasize the grassroots effort by the Armenian American community to inform elected officials about issues of key concern to us," noted Kzirian.

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