Colorado Marks ‘Genocide Awareness Day’


Aug 6, 2009

WASHINGTON–Colorado Governor Bill Ritter Jr. joined with the Colorado
Coalition for Genocide Awareness and Action (CCGAA), Wednesday, at a
press conference proclaiming August 5 as "Genocide Awareness Day" in
the state, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

"We’re here today to raise awareness that Genocide is a real thing
where real people are affected in traumatic ways and because as part
of the fraternity of man or in solidarity with our fellow human beings
around the globe, we say we can’t tolerate it, that it should not be
part of our world in the twenty first century," said Gov. Ritter. "The
first recognized genocide of the twentieth century took place in
Armenia, with the slaughter of more than a million Armenians, and we
have seen it again and again since. It is imperative that we recognize
what has happened, so we can ensure it will not happen again."

The genocide awareness event was organized by the Colorado Coalition
for Genocide Awareness and Action, a group founded by local activist
Roz Duman and committed to bringing together anti- genocide groups to
educate Colorado residents about the ravages of this crime against
humanity – from the Armenian Genocide to Darfur. Commenting on the
ongoing efforts to secure U.S. reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide,
Duman explained "The CCGAA has, from its inception, worked within
Colorado to affirm the Armenian Genocide and to promote public
awareness of the facts of that event. Historians have repeatedly
documented a Turkish government orchestrated genocide perpetrated
against its Armenian citizens. Three quarters of the entire population
of Armenians perished in waves of killing from 1895 to 1923 in their
historic homeland. The consequence to the world was the decimation
of a rich and ancient Christian culture."

We salute the efforts of Governor Ritter, the Colorado Coalition for
Genocide Awareness and Action and Colorado’s exceptionally vibrant
Armenian community for their ongoing commitment to ending the cycle
of genocide – through education and action," said ANCA Executive
Director Aram Hamparian. "From standing up against the denial of the
Armenian Genocide to divestment from the genocidal regime in Sudan –
Colorado leaders have proven that each state can play a vital role
in stopping genocide."

Colorado has been at the forefront of the state-level battle in
ending the cycle of genocide, with a strong record of commemorating
past genocides and taking action to end the ongoing atrocities in
Darfur. In 2007, Gov. Ritter signed legislation sponsored by former
House Speaker Andrew Romanoff calling for state and local governments
to completely divest themselves from companies that were financially
involved with the Sudanese government. "Today, two years later,"
Gov. Ritter said, "I’m happy to report that no public dollars from
Colorado state government are invested in companies doing business
with the Sudanese government."

Colorado recognized the Armenian Genocide through gubernatorial
proclamation in 1981 and has adopted Armenian Genocide legislation
consistently over the past decade, thanks to the grassroots efforts
of the Colorado Armenian community. Colorado Armenian Genocide
Commemoration Committee Co-Chair Ken Allikian praised Gov.

Ritter’s latest effort to stop genocide. "I am very pleased that
Armenians of Colorado and the Armenian Genocide Commemoration Committee
have become partners with the Coalition, as they are doing fantastic
work to raise public awareness of the insanity of genocide," explained
Allikian. "I am also proud of the State of Colorado for being the
first in the nation to have such a ceremony, but they have always
proven themselves as a leader in this area, having donated space for
an Armenian Genocide memorial garden on the grounds of the capitol
in 1982 and for eight years running having passed a joint house and
senate resolution proclaiming April 24 as "Colorado Day of Remembrance
of the Armenian Genocide."

Allikian spoke with the ANCA’s Paul Chaderjian and National Board
Member Vicken Sonentz Papazian on the "Horizon 180â~@³ television
news program regarding the Colorado Governor’s press conference and
Armenian Genocide recognition efforts in the state. To watch the
interview, visit:

Over the years, the ANCA has worked closely with Armenian American
activists throughout Colorado to educate elected officials and
the media on a range of community concerns from Armenian Genocide
recognition to self-determination for the people of Nagorno Karabakh
and building a stronger U.S.-Armenia relationship. Local initiatives,
including the highly regarded "The Rocky Mountain Hye Advocates"
political e-newsletter, founded by state-wide community activist
Pamela Barsam Brown, have played a key role in the ongoing effort
to inform the community and the Colorado Congressional delegation,
alike. Barsam Brown was instrumental in coordinating press commentary
from Governor Ritter’s office, the CCGAA and the Colorado Armenian
Genocide Commemoration Committee in support of the "Genocide Awareness
Day" initiative.