BATAVIA–System Of A Down singer Serj Tankian–leaders of the Armenian National Committee (ANC)–and the Armenian Youth Federation headed up a rally in front of Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert’s district office in Batavia–IL–urging the Speaker to "Do the right thing" and schedule a vote on Armenian Genocide legislation currently before the House of Representatives.
With the street in front of Hastert’s office blocked off by a police cordon–hundreds of people of all ages listened to Tankian and John Dolmayan and Armenian National Committee representatives Aram Hamparian and Greg Bedian address the crowd–thanking them for their support and urging them to continue to build momentum for the legislation.
System Of A Down’s four band members–Serj Tankian–Daron Malakian–Shavo Odadjian and John Dolmayan–are of Armenian descent and have made awareness of the Genocide–and genocides around the world–a central message of the band. All lost family members in the Armenian genocide.
Tankian and Armenian American community representatives passed on to Hastert’s aides a letter urging the Speaker to move the legislation forward and presented hundreds of letters from community members calling for a vote. In a personal letter delivered to Speaker Hastert’s office–Tankian stated "My grandfather–Stepan Haytayan–is a 97 year-old survivor of the genocide. He’s my only link to this past. I promised him that I would try to reach you and explain how important American recognition is to the surviving children of the first genocide of the 20th century."
Greg Bedian–Chair of the ANC of Illinois–told the crowd–"You’ve taken the time to stand up for justice about Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide–the precursor to the Holocaust and many other instances of mass slaughter. The US government today must set its record straight by reaffirming the fact that Turkey committed genocide when it exterminated 1.5 million Armenia’s. America must send the message to governmen’s around the world that the crime of genocide will neither be forgotten nor treated with impunity."
The rally was organized by the popular rock band–along with Axis of Justice–the Armenian National Committee of America–and the Armenian Youth Federation. In addition to members of the Armenian-American community of Greater Chicago–attendees traveled from Wisconsin–Indiana–Minnesota–California–and Washington–DC to take part in the event. The numbers of Armenian Americans were buoyed by the participation of throngs of fans of System Of A Down and supporters of Axis of Justice.
Demonstrators from the Armenian National Committee of Illinois had picketed Speaker Hastert’s "Mobile Office Tour 2005" on Wednesday–July 20–demanding that he honor his five-year-old pledge to move the Armenian Genocide Resolution forward in the House of Representatives.
Hastert made the pledge to have the full House vote on Armenian Genocide legislation in August of 2000–but reneged in October of 2000 citing pressure from then President Clinton. He also prevented a similar resolution from reaching the floor in 2004. Staffers committed to provide the Speaker’s feedback to the constituents very soon regarding the current bill.