ASBAREZ ONLINE [10-29-2004]


1) Armenian, Karabagh Cabinets Hold Joint Meeting
2) Azerbaijan: Opposition Leaders Sentenced after Flawed Trial
3) Armenian Americans Greet Sen. Edwards in Burbank
4) ANCA-Western Region Endorsements
5) The Kef for Kerry Tour
6) George W. Bush: Dangerous for America, Damaging to Armenian Issues
8) The End?
9) For Some Armenians, Bush is the Ticket
10) Making History One Vote At A Time
11) Glendale Donates Paramedic Truck to Sister City

1) Armenian, Karabagh Cabinets Hold Joint Meeting

YEREVAN (RFE-RL)President Robert Kocharian chaired a joint meeting of the
governments of Armenia and Mountainous Karabagh Republic (MKR) on Friday,
calling for greater coordination of policies and closer contacts between their
The MKR side was led by President Arkady Ghukasian and Prime Minister
Anushavan Danielian. Armenia’s Prime Minister Andranik Markarian also took
in the meeting.
President Kocharian said the two Armenian entities, which have become
integrated politically, militarily, and economically over the past decade, are
too reliant on close personal contacts between their supreme leaders and
forge more “formalized” relations. He stressed adopting a “more regulated and
single-minded” work mode between government agencies in Yerevan and
Stepanakert,” according to a statement by the presidential press service.
“The president of the republic at the same noted that Armenia and Mountainous
Karabagh are on the same economic track, thus ongoing reforms must be
congruent,” the statement added. “Otherwise, there would arise a big gap
between the two economies.”
Kocharian’s office said the two cabinets decided to form a joint working
to investigate how to make their cooperation “more effective, targeted, and
program-based.” They also agreed to step up mutual visits and contacts.
Ghukasian and his cabinet members held a special meeting in Stepanakert on
Tuesday in preparation for their collective visit to Yerevan.
Armenia has underwritten more than 75 percent of MKR’s budget expenditures,
providing annual inter-state loans. This year’s allocation will be about 11
billion drams ($22 million).

2) Azerbaijan: Opposition Leaders Sentenced after Flawed Trial

NEW YORKThe sentencing of seven Azeri opposition leaders caps the government’s
record of serious human rights violations, flowing from riots over the
contentious 2003 presidential election, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday.
The seven Azeri opposition leaders are widely considered political prisoners.
On October 22, the Court of Grave Crimes in Baku sentenced the opposition
leaders to prison terms ranging from two and a half to five years of
imprisonment on charges of organizing or participating in mass disturbances
resisting or committing violence against a state representative. The charges
related to the violence that erupted during protests following the October
presidential elections, which independent observers, including the
for Security and Cooperation in Europe, found were fraudulently conducted.
“The lack of basic fair trial standards in this case highlights its political
nature,” said Holly Cartner, executive director of Human Rights Watch’s Europe
and Central Asia division. “It also puts into question the sincerity of
government attempts to resolve the outstanding issues surrounding the 2003
presidential elections.”
Human Rights Watch documented torture in pre-trial detention of four of the
seven defendants (see Crushing Dissent: Repression, Violence and Azerbaijan’s
Elections at
Defense lawyers raised allegations of torture in court. Prosecution witnesses
in this case also told the court that police and prosecutors had coerced and
tortured them to make statements incriminating the opposition leaders.
The judge summoned several law enforcement agents, whom the defendants
had tortured them. The officials denied the torture claims and the judge
accepted their version over the defendants’ with no further investigation. He
then accepted as credible evidence the statements allegedly coerced through
use of torture. The Convention against Torture, to which Azerbaijan is a
explicitly prohibits the use of evidence coerced under torture. Independent
observers also noted that the defendants had only restricted access to
In the October 2003 presidential election, the government carried out a
well-organized campaign of fraud to ensure victory for Ilham Aliyev, in front
of the largest international election monitoring team ever deployed in the
country. When post-election violence erupted, the government responded with
brutal and excessive force, unleashing its security forces to beat hundreds of
demonstrators, some to the point of losing consciousness, and killing at least
one protester.
Human Rights Watch said that the Azerbaijani government did not prosecute any
law enforcement or security agents for torture or excessive use of force
the election fallout.
More than 100 opposition supporters were arrested and charged in the days
following the protests. Within six months all of them were convicted of
participating in the violence, and more than 30 of them were sentenced to
custodial terms ranging from two to six years.
“The flawed trial reinforces an environment of impunity for abuse following
the 2003 presidential elections,” said Cartner.
The trial of the seven opposition leaders was the last of the trials relating
to the post-election violence. In a September report, the rapporteurs for the
Committee on the Honoring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of
the Council of Europe described these people as “presumed political

3) Armenian Americans Greet Sen. Edwards in Burbank

BURBANKA delegation of leading Armenian American activists met briefly with
Democratic Vice Presidential hopeful, Senator John Edwards, on October 12 at
Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, California. The North Carolina Senator was in the
Los Angeles area to make an appearance on NBC’s “Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”
The Armenian Americans greeting Edwards were part of the national “Armenians
for Kerry” effort. They were joined by a group of Democratic public officials
and Party activists who have been actively promoting the Kerry-Edwards ticket
leading up to the November Presidential election.
Armenians for Kerry received a big boost from the Armenian National Committee
of America’s (ANCA) endorsement of the Kerry-Edwards campaign back in July and
has continued to build up momentum as the race for the White House draws to a
In addition to setting up a website
(<;) which
details the
key differences between incumbent President George W. Bush and Massachusetts
Senator John Kerry on issues of importance to Armenian Americans, the group
also launched a campaign which taps into specific swing states where Armenian
American votes can make a difference in the final weeks of the race for the
White House. Armenians for Kerry uses a broad based national strategy that
leverages the Armenian American community’s most valuable resourceits
grassroots activist base. Working in coordination with a number of like-minded
groups, Armenians for Kerry coordinated a three-prong strategy to encourage
Armenian-Americans to participate in the upcoming elections and vote for
Senator Kerry.
Building on the Armenian National Committee of America’s effort to raise
awareness of John Kerry’s 20-year record of supporting Armenian-American
concernson issues ranging from recognition of the Armenian genocide and
self-determination for Karabagh, to increased aid, expanded trade, and an end
to the blockades of ArmeniaArmenians for Kerry has developed a postcard
displaying Sen. Kerry’s positive record next to President Bush’s neglect of
issues of concern to Armenian-American voters. This, the first initiative in
the three-prong strategy, was aimed at Armenian Americans in swing states.
20,000 postcards were targeted to Armenian-American homes in states such as
Florida, Nevada, and Ohio with personal notes from individuals who care about
Armenian issues and highlighting Kerry as the clear choice for Armenian
American voters.
On October 9, the second phase of the strategy was launched with community
activists across the United States calling swing state voters and urging
Armenian Americans to vote for Senator Kerry on Election Day. Armenians for
Kerry activists again paired up with volunteers representing organizations
as the Armenian Youth Federation to reach out to a targeted list of homes. A
spokesman for the groups said that this effort is going to continue through
end of the election.
Groups of activists have also been involved in implementing the final
stage of
the Armenians for Kerry strategycanvassing. With the outcome of the election
likely to ride on a few states, Armenian American activists have been walking
door-to-door to share Sen. Kerry’s positive vision for America. In many cases,
Armenian Americans have collaborated with local Democratic clubs to maximize
the impact of their efforts.
In addition to these efforts, the group has been carrying out voter education
and registration drives to increase voter turnout in the Armenian American
community. Armenians for Kerry is working with “Hye Voter Turnout,” an ANCA
program that encourages Armenian American voter participation in the upcoming
election. The program has already broadcasta “Get-Out-the-Vote” public service
announcement on Horizon 24 Hour Armenian Satellite Television for the past two

4) ANCA-Western Region Endorsements

John Kerry (D)

John Edwards (D)

Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
Harry Reid (D-NV)
Ron Wyden (D-OR)

Raul Grijalva (D-AZ-7)

Mike Thompson (D-CA-1)
Dan Lungren (R-CA-3)
John Doolittle (R-CA-4)
Robert Matsui (D-CA-5)
Lynn Woolsey (D-CA-6)
George Miller (D-CA-7)
Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-8)
Barbara Lee (D-CA-9)
Ellen Tauscher (D-CA-10)
Richard Pombo (R-CA-11)
Pete Stark (D-CA-13)
Anna Eshoo (D-CA-14)
Michael Honda (D-CA-15)
Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-16)
Sam Farr (D-CA-17)
Dennis Cardoza (D-CA-18)
George Radanovich (R-CA-19)
Jim Costa (D-CA-20)
Devin Nunes (R-CA-21)
William Thomas (R-CA-22)
Lois Capps (D-CA-23)
Elton Gallegly (R-CA-24)
Buck McKeon (R-CA-25)
David Dreier (R-CA-26)
Brad Sherman (D-CA-27)
Howard Berman (D-CA-28)
Adam Schiff (D-CA-29)
Henry Waxman (D-CA-30)
Xavier Becerra (D-CA-31)
Hilda Solis (D-CA-32)
Diane Watson (D-CA-33)
Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA-34)
Maxine Waters (D-CA-35)
Juanita Millender-McDonald
Grace Napolitano (D-CA-38)
Linda Sanchez (D-CA-39)
Edward Royce (R-CA-40)
Joe Baca (D-CA-43)
Ken Calvert (R-CA-44)
Mary Bono (R-CA-45)
Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA-46)
Loretta Sanchez (D-CA-47)
Christopher Cox (R-CA-48)
Darrell Issa (R-CA-49)
Duke Cunningham (R-CA-50)
Bob Filner (D-CA-51)
Duncan Hunter (R-CA-52)
Susan Davis (D-CA-53)

Mark Udall (D-CO-2)

Neil Abercrombie (D-HI-1)

C. L. “Butch” Otter (R-ID-1)

Betty McCollum (D-MN-4)
Mark Kennedy (R-MN-6)
Collin Peterson (D-MN-7)

Shelley Berkley (D-NV-1)
Jon Porter (R-NV-3)

Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-3)
Peter DeFazio (D-OR-4)

Nicholas Lampson (D-TX-2)
Lloyd Doggett (D-TX-10)
Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX-18)
Kenny Marchant (R-TX-24)
Martin Frost (D-TX-32)

Jim Matheson (D-UT-2)

Jim McDermott (D-WA-7)

5) The Kef for Kerry Tour

The Kef for Kerry Tour consisted of a series of musical rallies in support of
John Kerry’s candidacy for President, and a tribute to his twenty years of
active support for issues of vital concern to Armenian-Americans. Combining a
celebration of Armenian music with political activism, it brought together
of the best Armenian musicians to support a nationwide voter mobilization
effort for November 2004.
Kicked off in Kerry’s home state of Massachusetts at the Armenstock 2004
festival, the Kef for Kerry Tour took the show on the road to the key
battleground states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida, and Pennsylvania. Billed
as the Armenian version of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Vote for Change’ tour, each
stop on the tour combined a single musical performance with a political
to generate enthusiasm among young activists and bring in hundreds of new
fellow passengers onto the Armenians for Kerry bandwagon.


Wisconsin hosted the first stop of the Kef for Kerry Tour of Battleground
States on Friday, October 8 at George’s Tavern in Racine. Armenian
singer-songwriter Gor Mkhitarian was the featured musician.
Over 75 people attended the show, including Armenians for Kerry from across
the State of Wisconsin, Racine area Democrats, and former US Peace Corps
Volunteers who had served in Armenia. State Representative Bob Turner (D-61st
District-Racine) and State Senator Jeff Plale (D-7th District-South Milwaukee)
also attended.

Over 200 Armenian Americans from South Florida’s Tri-County area (Dade,
Broward, and Palm Beach counties) donned “Armenians for Kerry” & “Armenstock
2004” t-shirts and danced the evening away at the Las Olas Riverfront Sunday,
in support of John Kerry’s presidential bid.
The concert, organized as part of the nationwide “Kef for Kerry Tour of
Battleground States,” featured the Cascade Folk Trio and included special
guests, Massachusetts State Representative Peter Koutoujian, Gwen Graham,
daughter of US Senator Bob Graham (D-FL), representing the Kerry/Edwards
Campaign, and ANCA Government Affairs Director Abraham Niziblian.

The Kef for Kerry event in Dearborn was part of the Ethnic American Coalition
of Michigan Rally for Democratic Candidates. Co-sponsored by the Armenian
National Committee of Michigan, the Chaldean Democratic Caucus, the
Greek-American Democratic Caucus, the Irish Caucus and others, the rally
featured a star studded line-up of speakers with Congressman Joe Biden as the
keynote speaker and Governor Jennifer Granholm, Senator Debbie Stanebow, and
Senator Carl Levin as guest speakers. Entertainment featured Armenian Kanun
player Ara Topuzian.

The Armenians for Kerry of Pennsylvania, the Armenian National Committee (ANC)
of Pennsylvania, and the Armenian Youth Federation of Pennsylvania organized
the Philadelphia Kef for Kerry, a political rally on October 29 staged with
Armenian music to support the candidacy of John Kerry in the final days of the
presidential campaign.
The concert, which featured Armenian singer/songwriter Gor Mkhitarian, took
place at 8:30 pm at St. Gregory’s Hall located at 8701 Ridge Avenue. The
audience included elected officials and members of the local Armenian-American

The Kef for Kerry tour is made possible by a generous contribution from Dr.
Carolann and K. George Najarian.

6) George W. Bush: Dangerous for America, Damaging to Armenian Issues

By Seto Boyadjian, Esq.

The presidential election next Tuesday will be of crucial importance. It will
determine the nature and direction of our foreign and domestic policies for
coming years. The American electorate faces a clear choice between two
platforms proposed respectively by President George W. Bush and Senator John
Armenian Americans also have to exercise their civic duty in choosing
between the two presidential candidates. But we have to be fully aware of our
choice, and we have to make the right choice. Our choice has to be the
candidate who will best advance our country’s international stature, empower
our armed forces, enrich the economy and promote social welfare, AND who will
further expand US support for Armenian American issues.
John Kerry has outlined realistic and rational programs that aim at
reestablishing respect for America abroad and strengthening the nation at
In the realm of international relations, recruitment of allies and maintenance
of America’s prestige are viable targets for Kerry. He is determined to bring
qualitative and quantitative improvements to our armed forces stationed in
Iraq; at the same time, he plans to garner international participation in
bringing a speedy resolution to the Iraqi quagmire. With such projects in
he proposes to concentrate our intelligence and defense potentials on the
obliteration of international terrorism.
Kerry gives special attention to the nation’s economy. He proposes to
balance the budget through gradual decrease of the unprecedented deficit
created by the Bush Administration. He plans to provide tax cuts only for the
middle class and low income people, and abolish the tax cuts for the wealthy
and for those earning more than $200,000 a year. In an effort to decrease
unemployment, his program provides for the creation of new jobs by giving tax
incentives to manufacturers and businesses. In this respect, he also proposes
to reduce the outsourcing of US jobs. He plans to maintain the Social Security
system; to this end, he promises that he will not increase the Social Security
taxes, raise the retirement age, privatize the system, or cut benefits. He
plans to make health insurance cheaper and more affordable to everyone.
John Kerry’s position on Armenian issues has always been consistent and
supportive. During his tenure over the past two decades in Congress, he has
been a staunch advocate of issues of concern to Armenian Americans. He has
provided his unwavering leadership to all initiatives acknowledging the
Armenian genocide. He has been one of our strongest allies in the fight for US
economic, political and military assistance to Armenia and Mountainous
Armenian Americans have always had access to Sen. Kerry. We have held
numerous meetings and consultations with him. We have, together, agreed on
important initiatives benefiting the Armenian cause. As a presidential
candidate, his friendship toward us has not altered. We are certain that as
President, the White House will be made accessible to Armenian Americans,
as it
once used to be under the presidency of Bill Clinton.
However, it will be hard for us to entertain a similar positive attitude
toward President Bush.
Based on his record as President over the past three and a half years,
George Bush presents himself with a failing report card on American as well as
Armenian issues. During his tenure, he eroded our country’s international
prestige and squandered our nation’s economic wealth. Instead of a steadfast
pursuit for the elimination of international terrorism, he diverted the course
of our country to a vindictive policy toward Saddam Hussein. To justify this
diversion, he exaggerated the evidence for the existence of weapons of mass
destruction in Iraq. Then, instead of coordinating the Iraq operation with our
closest allies and seeking their cooperation, he shunned them and encumbered
the American people with the entire burden of the war. Given the fact that the
Iraq operation was a war of choice, he failed to plan for its aftermath in
terms of securing the peace, establishing the security, and setting an exit
strategy. To date, the Iraq operation has cost the American people $150
billion; more than 1,080 American soldiers have been killed; and over 16,000
Iraqi civilians have died.
The economic sector was not spared of failures under the Bush presidency.
The President stubbornly pursued his plans for tax cuts and for expensive
programs. The tax cuts benefited only the richest class that constitutes one
percent of the population. For the federal government, fewer taxes translated
into reduced income. Reduced income forced our government to decrease the
funding of numerous economic, social, and educational programs that benefited
the people. As a result of these policies, one million jobs were lost since
Bush assumed the presidency. During the same period, four million more
Americans sank into poverty and home foreclosures jumped 50%talk about Bush’s
“ownership society.” Under the Bush Administration, more than six million
Americans lost their health insurance coverage; today, there are over
forty-five million people left without any insurance coverage.
The crown jewel in all these is the unprecedented budget deficit. When Bush
took office, he inherited from President Clinton, a $236 billion annual
surplus; in three and a half years, Bush unbalanced the nation’s budget and
turned the surplus into a $520 billion annual deficit.
George W. Bush not only ignored virtually all of the issues of concern to
the Armenian American community, he actively opposed them. In February 2000,
during his first presidential campaign, he promised in a declaration that “If
elected President, I would ensure that our nation properly recognizes” the
Armenian Genocide.
After the election, he reneged on his campaign pledge and, instead, in his
annual April 24th statements he resorted to evasive terminology in order to
avoid any direct reference to the Armenian genocide. When the Senate and the
House of Representatives initiated legislationrespectively S. Res. 164 and
H.Res. 193to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the US implementation of the
UN Genocide Convention, the Bush Administration actively blocked their
adoption, because both legislations made specific references to the Armenian
Genocide. Last July, in response to the House passage of the Schiff Amendment
that prohibited Turkey from using US aid to lobby against the Genocide
Resolution, the Bush Administration unleashed the State Department
and the House Republican leadership to trivialize the Schiff Amendment and
prevent its final enactment into law.
Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act, which restricted US aid to the
government of Azerbaijan for its blockade of Armenia and Mountainous Karabagh,
became one of the first victims of the Bush Administration.
In November 2001, taking advantage of the prevailing mood in the aftermath of
the September 11 terrorist attacks, the Administration aggressively pressured
Congress into easing the restrictions of Section 907, which had been in effect
since 1991. The Congress gave in and granted the President the authority to
waive the section. Armed with this waiver authority, the President provided
Azerbaijan direct economic aid and military assistanceirrespective of the fact
that Azerbaijan was serving as a haven for Islamic terrorists and resuming its
blockade of Armenia and Mountainous Karabagh. During the next three years, the
President’s proposed budgets registered annual reductions of economic aid to
Armenia coupled with annual increases of aid to Azerbaijan. This situation
deteriorated further this year, when the Bush Administration blatantly
attempted to disrupt its agreement with the Congressional leaders in
maintaining the military parity between Armenia and Azerbaijan. In its
budget for 2005, the White House tilted the balance of US military aid in
of Azerbaijan, whereby the proposed Foreign Military Financing to Azerbaijan
was the quadruple of the amount proposed for Armenia.
The list of Bush’s opposition to Armenian American issues is very long.
During his presidential term, Armenian Americans were denied any possible
access to him; the doors of the White House were closed before us. Suffice it
to state that President Bush has set a new record in ignoring the Armenian
American community and its issues of concern.
Taking into account the programs and positions of both presidential
candidates, our choice is very simple. Senator Kerry comes across as the
knowledgeable leader with a promise for hope, optimism, and real
achievementswhereas George W. Bush reveals himself as a limited person with a
promise for fear, intolerance, and limited achievements. Such a person is
dangerous for America and damaging to Armenian American issues.


By Skeptik Sinikian

I’ve been more jumpy and excited the last few weeks than a 9-year-old the
before going to Disneyland for the first time. I try to hide it but nothing
works. I’m following the polls with the fury of a Wall Street stockbroker
reading a market ticker. I’ve tried to be cool and calm and pretend like I
don’t care about the election outcome, but then I find myself obsessed with
poll numbers, C-SPAN, and news articles that are only fanning the flames of
this already emotionally charged election.
With less than two days to go from the November 2nd Big One, you would think
that all my attention would be focused on following the candidates as they
their final pitches to the American public. But on Friday, I had a pleasant
distraction. I came to work to find an email in my mailbox from a friend
declaring that Armenia had won third place overall in the World Chess
Championships. This may not seem like it’s big news to the average person, but
trust me on this one when I say that this is huge. This is really huge,
especially when you consider that the countries in the top four are Ukraine,
Russia, Armenia, and China. Armeniapopulation hovering barely around 3
millionheld its own in the Granddaddy of the chess worldthe World
They came out on top in one of the most strategically and mentally challenging
games ever created by man.
When political scientists pontificate pedantically about world affairs, they
often invoke chess analogies ( I almost sounded like Yegparian in that last
sentence. Better watch myself). The greatest chess players of our time are
considered by many some of the greatest minds. Gary Kasparov (who is half
Armenian) has gone toe-to-toe with the world’s most advanced computers to test
which is smarterman or machine. During the late 60s and 70s the rivalries
between the Soviet Union and the United States over the chess boards were as
intense as in any other arena of the Cold War. So where do we as Armenians
stand? Well, in a world where Armenians are treated more often than not like a
hacky sack at a hippie commune, it’s encouraging to see our people hold their
own with the other great world powers. I’d rather have a medal in chess than
ten Olympic medals in weightlifting or synchronized diving alongside Iran or
But there’s more to my excitement and it ties into the upcoming elections. As
Armenians, we always root for the underdog. That is our lot in life. We are
history’s underdogs. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, we are the Boston Red Sox
of world politics and history. It’s through great sacrifice and facing
insurmountable odds that we achieve great success. Would we relish this Chess
victory as much if we were in the finals with sayI don’t knowMongolia,
and Liberia? No offense to my Mongolian, Ecuadorian, or Liberian friends, but
the victory just isn’t that sweet unless it’s against the juggernauts. Rocky V
would not be as exciting if instead of beating “the Russian,” Rocky had
out a hairy Uzbek instead. Armenians love drama and what greater drama than
facing insurmountable odds and coming out on top.
S*****… here’s where we make the turn and discuss Campaign 2004. Bush is the
obvious favorite. He’s the incumbent, a wartime President, leading (albeit
narrowly) in most polls, (I don’t trust polls myself. Polls? Polls?? We don’t
need no stinking polls!) and looks like he could win if he’s working on every
cylinder. But he’s also got the worst record on Armenian issues of any
President we have had in recent historythat’s including Bubba Clinton from
Arkansas. Kerry on the other hand has a long history of support of Armenian
issues not to mention the key role he’s played in fighting for the passage of
certain resolutions (Genocide, Section 907, etc.). We can and should support
this guy because he is so hot on Bush’s heels that you can see the panic in
Bush’s eyes.
Now if the world of politics is a chess board, and we were to assign
groups a chess piece that would correspond with our overall political
weight in
this electionI would compare the Armenian community to a pawn. Our mobility is
limited by our size and when up against any other piece on the board, we face
an uphill struggle. Nevertheless, the pawn is an essential piece to any chess
game, and often as the game progresses and we reach an endgame, there usually
are a few pawns left on the board. Sometimes the difference in a very close
game is determined by one or two pawns. So even though, Armenians may get
discouraged by their size and numbers when compared to the other more popular
and seemingly more influential groups in politics (Latinos, African Americans,
Jews, Asians, etc.), this election is headed toward an endgame and pawns are
going to be key.
As the famous Estonian Chess player Paul Keres once said (if the internet
didn’t exist, I’d never even know who Keres was), “The older I grow, the
more I
value Pawns.” Time for these pawns to step up on Tuesday and send Bush back to
Crawford, Texas!
And folks, if you don’t want to take my word on why you should vote for Kerry
over Bush, maybe you’ll be convinced by an Azeri viewpoint. Just visit
and ask yourself “Can we really afford four more
years of the same?”

Sketpik Sinikian is merely a pawn in the game of life. He would like to remind
every pawn, rook, queen, king, bishop, and horsey to vote on November 2 for
anyone but Big Bad Bush. He can be reached for comment at
[email protected] or visit him online at

8) The End?

By Garen Yegparian

We all hope that Tuesday November 2 will mark the end of this election season,
but the prognosticators say both sides of the Republocrat duopoly will be
after one another in the courts.
Anyone reading my writings clearly knows how vile I deem the current US
to be. However, let’s look at it from an Armenian perspective, simply,
rationally. Let’s also throw in the minor consideration that Armenians are
human too. Then factor in the concern that any citizen has for his/her
country’s well being.
Let’s get one thing out of the way. I’m no Kerry worshipper. I proudly
supported Nader four years ago. The current Green Party candidate and its
presidential nominee, David Cobb, have articulated a very intelligent
In so-called safe states, vote FOR your choice, not AGAINST what you dread.
Thus, it’s very sensible for Libertarians in Texas to vote for their candidate
and Greens, theirs. Similarly in California, New York, most Southern states,
However, one thing gives me pause about the wisdom of this approach. If
George is as bad as I claim, then it pays to have as many votes appear in his
main opponent’s column to have a perceptibly resounding trouncing. This
demonstrates the public’s disgust with Cheney and his puppet’s policies.
But back to whom Armenians should vote for. Bush, with his oil connections to
Azerbaijan and desire to control the European Union through Turkey’s
therein, is firmly in the Turkic camp. His genocide recognition avoidance,
Armenia/Artzakh aid cutting, and rapid patching up of differences with Turkey
after the latter’s denial of pre-Iraq-invasion access are just manifestations
of this reality.
Has he done anything for us? Nope! nada, zip, vocheench, abadan, rien, heech,
Even some of his big Armenian supporters from 2000 have been tepid towards
man they energetically supported before. What’s that tell you?
So why should any Armenian vote for this guy who stole an election four years
Conversely, Kerry has a long record of supporting us during his tenure in
Clearly from an Armenian perspective, Kerry’s the choice. The ANC has made
this endorsement.
More broadly, Bush/Cheney constitute a threat to the existence of our
species. This regime’s environmental policies, warmongering, and blithe
disregard of the adage “With great power comes great responsibility” have
placed the course of human affairs on a dangerous track.
This whorehouse, er White House, has been nothing but a great big feedbag to
the extremely wealthy sector of the country’s elite that implanted the
neoconservatives in power. Everything is for sale. Nothing matters more than
money, wealth, and property. The examples are legion. A so-called Clear Skies
initiative that lets polluters off the hook. A Healthy Forests program that
chops them down to save them. A presidency marked by a net loss of jobs for
first time since the Great Depression. Continued sale of lands with
minerals at 1870s prices. Underfunding its own No Child Left Behind program.
And most of this was done duplicitously, sneakily, as the above named programs
suggest. Cheney refuses to release the names of those he met with to develop
energy policy. What’s he got to hide? Hundreds of anti-environmental
regulations were implemented by this regime. They were usually announced on
late Friday afternoons so no one, particularly the media, would notice. The
much touted Medicare prescription changes that were supposed to provide
medication at lower cost has resulted in higher prices, as predicted by
independent sources. Why would a citizen vote for someone who solemnly lies to
him/her on a regular basis.
A major drive to have the people’s needs guide policy must be undertaken. The
first step is to break the power of the extreme right wing. Vote for Democrats
except for those Republicans who have supported Armenian issues. Then we’ll
take on a revamping and clean the Democrats’ arrogant clock as well.

And, regardless of everything else, DO VOTE!

Since no one else is doing it, I’ve given myself the right to make
recommendations to our community as to how to vote on the California
initiatives, and a brief rationale as to why.

59 YES
The more visible government operations are to the citizenry, the safer we are
from abusive government, and this measure does so.

60 YES (see also 62)
This safeguards the right of voters affiliated with a political party to
who will represent them.

Common sensedon’t waste money that doesn’t come from a recurring source.
Use it
for maximum benefit.

61 NO (see also 67)
This transfers the burden of public needs dispropor-tionately onto those who
can least afford it. It’s a good idea done the wrong way. The issue probably
wouldn’t even exist if the so-called “tax revolts” of the last quarter century
hadn’t emasculated state government’s ability to provide for the common good.

62 NO (see also 60)
Imagine if Hunchags could choose to vote for who will represent Tashnags,
Tashnags for Ramgavars, Ramgavars for Hunchags, and vice versa. Each party has
it’s own ideologywhy should an outsider have a say in who represents a member
of an organization? Apply the same logic to members of the Sierra Club and
This was done once and overturned by the courts. Why is it here again?

63 YES
This properly places expectations for meeting a public need on the segment of
society best able to afford it.

64 NO
This effectively eliminates your right to sue when someone or a company is
breaking the law or harming you indirectly. It is another example of
to kill a fly with a sledgehammer. Some abuses of existing law should be
cracked down on, not the whole beneficial law repealed.

1A YES/65 NO
This safeguards the ability of cities and counties to provide the services
their residents need and expect by preventing the state from not giving it to
these jurisdictions. It is supported by the local authorities and the
It replaces 65, which the same forces initially wanted to implement.

66 YES
This refines the roughest edges of an arguably bad law. It eliminates the
specter of someone getting a life term in prison for stealing a loaf of bread!

67 NO (Same as 61)
An example: $13 billion of the $15 billion shortfall in state revenue last
could have been made up simply by reintro-ducing the 11% tax bracket
less than ten years ago when the states coffer’s were fuller.

68 NO (see also 70)
Native Americans have suffered so much loss and usurpation of land and rights
(much as Armenians have) that nothing which proposes to constrain them in any
way is appropriate to enact. Besides, many of the tribes are recognized
treaties with the United States as sovereign. Passing this measure would be
like trying to tell Canada what to do.

69 NO
This measure looks good on the surface, but ends up giving far too much
information about innocent citizens to government police agencies.

70 NO (Same as 68)

71 YES
Due to the policies of the current US regime, the research this measure would
pay for is now leaving the country. Once it comes to fruition, it will be a
tremendous economic benefit to whatever jurisdiction has hosted it and a
benefit to all humanity.

72 YES
Sometimes you can understand a measure by seeing who opposes it. Walmart
recently gave $500,000 to the campaign opposing this measure. McDonalds has
behaved similarly. These are among the most egregious abusers of low wage
labor. All the measure does is oblige them to provide health coverage for
full time employees, which hardly seems unreasonable. And small businesses
(less than 50 employees) will not be impacted by this measure despite the
Inaccurate portrayals of the opposition.

9) For Some Armenians, Bush is the Ticket

By Jenny Kiljian

The Armenian people have historically been divided by political and religious
issues. But, it appears that the tide has turned in the 2004 election season.
The three political partiesArmenian Revolutionary Federation, Social
Hunchakian Party, and the Armenian Democratic Liberal (Ramgavar) Partyhave all
officially endorsed Senator John Kerry in his presidential bid.
Yet, just as the American population seems to be evenly divided between the
two candidates, there are a number of Armenians who will be casting their
ballot for President George W. Bush, who the National Organization of
Republican Armenians (NORA) has endorsed. It seems that their decision is
largely on the war in Iraqa factor that supersedes contentious domestic topics
and, in many cases, the issues that are of specific interest to the Armenian
community. Their belief is that Bush is the better person in terms of leading
the country in light of the present situation.
“I think that President Bush has proven his sincerity and dedication to
solving this global problem. Do I agree with all of his policies even when it
comes to Iraq? No, of course not. I do not think that the post-war phase of
this challenge was handled very effectively. However, when you make decisions
as bold as the one Bush made, mistakes are going to follow,” says Raymond
Ellyin, a 27-year-old graduate student of Physics at UCLA. Ellyin, who voted
for Bush in the 2000 election, explains that remaining passive considerably
decreases the likelihood of error, and notes that Kerry would clearly take a
less forceful approach than Bush. “When you are a superpower, you have to make
tough calls and that is exactly what president George W. Bush did.”
As the mayor of the City of Downey, 31-year-old Kirk Cartozian says has been
afforded an interesting perspective into the political arena, and his support
of President Bush stems largely from this vantage point. “It goes without
saying that we are in trying times, both as a country and as a world. George
Bush inherited a reality much unlike the world has ever seen. He did not ask
for the cards he was dealt. Rather, he has responded with a consistency and
clarity that I admire,” says Cartozian, who voted for Bush in 2000, as
well. “I
have watched him as closely as I’ve ever watched another elected official. I
sincerely believe that he has our nation’s best interest in mind. He has
on countless controversial issues that most presidents would refuse to
in their first term.” He echoes Ellyin’s sentiments about the advantages of
being passive or neutral. “If he were truly concerned about just getting
re-elected, it would have been easier to do nothing.”
David Norian lives in the New York metropolitan area, and witnessed
the September 11 terrorist attacks. He believes that this issue is of foremost
importance, especially to people on the East Coast. “Iraq is the most
issue in this election. I support President Bush because of his understanding
of the war on terror, and no-tolerance mandate for those involved in and
unwilling to decry terrorist activities, whatsoever,” says Norian. “In
addition, I feel the Republican philosophy of energetic, focused government
designed to help people help themselves is the best way to govern a people.”
Norian voted for Senator Al Gore in the 2000 election, but says that he
came to support Bush within the President’s first weeks in office.
The tension in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks was also undoubtedly
felt on the West Coast. “I’m voting for President Bush because of his foreign
policy,” says one Los Angeles-based Armenian woman, who wishes to remain
anonymous. (For the purposes of this article, we will refer to her as Nareh.)
“I don’t want to live in fear.” She, like the others, believes that the
Democratic challenger’s position on the war is weak. “I don’t like the
laid-back attitude of Kerry. I think we should have a strong stance as the
United States, and that, as far as homeland security goes, the policies should
be as they are now, if not stronger.”
Although she works for the California Republican Party as a special projects
coordinator, Jasmine Megrabyan says it is the president’s unequivocal stance
that has persuaded her to vote for him again in this election. “First and
foremost, I just firmly believe that he is the best candidate to deal with the
current issues–most importantly the war in Iraq,” says Megrabyan. “I believe
he has a clear vision and I believe that unlike his opposition he knows
where we need to be as a country, rather than flip-flopping on all the

“I think a president’s first priority should always be our national
says 22-year-old James Demerjian, who works as a field representative for the
California Republican Party Victory 2004 campaign. “If I supported President
Bush based only on one issue, it would be his stance on national security.”
Ara Bedrossian serves as the West Coast Representative for NORA, which has
been vocal in its support of the president, despite the overwhelming number of
Armenian political organizations that have endorsed Kerry. “I think that
the board, Bush is a better candidate for the United States. The war in
Iraq is
definitely a key issue, and I believe we should stay with the vision of Bush
and his plan for the future of Iraq,” says Bedrossian, an attorney who resides
in Tarzana. “His economic policies are a better fit for what I’d like to see
happening in the United States. He has essentially taken the United States
to the age of accountability. Individual Americans have not been accountable
for their actions and we have to go back to that.”
Another resounding motivation to support Bush is the perception that Kerry is
a ‘flip-flopper’ and has apparently not expressed a definitive opinion on the
key issues in this election, whether it is gay marriage, abortion, or, most
importantly, the war in Iraq.
“I’m not voting for Kerry because of his indecisiveness and his wishy-washy
beliefs on certain issues–‘I’m for the war, I’m not for the war. I won’t
taxes, I will raise taxes.’ It’s difficult to follow his thought process,”
Jasmine Megrabyan. “President Bush has a clear, laid-out plan that he’s been
adhering to for four years. He took the actions to make the homeland more safe
and secure, and he is the one who needs to see it through to the end.”
Megrabyan doesn’t consider electing a new president to be beneficial for the
country. “If they are to elect new leadership in this country, I believe
that we will really see many more casualties than we have, just based on the
fact that Kerry doesn’t have a clear agenda on what he wants to accomplish.
Like the way the tide rolls in, he changes every moment. He tells constituents
in every area, what they want to hear.”
Nareh agrees. “I’m not voting for Senator Kerry because he doesn’t stand for
anything. There’s not one issue that he’s strong on,” she charges. “At one
point, he believes in the war in Iraq, and then he changes his mind. First he
wants stringent homeland security standards, and then he wants to be lax. It’s
what we’re seeing during the debates. He can’t stick to things and that
frightens me.”
David Norian similarly criticizes the Massachusetts senator. “Kerry has no
clear direction on the issue of the war in Iraq. There is a lack of
cohesion on
where he stands,” he says. “What we’ve seen is a complete incoherence and lack
of clarity from Kerry on the issue of the war on terror. Rather than
concrete alternatives, he has been complaining and pessimistic. But, we know
what we have with President Bush.”
The fact that Kerry is a career politician also concerns Norian. “We
be electing a 20-year senator into presidential office. He has a team of
who decide on his policies and move him ahead. At this point, I don’t think
John Kerry knows which way is up,” says Norian. “He’s been mixed up about
I just don’t know if I want a bureaucratic politician to be moving into the
White House.”
Nareh also supports the President and has misgivings about Kerry’s
position on
the war in Iraq and says that, despite his promises, he would not be able to
immediately withdraw US troops out of Iraq. “I believe that any president,
Democrat or Republican, would have taken the same positions and decisions as
President Bush after September 11,” she says. “People find that it’s easier to
place blame on him because of his father’s history in Iraq. But, President
Clinton would have probably made the same decisions as Bush, and Kerry isn’t
going to run out of Iraq as quickly as people might think.”
Although the recognition of the Armenian genocide remains an issue close to
the hearts of these voters, it does not take precedence and is apparently not
the determining factor in their decision to vote for Bush. They further
that many state and federally elected politicians have been unable to uphold
their promises to the Armenian community once in office.
“George Bush does not champion all of the causes that are near and dear to my
heart. In fact, as an Armenian living in America, I am disappointed that he
still has not recognized the Armenian Genocide,” says Kirk Cartozian. “The
arena of world politics is much more complex than people realize and I do not
hold any elected official responsible for championing one particular cause.
Rather, President Bush has earned both my respect and my vote by sticking to
his convictions, relying on the sound (and confidential) advice of his
and leading our country in the most difficult of times.”
The genocide is a definite consideration for Norian, who works in
but he believes that his primary allegiance is to the United States. “I
definitely consider the genocide,” says Norian. “But Armenians should have
realized by now that the Armenian genocide will only be recognized formally by
world governments, and in a more widespread way among people, through our
continued work in spreading the truth across all available
channels–legislative, media, and artistic mediums, among others. The diaspora
must never bow to pressure to give up on the goal of Genocide recognition. We
didn’t ask to bear this cross, but we must never blame ourselves for seeking
the truth.”
For Raymond Ellyin, the recognition of the Armenian genocide takes no greater
precedence than other domestic issues such as abortion and gay marriage, in
light of the war in Iraq. “Yes, this is something that does reserve a very
special place in my heart. I do pay attention to how the candidates feel
supporting Armenia and acknowledging certain historical facts like the
Genocide,” he expresses. “Nevertheless, again this falls in the category of
lesser importance. Politics is a very dirty game and my experience in this has
been lots of promises and no real action by any one president in particular. I
feel that ultimately the truth will come out, and through time we will achieve
this specific victory by putting political pressure on all future candidates.
We have achieved minor victories here and there, but we still have a lot of
work to do in this regard.”
Nareh also hesitates to believe in the promises that politicians make to the
Armenian community. “History has shown that they don’t stick to what they’ve
promised,” she asserts, echoing the sentiment that there are other, more
pressing national and global concerns that affect her decision. “Taxes,
domestic issues, foreign policy–these are the issues that I look at. Because
the United States has such a strong relationship with Turkey, I don’t believe
any president will be able to recognize the genocide in the present or near
Norian, in fact, believes that the Armenian genocide and the Armenian
community’s sensitivity to injustice make the war on Iraq germane to their
as voters. “Many Armenian-Americans, the majority of whom are of the second
third generations – with a direct relationship to survivors of the Armenian
genocide – may feel the gravity of the current world situation more, in terms
of the need to bring to justice those tyrannical and genocidal regimes who
to deny human rights and sponsor terrorism, especially in the Middle East,”
says Norian.
He draws a comparison between the survivors of the genocide, and the present
plight of the Iraqi people. “For us, the freedom our nation is now proactively
defending is the very freedom that our ancestors were offered without
hesitation upon fleeing the horrible crime of the Genocide,” he says. “We have
developed a strong trust and identity in this country over the generations,
we will never take America for granted–not only because of the trials our
parents and grandparents experienced just to make it here alive, but how hard
they worked in the early 20th century to assimilate into their new, beloved
country. I believe this is true in many cases for individuals who are able to
put into perspective the experience of earlier generations of
Armenian-Americans, and understand it in the context of what is going on in
world today. Many Armenian-Americans do, in fact, consider themselves American
first, and do not have ties to a ‘third country’ and family history in another
part of the Middle East or Arab world, and that influences the way they
look at
America, the issues and, thus, this election.”
Despite their disagreement with many of the president’s policies, they say it
is his handling of the war in Iraq that makes him the better candidate. “I am
pro-choice, and I also disagree with Bush when it comes to gun control,” says
Raymond Ellyin. “But, again, all of these issues fall into the category of
lesser importance, and about seventy percent of my vote is connected with the
global war on terror because that is a higher priority than any other issue.
Most of the time in life, one has to pick the lesser of two evils.”
Kirk Cartozian, as well, parts ways with President Bush on several of the key
issues, noting that the safety and security of the United States as a nation
and bloc must take precedence over the various voting constituencies. “I
disagree with a few of his positions, but they are all secondary to giving my
vote to a person who I feel is the most concerned with leading our nation, as
opposed to pandering to any and all interests that may represent a powerful
bloc of votes.”
The issue of abortion also does not seem to be a determining factor. “I
believe that ultimately it is a woman’s choice, but I also am personally
opposed to abortion,” says Jasmine Megrabyan, who has a four-year-old son.
Asked about the rumblings about Bush seeking to make abortion illegal,
Megrabyan does not waver. “I would support him, because in the end, I am
personally opposed to abortion.”
For Nareh, a lawyer, the widespread panic over the possibility that President
Bush could ban abortion has not fazed her. “I don’t believe Roe v. Wade
will be
overturned, and I don’t think President Bush’s beliefs alone can change that,”
she affirms. “I believe in a woman’s right to choose. Barring 50 years of
staunch republican ruling, a lot of the justices changing–it’s a rare
circumstance I don’t see happening.”
David Norian sees it not so much as a difference of opinion, but a lack of
communication between the Bush administration and the American public. “I’ve
been critical of his performance in the first and third debates. He wasn’t as
articulate as I would have liked. In the debates of 2000, when he was running
as a challenger, you saw a better speaker,” says Norian. “He has failed to
communicate a lot of issues. But, generally he has a way of communication that
can be really strong. He distills issues to their essence and communicates
directly to the people. I like his approach, his aura, and the strength he
forth. Yet, he’s a man of action, not necessarily a man of words, and I
rely on
Most expressed a strong skepticism about Kerry’s promises to the Armenian
community, noting that, as the senator from Massachusetts, his constituency is
largely Armenian.
Jasmine Megrabyan says she doesn’t give special preference to candidates who
promise to support the Armenians or pass measures that will recognize the
Armenian genocide. “I personally don’t because I was born and raised in this
country. I am an Armenian-American,” she says. “I believe that in this current
election cycle, the fact that Senator Kerry comes from a state that has a
number of Armenians residing in it, is a big reason why he has tailored his
particular message to this group of constituents.”
NORA’s Ara Bedrossian cites the geo-political history of the United
States. “I
believe, in general, State Department policy doesn’t change from
to administration and Armenian voters need to remember that. The United States
is an ally of Turkey and I don’t think that will change,” he cautions. “As
Armenian-Americans, we have a good future with Bush. He’s sent aid to Armenia,
solidified the security structure in Armenia, and has bettered economic
relations between the United States and Armenia. He’s secured Armenia
membership in the World Trade Organization, and he’s pressured Turkey to lift
its blockade.”
David Norian, as well, considers the promises of politicians to be fruitless.
“My opinion of Kerry, based on being a close follower of this election, is
he does pander to different groups in order to get their votes. The man is all
over the place,” he says. “As Armenians, we know the promises that the
politicians make when they’re looking for votes. Once they’re elected, they
can’t fulfill those promises within the United States system. I can’t imagine
that Kerry will succeed any better. I think Kerry is unclear of what it’s like
to be president and what kind of resistance he might encounter. I don’t fault
Bush for failing to get the genocide recognized.”
Megrabyan and Demerjian drew comparisons to Congressman Adam Schiff of
“There is a vast number of Armenians in Massachusetts. It’s just like in
Glendale when we see Adam Schiff constantly catering to the Armenian
Those are their voters and those are the people whose support they need.
Yet, I
don’t see Kerry coming to the Armenian community in Glendale saying anything,”
she says. “But, for me personally, where they stand on the issue of the
Armenian genocide is not the key determining factor. It is of importance
because I am Armenian and I’m raising my child as an Armenian. But, to say
it would be the deciding factor–no.”
Demerjian, too, doubts the sincerity of Kerry’s affection for the Armenians.
“John Kerry the senator had to talk about Armenian issues because he
represented Massachusetts where there is a big Armenian population. It’s the
same reason Adam Schiff supports the Armenian cause. It’s not because he
but because a huge part of his electorate is Armenian. They both have to be
sensitive to Armenian causes, otherwise they wouldn’t get elected.”
A handful defended the president’s tight-lipped demeanor about the war and
recent reports that the American public may have been misinformed about the
reason for the United States going to war in Iraq. “As far as the
misinformation about the weapons of mass destruction, I can only say that
regular citizens like you and me only see what is at the surface. Politicians
and Presidents do not have this luxury,” he says, crediting Bush with having
the fortitude to deal with the global threat of terror. “September 11, the
bombings in Italy, and the school hostage situation in Russia proved how evil
these terrorists are. These terror cells are all linked to one another, and
will stop at nothing to get what they want. We cannot afford to sit back and
wait for another attack to take place so that we can retaliate. In summary, I
am voting for President Bush because I think that he is the lesser of two
(in this case). Our country cannot afford a weak president who wants to
negotiate our well-being.”
He also absolves the United States for taking a unilateral position in the
in Iraq, forgoing the approval of the United Nations before the invasion. “The
United States did not undermine the integrity of the United Nations. The
Nations undermined its own integrity by not following through with its
and demands. Passing resolution after resolution is not a deterrent for the
Jasmine Megrabyan also supports the administration’s approach with the media
and the American people. “I believe that anybody who is running the
country–whether it’s a Democrat or a Republican–can only disclose a certain
amount of information to the public,” she says. “With the information
to him, he led the people in the right direction.”
Even in light of criticism about how the Bush administration has handled the
situation in Iraq, David Norian continues to defend the President and the
decision to invade Iraq. “Did things go wrong? Yes. Were mistakes made? Yes.
But, I trust that eventually we’ll bring the situation under control,” he
“This is a tremendous challenge and because we’re able to look at it under a
microscope as it’s happening, we might forget the logic behind it as the
are still playing out–as opposed to believing in the initial logic for being
there and in the long-term benefit of what we’re doing in bringing state
supporters of terrorism to justice.”
Norian cites a comment made by Wall Street Journal Editorial Page Editor Paul
Gigot during a recent interview with Charlie Rose. “He said that this election
is about who will be the next Commander in Chief , and not just ‘President’ as
we’ve known that term to be,” he says. “This idea resonates with me.”
Kirk Cartozian points out that as the Commander in Chief and leader of the
free world, Bush leads a plurality, not only of those who support him and
for him, but also of his opponents and detractors. “He is responsible for all
people, even those who didn’t vote for him, and those who continue to contest
his policies, that is how a democracy operates,” says Cartozian. “He will be
held to ultimate test. On November 2nd, America will decide if they want to
stay the course, or choose another one.”

10) Making History One Vote At A Time

A conversation with Rostom Sarkissian

Rostom Sarkissian is only 26 years old, but listening to him talk about
politics, you would think you were speaking to a veteran political analyst who
has been working on campaigns since the Reagan-Carter race.
Sarkissian got his political start when he was a student at Hoover High
in Glendale and just happened to walk into the campaign offices of then
candidate for Glendale City Council, Rafi Manoukian, back in 1999. Today he
jokingly refers to himself as having been part of the original “Manoukian
Machine.” He credits that election for awakening not only the Armenian
political voice in Glendale, but the activist within him as well. A
graduate of
Occidental College in Eagle Rock, California, Sarkissian has already
accumulated quite a political resume. He has conducted research in Armenia,
interned for the UN at the Office of the Iraqi Oil for Food Program, and
on numerous local and state campaigns. In 2000, he was part of an elite group
of university students to participate in the Armenian National Committee of
America’s Leo Sarkissian Summer Internship Program. After graduating from
college, Sarkissian returned to his political roots by managing the successful
re-election of Glendale Mayor Rafi Manoukian. After the campaign, he was
accepted into the Coro fellowship, one of the nation’s most prestigious public
policy leadership training programs, which is based on experiential learning
obtained through site placements. He worked in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for
over a year and during his time there worked on the Howard Dean Campaign for
President in Iowa.
Sarkissian’s love of politics has taken him half way around the globe to his
ancestral homeland, to the halls of the United Nations and today, he finds
himself in a small city in Oregon, sitting behind a desk, staring at his
computer while he gives advice on the phone to a team of grassroots activists.
Sarkissian is currently both the Deputy Field Director for the Democratic
of Oregon, and the regional director for the 5th largest county in Oregon.
Recent polls show that Kerry’s leading the President in Oregon by at least 5
points. Asbarez caught up with Sarkissian to talk about his political career
and his experiences on this campaign.

Asbarez: When did you start with the campaign?
Rostom Sarkissian: I arrived in Oregon on July 26, but I’ve been following the
Presidential campaign since September of last year.

Asbarez: How did you get involved in politics?
RS: I got involved in politics in 1999 as a volunteer with Rafi Manoukian’s
first city council campaign. I heard about his candidacy in Asbarez, and
thought I’d stop by and see how I could help. It’s been 5 years now, and I’ve
been addicted to the electoral process ever since.

Asbarez: What drew you to this campaign?
RS: There are too many reasons to list. John Kerry has a great record on
Armenian issues in the Senate, and I think he will be a President that all
Americans can respect. George W. Bush has not only been indifferent toward the
Armenian community but has been outwardly hostile. I remember when his
administration tried to place Armenia on a list with known terror sponsoring
countries, and his administration’s response was, “oops we made a mistake?”
That’s the record of the Bush administration, one big mistake.

Asbarez: What did you learn on that campaign, and how have you incorporated it
into your work today?
RS: I learned during Rafi’s race that politics is personal. If people see how
voting will affect them, they will vote. In this year’s race, it’s very clear
how this election will affect people. Family incomes for the middle class have
gone down while health care costs have skyrocketed. I have friends and family
that went to Iraq. For what? WMD’s that didn’t exist? George Bush rushed to
without a plan to win the peace. I think it’s very clear how this election
affect people’s lives.
Also, in Rafi’s race, our goal was to register new voters and bring them into
the process. It’s no different with this election; just on a much larger

Asbarez: What is it like working on such a close campaign?
RS: (laughing) Long hours, bad food, and very little sleep, but I have nothing
to complain about. This is one of the most exciting, and surreal
experiences of
my life. This whole election rests on a handful of states, and it’s a great
feeling to know that I can make a difference in one of those states. While
people are closely following the election on TV, I get to see it first
When John Kerry came to Portland in August, over 50,000 Oregonians turned out
in the middle of the day to see him, and all I kept thinking was “we’re going
to win.”

Asbarez: How does your background working in grassroots politics affect your
RS: The old adage of “All politics is local” applies to a presidential
as much as it does for a local race. The essence of grassroots politics is
personal interactions. That’s what we’ve been doing on this campaign.
The first thing I did when I arrived in Oregon was build a volunteer
organization that would sustain the main thrust of our campaign which is voter
contact, voter contact, voter contact. We run the ground campaign the same way
we would in a local race. Phone bank, canvass and repeat. Day in, day out.
This is why we are going to win.

Asbarez: What has been your best/worst experience of this campaign?

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

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