Tag: Armenia

01 May 2019

Armenian Bar Association Co-Sponsors the Annual Armenian Genocide Commemoration in Times Square

The 2019 Armenian Genocide Commemoration in Times Square. Photo by Taleen Babayan.

NEW YORK – Not even the hovering grey clouds could dampen the spirit of the thousands gathered for the Armenian Genocide Commemoration in Times Square on Sunday, April 28, 2019, as the 104th anniversary of the massacres was memorialized in a monumental event sponsored by the Knights and Daughters of Vartan.

Relentless calls for recognition were made throughout the afternoon as speakers, guests and the general public paid homage to the holy martyrs of the Armenian Genocide. Over a century later, the vigor of the Armenian people was on full display as the program culminated in a symbolic shoorch bar inspired by the powerful singing of Elie Berberian as he performed the popular patriotic song “Kedashen” amid the backdrop of the city’s skyscrapers and the buzzing motion of Times Square, one of the busiest and iconic districts in the world.

While Armenian songs, dances and voices echoed throughout New York and into the world, top U.S. elected officials stood their ground in their unwavering support of Armenian Genocide recognition. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who appears at the commemoration year after year without fail, conveyed his fondness for the “wonderful and compassionate Armenian people” and appreciated their presence in the country, stating that “the more Armenians we have in America, the better America will be.”

Following a moment of silence for the victims of the 1915 Armenian Genocide and their descendants, the senior senator urged the public to “call out evil.”

“A genocide that is not properly defined and remembered will certainly lead to another,” said Senator Schumer, who touched upon the Holocaust that succeeded the Armenian Genocide. “We have a moral obligation to always remember one of the most evil undertakings in the history of mankind, and that is the horrible Medz Yeghern.”

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Turning to legislation in the United States, Senator Schumer expressed his disappointment that the leaders in the White House, both Republicans and Democrats, have not stepped up to officially acknowledge the Armenian Genocide. He said he refuses to accept the excuse of politics and emphasized that in the face of denial, people should “stand together and remember the genocide, the 1.5 million victims and what the Armenians went through.”

He made the salient point that the Turkish government did not succeed in its plans to exterminate the Armenian people, noting that now 1.5 million people of Armenian ancestry live in America.

“The Armenian nation has not just endured but it has prevailed,” said Senator Schumer, who is a co-sponsor of Senate Resolution 150 that calls for the U.S. to commemorate the Armenian Genocide through official recognition and remembrance. “The three pashas are gone, the Ottoman Empire is gone, but the Armenian people live on and continue to inspire the world.”

A tireless advocate for the Armenians, senior Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who earlier this month admonished U.S. Ambassador to Turkey nominee David Satterfield for failing to refer to the 1915 atrocities as Genocide, stated that everyone has “come together in remembrance, in reflection and in solidarity.”

The Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who along with Senator Ted Cruz (R-T.X.) recently sponsored Senate Resolution 150, is ensuring that the foreign policy of the U.S. “reflects appropriate understanding and sensitivity concerning the Armenian Genocide.”

Countering the denialist history, Senator Menendez stated that the Turkish authorities began a systematic campaign to exterminate the Armenian population through “killings, starvation, forced deportation and untold brutality” and remarked that “such intentional horrific violence targeted towards one people has a name and one name only and that name is genocide.”

He acknowledged the 1.5 million victims who perished and also appreciated their contributions to the Armenian history and culture that “lives on today and there can be no denying them.”

Taking a stand “in support of the unshakable truth,” Senator Menendez outlined how the Turkish government has spent “countless millions of dollars on lobbyists willing to trumpet lies and make excuses for the atrocities that its predecessors committed.”

“Portraying the extermination of 1.5 million Armenians as nothing more than a consequence of World War I is a distortion of history at best and at worst a contrived excuse for an unthinkable crime against humanity,” he continued.

He spoke of the suppressive Turkish government that has “undermined the fundamental right of freedom of speech” and how the country’s leaders have initiated prosecutions, smear campaigns and even resorted to violence against historians and journalists who have studied the Turkish treatment of the Armenian community, remarking that “such actions are reprehensible and speak volumes both about the crime and the cover up.”

Recalling the words of Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, U.S. Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire during the Armenian Genocide, who described the Turkish authorities of deporting Armenians as a ‘death warrant’ to a whole race, Senator Menendez asserted that today’s diplomats should “not be any less frank when engaging with the Turkish government.”

“We refuse to see the truth suppressed, the facts denied and history revised,” said Senator Menendez. “We will not rest until it becomes the official policy of the U.S. government to recognize the Armenian Genocide here and any place else in the world.”

Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), pledged that he will continue to push for recognition of the Armenian Genocide and reaffirmed that there has been “tremendous progress” around the world as 30 countries now officially recognize the Armenian Genocide, along with 49 out of 50 U.S. states.

“We will continue our efforts and demand that the Turkish government recognize the Armenian Genocide and pay reparations,” said Congressman Pallone, who also called for ongoing support of the Republic of Armenia as well as Artsakh. A longtime supporter, he has made trips to both Armenia and Artsakh, where he has advocated for the people’s right to self-determination.

He urged the public to persist in their fight and hold rallies such as the annual commemoration in Times Square in order to achieve official recognition.

“Please understand how important it is for you to be here today and how important it is for all of you to continue to support your Armenian advocates and Armenian organizations like the Knights and Daughters of Vartan because without your help, we wouldn’t be able to make progress on the issues you care so much about,” concluded Congressman Pallone.

New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), a member of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, remarked that the U.S. should “join the chorus of voices across the globe” and recognize the genocide and the calculating elimination of an entire population.

“We mourn the 1.5 million Armenians murdered by the government that was supposed to protect them,” said Congresswoman Maloney. “We must honor their memory and we must come to the day that Turkey’s President Erdogan recognizes the genocide instead of denying it.”

She said she is proud to support resolutions that recognize the “systematic plan to extinguish the ancient, dignified and accomplished Armenian people” and the lessons that must be learned in order to prevent future tragedies from occurring again.

“We must teach ourselves and our children the abuse of state power that allows these crimes to go unpunished,” said Congresswoman Maloney. “On this solemn day of remembrance our  message remains united and clear: the U.S. and Turkish governments must formally acknowledge the terrible genocide that occured 104 years and I am with you as we keep fighting and pushing for recognition.”

Headlining the event with a special cultural performance was Elie Berberyan, who curated an artistic concert that included a rendition of “Ils Sont Tombes” (They Fell), by Charles Aznavour, the poetry of the Hovhannes Shiraz set to music “Intz Guh Moranam” (I Forget Myself) and “Dle Yaman” by Komitas.

“Even though many years have passed since the Armenian Genocide, it does not stop me from remembering it and instead it gives me more drive,” said Berberian. “We are paying tribute to the ultimate cause that concerns every Armenian in his or her heart.”

Grand Commander and Matron of the Knights and Daughters of Vartan, Dr. Gary Zamanigian and Diana Tookmanian, respectively, elaborated on the significance of commemorating the Armenian Genocide. The Knights and Daughters of Vartan have sponsored the Times Square Armenian Genocide Commemoration since 1985. This year the event was co-chaired by Tigran Sahakyan and Ari Minnetyan, under the guidance of Chairman Emeritus Hirant Gulian.

Armen McOmber, Esq. and Professor Nvair Beylerian compellingly led the program. McOmber was recognized for his decade of service to the Times Square Armenian Genocide Commemoration and was presented with a special certificate of recognition and a Knights of Vartan medal.

The results of the 2019 Knights and Daughters of Vartan International Armenian Genocide Essay Contest were announced: first-place, Andrew Panosian of La Crescenta, California, who is a freshman at Glendale Community College; second-place, Garine Kamajian of Indian Shores, Florida, who is a junior at University of South Florida-Tampa; third-place Lilit Arsenyan of Yerevan, Armenia, who is a freshman at Yerevan Brusov State University of Languages and Social Sciences. This year’s question of how creative expression—literature, music, cinema, visual arts—has enhanced the students’ personal understanding of the Armenian Genocide, delivered thought-provoking responses from applicants who live around the world.

Astghikner Junior Ensemble of St. Gregory the Illuminator Mission Parish in Brooklyn sang the Armenian and American anthems and Hayr Mer, under the leadership of Maria Sahakyan as the students of the Holy Martyrs Armenian Day School of Bayside, NY and the Hovnanian Armenian Day School of New Milfold, NJ sang a medley of Armenian patriotic songs, under the guidance of their principals, Seta Tavitian Megherian and Shakeh Tashjian.The Yerevan Dance Ensemble of St. Gregory the Illuminator Mission Parish made a special appearance.

The opening remarks and prayer were made by Zaven Khanjian, Executive Director of the AMAA. The invocation and closing prayers were made by Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Primate of the Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America, Very Rev. representing the Very Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan, Primate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, respectively. Other clergy in attendance included Nurhan Becidiyan, of the Roman Catholic Armenian Eparchy of America and Canada.

Statements were made by co-sponsoring organizations, including Christina Lalama (Armenian General Benevolent Union of America), Bryan Ardouny (Armenian Assembly of America), Dr. Vaghenag Tarpinian (Armenian Democratic League – Ramgavars), Ken Hachikian (Armenian National Committee America) and Gerard Kassabian, Esq. (Armenian Bar Association).

The Armenian Radio Hour of New Jersey, led by director Vartan Abdo, streamed the event live in video format worldwide, reaching more than 50,000 viewers with the assistance of his dedicated volunteer staff. The 104th Armenian Genocide Commemoration in Times Square was organized by the Mid-Atlantic chapters of the Knights and Daughters of Vartan. Co-sponsors included the Armenian General Benevolent Union, the Armenian Assembly of America, the Armenian National Committee of America, the ADL-Ramgavars, and the Armenian Council of America. Participating organizations included the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), Prelacy of the Armenian Church, Armenian Missionary Association of America, Armenian Presbyterian Church, the Armenian Evangelical Church, the Armenian Catholic Eparchy for U.S. and Canada and numerous Armenian youth organizations, including the Armenian Church Youth Organization of America, the Armenian Network of America, the Armenian Youth Federation, Homenetmen Scouts, Hamazkayin Cultural Association, Tekeyan Cultural Association, Armenian Students Association, AGBU Young Professionals, Armenian-American Study Genocide (a UN NGO organization) and tri-state Armenian college and university clubs.

Founded in 1985 by the late Sam Azadian, a former Brooklyn, New York resident, who lost four siblings during the Armenian Genocide, the Armenian Genocide Commemoration at Times Square has honored the 1.5+ million Armenian lives lost during the horrific events of the 1915 Genocide of the Armenians by the Young Turk Government of the Ottoman Empire. This internationally-recognized annual event draws thousands of Armenians and non-Armenian participants to commemorate the solemn occasion. The event features speeches and tributes delivered by prominent political figures and civic leaders, officials of the Knights and Daughters of Vartan, representatives of major Armenian-American organizations, and distinguished scholars and educators as well as high-ranking Armenian and non-Armenian clergy.

By: Taleen Babayan

25 Apr 2019

Armenian Bar Association Board Members Meet With Armenia’s National Security Council General Secretary

Yerevan — April 25, 2019 

Representatives of the Board of Governors of the Armenian Bar Association, and Co-Chairs of its Armenian Rights Watch Committee, Garo B. Ghazarian and Karnig S. Kerkonian, today met with the General Secretary of the Republic of Armenia’s National Security Council, the Hon. Armen V. Grigoryan. The collaborative discussions examined a number of crucial legal issues in the national security sphere and underscored the critical role of marshaling legal expertise in advancing areas of Pan-Armenian interests.

ARMENIAN BAR ASSOCIATION


Այսօր, 25 Ապրիլին, Ամերիկայի Հայկական Իրաւաբանական Միութեան Կառավարիչներու խորհուրդի ներկայացոցիչները եւ Հայկական Մարդկային Իրաւուքներու Յանձնախումբի համանախահները՝ Գառնիկ Քէրքոնեան եւ Կարօ Ղազարեան, հանդիպում մը ունեցան Հայաստանի Հանրապետութեան Ազգային Անվտանգութեան Խորհուրդի քարտուղար Արմէն Գրիգորեանի հետ։ Քննարկումները կեդրոնացան ազգային անվտանգութեան ոլորտին վերաբերող իրաւական հարցերու լայն շրջանակի վրայ եւ ընդգծեցին համահայկական շահերը միասնական ուժերու համախմբումով առաջ տանելու կարեւորութիւնը։

 

11 Apr 2018

ARMENIAN WOMEN: LEADERSHIP, EMPOWERMENT AND HUMAN RIGHTS

The National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) / Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Series on Contemporary Armenian Issues

All ASA’s at Boston Area Universities

AGBU-YP Boston

Armenian International Women’s Association (AIWA)

New Paths-Bridging Armenian Women

and

The Armenian Bar Association

 

Present a Panel Discussion

ARMENIAN WOMEN: LEADERSHIP, EMPOWERMENT, AND HUMAN RIGHTS

 

Hosted and Co-Sponsored by the Tufts Armenian Club

 

Many studies have demonstrated that investment in women and girls strengthens democracy and weakens authoritarianism, makes families healthier, peace agreements more durable and societies less vulnerable to extremism, violence and terrorist recruitment. Unfortunately, many studies also show that gender discrimination and physical assaults on women are global and systemic in nature. From the Me Too movement, women’s marches in Washington, NYC and Boston, all the way to the City Council in Yerevan, it has become painfully clear that violence against women is a worldwide phenomenon. The panelists will examine the causes, costs, and consequences of gender discrimination and violence against women in Armenia and the Diaspora. The conversation will draw from experiences in Southeast Asia with a focus on empowerment of women as it relates to development strategies, civil society development and democratization.

 

Featuring the Participation of Panelists:

Dr. Denise Horn (Associate Professor & Chair, Political Science & International Relations, Simmons College)

Nairi Krafian (Past President, Tufts University Armenian Club)

Nvard Manasyan (via Skype) (Gender Equality Officer, UNICEF)

Maro Matossian (Executive Director, Women’s Support Center, Armenia)

Moderated by Dr. Anna Ohanyan, Richard B. Finnegan Distinguished Professor of Political Science and International Relations, Stonehill College

 

Free and open to the public. Reception and refreshments immediately following the program and question-and-answer session. Contact hq@naasr.org or 617-489-1610 for more information.

27 Oct 2017

Women Leaders Of The Armenian Bar Board of Governors Support Domestic Violence Bill In Armenia

In 1915, the generation of our great-grandmothers was taken against their will as young girls, forcibly becoming child brides and sexual chattel of the enemy men.   So began the girls’ lifetimes of battery and bondage at the whim of the dirty hands and wanton bodies of the shameless perpetrator.  And now, in 2017, in our own homeland, a most disconcerting discussion is taking place in the context of the Republic of Armenia’s consideration of long-overdue legislation which would penalize the crime of domestic violence.  This is not the first time that the Armenian Bar Association has stood up for the rights and dignity of the women and girls of Armenia.[https://armenianbar.org/2016/10/26/arwc-urges-passage-of-domestic-violence-laws-in-armenia/]

In a twisted tangle of logic, public opposition to the proposed bill is bubbling up from a not-insignificant number of vocal female apologists who have derided the legislative initiative as a threat to traditional Armenian family values and as an attack on the cohesiveness of the time-honored family unit. They claim that the ruinous wrongs of their offending men should be relativized because prosecuting them would lead to the displacement of their children from the family hearth. They say that we should stay out of their business and keep our opinions to ourselves.

We say voch to the perpetuation of the vicious dehumanization of the Armenian woman, especially when the monstrous brutality is inflicted by members of the same family–father on daughter, husband on wife, uncle on niece.  Simply put, get off of our mothers, get off of our sisters, and get off of our daughters.  Enough is enough.

It is that we hold our families in the highest regard that the Armenian woman sacrificed and sometimes survived the death marches into the desert during the Genocide.  It is that we hold our families in the highest regard that we found temporary shelter in Europe and the Middle East only to repatriate to our homeland after World War II in order to instill and uplift our nation’s values.  It is in that same regard for family that we will not stand idly by and allow our children to learn violence from their fathers, or to live in an environment where beatings of their mothers are commonplace.

There is no room for criminal violence in an Armenian household—or any household– and, for this, we rise with our sisters, here, in Hayastan, and everywhere to demand that the National Assembly adopt legislation that protects the safety and security of the Armenian family.

14 Jul 2017

THE SAGA OF AN AMERICAN CITIZEN ABROAD: ABANDONED BY JUSTICE IN ARMENIA?

The United States Constitution guarantees to American citizens certain inalienable rights. Foremost among these is the right of Americans to be “free and safe.”

These rights, the very bedrock of American ideals, do not end the moment an American citizen crosses the United States border to enter another land. In fact, the United States Department of State stipulates that it is charged with the responsibility of protecting and assisting United States citizens living or traveling abroad.

Garo Yegnukian is a United States citizen who for the past year has been held in an Armenian prison.

The Armenian Rights Watch Committee of the Armenian Bar Association (ARWC) is concerned at the reported lack of adequate measures being taken by the United States to protect and assist one of its own citizens — Mr. Yegnukian.

In 2009, driven by a passion to help the fledgling homeland of his Armenian heritage, Yegnukian and his family took up residence in Armenia. This move was both a dream and an aspiration to put his vast experience to use in Armenia and to use his entrepreneurial skills to create business opportunities.

In July 2016, when widespread protests were taking place in Armenia, Mr. Yegnukian, among others, was arrested in the aftermath of the peaceful demonstrations. Mr. Yegnukian was accused of what the Armenian government alleged was aiding and abetting militants who had taken over a Yerevan police compound.

The charges against Mr. Yegnukian stem from alleged telephone conversations he had with the Sasna Dzrer (Daredevils of Sassoon) attempting, according to him and his counsel, to de-escalate the crisis in a responsible manner, to prevent further police brutality and to protect lives. These endeavors, the political activism and his support of the protest movement are, it appears, what led him to prison.

The prosecution and court have joined Yegnukian’s case with 13 other defendants and the court has thus far denied 3 different motions to separate his case. With this bundled prosecution, Mr. Yegnukian’s trial will now be tied up for over many years. A request for bail, even for an unprecedented amount, was also denied without articulated reasons for his detention, pending a lengthy multi-defendant trial.

The ARWC hereby calls upon the US State Department and the US Embassy to fulfill their obligations and intervene more directly, proactively and more intently on behalf of its citizen, whose rights have been imperiled if not compromised, as it has done in other similar past cases*.

We call upon Armenia to respect rights protected by constitutional guarantees, freedom of assembly, peaceful protest and free expression. The right to a speedy trial and the dismissal of illegally-gathered evidence or politically-motivated charges are the hallmarks of a true democracy.

Local and foreign observers should attend and report on all pre-trial proceedings and the trial, and by their presence and subsequent reporting, encourage Armenia and the Armenian judiciary to treat fairly and justly US citizens and indeed all people, according to precepts of national and international law.

The ARWC continues to monitor this case and urges its membership and all freedom-loving and rights-respecting people to remain vigilant, to be engaged and rise in support of the human and civil rights of Garo Yegnukian, Esq.

Armenian Rights Watch Committee—ARWC
ARMENIAN BAR ASSOCIATION

*
a) Afgan Mukhtarli https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2017/06/271551.htm
b) Aya Hijazi https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/21/us/politics/american-aid-worker-released-egypt-trump.html

16 Jun 2017

THE ARMENIAN RIGHTS WATCH COMMITTEE (ARWC) OF THE ARMENIAN BAR ASSOCIATION LAUDS US PROSECUTORS FOR HOLDING ERDOGAN’S THUGS ACCOUNTABLE

In prior weeks, the Armenian Rights Watch Committee repeatedly called on lady justice to rise and reproach the craven animals owned and operated by Turkey’s President Erdogan for their May 16, 2017 bloodthirsty savagery on U.S. soil against law-abiding protesters in Washington D.C.

While we have not been alone in our demands for the responsible parties to be brought to justice (others demanded too), it is gratifying for us—a bar association comprised of lawyers, prosecutors, judges, academicians and law students—to see our call heeded and decisive action finally taken, as prosecutors filed charges yesterday against at least 14 members of Turkish President Erdogan’s security detail.

The accusations against each of those charged stem from their respective roles in last month’s brutal beatings of peaceful demonstrators protesting Erdogan’s policies during his visit to the U.S. capitol. The charges brought against these bestial assailants include felony assault allegations. To date, and pursuant to D.C. Superior Court arrest warrants, two additional individuals have now been apprehended.

We now call upon prosecutors to invoke relevant and codified exceptions to diplomatic immunities and to commence extradition proceedings against the Turkish fugitives. We further urge prosecutors to forego dismissal of any underlying charges through plea negotiations. In the event that any of those responsible for the carnage opt to accept responsibility for their crimes by pleading guilty, we demand that their guilty pleas to be as to all charges levied against them and that such pleas be accompanied with admissions of any aggravating allegations and enhancements.

We are pleased that our voices of discontent were heard—particularly in the face of the White House’s meager lamentations about what was openly witnessed worldwide as a brutal onslaught carried out by the head of a foreign government’s security detail against U.S. citizens. We look forward to and await the day when commensurate justice will be meted out to those who are found culpable in our courts of law, fairly and equitably—much unlike, of course, courtrooms in Turkey.

To be clear, we shall continue to be vigilant to ensure that law and order are, as they surely must be, restored. Turkey’s importing of insidious anarchy and rabid bellicosity is not welcome in this country. When “guests” on American soil violate and blatantly disregard our laws—in vile and violent ways—we must not cede an inch of our most cherished and protected freedoms of speech, association and peaceful assembly.

Let no one doubt our American–Armenian brand of fierce resolve. We vow to remain engaged, and we will vigilantly follow the progress of these arrests and charges to their just conclusion. To be sure, our engagement and monitoring of these developments will be unwavering every step of the way. It will be—as all things we commit to—fierce. And, on this matter, more so than ever before, we will be at our fiercest.

03 Feb 2017

Become an Election Monitor in Armenia

Paying It Forward:  Armenian Bar Association Calls for Volunteers to Join Election Monitoring Team for Upcoming Parliamentary Elections in Armenia
Armenia is both home and away.  Above all else and at our core, we root for it, we engage with it, we champion it, and we go to the wall for it.  For its own part, during the past 25 years, the Republic has pivoted on the axis of our unflagging commitment and our tough-love admonitions.
It is on the hinge of that balance that the Armenian Bar Association invites you to become one of our goodwill ambassadors to Armenia for a short stretch of time in late March/early April, culminating with your mission as a parliamentary election monitor on April 2, 2017.    There are so many reasons to say “yes,” ranging from the professional to the personal to the patriotic.
These types of special opportunities don’t come around too often in life, and we know that it will require you both to juggle and to sacrifice in order to make it all work, but stop and think about it for a second and then don’t hesitate.  Jump to join our monitoring task force and let’s step together into this most meaningful trip to the homeland!
The training (online) and coordination (on the ground) will be conducted by Transparency International/Citizen Observer Initiative which is the leading local organization with a proven track record of observing, auditing and analyzing Armenia’s past and planned elections.
As a monitor during the April 2nd National Assembly elections, you will fulfill a critical role in strengthening the country’s democratic institutions and its rule of law, with the hope of bringing light and honor to future of our nation and people.
To become a part of the Armenian Bar’s monitoring contingent or for more information, please write to  info@armenianbar.com or call Armenian Bar Board Member Armen K. Hovannisian at (818) 645-2811.