Colorado Armenians work to encourage Genocide recognition
Published: Saturday July 21, 2012
Denver - Armenian activists in the state of Colorado continue security pledges from congressional candidates that once elected they would support recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
The Rocky Mountain Hye Advocates (RMHA) reported on July 16 that Congressional District 3 candidate, Democrat Sal Pace pledged to co-sponsor an Armenian Genocide Resolution and join the Armenian caucus in a letter to RMHA.
Pace has been endorsed by RMHA over freshman Congressman Scott Tipton of the Republican Party, who in contrast to other members of the Colorado congressional delegation has offered no positive presence on any Armenian issue, while also joining the Turkish caucus.
On July 14, RMHA reported that in District 4 race Democrat challenger Brandon Shaffer also pledged to co-sponsor an Armenian Genocide Resolution and join the Armenian caucus.
The incumbent in that district freshman Congressman Cory Gardner (R) had already co-sponsored the Armenian Genocide Resolution and joined the Armenian caucus. Additionally, in September 2011 Gardner sponsored an outreach letter to his Republican Freshman colleagues urging them to co-sponsor the Genocide resolution.
RMHA also received a letter from candidate Joe Miklosi in Congressional District 6 race, pledging to "affirm the Armenian genocide and be a cosponsor of the resolution." Incumbent Representative in that district Mike Coffman (R) co-sponsored the Armenian Genocide Resolution in the 112th Congress.
Colorado state legislature unanimously approves the Armenian Genocide resolution
On April 20 the Colorado General Assembly unanimously voiced their approval for the 11th annual Armenian Genocide Resolution, designating April 24 as Colorado Day of Remembrance of The Armenian Genocide.
The resolution was spearheaded by AOC Genocide Commemoration committee chairperson, Kim Christianian in 2002, with the help of committee members Ken Allikian and Simon Maghakyan. "Each year we update the language of the resolution to bring awareness to the continuous injustices that are placed on the Christian minorities in Turkey", says Christianian.
Last year, Colorado led the states with language in their resolution calling for the return of Christian properties confiscated during the genocide "This year, we added language about the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, which named Turkey as one of the 16 most egregious and systematic violators of religious freedom in the world", says Christianian.
State Senator Lois Tochtrop has been the primary sponsor of the resolution since 2002, back when she was a State Representative in the House. "We have had several House sponsors over the years, but for last two years we have had Representative Su Ryden as our advocate in the House chamber", says, Ken Allikian.
In addition to the annual resolution, Armenians of Colorado have for thirty years obtained annual Gubernatorial and Mayoral Armenian Genocide commemorative proclamations. This year, the proclamations were submitted by AOC board member, Rafael Saakyan.
The resolution was followed by the annual commemoration ceremony on April 22, organized by Armenians Of Colorado Inc. and the Genocide Commemoration Committee. Simon Maghakyan acted as MC and the guest speakers included Senator Lois Tochtrop and Representive Su Ryden. Reverend Father Zaven Markosyan delivered the invocation in the Senate and at the commemoration ceremony. A crowd of over 150 attended the ceremony held in The Armenian Garden located on the State Capitol grounds where there is a dedicated commemorative headstone and evergreen tree. The garden was established with the support of the Armenian community and AOC in April 1982.
"We are very fortunate to have our own piece of land on the Capitol grounds", says Sona Hedeshian, president of AOC. "We'll be working to make enhancements to the site in time for the centennial in 2015".
In March, AOC and Facing History and Ourselves brought Genocide Scholar/poet Peter Balakian to Denver for a very successful teacher's workshop entitled "Why Studying the Armenian Genocide Matters today?" A reading of poetry and book signing was held the following day at the historic Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver.
Other AOC events included a talk entitled, The Changing Landscape of Historic Western Armenian: Reflections on a Journey into the Past, with Dr. Richard Hovannisian on Saturday May 5. Details can be found at www.armeniansofcolorado.org.