Cafesjian Family Foundation Responds to AAA’s “Statement on the Armenian Genocide Museum Case”
Published: Saturday February 12, 2011
Washington - On February 9, 2011, after a curious two-week silence, the Assembly finally informed its membership of the decision rendered against it by Judge Kollar-Kotelly in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.
The Assembly's statement, reprinted in full below, contains a number of misstatements and half-truths. These inaccuracies are addressed in the margins below.
It is important, however, to address two issues up front.
First, while the Assembly's statement futilely attempts to color this as a somehow split decision, all accounts of this decision by independent sources, as well as accounts by publications traditionally favorable to the Assembly, have declared it a sweeping victory for Mr. Cafesjian and the Cafesjian Family Foundation.
(See McClatchy Newspapers article "Legal fight over Armenian museum ends in philanthropist's favor"; the Armenian Mirror-Spectator's article "DC Court Hands Victory to Cafesjian Family"; ArmeniaNow's article "Dispute Over?: Court finds in favor of Cafesjian in Genocide memorial case"; PanArmenian.net's article "Cafesjian Foundation wins Genocide Museum lawsuit" or News.am's article "Armenian fund wins Genocide museum lawsuit.")
Second, the Assembly, consistent with its misleading claims, fails to address the Court's numerous comments regarding the truthfulness and candor of Hirair Hovnanian, Van Krikorian, Aram Kaloosdian and other Assembly representatives.
For instance, in discussing the testimony of Hirair Hovanian, Peter Vosbikian, and Robert Kaloosdian, the Court remarked that "these individuals' convenient lack of memory is an attempt (conscious or otherwise) to minimize their involvement in an agreement that turned out badly for the Assembly" (page 47). Throughout the opinion, the Court was understandably skeptical of Hovnanian's lack of memory. In describing key events the Court labeled his testimony as being "incredibl[e]," "remarkable," or more pointedly "not credible" (pages 20, 21, 27, 46, 57).
Likewise, the Court rejected Van Krikorian's claim that important AGM&M Board motions were made during a "break in the recording" of the meeting. Most seriously, the Court concluded that Van Krikorian "sought to have the minutes amended to increase the authority of the building and operations committee and cover up the discrepancy between the language in the transcript and the authorization in the minutes" (page 123).
ARMENIAN ASSEMBLY STATEMENT ON THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE MUSEUM CASE
[With CFF commentary]
AAA: Washington, DC - Last month the U.S. District Court in Washington, DC issued an order and an accompanying 190-page Memorandum of Opinion regarding the Armenian Genocide Museum case. Although the case is not over, it is important for all members of the Assembly to understand the ramifications of the Opinion.
It is also important for all members of the Assembly to know that we have worked tirelessly to build a museum and permanent memorial to the Armenian Genocide in our nation's capital.
[CFF: The Assembly has not "worked tirelessly to build a museum and memorial." The Court noted that Hirair Hovnanian, Aram Kaloosdian and Anoush Mathevosian "hoped that Cafesjian would take care of the project so that they would not have to do so" (page 146). Furthermore, the Court explained that one of the reasons the project was not completed during the three years that Mr. Cafesjian was chairman was "Hovnanian's reluctance to get involved [in the project] at even a basic level." ]
AAA: Nothing in the Opinion will stop us from continuing these efforts.
[CFF: The Assembly remains free to attempt to develop a museum and memorial in Washington, D.C., but it has no property on which to build it. The disputed property now belongs to the Cafesjian Family Foundation and will be developed into a museum and memorial by the Cafesjian Family Foundation and the rest of the Armenian community. It is hoped that Assembly will join in this effort.]
AAA: This litigation began in April 2007, when Mr. Cafesjian and his foundation sued the Assembly and the Armenian Genocide Museum & Memorial (AGMM).
[CFF: The Cafesjian Family Foundation did not sue AGM&M; AGM&M was brought into the legal dispute case through a procedural move initiated by the Assembly.]
AAA: In its Opinion, the Court rejected Mr. Cafesjian's claims of wrongdoing against the Assembly and AGMM, and reduced Mr. Cafesjian's representation on the Board of Trustees.
[CFF: The Court did not reject Mr. Cafesjian's claims of Assembly wrongdoing. The Court held that John Waters was "wrongfully excluded from the AGM&M Board" after May of 2007 (page 187). The Court also found that Hirair Hovnanian, Van Krikorian and Anoush Mathevosian "improperly removed [the Cafesjian Family Foundation] as an institutional donor of AGM&M" (page 189). The Court did not reduce Mr. Cafesjian's representation on the Board. The Assembly claimed that Mr. Cafesjian was entitled to zero seats on the AGM&M Board. With the return of the properties through the reversion clause, the Court held that the Cafesjian Family Foundation is entitled to one vote on the AGM&M Board (page 189).]