LEGATE OF ARMENIAN CHURCH, ARMENIAN ASSEMBLY JOIN INTERFAITH COMMUNITY IN CONFRONTING GENOCIDE
April 17, 2010 – 12:31 AMT 07:31 GMT
Last month, representatives of nationwide religious groups appealed
to Congress to re-focus its attention on the genocide in Darfur.
Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, Legate for the Diocese of the Armenian
Church of North America joined fellow members of the Interfaith
Sudan Working Group, a coalition of Jewish, Muslim and Christian
organizations working for lasting peace in the troubled East African
nation. Following a prayer breakfast at the U.S. Capitol, the group
delivered copies of the children’s fairy tale book, Humpty Dumpty, to
all 535 Members of Congress, signifying the fragility of the situation
in Sudan, reported the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly).
"April is a particularly important month and it is heartening to
know that it has been designated as Genocide Prevention Month in
recognition of the fact that the Holocaust and the start of the
genocidal atrocities that befell the Armenian, Ukrainian, Cambodian,
Rwandan, and Darfurian peoples all took place in April," stated
Archbishop Vicken Aykazian. "It’s a shame that at the beginning of the
21st century genocides are still taking place," continued Archbishop
Aykazian. "If the Armenian Genocide was recognized in the beginning
of the 20th century, maybe those genocides wouldn’t have followed."
The interfaith group met with Senator Russ Feingold (D-MN) a stalwart
for human rights and advocate for anti-genocide policies. Archbishop
Aykazian thanked him for his efforts on Darfur and for his
cosponsorship of S. Res. 316, the Armenian Genocide resolution.
Senator Feingold told the Assembly that "this horrific tragedy took
the lives of 1.5 million Armenians and forced more than 500,000 from
their homeland. I have repeatedly called for the U.S. government to
officially recognize the Armenian Genocide. And as a cosponsor of a
Senate resolution recognizing the genocide, I was pleased last month
when the House Foreign Affairs committee passed a similar resolution."
In addition to their efforts on Capitol Hill, the Interfaith Sudan
Working Group placed a compelling piece in the Roll Call newspaper,
of which the Assembly was listed as a supporter during the same week
of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s passage of the Armenian
Genocide resolution. The coalition’s anti-genocide activities were
also highlighted in an article in The Hill newspaper.
Sponsored by the American Jewish World Service, faith leaders who
participated in the prayer breakfast and book delivery included: Rabbi
David Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism;
Rev. Gloria White-Hammond, AME Pastor; Co-Founder, My Sister’s Keeper;
Galen Carey, Director of Government Affairs, National Association of
Evangelicals; Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, Diocese of Armenian Church of
America; Bishop David Jones, Episcopal Church; Imam Johari Abdul-Malik,
Director, Community Outreach, Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center; Kirk Betts,
Board Chair Emeritus, Lutheran World Relief; Dr.
Steve Colecchi, Director of the Office of International Peace
and Justice for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; and Ruth
Messinger, President, American Jewish World Service.
"The genocide in Darfur is a vivid reminder of how the consequences of
inaction and genocide denial continue to have profound repercussions,"
stated Taniel Koushakjian, Assembly Grassroots Director who
participated in the coalition’s work on Capitol Hill. "Our continued
efforts also send a powerful message to genocidal regimes – that we
will not be bystanders, but rather upstanders."