HOLLYWOODMore than a thousand Armenian Americans and human rights activists gathered in Little Armenia Sunday afternoon for a peaceful rally calling on Congress to pass the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res. 106).
Organized by the Armenian Youth Federation Western Region, “Rally 106: United Voices for the Armenian Genocide Resolution” was a nationwide rally held in conjunction with AYF chapters in Phoenix, Houston, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. Speaking at the rally were Reverand Vicken Vasilian of the Western Prelacy, AYF-WR Chairman Caspar Jivalagian, California Assemblymember Kevin DeLeon, ANC-WR Executive Director Antranig Kzirian, former ANCA Executive Director Seto Boyadjian and Glendale School board President Gerg Krikorian. The event was MCed by Berj Parseghian an AYF activist.
“Freedom of speech is what makes America shine as a beacon of freedom around the world, yet Turkey prosecutes its own citizens for speaking the truth and is now trying to silence Congressthe voice of the American peoplethrough coercion and blackmail, said Jivalagian, who gave the opening speech at the rally. Turkey is trying to export their laws against freedom of speech to our country and we wont stand for that.
California State Assemblymember Kevin DeLeon, who represents the Little Armenia neighborhood of Hollywood also spoke at the rally and expressed his longstanding support of the just cause of the Armenian-American community.
“The message of the rally was simple,” said Arek Santikian, an AYF activist. Turkey is neither a reliable ally nor a democracy. They riot against us in Europe, burn our flags in their nations capital, blackmail our representatives into submission and threaten the security of our troops abroad.
“Its time we as Americans realize that the most reliable allies America has are its citizens,” he added. “And as American citizens, we want our congress to take a firm stand against genocide and pass H.Res. 106.”
“By holding this rally in support of the genocide resolution we are supporting human rights and justice, two fundamental American values,” said Ishkhan Boghossian, the director of the Los Angeles area rally and an AYF activist. “We are going to stand firm against any attempt by a foreign government to hijack Americas record on the Armenian Genocide. Clearly, the Republic of Turkey is funneling millions to Washington, DC in a bid to strangle Americas commitment to human rights. That is immoral and we will be gathering to reject Turkeys foreign interference,” he added.
“It is important to note that the truth is a powerful thing,” stated Kzirian. “We will continue to work diligently with Members of Congress to pass H. Res. 106,” he added.
“Rally 106” comes at a time when the government of Turkey is increasing its efforts to prevent the passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution. Turkey has hired public relations and lobbying firms such as the Livingston Group, Fleishman-Hilliard, and DLA Piper to lobby Members of Congress and persuade them to vote against the Armenian Genocide resolution. While 100,000 Turkish soldiers stand at the Iraqi border ready to recieve the go-ahead by Ankara to wage military opperations against the Kurds in Northern Iraq, the only stable region of Iraq.
NEW YORKIn an effort to raise awareness of genocide denial, the Armenian Youth Federation of
New York held Monday a candlelight vigil in front of the national headquarters of the Anti-Defamation League in Manhattan.
The vigil specifically addressed the ADLs efforts at preventing US Congressional affirmation of the Armenian Genocide. AYF New York Chairman Justin Kaladjian said, “Any organization which assists Turkey in denying the Armenian Genocide, will be confronted by the AYF, no matter how respectable it
might make itself out to be.”
ANC of New York Chairman Doug Geogerian commended the AYF for “coming in force and standing up to one of the most influential organizations in our society, all in defense of the Armenian Cause. The AYF courageously represented the New York area Armenian community.”
The vigil served as a prelude to a larger rally to be held Thursday evening at the same location (605 3rd Ave., New York, NY). According to
Geogerian, a multi-ethnic array of musicians, comedians, commentators, scholars and activists will speak about the ADLs morally bankrupt policy on the Armenian Genocide and why it must change.
The ADL will hold its national convention this Thursday and Friday in New York City at an undisclosed location. During the convention, ADL delegates will address the controversy of its failure to support congressional affirmation of the Armenian Genocide. The ADL has seen its anti-bias program “No Place for Hate” come under fire in recent months, as six Massachusetts towns-Watertown, Newton, Belmont, Arlington, Lexington and Westwood-have severed ties with the ADL over the organizations role in denying the Armenian Genocide. The website
www.noplacefordenial.org provides comprehensive information on the campaign waged by Armenian activists in Massachusetts.
The Jewish on-line magazine Jewcy and the No Place for Denial team are organizing Thursdays event, where music and speeches will highlight the ADLs unsavory position regarding the Armenian Genocide. The Armenian National Committee of Eastern U.S. is a co-sponsor.
“Youthful representatives of two ancient peoples will hit the pavement to demand that the ADL come down on the right side of a key human rights issue: unqualified opposition to genocide denial,” said ANC Eastern Region Board Member Sevag Arzoumanian. “Spontaneous, irreverent, unscripted, a celebration of Jewish-Armenian solidarity, hard hitting political messages transmitted through irony, parody and verse impromptu speeches and chants that is what people should expect and contribute to.”