House Speaker Pelosi Discusses Genocide Recognition at UCLA

LOS ANGELES, CA–Representatives from the Armenian National Committee–Western Region (ANC-WR) Board, staff, supporters and former interns attended an event at the UCLA School of Law featuring US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. 

The event, hosted by the Williams Institute, the Department of Women Studies and the Center for the Study of Women, took place on Thursday, April 16th.  On campus to discuss her recent book, “Know Your Power: A Message to America’s Daughters.”

Pelosi also touched on several current event issues including the economy and Afghanistan as well as the genocide in Darfur, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Armenian Genocide.

During the question and answer session, ANC-WR Board Member Aida Dimejian asked the Speaker if she thought President Obama would unequivocally reaffirm the Armenian Genocide in his upcoming remarks commemorating April 24th.  Responding to the question, Pelosi noted that “the President is a values-based person” and reiterated that the issue of the Armenian Genocide has always been a top priority of hers.  Touching on the human face of the issue, she recalled of seeing the aged genocide survivors that attended the October 2007 vote on H.Res.106 in the US House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Pelosi also took the opportunity to introduce Hassan Bubacar Jallow, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, who joined the community in the packed auditorium for the event.  In concluding her remarks regarding genocide, she emphasized that it was important that “we act upon the issue in a way which makes a difference.”

Raffi Kassabian, a member of the ANC-WR’s State and Regional Affairs Committee as well as a recent alumnus of the UCLA School of Law (’08) and the ANCA Leo Sarkisian Internship (’02) was impressed by the visible impact that the issue of genocide made during the event.

“Having the Speaker both address this important issue and introduce Prosecutor Jallow during the discussion really drew the attention of the audience.  There was a palpable appreciation for the cycle of genocide of which we, as Armenian Americans, are all too aware,” said Kassabian.

“Know Your Power: A Message to America’s Daughter’s”, written to address the public’s interest in Pelosi’s groundbreaking rise from local public servant to the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, touches on several recurring themes including the message of never losing faith and the importance of addressing human rights issues with a foundational commitment to truth.

This was readily apparent to Tamar Tavlian, a second year student at Pasadena City College and an alumna of the ANC-WR Internship-Externship Program (Summer ’08) who also attended the event.  She along with Dimejian, Kassabian, and long-time ANC supporter Elizabeth Boyajian briefly met with Pelosi following the event.

“We let her know that the Armenian American community appreciates her past support and requests her continued, strong leadership as we work to ensure that the Armenian Genocide is unambiguously acknowledged by both the Obama Administration and the US Congress,” said Tavlian.

The Armenian National Committee – Western Region is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANC-WR promotes awareness of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.

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