Orange County, CA–On Sunday, March 13th 2011, the Orange County Ashod Yergat Chapter of the Armenian Youth Federation organized its Annual Blood Drive and Luncheon.
Every year, the community helps in making this event a success, however the support was much stronger this year, said Nora Gourdikian, a member of the Orange County Chapter.
For the first time, the chapter invited the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry to attend and collect samples for their registry with the intentions of getting friends and family to register to become donors in hopes of finding a possible donor for 26 year old Steve Bodozian who desperately needs a blood transfusion. Steve Bodozian has been diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia and is currently being treated at City of Hope.
With the support of their community, friends, members, and other chapters, The Orange County Ashod Yergat Chapter was able to get 40 donors for the blood drive as well as 30 registries for the AMBDR.
We were very pleased with the turn out and grateful to have such great supporters willing to lend a hand within the community, said Sebouh Meguerditchian, An executive member of the chapter.
Members of the Orange County Armenian community gathered on Friday, March 11, for a public lecture delivered by Dr. Ara Khanjian on the topic of unfair government policies and economic inequalities in Armenia.
The event was organized by the Orange County Ashod Yergat AYF as part of an ongoing educational series on Armenian history and current affairs.
Surprisingly little is actually known about the volatile economic practices of the current regime in Yerevan, said Sebouh Meguerditchian, Chair of the Orange County AYF, pointing out the detrimental effects such policies are having on the poorest segment of Armenian society. We hope that by holding such events, more people can become educated about these realities and be more proactive in seeking solutions.
Khanjian, who is Professor of Economics at Ventura College and a specialist on Armenias economic policies, began his presentation by giving background on the extreme, free-market approach of successive governments in Armenia since independence.
He then focused his attention on the recent pension and tax reforms of the Sargsyan administration, arguing that the recent law on privatization of the pension system passed in parliament effectively diverts peoples retirement to the volatile whims of capital markets. In a society where the financial system is not developed and most people do not have a working knowledge of how to manage such investments, he predicted this shift will be beneficial for financial institutions and the wealthy elite, but harmful to the majority of citizens.
Armenia has also introduced a uniform tax code (virtually a flat tax) which is very unfair to the poor, Khanjian explained. The new law requires those at or below the poverty line to pay almost the same as those at the top. In Armenia, if you earn 110 a month, you will get taxed 25 dollars, he said, giving a practical example. For families that only earn this much, the new tax rate will result in drastically less money for food and basic necessities.
As to why this is taking place, he contended, Instead of making the oligarchs and super-rich pay taxes, the government is forcing the lower classes to pay because they have no power.
What is needed in Armenia, in Khanjians view, is a strong movement to protect workers rights and pass proper legislation in parliament. Only by coming together to protect their collective interests can citizens hope to reverse the erosion of their rights and improve their standard of living, he maintained.
The lecture was well-received by the audience and sparked a lively question and answer period.
For more information about future events as part of the Orange County AYFs educational series, contact ashod.yergat@AYFwest.org.
Young Filmakers show their Talents at the Orange County Film Festival.
Orange County, CA– On March 6th the Orange County Ashod Yergat Chapter of the Armenian Youth Federation held its third annual film festival showcasing the talents of burgeoning young Armenian filmmakers.
The power of visuals and videos is probably one of the strongest when it comes to passing on a message, said Sebouh Meguerditchian. With young members working on videos and doing what they love, it opens up a new frontier for the AYF to pass on its message to the world.
This year was also the first time the festival screened a professionally produced film, “The Army of Crime.” Directed by Robert Guediguian and starring Simon Abkarian, “The Army of Crime” told the little-known story of Missak Manouchian, an Armenian Genocide survivor who led a resistance movement against the Nazi regime during World War II.
“The festival enjoyed high attendance from the community, which invigorated the chapter to do more next year and surpass itself,” said Hrache Novruzyan.
The Armenian Youth Federation is the largest and most influential Armenian American youth organization in the United States, working to advance the social, political, educational and cultural awareness of Armenian-American youth.
A gallery of images ranging from those taken during and immediately after the Spitak earthquake to present-day living conditions of those who lost their homes, jobs and livelihoods on December 7, 11:41 a.m., 1988.
Twenty-two years have passed, yet despite the fact that an estimated 500,000 were left homeless, there has been little substantial effort to provide housing and jobs. Living lives significantly below the poverty line, a large portion of the people of Gyumri, Spitak and its neighboring regions are struggling to support their existence and it is long past the time to provide assistance. Despite these harsh realities, the people of Gyumri continue to maintain high spirits but need aid to thrive.
All profits from the photos sold and donations will benefit those directly affected by the earthquake.
FRESNO, CA–On March 12th, the Armenian Youth Federations Fresno Kevork Chavoush chapter, in conjunction with the Fresno ARF Soghomon Tehlirian Gomideh, hosted its second annual Patriotic Song Night. The event featured keynote remarks from ARF Bureau member Dr. Viken Hovesepian and world-renowned singer Karnig Sarkissian.
The patriotic song night has been conducted two years in a row and is held in the month of March to celebrate the life of Armenian hero Soghomon Tehlirian and the valiant mission he carried out on March 15, 1921.
“In 1921, Soghomon Tehlirian gave the Armenian community from all over the world a reason to believe and stay hopeful, and we are celebrating that here today, explained Chapter Chairperson Anto Torossian.
According to Torossian, the event brought in many members of the community along with youth from across the western region of the US. With over 300 participants, we can truly see how excited the community is to attend such an event, and how Armenian Youth Federation members connect from various places,” he said. It was wonderful to see so many AYF members participate from chapters ranging from San Francisco to Los Angeles to Las Vegasalong with the huge presence we had from our own community. We could not have done this event without the help of our chapter members and our peers.
Reflecting upon the deeper meaning of the event and the important statement made by Tehlirian with his assassination of Talaat Pasha, the mastermind of the Armenian Genocide, Torossian added, This event touches all of our hearts as it takes us back to our rich Armenian history. It really is a privilege to host such an amazing event featuring an ARF Bureau member, who inspired us all with his words, and a world famous singer.
Founded in 1993, the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) is the largest and most influential Armenian American youth organization. With chapters throughout the United States and affiliated organizations around the world, the AYF actively strives to advance the social, political, educational and cultural awareness of all Armenian youth.
We all know that emigration from Armenia is a major ongoing problem. In order to address this challenge, you have to look at its causes.
In the below clip, economist and ARF Parliamentarian, Ara Nranyan, discusses the disastrous neoliberal economic prescriptions of successive governments in Yerevan that have pushed down wages and working conditions, forcing Armenians to look for better opportunities abroad.
Racing to the bottom will only leave you in last place.
Until the privation and financial hardship caused by unbridled capitalism is not checked, we can expect more people leaving the homeland. Until the current conditions are not reformed and the root causes of inequality are not erased, no patriotic speech or sermon will stop the flight of our people toward more opportune shores. Striving for decent living and working conditions is a natural trait of all humans.
The key is not to scold those who have left but to create those conditions which will have them return.
Widespread demands increase for responsibility in celebrity endorsements
Los Angeles, CA As Kobe Bryant prepares to celebrate his endorsement deal with Turkish Airlines at a Paramount Studios launch party, the Armenian Youth Federation calls on Kobe to recognize and understand the ramifications of becoming the face of the state-run airline and to take steps to correct this lapse in judgment.
The Republic of Turkey, which runs Turkish Airlines, has attempted to mollify international condemnation of its human rights record through thinly-veiled public relations ploys. These gimmicks, which include abusing the reputation of athletes and stars and employing multi-million dollar political lobbyists, cannot hide Turkeys contempt for the rights of its citizens and for its own history.
Turkey uses brutal violence against its Kurdish minority, whose demonstrations have been crushed time and time again. Furthermore, Turkey continues to repress free speech and arrests journalists. Just last year, the Turkish government offered refuge to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for charges of Genocide. Most shameful is Turkeys decades-long attempts to distort and deny the Armenian genocide. A few months ago, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was the 2010 recipient of the Muammar Gaddafi prize for human rights, threatened to deport the remaining Armenians from Turkey.
Recently, celebrity entertainers including Beyoncé Knowles, Mariah Carey, 50 Cent, and others have come under public scrutiny for accepting large cash payouts for performing at lavish parties hosted by the family of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Following Gaddafis brutal crackdown on protesters, which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,000 demonstrators, demands surfaced for music stars to admit to accepting money from the regime and for them to donate the same amount to charity.
Last week Nelly Furtado tweeted that she would be donating the one million dollars she received, and representatives for Beyoncé have released a statement declaring that all monies she accepted from the Gaddafi family were donated to Haitian earthquake relief efforts.
This highlights the increasing need for celebrities and public figures to be sensitive and act with the utmost prudence and responsibility when sponsoring or endorsing products and events. The status of celebrity in todays world goes far beyond dollar signs and necessitates accountability and understanding.
We are deeply saddened by Kobe Bryants dismissive attitude toward the concerns of thousands of his fans. His silence has been deafening.
We believe that Mr. Bryants sole concern off the court is not just to make money; rather we hope that he recognizes his role in world as an ambassador of humanity, not of Turkish Airlines.
We ask Kobe Bryant to use this unique opportunity to act as a responsible and dignified public figure and to donate the proceeds from his deal with the state-run Turkish Airlines to genocide and human rights education and awareness programs such as The Genocide Education Project.