AJR 2 Introduced by Assemblyman Mike Gatto Passes Resoundingly
SACRAMENTO—More than 200 activists, from every corner of California, joined the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA-WR) on Monday, April 15 for the Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide in the California State Legislature and for their annual Advocacy Day.
Activists spent the entire day advocating issues concerning the community, educating their legislators about the consequences of the denial of the Genocide, and were able to view the month long exhibit of Armenian American inventors that have contributed to the wellbeing of the American population.
Participants observed the Assembly and State Senate commemorations which recognized various community groups including the ANCA-WR and were spiritually inspired by an invocation from Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian of the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church and Archbishop Hovnan Derderian of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The Color Guard was conducted by the Santa Clara Homenetmen Scouts “Ani” Chapter.
The day’s events were highlighted by passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution in both chambers of the State legislature. Assemblyman Mike Gatto introduced in the California State Assembly, with the support of Assemblymen Katcho Achadjian and Adrin Nazarian, Assembly Joint Resolution 2 (AJR 2), which commemorated the Armenian Genocide and called upon the United States Congress to do the same. The resolution was carried in the California State Senate by Senator Kevin de Leon.
Assemblyman Gatto’s legislation passed resoundingly in both the Assembly and the Senate, continuing California’s long tradition of being a leader on the issue of the Armenian Genocide perpetrated by Ottoman Turks in 1915.
“It is always great to see constituents involved in government, and it was a great public service by the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region to bring so many people to the Capitol to show support for my AJR 2, which memorializes the Armenian Genocide and asks Congress to recognize the same,” comments Assemblyman Gatto. “And in addition to the public ceremonies, I had a very productive meeting with ANCA-WR leadership, in which we discussed ways to move forward together and continue to best represent the interests of the community, locally and statewide.”
The ANCA-WR Advocacy Day is meant to bring Armenian Americans from every stretch of the state to communally commemorate the horrific acts of 1915-1923 and educate their legislators about the continuation of such acts of ethnic violence being perpetrated by the Republic of Turkey.
“The ANCA-WR would like to thank Assemblyman Mike Gatto for his leadership in introducing the Armenian Genocide Resolution (AJR 2) in the California State Assembly and in keeping issues pertaining to the Armenian Cause at the forefront of legislative efforts,” stated Nora Hovsepian, Co-Chair of the ANCA-WR.
Hovsepian continued, “We were happy to coordinate our annual Advocacy Day with the introduction of the resolution, allowing our 200 activists to personally witness numerous elected representatives publicly comment on the importance of recognizing the Armenian Genocide. We would also like to express special thanks and gratitude to State Senator Kevin de Leon and to Assemblymembers Katcho Achadjian and Adrin Nazarian for their coordinated leadership on this issue and their close cooperation with the ANCA-WR in making this happen both in the Senate and in the Assembly. We look forward to maintaining productive working relationships with all of these elected officials and others in advancing the Armenian Cause.”
The ANCA-WR welcomed the participation of activists young and old. College students from the University of California (UC), Irvine (UCI), UC Santa Barbara, UCLA, University of Southern California (USC), and UC Davis. For some, this was their first trip to the State Capitol. “We are very pleased with this year’s turnout and enthusiasm. With such a great response from our community, constituents were able to meet with over half of the state’s legislators to discuss issues of concern to the Armenian American community,” said ANCA-WR Government Affairs Committee Chair, Armen Garabedian. Students not only from these colleges but from the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) and the Armenian high schools were able to speak one on one with legislators and express their concerns, many for the first time.
The Armenian schools that participated in this year’s Advocacy Day included students from Mesrobian Armenian School, Rose and Alex Pilibos, Ferrahian High School, and Krouzian-Zekarian-Vasboutagan Armenian School (KZV) from San Francisco. “I commend these young people for their interest in government as well as their dedication to their history as Armenian Americans. Thanks to people like them, we can be sure the world does not forget,” commented Senator Leland Yee of the Bay Area.
As one of the principle co-authors of the resolution, Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian was also touched by the large showing of Armenian Americans in the State Capitol. “As the California Legislature commemorated the Armenian Genocide, I was proud and humbled to be joined by Armenian Americans of all ages and from throughout California. This annual event, led by the activism of the ANCA-WR, is an important reminder of where we came from and the importance of remembering our past, in the hope that it will never be repeated,” stated Assemblymember Nazarian.
The energy that resonated from these activists was contagious. “I was inspired by the hundreds of Armenians who came from across the state to stand in solidarity for the commemoration. My hope is that this resolution will continue to educate people about the atrocities that occurred and show that we will never forget. I want to thank the ANCA-WR for the integral role they played in making the day a success,” said Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian.
The day was concluded with a special tour of the State Capitol Rotunda, where a month long exhibit is displayed, featuring Armenian American inventors and their inventions that have contributed to humanity. The tour was conducted by Stepan Partamian who inspired the idea of the exhibit with his in depth research on the subject of the contributions Armenian Americans have had in American society. Some of the inventions highlighted in the exhibit included those by individuals who established their patents in California and included stories of survival from the Armenian Genocide that the inventors had shared. More about these inventors and others can be found in Mr. Partamian’s books, Yes We Have and Yes We Have Too.
“Every year I look forward to helping organize the ANCA-WR Advocacy Day,” says Government Affairs Director Tereza Yerimyan. “This year I’m especially content to have seen so many youth organizations and adults come together and teach each other the importance of advocating for the remembrance of the Armenian Genocide. This tragic event in history means something new to each generation of Armenian Americans and everyone has something new to learn and fight for. Monday’s activists filled me with a new energy and enthusiasm to continue the great work of Hai Tahd.”
The Armenian National Committee of America-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 ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.