ANAHEIM–The California Democratic Party–the largest state political party in the United States–formally endorsed recognition of the Armenian Genocide at its annual convention in Anaheim on April 1. The resolution–which was approved with a loud and unanimous voice vote by the enthusiastic delegates–states that the Democratic Party "joins Armenian-Americans–the international community and all people who care about justice in their remembrance of the Armenian Genocide and their desire to ensure that the crime of genocide must never be legitimized or forgotten–wherever and whenever it occurs." The resolution further calls upon the Congress and the President "to recognize that the horrific crimes against humanity committed by the Ottoman government from 1915 to 1923 must accurately and unequivocally be characterized as genocide."
The genocide resolution was introduced by attorney and community leader Paul Krekorian–who argued passionately that the Democratic Party must never forget genocide wherever and whenever it occurs. In addressing the Party’s Resolutions Committee–which consists of about 25 of the Party’s veteran leaders–Krekorian emphasized that some of the Party’s proudest momen’s have occurred when it has spoken out forcefully against injustice and bigotry–even when doing so might have political risks or offend allies. Krekorian–along with Democratic State Central Committee members Areen Ibran’ssian–Ardashes Kassakhian and Angela Pinto–provided the Party leaders with extensive written background information and historical analysis on the Genocide.
At its meeting on Friday night–March 30–the Resolutions Committee approved the Genocide Resolution–along with over 35 other resolutions dealing with a wide range of issues affecting important Democratic constituencies. However–under the Committee’s rules–only the most important of these resolutions could be sent on to the full convention for a vote by all of the delegates on Sunday–April 1. Of all of the important resolutions approved by the committee–the Armenian Genocide Resolution was one of its six highest priority items–and therefore was submitted to the delegates and enthusiastically approved.
Before and during the Convention–the Genocide Resolution received crucial support from many Democratic elected officials. Assemblyman Dario Frommer (D-Glendale) wrote a letter of support to the Resolutions Committee–detailing the history of Turkish atrocities and subsequent denial. Assemblyman Frommer’s letter stressed that the resolution introduced by Krekorian would make it the official position of the California Democratic Party that these "atrocities against the Armenian people were in fact a genocide–and would call on all California Democrats to join in recognizing those atrocities and ensuring that the crime of genocide is never legitimized." Assemblyman Frommer also arranged for eight other members of the State Assembly to sign his letter. Frommer has also introduced legislation in the State Assembly commemorating April 24 as a day of remembrance of the Genocide.
Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Pasadena) was the first member of Congress to endorse the Democratic Party resolution. Congressman Schiff–a member of the House International Relations Committee–will play a key leadership role in pushing Congress to act on a genocide bill this term. "The Armenian Genocide Resolution put forth by Paul Krekorian has my wholehearted support," said Congressman Schiff. "Unequivocal support of this resolution will send a strong message to the deniers that we in California cannot and will not condone the denial and revisionism of the facts of the Armenian Genocide. Moreover–this resolution honors the contributions of Armenian-Americans to our great state of California," said the Congressman.
Congressman Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks)–who also serves on the House International Relations Committee–wrote a very strong letter of support. "Passage of this resolution will add our Party’s voice to those parties–parliamen’s–religious leaders and human rights organizations around the world who have shown the courage to stand up to those who would deny this tragic event," Congressman Sherman wrote. "For the memory of the victims–for the affirmation of the survivors’ suffering–and for the sake of history–we should pass a resolution at this year’s Convention."
Many other important Democratic elected officials announced their support of the Party’s resolution–including Congressman Howard Berman (D-Mission Hills); Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D-Santa Ana); State Senate President Pro Tem John Burton (D-San Francisco); Speaker of the State Assembly Robert Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys); Senators Jack Scott (D-Pasadena)–Sheila Kuehl (D-Los Angeles)–and Richard Polanco (D-Los Angeles); and Assembly Members Thomas Calderon (D-Montebello)–Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana)–Paul Koretz (D-West Hollywood)–Carol Liu (D-Pasadena)–George Nakano (D-Torrance)–and Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto).
Krekorian–a former candidate for the State Assembly–stressed the importance of the Democratic Party’s support of the Genocide Resolution this year in particular. "The Armenian community must demand that Congress and President Bush act now–this year–to recognize the historical truth of the genocide of our people–and to take all steps necessary to reject the denials and historical revisionism of the Turkish government," Krekorian said. "Speaker of the House of Representatives–Dennis Hastert–promised us that Congress would have a vote on recognition of the Armenian Genocide last year–but that promise was an empty one. This resolution–by the Democratic Party of the largest state in the nation–will remind Congress that the Armenian community will not wait any longer for the justice that we deserve and will not tolerate any more excuses for failing to act," Krekorian said.