SALT LAKE CITY, UT -Confirmation of Rep. Matheson’s support came during a Tuesday, May 26, 2009 meeting between Aaron Scherb, Rep. Matheson’s Foreign Affairs Legislative Aide, and local grassroots activists, including ANCA Utah Chairman Sarkis Bekearian, Armenian Relief Society representative Raffi Shahinian, University of Utah Armenian “Hyrenik” Youth Organization (AHYO) President Zaven Sargsian, and AHYO member Natalie Torosyan.
The AHYO is active in University of Utah campus life, where it promotes awareness of and appreciation for Armenian cultural, historical and contemporary issues, through education, social, recreational and cultural involvement.
“We are very pleased that Congressman Matheson has decided to become a co-sponsor of H.Res.252. His outstanding record of supporting the Armenian American community and human rights issues in Utah is an inspiration for us all. We are very proud to have him as our Representative,” said Bekearian.
Since his election to the U.S. House in 2000, Matheson has shown strong support for the Armenian American community concerns – cosponsoring the Armenian Genocide Resolution since the 109th Congress. His support over the years has been welcomed by the increasingly vibrant local ANCA presence, which works to educate, motivate and activate the local community to be more engaged with Utah’s Congressional delegation.
Rep. Matheson’s support comes as Salt Lake City’s Armenian community battles renewed genocide denial efforts at the University of Utah. Recently the Turkish Coalition of America and the University announced a new joint program, “The Origins of Modern Ethnic Cleansing: The Collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the Emergence of Nation States in the Balkans and Caucasus.”
This program is set to receive “insight and guidance” from a “Partnership Board” which includes, among others, Turkish Parliamentarian Sukru Elekdag, an active genocide denier who frequently travels to the U.S. to lobby against reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide. This sort of effort to manipulate U.S. academia is a common Turkish Government tactic to promote genocide denial. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s David Holthouse “Academia is one of two major American fronts in Turkey’s campaign to kill the memory of the Armenian genocide. The other is Congress.”