Oakland–San Francisco Bay Area Armenian and Greek American communities hosted a fundraising reception on Sunday Nov. 4 for Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee–9th district–Oakland–who was reelected with an overwhelming majority of 86% of the votes. The reception for Lee was held at the Oakland home of Dr. and Mrs. Karl Konstantin where nearly ninety people–representing a broad coalition of Armenian-Americans and Greek-Americans–gathered to show support for Lee. Included in the gathering were members of the AGBU–the Armenian Assembly of America–the Armenian National Committee–the American Hellenic Council of Northern California and the Armenian Genocide Resource Center of Northern California.
Known for her commitment to human rights–Congresswoman Lee is a member of the House Committee on International Relations–and one of the co-sponsors of HR 596–the Armenian Genocide Resolution–for which she spoke eloquently on the house floor. Dr. Julie Kulhanjian–one of the event organizers–introduced Lee and thanked her for co-sponsoring HR 596 and for her support of the bill. Speaking of Lee’s commitment to human rights and justice–Kulhanjian said–"even though the full house vote was postponed because of Turkey’s threats–we know Congresswoman Lee will continue to work to support the Armenian Genocide Resolution."
Speaking of the continuing need to help Armenia–Kulhanjian addressed Armenia’s needs as well–"Armenia has yet to recover from the devastation of the 1988 earthquake as a result of Turkey’s and Azerbaijan’s illegal blockade of humanitarian aid to Armenia. This aid is critical to Armenia’s survival–and pressure should be brought to bare by our government to lift the illegal blockade." Dr. Konstantin–expressing the Greek community’s deep appreciation of Lee’s principled stands in Congress–noted the Greek community’s close relations with the Armenian community and addressed his community’s deep concern with Turkey’s continued military occupation of Cyprus and hoped that Lee will work with the US Congress to help resolve this issue.
The highlight of the event came when Lee announced that she had joined the Congressional Armenian Caucus–a bipartisan body of nearly 100 Congressmen and Congresswomen–who work to ensure congressional economic support for the newly independent democratic Republic of Armenia and for issues important to the Armenian community–such as HR 596–the Armenian Genocide Resolution.
In her remarks and in discussions with individual attendees–Congresswoman Lee said she had asked other members of the Black Congressional Caucus to join the Congressional Armenian Caucus and some have already. She noted that the African American community and its representatives are all too familiar with issues of injustice against minorities and the continued denial of those injustices.
Lee said she was appalled by statemen’s before the House Committee made by Turkish officials blatantly denying the genocide. She said that she wants to see peace around the world but the only way peace can come about is through justice and that’s why she was supportive of the Genocide resolution. Congresswoman Barbara Lee was first elected to the US House of Representatives on April 7–1998 to fill the remaining term of retiring Congressman Ron Dellums of California’s Ninth District,which includes Oakland–Berkeley–Piedmont–Emeryville–Albany,and Alameda–and was re-elected in November 1998 to serve in the 106th Congress.