MOUNT LAUREL, N.J.—The Armenian National Committee of America Eastern Region (ANCA-ER) has been voicing the values and concerns of Armenian Americans with U.S. representatives in their district offices while Congress is on August recess.
The ANC of New Jersey was accompanied by Michelle Hagopian, ANCA Eastern Region Executive Director, to a meeting with Rep. Jon Runyan (R-NJ-3) on Tuesday, August 13, 2013. The meeting was at his Mount Laurel district office in southern New Jersey.
“These district meetings are vital to the ebb and flow of the ANCA-ER’s activity. Even though we connect with representatives in Washington, we lay the foundation locally in the district. We appreciate the cooperation of elected officials like Rep. Runyan for meeting with our activists, who are always willing to voice their concerns and advance the Armenian cause,” said Hagopian.
Andrew and Madonna Kzirian, two constituents of Rep. Runyan, attended the meeting and brought a few pamphlets and books on the Armenian Genocide as a gift to the Congressman. House Resolution 227, the Armenian Genocide Truth and Justice Resolution, was a main point of discussion in the meeting as the ANCA-ER works to increase the number of cosponsors on the resolution.
“I think the 3rd district community should be pleased that we’re meeting with elected officials at the federal level and we’re putting a face on the topic of the Genocide. Even if a Congressman isn’t up to speed on our issues, we’re making them aware that constituents are concerned about justice,” Andrew Kzirian said.
Hagopian also accompanied Vatche Kaloustian of the ANC of Pennsylvania to a meeting with the office of Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA-7) on Wednesday, August 14. The discussion ranged from the history of the Genocide to the self-determination and democratic nature of the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh, which included a briefing on the history of the region and the aggression by Azerbaijan against Armenians.
In the Midwest, the newly formed ANC of Missouri has been hard at work getting to know their elected officials as well. On Wednesday, August 7, ANC-MO activists Jake Varadian and John Donjoian met with the office of Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO-2) to cultivate a relationship with the Congresswoman.
The pair discussed the St. Louis metropolitan area community, including the Granite City, Ill., Armenian Apostolic church, St. Gregory the Illuminator. The fact that the St. Louis area has a sizeable population of Baku Armenians provided a solid framework to discuss Nagorno Karabakh and the far-reaching roots it has in Missouri and Illinois. ANC-MO also gave personal accounts of their familial ties to the Genocide, emphasized the importance of culture that Armenian Americans bring to the area, and urged Rep. Wagner to push for more trade and aid to Armenia.
“Rep. Wagner’s office was genuinely touched by our personal accounts and our willingness to discuss the issues important to the Armenians of Missouri’s 2nd Congressional district,” Donjoian said.
ANCA-ER has other meetings scheduled in the district for this month and into September, while some local ANCs such as the ANC of Rhode Island have met with their representatives already and have made plans to meet with their Senators before the recess is over.
U.S. Congress returns to session in Washington, DC on September 9.