ANCA-WR Celebrates Remarkable Milestones during 2006 Annual Banquet

Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region
104 North Belmont Street, Suite 200
Glendale, California 91206
Phone: 818.500.1918 Fax: 818.246.7353
[email protected]


For Immediate Release: November 17, 2006

Contact: Lerna Kayserian

Tel: (818) 500-1918

ANCA-WR Celebrates Remarkable Milestones during 2006 Annual Banquet

LOS ANGELES, CA – Over 700 Armenian American grassroots activists,
community leaders and federal, state and local legislators joined
the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA-WR)
at its Annual Banquet on November 12th at the Marriott Hotel in Los
Angeles to recognize a year of remarkable achievement in advancing
the Armenian Cause.

"Our program this evening demonstrates the ANC’s accomplishments
and victories in service of our Cause, achievements which would not
have been possible without the moral and financial support of each
and every one of you," said Banquet Chairwoman Aida Dimejian, in her
welcoming remarks.

"Together, we will continue our fight — in the House, the Senate
and in state capitols across the U.S. — confident in your support,
encouraged by your awareness, and inspired by your spirit, because
you are Hai Tahd, you are the ANC, and you are our future."

Renowned French Armenian actor Simon Abkarian served as the evening’s
Master of Ceremonies. Abkarian is starring in the next James Bond
film "Casino Royale", which will be in theaters beginning November
17. The program began with the presentation of the flags of the
United States and the Republic of Armenia by the Homenetmen Regional
Marching Band and the Los Angeles Chapter Scouts, followed by the
national anthems of United States and Republic of Armenia sung by
Mariette Soudjian. Banquet Benefactors Mrs. Kathy Saroukhanian and
husband Mr. Vacheh Marganian were joined by Banquet Patrons Mr. and
Mrs. Varant and Houri Melkonian in co-sponsoring the event.

ANCA-WR Chairman Steven J. Dadaian thanked all those who contributed in
making 2006 a banner year for the ANCA and especially those who worked
tirelessly to organize the annual banquet. In his remarks, Dadaian
emphasized the importance of the community working together to force
Turkey to once and forever remove the genocidal sword it has wielded
during most of the past century. "Genocide without justice turns the
idea of fairness on its head, leaving the cost of the crime to the
victim, and the victimizer free to enjoy the fruits of his offense,"
he said. "We must turn to the great task of securing justice – in
the name of those who perished, those who survived, and for those who
will follow. Working together with the ANCA, we can achieve this great
purpose – the noble work of our generation. To restore to our nation
what was so brutally taken, to prevent a second genocidal onslaught,
and to build a brighter future for our people."

Dadaian also recognized those who have passed and whose legacy and
spirit have been preserved forever by their family and friends with
the establishment of memorial endowments, which will support ongoing
summer internship programs in Washington D.C. and in California. "Let’s
take this moment to remember Haroutune Kasparian, Aram Karamardian,
and Kourken Khanjian and honor their spirits by continuing to support
Hai Tahd."

Special guests and community leaders joined the celebration in support
of the ANCA-WR, including Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate of
the Armenian Apostolic Church of America Western Region, His Eminence,
Republic of Armenia’s recently appointed Consul General Armen Liloyan,
ARF Bureau Member Vicken Hovsepian, ARF Western Region Central
Committee Chairman Avedik Izmirlian, Homenetmen of America Armenian
Athletic and Scouting Association – Western Region Chairman Steve
Artinian, Armenian Relief Society Western Region U.S. Chairwoman Sonia
Peltekian, and Armenian Youth Federation Western Region U.S. Chairman
Saro Shirinian.

Among public officials who attended the ANCA-WR Banquet were
Congressman Adam Schiff, California State Controller-elect John
Chiang, Assemblymember-elect Paul Krekorian, Assemblymember-elect
Anthony Portantino, Assemblymember-elect Mike Feuer, Los Angeles Mayor
Antonio Villaraigosa, Glendale City Councilmember Rafi Manoukian,
Montebello City Mayor Bob Bagwell, LA City Council President Eric
Garcetti, LA Councilwoman Wendy Greuel, Los Angeles Unified School
District (LAUSD) Board member Jon Lauritzen, LAUSD Board member Julie
Korenstein, LAUSD Social Studies and History Director Herman Clay,
LAUSD Supertintendent’s Chief of Staff Vivian Ekchian, Glendale
Unified School District Board member Greg Krikorian, Glendale Police
Chief Randy Adams, Glendale City Councilmember Ara Najarian, Glendale
Community College President Dr. Audre Levy, Glendale Community College
Board of Trustees President Dr. Armine Hacopian, Glendale Community
College Board of Trustees member Dr. Vahe Peroomian, Glendale City
Attorney Scott Howard, Glendale Police Sgt. Tom Lorenz, Glendale Police
Officer and Department Spokesperson John Balian, Glendale City Clerk
Ardashes Kassakhian, Montebello Police Chief Garry Couso-Vasquez,
and Montebello City Councilmember Norma A. Lopez-Reid.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Calls for a Fight Against the Hoagland
Nomination- Commends ANCA for Their Accomplishments

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa headlined the ANCA banquet,
praising the organization for its principled stand on issues and all
their accomplishments while calling for continued pressure on the
White House to withdraw Richard Hoagland’s nomination as the next
ambassador to Armenia because of his genocide denial.

Excerpts from the Mayor’s speech:

"We need to remember the events of the Armenian Genocide by fighting
the nomination of Richard Hoagland until he acknowledges the Armenian
Genocide as fact.

The ANC continues to reawaken our conscience and remind us of the
cruelty that man is capable of inflicting upon his fellow man through
their efforts to keep the memory of the Armenian Genocide alive. I’d
like us all to acknowledge the leadership of the ANC. They were at the
forefront of the campaign to stop the nomination of Richard Hoagland
and I am confident the ANC will continue to lead the way.

I applaud all of you for taking a principled stance you took and
standing up for what you believe in. I commit to standing with you
today, tomorrow, forever, and for as long as it takes, until that day
when the world acknowledges the Armenian genocide. When we all say
that genocide, whether it is in Darfur or in the Balkans or in Armenia
or anywhere in the world, is unacceptable. And we will work together."

ANCA Salutes Ambassador John Marshall Evans as a True Patriot

Elizabeth Chouldjian, the ANCA’s communications director in
Washington, D.C., presented the Freedom Award in absentia to former
U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Evans for his courageous stand in
recognizing the Armenian Genocide in 2005. Evans was subsequently
prematurely recalled this year as ambassador due to pressure from
the Turkish government. Richard Hoagland was nominated by President
Bush to replace Evans, but his nomination has thusfar been blocked
through the efforts of the ANCA and the grassroots activism of the
Armenian American community.

Excerpts from Chouldjian’s Remarks:

"As I look at the current situation in the State Department, I am
reminded of a quote by the first U.S. Secretary of State Thomas
Jefferson. Jefferson said, "In matters of style, swim with the
current; in matters of principle stand like a rock." Is this the State
Department of Jefferson? Is this the legacy of Henry Morgenthau? Are
these the fundamental truths – the moral values – that this great
nation is built upon?

Our message to the State Department is clear – withdraw the Hoagland
nomination, come clean on the firing of Evans, and end the shameless
pandering to the Turkish Government. And if the State Department
doesn’t have the guts to stand by one of its own, to honor the man,
who tried to bring dignity and morality to American foreign policy,
then the Armenian National Committee of America will.

ANCA-WR Freedom Award recipient John Marshall Evans cannot be with
us this evening to accept his award – he is technically affiliated
with the State Department until November 30th – shackled to their
bankrupt policies for a few more weeks. But that won’t stop us from
standing up today in salute of a true American patriot. This is for
you, Mr. Ambassador.

LAUSD’s Bob Collins’s Honored as 2006 Man of the Year

-Collins Praised for Genocide Education Efforts in LAUSD Curriculum

This year marked a special milestone as the Armenian Genocide was
incorporated into two major high school history textbooks, which are
widely used in schools throughout the country. The Los Angeles Unified
School District (LAUSD) recently worked with publishers to ensure the
Armenian Genocide topic was adequately represented in the textbooks
as they prepared to make a major multi-million dollar purchase of the
books that will be used by all LAUSD schools for years to come. The
ANCA-WR worked with Mr. Collins in this major initiative and saluted
his persistence and principled approach to this critical issue by
honoring him as the ANCA-WR 2006 Man of the Year.

As he accepted the Man of the Year Award, Bob Collins recognized his
colleagues, LAUSD Board members Jon Lauritzen and Julie Korenstein
and Vivian Ekchian, Chief of Staff to the LAUSD Superintendent,
for their commitment to education.

Collins discussed the importance of understanding the pain and
suffering of genocide victims and about understanding the traditions
and customs of different cultures. "It is only in that way that we
can break down the barriers of prejudice and intolerance and ensure
that each and every young person truly appreciates their classmates,
their families, and the community in which they are apart of." He also
expressed concern about the Armenian language and culture in the Los
Angeles Unified School Districts and public schools in general, calling
for both the language and the culture to be taught to all students.

"You have my eternal promise to continue to work to ensure that
history is history. It is to be faced, it is to be accepted, it is
to be understood, and it is to be taught as the fabric of what we do
in Los Angeles."


Each year the ANCA-WR honors special members of the community who have
spent their lives working for the Armenian Cause. Vahan Cardashian,
after whom the award was named, was the pioneer for American Armenian
political action during the early twentieth century and founded the
American Committee for an Independent Armenia (ACIA), the predecessor
to the ANCA. This year’s honorees were Serge Samoniantz of Montebello,
California and Khajag Sarkissian of San Francisco, California.

Serge Samoniantz

ANC San Gabriel Valley member Jack Hadjinian presented the 2006 Vahan
Cardashian Award to Serge Samoniantz. "Please join me in welcoming to
the podium a man who has traveled in the footsteps of Vahan Cardashian
– America’s first Hai-Tahd activist."

Serge Samoniantz was first called on by the ANC to help organize
Armenian American grassroots efforts in 1984. Since then, Samoniantz
has traveled across the Western Region of the U.S. to organize town
hall meetings to educate community members on the Armenian Genocide
resolution pending in the Congress, traveled to Switzerland, along
with other Armenian activists from around the world, to encourage the
United Nation’s to approve a report citing the Armenian Genocide as
the first instance of genocide in the 20th Century, and has served
as the ANCA Western Region’s Executive Director both in 1981 and 1984.

Khajag Sarkissian

Khajag Sarkissian was one of the founders of the San Francisco Bay
Area ANC and has been a continuous and consistent member since the
1960’s. He has served as the Chairman of the chapter and also as a
member of the Western Region’s Board of Directors.

ANC San Francisco-Bay Area Chairwoman Roxanne Makasdjian presented
the 2006 ANCA-WR Vahan Cardashian to Khajag Sarkissian. "For those
of you who know him, you know that for Khajag, the Armenian Cause is
not a hobby or a past-time. It makes up the core of his life and his
lifestyle," said Makasdjian, who has worked closely with Sarkissian
for decades.

ANCA: Securing Our Roots. Building for the Future.

Over the years a key feature of the ANCA-WR banquet has been a
video presentation that captures the spirit of the ANCA and its
unparalleled grassroots network. Banquet attendees viewed a dynamic
video presentation produced by Ara Soudjian and Zanku Armenian. The
film highlighted the ANCA-WR’s major efforts and accomplishments of
the past year defending the rights of the Armenian American community,
Armenia, Artsakh and continuing to fight for justice and recognition of
the Armenian genocide. It chronicled the ANCA-WR’s work in increasing
the Armenian American community’s political strength and the respect
it is achieving in government and media circles.

System of a Down’s New Movie "Screamers" Highlighted

The program included a trailer presentation of the recently released
documentary ‘SCREAMERS’, by Carla Garapedian. ‘SCREAMERS’ covers the
efforts of the Grammy-award winning band System of a Down in their
campaign to end the cycle of genocide. ‘SCREAMERS’ premiered at the
American Film Institute Film Festival in Los Angeles on November
2nd. Film Director Carla Garapedian, System of a Down Band Members
Serj Tankian, John Dolmayan and Shavo Odadjian, producers Pete McAlevey
and Tim Swain, sponsor Raffy Manoukian of the Raffy Manoukian Charity
joined hundreds of genocide recognition and prevention organizations,
including the ANCA and Save Darfur, and activists in the premier of
the film. ‘SCREAMERS’ will be released in Los Angeles theatres on
December 8 and on January 19, 2007 in New York, Chicago, Boston and
Washington D.C.


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Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS