California Courier Online, April 29, 2004

California Courier Online, April 29, 2004

1 – Commentary
Kerry Says Genocide; Bush Doesn’t;
A Clear Choice for Armenians

By Harut Sassounian
California Courier Publisher
2 – Haigazian Women’s Auxiliary to Host
May 20 Luncheon with Diva Baraydarian
3 – Glendale High School Armenian Clubs
Raise $10,000 for Ghapan Students
4 – Chamlian School Students Register
Success at L.A. County Science Fair
5 – Colorado Armenians Wrap Up
Armenian Ski Weekend in Vail
6 – Karen Kondazian’s Performances
Extend ‘Callas’ Play thru July 25
7 – Babaian’s ‘After Freedom’
Opens in Theaters, May 14
1 – Commentary
Kerry Says Genocide; Bush Doesn’t;
A Clear Choice for Armenians

By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier

For the fourth year in a row, Pres. Bush has broken his promise to the
Armenian American community. Last Saturday, he issued yet another annual
April 24 statement that does not refer to the Armenian Genocide as
During the 2000 presidential campaign, then candidate George Bush, in a
written statement, referred to the “genocidal campaign” perpetrated against
the Armenians and pledged to properly characterize it when elected
Since the election, however, Pres. Bush’s handlers have not permitted him
to say “Armenian Genocide” in his annual April 24 statements. Instead, he
has used every other conceivable word in the English language except
genocide to describe what happened to the Armenians from 1915 to 1923.
Sadly, this charade keeps going on, year after year. Here is this year’s
selection of Pres. Bush’s evasive and euphemistic words: “One of the most
horrible tragedies of the 20th century… the annihilation of as many as 1.5
million Armenians through forced exile and murder at the end of the Ottoman
Empire…this terrible event remains a source of pain for people in Armenia
and Turkey,” and finally, “this loss of life.”
To add insult to injury, Pres. Bush’s April 24 statement, most
inappropriately, includes praise for the discredited Turkish Armenian
Reconciliation Commission (TARC). The President’s “wise” advisers,
incredibly, may not have heard that TARC officially, and mercifully,
terminated its existence two weeks ago. This is the second year in a row
that Pres. Bush has plugged TARC. By doing so, he has left no doubt in
anyone’s mind that this is an American-funded and supported initiative.
Nothing is more damning for TARC than the fact that the Bush Administration
is its mastermind.
By not saying genocide, Pres. Bush also ignored the letters signed by 169
bi-partisan members of the House of Representatives and 22 U.S. Senators
(including Sen. John Kerry) urging him to use the term “Armenian Genocide”
in his annual commemorative statement.
To make matters worse, the Bush Administration continues to oppose a
pending congressional resolution that marks the 15th anniversary of the
U.S. implementation of the Genocide Convention, for the simple reason that
it includes a passing reference to the Armenian Genocide, along with the
Holocaust as well as the Cambodian and Rwandan genocides. Senate Resolution
164 currently has 38 Senators as cosponsors. A counterpart measure in the
House (Resolution 193) was unanimously adopted by the Judiciary Committee
last May and currently has 110 cosponsors. However, the Speaker of the
House, Dennis Hastert, at the instruction of Pres. Bush’s handlers, has
refused to allow a vote on this resolution by the full House. Speaker
Hastert has also broken the promise he made in 2000 to reschedule a vote on
the Armenian Genocide resolution that he pulled out of the House floor at
Pres. Clinton’s request moments before its assured passage. I hope the
voters would not ignore Speaker Hastert’s antagonistic stance on this issue
when he asks for their support in this year’s elections.
One may wonder why the President of the United States insists on issuing
these flawed April 24 statements year after year, thereby antagonizing the
Armenian-American community. Pres. Bush’s shrewd handlers probably hope
that by issuing these sugarcoated statements, they would be able to fool a
few politically unsophisticated Armenians and gain their support.
The Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry, on the other hand, had no
problem using the term “Armenian Genocide” in his April 24 statement. He
described the Genocide as “a systematic policy of ethnic extermination” by
the Ottoman Empire that “killed or deported over 1.5 million Armenian men,
women and children.”
In his statement, Sen. Kerry thanked “Armenian Americans for their
persistence in the struggle to gain international recognition of this
atrocity. By keeping the memory of this tragedy alive, Armenian Americans
remind us all of our collective responsibility to insure that such horrors
are not repeated. I am proud of my work with the Armenian American
community to gain broader recognition of the Armenian Genocide, including
fighting alongside Senator Robert Dole in 1990 for designation of April 24
as a national day of remembrance for this tragedy…. I join Armenian
Americans and Armenians worldwide in mourning the victims of the Armenian
Genocide and I call on governments and people everywhere to formally
recognize this tragedy. Only by learning from this dark period of history
and working to prevent future genocides can we truly honor the memories of
those Armenians who suffered so unjustly.”
Most Armenians are naturally skeptical about such campaign statements given
the fact that they have been misled before by Pres. Bush (senior), Pres.
Clinton, and the current President Bush. As candidates, they all promised
to recognize the Armenian Genocide, and after the election, they did the
exact opposite by actively lobbing against its recognition!
What makes Sen. Kerry hopefully different from these three presidents is
that before becoming a presidential candidate, he had an extensive track
record of supporting the recognition of the Armenian Genocide and
cosponsoring resolutions in the Senate on this subject. His 20-year long
history of supporting various Armenian causes gives us the confidence that
once elected, he will continue being supportive. Of course, it is up to the
Armenian American community to cultivate the necessary contacts within Sen.
Kerry’s inner circle in order to be able to counter all those who try to
undermine his favorable position on this issue.
The choice is therefore clear between Bush and Kerry. Those who want four
more years of broken promises on the Armenian Genocide can keep on backing
Pres. Bush. However, those who want the recognition of the Armenian
Genocide should support the candidacy of John Kerry.
A final word to those Turks who are ghoulishly rejoicing that once again
Pres. Bush has refrained from using the term “Armenian Genocide.” Only a
totally shameless people would jump for joy when the President of the
United States is accusing their nation of committing “the most horrible
tragedies of the 20th century, the annihilation of as many as 1.5 million
Armenians through forced exile and murder….” If the President of the United
States had accused my ancestors of such dastardly crimes, I would have been
in no mood to celebrate. Instead, I would have been terribly embarrassed
and ashamed!
British Envoy Lays a Wreath at Genocide Monument

Last week, we reported in this column the announcement of the British
Ambassador to Armenia, Thorda Abbott-Watt, that she would be absent from
Yerevan on April 24, while Armenians are commemorating the 89th anniversary
of the Armenian Genocide. She said in an e-mail that she would return to
Armenia on April 26. We attributed her absence to her possible intent to
avoid joining the diplomatic corps in Armenia on April 24 in laying a
wreath in memory of the victims of the Armenian Genocide at the Genocide
Memorial Monument in Yerevan.
At the last minute, however, Amb. Abbott-Watt changed her plans. She
returned to Yerevan earlier than scheduled and managed to place a wreath at
the Armenian Genocide Monument on April 24.
Regardless of what prompted her to return to Armenia earlier than planned,
we are pleased that she had an opportunity to place a wreath at the
Genocide Monument with the following inscription: “We Will Remember Them –
British Embassy.” In an e-mail she sent on April 26, she explained her
actions as follows: “Successive British Ambassadors have accepted the
Armenian Government’s annual invitation to lay a wreath at the memorial in
Yerevan on 24 April. Whatever our differences on terminology, we have all
felt a deep sympathy with the Armenian people on this sad day, and chosen
to be there in person if we are in the country.” Even though she still
refers to the Genocide Monument as just “the memorial,” we view her
presence there on April 24 as an implied acknowledgment of the Armenian
We also noted among others the presence of U.S. Ambassador John Ordway at
the Genocide Monument in Yerevan. He kindly paid his respects on April 24
to the memory of the victims of the Armenian Genocide, even though his
government, just like Britain’s, refuses to acknowledge the Armenian
The kind gestures of these two Ambassadors re-confirm our initial position
that our quarrel is not with these diplomats who are doing their job to the
best of their abilities. Their presence at the Genocide Monument reflects
their personal sympathy for the plight of the Armenians despite the
denialist positions of their own governments.

2 – Haigazian Women’s Auxiliary to Host
May 20 Luncheon with Diva Baraydarian
LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles opera lovers are excited about the May and June
performances of lyric soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian at the Dorothy Chandler
Pavilion in Los Angeles.
The Haigazian University Women’s Auxiliary will give fans an opportunity to
meet the diva close up at their May 20 luncheon at the Pasadena estate of
Dr. and Mrs. John Kassabian.
Four years ago, a young 26-year-old Bayrakdarian won first place in Placido
Domingo’s Operalia 2000 at UCLA’s Royce Hall, taking home $50,000 in the
world opera competition. She has held crowds spellbound ever since. In
addition to her onstage performances, she can be heard on the original
motion picture soundtrack of “Ararat” and the original soundtrack of “The
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.”
Bayrakdarian will appear in Los Angeles as Susanna in a production of
Mozar’s “Le Nozze de Figaro.” Four prime Founders Circle tickets to a
Bayrakdarian performance in Los Angeles will be raffled at the luncheon.
For additional information, contact Thelma Kevorkian, (323) 663-1951, or
Hilda Murachanian, (626) 510-9111.
3 – Glendale High School Armenian Clubs
Raise $10,000 for Ghapan Students
GLENDALE – The Armenian Clubs from Glendale Unified School District High
Schools, under the guidance of Greg Krikorian, Vice President of the
Glendale Board of Education, raised over $10,000 to benefit schools in
Ghapan, Armenia on March 12.
“Hye Hopes: One Child at a Time” was an evening of song, dance and culture,
but most importantly, an opportunity for Armenian students in Glendale to
help fellow Armenian students living in Armenia. With over 1000 in
attendance, organizers were overwhelmed with the support from the schools,
families of the students and the community in general.
“We were shocked at the turn-out from every facet of the community,”
Krikorian said. “An effort like this, not only binds our community
together, but greatly benefits the children and schools of Ghapan.”
“A few months ago I had the pleasure of visiting Ghapan, Armenia along with
a delegation from the City of Glendale. That’s where I had the opportunity
to visit the schools of Ghapan and see first hand the need for us to reach
out and help. Since Glendale is the Sister City to Ghapan, it was natural
for us to help.”
“Glendale students came up with theme of ‘Hye Hopes’ and for us to generate
over $10,000 for the schools of Ghapan is a home run for the students,”
Krikorian added.
The Ghapan/Glendale Sister City Committee participated in the program with
a message from Glendale Mayor Frank Quintero, followed by a special message
from the students given by Lara Talvardian, CVHS Armenian Club President.
The evening also boasted 14 guest teachers from Armenia, visiting through
Junior Achievement of Armenia, including History teacher Gayane Alaverdyan,
of Ghapan.
Joseph Krikorian & his band entertained the audience, while the Zvartnotz
Dance group performed two breath-taking routines featuring one of its
members, Linet Amirkhanyan, President of Hoover High’s Armenian Club. The
evening closed with DJ Alfred Mazarian along with other special guests.
“We worked very hard to get the word out to our fellow students and
families. To see my classmates dancing and supporting this worthwhile event
was gratifying to me” said Narbeh Sahaghian, President of Glendale High
School’s Armenian Club.
“This was a great opportunity for us to help the children, teachers and
schools of Ghapan, who really need our help!” stated Gagik Galfayan,
President of Clark Magnet High School.
“We wanted to help the children of Ghapan while working side by side with
the students of our own high schools and students from Glendale Community
College. It was a step in the right direction for our youth,” stated
Argishd Parseklian, GCC ASA member.
4 – Chamlian School Students Register
Success at L.A. County Science Fair
GLENDALE – Several students from Chamlian Armenian School walked away with
First, Second, and Third place prizes at the Los Angeles County Science
Fair, April 15.
Vahakn Papazian,. Talar Alexanian, Arman Hamamah, and Sako Bornazian were
awarded First place in Behavioral/Social Sciences, Chemistry, Microbiology,
and Environmental Management respectively.
Garen Gevorkian and Armen Perian received Second prizes in Earth/Space
Science and Biochemistry. Finally, Ari Injeyan was awarded the third place
in Engineering Research.
Alida Atinial, Pateel Krikorian, and Armen Artinian received Honorable
Special Project Awards were given to Sako Bornazian (Office of Naval
Research), Garen Gevorkian (Society of Petroleum Engineers), and Arman
Hamamah (Swift Instruments, Inc.) for their projects.
“This is truly amazing,” said Principal Vazken Madenlian.
“We are extremely proud of our students. We are positive that our students
will continue doing well in May when they represent the School’s colors in
the State Science Fair,” said Science Chairperson Lida Gevorkian.
5 – Colorado Armenians Wrap Up
Armenian Ski Weekend in Vail
DENVER, CO – The SunSki 2004 Armenian Ski Weekend wrapped up the season
with its 2nd annual ski event held on March 24-28. Over 100 participants
from around the U.S. and Canada gathered in Vail, Colorado, rated #1 ski
resort in the country by the Ski Magazine. The participants stayed at the
newly renovated Vail Marriott Mountain Resort & Spa.
The SunSki committee, led by Alex Khadiwala, coordinated a weekend
beginning with a Meet & Greet party at Bogarts, one of Vail’s hot spot
bistro clubs. On Thursday evening, SunSki held a private dance party with
Philadelphia D.J. Jake Terkanian at the Marriott Hotel. Friday night
included another memorable party at Vail’s premiere club Sanctuary,
complete with a SunSki VIP room where participants could escape the dance
floor for conversation and drinks. On Saturday night SunSki hosted the
Barahantes with a Middle Eastern gourmet meal and music by D.J. Jake. The
weekend ended with an elaborate breakfast buffet on Sunday, and lots of
long “Armenian Goodbyes”.
In between, the participants enjoyed world class skiing with a variety of
“Spring skiing in a fleece or a t-shirt is a great way to go”, says Jamie
Markarian of New York. The group enjoyed a number of impromptu Après ski
parties hosted by Denver’s own Dr. Garo Chalian. The daily excursions of
snowmobiling and tubing were also a big hit
“Vail has it all! The skiing at Vail can’t be beat”, says Lori Akian of
California, “I look forward to what SunSki 2005 has prepared for the next
For more information visit
6 – Karen Kondazian’s Performances
Extend ‘Callas’ Play thru July 25
WEST LOS ANGELES – The Fountain Theatre’s critically acclaimed production
of Terrence McNally’s Master Class, which opened in Nov. 2003, and recently
concluded a thrice extended, five-month engagement, re-opens at the Odyssey
Theatre, West Los Angeles on April 30, at 8 p.m. (through July 25).
Starring Karen Kondazian as legendary opera star, Maria Callas, the play is
directed by Simon Levy.
Kondazian is considered the foremost interpreter of Tennessee Williams
leading ladies in Los Angeles theatre. William himself pronounced her
portrayal of Serafina in The Rose Tattoo as “staggeringly beautiful” and
for that performance she won the L.A. Drama Critics Circle Award. Other
awards include the Back Stage West Garland award, Ovation Award nomination,
and the L.A. Weekly award. A lifetime member of the Actors Studio,
Kondazian has studied with Lee Strasberg and Jose Quintero, and has
authored a book titled The Actor’s Encyclopedia of Casting Directors.
The performance schedule is Thursday, Friday & Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday
at 2 p.m. For reservations call 323-663-1525.
7 – Babaian’s ‘After Freedom’
Opens in Theaters May 14
LOS ANGELES – The film “After Freedom” by Armenian-American filmmaker Vahe
Babaian will open in theaters on May 14. The film, which has been well
received by film critics, will open at the Glendale Cinemas in Glendale,
and at the Laemmle’s Music Hall in Beverly Hills.
La times critic Kevin Thomas stated that the films is “…a taut,
well-wrought drama…engrossing…” Filmmaker Atom Egoyan said the film is
“…sensitive and always entertaining…”
“After Freedom” was an official selection at the Avignon Film Festival,
Winner of Audience Award at the Method Fest Film Festival, and a
Participant at the Montreal World Film Festival.
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