LOS ANGELES–Initiated in the days leading up to the Senate confirmation hearing for ambassador-designate Marie Yovanovitch, the Armenian Youth Federation Western Region has launched an innovative campaign using YouTube video messages to encourage U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) to ask President Bush’s nominee frank questions about the Armenian Genocide.
Sen. Boxer and her colleagues on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will consider Yovanovitch’s nomination to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Armenia on June 19th, at hearings scheduled for 2:15pm EDT. The previous ambassador to Armenia, John Evans, was fired by President Bush for speaking honestly about the Armenian Genocide.
"It is vital that the voice of Armenian American youth in California be heard by Senator Boxer on this human rights issue," stated AYF Central Executive Chairman Caspar Jivalagian. "We must be certain that the next U.S. Ambassador to Armenia acknowledges the acts of 1915 as Genocide and we believe our video messages will accurately and effectively convey our expectations," he added.
Advocacy efforts by the Armenian National Committee of America to "End the Gag Rule" on the Armenian Genocide have included web faxes, a national postcard campaign to Members of Congress, and an extensive ad campaign on key Congressional websites, including The Hill, CQPolitics, and Politico. The ads are currently running on RollCall.com. The video messages prepared by the AYF add a new dimension to the grassroots efforts of the Armenian American community.
On March 28, 2008, President Bush nominated Amb. Marie L. Yovanovitch to serve as America’s next Ambassador to Armenia. President Bush’s previous nominee as U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, Richard Hoagland, was subject to two legislative holds by U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and was ultimately withdrawn by the Administration, following the nominee’s statemen’s denying the Armenian Genocide.
As the Yovanovitch confirmation hearing approached, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Barack Obama restated his commitment to U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide. In a letter to ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian, Senator Obama wrote, "I share your view that the United States must recognize the events of 1915 to 1923, carried out by the Ottoman Empire, as genocide. . . We must recognize this tragic reality. The Bush Administration’s refusal to do so is inexcusable, and I will continue to speak out in an effort to move the Administration to change its position."
A sampling of links to video messages sent by AYF members to Senator Boxer is provided below: