ASBAREZ Online [02-11-2005]


1) ANC Reception for SF Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin
2) Proposed Constitutional Reforms Lift Article Prohibiting Dual Citizenship
3) Parliament Speaker Thanks Debre for Genocide Remarks
4) Photographer Ara Oshagan to Discuss Projects on Radio Show
5) City Clerk Campaign for Ardy Kassakhian Officially Kicks Off
6) ANCA-WR Board Discusses Plans with Majority Leader Frommer
7) West San Fernando Valley ANC Meets with LAUSD Board Member
8) Are They That Clueless?

1) ANC Reception for SF Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin

ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian and Executive Director Aram Hamparian in SF

SAN FRANCISCO–The Bay Area Armenian National Committee held a reception in
honor of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors’ President Aaron Peskin, at
San Francisco offices on February 4. ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian and Executive
Director Aram Hamparian were also present for the occasion.
The Bay Area ANC endorsed Supervisor Peskin in both his elections to the
of Supervisors in 2000 and 2004. Peskin, who has sponsored the Armenian
genocide commemorative resolution in San Francisco for the past 5 years, has
attended all of the commemorative events during his tenure, as well as
the ANC in various city and county initiatives and sponsored a resolution
calling on Bay Area Congressman Tom Lantos to support Congressional
of the Armenian genocide.
“I’ve always believed that the most important thing to understand in politics
and human development is the ‘how come’ and ‘why,'” said Peskin, explaining
early awareness of Armenians because of his father. Peskin’s father is a
psychiatrist and professor who studied the impacts of the Holocaust on the
children of Holocaust survivors.
Referring to the Armenian genocide, Peskin said, “It’s an experience
shared by
our communities.” On a trip to Israel with his parents, Peskin visited
Jerusalem’s Armenian Quarter as a boy. “We met the Armenian Patriarch, and it
was something I never forgot.”
Having been elected by his peers last month to head the Board of Supervisors,
Peskin said he was optimistic about what the Board could accomplish. “We have
reached our stride,” said Peskin, when speaking about the working relationship
of the Supervisors.

ANCA Chairman and Executive Director Report on Armenian-American Issues

Armenian National Committee of America Chairman Ken Hachikian and Executive
Director Aram Hamparian reported on the current political environment in the
nation’s capitol on Armenian-American issues.
“This is going to be a very tough year for Nagorno-Karabagh,” said Hamparian.
“The powers in the region are looking for a settlement, and pressure has come
down on Armenia and Karabagh.” Hamparian cited the recent statement by
Assistant Secretary of State Elizabeth Jones, calling Karabagh’s leaders
“criminal secessionists.” He also noted the recent moves by Azerbaijan to get
anti-Armenian resolutions passed in the Council of Europe and United Nations.
Hamparian said the ANCA is working to have an Armenian genocide Resolution
initiated in Congress within the next 8-10 weeks, as well as planning a large
Congressional reception in Washington, DC on April 20, commemorating the
Armenian genocide. He referred to the foreign aid negotiations and US-Armenia
tax treaties as areas of success, saying similar successes are being sought in
the area of Social Security benefits for US citizens living in Armenia.
“The biggest issue we’re addressing now is military aid parity,” Hamparian
said. After three years during which the US administration provided an equal
amount of military aid to Azerbaijan and Armenia, last year the administration
broke its earlier promise of parity and put forth a budget allocating four
times more aid to Azerbaijan. “This sends a signal that the US is on the side
of Azerbaijan,” said Hamparian. He also raised concerns that Azerbaijan may
itself more once it begins to receive oil revenues from the Baku-Ceyhan
pipeline due open in 2006.
Chairman Ken Hachikian described the political perspective of the current
administration. “We have a Republican-controlled Congress; an administration
with a very conservative view of the Middle East and of the political
weight of
Israel; and a perception of the importance of Turkey.” He said the view of the
importance of Turkey to the US “transcends Republicans and Democrats.”
Hachikian said that although Armenian-Americans have friends among the
Democrats, the Democratic leadership is in disarray. “We have friends among
Republic congressmen as well, but their leadership is not allowing them to
confront the administration on our issues. We have to look for ways to develop
key relationships with key Republicans.”
Notwithstanding the government’s alliance with Turkey, Hachikian said
recent actions have been an asset for our cause including it’s refusal to
US troops to attack Iraq from Turkey; calling US actions in Iraq “genocidal;”
and taking actions which aggravate its other important ally, Israel.
In order to be effective in the current political arena, Hachikian said, “We
must be intelligent, we must be selective and well organized. We have to
recognize who has the levers of power today and work with them. We need to
victories where the administration will let us succeed.”
Hachikian said the real assets of the ANC are the local activists who
cultivate and maintain relationships with their representatives. He said
one of
the consequences of those local efforts is that while Armenian-Americans
represent one half of one percent of the US population, one third of the
members of Congress (144 members) are part of the Armenian Issues Caucus in
Congress. “That’s not because we have an office in Washington DC. That’s
because of the local ANCs,” said Hachikian. “Hopefully, the political capital
that you build locally, we spend wisely in Washington.”

2) Proposed Constitutional Reforms Lift Article Prohibiting Dual Citizenship

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armenia’s National Assembly, on Wednesday, began to review
proposed constitutional amendments, starting with the first section of 3
on reforming Constitutional order. All the drafts propose removing the article
in Armenia’s constitution that prohibits dual citizenship.
In the coming two weeks, the National Assembly’s Committee on integrating
the European Structures will review all sections of the Constitution, one by
one, and will present proposed reforms to the parliament in the order
The coalition has proposed changes to 97 articles of the Constitution.
The United Labor Party has proposed 13 changes to the first section of the

3) Parliament Speaker Thanks Debre for Genocide Remarks

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–Armenia’s parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian
thanked French Parliament Speaker Jean-Louis Debre for his handling of the
Armenian genocide issue during meetings with Turkish officials recently in
Heading a French delegation to Turkey last week, Debre addressed the
Armenian genocide during a meeting with Chairman of the EU Commission in the
Turkish Parliament Yasar Yakis and other parliamentarians.
With France’s ruling UMP party at odds with its most prominent
member–President Jacques Chirac–on the prospect of Turkey’s full EU
membership, Debre raised the contentious issue of the Armenian genocide
He proposed that an independent international institution conduct research on
the Armenian genocide, stating it would be the only fair way to affirm the
During a joint news conference with Turkish Parliament Speaker Bulent
Arinc, Debre assured that both the Armenian genocide and the Cyprus problem
were discussed with Erdogan.
“Everything works more comfortably as long as people are in peace with
their own history,” Debre said.
During their phone conversation, Baghdasarian invited the French parliament
head to Armenia, who welcomed the invitation.

4) Photographer Ara Oshagan to Discuss Projects on Radio Show

Southern California photographer Ara Oshagan will be a guest on a new radio
show called Pacific Drift on FM 89.3 KPCC.
The show, a mix of culture, art, and life airs 9-10 pm every Sunday night.
Oshagan will be featured this Sunday, February 13, at 9:30, to talk about his
various photography projects. A story on Armenian chess players in Glendale
will be aired immediately before Oshagan. The program will also address prison
guards turning against the guards. Oshagan’s projects, one on the Armenian
community and the other which documents the lives of juveniles being tried as
adults, provides the linkage for Sunday’s show.
For more information on the program visit:
The show will can also be heard on-line anytime after the show:
Ara Oshagan, a documentary photographer, began documenting survivors of the
Armenian genocide in 1995, a project that evolved to also include oral history
and is now called The Genocide Project with an exhibit called iwitness.
with photographer Levon Parian and a team of oral historians, this work was
exhibited at the Downey Museum of Art in 1999 and garnered national attention,
being the main feature in an NPR Morning Edition story.
His recent major exhibit, called Traces of Identity, documents the
Armenian immigrant experience of Los Angeles. It is currently on display at
LA Municipal Art Gallery at Barnsdall Park.
Oshagan has also been working in collaboration with Chance Films and
Community Transitions on a project to document high-risk juvenile offenders
being tried as adults in California.
His photos have been published in the Los Angeles Times Magazine, Austin
Statesman, the LA Independent Newspapers Group, the UCLA Daily Bruin, and the
Armenian International Magazine. National Public Radio, Los Angeles Times,
KCET-TV, KPFK radio, the Daily News, and a number of local Los Angeles papers
have featured his photography in stories.

5) City Clerk Campaign for Ardy Kassakhian Officially Kicks Off

–More than 120 supporters attend and volunteer for grass-roots campaign

GLENDALE–Over 120 people gathered on the morning of Saturday, February 6, to
celebrate the kick-off for Ardashes “Ardy” Kassakhian’s campaign for Glendale
City Clerk.
Several of Ardy’s prominent supporters delivered compelling messages to the
cheerful crowd during the event’s program. “Ardy has been a tireless advocate
for the rights of voters in the City of Glendale for many years,” said
City Council Member Rafi Manoukian, who has endorsed Kassakhian. “He is
the best candidate for this position, and I am proud to be here today to show
my support for him.”
The gathering was festive and upbeat, and included dozens of young
“Ardy Kassakhian is a leader and a motivator, and I’m delighted to see so many
young people here to support him,” said Paul Krekorian, Vice President of the
Burbank Board of Education. “Throughout Ardy’s career, he has demonstrated
kind of passion and activism that has inspired so many others to become active
in their community. I have no doubt that when he is elected City Clerk, Ardy
will use these abilities to inspire Glendale residents to make their city a
better place for all.”
After the event’s program, attendees volunteered their time by visiting local
residents and businesses to spread Ardy’s message. Over 200 lawn signs were
distributed to supportive residents and businesses throughout Glendale during
the afternoon.
“This is a historic election and I’m honored to have such great support
for my
candidacy,” said Ardy Kassakhian. “I am overwhelmed by your support and if
morning’s gathering is any indication, in the coming weeks, we will build on
this support to create a grass-roots campaign that will reach tens of
of voters in Glendale.”
To learn more about the campaign or to volunteer, please call 818-679-2920 or
email the campaign at [email protected].

6) ANCA-WR Board Discusses Plans with Majority Leader Frommer

GLENDALE–Armenian National Committee of AmericaWestern Region (ANCA-WR) Board
members met with State Assembly Majority Leader Dario Frommer (D-43) on
February 4 to discuss a range of pressing issues facing the California
community, including plans to establish a California Regional Trade Office in
Armenia, and inclusion of the Armenian genocide in public school curricula.
Marking the first meeting between the Majority Leader and the new ANCA-WR
leadership since the Board’s appointment in December of 2004, Assemblyman
Frommer shared his ideas on the ANCA-WR’s initiatives and offered his support.
In addition to the California Trade Office and genocide curricula,
community-wide plans marking the 90th Anniversary of the Armenian genocide
“The ANCA-WR appreciates Assemblyman Frommer’s collaborative spirit,” said
Steven Dadaian, Chairman of the ANCA-WR Board. “He plays an instrumental role
in affecting positive change for the community he serves,” he said.
Assemblyman Frommer represents the most heavily Armenian American
populated Assembly District in the state. He has consistently worked closely
with the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.
The ANCA-WR Board of Directors is appointed every two years to coordinate
activities between local and national bodies of the organization. Serving on
the current Board, which began its term in December of 2004, are Steven
(Chairman), Souzi Zerounian-Khanzadian (Treasurer), Vahagn Thomasian
(Secretary), Zanku Armenian, Thomas Azaian, Ara Bedrosian, Aida Dimejian,
Hamparian, Garo Kamarian, Leonard Manoukian, Armen Martin, Vahe Melkonian, and
Garo Yepremian.

7) West San Fernando Valley ANC Meets with LAUSD Board Member

CHATSWORTH–In an effort to address pertinent issues confronting students of
Armenian descent in the public school system, representatives of the West San
Fernando Valley ANC Chapter recently met with Los Angeles Unified School
District Board of Education Member Jon Lauritzen at the his district office in
the city of Chatsworth. Board Member Lauritzen represents Los Angeles School
District 3, which encompasses the majority of the public schools located in
west San Fernando Valley and contains a significant population of Armenian
speaking students.
The ANC members, led by Chairman Ara Papazian, were warmly greeted by
Board Member Lauritzen and his staff–Deputy Donna Smith and Parent Community
Facilitator Rose Avetisyan.
During the hour long meeting, the participants discussed ways of
improving the way the public school system can address the needs of the
Armenian student body, including educating the administration and staff about
Armenian history and culture. The idea of Town Hall meetings was suggested to
increase parent involvement in their children’s education process.
As Chairman of the Curriculum Committee of the Los Angeles Unified
District, Board Member Lauritzen also agreed to work with the Armenian
Community in creating an Armenian genocide curriculum to be taught throughout
the public school system in Los Angeles.
Papazian thanked Board Member Lauritzen for the opportunity and
readiness to working with the School District to bridge the gap between
parents, students, and the public school system.

8) Are They That Clueless?

By Garen Yegparian

Last Sunday I met Harout Sassounian at Ardashes Kassakhian’s kickoff for the
Glendale City Clerk election campaign, where I had a fascinating conversation,
as is usually the case, when chatting with Harout.
He told of a phone call from Kaan Soyak–who you’ll remember is the Turkish
co-chair of tabdik (TABDC- Turkish-Armenian Business Development Council). The
impetus for the call? To ask what I had against him, clearly having read my
piece from a month ago. This should allay all doubts any Armenians might have
had about how closely Turks monitor our media.
Of course, my first thought was, “Can this guy be so clueless?” Well,
admitting that would be tantamount to admitting Armenians are genetically
morons too (and Greeks, and Assyrians, and all other indigenous peoples of
Minor). This because most Turks are descended from abducted children of the
local populations or those natives who were forcefully converted to Islam, and
a few generations later, had become Turkified and Kurdified (thanks to the
exclusionary policies of our, and probably other, churches).
We also have the centuries of deft and adept Turkish machination and
diplomatic manipulation that has kept a Turkish state in existence as evidence
of how clever our nation’s lost descendants are.
Then of course, there’s Soyak’s commentary in the February 3, 2005 California
Courier, “Creating an Environment for Change Through Turkish-Armenian
in which he bravely refers to occupied Armenian territories as “our joint
motherland.” He observes government level “reluctance,” Armenia and Turkey, to
“official and unofficial” dialogue. He also mentions that “confidence and
trust” are “currently absent.” Bingo Kaan! You got it! Of course all along, he
plays up the role of tabdik in developing these contacts–but hey,
bragging’s a
human trait!
Clearly, they’re not clueless. Quite the contrary, they’re very astute,
cynical opportunists seeking any and every political edge to douse the fire of
Genocide accountability that threatens to engulf them because of the years of
pathetic denial.
Why should I have anything against anyone? As long as they act the part of
decent human beings, clued in to what is and isn’t appropriate behavior and
what it takes to overcome conflict. As long as Turks, or anyone, continue to
not just deny, but refuse to accept responsibility for the 1.5 million victims
of the first genocide of modern times, they do not qualify as decent.
So let’s spell it out for Kaan, and more importantly the ‘elected’ and
military and media and academic leadership of Turkey–‘fess up, atone, and
things’ll be so smooth as to arouse the greenest envy of the most extreme
snowboarder cutting up an untouched Canadian slope after leaping out of a

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