ANC NJ: New Jersey Community Commemorates Armenian Genocide

Armenian National Committee of New Jersey
461 Bergen Boulevard
Ridgefield, NJ 07657
Tel: 201-945-0011
[email protected]

May 19, 2004

Contact: Kim Arzoumanian
[email protected]


RIDGEFIELD, NJ–The New Jersey Armenian American community commemorated the
89th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide on April 24, 2004 at the Sts.
Vartanantz Armenian Apostolic Church in Ridgefield. The program, sponsored
by the Armenian National Committee (ANC) of New Jersey, began with a flag
ceremony led by the Homenetmen Scouts Color Guard, after which local musical
artist Diane Haroutounian accompanied the audience in the singing of the
National Anthems.

Members of the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) New Jersey “Arsen” Chapter
gave emotional accounts of their relatives struggle in a segment called “We
Will Not Forget.” Knar Mesrobian, Talar Baronian, Stephanie Rollo, and Shant
Massoyan all recounted solemn stories from their ancestors and concluded
with a declaration: “We vow to fight until the resolution of our just

The first of two keynote speakers for the evening was Dr. Henry Theriault, a
professor of philosophy at Worcester State College who also heads the Center
for the Study of Human Rights. Dr. Theriault specializes in social and
political theory. That evening he spoke on the challenges and effects of
denial. In a three-part segment he examined the status of denial, the
burden that it represents, and the impact it has on dialogue and

He acknowledged that although we have made great strides towards Genocide
recognition, pointing to the recent recognition by the government of Canada
and the New York Times altering its policy of mischaracterizing the
Genocide, denial is still strong, powerful, and ruthless. He noted the most
recent denier, Edward Tashji who recently spoke at Rutgers University,
claiming to be part Armenian and denying the Genocide according to the
accounts of his ancestors. Dr. Theriault’s response to Tashji was that in
any group there are those who are going to sell out. He said, “This is
nothing new. The Armenian Genocide is not an ethnic relations issue, it is
a crime against humanity that concerns all people. It doesn’t matter what
an ‘Armenian’ or a ‘Turk’ says: what matters is what the historical records

It is precisely because the Armenian Genocide has become a human rights
issue that it has gotten increased support from non-Armenians worldwide.
But it is this support and recognition that poses a greater burden on us to
return the assistance we received from non-Armenians, and to help other
groups’ genocides be recognized. Dr. Theriault said, “Ethically we have a
moral obligation.”

And, lastly Dr. Theriault explained we must not become complacent with just
recognition. Recognition of the Genocide just gets us back to the starting
point. Reparations must follow recognition. He said, “We should be
demanding reparations not only for the act of genocide but also for the
denial which is a crime in itself. No amount of money and land can make up
for the act of genocide. Because no matter what we achieve or build in the
future it won’t make up for what we’ve lost.”

He concluded that Turkey has to be willing to change its society and put
aside their hatred for Armenians. Anything short of that allows for hatred
and denial to go on.

The second keynote speaker for the evening was Armenian Revolutionary
Federation (ARF) Bureau member from Canada, Unger Hagop Der Khatchadourian,
who spoke of the past, present, and the future of the struggles to have the
Armenian Genocide recognized worldwide. Khatchadourian was instrumental in
the effort that achieved Genocide recognition in Canada. He explained that
both efforts, in Canada and in France, took many years to come to pass, and
that he hoped the United States would be the next government to recognize
the Armenian Genocide.

He talked about the importance of western countries influencing the US
stance on the Armenian Genocide, the lobby by Turkey and Israel against
recognition of the Armenian Genocide, and the fact that as more countries
recognize the Genocide, Turkey will not have a choice but to follow.

The evening also included a performance on flute by Tamar Samouelian and
closed with Lori Dabaghian’s heart wrenching recitation of Siamanto’s

The Armenian National Committee (ANC) is the largest Armenian American
grassroots political organization in New Jersey and nationwide. The ANC
actively advances a broad range of issues of concern to the Armenian
American community.