LOS ANGELES—The Human Rights Defenders—Ombudsmen—of Armenia and Artsakah were in Los from June 27 to July 3 headlining the Armenian Bar Association’s 30th Anniversary Conference in a panel entitled, “What is and What is Not Today’s Republics of Armenia and Artsakh.”
The ombudsmen joined friends and family of the Armenian Bar Association at its Gala Banquet honoring U.S. District Judge Dickran Tevrizian, who retired from the bench in 2007. Representing Armenia was its celebrated Human Rights Defender, Ombudsman Arman Tatoyan, who also serves as an Ad Hoc Judge of European Court of Human Rights. Representing Artsakh, its fierce and inimitable Human Rights Ombudsman, Artak Beglaryan. For seven consecutive days, the Armenian Bar Association shared this unique dual presence of the human rights ombudsmen of Armenia and Artsakh with the Armenian community of Southern California.
The working visit began with a dinner meeting with the Armenian Bar Board on June 27, followed by meetings with UCLA’s Promise Institute for Human Rights on the morning of June 28. In the afternoon on that same day, the ombudsmen participated in the board meeting of the Armenian Bar Association at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Los Angeles. The event was capped by an al fresco cocktail reception on Friday evening.
Saturday, June 29 was spent in an all-day conference featuring our very own Matthew Karanian, Esq. who was joined by Thaddeus Stauber, Esq. in a presentation exploring “The Winding Roads of ‘Genocide Claims’ in the 21st Century.” The panel discussion was moderated by Armen K. Hovannisian, the Chairman of the Association’s Armenian Genocide Reparation Committee. In the final segment of the Association’s conference on Saturday afternoon, the ombudsmen presented their respective perspectives on the state of affairs in Armenia and Artsakh. Serving as the moderator was Garo B. Ghazarian, Co-Chair of the Bar’s Armenian Rights Watch Committee. That evening, and together with the human rights ombudsmen, the association celebrated its 30th Anniversary Gala Banquet at the prestigious California Club in Downtown Los Angeles.
On Sunday, June 30, and after a morning Board meeting, Ombudsmen Arman Tatoyan and Artak Beglaryan were accompanied by an Armenian Bar Association delegation to a meeting with California State Senator Anthony Portantino. Thereafter, they joined members of the Armenian Bar Association at the Homenetmen’s “Victory Ball” held in the Beverly Hilton Hotel where the ombudsmen were announced to a crowd of more than a thousand Armenians gathered in celebration of the 101 year tradition marked by the call, “Partsratsir yev Partsratsur.”
Monday, July 1 began with a working meeting at the USC Institute for Armenian Studies. The afternoon brought meetings with the Southwestern Law School and Loyola Law School’s “Genocide Studies Center.” During the early evening, a reception took place at the Republic of Armenia’s Consulate, co-hosted by the Honorable Dr. Armen Baibourtian, Consul General of the Republic of Armenia and the Armenian Bar Association. That evening, the Armenian Bar took the Ombudsmen to an introductory visit to the Board of the Armenian National Committee of America, Western Region. Thereafter, Charlie Galian and the Homenetmen-Western Region Board hosted the Ombudsmen and the Armenian Bar delegation to a private dinner.
Tuesday, July 2, included a working visit by the ombudsmen who accompanied the Armenian Bar delegation to Los Angeles City Hall for a discussion with Paul Kerkorian, Council-Member, and Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles for International Affairs, Nina Hachigian. That same afternoon, the Armenian Bar Association delegation escorted the ombudsmen to a meeting with the Armenian General Benevolent Union, Western Region Board. The evening closed with an intimate supper at the home of Armenian Bar Association board member, Garo B. Ghazarian.
Finally, on Wednesday morning, prior to heading for the airport to board a flight back to Armenia, our ombudsmen took in the final meeting of their trip. They sat down for a spirited discussion with Max Huntsman, Inspector General for the County of Los Angeles’ Sheriff Department. Our very own Chris Keosian, Esq. joined the ombudsmen and Armenian Bar delegation.
From the moment the ombudsmen arrived at Los Angeles International Airport, they were greeted by an Armenian Bar Board Representative and, throughout the seven days, they were accompanied by an Armenian Bar Association delegation. The ombudsmen were also accompanied throughout their trip to Los Angeles by the Ambassador of the Republic of Artsakh, the Honorable Robert Avetisyan, the Permanent Representative of Artsakh for the United States and Canada, based in Washington, D.C. Ambassador Avetisyan remains very active with the Association’s Artsakh Legal Initiative Committee, co-chaired by brothers Saro Kerkonian, Esq. and Karnig Kerkonian, Esq.
Ombudsman Arman Tatoyan captured the meaningful bonds established over the intense seven days: “You’ve wholeheartedly embraced us and, with your embrace, you’ve enthralled us.” Artak Beglarian the Human Rights Ombudsman of Artsakh and the house-guest of Armenian Bar board member Armen Hovanissian’s family, noted the value of having the Armenian Bar Association delegation in step with them in this historic working visit: “The Human Rights Defenders of Armenia and Artsakh feel very well defended and protected by the Armenian Bar Association,” he said, describing as well they many doors opened and valuable connections made.
On July 3, back again at LAX, there were deep embraces but no goodbyes exchanged. Working delegations from Armenian Bar Association will return to Armenia and Artsakh—some later this month, some in the next month, and others in the months ahead, ensuring that the faithful bond between the Armenian Bar Association and the institutions of the ombudsmen in Armenia and Artsakh will remain firm and forever embracing, as no distance can keep apart those kindred spirits who are devoted to further the work of human rights in the homeland and, in doing so, fuel the Armenian nation and the Armenian people always toward the just and right.