California Courier Online, October 28, 2004

California Courier Online, October 28, 2004

1 – Commentary
Kerry: Good for America, Good for
Armenia, and Good for the World

By Harut Sassounian
California Courier Publisher
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2 – Marilyn and Hagop Arshagouni to Speak
At Valley Guild Nov. 15 General Meeting
3 – ARS Strengthens Ties with Glendale
4 – Karen Kondazian Receives
Ovation Award Nomination
5 – USC Exhibition Documents
NER Armenian Relief Efforts
6 – Armenia’s Top Students Visit US in
JAA’s 2004 Summer Study Program
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1 – Commentary
Kerry: Good for America, Good for
Armenia, and Good for the World

By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier

The difference between John Kerry and George W. Bush is so stark that even
some life-long Republicans have difficulty supporting their party’s
nominee. They are switching sides and voting for a Democrat for the first
time in their lives!
After the tragic attacks of September 11, 2001, the whole world rallied
around the Bush Administration and supported America’s war on terror. The
neo-cons, taking advantage of the president’s inexperience and inattention,
exploited the terrorist attacks to pursue their long-standing agenda in the
Middle East. Letting terror mastermind Osama Bin Laden get away, they went
after Saddam Hussein. They concocted stories about Iraq’s non-existent
links to Al Qaida, and its equally non-existent weapons of mass
destruction. They mismanaged the occupation of Iraq and squandered all the
goodwill generated after the 9/11 attacks. They galvanized the wrath of the
world and isolated America. In the process of trying to eliminate terror,
they created more terrorists.
At home, the Bush Administration showed total disrespect for civil
liberties by passing highly intrusive laws that were repeatedly abused.
Innocent American citizens and foreigners alike were detained for long
periods and held in isolation without access to their lawyers.
While funding simultaneous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq at a cost of
hundreds of billions of dollars, the Bush Administration was fixated on
cutting taxes for big corporations and the wealthy, causing massive federal
budget deficits and a spiraling national debt to be paid by generations to
come. As a result, health care, education and many other necessary social
services could not receive adequate funding.
Through a combination of blunders at home and abroad, the Bush
Administration lost the trust of the American public as well as the respect
of the international community.
Turning to Armenian issues, Pres. Bush repeatedly broke his written promise
to recognize the Armenian Genocide. Even worse, the Bush Administration
went out of its way to block a congressional resolution that included only
a passing reference to the Armenian Genocide. Pres. Bush waived section
907, lifting the restriction on US aid to the government of Azerbaijan. He
proposed to give to Azerbaijan four times more military assistance than to
Armenia, violating a brokered agreement with Congress and endangering the
safety of Armenia and Karabagh. He also sought to reduce foreign aid to
Armenia.
Senator Kerry, on the other hand, has had a long track record of supporting
Armenian causes for over 20 years. He has forcefully and repeatedly
advocated the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. Back in 1990, he voted
for the Genocide Resolution sponsored by Sen. Bob Dole. Long before
becoming a presidential candidate, he issued statements on April 24 during
the annual commemorations of the Armenian Genocide. He and his Vice
Presidential nominee, Sen. John Edwards, are co-sponsors of the Genocide
Resolution currently pending in the Senate. Sen. Kerry supported Armenia’s
independence in 1991, and backed increased aid and expanded trade with
Armenia. He led several initiatives to lift the Turkish and Azerbaijani
blockades of Armenia. In 1992, he was the lead sponsor of legislation
(Section 907) that restricted U.S. aid to the government of Azerbaijan,
until it lifts its blockade of Armenia and Karabagh. In 1996, he supported
the Humanitarian Aid Corridor Act that called for cutting U.S. aid to
Turkey unless it lifted its blockade of Armenia.
This year alone, Sen. Kerry has issued 5 statements on Armenian issues. In
January, he joined other Senators in asking Pres. Bush to press the
visiting Prime Minister of Turkey to lift his country’s blockade of
Armenia. On April 22, he issued a statement that unequivocally supports the
recognition of the Armenian Genocide, while Pres. Bush’s statement was full
of euphemisms and evasive language, calling the Genocide merely a “horrible
tragedy” and a “terrible event.” On June 21, Sen. Kerry issued a letter
recognizing the independence of Armenia on May 28, 1918. On August 28, he
congratulated the attendees of an Armenian festival and told them: “I want
to assure you that, as President, I will continue to fight against the
denial of the Armenian Genocide.” He flat out pledged: “My administration
will recognize April 24, 2005 as the 90th Anniversary of this atrocity.”
Finally, on Sept. 23, he issued a statement marking the anniversary of
Armenia’s independence from the Soviet Union. He said: “Time and again,
Armenians have demonstrated the ability of the human spirit to triumph over
adversity and even to persist in the face of genocide.”
These are some of the reasons why practically all Armenian-Americans
individuals and organizations nationwide, including the three Armenian
political parties (ADLP, ARF, and SDHP), are supporting John Kerry.
The burning question on everyone’s mind is whether Kerry would keep his
word after the election. Armenian-Americans have good reason to be
skeptical, as they have been misled by Pres. Bush and several of his
predecessors.
I believe that as President, Kerry would be much more supportive of
Armenian issues for the following reasons: His long-standing personal
friendship with many Armenian-Americans in his home state of Massachusetts;
his 20-year-long solid record in the Senate on the recognition of the
Armenian Genocide; his strong statements on this issue during the
presidential campaign; and finally, his top aides, who would assume leading
positions in a Kerry administration, have privately and publicly confirmed
that that Kerry as President would recognize the Armenian Genocide. Earlier
this month, Amb. Richard Holbrooke, a senior foreign policy advisor to the
Kerry-Edwards campaign, told a gathering of the 50 leaders of America’s
ethnic communities: Sen. Kerry’s “friendship for Armenia goes back a long
way. It’s well established. He understands the issues. He’s taken a very
strong stance on Nagorno-Karabagh, on aid, on recognition of the Genocide,
and ending the blockade of Armenia. There is a clear cut difference between
the two candidates.”
It is also significant that the Democratic National Committee has been
running full-page ads in several Armenian-American newspapers, stating:
“Democrats will recognize the Armenian Genocide; support permanent, normal
trade relations status with Armenia; and oppose the illegal blockades by
Turkey and Azerbaijan.”
Another indication that Kerry’s support on Armenian issues should be taken
seriously is the reaction from the Turkish side. Seasoned diplomat Ilter
Turkmen, the former Foreign Minister of Turkey, recently said: “If Kerry is
elected President, it would be much more difficult [for Turkey] to
neutralize Armenian Genocide resolutions.” In recent weeks, Turkish
newspapers have published several articles and letters from
Turkish-American leaders expressing their fear that Kerry, as President,
would recognize the Armenian Genocide. Azeris also seem to be concerned. A
member of Azerbaijan’s Parliament, Mayis Safarli, made insulting remarks
about Sen. Kerry on the floor of the parliament earlier this month, falsely
accusing the Senator of saying that Azerbaijan “should be thrown under a
bus.” Claiming that Sen. Kerry is under the influence of “the Armenian
lobby,” Safarli described him as “someone from whose face one can tell that
he himself has been under the wheels of a bus and now can’t think
straight.”
Finally, there are those in the Armenian community who are resigned to the
notion that no U.S. President would ever dare to acknowledge the Armenian
Genocide for fear of upsetting the Turks. Such individuals are sadly
mistaken. They are probably not aware that one distinguished U.S.
President, more than two decades ago, did recognize the Armenian Genocide.
On April 22, 1981, Pres. Ronald Reagan issued Presidential Proclamation
#4838 in which he stated: “Like the genocide of the Armenians before it,
and the genocide of the Cambodians which followed it – and like too many
other such persecutions of too many other peoples – the lessons of the
Holocaust must never be forgotten.” After Pres. Reagan said those words,
there was hardly any reaction from the Turks. Neither political nor
commercial relations were disrupted between the two countries. No one even
talks about that proclamation nowadays. Therefore, it would not be an
alarming development, should Kerry speak about the Armenian Genocide after
his election. We should also remember that the House of Representatives has
gone on record on four separate occasions recognizing the Armenian Genocide
(1975, 1984, 1996, 2004).
Besides, the recognition of the Armenian Genocide would not be harmful to
Turkey. In fact, some sensible Turks recently have urged their government
to take the initiative in making such an acknowledgment. They point out
that this would be in Turkey’s best interest, as it would eliminate one of
the major impediments to its membership in the European Union, and prove
its readiness to join the ranks of civilized nations.
Given the Bush Administration’s abysmal record on domestic, international
and Armenian issues, it would be unwise to have this President and his team
(Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, and Wolfowitz) remain in power for another four
years.
Cong. Frank Pallone (Dem.-N.J.), the respectable Co-Chair of the
Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, recently made the following
accurate assessment: Bush has “presided over the most anti-Armenian
administration in modern history.”
It would be in the interest of all Armenian-Americans, particularly those
in the critical states of Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota,
Wisconsin, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico, and New Hampshire, to vote
for John Kerry. Every vote counts. The race is so close that, as in the
2000 elections, even a few hundred votes could decide who will be the next
president of the United States.
Help get Kerry elected President. Your vote will make a difference for
America, for Armenia, and for the rest of the world!
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2 – Marilyn and Hagop Arshagouni to Speak
At Valley Guild Nov. 15 General Meeting
MISSION HILLS, CA – The Valley Guild of the Ararat Home will feature guest
speaker Marilyn Arshagouni at its Lunch and General Meeting on November 15,
at 11.30 AM in the Large Board Room of the Ararat Home. Marilyn and Hagop
Arshagouni are the authors of the book Armenian History Timeline and the
creators of the Timeline inscribed on the sidewalk around the Mission Hills
complex.. The book is currently in its tenth printing and has enjoyed
widespread distribution.
Mrs. Arshagouni taught English for many years at Holy Martyrs Ferrahian
High School in Encino. She will speak about the origin and development of
the Timeline at Ararat. More interestingly, she will describe Timeline in
the context of world history.
Lunch will be served at 11:30 followed by a very brief general meeting.
Make lunch reservations by calling Mary Zoryan at (818) 342-8302. A
donation of $6., may be made at the door.
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3 – ARS Strengthens Ties with Glendale
GLENDALE, CA.- “Appearing before the Commission on the Status of Women was
another opportunity for the Armenian Relief Society to strengthen the bonds
with the City of Glendale,” said ARS Regional Executive Chair Angela
Savoian. “We applaud these efforts to celebrate the diversity of the city
with the Unity Fest, and to build a coalition of active participants
encouraging, empowering and providing valuable services to women through
the Commission on the Status of Women,” she added.
The ARS Regional Executive Board announced that Glendale was once again the
focal point of ARS activities, as its chair, Angela Savoian, made a
presentation to the City of Glendale, Commission on the Status of Women,
and Regional Executive members ran an information booth at the city’s
“Unity Fest” held at Verdugo Park.
The ARS Child Youth and Family Psychological Center also participated in an
Armenian Health Fair on Oct. 23 at Glendale’s St. Mary’s Armenian Apostolic
Church Hall.
Savoian’s presentation to the Commission took place on Oct. 11, at the City
Hall Council Chambers in Glendale. She presented the accomplishments of the
largest Armenian women’s organization in the world, which empowers women as
leaders of the organization and community, serving as role models to the
younger generation. Her presentation also included information about the
ARS Social Services and Child, Youth & Family Guidance Center, as well as
the local Sepan Chapter, coordination with other service organizations, and
the annual ARS Armenian Festival. The chair of the ARS Regional Executive
concluded her remarks with projects that would benefit from new or
additional funding, such as expanded counseling services, youth and crisis
intervention projects.
Following Savoian’s presentation, ARS Social Services Director, Sona
Zinzalian, and marriage and family therapist, Nora Shitilian-Keleshian,
together with Savoian, answered the numerous questions that the
Commissioners inquired.
One of the cooperative efforts of the ARS and the Glendale of Commission on
the Status of Women was sharing the ARS-funded booth at the Glendale “Unity
Fest 2004,” which was held on Oct. 10, at Verdugo Park, in Glendale.
Commissioner Lena Bozoyan shared the booth with ARS Regional Executive
members
Nanik Kupelian, Vicky Marashlian and Alice Yeghiayan. The event committee
was chaired by Councilmember Rafi Manoukian, who took the time to visit the
ARS booth, located next to the Armenian
National Committee and the Glendale-Ghapan Sister City Association booths.
Other booths at “Unity Fest 2004” included arts and craft and food vendors,
and on the main stage an international lineup of music and dance program
included Armenian folk dances by Ara and Lilia Dance Studio and Lark
Musical Society, and singers Anahit Takhtalian and Hermine Toomanian.
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4 – Karen Kondazian Receives
Ovation Award Nomination
HOLLYWOOD, CA – Award-winning actress Karen Kondazian has been nominated
for a Los Angeles Ovation Award for her lead performance as opera legend
Maria Callas in Terrence McNally’s Tony Award-winning play, “Master Class.”
The highly acclaimed drama opened in November 2003 at the Fountain Theatre
in Hollywood, where it played to sold-out houses for nearly six months
before transferring to the Odyssey Theatre for another three months.
In addition to Kondazian’s nomination for Lead Actress in a Play, the
Fountain Theatre’s production also received an Ovation Award nomination for
Best Play (Small Theater).
Kondazian has won numerous Theatre awards during her distinguished career,
especially for her portrayals of Tennessee Williams’ heroines. For her
performance as Serafina in “The Rose Tatoo,” she won the Los Angeles Drama
Critics Circle Award. For her portrayal of Maxine in “The Night of the
Iguana,” at the Fountain Theatre she received the Back Stage West Garland
award. Kondazian was previously nominated for an Ovation Award for playing
Lady in the Fountain Theatre production of “Orpheus Descending.”
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5 – USC Exhibition Documents
NER Armenian Relief Efforts
LOS ANGELES – Decades before the Holocaust, the genocide of the Armenian
people effectively destroyed an entire nation, leaving more than 1.5
million dead and millions displaced from a homeland they had occupied for
nearly 3,000 years. A new exhibition at the University of Southern
California’s Edward L. Doheny Jr. Memorial Library documents the massive
relief efforts of the Near East Foundation to help survivors of the
atrocities.
In conjunction with the opening of the display, the USC Libraries, the
Institute of Armenian Studies and the Armenian Student Association will
host a reception and book signing in Doheny Library on Friday, November 11,
at 11 a.m., featuring Professor Peter Balakian (Colgate University), author
of the recent bestselling book The Burning Tigris. The reception is free
and open to the public.
The genocide of the Armenian people, perpetrated by the Ottoman Turkish
government while most other nations were occupied by the events of World
War I, has been condemned as a crime against humanity yet remains a largely
forgotten part of history.
On the night of April 24, 1915, Armenian political, religious, educational,
and intellectual leaders in Constantinople (now, Istanbul) were arrested
and murdered when a triumvirate of extremist Turkish nationals took control
of the region in an effort to eliminate the Armenian people and create a
Pan-Turkic empire that spread to Central Asia.
In the years that followed, the Turkish government ordered the deaths or
deportation of Armenians to “relocation centers” in the barren deserts of
Syria and Mesopotamia. The greatest torment was reserved for women and
children run ragged for months over mountains and across deserts. Hundreds
of thousands died of starvation and exposure to the elements.
In the decade following the genocide, the New York-based Near East Relief
(since renamed the Near East Foundation) raised more than $100 million to
help the surviving Armenians, Assyrians, Syrians, Greeks and other victims
of the Ottoman Turks’ depredations. The Near East Foundation has since
grown into a major international development organization with projects in
dozens of countries.
This exhibition documents the relief efforts of the foundation through
letters, posters, books and other rare artifacts, along with a multimedia
presentation showing some of the few known photographs of the Armenian
genocide, taken by the German army officer Armin T. Wegner.
The exhibition continues in the ground floor rotunda of Doheny Library
through Sunday, January 30, 2005; admission is free.
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6 – Armenia’s Top Students Visit US in
JAA’s 2004 Summer Study Program
LOS ANGELES, CA – “My visit to Los Angeles led me to understand that
business involves taking risks, hard work, and friendships,” commented
Haykuhi Khachatryan, a 16 year-old high school student from Armenia.
Experiencing the trip of a lifetime, Armenia’s most accomplished high
school students visited Canada and the United States as participants of
Junior Achievement of Armenia’s (JAA) 2004 Summer Study Abroad program.
Each year since 1995, JAA has rewarded the cream of the crop among the tens
of thousands of students enrolled its program with the opportunity to
attend an educational conference and visit Southern California. The
students were Haykuhi Khachatryan, Anna Avetisyan, and Matevos Mheryan –
current students or recent graduates of JAA’s economics and civics
programs. They were selected based on their academic excellence and
English-language proficiency; joining them was JAA Head Administrator
Grigori Nazaryan.
JAA’s economics and civics programs impact more than 170,000 students each
year. By the end of 2005, more than 20% of Armenia’s population will have
taken classes with a JAA-trained instructor. “To stand out among thousands
of talented young people enrolled in our courses, you can imagine how
special these students truly are,” commented JAA Executive Director Armine
Hovannisian.
Their Southern California visit featured a private meeting with Metro
Goldwyn Mayer CEO Alex Yemenidjian, arranged by Kevork Zoryan; a luncheon
in Orange County with Aram Keith, Chairman of the Board and CEO of The
Keith Companies, Inc., joined by Governor George Deukmejian and George
Mooradian, and JAA Board members Cynthia Tusan, Melik Kumjian, and Bruce
Tatarian; and an audience with Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the
Western Diocese. Other highlights included a tour of Sony Music with A&R
executive Robert Shahnazarian; a private meeting with Solana Beach Mayor
Joe Kellejian at Solana Beach City Hall; and lunch at Disneyland’s
exclusive Club 33 with Gary and Candy Bickers, the hosts, along with
Kellejian and his wife, Mary, and Ara Kassarian.
Observing the American business environment, Khachatryan, Avetisyan,
Mheryan, and Nazaryan toured many industries including manufacturing (AA
Cater Truck Mfg., Vahe Karapetian, Los Angeles); retail sales and
distribution (Jons Marketplace, Jack Berberian, Hollywood; Popcorn Man
Plant of Fontozzi , Jim Melikian, Maywood; From the Hearth Bakery, Carson;
Paul Mitchell, Beverly Hills; Mouse Pad Designs, Glenn Boghosian, Santa Fe
Springs) medical laboratory testing (L & M Lab, Melik Kumjian, Brea); and
pre-packaged produce manufacturing (Ready Pac, Seb Gertmenian, Irwindale).
The JAA participants enjoyed visits to Disneyland (courtesy of Gary & Candy
Bickers), Downtown Hollywood, and Universal Studios (courtesy of Jons
Marketplace).
Honoring the JAA students, special events were hosted by JAA President Jack
Berberian at his Tarzana home, the Triple X Fraternity of San Diego, the
Armenian Professionals Network of the Western Diocese with guest speaker
Christina Tusan, and Luther Eskigian at his Altadena home. They also were
honored at a breakfast of the Pasadena Sunrise Rotary club and at a
luncheon hosted by the Rotary Club of Altadena, where a $20,000 grant for
expansion of JAA’s economics curriculum was presented to the group.
Luncheons were also hosted by Dr. Jack Hachigian, Sara Chitjian, Bruce
Tatarian, Jim Melikian, Robert Shahnazarian and Silva Bezdikian.
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