Blog Archives

Armenian National Institute Website Now Includes 795 Official Records Affirming the Armenian Genocide

WASHINGTON, DC – The Armenian National Institute (ANI) has completed a massive expansion of its widely-consulted website containing extensive information on the Armenian Genocide. The 2019 resolutions adopted by the U.S. House and Senate expressly “encourage education and public understanding of the facts of the Armenian Genocide, including the United States role in the humanitarian relief effort, and the relevance of the Armenian Genocide to modern-day crimes against humanity.’ President Joe Biden’s April 24, 2021, remembrance day statement called for a “world unstained by the daily evils of bigotry and intolerance, where human rights are respected, and where all people are able to pursue their lives in dignity and security.”

The Affirmation section of the ANI website, that contains a collection of official documents pertaining to the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide, was thoroughly updated. The Affirmation records are now organized in 14 distinct categories covering resolutions, laws, and declarations by federal level governments, U.S. presidential statements, statements by heads of states, international organizations, religious organizations, official reports, public petitions, and other relevant documents.

Eighty-six new records were added to the Affirmation page, especially updating the sections on ‘Resolutions, Laws, and Declarations,’ ‘State and Provincial Governments,’ and ‘Municipal Governments.’

With strong community support promoting instruction in human rights and genocide prevention, state educational curricula are now mandated in some 10 states across the United States, including Massachusetts, Nevada, Ohio, Connecticut, Michigan, Rhode Island, Illinois, California, New York, and New Jersey. The relevant pieces of legislation are all accessible under ‘Curriculum Mandates.’

As for the 31 countries that formally acknowledge the Armenian Genocide, they include: Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Paraguay, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Vatican City, Venezuela, United States, and Uruguay.

In all, the ANI website presently holds 795 affirmation records from around the world.

The ANI collection of affirmation records was developed with the collaborative support of the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute (AGMI) in Yerevan. A new cooperation agreement reached between AGMI and ANI allowed for extensive research in the AGMI holdings in order to reverify and update the records posted on the ANI website. The agreement was signed in Yerevan by AGMI Director Dr. Harutyun Marutyan and ANI Chairman Van Z. Krikorian on August 5, 2021. AGMI in Armenia and ANI in the United States have become two important depositories of official affirmation records, AGMI holding an international collection, and ANI holding a considerable American collection of original documents.

Robert Arzoumanian, who joined ANI as assistant to the director, conducted the research at AGMI where additional records were identified that have been mounted on the ANI website for easy access by the public. Arzoumanian, a Brown University graduate, interned at ANI and in Congressman Frank Pallone’s office in 2016 and returned the following year as the Armenian Assembly’s summer intern program coordinator. He also has experience working with Armenia-based media. Arzoumanian undertook the challenge of standardizing the presentation of the full scope of international records identified by ANI in order to facilitate their usage by an international audience.

Since its founding in 1997, the Armenian National Institute has been working closely with AGMI, and over the years has supported several conferences and joint projects. Continuing this long-standing cooperation with AGMI, ANI sent a video message on April 16, 2021, welcoming the release by the museum of the volumes prepared by Ara Ketibian and Father Vahan Ohanian titled, “Armenian Genocide: Prelude and Aftermath as Reported in the U.S. Press, The Washington Post (1890-1922),” to which ANI Director Dr. Rouben Adalian contributed an introduction.

Earlier in 2021, AGMI also released the fourth edition of Dr. Adalian’s essay, “Remembering and Understanding the Armenian Genocide,” which AGMI originally issued in 1995.

In 2021, ANI also continued to expand its online presence by launching the Arabic version of the popular ANI website. The announcement was issued in Arabic as well. Soon after its launch on April 17, the site was being consulted in countries ranging from Lebanon to United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Syria, Qatar, Oman and Morocco.

The Arabic-language site represents the third translated edition of the ANI website. The Spanish-language edition appeared in 2020 and the Turkish version in 2017. In light of U.S. President Biden’s affirmation and general media coverage, interest remains high on the subject of the Armenian Genocide. Following the disruptions associated with the shutdown precipitated by the pandemic, with the reopening of educational institutions, a large number of visitors are returning to the ANI website, which registered 4 million hits in 2021.

The process of international recognition remains an ongoing concern for Armenian communities around the world. Efforts are presently under way in England, Israel, and Australia. In 2021, Latvia formally adopted recognition on May 6. Dr. Adalian, along with Dr. Ronald Suny and Armenia’s Ambassador to the Baltic states Tigran Mktchyan, was invited on April 20, to testify in front of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Latvian Parliament that was considering the resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide.

Founded in 1997, the Armenian National Institute (ANI) is a 501(c)(3) educational charity based in Washington, D.C., and is dedicated to the study, research, and affirmation of the Armenian Genocide. The ANI website can be consulted in English, Turkish, Spanish, and Arabic. ANI also maintains the online Armenian Genocide Museum of America (AGMA).

Armenian Americans Should Support Marco Rubio for President of the United States

By Taniel Koushakjian
FLArmenians Political Contributor

As the race for the White House heats up, Armenian Americans across the country are beginning to look more closely at who will best represent their interests as President of the United States. For many Armenian Americans, the 2016 election cycle concludes a chapter in the worst administration on Armenian American issues in modern presidential history. With the broken promises of Barack Obama, whether to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide as President or to increase U.S. assistance to Armenia, the Armenian American community has learned that campaign promises are no true indicator of support after the election. However, one can and should look to a candidates record, votes, statements, and over-all positions in order to arrive at an informed decision as to whether or not that candidate deserves your support.

When looking through the Armenian American lens, the Republican Party has the stronger track record and Marco Rubio is the top choice of all the candidates running for President of the United States of America.

The Race as it Stands

As of this writing, Donald Trump currently leads the Republican Party’s nomination contest with 82 pledged delegates, followed by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) who are tied with 17, Governor John Kasich (R-OH) with 6, and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson with 4. There are a total 2,340 delegates available and 1,237 are needed to secure the Republican nomination.

The race for the Republican Party’s nomination could very well be determined in less than 30 days. Super Tuesday, March 1, will see 11 states hold primary votes. For Republicans, 595 delegates are up for grabs, including Cruz’s home state of Texas, about 48% of the total delegates required to win the nomination.

Florida and Ohio will hold their “winner-take-all” primaries on March 15, along with Illinois, Missouri, and North Carolina. In the month of March, 1,398 delegates will be awarded, enough to secure the nomination.

Heading into Super Tuesday, emphasis will be on the ability of each candidate to sweep a large number of delegates and if Cruz, Rubio, and Kasich win their home states. If it doesn’t become a two-man race by the end of March simple arithmetic suggests that Trump will likely be the Republican nominee.

GOP Presidential Candidates-2016

Rubio’s Record

During his tenure in the United States Senate, Marco Rubio (R-FL) has established the strongest record in support of Christian and Armenian American issues of all the candidates in the field, including but not limited to genocide recognition, and not just in Armenia.

On Armenian American legislation, Rubio voted YES on the Armenian Genocide recognition resolution, S.Res. 410, in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) in 2014. The bill passed 12-5; the first time an Armenian Genocide resolution has ever passed this committee.

In 2015, Rubio cosponsored S.Res. 140, the Armenian Genocide resolution, which is currently pending in the Senate with 21 signatories. “As your United States Senator, and as a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, I was proud to co-sponsor S.Res. 140 in support of an Armenian-Turkish relationship following the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. We must continue to fight as an international community with passion and dignity in defense of human rights,” Rubio said in a letter to the Armenian American community to mark the centennial anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. “Please know that you have my full support for your cause,” Rubio said.

Senator Marco Rubio reinforced his position in support of U.S. reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide when he joined Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) and 13 other Senators in a letter urging President Obama to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide on the centennial anniversary and to attend the commemorative events in Yerevan, Armenia. Obama did not attend the ceremonies in Yerevan, and sent Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew in his place.

Also in 2015, Senator Rubio signed a letter to Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev regarding the regime’s violent crackdown on political and human rights activists, imprisonment of journalists, and general turn toward authoritarian rule. Rubio’s position on the side of individual liberties, freedom of the press, and democracy is an important element to consider.

Those watching the Republican presidential debates have noticed that, unlike other candidates on either stage, Rubio has repeatedly and unequivocally called out the Islamic State’s barbaric violence against Christians, Yezidis, and other religious minorities in the Middle East as genocide. He also does not hesitate to discuss his Christian heritage and faith, whether it’s his views on life or where his children go to school. As such, he joined Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), a champion of Armenian American issues, as an original cosponsor of S.Res. 340, a bill that would label as genocide ISIS attacks on Armenians, Assyrians, Yezidis, and other ethnicities of religious antiquity in the Middle East.

In addition to his unparalleled record, Marco Rubio has the backing of key political figures. Former Republican Presidential nominee Senator Robert Dole (R-KS), who led the charge on the Senate floor for Armenian Genocide recognition in 1991, endorsed Rubio. “I’m supporting Rubio,” Dole told ABC News last week, “he wants to grow the party.”

Vice Chair of the Congressional Armenian Caucus Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) also endorsed Rubio last week. “Having served with Marco in the Florida Legislature and in Congress, I know him to be a leader that inspires hope and instills in all of us a love of country that we felt under another inspirational leader – Ronald Reagan. Marco Rubio’s life story is proof positive that American exceptionalism is real, but we need to fight to preserve it and expand it to more people. His story teaches us that the son of immigrant parents, who came to this country for freedom and opportunity, can achieve anything, including holding the highest office in the land, where I know Marco will work every day to give back to the country that changed his family’s history.”

Cruz’s Calling

In 2015, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) also cosponsored S.Res. 140, the Armenian Genocide resolution. Although Cruz is currently a member of the SFRC, he was not on the committee in 2014, and therefore has never had an opportunity to vote on the Armenian Genocide resolution.

Senator Cruz also issued a powerful statement to the Armenian American community to commemorate the centennial anniversary. “100 years ago, the world was too silent as the Armenian people suffered a horrific genocide,” Cruz said in his letter. “Today, we commemorate more than a million souls who were extinguished by the Ottoman Government. Let the terrors of those events awaken in us the courage to always stand for freedom against evil forces. As Pope Francis rightly said, ‘Concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it.’ The massacre of the Armenian, Assyrian and other Christian people should be called what it is: genocide.” 

Kasich’s Case

Governor John Kasich (R-OH) has a mixed record on Armenian American issues over his career in Congress (1983-2000). Like Cruz, he has never faced a vote on the Armenian Genocide resolution. However, Kasich’s most recent record shows him as an original cosponsor of H.Res. 155, the genocide recognition bill of 1999. As governor, Kasich issued a proclamation in 2012 congratulating Armenia on its 21st anniversary of independence.

Carson and Trump

As a retired neurosurgeon, Ben Carson has no record in support or opposition to Armenian American issues.

Although Donald Trump has never held elective office, he has a record of questionable business practices, one of which should seriously concern Armenian Americans. According to a Eurasia.net report last year:

“Trump lent his name and management know-how to an upcoming, sail-shaped skyscraper in Baku that is owned by billionaire Anar Mammadov, Mother Jones magazine reported on July 29. Mammadov is a son of the country’s powerful transportation minister, Ziya Mammadov, a man whose family has been long accused of battening on privileged access to government contracts for infrastructure development.

“The deal and Mammadov’s role as a champion of Azerbaijani interests in the US — he heads the Azerbaijan America Alliance — exemplify the two parallel worlds of US-Azerbaijani relations. Baku now bitterly rebukes Washington’s criticism of its dismal human rights records, even as its insiders actively lobby and sweet-talk US politicians.

“And, apparently, investors like Trump.”

Trump’s pro-Azerbaijan leaning is reinforced by the support of Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ). In 2012, Governor Christie issued a proclamation on the so-called “Khojaly massacre” which ridiculously accuses Armenians of committing ethnic cleaning against Azerbaijanis during the 1991-94 Nagorno Karabakh War. The growing Muslim Azerbaijan lobby in Washington, led by the Azerbaijan American Alliance, with who’s founder Trump has a business relationship, has shopped around such anti-Armenian proclamations and resolutions in order to cover up and divert attention from Azerbaijan’s Sumgait, Kirovabad, and Baku pogroms against Christian Armenians in 1988-90.

Christie came to Trump’s rescue in an endorsement on Friday after Rubio used the same attack wielded by the New Jersey Governor against Rubio on Trump. “I watched you repeat yourself five times four weeks ago,” Trump exclaimed at the Republican Presidential debate on Thursday night in Houston, TX. “I watched you repeat yourself five times five seconds ago,” Rubio rebuffed after Trump failed to articulate a healthcare plan.

The Right Choice

Armenian Americans focusing on November must remain mindful of the historical record of the individual, statements made, and tough votes cast in order to make an informed decision about the person and the party accordingly. While there are and have always been genuine, ardent, and steadfast Democratic supporters of Armenian American interests, the historical record reveals that Republican leadership has been more successful. When viewed through the Armenian American lens, it would be foolish for Armenian Americans to continue to reward a party and a President that has been unable to deliver when it mattered most.

There are plenty of issues on the Armenian American agenda. U.S. reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide, defending the rights of Nagorno Karabakh citizens to live freely, and Christian persecution in the Middle East are the most compelling for Armenian Americans in 2016. How legislators act when in power and vote when it counts is what reveals true leadership.

Like other minority groups in America, Armenians are not a monolithic voting block, nor should we be. But we must wake up the political consciousness of our constituency and make the right choice in this election-and that choice is Marco Rubio.

*Updated at 11:15 pm with the addition of Senator Rubio’s signature on the Senate letter to President Obama on the Armenian Genocide centennial anniversary.

City of Tallahassee Planning Commission Mulls Vote on Controversial Charter School with Ties to Turkish Islamic Cleric

By Taniel Koushakjian
FLArmenians Political Contributor

October 1, 2013

cot_logo_top

TALLAHASSEE, FL – The Tallahassee-Leon County Planning Commission will hold a public hearing today on a proposal to build a controversial charter school, Stars Middle School, at 3607 Thomasville Road in Tallahassee, reported FLArmenians.com.  Stars Middle School is part of an international network of Muslim schools operated by the “Gulen Movement,” a reference to the cult-like nature of followers of Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen. An Islamic political figure, author and religious scholar, Gulen is a Turkish citizen who has lived in self-imposed exile in the Poconos Mountains of Pennsylvania since 1998.

Although the process in Tallahassee is currently held up due to the school’s inability to file the necessary paperwork, the current controversy surrounding the city proposal has centered on community concerns of traffic impacts, safety, and city zoning jurisdictions, according to a report by WCTV.  The Planning Commission has received over 200 calls and emails in petition to the proposed school, WCTV says. However, a closer look at the shadowy network reveals a deeper process at play, most likely unknown to Tallahassee city officials or residents.

THE MOVEMENT IN AMERICA

The Gulen movement’s network of schools can be found in a dozen countries across the globe. Here in the United States, the Gulen movement – a network of Turkish and Azerbaijani businessman, scientists, engineers, and Islamic religious figures – has propped up 140 schools in 26 states. Texas tops the list with 40 Gulen-connected schools, followed by Ohio with 30. However, the schools have been had difficulty in some states, such as Arizona and Utah, where financial troubles, shady business dealings, and revelations of genocide denial have prompted citizen advocacy groups, teachers and parents to question their merits.

fethullah gulen

A parent of a student at Sonoran Academy, a Gulen school in Arizona, told the Tucson Weekly, “We found one document, in Turkish, that talks about the purpose of these charter schools,” says the parent. “They refer to them very explicitly as schools (belonging) to their movement. They’re calculating, and they say if they can have something like 600 schools, then every year, they can produce 120,000 sympathizers for Turkey.”

“I sent my kids to this school because I wanted them to meet regular Muslims and to see them as ordinary people,” she says. “But when I find that my kids are to be turned into genocide-deniers, that’s very disturbing to me,” the parent told Tucson Weekly.

The parent, who spoke to the newspaper on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, was referencing the 1915 Ottoman Turkish Genocide of 1.5 million Christian Armenians in World War I. Over 20 countries and 43 U.S. states recognize the Armenian Genocide, as does a host of respected historians, such as the International Association of Genocide Scholars, the ultimate academic authority on the Holocaust and genocide.

In Utah, Beehive Science & Technology charter school faced multiple issues. Muhammet “Frank” Erdogan, a Muslim from Azerbaijan and the principal of Beehive, was the center of controversy when he “questioned conventional accounts” of the Holocaust and fired a teacher for not revising the lesson plan on World War II, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. Beehive was ultimately shut down because it “continuously failed to meet ‘accepted standards of fiscal management,’” according to the Desert News. “This is a case of chronic business mismanagement,” Brian Allen, chairman of the Utah State Charter School Board told the Desert News, after the school lost thousands of dollars.

One of the main problems is that the Gulen schools are funded by U.S. taxpayers, to the tune of millions of dollars in some states. Furthermore, the Gulen schools spend those American tax dollars to bring teachers over from Turkey, paying all legal and immigration costs, as well as their salaries. Even when American teachers are hired, they are typically paid less than their Turkish counterparts.

Florida has its history with Gulen schools too. Last year, Daily Broward reported that Riverside Science Academy had hired Broward County Democratic Party Chairman Mitchell Caesar to lobby the Broward County School Board on its behalf. The proposal for Riverside Science Academy in Margate did not materialize, as the necessary paperwork was also not filed in time.

Gulen Protest PA.jpg

The Gulen network’s rise has caught the attention of federal authorities as well. In 2011, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the charter school network and their leader, Fethullah Gulen, were under federal investigation by the FBI and Department of Labor. Although he resides in Pennsylvania, citizens there have pushed back as well. In July of this year, locals held a protest in Saylorsburg, PA to “Stop the World’s Most Dangerous Islamist.” Another slogan of the protest reads “Stop Cheating of American Taxpayers.”

“I’d be shocked if Floridians knew the true intentions behind these schools and willingly opened their wallets to pay for their construction and for non-U.S. citizens to come to America and teach Holocaust denial to our kids,” stated Margaret Atayants, FLArmenians Tallahassee Officer.

TALLAHASSEE PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING TONIGHT 

The Tallahassee-Leon County Planning Commission hearing is set to take place today, October 1, 2013, at 6:00 PM at Tallahassee City Hall, Second Floor. The proposal for Stars Middle School, Ordinance Number 13-Z-26, is scheduled for debate this evening, according to the Commission’s website. The website also includes a recommendation below the proposal to adopt the ordinance and approve building the Gulen school in Tallahassee. However, a spokesman for the Commission informed FLArmenians on the morning of the hearing that debate on this issue has been continued to the November 5th meeting.

***UPDATE –  The Tallahassee Planning Commission continued debate on the ordinance to the following meeting on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 6:00 PM. The status of the ordinance is not yet clear. However, the recommendation to adopt the proposal has been removed from the Commission’s website.

Floridians are encouraged to call and/or email the Tallahassee City Planning Commission, as well as Tallahassee Mayor John Brooks, and voice their opposition to “Ordinance Number 13-Z-27,” a proposal to build the Gulen-linked Stars Middle School in Tallahassee.

OPPOSE ORDINANCE NO. 13-Z-27

City of Tallahassee Planning Commission

–       Call (850) 891-6400 and/or Email by clicking here.

Tallahassee Mayor John Brooks

–       Call (850) 891-8181 and/or Email by clicking here.

Florida’s tax dollars need to be spent wisely, not on mysterious charter schools run by an Islamic cleric in Pennsylvania. There are plenty of qualified teachers here in Florida.

This story was updated at 12:25 PM on Wednesday, October 2, 2013 to reflect the postponement of the hearing.