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Book Review: May Chaderjian’s ‘Letters to Barbra’ Have a Long Life

"Letters to Barbra" is the latest novel from Paul Charderjian

“Letters to Barbra” is the latest novel from Paul Charderjian

Letters to Barbra,
By Paul Chaderjian
Meshag Publishing, 2018. pp. 524.

BY RUBINA PEROOMIAN, Ph. D.

As a reader who had the chance to read the manuscript before publication, I thank Paul Chaderjian for letting me into the world of “Adam Terzian,” a world in which the past, the present, and the future co-exist in conflict, never in harmony, a world that is marked with the trauma our parents and grandparents lived and unwillingly transmitted to us to shape our identity that we have to live with tragically, in conformity; and if we object, if we turn away, we are doomed; we cannot find peace. The sense of belonging is displaced, it becomes meaningless, only a source of pain and compunction, an anxiety.

If you are looking for a leisurely, easy read, a narrative that takes you on a smooth ride of chronologically recorded episodes, this book is not for you. It needs your full commitment and concentration. It is not a text you just read and forget, but something you live with. Here, the reader becomes the subject, the teller of his/her own life story. And this is because the author offers an exceptional style and language that grabs, that pulls the reader deep into the world he describes.

Letters to Barbra is profound. The torrent of ideas, the thoughts flying back and forth in time, the anachronistic sequence of events make the text difficult to digest. It does not read smoothly like a novel or an ordinary autobiography. So, I do not see it to gain popularity immediately after its release. One is to expect more than that. Chaderjian writes, “I wrote because I had to write.” So, I would add, you read because you have to read and see the mirror image of your life, a part of yourself in the complexity of your identity, an Armenian caught in the web of intricate relationships defying time and space.

Chaderjian had the courage to be honest with the character he created. As an eleven-year old boy, this character, named Adam, witnessed the Beirut bombing, the fears and tears during that senseless civil war. But that experience did not remain in the past. It comes forth like an episode recurring throughout Adam’s life, thus showing the persisting impact of the trauma. And although, the purpose of writing letters to Barbra—Barbra Streisand, a Hollywood idol of the time—comes to light only towards the end of the text, it is obvious that this “game” Adam played so faithfully was a catharsis he sought, a need that did not subside over the years. The burden of the past and its impact on his/our everyday life is there, resonating, as Adam experiences, in debilitating downfalls, unsatisfying successes, the real life and not the imagined or coveted, or the ideal in multicultural, multireligious Los Angeles, the transgenerational pain, the unfulfilled parents’ expectations. And in addition to all that, the true face of the Diaspora and the “homeland” and its people with a huge gap between them. Chaderjian/Adam felt that gap. He recognized the truth before many of us did.

Letters to Barbra is an artistic chronicling of generational struggle for self-realization and quest for identity. Now that it is published and available, let it run its own life. May that be a long one.


Pashinyan to Take Part in World Economic Forum in Davos

Armenia's Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan

Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan

World Economic Forum Publishes Op-Ed by Pashinyan
YEREVAN—Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan will be among world leaders attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, which kicks off on Sunday.

The prime minister’s press office reported that Pashinyan will meet with leaders of countries, international organizations, as well as businesses attending the summit. He will also attend the Informal Gathering of World Economic Leaders (IGWEL) and World Civil Society Forum in Davos.

Pashinyan is also scheduled to meet with the members of Switzerland-Armenia Commerce Chamber and Swiss businessmen in Zurich.

Ahead of the summit, the organizers featured an op-ed penned by Pashinyan, who discusses Armenia’s future and the impact of the popular movement that brought him to power. Below is the op-ed.

Shaping the Future Of Democracy in Armenia

BY NIKOL PASHINYAN

The changes that took place in Armenia last year are indeed historic in nature and magnitude. The Velvet Revolution led to the triumph of democracy in our country. The popular movement was based on a wide consensus embraced not only by all layers of our society but also by the six-million-strong Armenian Diaspora. It was an absolutely non-violent transformation without a single victim. Love, fraternity, and tolerance were the slogans of the Armenian popular movement.

The snap parliamentary elections held last December confirmed and reinforced the democratic aspirations of our society. They demonstrated that the political forces representing the new Armenia do indeed enjoy wide public support.

These democratic changes did not trigger any tectonic shifts in our foreign policy. Armenia remains committed to its international obligations and foreign policy partners. Moreover, I believe that the democratic Armenia can be a more valuable contributor to the political-military and economic unions which it is participating in.

Where did this demand for change in Armenia come from?

First, historically, the core values of our society have been deeply rooted in the ideas of freedom and justice. In 1988, Armenia was one of the first countries to shake the very foundations of the communist regime through a nationwide popular movement. Democratic aspirations have remained strong in Armenia since that time.

Second, Armenia is a landlocked country with limited natural resources facing heavy security challenges, which emanate from the uneasy geopolitical situation in the region. As a result, Armenian people could not afford the luxury of having extractive institutions causing economic inefficiency and impeding the development of country. Like many other nations, Armenia needs to develop its economic and political institutions in order to create conditions conducive to economic, political, and social progress. Yet the former regime drove our country to a standstill. The modernization of national institutions, therefore, became an imperative, while democracy was the only viable solution which could help us reach this fundamental goal. We didn’t see any alternative to democracy.

Achieving coherent democracy is a difficult process – it requires substantial time, unconditional commitment, and even a change in mentality. We have only taken the first steps in this everlasting path.

With the unprecedented level of public confidence and legitimacy, the Government of Armenia adopted an ambitious reform agenda. The robust fight against corruption, eradication of monopolies, the establishment of a level playing field for all economic and political actors, the elimination of poverty, and an independent judiciary system are among the priorities of our Cabinet.

Therefore, having finalized the political transformation, currently our government is concentrated on the economic transition. We have opened an entirely new page: now there is a true competitive environment for doing business in Armenia. We are improving the regulatory framework, eliminating barriers to trade, modernizing infrastructure, increasing the competitiveness of the Armenian products, and attracting foreign direct investment. Along with such traditional fields as mining, agriculture, diamond processing, textiles, mineral water, wine and liquors, we are boosting industry-based economy, focusing on sectors with the greatest growth potential, including communication technologies, education, water recourses, health, tourism, and renewable energy.

Armenia, as a member of the Eurasian Economic Union (E.E.U.), plays a good bridging role between the E.E.U. and the European Union, creating multiple opportunities for western companies to do business within the E.E.U., utilizing the knowledge and skill of Armenians, thoroughly familiar with this market and its rules. As a member of WTO, Armenia benefits from Most Favored Nation status with all other WTO member countries. We signed the “Comprehensive and Enlarged Partnership Agreement” with the European Union, which is connecting Armenia to the E.U. both economically and politically. Thus, there all the opportunities for foreign investors to start their business in Armenia.

We are on the path to building a truly technological and industrial economy that would meet 21st-century standards with ever wider opportunities and prospects to position Armenia as a country producing high-value and knowledge-intensive goods and services with creative human capital at its core.

We are determined to move forward on this path in order to reach our final goal – a stable, democratic, and economically developing Armenia based on the rule of law and accountable governance. We have no right to fail. We ought to justify the trust of our people and protect democracy.


Turkish Parliament Rejects Paylan’s Demand to Investigate Dink’s Murder

Garo Paylan

Garo Paylan

ISTANBUL—Garo Paylan, an Armenian member of the Turkish Parliament representing the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) urged the Turkish parliament to take up the case of the Armenian editor Hrant Dink, who on January 19, 2007 was gunned down in front of the offices of the Agos newspaper, which he founded.

“After being murdered, Hrant Dink became a symbol of equality, pluralism, democracy and justice in Turkey. Twelve years have passed since his murder, but this case is still not resolved,” Paylan said in remarks in Parliament.

Presenting the details of Dink’s murder, the lawmaker said the state has also its share of guilt.

“Hrank Dink has been targeted by nationalists after publishing an article in 2004 about Ataturk’s daughter and first female fighter pilot Sabiha Gokcen, which revealed that Gokcen had an Armenian origin. At that time the Turkish General Staff issued a statement on this article, Dink also received warning from the Istanbul Governor’s Office,” Paylan explained.

He also emphasized that Turkish officials and media also contributed to the intensification of nationalist moods against Dink.

The Turkish parliament, however, rejected Paylan’s demand and proposal to investigate and contribute to disclosing the case.


Armenian Parents’ Support Group Celebrates Homenetmen’s Hrashq Program

From left, Nanor Kabakian, the facilitator of the parents support group, State Sen. Anthony Portantino and Homenetmen Western Regional Executive Chair Hagop Tufenkjian

From left, Nanor Kabakian, the facilitator of the parents support group, State Sen. Anthony Portantino and Homenetmen Western Regional Executive Chair Hagop Tufenkjian

EAGLE ROCK, Calif.—The Armenian Parents’ Support Group of the Lanterman Regional Center held its third annual Christmas celebration on Tuesday, December 18 at the Homenetmen Western Region’s Headquarters. Among the attendees was California State Senator Anthony Portantino, parents of the support group, a few special needs children, Lanterman Service Coordinators and members of the Armenian American community at large.

The purpose of this support group, which meets every third Tuesday of the month at the Library Connection in Glendale located at 1100 E. Chevy Chase Drive, is to bring together parents of special needs children, organize lectures on various subjects pertaining to the special needs community presented by various professionals such as attorneys, occupational therapists, speech and language pathologists, psychologists etc…

The meetings enable parents to become better advocates for the rights of their children by becoming better informed. The group also holds open topic discussions which in the past have included the following: “The stigma of raising a child with stigma with special needs in the Armenian American community”. “What will happen to my special needs child when I am no longer here? ”The impact of raising a child with special needs on marriages and siblings.” These open discussions enable parents to express their thoughts freely and in a non-judgmental environment.

Nanor Kabakian, facilitator of the support group welcomed the attendees, gave an overview of what the support group accomplished in 2018 and shared the plans for the upcoming year.

Participants listen to a presentation about Hrashq program

Participants listen to a presentation about Hrashq program

Kabakian also gave an overview of the Homenetmen Hrashq Program since its inception to the present time and encouraged all attendees to participate in it as it gives children the opportunity to practice social skills, communication skills as well as improve their overall physical well-being.

Representing the 25th State Senate District, Senator Anthony Portantino joined the support group meeting along with representatives of the Homenetmen Western Region Executive Committee to meet the parents in attendance, most of whom had enrolled their children in the Homenetmen Hrashq Program. Ms. Kabakian thanked Senator Portantino for his support of Homenetmen Hrashq, citing that he was there cheering on the 20 Hrashq athletes as they made their entrance into Birmingham High School’s stadium during the Navasartian Games’ closing ceremonies last July.

The senator shared some of his personal life experiences with the special needs community and praised the Homenetmen Hrashq Program for providing an invaluable service to the community, not least of which, the parents, for their utter dedication to their children.

Kabakian and Homenetmen Western Region Executive Chairperson, Hagop Tufenkjian, presented Senator Portantino with a Homenetmen Hrashq Jersey to thank him for his support of Homenetmen Hrashq on behalf of all the special needs parents in the Armenian American Community whose children participate in this program.


Good News Pacifiers

Garen Yegparian

Garen Yegparian

BY GAREN YEGPARIAN

I heard so much caterwauling about my “Bad News Beginning” piece a couple of weeks ago that I went out of my way for a feel-good piece this week. I hope all sensitive readers will find their nerves soothed by this, especially those who thought I was being too hard on Nikol Pashinyan.

To my mind, the best news was that Yerevan is to have new 20 hectare (almost 50 acres) forest-park. After the early 1990s denuding of the city when trees were chopped down for fuel, this is a great step forward, both for its human, recreational, and environmental values. If the new government keeps doing things like this, it’ll become a true hero in people’s eyes. The only caution is that this kind of project takes time to come to fruition and people have short memories when it comes to elections.

The most inspiring item came out of Bolis. The outfit publishing the “Looys” (light, in Armenian) newspaper has announced that within a month, the first ever Armenian TV channel in Turkey will start broadcasting bilingually (Armenian and Turkish). This speaks to the tremendous heart our compatriots living under the Turkish yoke have.

I’m not much of a churchy sort. But, learning that the first modern church (Syriac in this case) to be built in Bolis has finally gotten its permits, after being delayed since 2013, can only be greeted with joy. Could this and the previous item be tiny indicators that things are starting to go in a better direction in Erdoğan-land after some five years of going backwards on the road to becoming a decent member of the international family?

And while we’re on a thread of justice-related good news, we should also celebrate Donald Trump’s signing of the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act into law. This should also calm down readers who seem to think I am unfoundedly opposed to Trump. I’ll always give credit where credit is due. This legislation codifies a lot of pre-existing policies and was recognized by the ANCA as a “landmark bipartisan genocide prevention measure” which I hope will clear the way for better behavior by both the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. government when it comes to Armenian Genocide recognition.

When Erdoğan asserts that Bolton made a ‘serious mistake,’ and Ankara won’t ‘swallow’ his comments on Syria’s Kurds, I can only grin. Erdoğan’s arrogance manifesting itself will help keep Turkey-U.S. relations tense, creating opportunities for Armenian-issues related progress in Washington. Bolton had stated that any military action launched by Turkey in Syria must safeguard Kurdish lives.

Turning our attention back to Yerevan, it’s heartening to learn that the government has allocated nearly 4,000,000,000 trams/drams for more than 200 priority projects in provinces. This is important in two ways. First, it enables people to remain in their homes, dwelling throughout the country, thus making it more resistant to Turkic attacks from the east and west. Second, it helps ameliorate decades of Soviet era neglect when the focus of development was Yerevan. Our homeland must be developed and firm throughout, not just in the capital.

Finally, just as I had a drop of good news in my bad news piece, so is it necessary to not be Pollyannaish. Two news items out of Yerevan I noticed are potential problems. One is that the justice ministry seeks criminal liability for defamation of on-duty lawyers. The other was about Pashinyan griping that the media is out to damage the government through constant criticism because most outlets are owned by supporters of the previous, oligarchic, regime. While both of these items seem to have some merit, they also point in a direction that is rife with the risk of limiting, if not squelching, dissent or even simply differing opinions on policy. This must not be allowed to progress lest our homeland becomes more like Turkey, the largest jailer of journalists in the world.

Enjoy the good, but be alert and respond to the bad.


ANCA-Pasadena Chapter Hosts Annual Holiday Reception

Local  and state elected officials, community leaders, members, and  supporters during the ANCA-Pasadena annual Holiday gathering

Local and state elected officials, community leaders, members, and supporters during the ANCA-Pasadena annual Holiday gathering

PASADENA—On January 10, the Pasadena Chapter of the Armenian National Committee of America held its annual holiday reception at the Pasadena Hovhannes and Hripsime Jivalagian Youth Center. The reception was attended in full capacity with the presence of local and state elected officials, community leaders, members, and supporters of the regional Armenian-American community.

California State Senator Anthony Portantino and Pasadena City Mayor Terry Tornek delivered remarks about the partnership of the ANCA – Pasadena Chapter and ongoing efforts to work with the ANCA and the Armenian-American community of Pasadena and San Gabriel Valley. Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation District Manager and former Los Angeles County Special Assistant, Assessor David Gevorkyan, served as the event’s Master of Ceremonies. As a former ANCA – Pasadena Chapter treasurer and board member, David Gevorkyan reminded guests of the challenging work carried out by ANCA’s local chapters and encouraged attendees to continue supporting the service of ANCA’s volunteers and activists.

As an annual tradition, the Pasadena Chapter’s annual report was delivered by its 2018-2019 former Pasadena Recreation and Parks Commissioner and current ANCA – Pasadena Chapter Chairperson, Donig Donabedian. Mr. Donabedian itemized the accomplishments of the Board mentioning the newly formed partnership between the ANCA – Pasadena Chapter and the County of Los Angeles with the establishment of the “Vote Center Placement Project”, fundraising for the 210 Freeway “Armenian Genocide Memorial” freeway signs, being part of and contributing to the Pasadena Police Chief Recruitment Panel and strengthening relationships with local and state government officials.

Special  presentation in honor of retiring Pasadena Police Sergeant Gregory  Afsharian

Special presentation in honor of retiring Pasadena Police Sergeant Gregory Afsharian

The event was highlighted with a special presentation in honor of retiring Pasadena Police Sergeant Gregory Afsharian’s thirty years of service in law enforcement and for the honorable representation of the Armenian-American community. Sergeant Afsharian was presented with a certificate of appreciation with the participation of Mayor Terry Tornek, City Manager Steve Mermell, and City Treasurer Vic Erganian.

Our sincere gratitude goes to Color Dots Printing, Sipan Bakery, Vrej Pastry, Remedy Liquor, Patille Dance Studio, and Marshall Fundamental High School Jazz Band for their contributions, sponsorship, and ongoing support. The ANCA – Pasadena Chapter Board of Directors extends its gratitude to event coordinators Shoghig Yepremian and Rita Abajian and David George Gevorkyan for his tireless service to the ANCA – Pasadena Chapter and the Pasadena community.

Guests included U.S. Congressman Adam Schiff’s District Representative Mary Hovagimian; California State Senator Anthony Portantino; California State Senator Anthony Portantino’s District Representative Arda Tchakian; California State Assembly Member Chris Holden’s Director of Communications Garo Manjikian; Assistant Field Representative to 5th district Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger Christian Daly; City of Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek; District 2 Councilmember Margaret McAustin; District 4 Councilmember Gene Masuda; City of Sierra Madre Councilmember John Harabedian; La Crescenta Town Council President Harry Leon; Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) Board of Education Member Dr. Roy Boulghourjian; Pasadena City Manager Steve Mermell; Pasadena City Treasurer Vic Erganian; Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) District Director David Gevorkyan; Pasadena Police Sergeant Greg Afsharian (Ret.); Pasadena City Fire Chief Bertral T. Washington; Pasadena City Senior Executive Assistant to the Fire Chief Mariam Movsesian; Pasadena City Human Relations Commissioner Dr. Emma Oshagan; Pasadena City Human Relations Commissioner Nat Nehdar; Marshall Fundamental High School Principal Dr. Mark Anderson; Pasadena NAACP Chairperson Alan Edson; Pasadena NAACP Secretary Juanita Tillman; ANCA-Western Region Board Member Raffi Kassabian; ANCA-Western Region Communications Director Dickran Khodanian; Pasadena Armenian Cultural Foundation Chairperson Arman Baghdoyan; Saint Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church Reverend Fr. Boghos Baltayan; Levon & Hasmig Tavlian Preschool Director Garine Joukadarian; Pasadena Armenian Genocide Memorial (PAGMC) Chairperson Shoghig Yepremian; Pasadena City College (P.C.C.) Board of Trustees Vice President James A. Osterling; P.C.C. Professors Kevork Halladjian and Hrayr Andreasyan; Glendale Community College (G.C.C) Professor Sona Donoyan Arabian; Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) Student and Family Services Coordinator Eric Alvarez; PUSD Families In Transition Senior Community Advocate Socorro Naranjo-Rocha; and PUSD Families in Transition Community Advocate, Martha Jimenez.


Artsakh Ombudsman Calls for International Reckoning for Baku Pogroms

Armenian in Baku fleeing Azerbaijani persecutors in 1990 as mobs began massacring Armenians

Armenian in Baku fleeing Azerbaijani persecutors in 1990 as mobs began massacring Armenians

STEPANAKERT—The Artsakh Human Rights Ombudsman Artak Beglaryan issued a statement on the 29th anniversary of the Baku massacres of Armenians organized by Azerbaijan in January 1990. Below is the complete text of the statement.

1. In January 1990, the Azerbaijani city of Baku again became the scene for the continuous execution of massacres against Armenians (third time after 1905 and 1918 massive massacres of Armenians), where, unlike other Azerbaijani settlements, a considerable number of Armenians were still living. After a crowded rally in Baku on January 13, according to a predefined plan, a crowd of about 50,000 was divided into groups and invaded the homes of Armenians in order to “cleanse” the city from Armenians.

2. During the period from January 13 to 20, the Armenians of Baku were subjected to violence, massacres, looting and forcible expulsion for their nationality, massively violating their rights to life, not to be tortured and discriminated, liberty and security, property, fair trial and many other rights. The exact number of the killed people is not known yet, but according to our latest research, over 450 people were killed.

3. On the occasion of the massacres of Armenians in Baku and attacks on Getashen and other Armenian villages of Shahumyan region, on January 18 the European Parliament adopted a resolution titled “On the Situation in Armenia”, which called upon the authorities of the USSR to “guarantee real protection for the Armenian people living in Azerbaijan by sending forces to intervene.”

4. Only on the night of January 20, the Soviet Army subdivisions were brought to the capital of the Azerbaijani SSR. Overcoming the fierce resistance of the Azerbaijani National Front troops, The Soviet army stopped the 7-days massacre of Armenians.

5. On the July 27, 1990, an open letter addressed to the international community was published in the New York Times. The letter was signed by 133 prominent scholars and human rights advocates from Europe, Canada and the USA, who voiced their complaint against the killings and pogroms of Armenians in Baku. It stated, particularly, that “The crimes committed against Armenian minority have become a consistent practice in Soviet Azerbaijan, if not an official policy.”

6. That crime against humanity, organized by Azerbaijan in Baku, has accelerated and almost finished the full ethnic cleansing of the Armenian population in Azerbaijan. Within the framework of that ethnic cleansing, during 1988-1990 thousands of Armenians were killed and about 500,000 Armenians were deported from Azerbaijani Sumgait, Kirovabad and other cities as well as Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast with knowledge and permission of the USSR authorities.

7. In subsequent years (including during the 1991-1994 Azerbaijan-Karabakh war), Azerbaijan continued the policy of ethnic cleansing of Armenians, which, according to our analysis, is in full compliance with the legal formulation of the genocide perpetrated under theUN 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Moreover, apart from the depatriation of hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijani Armenians, our research shows that their property, free movement and some other rights are continuously being violated, and many of them still have the physical, psychological, and material consequences of that policy.

8. Those committed crimes have not received relevant legal assessment and have remained unpunished, which resulted also the realization of the official anti-Armenian hatred policy pursued by the Republic of Azerbaijan. The victims of that policy are not only Azerbaijani Armenians and the population of the Republic of Artsakh, but also all Armenians worldwide, as well as, foreigners visiting Artsakh. As a reminder, the Artsakh Republic Human Rights Ombudsman published a special report in 2018 on the Azerbaijani anti-Armenian hatred policy, presenting concrete examples of its manifestation and relevant international law analysis.

9. An active stage of manifestation of Armenophobia in the Azerbaijani society was also recorded in April 2016- during the large-scale attack on Artsakh by Azerbaijan. The Human Rights Ombudsman, within the framework of his fact-finding mission, in 2016, presented a report on killings, beheadings, tortures and other cases of war crimes and human rights violations against civilians and military servicemen of Artsakh. It is noteworthy that the Azerbaijani servicemen, who have committed such crimes, were later rewarded and encouraged by the Azerbaijani authorities.

10. The Ombudsman urges the international community to give a proper legal assessment to the 1990 January violence in Baku, in accordance with the fundamental principles and norms of international law, as well as taking action to end the ongoing anti-Armenian hatred policy. This path of racial hatred is not only contrary to the well-known principles of international law, but it also takes the two peoples away from conflict resolution and lasting peace.


Armenia’s Education Minister to take Part in LIVING DIASPORA

Armenia's Acting Education Minister Arayik Harutunyan during a visit on Jan. 16 to R.D. White Elementary School in Glendale

Armenia’s Acting Education Minister Arayik Harutunyan during a visit on Jan. 16 to R.D. White Elementary School in Glendale

LOS ANGELES—Armenia’s Acting Minister of Education and Science, Arayik Harutyunyan, will participate in Living Diaspora, a one day academic and cultural event to be held at UCLA on Saturday, January 19,, with the aim of promoting Armenian language, culture and heritage, as well as supporting various Armenian Studies programs around the world.

Harutyunyan will take part in a panel discussion celebrating the 50th anniversary of UCLA’s Narekatsi Chair of Armenian Studies. The panel will be moderated by Dr. Razmik Panossian, Director of the Department for Armenian Communities at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. The chair holder and associated faculty, Professor S. Peter Cowe, Dr. Anahit Keshishian Aramouni, Dr. Hagop Gulludjian, and Dr. Shushan Karapetian, together with Prof. Sebouh Aslanian, holder of the Richard Hovannisian Chair in Modern Armenian History, will present the program’s current offerings and future plans.

The panel discussion will highlight strategies of promoting Armenian as a living, useful, and relevant language for today’s youth in the Diaspora.

The day-long event, which is organized by the Melkonian Global Overture, will conclude with an epic benefit concert at UCLA’s Royce Hall. With the community’s support, the organizers hope to elevate a young generation and enrich them with the love of Armenian language, culture and art, while raising funds for the educational programs provided by the Narekatsi Chair at UCLA and the Padus Araxes Cultural Association of Italy, as well as the MGO’s scholarship fund.
LIVING DIASPORA will kick off at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday January 19, at UCLA’s Melnitz Hall, with the concert to follow at the university’s Royce Hall. Tickets are available at Itsmyseat.com and Ticketmaster.


Armenian Center of the East San Fernando Valley Hosts Open House

VIEW GALLERY: Left to Right, ANCA-SFVE Boardmembers Vicken Sonentz-Papazian Esq., Tro Derderian, Dr. Lisa Baronian, Dr. Avo Babian and Rev. Fr. Arsen Kassabian, L.A. City Councilmembers Paul Krekorian and David Ryu, ACF "Papken Seuni" Chair Levon Baronian, California Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian (Photo by Narineh Baronian) ANCA-SFVE and "Papken Seuni" Gomideh with Public Officials (Photo by Narineh Baronian) Armenian Relief Society "Meghry" Chapter Boardmembers with California State Assembkymember Adrin Nazarian (Photo by Narineh Baronian) Homenetmen North Hollywood "Javakhk" Chapter Boardmembers with LA City Councilmember David Ryu (Photo by Narineh Baronian) North Hollywood Church Parish Priest Rev. Arsen Kassabian blessing the table (Photo by Narineh Baronian) ANCA-SFVE Chair Vicken Sonentz-Papazian addresses attendees (Photo by Narineh Baronian) Nearly 100 attendees attended New Year Open House event. (Photo by Narineh Baronian) LA City Councilmember David Ryu with attendees (Photo by Narineh Baronian) Levon Baronian with Homenetmen North Hollywood "Javakhk" Basketball Coach Zaven Pehlevanian (right) (Photo by Narineh Baronian)

NORTH HOLLYWOOD—Local leaders and activists of the Armenian community, public officials, and other distinguished guests joined the San Fernando Valley East Chapter of the Armenian National Committee of America at its New Year Open House on January 11. The event was sponsored by the Armenian Cultural Foundation’s Papken Seuni Chapter and took place at the the ACF Community Center of the Eastern San Fernando Valley.

The intimate reception provided a unique opportunity for attendees to become better acquainted with the local Armenian-American community, including members and leaders of East San Fernando Valley Armenian-American community organizations and local elected officials. In attendance were Los Angeles City Councilmembers Paul Krekorian and David Ryu, and California State Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, who each represent districts in the eastern San Fernando Valley, which is home to approximately 100,000 Armenian-Americans.

Levon Baronian, Chairman of the ACF’s Eastern San Fernando Valley “Papken Seuni” Chapter welcomed the attendees, made opening remarks, then introduced the recently appointed Chairman of the ANCA-San Fernando Valley East Chapter, Vicken Sonentz-Papazian, Esq. Baronian remarked that the eastern San Fernando Valley chapter of the ANCA is extremely fortunate to have Papazian, a former ANCA National Executive Director and Western Region Chair, long-time activist, and prominent attorney to be heading the local chapter of the largest and most influential Armenian-American political grassroots organization in the nation.

Papazian praised the public officials, organizers, supporters, and other distinguished attendees of the event, thanking them for their continued support of the ANCA and all the Armenian-American organizations that operate in the area. He offered insight into the decades of work that the ANCA has done to advance the interests of the Armenian-American community, and in particular to support Armenian-Americans and other minorities to seek and become elected to public positions.

Papazian recognized each of the public officials and leaders of the community organizations present at the event and introduced Councilmembers Paul Krekorian and David Ryu, along with State Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian to address the attendees. Councilmember Krekorian emphasized the important work the ANCA does to work with local public officials to advance the issues and concerns of the Armenian community and Councilmember Ryu remarked how Councilmember Krekorian and the ANCA served as role models to him and the Korean-American community. Krekorian was the first Armenian-American to get elected to the Los Angeles City Council and Ryu is the first Korean-American to serve in that capacity.

Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian spoke about his long standing ties to the ANCA and several of its leaders, which go back several decades and spoke of the important role the ANCA plays in preparing new leaders of the community. He also presented Certificates of Recognition from the California State Assembly to the local chapters of the Armenian Relief Society, Homenetmen, ACF, ANCA along with the Armenian Apostolic Church of North Hollywood, which was represented by Reverend Father Arsen Kassabian, who had been announced as the parish’s new pastor earlier that day.

The ANCA-SFVE and its scores of grassroots activists continue to work toward raising the civic engagement, voter registration, and political awareness of Armenian-Americans residing in the eastern San Fernando Valley. The ANCA-SFVE emphasizes increased engagement of youth and young adults in community affairs and developing an increased sense of pride in community.

Such efforts have been especially fruitful in recent years. Home to tens of thousands of Armenian-American residents, several elected public officials of Armenian descent, thousands of Armenian-American professionals, and hundreds of Armenian-American owned businesses, the eastern San Fernando Valley neighborhoods of North Hollywood, Studio City, Van Nuys, Panorama City, Sun Valley, Sherman Oaks and neighboring areas have become the hub of the greater Los Angeles City Armenian-American community.

The ANCA-SFVE chapter is also working closely with other Armenian-American community organizations in the area to help establish a larger and more permanent community center to serve the burgeoning East Valley Armenian community.


Sanctions Relief Removes Obstacle to U.S.-Armenia Aluminum Trade

An image from the Armenal aluminum foil plant in Yerevan's Arabkir district

An image from the Armenal aluminum foil plant in Yerevan’s Arabkir district

Armenal Employes 700 in Armenia; Exports to U.S. and Europe Markets

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Senate’s rejection Wednesday of a bid to block the easing of sanctions on Russian aluminum company Rusal PLC will have the practical effect of reducing pressure on an Armenian aluminum mill, reported the Armenian National Committee of America. The mill, owned by Armenal, employs 700 in Yerevan, indirectly supports thousands of area families, and exports products to U.S. and other international markets.

“While we did not take a position on the broader policy debate over the lifting of specific sanctions, we do welcome the net effect of today’s vote, which is to ease pressure on a successful, export-driven Armenian enterprise that employs over 700, supports many times that number of Armenian families, and exports products to U.S. markets,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Suren Hamparian. “The ANCA remains committed to working constructively with legislators from both parties to address undue, improper, or unintended consequences of U.S. regional sanctions on Armenia and the U.S.-Armenia trade relationship.”

Armenal, based in the Arabkir district of Armenia’s capital, Yerevan, supplies aluminum foil to packaged food, beverage, cigarette, and other export markets primarily in the U.S. and Europe. U.S. firms purchasing products from Armenal include Colorado-based Trinidad Benham Corp and Illinois-based Handi-Foil of America and Durable Packaging International.

According to Reuters reports in September of 2018, the Armenal plant, which produced over 33 tons of foil products in 2017, was set to cut output in 2018 following initial U.S. sanctions on Russian businessman Oleg Deripaska and several of the companies he controls. After extensive negotiations led by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, three of these companies, including Rusal, which is affiliated with Armenal, now comply with U.S. sanctions laws, effectively lifting restrictions on exports. Supporters of the sanctions in the Senate questioned whether Deripaska’s divestment eliminated his actual control of these companies.

Senate efforts to block the Trump Administration’s decision to loosen sanctions against Rusal and the other two companies associated with Deripaska were blocked earlier today, falling just short of the 60 votes needed under Senate rules.


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