ASBAREZ ONLINE [05-26-2004]

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05/26/2004
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1) Armenia, US Sign Agreement on Protection of Cultural Heritage
2) ANCA Capitol Hill Lobby Days Highlight Variety of Issues
3) Amnesty Slams ‘Bankrupt’ Vision of US in Damning Human Rights Report
4) Education Conference Targets Changing Armenian-American Identity
5) Community Congratulates Prelate Mardirossian’s Reelection

1) Armenia, US Sign Agreement on Protection of Cultural Heritage

WASHINGTON, DC–An important cultural agreement was signed on Tuesday between
the United States and Armenia. The agreement provides that the cultural
heritage of all national, religious, or ethnic groups residing and having
resided in both countries will be safeguarded.
Armenia’s Ambassador to the US Dr. Arman Kirakossian, and Chairman of US
Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad Warren L. Miller,
signed the Agreement on Protection and Preservation of Certain Cultural
Properties.
The signing ceremony took place at the State Department, in the presence of
Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman, as well as officials from State
Department and Embassy of Armenia.
The Agreement commits both parties to protecting and preserving the cultural
heritage of any ethnic group residing on their territory, or against the
nationals of the other Party in its laws concerning the protection and
preservation of their cultural heritage; the right to contribute to the
protection and preservation of their cultural heritage; and public access to
such heritage, including places of worship, sites of historical significance,
monuments, cemeteries and memorials to the dead, as well as archival
materials.
The Agreement also stipulates that “each Party shall take special steps to
ensure such protection and preservation of cultural heritage within its
territory and shall invite the cooperation of the other Party and its
nationals
where assistance is required for this purpose.”
Speaking at the ceremony, Undersecretary Grossman and Chairman Miller hailed
the agreement as another bridge linking the peoples of the United States and
Armenia. In his remarks during the ceremony, Ambassador Kirakossian said the
agreement is the first such treaty regulating cultural affairs between the two
countries, augmenting already strong cooperation on economic, political, and
security areas. Ambassador Kirakossian summed up the significance of the
agreement for Armenia saying, “we understand the value of cultural heritage
and
the importance of its protection and preservation.”

2) ANCA Capitol Hill Lobby Days Highlight Variety of Issues

ARMENIAN AMERICANS PARTICIPATE IN ALMOST 100 MEETINGS AND VISITS TO
CONGRESSIONAL OFFICES

WASHINGTON, DC–A record number of activists from across the US traveled to
Washington, DC this April for a series of advocacy meetings on Capitol Hill,
coinciding with the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) 10th annual
Armenian Genocide Observance.
Over 90 meetings were held with Members of Congress from California,
Delaware,
Florida, Indiana, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire,
New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, and Virginia.
“We were gratified by the growing number of participants who traveled to
Washington, DC for this year’s Capitol Hill Observance,” explained ANCA
Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “Each year, we have seen increased
enthusiasm, sophistication, and confidence among our activists in their
advocacy for the Armenian Cause.”
Among the numerous issues discussed with Representatives, Senators, and their
staff were the Congressional Genocide Resolutions (H.Res.193 and
S.Res.164), US
assistance to Armenia and Karabagh, US-Armenia economic relations–namely the
Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) legislation currently pending in
the US
Senate, maintaining equal levels of military aid to Armenia and Azerbaijan,
and
Armenia’s cooperation in the war on terrorism. They presented to members of
Congress folders that had detailed information on the issues being discussed.
This year, joining the ANC activists in the Congressional meetings were
Colgate University Professor Peter Balakian and the Honorable Madeleine
Dalphond-Guiral, lead sponsor of the recently adopted Armenian Genocide motion
in the Canadian House of Commons.
During several meetings, Dalphond-Guiral took the time to brief Congressional
Members on the passage of the Canadian resolution and encouraged them to take
similar steps to reaffirm the United States record on the Armenian Genocide.
Professor Balakian–author of the New York Times best seller “The Burning
Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response”–detailed to Members the
exhaustive record of the US reaction to the Armenian Genocide and pointed out
the tremendous amount of US archives available on the Armenian Genocide.
Both Balakian and Dalphond-Guiral were honored by the ANCA during the Capitol
Hill Observance of the Armenian Genocide.

Activists met with and visited the following Senate offices:

Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), John Cornyn (R-TX), Bob Graham (D-FL), Judd Gregg
(R-NH), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Edward Kennedy (D-MA), John Kerry (D-MA),
Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Jack Reed (D-RI), Rick Santorum
(R-PA), Arlen Specter (R-PA), John Sununu (R-RI), and Jim Talent (R-MO).

ANC representatives also met with the following House offices:

Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) and Representatives Joe Baca
(D-CA), Charles Bass (R-NH), Bob Beauprez (R-CO), Xavier Becerra (D-CA),
Howard
Berman (D-CA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Jeb Bradley (R-NH), Robert Brady
(D-PA),
Eric Cantor (R-VA), Dennis Cardoza (D-CA), Michael Castle (D-DE), Philip Crane
(R-IL), John Culberson (R-TX), Susan Davis (D-CA), John Doolittle (R-CA), Mike
Doyle (D-PA), Philip English (R-PA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Sam Farr (D-CA), Chaka
Fattah (D-PA), Michael Ferguson (R-NJ), Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), Bob
Filner
(D-CA), Scott Garrett (R-NJ), Sam Graves (R-MO), Jim Gerlach (R-PA), Jim
Greenwood (R-PA), Melissa Hart (R-PA), Wally Herger (R-CA), Joseph Hoeffel
(D-PA), Tim Holden (D-PA), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Michael Honda (D-CA), Paul
Kanjorski (D-PA), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Patrick Kennedy (D-NH), James Langevin
(D-RI), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), William Lipinski
(D-IL),
Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Edward Markey (D-MA), Robert Matsui
(D-CA), Scott McInnis (R-CO), Howard McKeon (R-CA), Marty Meehan (D-MA),
Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-CA), George Miller (D-CA), Timothy Murphy
(R-PA),
John Murtha (D-PA), Devin Nunes (R-CA), Doug Ose (R-CA), Frank Pallone, Jr.
(D-NJ), Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), John Peterson (R-PA),
Joseph
Pitts (R-PA), Todd Platts (R-PA), Richard Pombo (R-CA), Jon Porter (R-NV), Ed
Royce (R-CA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), E. Clay Shaw, Jr. (R-FL), Brad Sherman
(D-CA), Don Sherwood (R-PA), Bill Shuster (R-PA), Hilda Solis (D-CA), Fortney
Pete Stark (D-CA), Thomas Tancredo (R-CO), Ellen Tauscher (D-CA), Mike
Thompson
(D-CA), John Tierney (D-MA), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Diane Watson (D-CA), Henry
Waxman (D-CA), Curt Weldon (R-PA), and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA).

3) Amnesty Slams ‘Bankrupt’ Vision of US in Damning Human Rights Report

LONDON (AFP)–The United States has proved “bankrupt of vision and bereft of
principle” in its fight against terrorism and invasion of Iraq Amnesty
International charges in its 2004 report on the state of human rights around
the globe.
Though the London-based group’s report cites grave violations in dozens of
other nations, it specifically targets the “war on terror” initiated by US
President George W. Bush in the wake of the September 11 attacks in 2001, for
sanctioning human rights abuses in the name of freedom.
The unilateral nature of the conflict to unseat Saddam Hussein in Iraq
additionally “virtually paralyzed” the United Nations’ role in guaranteeing
human rights on a global level, said the Amnesty report which was released on
Wednesday.
The 339-page document, detailing the human rights situation in 157 nations
and
territories, reserved the most column inches for the United States, with
almost
as many critical words to Russia and China.
Other perennial violators are also highlighted such as North Korea, Cuba, and
the central Asian state of Turkmenistan where Amnesty summarized the situation
simply as “appalling.”
“The global security agenda promulgated by the US administration is bankrupt
of vision and bereft of principle,” wrote Amnesty’s secretary general Irene
Khan in the report’s introduction.
“Sacrificing human rights in the name of security at home, turning a blind
eye
to abuses abroad and using preemptive military force where and when it chooses
have neither increased security nor ensured liberty.”
The notion of fighting a campaign against terrorism so as to support human
rights, while simultaneously trampling on them to achieve this, is no more
than
“double speak,” she said.
“The United States has lost its moral high ground and its ability to lead on
peace and human rights elsewhere,” Khan added at a press conference in London
to launch the annual report.
The report also states that events in 2003 “dealt a mortal blow” to the UN’s
vision of universal human rights, with the global body “virtually paralyzed in
its efforts to hold states to account” over the issue.
“Not since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948 has
there been such a sustained attack on [its] values and principles,” Khan told
the press conference.
While the report only briefly deals with damning allegations that US and
British troops tortured Iraqi prisoners–these first came to light just last
month–it has harsh words about the overall record of the two nations in
Iraq.
“Coalition forces failed to live up fully to their responsibilities as
occupying powers, including their duty to restore and maintain public order
and
safety, and to provide food, medical care and relief assistance,” it states.
Elsewhere, Amnesty details a long list of abuses in Russia, where security
forces “continue to enjoy almost total impunity for serious violations of
human
rights and international law” in the breakaway republic of Chechnya.
China, despite a new Communist government under President Hu Jintao, made “no
significant attempt” to end the use of torture and other abuses, which
“remained widespread,” states the report.
In the Middle East, both Israel and the Palestinian Authority were taken to
task, with Amnesty saying that some actions by the Israeli army, such as the
destruction of property, “constituted war crimes.”
One of the most damning assessments is handed to Cuba, which saw a “severe
deterioration in the human rights situation” during 2003, most notably through
the jailing of dozens of dissidents after “hasty and unfair” trials.

4) Education Conference Targets Changing Armenian-American Identity

GLENDALE–Armenian Schools of North America have a history dating back more
than forty years.
With the challenges of the 21st century, however, it has become imperative to
reassess the mission of Armenian education along with the Armenian-American
cultural identity in Armenian schools.
Thus, in order to re-examine the mission of Armenian education in North
America in the context of the changing “Armenian-American Identity,” the Board
of Regents of Prelacy Armenian Schools will hold a two-day conference June 4-5
at Woodbury University in Burbank.
The Board’s goal in initiating the conference is to spark valuable dialogue
among community educators and experts, and to insure that the education
offered
correspond to current expectations and imperatives.
All Armenian daily schools and their leaders are invited to participate and
offer their expertise. Well-known professionals and experts on
“Armenian-American Cultural Identity” issues will either present lectures or
participate as panelists.
Sessions of the conference are open to the public, and the Board believes
that
those involved in the field of education can bring their valuable contribution
as well as benefit by participating.
For further information, contact the Board of Regents office 818-500-0822,
fax
818-500-0622, or email [email protected]

5) Community Congratulates Prelate Mardirossian’s Reelection

Members and the leadership of the Los Angeles Armenian community congratulated
Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian’s unanimous reelection to the
position
of Prelate by the 32nd Representative Assembly of the Western Prelacy of the
Armenian Apostolic Church of America. During a series of receptions held on
May
21, 23, and 24, spiritual leaders and representatives of area parishes, as
well
as representatives of the ARS, ARF, Homenetmen, Mashdots College, compatriotic
unions, and other organizations offered heartfelt congratulations to Prelate
Mardirossian.

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