BOISE–Idaho became the 33rd US state to recognize the Armenian Genocide this week–as Republican Governor Dirk Kempthorne issued a proclamation citing April 24 "Idaho Day of Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923," reported the Armenian National Committee of Idaho (ANC-Idaho).
The proclamation begins by noting that "one and a half million Christian Armenian men–women–and children were the victims of a brutal genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Turkish Government from 1915-1923." It goes on to cite the importance of commemorating this crime against humanity as a way of "guarding against the repetition of future genocides and educating people about the atrocities connected to these horrific crimes." The complete text of the Governor’s proclamation is provided below.
The gubernatorial proclamation closely follows a resolution unanimously adopted by the Senate of the Associated Students of Boise State University (ASBSU) recognizing the Armenian Genocide and condemning efforts to rewrite history. Senate Resolution 13 states that the genocide "has resulted in the elimination of the Armenian people from their historic homeland of over 3000 years through the criminal loss of property and life." The resolution "commemorates the Armenian Genocide and condemns those attempts made by governmen’s as well as other entities–both public and private–to distort the historical reality and legal relevance of the Armenian Genocide to the descendants of its survivors and humanity as a whole."
On hearing the news of the Governor’s proclamation–David Morris–President of the ASBSU–commented: "I think it’s fantastic that the Governor not only recognizes the importance of bringing this information to light–but also stands behind efforts to educate the public about the Armenian Genocide".
Chairman of ANC-Idaho–Rafael Saakyan–commended Governor Kempthorne on his "commitment to advancing human rights issues in the state of Idaho and for joining the Armenian community across this great state in sustaining the flame of remembrance for the victims of the Armenian Genocide." Saakyan then urged the Idaho Congressional delegation to "ensure that their state’s views are well represented through their support for the adoption of the Genocide resolution in the House and Senate."
Rebecca Kun–communications director of ANC-Idaho–worked closely with the ANC-Idaho team to collect close to 600 signatures for the proclamation request. This was a marathon process–we collected 594 signatures in 2 weeks in order to get our proclamation request submitted in time to meet the April 24 deadline we set for ourselves. With this proclamation and the Boise State initiative it is clear that the Armenian community–working together–can make a real difference." Kun continued–"As a first generation holocaust survivor–I understand the importance of bringing these events to light. Having this proclamation signed by both the State of Idaho and Boise State University is the first step to correct the dissemination of lies that has been perpetuated for the last 89 years."
Massachusetts State Republican Committee chairman Bob Semonian of Watertown–MA helped the ANC-Idaho bring their concerns to the attention of the Governor’s office. Semonian discussed the importance of the recognition of the Armenian Genocide with Gov. Kempthorne directly at the recent National Governor’s Association (NGA) meeting in Washington–DC. Gov. Kempthorne currently serves as chairman of the NGA.
The Idaho proclamation follows an earlier letter of recognition issued by Montana’s Republican Governor Judith Martz in late March. Jamestown (ND) Mayor Charles Kourajian issued a city proclamation last week honoring the victims of the Armenian Genocide.
Text of the Idaho Proclamation Commemorating the Armenian Genocide:
WHEREAS–one and one-half-million Christian Armenian men–women–and children were victims of a brutal genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Turkish Government from 1915-1923; and
WHEREAS–the Armenian genocide and massacres of Armenian people have been recognized as an attempt to eliminate all traces of a thriving and noble civilization over 3,000 years old; and
WHEREAS–recognition of the eighty-ninth anniversary of this genocide is crucial to guarding against the repetition of future genocide and educating people about the atrocities connected to these horrific events; and
WHEREAS–Armenian-Americans living in Idaho have greatly enriched our state through their leadership in business–agriculture–academia–government and the arts;
NOW–THEREFORE I–DIRK KEMPTHORNE–Governor of the State of Idaho–do hereby proclaim April 24–2004–to be IDAHO DAY OF REMEMBRANCE OF THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE OF 1915-1923