Armenian Bands Performing at Smithsonian Folklife Festival

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On July 7-8, Armenian bands Armenian Public Radio and TmbaTa will be performing at the 2016 Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. 

This concert is sponsored by the “My Armenia” program, a joint partnership between USAID, the Smithsonian, and Armenia.

Schedule:

  • Thursday, July 7 from 11:45 AM to 12:30 PM, Sounds of California Stage & Plaza
  • Thursday, July 7 from 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM, Ralph Rinzler Concert Stage 
  • Friday, July 8, from 1:15 PM to 2:00 PM, Sounds of California Stage & Plaza

This year the Folklife Festival celebrates resilient communities around the world, with a program titled Sounds of California, where the Armenian bands will be feautred. The members of Armenian Public Radio grew up in the musically vibrant diaspora communities in Southern California. During the evening concert, Armenian Public Radio is joined by members of TmbaTa, a youth orchestra from Yerevan, Armenia, based at the Tumo Center for Creative Technologies.

Armenian Public Radio’s members grew up in California as children of families who emigrated from Western Armenia to Syria and Lebanon before coming to the United States. Living in a musically vibrant Armenian diaspora, these artists reinterpret the Armenian music of their childhood in an innovative and enthusiastic style. Armenian Public Radio chooses their songs from a broad mix of genres and all songs are sung in Armenian.

Led by Arik Grigoryan of The Bambir, TmbaTa performs original compositions based on traditional Armenian folk songs combined with rock and experimental music. The group is comprised of thirty teens who learn all stages of music creation including composition, performance, recording, mixing, and mastering. Tumo Center for Creative Technologies is an innovative after-school program where thousands of students aged twelve to eighteen are in charge of their own learning. Tumo is a partner in the Smithsonian’s My Armenia project.

Armenian Assembly of America Urges Congress to Direct $15 Million in Aid to Armenia for Syrian Refugees

Corrupt Practices in Turkey Leads to Suspension of U.S. Aid to Syria

WASHINGTON, D.C.
Citing corrupt practices, the U.S. Agency for International Development
(USAID) Office of Inspector General (OIG) has suspended 14 entities and
individuals involved with humanitarian aid programs operating from
Turkey, reported the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly).

“As the humanitarian
crisis in Syria continues, we must redouble our efforts to ensure that
relief aid reaches those in need,” stated Assembly Executive Director
Bryan Ardouny. “That is why the Assembly is renewing its call for $15
million to Armenia for refugees resettling there from Syria,” added
Ardouny.

“USAID OIG’s
investigation has identified corrupt practices involving a number of
these programs operating from Turkey,” according to a May 6 statement
from USAID OIG. “The investigation to date has identified a network of
commercial vendors, NGO employees, and others who have colluded to
engage in bid-rigging and multiple bribery and kickback schemes related
to contracts to deliver humanitarian aid in Syria.”

The same day, Human
Rights Watch (HRW) identified Turkish border guards shooting and beating
Syrian asylum seekers trying to reach Turkey. Between March and April
2016, Turkish border guards used violence against Syrian refugees,
killing five people – including a child – and seriously injuring 14
others.

“While senior Turkish
officials claim they are welcoming Syrian refugees with open borders and
open arms, their border guards are killing and beating them,” HRW
Senior Refugee Researcher Gerry Simpson said. “Firing at traumatized men, women, and children fleeing fighting and indiscriminate warfare is truly appalling.”

As conditions worsen
along the border in Turkey, Armenia remains dedicated to accepting
Syrian refugees, with over 20,000 to date. “As a host country, Armenia
has been absolutely exemplary in terms of the ratio of welcomed
Syrian-Armenian refugees to the number of native inhabitants,” United
Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) Representative in Armenia
Christoph Bierwirth said. According to The Economist, Armenia has taken
on the third largest number of refugees in Europe as a proportion of its
population.

The Institute for War & Peace Reporting (IWPR) reported
yesterday that Armenia “stands out as a rare example of integration”
and refugees are “welcomed by ordinary people and supported by the
Yerevan government.” The Assembly urges the U.S. government to consider
allocating at least $15 million in refugee assistance to Armenia. The
Assembly continues to encourage Armenian Americans to contact Congress
and ask them to support the Armenian government’s efforts in offering a
safe and stable environment for the refugees escaping from Syria.

On March 24, the
Assembly submitted the same appeal in testimony to the House
Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related
Programs, recommending that from the Administration’s proposed budget of
nearly $3 billion for migration and refugee assistance, at least $15
million be allocated for Armenia.

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.