LOS ANGELES–After spearheading the effort to have House Resolution 193 introduced in the 108th Congress–the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region offices led an enormous grassroots campaign this week to bring the bill to a vote in the House Judiciary Committee. The House Committee on the Judiciary approved the legislation during a Committee markup on Wednesday–May 21.
House Resolution marks the 15th anniversary of the US implementation of the UN Genocide Convention. The vote on this measure–which specifically cites the Armenian Genocide as an instance of past genocide–opens the door to full House consideration of the initiative. The decision to bring H.Res.193 to a vote on the House floor now rests with senior Republican leaders in the House of Representatives.
The ANCA-WR credited the bill’s passage in committee to the mobilization by local ANC chapters and Armenian organizations throughout the United States.
After the vote on Wednesday–ANCA-WR Chairman Raffi Hamparian pointed to the importance of reaching out and energizing Armenian American support for House Resolution 193.
"We take pride in the fact that we are the largest–most organized–most efficient and effective Armenian American grassroots organization in the Western United States. From California–to Texas–to Arizona to Utah–our ANC chapters played a vital role in securing support for House Resolution 193. The fact is– our local ANC chapters and our activists on the grassroots level are the backbone of our organization. They deserve great praise for working to secure passage of House Resolution 193 this past Wednesday in the House Judiciary Committee," commented Hamparian.
"We are pleased with the results of this vote," stated Ardashes Kassakhian–ANCA-WR Government Relations Director. "But the final goal is to have this bill passed not only in committee–but by the entire US House of Representatives as well," he added.
"Great credit should be given to our local ANC chapters," Kassakhian commented. "Over the past several weeks they have been working 24 hours a day to reach out to every Armenian American in their respective communities to bring more co-sponsors to this bill.
Kassakhian said Judiciary Committee members from Texas–Arizona and Utah–who had significant Armenian-American constituencies in their districts–were faxed–emailed and mailed letters on the issue thanks to local ANC chapter in the area. In the past month–ANCA-WR representatives traveled to Arizona–Nevada–and Texas to garner support from the local Armenian Americans.
Leading up the vote on Wednesday–the ANCA-WR offices had held ANC Leadership Institute events with two of the main authors of the bill. Representative George Radanovich had met with ANC activists several weeks ago and Representative Adam Schiff addressed a gathering of local ANC leaders just this past weekend.
The ANCA-WR held a Strategic Roundtable with a dozen local ANC chapters on May 18 to lay the groundwork to mobilize their activists and members in anticipation of the vote.
Representatives George Radanovich (R-CA)–Adam Schiff (D-CA)–and Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues Co-Chairs Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) and Frank Pallone–Jr. (D-NJ) introduced H. Res. 193 on April 10–2003. In less than a month–over 100 members of Congress signed on as co-sponsors to the bill–including Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Ranking Member John Conyers (D-MI).
Since its introduction in April–the legislation has enjoyed the support of all major Armenian American organizations in the US including: the Apostolic Exarchate for Armenian Catholics (New York–NY)–Armenia Fund USA (New York–NY)–Armenian American Democratic Leadership Council (San Francisco–CA)–Armenian Assembly of America (Washington–DC)–Armenian Bar Association (Los Angeles–CA)–Armenian Evangelical Union of North America (Paramus–NJ)–Armenian Evangelical World Council (Paramus–NJ)–Armenian General Benevolent Union (New York–NY)–Armenian Missionary Association of America (Paramus–NJ)–Armenian National Committee of America (Washington–DC)–Armenian Relief Society (Watertown–MA; Glendale–CA)–Armenian Youth Federation (Watertown–MA; Glendale–CA)–Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church – East (New York–NY)–Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church – West (Burbank–CA)–Hamazkayin Armenian Cultural Organization (Watertown–MA; Glendale–CA)–Homenetmen Armenian General Athletic Union (Watertown–MA; Glendale–CA)–Knights of Vartan (New York–NY)–National Organization of Republican Armenia’s (Washington–DC)–Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church – East (New York–NY)–Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church – West (Glendale–CA)–Tekeyan Cultural Association (Watertown–MA)–United Armenia Fund (Glendale–CA). The legislation has also garnered the support of a diverse group of civil and human rights organizations including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)–the Sons of Italy–the American Hellenic Institute–among others.