GEORGIA OFFICIALS MARK ARMENIAN GENOCIDE AT ANNUAL STATE CAPITAL COMMEMORATION
Wednesday, May 12th, 2010
State and local Proclamations and Resolutions Honor Survivors and
Victims; Praise Armenian Community Vigilance to End the Cycle of
ATLANTA, GA – The Armenian community of Georgia was joined by state
and local officials in commemorating the Armenian Genocide at an
annual program held at the State Capitol, organized by Dr. Sarkis
Agasarkisian and Aroutioun Agasarkisian, chairman of the Armenian
National Committee of Georgia.
Mistress of Ceremonies Vardoui Agasarkisian Jinian opened the
program by thanking elected officials for their continued support in
commemorating this crime against humanity, inviting former Atlanta
Mayor Bill Campbell to provide an invocation.
Former Georgia State Representative and current Fulton County
prosecutor Robin Shipp was on hand to present a letter from Georgia
Governor Sonny Perdue. "Today, with heavy heart, we remember and mourn
the sufferings of the Armenian people from 1915-1923, when more than
1.5 million Armenian men, women and children were murdered or sent
on death marches," wrote Gov. Perdue. "On this day, when so many of
our citizens observe Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, let us affirm
our belief in tolerance, justice and the spirit of a moral life."
Next, State Senator Vincent Fort (39th District), presented the
recently adopted GA Senate Armenian Genocide Resolution (S. Res.
1454), marking April 24th as "Georgia’s Day of Remembrance of the
Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923". The lead sponsor of the resolution
spoke eloquently about the contributions of the Armenian community to
the State of Georgia. "The Georgia government appreciates the efforts
of the over 500 families of Armenian descent in the state, descendants
of a 3000 year old culture, who are known for their accomplishments
in education, the arts and government," noted Fort. The State Senator
went on to discuss the importance of the passage of the "Hate Crimes
Law" in Georgia, which he had also authored, citing the importance
of the recognition and remembrance of crimes against humanity, from
slavery to genocide.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Thelma Wyatt Cummings Moore, a
perennial honored guest of Atlanta Armenian Genocide commemorative
events, spoke eloquently about the need for international affirmation
of the Armenian Genocide in the ongoing campaign to end the cycle of
genocide. "We have to remember these massacres and keep the memory
of the innocent victims alive, so that we can remind the U.S. of the
heavy price the Armenian people paid for its freedom and the struggle
to survive," noted Judge Moore.
Atlanta City Councilman C.T. Martin then presented the Phoenix Award to
the Atlanta Armenian Community, noting that the "promotion of a public
dialogue regarding this genocide and its legacy will surely inspire
positive race relations and build a strong foundation for unity within
our community." Councilman Martin went on to read a special letter
from Mayor Reed to ANC of Georgia’s Dr. Sarkis Agasarkisian. "This
year’s 95th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide highlights an annual
worldwide day of remembrance of the grave atrocities committed against
the Armenian people between 1915-1923.
As you assemble to commemorate this tragic occurrence, I salute the
Armenian community for all you do to advance human rights," noted
An Atlanta City Council Proclamation, signed by Council President
Caesar Mitchell and Councilman Martin, commemorates the 1894-1896
massacres and subsequent murder of 1.5 million Armenians by designating
April 23, 2010 as "Armenian Genocide Commemoration Day."Former
Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell, the first Atlanta Mayor to issue an
Armenian Genocide proclamation, recounted his close friends with the
Agasarkisian family and the local Armenian Community. He recounted
that Georgia state commemoration of this crime against humanity
began with just a small gathering many years ago, noting that the
attendance has grown yearly, and through his annual participation,
he has grown to understand the pain caused by the Armenian Genocide.
He went on to cite President Obama’s commitment to properly
characterize the Armenian Genocide and urged him to honor his pledge in
his April 24th statement, in an effort to stop the cycle of genocide.
Campbell’s remarks were followed by those of Fulton County Sheriff
Department Chief Deputy Jimmy Carter, who honored the victims of the
Armenian Genocide and spoke of the importance of community vigilance
to ensure that such atrocities are not repeated anywhere in the world.
Armenian American Association of Georgia Chairman and vice-chairman
of the ANC of Georgia, Dr. Sarkis Agasarkisian, spoke passionately
about the importance of the immediate passage of Armenian Genocide
legislation (H.Res.252 / S.Res.316). "The United States government,
by recognizing and officially commemorating the Armenian Genocide, can
help ensure that the lessons of this terrible crime against humanity
are used to prevent future genocides against the Armenians or any
other people," explained Dr. Agasarkisian in his remarks. He went to
note that the litany of threats by Turkish Government in response to
proper commemoration of the Armenian Genocide have consistently been
empty. "Turkey has taken only token steps against Canada, France,
Germany, Italy, Belgium, Argentina, Austria, the Netherlands, Poland,
Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, and other states that have recognized
the Armenian Genocide," noted Dr. Agasarkisian.
Dr. Agasarkisian expressed concern about Turkey’s threats to undermine
U.S. interests in the region, noting past shortcomings in stopping
the insurgency in Iraq. "Despite their political promises to U.S. the
facts have shown, that Turkey has betrayed the United States numerous
times. In 2003 Ankara still blocked a northern front into Iraq,
a move the Pentagon has said added significantly to the problems
currently facing our forces," he explained. Dr. Agasarkisian also
broadly documented Turkey’s role in serving as a safe-haven to
regional terrorists. "According to the State Department’s annual
terrorism report, Turkey is a safe haven for terrorists and has
attracted a ‘foreign fighter pipeline’ linked to terrorist plots,
cells and attacks throughout the world."
In conclusion, Dr. Agasarkisian went on to give a detailed overview
of Armenian history in the region and Turkey’s eradication of the
Armenian population from 1915 – 1923.
Dr. Vardoui Agasarkisian Jinian offered closing remarks, followed by
a closing prayer by former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell.