Armenian Assembly Board Member Annie Totah Receives Catholicos Karekin II Encyclical

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On August 14, Armenian Assembly of America
(Assembly) Board Member Annie Simonian Totah received a Pontifical Encyclical
and was honored by His Holiness Catholicos Karekin II for her extensive
involvement and tireless efforts helping the Republic of Armenia and the
Armenian-American community. For the occasion, the Encyclical was presented by
His Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamian at St. Mary Armenian Apostolic Church
in Washington, D.C.

“Annie
Simonian Totah truly stands out as a woman of remarkable achievements and a
lifetime of unselfish devotion to our people throughout the world,” Archbishop
Barsamian said. “She has been a powerful force for good in our homeland, and
every major Armenian institution in America – including the Armenian Assembly,
the AGBU, and of course the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America –
has benefited from her energy, dedication, and leadership. Her generous heart,
gracious demeanor, and humility before God are virtues that have made Annie
beloved by all,” he continued.

Representing
the Republic of Armenia, Ambassador Grigor Hovhannissian attended the event and
praised Mrs. Totah’s high quality of work and selflessness which has benefited
Armenia and Artsakh.

“Annie Totah
is the example of activism, voluntary service, and leadership, as well as a
role model for the global Armenian community,” Ambassador Hovhannissian said.
“She has personally been involved in the most important milestone achievements
in U.S.-Armenia relations since the early days of independence, and is very
deserving of this honor,” he added.

Reverend
Father Hovsep Karapetyan thanked Mrs. Totah for her advocacy on behalf of Armenia
and presented a framed painting of the Armenian alphabet as a special gift.

“We
congratulate Annie Totah on the occasion of receiving the Pontifical
Encyclical,” Rev. Fr. Hovsep Karapetyan stated. “She has done a lot for our
homeland, and undoubtedly, in the national and local level. Her contributions
have made a great difference by supporting many noble causes and endeavors. Her
generous heart, gracious spirit, and humble soul are merits with which Annie is
blessed and has become beloved by those who know her.”

“Annie Totah
has worked tirelessly throughout her many years of service on the Assembly’s
Board with her advocacy work in Washington, D.C.,” Assembly Board of Trustees
Co-Chairs Anthony Barsamian and Van Krikorian said. “If we did not have Annie
in the nation’s capital, much of our advocacy agenda would have gone
unfulfilled. Annie works consistently for Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh which
benefit directly from her dedication and commitment to the homeland,” they
stated.

Established
in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based
nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of
Armenian issues. The Assembly is a 501©(3) tax-exempt membership
organization.

Photo Caption:
St. Mary Armenian Apostolic Church Reverend Father Hovsep Karapetyan and His
Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamian presenting Armenian Assembly of America
Board Member Annie Simonian Totah with the Pontifical Encyclical from His
Holiness Catholicos Karekin II in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Neshan Naltchayan/Armenian
Assembly of America)

Armenian Assembly of America Working to Expand Demining Initiatives in Armenia, Nagorno Karabakh

Armenian Assembly of America Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last month, Armenian Assembly of America
(Assembly) board member Annie Totah and executive director Bryan Ardouny
attended the Marshall Legacy Institute’s (MLI) 18th Annual Clearing
the Path Gala where they met with officers, supporters, and activists for the K9
Demining Corps Campaign. MLI’s K9 Demining Corps Campaign seeks to improve the
quantity and quality of mine detection dogs (MDDs) in countries all over the
world.

“As a lifetime partner of the Marshall Legacy
Institute
’s demining project, and our decades-long support of HALO Trust
initiatives in Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh, the Assembly is pleased with the
results achieved to date and is committed to seeing current projects completed
in the years to come,” stated Assembly Board Member Annie Totah.

In 2002, the Assembly became one of the first
participants of MLI’s K9 Demining Corps Campaign and sponsored six MDDs for
Armenia. The accomplishments of the Assembly-sponsored MDDs include clearing
landmine areas in Armenia along its border with Azerbaijan that is today used
for farming, grazing, and other agricultural initiatives, as well as
transportation and infrastructure projects.

Also last month, HALO Trust Director Andrew Moore and
HALO Trust USA executive director Tom Faust sat down with Assembly staff in
their headquarters to discuss current projects and accomplishments on the
ground in Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh.

“Most Armenian Americans are unaware that there is a
landmine problem in Nagorno Karabakh and that the per capita accident rate is
among the highest in the world – higher even than Cambodia and Afghanistan,”
stated HALO USA Executive Director Tom Faust. “We are grateful for the Armenian
Assembly’s help to raise awareness of this important humanitarian issue. HALO’s
aim is to clear all minefields in Karabakh so that the people who are most
affected by the landmine threat can leave behind this deadly and forgotten
legacy of war and live safer and more productive lives,” Faust said.

Since 2000, HALO Trust staff has cleared almost 90% of
all landmines in Nagorno Karabakh, resulting in 66,718 acres of cleared land to
be used by local residents. In 2013 alone, HALO Trust employed 175 Karabakhi
staff and cleared over 370 acres of land as part of their “Landmine Free
Artsakh” initiative.

MLI is a non-profit, humanitarian organization founded
in 1997 on the 50th Anniversary Year of the Marshall Plan. MLI works to
continue the legacy of U.S. statesman George C. Marshall into the 21st century
by providing war-torn, landmine-affected countries with the tools and training
they need to help rebuild.

HALO Trust
USA is a non-profit organization founded in 1988 and began operations in
Nagorno Karabakh in 1995 to clear landmines from war affected regions. HALO
Trust is guided by the principles of humanitarianism; respect for people’s
rights and dignity; integrity, honesty, and transparency; independence and
impartiality; and efficiency.

Established
in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based
nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of
Armenian issues. The Assembly is a 501©(3) tax-exempt membership organization.  

Photo Caption 1 (L-R): Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny, Leo Sahakian, Assembly Board Member Annie Totah, Marshall Legacy Institute Executive Director Perry Baltimore III, Armenian Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Hrachia Tashchian, with a mine detection dog.

Photo Caption 2 (L-R): Assembly Communications Director Taniel Koushakjian, Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny, HALO Trust USA Executive Director Tom Faust, HALO Trust Director Andrew Moore.

Photo Caption 3: Assembly Board Member Annie Totah at a HALO Trust facility in Nagorno Karabakh in 2002.