By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
In recent years and months, Arab countries have been liberating themselves from the nefarious political influence of the Turkish government and are beginning to take an honest position on the Armenian Genocide.
The Arab governments, despite their long-standing sympathy and support for survivors of the Armenian Genocide who sought shelter in various Middle Eastern countries, had been reluctant to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide due to their shared Islamic faith with Turkey.
The first Arab state to break the yoke of the Turkish blockade to acknowledge this genocidal crime was Lebanon. On April 3, 1997, the Lebanese Chamber of Deputies (Parliament) adopted a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide. A second resolution was adopted by the Lebanese Parliament on May 11, 2000, stating that it “recognizes and condemns the genocide perpetrated against the Armenian people and expresses its complete solidarity with demands of its citizens.”
Since then, Syria’s President and various Parliament members have spoken about the Armenian Genocide several times, but have yet to adopt an official Parliamentary resolution recognizing it as genocide.
There have been similar moves in Egypt where a lawsuit was filed against Turkey on the Armenian Genocide. However, no formal resolution has been adopted by the Egyptian Parliament.
In March, the Interim Libyan government that is attempting to overthrow Libya’s central regime issued a statement recognizing the Armenian Genocide. This came as a complete surprise since there is no Armenian community in Libya.
Another Arab country is rumored to be considering the acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide, but I prefer not to name it in order not to alert the Turkish government and prevent it from lobbying against it.
More recently, an unexpected acknowledgement was made on April 25, 2019 when The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) issued its first official statement recognizing the Armenian Genocide.
According to its website, “ADC is a civil rights organization committed to defending the rights of people of Arab descent and promoting their rich cultural heritage. ADC was founded by former U.S. Senator James Abourezk in 1980. Today, ADC is the largest Arab American grassroots organization in the U.S. ADC supports the human and civil rights of all people and opposes racism and bigotry in any form.”
Here is the full text of ADC’s sympathetic statement: “Over 100 years ago, the Ottoman Empire systematically massacred 1.5 million Armenians and forcibly displaced the Armenian people from their historic lands. Today, we remember the Armenian Genocide and commemorate all of those who lost their lives and homes. The ADC stands in solidarity with the Armenian people. Following the systematic massacre that took place between 1915-1918, many Armenian survivors fled to nearby Arab lands to seek refuge to later build new homes. Over the centuries, Armenians established thriving communities in Arab countries, particularly in the Fertile Crescent. The Armenian community has been an intrinsic part of Arab society, existing in Palestine for centuries, as well as in Lebanon and Syria. As we mark our moral stain on our global society, the ADC stands shoulder-to-shoulder with our Armenian brothers and sisters. Our communities know too well the price of systematic dispossession and oppression, and together we will continue to defend those facing injustice and persecution.”
I am sure Armenians worldwide thank ADC for its compassionate stand. In response to an email I sent to ADC, Abed Ayoub, ADC’s legal and policy Director, wrote that this is the first time that ADC has issued an official statement on the Armenian Genocide.
In response to my question as to what prompted ADC to issue such a statement this year, Mr. Ayoub stated: “Over the course of the past couple years we have had the privilege of working with young Armenian-Americans on issues that impact us all, and as a result of this relationship we began exploring the idea of issuing a statement as a show of solidarity. Additionally, many of our members have connections and roots to the community. Finally, with the rise of hate and bigotry across the world we felt now is an important time to issue a statement.”
When I asked if ADC is planning to issue a similar statement on next April 24, Mr. Ayoub responded affirmatively.
I also asked Mr. Ayoub if ADC had received any criticism for its statement from the Turkish government, and Turkish or Islamic groups in the United States, he stated that ADC had received no such criticism. However, “our membership was overwhelmingly supportive of the statement.”
Finally, when I asked what ADC thought about Pres. Trump’s refusal to use the term Armenian Genocide, Mr. Ayoub answered: “Most of what President Trump does is troubling, however, his refusal to use the term Armenian Genocide is in line with prior Administrations. Failure to use the term is a failure to recognize the pain and suffering inflicted on millions of innocent lives.”
Naturally, I welcome ADC’s statement on the Armenian Genocide and Mr. Ayoub’s answers to my questions. I suggest that Armenian organizations send ADC’s statement to Embassies of all Arab countries in Washington, D.C., asking them to urge their governments to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide.
Read the original article here.
St. Sarkis Rocks the Hantes in Dallas/Ft. Worth
By Mary Mukhtarian
The St. Sarkis school of DFW had its year-end hantes on Sunday May 19th, 2019 at the Kechejian Hall filled to the brim with everyone in the community. The hantes was the culmination of a year of learning of our language, faith, culture and history, and everyone was in for a treat as the school children performed a variety of skills and showed their talent in Armenian, English, poetry, history, culture, dancing and singing. They had the audience in the palms of their little hands!
The St. Sarkis church school boasts over sixty students supported by a team of over thirty educators, board and staff. The classes were divided into Nairi, in which the youngest children recited poetry, sang and danced to the utter enjoyment of the audience; Yerevan, where we all got an update on history and language; Sevan, where the students demonstrated their versatility by performing a skit in different languages yet united in their Armenian language; Gyumri, where the students introduced outstanding monuments in Armenia; Keghart, whose students taught all how to make a cheese boreg; Karni, whose students presented different cities in Armenia. Students also demonstrated their faith education by explaining Bible verses such as John 3:16 and Romans 8:28.
The school highlighted the achievements of former students several of whom graduated from high school this year. Their inspiration was captured in their words, with all thanking their teachers for broadening their minds by teaching them the richness of their Armenian culture. “I don’t think I would be the person I am without St. Sarkis School” said Arman Aznavour, who was inspired to study Game Design at the University of Texas at Dallas because of entrepreneur and St. Sarkis benefactor Elie Akilian. While every graduate echoed the same sentiment, Taniel Katanjian added his future plans by promising: “I look forward to serving my church and my community in the way God has planned for me.”
As Rev. Fr. Ghevond Ajamian took the podium he brimmed with pride at the achievement of the St. Sarkis School, declaring “We have gems in this community!” and told everyone that this success was not lost on other parishes who would contact him regularly to find out his secret for a dynamic school. He added humbly : “I am not doing anything. It is the parents, teachers and others who stay closer to the children and Christ every day.”
The audience was so overjoyed by the performances that any idea about food had escaped all until the picnic style lunch of hamburgers and hotdogs was served to their delight.