HONOLULU, Hawaii, BOISE, Idaho–Representatives of the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region this week met with Congressional representatives from Hawaii and Idaho and to garner their support for the Armenian Genocide resolution.
Armenian Americans from the Aloha State welcomed this week Congresswoman Mazie Hirono’s cosponsorship of human rights legislation concerning the Armenian Genocide. Congresswoman Hirono, who represents Hawaii’s second Congressional District, is the first immigrant woman of Asian ancestry to be elected to and to serve in the United States House of Representatives.
"Our community here in Hawaii and especially in the Congresswoman’s District appreciates her support for the Armenian Genocide resolution," commented George Casen. He noted that the Armenian Community in Hawaii is composed of Armenia’s who have been in the United States for a long time, primarily second and third generation Armenian-Americans, highly assimilated within the local community. “We appreciate her leadership on this issue which is of utmost concern to us. Whether it is Armenian-Americans living on the Big Island, Maui, Kauai or in other parts of her Congressional District, we thank the Congresswoman for her support of Congressman Schiff’s Genocide Resolution," Casen added.
Casen along with Michael Petrosian and ANC activists working with the ANCA-WR and national offices contacted her local and Washington, D.C. staff regarding the resolution. This past April, Casen met with Hirono to discuss the resolution and the Armenian Genocide.
Congresswoman Hirono won her seat in November of 2006 to fill the vacancy left by former Congressman Ed Case. She won the seat with 61% of the vote against Republican Bob Hogue.
Prior to being elected to Congress, Hirono served two 4-years terms as the State of Hawaii’s ninth elected Lieutenant Governor. She was also the Hawaii Democratic Party’s candidate for Governor in 2002, one of a handful of women in the United States to become their party’s nominee for Governor. She was born in Fukushima, Japan on Nov. 3, 1947 and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1959, the year Hawaii became a state. Educated in public schools in Hawaii, Congresswoman Hirono graduated with honors from Kaimuki High School and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She earned her law degree from Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. Congresswoman Hirono is married to attorney Leighton K. Oshima.
Armenian Americans in Boise, Idaho welcomed Andrew Kzirian, ANCA-WR Executive Director to their state this week. Kzirian traveled to Boise to meet with fellow Armenian Americans and joined them in a meeting with Wayne Hoffman, Communications Director for Congressman William Sali, to discuss issues of concern to the community in Idaho. The ANCA-WR Executive Director participated in the meeting with Mark Abajian of Boise and John Kazian of Kuna, Idaho at Sali’s Boise district office.
"This meeting provided us with an opportunity to discuss the history of the Armenian American community in Idaho," stated Abajian. "We were pleased to welcome the ANCA-WR’s support and are confident that Mr. Hoffman will inform Congressman Sali of the importance of passing this important piece of human rights legislation," he added.
On the evening of June 12 the Idaho Armenian American community gathered for a dialogue with the ANCA-WR Executive Director to learn more about developmen’s on Armenian issues occurring in Washington, DC. Kzirian presented an update on the status of the Armenian Genocide resolution, efforts to bring Millennium Challenge Account funds to Armenia to improve roads and water infrastructure and the work of the California-Armenia Trade Office to boost economic growth between Armenia and the State of California. The community was also briefed on the ANCA’s efforts to stop the ongoing genocide in Darfur.
Idaho became the 33rd U.S. state to recognize the Armenian Genocide in 2004, when Republican Governor Dirk Kempthorne, then Chairman of the National Governors Association, issued a proclamation citing April 24th "Idaho Day of Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923. The proclamation began by noting that "one and one-half-million Christian Armenian men, women, and children were the victims of a brutal genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Turkish Government. The gubernatorial proclamation in 2004 closely followed a resolution unanimously adopted by the Senate of the Associated Students of Boise State University (ASBSU) recognizing the Armenian Genocide and condemning efforts to rewrite history. Senate Resolution 13 noted that the genocide "has resulted in the elimination of the Armenian people from their historic homeland of over 3000 years through the criminal loss of property and life." The resolution "commemorates the Armenian Genocide and condemns those attempts made by governmen’s as well as other entities, both public and private, to distort the historical reality and legal relevance of the Armenian Genocide to the descendants of its survivors and humanity as a whole."
"The Armenia’s of Idaho are strong and confident in their love for the Gem State and their passion for advancing issues they care about with their local Members of Congress," Kzirian commented. "Mark and John are proud Americans, proud Idahoans, and proud of their Armenian heritage and that came through in our meeting with Congressman Sali’s aide," Kzirian added.