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19 Mar 2018

ARMENIAN BAR ASSOCIATION LEGAL INTERNS TO VOLUNTEER WITH ARTSAKH HUMAN RIGHTS OMBUDSMAN IN STEPANAKERT

The Armenian Bar Association is pleased to welcome two law students, one from Notre Dame and the other from U.C.L.A., for its inaugural Artsakh Legal Internship Program which will be headquartered in the capital city of Stepanakert. In 2017, the Armenian Bar, working closely with Human Rights Ombudsman Ruben Melikyan, established the program to provide hands-on experiences and real-life opportunities to students who have demonstrated a keen interest in human rights and a personal commitment to the democratic and institutional development of Artsakh. The internship program will kick off during the summer of 2018.

The two Armenian Bar interns are Davit Avagyan and Anahit Sargsyan.

Davit grew up in Armenia and, in his words, he first conceptualized the idea and essence of human rights through the plight of Artsakh to be safe and secure. In 2006, his family moved to the United States, where, though far away geographically, he remained entrenched in the day-to-day happenings in Armenia and Artsakh. According to Davit, it was the national security situation of Artsakh, and in particular the heroism of the young soldiers who protect its borders, which drew his interest in human rights, politics and international relations. Davit majored in political science, while emphasizing studies in international relations, at University of California, Davis. In his four years at U.C. Davis, he chose studies which exposed him to issues such as sovereigns’ territorial integrity, war and peace, and other issues which Armenia faced. He also took on a secondary academic discipline in human rights.

During his studies, Davit always conjured Artsakh and made a point to connect what he had learned about human rights and events in other nations with the historical and present-day situation in Artsakh. In 2017, Davit began his legal studies at Notre Dame Law School, where he joined several of the human rights-related organizations on campus such as the International Human Rights Society and the Exoneration Project. “My previous experiences are dwarfed by the extraordinary opportunity created by the Armenian Bar Association and the Artsakh Ombudsman’s Office through this program. Having the opportunity to work with the Ombudsman of Artsakh on human rights issues would not only drive my education of these issues to a new level, but it would give me the opportunity to put my knowledge and experience to use regarding an issue close to my heart.” said Davit.

Anahit Sargsyan was also born and raised in Armenia, and grew up witnessing the devastating consequences of the Artsakh liberation struggle and ensuing war. Her father was a volunteer who joined the efforts to protect and serve Artsakh before she was born. At sixteen years old, Anahit took college entrance exams and was admitted to the Yerevan State University’s (YSU) Law Department. In 2010, Anahit moved with her family to Sacramento. She currently has two teenage cousins serving on the frontlines of Artsakh, and, according to Anahit, their commitment is a vivid example of the day-to-day issues, local challenges and possible mechanisms to strengthen the peace and secure human rights in such a precarious situation.

Anahit has served as a legislative aide at the California State Senate, where she staffed the newly-formed State Senate Select Committee on California, Armenia, and Artsakh Mutual Trade, Art, and Cultural Exchange. In this position, she learned about the most pressing economic and social issues facing Artsakh. “Interning in Artsakh will allow me to gain first-hand exposure to both international and local human rights issues. Moreover, it will give me the opportunity to contribute the skills that I have acquired so far to the Ombudsman’s work. My hope is to not only learn more about Artsakh, but to bring my knowledge back to share with my peers and be a better advocate for Artsakh in the United States.” said Anahit.

The Human Rights Ombudsman is an independent Constitutional official, who observes the maintenance of human rights and freedoms on the part of state and local self-government bodies and officials, contributes to the restoration of violated rights and freedoms and improvement of the laws and regulations related to human rights and freedoms, deals with human rights issues related to the Karabakh conflict, and answers to the National Assembly (Parliament) of the Republic of Artsakh. Any individual, regardless of ethnic origin, sex, citizenship, residence, race, age, political or other affiliation and activity can apply to HRO.

To learn more about the internship opportunity, please visit: https://armenianbar.org/internship/

13 Mar 2018

Fascinating Conference on Armenian-American Heritage Draws Armenian Bar’s Armen K. Hovannisian and Harry S. Cherken, Jr.

Four hundred years ago, the first Armenian—a tobacco grower named Martin the Armenian (Hovhaness Martirosian)–set foot in a land which had not yet become the United States of America, disembarking in the Virginia colony of Jamestown in 1618. Since that time, a rich, diverse, and evolving Diasporan heritage has taken root and flourished in this country. On March 16-17, 2018, an extraordinary conference marking that multi-centennial anniversary will be held at the Ararat Home in the Mission Hills suburb of Los Angeles, and professional from the Armenian Bar Association’s current and former leadership ranks will participate.

Current board member and former chairman Armen K. Hovannisian will share the Association’s history, development and vision as part of a panel discussion on new challenges and strategies in the realms of law, culture and education. Charter member and former chairman Harry S. Cherken, Jr. will offer a captivating presentation about the 1925 United States v. Cartozian case which addressed the issue of whether Armenians were considered “white” for purposes of U.S. naturalization laws.

13 Mar 2018

THE ARMENIAN BAR ASSOCIATION ANNOUNCES RECIPIENTS OF THE 2017 SCHOLARSHIP AWARDS AND WELCOMES APPLICATIONS TO ITS 2018 LEGAL SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAMS

The Armenian Bar Association has announced that it has awarded four merit scholarships to law students across the United States. The Association, under the leadership of Scholarship Committee Chairwoman Christine Engustian of Rhode Island and committee members Elizabeth Al-Dajani and Laura Karabulut, administered three scholarship programs in 2017, the Vicken I. Simonian Memorial Legal Scholarship, the Andre Kazangian Memorial Legal Scholarship and the Souren Israelyan Legal Scholarship.

“We are absolutely thrilled to once again continue our organizational commitment to the promotion of legal education for Armenian youth who have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement, while at the same time distinguishing themselves through public service for the benefit of the Armenian people, said Scholarship Committee Chairwoman, Christine Engustian.”

After very careful consideration among numerous excellent applicants, the Armenian Bar Association’s Board of Governors approved the candidates recommended by the scholarship committee and awarded scholarships, as follows:

Vicken I. Simonian Memorial Legal Scholarship Winners:

 Andrii Trapizonian–Mr. Trapizonian is a young Armenian lawyer living in the Ukraine, who also holds a Masters Degree and has been offered admittance to nine law schools in the United States to attain an LLM.  He has accepted to attend the LLM program at the University of Arkansas School of Law. His goal is to help write legislation for the Republic of Armenia on mediation and arbitration.  He is actively involved in the Armenian community of Ukraine and several Ukranian bar associations.

Andre Kazangian Memorial Legal Scholarship Winners:

Anna Hakobyan–Ms. Hakobyan has been accepted to Stanford University’s Program in International Legal Studies offered by the Stanford Law School.  She was one of only 12 students accepted to this program.  She has worked in the OSCE/Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the American Bar Association’s Rule of Law Initiative (ABA/ROLI) which the Armenian Bar works with, the Jessup International Moot Court competition team for Yerevan State University (which the Armenian Bar Association has often supported financially) and she has been a lecturer at AUA Law School.

Anahit Sargsyan–Born in Armenia, Ms. Sargsyan has been accepted to U.C.L.A. School of Law. Her undergraduate work was at UC Davis, where she was on the Dean’s Honor List, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Winter 2015 and graduated with honors.  She is a member of the Golden Key International Honor Society and Phi Theta Honor Society. After graduation, she was selected as the first fellow of the Walter and Laurel Karabian Fellowship Program, which led to her employment at Senator Anthony Portantino’s Capitol office as a Legislative Aide.  She has also interned with the Law Offices of Peter Stone and Congressman Ami Bera’s office in Washington D.C.  She is an active member of the Armenian National Committee of America’s Sacramento Chapter. She participated in projects to register people to vote, to help them understand the voting process and inform them about the politics of the region.  She also participated in the organization of advocacy days at the State Capitol to raise important issues for the Armenian-American community.

She also volunteered to support the organizational efforts of the Armenian Genocide Centennial in Washington, D.C.  While working in Sacramento, she helped with the newly created Select Committee in the State Senate on California, Armenia and Artsakh Mutual Trade, Art and Cultural Exchange.

Souren Israelyan Legal Scholarship Winner:

Andrew Khanarian–Mr. Khanarian has been accepted to Columbia Law School.  Mr. Khanarian was a student intern at the Commission on Judicial Conduct of New York State.  The chief executive officer of the Commission gave a very favorable recommendation for Andrew and mentioned that he did such a good job for the commission that Appellate Division Justice Rolando Acosta, who was on the commission, offered Andrew an internship in his chambers.  Andrew is a very active member of the St. Leon Armenian Church of New Jersey where he also serves as an executive board member of the Armenian Christian Youth of America program.

Anahit Sargsyan’s scholarship was presented to her in person during a special ceremony at the Armenian Bar Association’s 2017 Mentor-Mentee event at the Downtown Los Angeles law offices of national firm Arent Fox. Andrew Khanarian’s scholarship was awarded to him personally at a special meeting of the New York, New Jersey, Connecticut Chapter of the Armenian Bar Association.

The Armenian Bar Association Scholarship programs are generously funded through grants and donations of benefactors of the Armenian Bar Association. The organization annually holds events to raise funds, including its ever-popular Mixer and Live Auction in Chicago to benefit the Vicken I. Simonian Memorial Legal Scholarship. A yearly golf tournament which also supports the Vicken I. Simonian Memorial Legal Scholarship and other similar events across the country.

The Association also takes this opportunity that the Armenian Bar Association is presently accepting applications for all of its scholarship programs for the 2018-2019 academic year. For information about how to apply for the 2018 scholarship program or to make a donation to the Armenian Bar Association scholarship programs, please visit the Armenian Bar Association website at www.armenianbar.org and the Armenian Bar Association Facebook page.

08 Mar 2018

Career Spotlight: Armenian Bar Hosts Seminar on Judicial Clerkships at UCLA

Career Spotlight: Armenian Bar Hosts Seminar on Judicial Clerkships at UCLA

On Saturday, January 27, 2018, at the UCLA School of Law, the Armenian Bar Association, in partnership with the UCLA Armenian Law Students Association, held an informative and engaging seminar on judicial clerkships. Two exceptional panels of speakers assembled in one of the law school’s traditional, cavernous classrooms and shared sketches of wisdom, experience and advice to the audience of aspiring judicial clerks.

The first panel was anchored by two brilliant and instructive judicial luminaries, United States District Court Judges Dolly Gee and George Wu. Armenian Bar Board member and Student Affairs Committee Co-Chair Elizabeth Al-Dajani of Chicago moderated the judges’ lively interplay of advice and admonitions. Ms. Al-Dajani herself worked as a judicial law clerk in the Circuit Court of Cook County and the Illinois Appellate Court, First District.

The roster of the second panel was made up of an all-star team of former judicial law clerks, Artur Movsesyan, Erna Mamikonyan and Vahe Mesropyan, and was moderated by long-time Armenian Bar member and former judicial law clerk, Tigran Palyan, who is a certified family law specialist practicing in Glendale, California.

The presentations provided the students with valuable insight into the work of judicial clerks, the immense knowledge and experience they would gain by pursuing a career as clerks, and what steps the students could take to prepare and give themselves a better chance at securing such a prestigious position.

Armenian Bar Board Member and Student Affairs Committee Co-Chair Lucy Varpetian remarked, “We are honored to have presented to our student members such a distinguished panel of jurists and former clerks, all of whose perspectives were eagerly received and collectively appreciated. One of our chief organizational purposes is to be a consistent and reliable resource to our student members as they start honing in on their career opportunities. Our conference today reflects the Armenian Bar’s sustained commitment to the new and promising members of the legal profession.”

07 Mar 2018

AN UPSURGE OF ARMENIAN BAR ASSOCIATON PRO BONO ACTIVITIES

One of the Armenian Bar Association’s primary objectives is to facilitate access to justice and to provide related education opportunities by volunteering pro bono legal services to the Armenian-American community and to the broader non-Armenian populace. Just in the past several months, ArmenBar attorneys and law students from the National Armenian Law Students Association have teamed up to offer a series of far-reaching programs.

Pro Bono Clinic at the Hollywood Armenian Center

In October, 2017, the Armenian Bar partnered with the Loyola Armenian Law Students Association, under the leadership of National ALSA President, Sarkis Yeretsian, to hold a pro bono legal clinic at the Hollywood Armenian Center where several participants were assisted with their legal questions.  More than a dozen lawyers and law students devoted several hours to the program.

Pro Bono Lecture Series to Help Stop Elder Abuse

Then, later in 2017, when the Armenian Bar learned that vulnerable senior citizens were the target of a fraudulent scheme in which teenagers posing as Armenian school students wrangled donations for a phony library improvement, the Armenian Bar promptly took action to help bring these deceitful acts to an end. With the support and leadership of Onnig Bulanikian, Director of the City of Glendale’s Community Services and Parks Department, the Armenian Bar joined the Department’s Senior Services Division to present “Know Your Rights” lectures, thereby putting our elderly in a better position to protect themselves from such deplorable ruses.

“The elderly members in our community are an especially vulnerable segment of the population who, unfortunately, sometimes find themselves to be the victims of abuse and financial scams designed to take advantage of them,” said Saro Kerkonian, Chairman of the Board of the Armenian Bar Association. “Working with Glendale city officials, we identified the areas of greatest need and developed a program to educate the elderly and their caretakers to heighten awareness of the issues and take steps which will protect them from falling prey to the unscrupulous who seek to take advantage of our senior citizens,” added Lucy Varpetian, Armenian Bar Association Board Member and Senior Assistant City Attorney for the City of Glendale.

Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney and active Armenian Bar member, Amy Ashvanian, who has successfully prosecuted numerous defendants accused of elder abuse, was the keynote speaker for the events. The first lecture took place on January 17, 2018, at the Adult Recreation Center in downtown Glendale and was presented in Armenian. This was followed on February 8, 2018, by a second well-received presentation by Ms. Ashvanian, this time in English, at Glendale’s historic Sparr Heights Recreation Center, on February 8, 2018.

In an interview following the lectures, Ms. Ashvanian stated, “I’m so happy that we were able to accomplish the two primary objectives of the partnership with the City of Glendale: An informational brochure, recently translated into Armenian, explains the various forms of abuse to which the elderly may be subjugated and then, of utmost importance, it provides tested methods to avoid victimization and also provides references to social service agencies which may be in a position to assist and intervene. The brochure will be distributed throughout the City of Glendale. The second positive accomplishment of the program is that we engaged directly with and educate the elderly about abuse and financial scams directed at them.”

The Armenian Bar Association’s Know Your Rights pro bono lecture series will continue with the next topic which is in the realm of housing. The featured keynote speaker is noted landlord-tenant attorney, Raymond Hovsepian. “There is a serious housing crisis in Los Angeles and it is imperative that tenants are aware of their legal rights and take the steps needed to prevent those rights from falling into jeopardy,” said Mr. Hovsepian. The Armenian-language program will be presented on March 22, 2018, at 10:30 a.m. at the Adult Recreation Center and the English-language program will be held on April 12, 2018, at 10:30 a.m. at the Sparr Heights Recreation Center.

Proposition 47 and 64 Expungement Pro Bono Clinic—Glendale

On February 2, 2018, thanks to the phenomenal work of NALSA board member and President of the Southwestern University Armenian Law Students Association, Brigitte Malatjalian, and talented Armenian Bar members, Alexandra Kazarian and Vicky Ourfalian, the Armenian Bar held one of its most successful pro bono clinics in recent history.

In a few short weeks, Ms. Malatjalian assembled a top-notch team comprised of 11 of her fellow Southwestern law students (not all Armenian by the way) who then split into sub-groups of working volunteer units, supervised by criminal defense attorneys Alexandra Kazarian, Vicky Ourfalian, and their attorney colleagues Matthew Kay and Jessica Melikian. Approximately 20 diverse  members of the community benefitted from professional assistance with their petitions to expunge criminal records of low-level misdemeanor charges. In so doing, many were given a fresh start on life, allowing them the experience the upside of facing fewer obstacles in securing employment and housing. The event was so successful that the initial date’s calendar completely filled up and there were enough requests for appointments for help that could fill an additional day.

“I am so proud of our volunteer attorneys, Vicky Ourfalian, Alexandra Kazarian, Matthew Kay and Jessica Melikian, along with our law students, led by Brigitte Malatjalian. They, essentially, created a fully-operational law office that greeted participants, had them sign a limited-scope service agreement, prepare a complete package for the participants on laptop computers and had the packages printed on a printer generously provided by Southwestern Law School. This coordination meant that all that the public participant had to do is sign, file and serve the documents,” said Chairman Saro Kerkonian.

The participants were so grateful for the assistance they received, each expressing thanks and one participant even bowed in appreciation!  The student volunteers included: Sara
Bagdasaryan, Nina Minassian, Matilda Barseghian, Michael Guloyan, Chizitere Nhadi, Brianna Abrego, Syrita Morgan, Tish Pickett, Sarkis Manukyan, and Marissa Fernandez.

ARMENIAN RELIEF SOCIETY SOCIAL SERVICES

In addition, on January 29. 2018, Armenian Bar board members Armen K. Hovannisian and Saro Kerkonian were received by the Board of Directors of the Armenian Relief Society-Western U.S.A. at their headquarters to assess how the two groups may collaborate to meet the ever-expanding needs for pro bono services. Of particular importance is the burgeoning problem of domestic violence in the Armenian community which has drawn increasing public attention as a result of the strength and courage of the victims to come forward and ask for help. Both long-term and immediate potential projects were discussed by the Armenian Bar’s and the A.R.S.’s leadership groups, with a resulting commitment to consider the formalization of volunteer alliances.

03 Feb 2018

Armenian Bar Association Lawyers and Law Students Offer Relief from Criminal Convictions

The Armenian Bar Association and the National Armenian Law Students Association have added another important dimension to their public outreach and pro bono platforms. This time, on February 3, 2018, volunteer lawyers and students will provide an opportunity for a segment of the Armenian community to pursue reducing and erasing their non-violent and non-serious criminal records.

Entitled “New Beginnings: A Guide to Clearing Criminal Records,” the February 3rd free clinic is designed to serve an often-overlooked and routinely-shunned section of the community. Some individuals who are stigmatized by their seemingly permanent and encumbering criminal records will be given a fresh chance to regain control over their lives, opening the way to potential qualification for housing, employment, residency, and public benefits. Although Proposition 47 and Expungements are offered county-wide by other groups, this initiative is focused on reaching Armenians in a less-intimidating setting with bilingual staff.

Proposition 47 was passed by California voters in 2014. The law not only reclassified certain low-level felonies as a misdemeanor, but it gave qualified candidates the ability to revisit their old criminal convictions and petition for resentencing. Low-level crimes include certain theft and drug possession offenses. Some benefits of reducing felonies to misdemeanors include aiding in the immigration process, pursuing higher education, and the ability to seek meaningful employment.

An expungement, on the other hand, is a more traditional and absolute type of remedy, resulting in the ultimate dismissal of a prior conviction. California’s expungement law permits qualified candidates convicted of a crime to file a petition for dismissal. The process includes re-opening the case, setting aside the plea, and ultimately dismissing the case “in the interests of justice.” Qualifying candidates cannot currently be on probation, parole, or facing new charges. The benefits align with Proposition 47 – but expungements do more than just reclassify convictions: they wipe clean a successful applicant’s criminal record.

The clinic is scheduled to take place on February 3rd at the Glendale Adult Recreation Center – 201 E. Colorado St., Glendale, CA 91205. Individuals are required to: (1) call 818-937-3152 or email ArmenianClinic@gmail.com to schedule an appointment and (2) obtain a copy of their court docket from an L.A. County courthouse. Attorney and law student volunteers will screen the client for qualification purposes and assist with the numerous court documents necessary to perform either Proposition 47 or Expungement relief.

05 Jan 2018

Armenian Bar Partners with the City of Glendale to Combat Elder Abuse

In late 2017, the administration of a prominent Los Angeles-area Armenian high school alerted the public that a group of youths, pretending to be students from the school, had entered apartment buildings and approached homes with the intent to target and swindle the elderly. These young impostors claimed to be Armenian school students and concocted a scheme of abject dishonesty in which they fabricated a sales pitch that they were collecting much-need funds for the betterment of their school library.

Understandably, many elderly Armenians responded to what they believed to be genuine calls for financial assistance and handed over their money for what they thought was a good cause. To help bring these deceitful acts to an end, the Armenian Bar Association moved swiftly and contacted Onnig Bulanikian, Director of the City of Glendale’s Community Services and Parks Department. The Armenian Bar proposed partnering with the Department’s Senior Services Division to present to the senior-citizen community a series of “Know Your Rights” lectures so that they may be made aware of and in a better position to protect themselves from such and other deplorable attempts of abuse.

“The elderly members in our community are an especially vulnerable segment of the population who, unfortunately, sometimes find themselves to be the victims of abuse and financial scams designed to take advantage of them,” said Saro Kerkonian, Chairman of the Board of the Armenian Bar Association. “Working with Glendale city officials, we identified the areas of greatest need and developed a program to educate the elderly and their caretakers to heighten awareness of the issues and take steps which will protect them from falling prey to the unscrupulous who seek to take advantage of our senior citizens,” added Lucy Varpetian, Armenian Bar Association Member and Senior Assistant City Attorney for the City of Glendale.

To accomplish the goals of the partnership, two primary objectives were set into place:  First, the City of Glendale’s Community Services and Parks Department translated into Armenian a detailed informational brochure, which explains the various forms of abuse that the elderly can be subjugated to, provides tested methods which the elderly can implement to avoid becoming victims of abuse, and also provides references to social service agencies which can assist once an act or acts of abuse take place.  The brochure will be disseminated throughout the City of Glendale, at locations such as the public social service centers, libraries, City Hall, and other similar public-gathering venues.

The second manner in which the elderly will be served through this program is by way of public forums where noted experts in the field will speak about the subject of elder abuse and financial scams directed at the elderly.  The first two presentations will be taking place on January 17, 2018, at 10:30 a.m. at the Adult Recreation Center located at 201 E. Colorado St., Glendale, CA 91205 (presented in Armenian).  The second lecture which will be presented in English will be held on February 8, 2018, at 10:30 a.m. at the Sparr Heights Community Center located at 1613 Glencoe Way, Glendale, CA 91208.

Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney and active Armenian Bar member, Amy Ashvanian, who has successfully prosecuted numerous defendants accused of elder abuse, will impart her years of prosecutorial expertise to attendees at these first two events.  Admission to the events are free of charge. For more information, please call (818) 548-3775.  A copy of the brochure in Armenian may be found here: https://armenianbar.org/resources/

22 Oct 2017

World Champion Melsik Baghdasaryan Embraces The Armenian Bar On Championship Tour

World-renowned kickboxing prize-fighter, Melsik Baghadasaryan, had two things on his mind at the K-1 World Grand Prix…victory and dignity.  He achieved both. And he also had something truly special emblazoned on the front of his trunks…the Armenian Bar Association’s iconic logo featuring paired cranes and twinned peaks of Ararat.  With every roundhouse kick and with each knee strike, the Armenian Bar’s crest was caught in the glow of Melsik’s athletic virtuosity. (video excerpt of fight) 

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The Armenian Bar Association made its way to Tokyo in September in a show of support for the young phenom, known as “The Gun,” who has fast become a sentimental favorite of many Armenian Bar members.  Recognized and adored the world over, Melsik has lent his presence to the Armenian Bar’s diverse initiatives, including traveling to Yerevan this past spring with the organization’s Parliamentary Elections Monitoring team.

Leading up to the all-day competition on September 18, 2017, the 25-year-old super star was pegged as the front-runner to come out on top at one of the fighting world’s biggest events – the K-1 World Grand Prix–which was staged at the Saitama Super Arena in front of thousands of roaring fans and followers.

The Armenian Bar delegation was headed and inspired by Mesrop Khoudagoulian and was rounded out by Lucy Varpetian, Karnig Kerkonian, Gayane Khechoomian, and Armen Hovannisian.

“In Melsik, we see and feel our people’s heartbeat and its pulse, our heroic past and our promising future.  On a personal note, as a mother of a three-year old boy, I also see in Melsik the type of man that I hope my son, Vahan,  will grow up to be: humble and strong, knowing and learning, devoted and appreciative,” said Varpetian.

With this trip to the Orient, the Armenian Bar’s Dignity Mission brand of devotion was launched, first with the delegation’s incense and prayer-filled tribute at the gravesite of the late Honorable Diana Apcar who was the Republic of Armenia’s Ambassador to Japan between 1918 and 1920.  The Dignity Mission then pivoted to shore up the courage, patriotism and daring of its representative in the ring. 

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“The juxtaposition of being in Japan to honor the late Diana Apcar – a pioneering foreign dignitary and humanitarian – and also to cheer our kickboxing champion, Melsik Baghdasaryan, is a testament to the Armenians’ longevity and impression on the world stage. It was a very special mission and one that I hope we replicate in other parts of the world where Armenians have left a mark,” remarked Gayane Khechoomian.

Baghdasaryan, the WLF World Champion, impressed Japanese fans by putting on an absolutely dominant display against his first-round opponent, Yamagiwa Kazuki – earning him a unanimous decision victory from the judges.

“It was an honor to come to Japan wearing the Armenian Bar Association’s logo with its beautiful image of Mt. Ararat,” said Baghdasaryan. “I spent most my life in Armenia, so seeing the Armenian Bar work to make the country a better place helps remind me why I fight too.”

But Japanese fans were not the only ones impressed.  The entire Armenian Bar contingent could be seen springing from their ringside seats and cheering with words of encouragement to the daring young man at center stage.

“In our native Armenian tongue, like Julius Caesar long before him, ‘Yegav, desav, direts.’ Yes indeed, Melsik came, he saw, and he conquered,” said Armen Hovannisian. “You just can’t take your eyes off this kid!  He is mesmerizing with his every bob, his every weave, his every strike, and his every blow.”

As the packed arena prepared to watch the Armenian in successive bouts, the crowd was stunned when announcers revealed that Baghdasaryan, after his initial victory, had not received medical clearance to continue due to injury. A nerve had been aggravated in his shoulder, rendering the south-paw incapable of raising his left arm.

“I will always hold my head high as well as the tri-color of our homeland. While it was disappointing for me because not only did my coaches and I know, but even the Japanese fans knew, that I would win the belt, I will heal and be back next year for what’s mine, for what’s ours,” said Baghdasaryan.

The rising star later came out to the stands, and after taking pictures and shaking hands with hundreds of fans, Melsik found the proud faces of friends and compatriots.

“It was a great honor and help to have my friends from the Armenian Bar there,” said Baghdasaryan. “As long as I’m fighting, I will always keep that logo and our flag flying high.”

“Melsik’s climb to the top was paved with his God-given gifts, earned with unrelenting training, and yes, inspired by the blood and marrow of the Armenian Nation,” exclaimed Mesrop Khoudagoulian.

Karnig Kerkonian crystallized the essence of the Tokyo leg of the Armenian Bar’s first Dignity Mission, “The Armenian Bar is beholden to the great figures of our past and present, the combination of whom led to the launch of our Association’s Dignity Mission initiative. This time, it was to Tokyo to kneel together at the grave of Ambassador Apcar and to stand as one in the long shadow of Melsik. Next, it will be a pilgrimage to Jerusalem where we will tend to our forlorn cemeteries and to our living communities.”

 

06 Jul 2017

MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIRMAN

For nearly three decades now, the Armenian Bar Association has strived to fulfill the mission that was set for this organization by its founder, Raffi Hovannisian.

Our committees, through the outstanding leadership of their chairpersons, have worked tirelessly, united in our common cause to defend the rights of the Armenian people, help develop a rule of law society for Armenia, assist the Republic of Artsakh to achieve statehood, foster professional development of our members and guide our students to attain their goal of entering the ranks of the legal profession.

All of these objectives seamlessly came together during the weekend of June 9-10, 2017, when our Association met for its 28th Annual Meeting in the beauty that is the city of Huntington Beach, California.  (Click here to see a summary record of all the good things that happened that weekend.)

Following on the heels of our successful Annual Meeting, I look forward with great anticipation to the coming year for our organization.   I welcome and invite you to participate as the Armenian Bar Association sets new milestones in the 2017-2018 year.  Our year is starting off with a roaring start when, on July 19, we will be simultaneously hosting events on both coasts:  the Inaugural Launch of our NY/NJ/CT chapter committee with its first ever event in New Jersey at the Pilsener Haus and Biergarten located in Hoboken, and on the west coast our first ever joint event with the Italian American Lawyers Association, the Glendale, Pasadena and San Fernando Bar Associations at the always-fun and iconic Casa Italiana in Los Angeles.

Last year, our Mentorship Program, led by the tremendous will and work of Lucy Varpetian, Armen Hovannisian, and Aleksan Giragosian, without question was the greatest source of new members and served as an important bridge between our organization and students and new lawyers.  This year, Aleksan has taken over the helm of the Mentorship Program and this one of our organization’s rising stars is already hard at work matching our students with their volunteer mentors.

Our Armenian Rights Watch Committee, through the leadership of our dynamic duo of Garo Ghazarian and Karnig Kerkonian, have enabled us to rocket to international prominence as one of the leading – and sometimes only – voice on matters concerning the defense of Armenian rights.  They are battle-tested warriors of the Armenian Cause and they are being recognized as such globally for their work on issues of the rights of the disabled, the rights of women, political prisoners, and so much more.

Three years ago, we established the Armenian Genocide Reparations Committee, with the purpose of attaining restorative justice for the horrific wrongs committed against our ancestors. At its core, the committee is driven by the motivation that restitution for the great national dispossession of the Armenian people may be realized in courts of justice.  The AGRC is led by Armen K. Hovannisian, who notes that preparations are underway for the commencement of relevant legal actions.  It is anticipated that the first of these claims will be brought in the 2017-2018 term.

This year, we also look forward to holding a series of events in Chicago, Los Angeles and the East Coast, all designed to support the Armenian Bar Association’s scholarship programs and to recognize a legal educator of the year.  Through these events, I am confident that we will achieve the goal of making the Vicken I. Simonian Memorial Legal Scholarship an endowment which will guarantee in perpetuity that each year worthy Armenian students will be assisted with the tremendous cost of a legal education.

2017-2018 will also see the return of our most popular event, the Southern California Judge’s Night Dinner.   Presently, it is being planned for early November, 2017.  We are also planning to see the return of our successful 20 Under 40 event after the New Year.

At our Annual Meeting, our three-term former Chairwoman, Professor Ann Lousin, called on us to bring back the Newsletter.   This is the first edition of our revamped Newsletter and we hope you will find that it lives up to the high standards that our Chairman Emeritus, Vicken Simonian, had set.  I want to thank our veteran Editor, Armen K. Hovannisian, and all-dash purpose Board Member, Lucy Varpetian, for designing and publishing the new Newsletter.  We are introducing an online, easy-to-use format that we hope you will enjoy on a regular basis.

In closing, I want to thank my colleagues on the Board of Governors who bestowed upon me a professional and personal highlight by electing me to a second term as Chairman of the Board of Governors.    I look forward to working with my fellow board members shoulder-to-shoulder as we continue our efforts to achieve the mission of the Armenian Bar Association.  I know that each of them joins me in extending a welcome invitation to you to partake in the good work of our organization and attend our events throughout the year.