MONTEBELLO–The San Gabriel Valley Armenian National Committee hosted a Town Hall meeting on November 1 at the Montebello Armenian Center, featuring a briefing by ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian who flew in from Chicago to detail ANCA initiatives in Congress, including House Resolution 106. An attentive audience of nearly 200 Armenian-Americans, and including Montebello Mayor Norma Lopez-Reid, and councilmembers Bob Bagwell and Jeff Siccama, followed the proceedings.
The evening’s program was opened by remarks from SGV ANC Chairman Viken Pakradouni, and followed by Armenian remarks from Seto Boyajian, also from the local ANC chapter. Boyajian mentioned the pillars of the ANCA initiatives in Congress as: advocating US foreign aid to Armenia, buttressing the self-determination of the Nagorno-Karabagh republic, ensuring US military aid parity between Armenian and Azerbaijan, monitoring US aid to Turkey, strengthening US-Armenian relations, and the passage of
the Genocide Resolution. After explaining the reasons and the means for each process, Boyajian turned the podium over to Hachikian.
The ANCA chairman detailed the fight for the passage of the resolution in the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and how the ANCA and the grassroots efforts it generated were eventually successful in having the measure approved by the Committee, 27-21. The margin of victory was unusually close, Hachikian said, due to the unprecedented pressure generated by the Turkish lobby, the White House, and the US departmen’s of State and Defense who wielded their influence in trying to dissuade the members of congress from supporting the resolution. He mentioned the defection of several congressmembers from the ran’s of supporters due to the extreme political pressure from the US administration.
Nevertheless, Hachikian said the ANCA was buoyed by the Committee vote, even though it knew that the eventual House vote might be delayed to 2008, or until certain geopolitical conditions were fulfilled, outside the scope of the House vote. The nationwide publicity emanating from the House Committee was a welcome byproduct, serving to educate the general public about the Armenian Genocide. He also emphasized that, even in the remarks of the opponents of the resolution in the Committee, none disputed the fact of the genocide, they just questioned the issue of "timing."
During his presentation, Hachikian said the margin of success was due to the engagement of the thousands of Armenian-Americans nationwide who called their congressional representatives, asking for their support and sponsorship of the resolution. The power of the grassroots cannot be overestimated, he noted, asking the members of the audience to continue their efforts by calling their Congressperson and thanking them for their support if they were co-sponsors. He reminded the audience that for the first time, Turkish-Americans had joined the fray, defending Turkey’s denial of the genocide, and working against the Resolution. It is imperative that Armenian-Americans participate in this political battle to assure the victory of truth.
Concluding his remarks, Hachikian vowed he and the ANCA would never rest until final victory.