LOS ANGELES—The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region, joined by a number of other Armenian community organizations, met with Democratic Presidential Candidate Senator Bernie Sanders on Saturday ahead of his rally in East Los Angeles.
“We had a productive conversation with Senator Sanders, discussing a range of issues of concern to the Armenian American community in the Western United States,” remarked ANCA-WR Vice Chairman Raffi Kassabian, Esq. “We thanked the Senator for his historic and principled support for genocide recognition as a co-sponsor of S.Res.150 and urged him to advocate for honest genocide recognition and justice in the Senate in light of recent efforts in the Senate to enforce Turkey’s gag-rule,” he continued. “In light of past presidential candidates’ empty promises, the community has restructured its form of advocacy and expects all candidates to deliver discrete actions that manifest themselves prior to Election Day instead of after taking office,” remarked Kassabian.
During the meeting, Senator Sanders reiterated his support for the legislative priorities of the Armenian American community. Initiatives to ensure the rights and security of the Armenians of Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh, including the Royce-Engel peace proposals, which seek to hold Azerbaijan accountable for its ongoing aggression against the region’s indigenous Armenian population, were also highlighted during the discussion.
Taline Arsenian, President of the Glendale Teachers Association and a member of the ANCA-WR Education Committee, presented Senator Sanders with a commemorative Forget-Me-Not pin in honor of the Armenian Genocide, which he wore during his rally in front of thousands of supporters.
As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives (1991 to 2007) and U.S. Senate (2008 to Present), Bernie Sanders has supported Armenian Genocide legislation, efforts to secure Turkey’s return of confiscated Armenian and other Christian churches, voted to restrict financial assistance and military sales to Turkey, signed Senator Bob Menendez’s letter opposing cuts to U.S. aid for Artsakh de-mining, and supported Section 907 restrictions on U.S. assistance to Azerbaijan due to its ongoing blockade and aggression against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.
The California Democratic Party presidential primary will be held on the 3rd of March 2020. In the lead up to the state primaries and the general election next year, the ANCA-WR will be undertaking initiatives to ensure the Armenian community’s voice is heard and fully represented in the electoral process. In addition to seeking opportunities to meet with various presidential candidates to discuss issues of importance to the community, the ANCA-WR has ensured other ways to maximize the collective voice of Armenian-Americans in the political process through two specific initiatives.
The ANCA-WR recently became an official Census 2020 partner organization and will be undertaking a number of activities to raise awareness to ensure a complete count of Armenian Americans by writing in “Armenian” on the questionnaire. The data collected by the census determines the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives – a process called apportionment – and is also used to distribute hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funds to state and local communities.
The ANCA-WR will also be relaunching its HyeVotes Initiative. Already in its 7th year, the HyeVotes Initiative will continue to register new voters, educate the community on the electoral process, and encourage Armenian-American voters to participate in upcoming elections.
The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region is the largest and most influential nonpartisan Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues in pursuit of the Armenian Cause.