Armenian Genocide Billboards Welcome Delegates to Republican National Convention

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the 2016 Republican
Convention convenes in Cleveland, Ohio next week, the Armenian Assembly of
America (Assembly) embarked on an Armenian Genocide billboard campaign
prominently displaying the statement of President Ronald Reagan affirming the
Armenian Genocide.

With
nearly 50,000 people expected at the Convention in Cleveland, the billboards
are part of the Assembly’s ongoing public awareness initiative. They serve as a
reminder about the need to affirm the truth and learn from the past so as to
prevent future genocides.

During
his first term in office, President Reagan issued a proclamation which read in
part: “Like the genocide of the Armenians before it, and the genocide of
the Cambodians which followed it – and like too many other such persecutions of
too many other peoples – the lessons of the Holocaust must never be
forgotten.”

The
first two billboards, located on I-77 northbound near Grant Avenue (close to
where the Convention will be held) and Carnegie Avenue westbound, features an
excerpt from President Ronald Reagan’s proclamation on April 22, 1981.

“The
Cleveland Armenian community, and, particularly, our parishioners, are
overjoyed with respect to the presence of both billboards,” Rev. Fr.
Hratch Sargsyan, pastor of St. Gregory of Narek Armenian Apostolic Church,
said. “The billboards are the talk of the Armenian community. Folks are
simply ecstatic.”

The
billboards’ media campaign was overseen by the Assembly’s Ohio State Chair Ara
Bagdasarian, who is also a member of the Cleveland Armenian Genocide Centennial
Committee.

“Ronald
Reagan, one of the most revered Republican leaders, is the only sitting president
to recognize the Armenian Genocide and use the term genocide. With these
billboards, we will reiterate Reagan’s statement and help ensure that the next
president – whether it be Republican or Democrat – reaffirms the Armenian
Genocide,” Bagdasarian said. “We wanted to take advantage of the
opportunity to share our message about the Armenian Genocide with the visitors
coming to Cleveland during the Republican Convention. The world’s spotlight and
media will converge here, and we have the chance to be heard.”

Donated
by Debbie Abdalian-Thompson, owner of Cleveland Outdoor Advertising, the
Assembly put up two of the billboards to commemorate the 101st anniversary of
the Armenian Genocide and to promote public awareness during the Convention. A
third billboard was added following Germany’s affirmation of the Armenian
Genocide on June 2. The most recent billboard reads: “Truth vs National
Interest” and “Thank You Germany for Recognizing the Armenian
Genocide,” designed by Peace of Art and located on I-77 southbound near
mile marker 157.

“I
would also like to give special thanks Debbie Abdalian-Thompson and Cleveland
Outdoor Advertising for her generous support,” Bagdasarian added. 

For
more information, Armenian Assembly of America’s Ohio State Chair Ara
Bagdasarian can be reached at
arabag1956@gmail.com or (440) 725-3836.

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: The Armenian Assembly of America’s billboard in Cleveland, Ohio
located on Carnegie Avenue.

Photo Caption 2: The Armenian Assembly of America’s billboard in Cleveland, Ohio on
I-77 southbound near mile marker 157.

Former U.S. Senator James Jeffords of Vermont passes at 80

image

(Former Sen. Jim Jeffords announced in 2005 that he would not seek a fourth term. | Getty)

September 2, 2014

By Taniel Koushakjian

AAANews Blog

On August 18th, the political world was saddened by the death of former U.S. Senator James Jeffords of Vermont. His death was widely noted as he represented a principled voice in United States national politics for over 30 years before retiring in 2007 because of health problems.  Those familiar with modern American politics recall when in 2001 the Senator left the Republican Party to become an Independent, effectively handing control of the Senate to Democrats in the first year of President George W. Bush’s administration.  Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont who declined the opportunity to run against Senator Jeffords but later succeeded him after his retirement stated, “Jim was one of the most popular elected officials in the modern history of the state – serving at the local, state and federal levels.  Vermonters admired him because of his low-key and down-to-earth qualities, and because of his obvious and strong love of the state and the Vermont way of life.  He was an effective champion of education, disability rights, the environment and the arts – and millions of Americans have benefited from his efforts.“ 

For Americans of Armenian descent, however, Jeffords was also a part of a different political history. In the 101st Congress, Senator Jeffords was an original cosponsor of S.J.Res. 212, a bill marking the 75th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide reaffirming the U.S. record.  In 1990, S.J. Res. 212 made it to the floor of the U.S. Senate. Introduced by Senator Robert Dole (R-KS), the bill garnered 54 cosponsors. From February 20-27, 1990 a lengthy debate and two votes to invoke cloture on Senator Dole’s motion to proceed took place. During that week, national and international media such as ABC News, CSPAN, and the Associated Press were covering the bill’s prospects while openly discussing the 1915 Armenian Genocide. Even though he did not have a large Armenian constituency in Vermont, Senator Jeffords supported the resolution and opposed efforts to deny the United States’ own history to help save the survivors of the Armenian Genocide. Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) opposed the bill with a filibuster and ultimately blocked passage of this important human rights issue. But, the entire Armenian American community and their friends took note of Senator Jeffords’ help and willingness to stand up for what was right.  Armenian Americans remember his legacy and mourn his passing. 

After Jeffords became an Independent in 2001, he also signed consecutive letters to President George W. Bush calling on him to officially acknowledge the Armenian Genocide. 

For more on the life of Senator James Jeffords please click here to read an excellent profile published by the Associated Press shortly after his death.