ASBAREZ Online [06-09-2006]


1) Krekorian Wins Democratic Primary for California’s 43rd Assembly Seat
2) Armenian Community Condemns Anti-Armenian Attacks during California
Democratic Primary Election
3) Cyprus Blocks Opening of First Chapter in EU-Turkey Talks
4) Commission Finishes Decoding Black Box from Jet Crash
5) ‘In The Absence of Burial Sites:’ Letter urges Armenians to visit and
contribute to website database
6) Outrage Continues to Grow over Ambassador Evans’ Recall
7) Ambassador Markarian’s Letter to The New York Times
8) Can You Sue Characters in A Novel? Only in Turkey
9) ANCA-WR Supports Construction of Genocide Monument in State Capitol
10) ANCA-WR among Exclusive California Leaders Honoring Mexican President
11) ANCA-WR Chairman Meets with Ukraine’s First Lady
12) Millennium Children’s Vaccine Fund Meets Avian Flu Challenge in Karabagh
13) Ford Amphitheatre Sets Stage for Element Band Solo Performance: By Heran
14) Critics’ Forum: Visual Arts: By Ramela Grigorian Abbamontian
15) So Many Lessons: By Garen Yegparian

1) Krekorian Wins Democratic Primary for California’s 43rd Assembly Seat

–Armenian community unites in support of candidate

GLENDALE–The Armenian American community united in support of Paul Krekorian
during the Democratic Primary election for the 43rd California Assembly
district on June 6 and drove the candidate to decisively defeat Glendale city
councilman Frank Quintero, sending a clear message to Sacramento.
Armenian American voters turned out in large numbers to vote for Paul
Krekorian in order to also send a message to Councilman Frank Quintero, whose
campaign and advisors engaged in dirty campaign tactics during the last week.
It is widely believed that the Quintero campaign collaborated with the
California Latino Leadership Fund in sending out mass mailers and automated
callers to non-Armenian voters labeling Krekorian and his wife, the Armenian
National Committee of America (ANCA), and the Armenian community as
“terrorists” in a desperate attempt to scare away non-Armenian voters.
of having its intended effect, the unethical and racist tactics galvanized
Armenian and non-Armenian voters in support of Krekorian.
“Having Paul Krekorian representing the citizens of the 43rd district will
usher in a new era of empowerment and vision,” said Leonard Manoukian,
of the Armenian National Committee Political Action Committee (ANC-PAC).
“As a
person who has a strong connection to all parts of the community, we believe
Paul will fill a huge void that has existed and be a driving force for
bridges and inspiring positive changes.”
Throughout the campaign for Paul Krekorian, Armenian Americans volunteered in
record numbers, including on the day of the election where volunteers helped
get out the vote, assisted at polling stations with translating while also
monitoring and reporting problems and irregularities that occur during every
election. During the weeks leading up to the election the local ANCs mounted
an unprecedented voter education and get-out-the-vote campaign informing large
numbers of voters of the issues at stake and getting people to vote.
“If it wasn’t clear before, we hope it is now,” said Stepan Boyajian from the
Burbank ANC. “The Armenian American community’s voice will be heard and we
will have our rightful seat at the table.” Local ANCs who represent different
parts of the 43rd Assembly district led community-wide efforts in support of
Krekorian that made the difference.
“This was a historic victory for the Armenian community and all Americans who
care about justice and preserving the democratic process. It was a victory of
hope over hatred, optimism over cynicism, common vision over ethnic division,”
said Paul Krekorian.
“I am grateful by the outpouring of support from my fellow Armenian Americans
and non-Armenians alike. The overall community of the 43rd district came
together to reject the politics of hate and division instead favoring respect,
understanding, and unity, that should be an inspiration for everyone.”
Unofficial results show Krekorian with 56.6% of the votes to Quintero’s
with 100 percent of precincts reporting; these figures do not yet include
provisional and absentee ballots, which are still being counted. While the
43rd California Assembly seat has historically been a Democratic seat,
Krekorian, as the Democratic candidate will face Republican candidate Michael
Agbaba in November’s general election.

2) Armenian Community Condemns Anti-Armenian Attacks during California
Democratic Primary Election

GLENDALE–On Wednesday, June 7, the Armenian National Committee of America
Western Region (ANCA) organized a post-election press conference with a broad
cross-section of Armenian American community organizations to recognize the
milestone in political empowerment and address the anti-Armenian campaign
attacks intended to derail Paul Krekorian’s election as the democratic nominee
for the 43rd California Assembly seat.
“This is a historic day in achieving a new level of political presence in
California for the Armenian community, which is a symbol of our increasing
political and collective strength–this is something we achieved together as a
community,” said Zanku Armenian, Board Member of the ANCA-WR. “It is our hope
that this will usher in a new era of unprecedented cooperation, bringing
together all of our strength so that we may lead the Armenian community to new
levels of achievement.”
Community leadership representing organizations throughout the southern
California Armenian American community also uniformly delivered a clear
by condemning the mailer and calling campaign sponsored by the California
Latino Leadership Fund but widely believed to have been orchestrated by Frank
Quintero’s campaign and his political advisors. During the last several weeks
of the campaign Paul Krekorian, the ANCA and the Armenian community were
characterized as “terrorists” or terrorist sympathizers. In addition, the
Quintero campaign, through several mail pieces, demonized the Armenian
community’s participation in the democratic process by making allegations of
wide-spread voter fraud.
“Unfortunately, during this campaign, ugly, anti-Armenian racist acts were
committed against Paul Krekorian, the ANC, and our community,” said Armenian.
“Together, we are standing before you today to say that this is unacceptable,
we are outraged and we will hold all those individuals, organizations and
institutions involved in this accountable.”
During the press conference each of the Armenian American organizations and
Armenian American public officials pledged to stand together to fight the
racist attacks and to declare that those responsible for these unethical and
vicious attacks against the community will be held fully accountable.
In closing the press conference, Armenian said “Let me close with this
symbolic statement: On June 6th we took our people’s ladle and dipped it into
the pot of ‘Herriseh’ to get our just share… and this time our ladle was
made of steel.”

Below are excerpts of statements delivered during the press conference:

Prelate, Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America

“Faith without toil is dead, and during this campaign we transformed faith
work, and embodied faith to successfully carry-out that which is kind and
worthy. At times, this campaign departed the acceptable norms for a
environment, resorting instead to mudslinging in an attempt to shake our honor
and unity, and to divide us. But we, as law-abiding citizens did what we
had to
with clear intent and knowledge. What has happened to us is unacceptable and
must be pursued to secure justice and accountability.”

Representing Prelate Hovan Derderian, Primate, Western Diocese of the Armenian
Apostolic Church of North America

“We, as Armenians, have a mission to carry-out in this community. We are not
intimidated by anyone because we are legal and long-time citizens of this
country. We are here today under one name. We are Armenian and will not allow
anyone to tamper with our pride.”

Minister to the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America

“There is no doubt that we are shaken by these hurtful announcements against
us~E when attempts to divide us are thrown our way, we will make them fail with
our commitment to stand as one. We are an outstanding nationality, God-fearing
and one. We will fight for justice.”

Armenian Catholic Exarchate of North America

“We are amazed that the guarantee to the right of freedom of expression in the
Unites States is manipulated by certain individuals in an attempt to gain
political victory, with excuses that are based solely on deceit and

We urge all Armenians to stand in support of all our national, social and
religious organizations and institutions, specifically the Armenian National
Committee, which work with dedication, sacrifice and persistence to protect
just rights and national identity.”

Glendale City Councilmember

“There are acceptable norms to conducting campaigns, but Paul Krekorian’s
opponents not only crossed the line, but dared to do the unthinkable by
attacking his wife, family, and nationality. In an attempt to inject fear into
the community, they even accused Armenians of being “terrorists.”

Believe me, this matter is not over; now comes the matter of accountability,
which we will demand from all those who created this environment.”

Glendale City Councilmember

“This victory is for what is honorable, what is right. The people unanimously
rejected horrible accusations by a candidate, and rejected Quintero’s attempt
to divide and conquer. We were tested, but sent a message that we are together
and it did not work.”

Glendale City Councilmember
“June 6th brought heights of elation for me, but also a deep wound~E The attack
was not just on Paul but also on the ANC, and was totally baseless. Imagine
attacking the work of the ANC which is to educate children; to educate and get
justice for the Armenian Genocide. This is a continuation of the genocide,
where the victim is demonized one more time; it’s reprehensible.

And I pledge never to forget; I will fight like I’ve never fought before. Look
who we have gathered here. We are united and one force.”

Chairman Armenian National Committee-Political Action Committee

“The ANC-PAC selected Paul Krekorian not because he is Armenian but because he
is the right man. He proved himself; his popularity grew, and when his
discerned this, they resorted to tactics that are an abomination, and
disrespectful to the community.

The ANC-PAC appealed to the community, the Armenian electorate to stand upnot
for the organization but for what is rightto bring participation to the
political arena and they did.

We now have a community that is well-aware of their ability, energy and
whereas before they only saw the mere potential of its strength.”

Organziations and representatives at press conference: Archbishop Moushegh
Mardirossian, Prelate, Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of
America; representing Primate Hovan Derderian, Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian,
Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America; Joe Matossian
to the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America; representing Fr. Anton
Saroyan Armenian Catholic Exarchate of North America, Antoine Karamalian;
Glendale City Council Members Rafi Manoukian, Ara Najarian, Bob Yousefian; Dr.
Armine Hacopian, Vice President of Glendale Community College Board of
Trustees; Angela Savoyan, Chairwoman ARS Western Region Board; Hrair
Hamazkayin Western Region Chairman; Parsegh Kartalian representing AGBU; Nora
Khatchadourian, Armenian Society of Los Angeles; Vahig Zadourian, Davidian &
Mariamian Educational Foundation; Sari Shirinian, AYF; Vahe Shahinian, ANC
Burbank; Khatchik Khalatian, Homenetmen Ararat Chapter; Steve Dadaian, Zanku
Armenian and Steve Artinian, ANCA Western Region Board representatives;
Manoukian, ANC-PAC; Alina Azizian, Glendale ANC.

3) Cyprus Blocks Opening of First Chapter in EU-Turkey Talks

BRUSSELS (EU Observer)–Cyprus has blocked the opening of Turkey’s first
negotiating chapter with the EU, with intense weekend diplomacy expected
meeting of the Foreign Ministers on Monday.
The opening of the “science and research” legislative chapter is scheduled
Monday at a meeting of EU Foreign Ministers with their Turkish counterpart
Abdullah Gul in Luxembourg.
The move would mean the first concrete work on one of the 35 negotiating
chapters that EU candidate state Turkey has to go through before acceding to
the bloc.
As there is no real EU legislation on science and research, the EU
intended to
close the chapter on the same day–Monday.
But at a meeting of the member states’ ambassadors on Friday, Cyprus fiercely
resisted the closing of the chapter, demanding political concessions from
Ankara first.
Diplomats said Nicosia wants to see progress on Turkey ending its continued
non-recognition of Cyprus and its blockade of Cypriot shipping and air

“The Austrian EU presidency regrets that we did not reach a unanimous
agreement in Coreper [Member States’ Permanent Representatives Committee],”
said an Austrian spokesman.
“We stand ready for further negotiations in order to solve this issue, also
over the weekend,” said the spokesman. “The topic will now be handed over to
Foreign Ministers on Monday.”
A compromise text on the chapter prepared by Vienna contained a reference to
the EU’s September 21 statement, which requires Turkey to recognize EU member
Cyprus, as well as open its ports and airports to Cypriot vessels and planes
Nicosia has now made clear that if Ankara makes no progress in meeting these
demands, it could veto the opening or closing of any chapter in Turkey’s EU
entry talks.
The starting and finishing of each of the 35 legislative chapters requires
unanimous consent of EU member states.
Diplomats said, however, that Cyprus may, after an intense weekend of
diplomacy, back down on Monday, amid Turkish media reports that Gul could snub
the EU by boycotting Monday’s meeting.
Meanwhile, the row is unlikely to affect the membership bid of Croatia, which
received the green light from EU ambassadors to open and close the science and
research chapter on Monday.
Zagreb could enter the EU around 2009-2010, while 2015 is seen as a more
likely possible accession date for Ankara.

4) Commission Finishes Decoding Black Box from Jet Crash

YEREVAN (Armenpress/RIAN)An intergovernmental commission has finished
deciphering the cockpit voice recorder from an Armenian A-320 passenger jet
that crashed into the Black Sea on May 3, reported the Russian Transportation
The Ministry said that the recorder had captured 33 minutes of exchanges
between the pilot of the plane and air traffic controllers at Russia’s
Adler airport, which services the popular resort of Sochi.
“It was established that most of the conversation between crewmembers took
place in the Armenian language. Armenian Embassy representatives helped
translate the talks into Russian and verified the translation,” the Ministry
The statement also said the transcript would not be published in line with
standards and practices of the International Civil Aviation Organization.
the Chicago aviation convention, information from the decoded black boxes is
not subject to publication until the end of the accident’s examination.
Work on deciphering the second black box continues.
According to Armenian Ambassador to Russia Armen Smbatian, the decoding of
just one of the black boxes does not give a complete picture of what caused
Smbatian said that decoding the second black box will take two or three
after which authorities can comment on the cause of the plane crash, which
resulted in the deaths of all 113 on board.
Meanwhile, friends and relatives of those killed are preparing to mark the
40th day after the tragedy occurred, in a ceremony to honor the dead.
Relatives will be transported to the crash site in Southern Russia by the
Armenian-Russian and Armenian-Georgian Business Association, who pledged to
cover the costs of the trip.
The ceremony will take place June 14 near the spot where the airline plunged
into the Black sea. On the same day a local Armenian church in Adler will
conduct a church service for the crash victims.

5) ‘In The Absence of Burial Sites’

–Letter urges Armenians to visit and contribute to website database

In a letter addressed to their fellow Armenians, over fifty prominent Armenian
community leaders from around the world are urging all those who lost family
members in the Armenian genocide to visit a website (), which
will allow them to document the losses suffered by their families.
Visitors to the website will be able to see the map of Armenia and Turkey as
the Treaty of Sevres had intended it to be. Visitors can click on cities that
had a significant Armenian population prior to the Genocide and see the names
of its residents who were killed during the Genocide. They can also add the
names of their loved ones who perished in the Genocide.
The website aims to not create a database of all those who disappeared in the
Genocide, but also to help reunite families that have been separated and
scattered around the world since 1915.
The following are excerpts from the letter signed by Charles Aznavour, “Our
Dead Have Names” Campaign organizer Jean Eckian, Director of Armenian Studies
at Cal State Fresno Dr. Dickran Kouymjian, and President of the Coordination
Council of Armenian Organizations in France Alexis Govciyan:
“~EWe are asking men and women from all continents to stand vigilant, as the
memory of the Martyrs is decried, as unprecedented violence is being inflicted
on the sons and daughters of the survivors of the Armenian genocide, and as
very existence of our identity, symbolized by the vestiges of our culture, is
being willfully wiped out.
Today, Armenians are the target of the denial of the crime, of which their
parents were innocent victims.
Scorned, bruised, exasperated, but nevertheless Armenian, we have to tell the
world, once and for all, that the time for geopolitical procrastination has
passed. We are not claiming to be victims, but protesters for simple justice.
In the absence of burial sites, enables every one of us to
write in the names of those who lost their lives on our ancestral soil. Once
this has been done, another task will be invoked: to ensure the permanent
recognition of the Genocide of the Armenian people and the inevitable
consequences of recognition~E
~EJust like a petition, the recording of the names of the victims will
become a
recognized document rendered to the United Nations, the only institution whose
competence in this area is acknowledged by Turkey~E
~EThe time has come for all Armenians to resist.
Therefore, on the occasion of the 91st commemoration of this human cataclysm,
we call upon each of you to resist falling into silent consent by visiting the
website now at to see for yourselves and to help show that
dead have names. This is our duty.”

6) Outrage Continues to Grow over Ambassador Evans’ Recall

Outraged by the news of the Ambassador to Armenia, John Evans,’ official
over his truthful comments regarding the Armenian genocide, Retired Air Force
Lt. Col. John A. Keusseyan addressed a letter to the Armenian community and
leaders, calling for continued and unwavering support in hopes of saving his
“It is every Armenian American’s duty to write to the State Department and
raise hell,” he said. “Let’s flood the State Department with our letters of
The following is his letter:

“Rumors finally materialized. An honorable man who told the truth about the
Armenian genocide is being punished by “evil forces.”
This country is (supposedly) founded on freedom of speech, freedom of
religion, etc. Apparently this does not apply to US Diplomats; they are
punished if they tell the truth. What kind of message does this send to the
rest of the diplomatic corps? Your career will be cut short if you told the
truth and that it is okay to lie and you will be rewarded if you lied.
The Armenian Americans were unable to save the career of this honorable and
honest man. Why did we fail? Did we do all that we could? These are the
questions that our (Armenian) leadership should be asking them selves.
Now that the damage is done, how can we recover?
If we do nothing, no one would dare to support our cause anymore. What we can
do and should do is reward this man. We can hire him as a consultant to one of
our political organizations i.e. ANCA or AAA (and believe me he will be a very
valuable asset). Or an Armenian owned company can hire him and give him a
prestigious position. Then we can tell the whole world that we don’t let our
friends down. Tell to the civil servants of America: don’t be afraid to tell
the truth about Armenian genocide! We will take care of you and we even let
practice your first amendment right! Even if the Government does not.”

–John A. Keusseyan, Lt. Col. USAF (Retired)

7) Ambassador Markarian’s Letter to The New York Times

In response to a letter denying the Armenian genocide by the Turkish
to the US, Armenian Ambassador Tatoul Markarian wrote a letter to the
editor of
The New York Times, which was published on May 31, 2006. The following is the
letter as it appeared in The New York Times.

Although Turkey’s ambassador to the US asserts arguably that “history
should be
left to historians,” (NYT, May 24), the Turkish Government makes history a
precondition for normalizing interstate relations with Armenia.
Turkey needs first of all reconcile with its own history, and it must remove
all taboos and stop persecution of Turkish authors who dare address the 1915
Turkish scholars will then be able to examine the rich historical record,
including the 1919 Turkish military tribunal which passed a death sentence
against the perpetrators of the Armenian genocide.
It is the Turkish state’s denialist policy that forces growing number of
nations to intervene and express their position on the subject. Historical and
legal experts, including Raphael Lemkin who invented the term genocide, and
International Association of Genocide Scholars, have long recognized that the
1915 events fit the definition of the 1948 Genocide Convention in all its

Tatoul Markarian
Ambassador of Armenia
Washington, May 27, 2006

8) Can You Sue Characters in A Novel? Only in Turkey

–Repression of free speech reaches new heights in Turkey

(The New Anatolian/AP)–The case faced by Turkish writer Elif Shafak will
demonstrate not only a judicial but a philosophical question: “Can you sue
characters in a novel?”
If you ask Kemal Kerincsiz–an Istanbul-based lawyer and a member of the
Jurists Union Association who had his 15 minutes of fame when he sued the
organizers of the Armenian Conference in Istanbul and European Parliament
Deputy Joost Lagendijk for “insulting Turkishness”then the answer is yes. If a
fictional character cannot be sued, then the author who created it certainly
He has, after all, filed a complaint against Shafak and her publisher for
remarks made by one of several characters in Shafak’s latest best-seller,
ve Pic” (Father and Bastard). Kerincsiz says that certain remarks made by
fictitious characters violate Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), the
infamous article about “insulting Turkishness.”
The novel tells the story of two families, a Turkish-Muslim one and an
Armenian one, over a period of 90 years. The book’s characters are strong
womenwho subsequently express their strong opinions, prejudices, and memories.
“I am the grandchild of a family whose children were slaughtered by the
Turkish butchers,” and “I was brought up having to deny my roots and say that
genocide did not exist,” are the sentences accused of “insulting Turkishness.”
Shafak went to court to testify on Tuesday, claiming that she didn’t believe
that taking certain parts or sentences from a novel could either be legal or
accurately portray the story.
“If a character in a book describes a murder or commits one, does that mean
that the writer approves of it?” asked Shafak when she testified with her
publisher, Semih Somken of Metis Publishing House.
Shafak’s somewhat surrealistic case comes during a week when freedom of the
press and freedom of expression cases are high on Turkey’s agenda, including a
case against Perihan Magden, one of Turkey’s best new writers.
Turkish author and journalist Magden went on trial Wednesday, charged with
turning people against military service after she defended the rights of a
conscientious objector in a weekly magazine column.
In her column published in the weekly Yeni Aktuel magazine in December,
defended conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan who was sentenced to a record
four year term in a military prison for disobedience after refusing to wear
military uniform. Turkey, she wrote, needed to establish a civilian service as
an alternative to compulsory military conscription.
Magden could face up to three years in prison if convicted of the charge of
“alienating the people against military service.”
Radikal columnist Professor Murat Belge was also scheduled appear in court
this week for “trying to influence the judiciary” by criticizing an
administrative court decision that postponed last year’s Armenian
Conference in
His article entitled “A Court Verdict” falls under the scope of Article
288 of
the TCK. Radikal newspaper reporter Ismail Saymaz is also accused under the
same article for his news report entitled “Torture allegation involving an 11
year old child.”
Another publishing house owner, Ahmet Onal, sentenced last week in
relation to
another book is being tried on charges of insulting modern Turkey’s founder
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk by publishing the book “Being an Alawite in Dersim.” The
book, authored by Munzur Cem and Huseyin Baysulun, is only one of 27 charges
leveled against the publisher.
In the most high-profile case, novelist Orhan Pamuk stood trial earlier this
year on charges of “insulting Turkishness” for commenting on the Armenians
genocide. The charges were dropped amid intense international pressure.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has made clear it has no
plans to change laws used to prosecute Pamuk and others despite heavy pressure
from the EU–which Turkey hopes to join–to scrap repressive laws and improve
freedoms. Ankara said that the charges are eventually dropped and defendants
are acquitted.
EU officials argue, however, that even if the charges are dropped the threat
of prosecution remains as a deterrent against people wishing to express

9) ANCA-WR Supports Construction of Genocide Monument in State Capitol

GLENDALE–The Armenian National Committee of America Western Region (ANCA
demonstrated it support this week for AB 1210, legislation that calls for the
construction of an International Genocide Monument in Sacramento’s State
Capitol Park.
The California State Legislature took the first step this year in working to
construct an International Genocide Memorial in the State’s Capitol.
Authored by State Assembly member Lloyd Levine, AB 1210 was introduced in
and is currently in the Senate Appropriations Committee. If passed, the
legislation would call for the establishment of an International Genocide
Memorial Commission to determine the design, construction, and dedication
for a
memorial, on the grounds of Capitol Park, to honor genocide victims.
The State of California has a longstanding history in protecting the rights,
history and culture of all its citizens, including those who are survivors and
descendents of genocide and crimes against humanity. An International Genocide
Monument in the State Capitol would not only serve as a symbol for remembrance
of past genocides, but also as a tool to educate thousands of students who
visit the State Capitol annually for class trips. If constructed, the monument
would recognize crimes perpetrated against the Sudanese in Darfur and the
Tutsis in Rwanda, the Armenians, and the Jews, among others.
Noting the ANCA-WR’s support of AB 1210, Chairman Steven Dadaian said, “The
passage of this legislation that would bring about a permanent reminder of
atrocities, is especially important in the face of genocides that are still
shamefully denied today, such as the Armenian genocide.”
On behalf of all Armenian Americans, the ANCA-WR commends the California
legislature and Assembly member Levine’s leadership for their efforts to
a enduring symbol of remembrance and recognition in California for all victims
of genocide and injustice.

10) ANCA-WR among Exclusive California Leaders Honoring Mexican President

LOS ANGELES–The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA
– WR) was among a select group of civic and business leaders at a dinner
by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to honor Mexican President Vicente
ANCA – WR Chairman Steven Dadaian attended the May 26 event at the Getty
Center Museum and had a chance to brief President Fox about Armenian genocide
recognition efforts and urge the President to consider passing such
in Mexico.
President Fox, who was on a four-day trip through Utah, Washington, and
California, repeatedly stated that Mexico must regulate the migration of its
citizens to the US and must bolster its economy so would-be migrants no longer
see leaving as an economic necessity.
In his remarks during the dinner, Mayor Villaraigosa lamented what he called
“so much heat and so little light illuminating the debate over the
between our two countries.”
Addressing the economic ties between the two countries, the mayor said, “Our
economy is driven by the labor of Mexican immigrants.”

11) ANCA-WR Chairman Meets with Ukraine’s First Lady

LOS ANGELES–Los Angels Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and ANCA-WR Chairman Steven
Dadaian welcomed Ukraine’s First Lady Kateryna Yuschenko to Southern
during a private reception on Friday, June 6 at Los Angeles International
During his conversation with the First Lady, Dadaian touched on the common
history of oppression and genocide suffered by both the Armenian and Ukrainian
people during the 20th century and the need to work together in addressing the
issue of genocide. Mrs. Yuschenko thanked the ANCA for its support of genocide
awareness in the United States, noting ANCA’s valuable support in passing
Ukrainian genocide remembrance legislation recently. She also fondly recalled
her involvement, in the 1980s, in Ukrainian-American public affairs in
Washington, DC.
Accompanying the First Lady were Ukraine’s Ambassador to the United States
Oleh Shamshur, Consul General of Ukraine Mykola Tochytskyi, and Ukrainian
American leader Peter Borisow.
The First Lady’s visit to the US includes meetings with health care
professionals, businessmen, economic development experts, government
and leaders of the Ukrainian diaspora in Washington, DC, Philadelphia, San
Francisco, and Los Angeles, in an effort to garner support for the Ukraine
Foundation and for healthcare programs for Ukraine’s youth.
Explaining the goal of the foundation, Mrs. Yuschenko said it is to help
“Ukraine create its own future and realize its global destiny. Hence, the
mission of the foundation is to facilitate the search for an optimal path to
Ukraine’s strategic development and making this clear for the Ukrainian
Dadaian wished the First Lady success in advancing the worthy mission, as
as a safe trip home.

12) Millennium Children’s Vaccine Fund Meets Avian Flu Challenge in Karabagh

LOS ANGELES–Recent reported cases of the Bird flu in Azerbaijan and Georgia
prompted the Ani and Narod Memorial Foundation (ANMF), through its Millennium
Children’s Vaccine Fund (MACVF), to expand its health awareness program in
Armenia into the Mountainous Karabagh Republic (MKR) to implement preventative
measures against the spread of the deadly H5N1 virus.
MACVF, with the cooperation of UNICEF, USAID, The Global Alliance for
and Immunizations, and the Republic of Armenia’s Ministry of Health, currently
provides seven basic vaccines–Diphtheria, Hepatitis B, MMR (Measles, Mumps,
Rubella), Polio, Pertussis (whooping cough), Tetanus, and Tuberculosis–to all
of the approximately 37,000 children born in Armenia each year.
The threat of an avian influenza pandemic in Karabagh caused great alarm
amongst health administrators. “We cannot afford a disruption in the health
economy of this vital region,” states Raffy Ardhaldjian, ANMF Chief Volunteer
Officer, “We had to nip this potential epidemic in the bud.”
Training in Stepanakert, the capital of Karabagh, was initiated by ANMF/MACVF
on March 27, with the Ministries of Education and Health along with the
Hanganak NGO actively involved in the training of nurses and teachers from
Stepanakert, Askeran, and Shushi. Frida Yeritsyan from Armenia’s National
Institute of Education trained the participants on innovative and effective
methods for working with children to avoid the spread of the avian flu.
Representatives from the MKR Ministry of Agriculture and Department of
Emergency Situations were invited to answer specific questions of the
With the main objective to enhance public awareness on avian influenza
preventive measures, ANMF organized reproduction and dissemination of
informational materials in MKR: 2000 copies of two-sided leaflets, 500 copies
of posters for schools, and 800 copies of teacher’s manuals with the detailed
description of new interactive methods for working with children.
Training was also conducted in the Martuni, Hadrut, Martakert and Lachin
regions of Karabagh.
MACVF continues to strive toward its goal of immunizing 560,000 in Armenia
within the next ten years. To learn more about the organization, visit

13) Ford Amphitheatre Sets Stage for Element Band Solo Performance

By Heran Kerashkenian

LOS ANGELES–Element Band will present its first solo performance at the Ford
Amphitheatre on Friday, June 16, at 8:00 PM, with an evening that promises a
dynamic concert and many surprises by a band that has taken Southern
by storm.
With its recently released premiere CD “Yev O Phe,” Element has attracted an
incredible mix of listeners to give the band a fan base that spans not only
three generations, but has also transcended the diverse musical preferences
prevalent in Armenian culture. It has also left fans wanting to hear more of
their selections.
“The time was right,” says the band’s arranger and musical director Ara
Dabandjian, who also plays an array of instruments in Element. “We usually
five or six songs when performing, but we have so much more that has never
In its two years together, the band has performed at the Kodak Theatre with
legendary Greek singer Demis Roussos and at the Ford Amphitheatre with French
Gypsy Band Bratsch, but has yet to give a solo performance.
Their concert at the Ford Amphitheatre will feature 24 mostly Armenian songs
and several English selections, enhanced by the grace of dancers and the
of a drum circleall in the open-air setting of the Ford Amphitheatre.
The band’s sound is bold: Flamenco, Tango, Rembetika waft in and out of
performances of traditional Armenian songs as well as their English songs. And
to achieve this, the band uses the accordion, bouzouki, mandolin, classical
guitar, violin, and the purity of the band’s vocalists to serve up a
combination of fiery Mediterranean and European sounds that are partnered with
hauntingly raw Armenian.
Tickets for the June 16 performance are $30/$50 and can be purchased through
the Ford Amphitheatre box office: (323) 461-3673 (Wednesday – Sunday 12:00 PM
to 7:00 PM) or by visiting
<;w The Ford
Amphitheatre is located at 2580 Cahuenga Blvd. East, Los Angeles, CA 90068.

14) Critics’ Forum: Visual Arts

The Community’s Museum: Art And History At the Ararat-Eskijian Museum

By Ramela Grigorian Abbamontian

Like many of the artifacts contained within, the Ararat-Eskijian Museum (AEM)
is a hidden treasure awaiting discovery. Nestled quietly in Mission Hills on
the campus of The Ararat Home of Los Angeles, the museum is the physical
manifestation of the dream of one individual, Genocide survivor Luther
Eskijian, who created the museum “to preserve our Armenian culture and
historical treasures for generations to come.”
In 1989, at the age of 78, Genocide survivor Luther Eskijian embarked on a
quest to realize his 30 year old dream of creating a museum where his
collection could be used to preserve the cultural identity of the
Armenians. “I
have been a collector of historical artifacts, coins, maps, art, documents and
books since my early childhood. I was drawn to collecting these items first
their historical value, second, because of their beauty, and finally, to
preserve these collections for others to enjoy,” notes Eskijian in the
Founder’s Statement. Using his connection with the Ararat Home (as its
volunteer advisor of many years), he proposed adding a museum and a sanctuary
to the site. Working diligently as architect and general contractor for about
four years, Eskijian, at the age of 82, witnessed the fruits of his dream when
the museum opened its doors in 1993.
The mission of the museum is clearly articulated on its website
(< />): “The
Ararat-Eskijian Museum~E was created to enrich, inspire and educate the
community through the display of artworks and exhibits, presentation of
programs, and collection of research materials featuring the history and
cultural heritage of the Armenian people.” A detailed list that follows
expounds how the museum aims to achieve this mission, including collecting
valuable items, accepting the community’s contributions of artifacts, focusing
on research and education, housing a library (of primarily Genocide-related
materials), and offering cultural programs. These are ambitious aims for a
museum, yet as a review of its most recent activities will soon illustrate,
museum appears to tirelessly strive for these goals. These efforts fill a
critical need because, as its mission statement reminds us, the museum “serves
the largest Armenian community in the diaspora and is the only Armenian museum
on the west coast.”
In its 6,000 square feet–relatively small exhibition space–the museum’s
impressive and eclectic collections include antiquities, decorative arts,
drawings, historical documents, musical instruments, paintings, prints, rugs,
sculptures, stamps, coins, and textiles. Considering the inspiring story of
museum’s founder, its collections, its programming, its role as a site of
remembrance, and its close relationship with the community, we might conclude
that though young and still nascent, the museum is nonetheless an important
thread in the fabric of the community and a powerful vehicle of its
Like most small museums, AEM is staffed primarily by volunteers and a few
employees. The powerhouse behind the museum’s operations is Maggie
Mangassarian-Goschin, who began volunteering at the museum in 1998 and has
since dedicated countless hours to making its mission a reality. In fact, she
can easily be considered the museum’s unpaid director and–as most
directors in
small museums will attest–wears a number of different hats, including
programming, staffing, curating, and even housecleaning and maintenance.
the small group of staff and volunteers are clearly dedicated to the museum,
more volunteers are always needed to achieve the large-scale goals of the
A key feature, though not the entire focus, of the museum is its presentation
of the 1915 Armenian genocide. Visitors to the museum are greeted by the
“Mother Armenia Rising Out of the Ashes,” the bronze sculpture flanking the
entrance. Dedicated to the victims as well as survivors of the Genocide, this
living memorial has elicited a myriad of reactions from viewers, most notably
prayers, tears, and flowers placed at her feet. Museum staff has often
the elderly residents of the Ararat Home deep in thought beside the woman and
child figure. One wonders: what are they thinking and remembering? What are
their personal stories? And more to the point, who preserves them? These
critical questions further reinforce the essential role of the museum in the
In another section of the small area dedicated to the Genocide, artists Nora
Nalbandian and Guilda Deirmendjian have painted “The Der Zor Memorial
Mural,” a
tortured desert landscape pervaded by light and vibrant colors from above, in
what seems to represent the hope of God. A box of human bones retrieved on a
mission to Der Zor by some museum members sits in front of the mural, a
reminder of the unmarked graves of the victims.
Initially, the alcove was intended as a silent site of meditation. Yet as the
number of non-Armenian visitors increased, so did their questions. “What is
this mural about?” “Where are the bones from?” The museum has since recognized
the visitors’ concerns and has added extensive wall text and photographic
reproductions to tell the story of the Genocide. Though the text at times
almost overpowers the silent testimony of memory, it is a necessary addition,
since one of the museum’s goals, as Goschin reiterated in a recent interview,
is to introduce Armenian culture and history to the non-Armenian public.
Without the labels, there is always the risk that visitors would admire the
objects simply for their beauty, instead of as emblems of historical value.
The rest of the collection, as delineated earlier, is quite diverse–not
uncommon among collectors like Eskijian, who amass an assortment of objects
through the years. That large collection of objects, along with the museum’s
small exhibition space, poses a challenge in creating appropriate and cohesive
displays. But surprisingly, the varied selection also presents a more
view of Armenian history, marking its origins (the oldest items date from 2500
years ago to the Urartian and Hittite periods), its Christian faith, its
persecution, and its contributions to various neighboring countries.
Like its collection, the museum’s programs are also eclectic and varied, and
include film screenings, art exhibitions, lectures, and musical performances.
Its programming has burgeoned rapidly in the last couple of years,
triggered–according to Goschin–by the exhibition organized by three UCLA
graduate students who temporarily adopted the museum to curate a student art
exhibition entitled “In Celebration of Life: Armenian Identity and Culture of
the Diaspora” (April 2002).
The museum’s impressive list of programs features such prominent scholars and
artists as filmmaker Michael Hagopian, historian George Bournoutian, art
historian Levon Chookaszian, and Genocide scholar Vahakn Dadrian. Audience
numbers at these events number anywhere from 50 to 100. Another step in the
right direction has been the museum’s recent collaboration with other major
Armenian institutions, a move they intend to–and in fact, should–pursue, in
order to introduce the museum to new audiences and continue offering quality
programs. Notably, AEM has joined forced with NAASR (National Association for
Armenian Studies and Research) and recently jointly hosted the lecture, “‘Kiss
My Children’s Eyes’: A Search for Answers to the Armenian Genocide through One
Remarkable Photograph” (March 2006). The lecture featured Pulitzer-Prize
winning Boston Globe investigative journalist Stephen Kurkjian, who discussed
his quest to identify the group of Armenian men standing under Turkish
guard in
front of a building in Gesaria (Caesarea) in 1915.
Currently, the museum is in the midst of preparing a teacher workshop for the
Fall to introduce teachers–first from Armenian private schools and then from
area public schools–to the collections and the different ways of integrating
the various items in the collection into educational courses, including Social
Studies, History, and English. Also in the works are a High School Volunteer
Program and the continuing development of relations with university professors
to help them encourage their students to visit the museum.
Another long-term goal of the museum is supporting local artists. To that
the museum recently curated “The Visual Poetry of the Homeland: The
of Vahé Peroomian and Ara Meshkanbarian,” (September to October 2005). In the
accompanying “Dialogues with the Artists: Interview and Reception,” the public
was introduced more intimately to the artists’ motives and inspirations. While
the museum would like to do more in terms of supporting local artists, it does
not yet have the manpower, time, or funding to organize exhibitions on a more
consistent basis.
The Founder, Eskijian, reminds the public on the museum’s website that, “The
Ararat-Eskijian Museum belongs to all Armenians.” And in its mission
the museum “encourages the community to contribute historical artifacts and
actively participate in the preservation of family histories and experiences.”
In this way, the museum has become a living repository, each donated item
breathing new life into its growing collection.
While the museum endeavors to be a place for the community, it also
desperately needs support. This need is especially critical for a museum
dedicated to a small ethnic community. Ideally, a reciprocal relationship
should exist between the two–the museum preserving the community’s culture
heritage and allowing it to take pride in its accomplishments, with the
community in turn allowing the museum to thrive with its support. In Ron
article “In Praise of the Small Museum” (Museum News, March/April 2002, p.38),
Steve Olson, Assistant Director of the Museum of Church History and Art at the
time the article was written, warns that “if you added up all the collections
in the country, numerically, most of the artifacts would be found in small
museums. If we don’t help the small museums, we’re literally risking the
of our own heritage.”
Is the museum, then, solely for Armenians? Goschin and other museum staff
would reply that it is not, and like most Armenians, express their desire to
share their rich culture with others. But the museum also inspires Armenian
non-Armenian visitors alike to reflect on their own cultures and recognize
similarities with those of others by emphasizing the common need to preserve
their stories for future generations.
The museum is currently open only on Saturdays and Sundays, between 1:00 and
5:00 PM, as well as the first Tuesday of every month after the Women’s Guild
Luncheon at the Ararat Home. Admission to the museum and to all events is

Ramela Grigorian Abbamontian is a PhD candidate in Art History at UCLA. She
been with the Ararat-Eskijian Museum since 2001. You can reach her or any of
the other contributors to Critics’ Forum at [email protected] This
all other articles published in this series are available online at
<;www.critics To sign up for a weekly
electronic version of new articles, go to
<;www.cri Critics’ Forum
is a
group created to discuss issues relating to Armenian art and culture in the

15) So Many Lessons

By Garen Yegparian

I really hope this’ll be the last election related piece for a while. Three
back to back on the same topic can become boring. But, it’s necessary.
The Armenian community is savoring a sweet victory right now. Paul Krekorian
has won the Democratic Party nomination in the 43rd Assembly District of
California, which houses the largest concentration of Armenians in an
district outside Armenia. But since I last wrote, much has transpired in this
race beside the victory.
On Friday June 2, a despicable mailer, targeting the Armenian community and
calling us terrorists hit selected homes in the 43rd AD. Which homes? Those
of non-Armenians, of course. It points out that Tamar, Krekorian’s wife, is a
“representative” of the ANC [Armenian National Committee]-whatever that’s
supposed to insinuate. Then, the mailer proceeds to make a Burbank ANC
project, “Books for Burbank,” through which books were donated to the Burbank
Public Library, seem sinister. Through all this it purports to connect
Krekorian to terrorism. It bears the name of the California Latino Leadership
Fund (CLLF) as the source of this “independent expenditure” mailer.
Of course the community, and all decent human beings, were incensed and a
weekend of intense TV programming on local cable ensued. Some of our old
friends, the EI’s (electoral idiots), took their usual contrarian, destructive
positions. They attempted to minimize the harm done by the mailer. They
argued that Frank Quintero, the other candidate for the seat, was unaware of
the “independent expenditure” mailer described above. As if all this were not
despicable enough, on Sunday, June 3, automated calls commenced, conveying
the same message as the mailer.
As the cable TV battle between the sellouts and genuine representatives of
Armenian interests raged, other efforts were bearing fruit. A number of
elected officials representing parts or all of the 43rd AD issued letters
condemning the mailer and the hate speech it utilized. But there was a
silence too. Quintero, who claims to represent Armenian concerns, had nothing
to say, at least until mid-day Monday when a poorly written condemnation was
received in the ANC offices. The same letter was posted to Quintero’s website
along with an equivalent sent to the CLLF. If someone is not familiar with
Armenian community and details of this issue, he/she would never know what the
letter is about. The ANC (only as an acronym), the mailer, and the issue as a
whole are cited, with no clear explanation or references to what has
transpired. It is assumed the reader knows.
Clearly, it is just a ploy, a facade to mask guilt. Otherwise, why would it
take so long to issue a statement? Everyone knew about it on Friday. Why
would it be so poorly written? Finally, why would the version sent to the ANC
contain the sentence “We suspect this is another one of the Krekorian
campaign’s dirty tricks” when the version on the campaign website did not?
did the condemnation by Quintero and his defense by Armenian supporters focus
on the Armenian community, not the non-Armenian community which had actually
received the mailer?
Some of the connections suggested by following the money and probing the
publicly available information about the CLLF are truly chilling. Add to this
that over three weeks ago I’d heard that such a mailing was brewing but the
Quintero campaign had been talked out of doing it by its Armenian supporters,
at least one in particular. On election night I was told a first-hand story.
The relater, upon learning of the mailer, had called one of Quintero’s
supporters and told the latter of it. That supporter had replied “I told
that… weeks ago not to do it,” referring to a conversation with Quintero.
But of course all this is hearsay; it wouldn’t stand up in a court of law.
the court of public opinion has a different standard.
The backlash from all this hurt the Quintero campaign more than it helped.
it is, this dirty level of hit piece represents a last, desperate gasp by a
campaign that knows it is fighting a losing battle. It came on the heels of
polling information showing Krekorian leading significantly with very little
time left till Election Day. So, they gambled, and lost.
It was heartening to hear story, from a non-Armenian, of friends she had who
would have never voted for an Armenian. But after seeing the mailer, they
voted for Krekorian. Couple this with the righteous indignation felt, because
of this assault on our dignity, by an overwhelming portion of our community,
and the actionvoting–it engendered, and you have a fundamental cause for
Krekorian’s victory. Ironically, if those who issued the mailer sought to
the developing strength of the Armenian community, they served the exact
opposite purpose. It brought Armenians together in the service of a shared
community interest, not the inane unity-for-unity’s-sake, but unified action
backing up an appreciation of what was going on and what had to be done. It
served to build our community.
Unfortunately, the news is not all good. Let’s start with the specific and
expand to the general. Stepan Partamian, who was profiled by the Los Angeles
Times and has become quite a cable personality with his acerbic descriptions
and critiques of our community’s foibles and failings became a focus of the
clash in this election. For the record, Stepan and I happen to have opposing
Armenian political party affiliations. But, as a fundamentally decent human
being, it is easy to relate to him and what he went through. His Monday
morning show was cancelled because of repairs to the studio that were not
completed on time. Fair enough. But that got cast into doubt when on his
Tuesday morning (Election Day) show, while replying to another programmer’s
criticisms of his positions regarding the campaign and deploring those
Armenians supporting Quintero, Channel 26’s management (evidently
turned off the audio to his program. It’s a call-in show, and he realized
happened. So he packed up his things, on air, and walked off fifteen minutes
before the show’s ending time. He will return to the air Monday morning, June
12, on Channel 55. So much for freedom of speech, decency, and courtesy.
But that’s not the only lesson to be learned here. Clearly, we will always
have slimy Armenians who are willing to do anything, not for our collective
interests, but for either personal or partisan interest. The Hnchagian
Party/Armenian Council of America’s support of Quintero seems to have been
based on an approach of “wherever the ARF/ANC is, we’re not.” While this is
depressing, it’s not surprising, since we are human. It just behooves us to be
aware of this situation and act accordingly. Perhaps in the future, some
creative, preventive measures can be taken to avoid this kind of
contentiousness within our community and allowing external political forces to
roil it so much. But we are in a learning, growing process as we mature
politically. The same is true of those who supported Quintero, not out of any
vindictiveness, but purely self interest. As a practical matter, these
considerations too must be integrated with our growth so to not fray our

However, the positive approach I advocate in the preceding paragraph does not
mean that the meddlers are off the hook. These, who attempted to play
spoilers–be they inside or outside the community–must be taught a lesson.
How is not quite clear to me, but political pain must be inflicted on those
stooped to unacceptable lows in this campaign. If not, I fear they or others
like them might do the same thing in the future. The clear message “don’t
with us” must be sent loud and clear.
Finally, to the extent that this became an Armenian-Latino clash, is
I do not advocate and find contemptible–pitting two disenfranchised groups
against one another. But an interesting notion was posed to me. Could it be
that this excited Latino voting interest less than that of Armenians
because it
is just another seat for Latinos, but the ONLY one for Armenians?
It has been an interesting electoral season, these last two months. Let’s
lick our wounds, rest, and prepare for the next round of political battle
as we
creep forward in our struggle to complete the triad of securing a free,
independent, UNITED Armenia–that is regaining Western Armenia.
On a completely different note, those in the Los Angeles area on June 18
should seriously consider going to the Alex Theatre in Glendale for the
of “The Long Journey from the NFL to Armenia,” a documentary of professional
football player Rien Long’s trip to Armenia and his connection to his Armenian
roots. This is the kind of movie that bridges the gap between Armenian
and what appeals to the average American. Go to for

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