State and local Proclamations and Resolutions Honor Survivors and Victims; Praise Armenian Community Vigilance to End the Cycle of Genocide
ATLANTA, GA – The Armenian community of Georgia was joined by state and local officials in commemorating the Armenian Genocide at an annual program held at the State Capitol, organized by Dr. Sarkis Agasarkisian and Aroutioun Agasarkisian, chairman of the Armenian National Committee of Georgia.
Mistress of Ceremonies Vardoui Agasarkisian Jinian opened the program by thanking elected officials for their continued support in commemorating this crime against humanity, inviting former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell to provide an invocation.
Former Georgia State Representative and current Fulton County prosecutor Robin Shipp was on hand to present a letter from Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue. “Today, with heavy heart, we remember and mourn the sufferings of the Armenian people from 1915-1923, when more than 1.5 million Armenian men, women and children were murdered or sent on death marches,” wrote Gov. Perdue. “On this day, when so many of our citizens observe Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, let us affirm our belief in tolerance, justice and the spirit of a moral life.”
Next, State Senator Vincent Fort (39th District), presented the recently adopted GA Senate Armenian Genocide Resolution (S. Res. 1454), marking April 24th as “Georgia’s Day of Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923”. The lead sponsor of the resolution spoke eloquently about the contributions of the Armenian community to the State of Georgia. “The Georgia government appreciates the efforts of the over 500 families of Armenian descent in the state, descendants of a 3000 year old culture, who are known for their accomplishments in education, the arts and government,” noted Fort. The State Senator went on to discuss the importance of the passage of the “Hate Crimes Law” in Georgia, which he had also authored, citing the importance of the recognition and remembrance of crimes against humanity, from slavery to genocide.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Thelma Wyatt Cummings Moore, a perennial honored guest of Atlanta Armenian Genocide commemorative events, spoke eloquently about the need for international affirmation of the Armenian Genocide in the ongoing campaign to end the cycle of genocide. “We have to remember these massacres and keep the memory of the innocent victims alive, so that we can remind the U.S. of the heavy price the Armenian people paid for its freedom and the struggle to survive,” noted Judge Moore.
Atlanta City Councilman C.T. Martin then presented the Phoenix Award to the Atlanta Armenian Community, noting that the “promotion of a public dialogue regarding this genocide and its legacy will surely inspire positive race relations and build a strong foundation for unity within our community.” Councilman Martin went on to read a special letter from Mayor Reed to ANC of Georgia’s Dr. Sarkis Agasarkisian. “This year’s 95th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide highlights an annual worldwide day of remembrance of the grave atrocities committed against the Armenian people between 1915-1923. As you assemble to commemorate this tragic occurrence, I salute the Armenian community for all you do to advance human rights,” noted the Mayor.
An Atlanta City Council Proclamation, signed by Council President Caesar Mitchell and Councilman Martin, commemorates the 1894-1896 massacres and subsequent murder of 1.5 million Armenians by designating April 23, 2010 as “Armenian Genocide Commemoration Day.”Former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell, the first Atlanta Mayor to issue an Armenian Genocide proclamation, recounted his close friends with the Agasarkisian family and the local Armenian Community. He recounted that Georgia state commemoration of this crime against humanity began with just a small gathering many years ago, noting that the attendance has grown yearly, and through his annual participation, he has grown to understand the pain caused by the Armenian Genocide. He went on to cite President Obama’s commitment to properly characterize the Armenian Genocide and urged him to honor his pledge in his April 24th statement, in an effort to stop the cycle of genocide.
Campbell’s remarks were followed by those of Fulton County Sheriff Department Chief Deputy Jimmy Carter, who honored the victims of the Armenian Genocide and spoke of the importance of community vigilance to ensure that such atrocities are not repeated anywhere in the world.
Armenian American Association of Georgia Chairman and vice-chairman of the ANC of Georgia, Dr. Sarkis Agasarkisian, spoke passionately about the importance of the immediate passage of Armenian Genocide legislation (H.Res.252 / S.Res.316). “The United States government, by recognizing and officially commemorating the Armenian Genocide, can help ensure that the lessons of this terrible crime against humanity are used to prevent future genocides against the Armenians or any other people,” explained Dr. Agasarkisian in his remarks. He went to note that the litany of threats by Turkish Government in response to proper commemoration of the Armenian Genocide have consistently been empty. “Turkey has taken only token steps against Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Argentina, Austria, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, and other states that have recognized the Armenian Genocide,” noted Dr. Agasarkisian.
Dr. Agasarkisian expressed concern about Turkey’s threats to undermine U.S. interests in the region, noting past shortcomings in stopping the insurgency in Iraq. “Despite their political promises to U.S. the facts have shown, that Turkey has betrayed the United States numerous times. In 2003 Ankara still blocked a northern front into Iraq, a move the Pentagon has said added significantly to the problems currently facing our forces,” he explained. Dr. Agasarkisian also broadly documented Turkey’s role in serving as a safe-haven to regional terrorists. “According to the State Department’s annual terrorism report, Turkey is a safe haven for terrorists and has attracted a ‘foreign fighter pipeline’ linked to terrorist plots, cells and attacks throughout the world.”
In conclusion, Dr. Agasarkisian went on to give a detailed overview of Armenian history in the region and Turkey’s eradication of the Armenian population from 1915 – 1923.
Dr. Vardoui Agasarkisian Jinian offered closing remarks, followed by a closing prayer by former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell.