Sassounian: A Call to Mobilize the Diaspora, Delivered at ANC Banquet

At its annual banquet on Nov. 8, the Armenian National Committee (ANC) Western U.S. honored California Attorney General Jerry Brown, the former governor and current gubernatorial candidate, with the Freedom Award. The ANC also honored California State Senator Mark Wyland and California State Assembly Assistant Majority Leader Paul Krekorian (currently a candidate for L.A. City Council) as Legislators of the Year, and Harut Sassounian, the publisher of the California Courier, with the Legacy Award. California State Assemblyman Anthony Protantino was master of ceremonies. More than 700 guests attended the event held at the Pasadena Convention Center.

The honorees received special commendations from members of Congress, state senators, and the L.A. City Council. Congressman Brad Sherman presented Sassounian with a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol. Among the many congratulatory letters received by the ANC was a message from Kerkorian: “I have known Harut for many years, and I am proud of the good work he has done for Armenia and on behalf of the Armenian community worldwide. I congratulate the ANC for honoring him.”

In introducing this columnist, ANC Board Member Pattyl Aposhian-Kasparian said: “What is it about Harut Sassounian that draws such a large number of admirers from all walks of life to follow the stroke of his pen? The word activist or visionary hardly explains it. Tireless leader and devoted teacher to generations of Armenian Americans start to scratch the surface. The attraction to Harut lies in his passion with a direct magnetic draw to his courage, exuberance, and resolve.

“Harut is a highly respected name in many circles. He has helped define the political fabric of our time, championed free speech, and fought on local, national, and international grounds for justice. His persistence has received national media attention and has gently pushed open the gates of reform.

“His first major activism proved successful at the UN in the 1970’s. From that day forward, Harut has served as a timeless moral voice—an author, publisher, speaker, community activist, and leader.

“Through his columns, Harut is one of the first to diagnose a problem and write a prescription. Countless examples come to mind: The campaign against the L.A. Times and its managing editor, Douglas Frantz; lobbying against Time magazine for inserting a Turkish denialist DVD; blocking the nomination of Ambassador Hoagland after the dismissal of Ambassador Evans; initiating a letter writing campaign to counter the denial of the Armenian Genocide by the British ambassador to Armenia; and opposing plans by PBS stations to air a panel discussion with denialists of the Armenian Genocide. And the list goes on to cover more than 30 years of activism.”

In accepting the award, I made the following remarks: “Our collective efforts on behalf of the Armenian Cause stem from the tragic fact that a terrible injustice was committed against our people more than 90 years ago.

“The genocide and the loss of our homeland went unnoticed by the international community for many decades, until our people, led by our political organizations, rose from the ashes of decimation and defeat, and struggled to regain their rights. As a result, the Armenian Genocide is universally recognized and is no longer a forgotten episode.

“Nevertheless, today’s Turkish government, the successor of the regime that committed the genocide, continues to deny this massive crime, benefiting to this day from our looted assets and properties.

“This injustice cannot and must not go on! We need to do everything in our power to restore justice. We demand the return of the stolen properties and occupied territories to their proper owners—the Armenian nation.

“To accomplish this monumental task, we need the participation of every Armenian, as well as the support of all those who side with truth and justice.

“As we have seen in recent months, Armenia’s leaders are under tremendous international pressure to make major concessions to both Turkey and Azerbaijan. Armenia is too small and too weak to be able to withstand such powerful pressures all by itself! Diasporan Armenians, on the other hand, are under no such constraints.

“It is incumbent on all of us to lend a helping hand to reduce the pressures on Armenia. Armenians in all countries, particularly those in the United States, Russia, and Europe, should lobby their respective governments to counter their unjust and one-sided support for Turkey and Azerbaijan.

“We should make this effort, regardless of whether our help is requested or even appreciated by the Armenian government.

“Of course, our lobbying efforts would be much more effective, if carried out in a cooperative and coordinated manner both within the diaspora and between the diaspora and Armenia.

“We should also not hold back any political, economic, or humanitarian assistance from our people in the homeland because of disagreements with Armenia’s leadership.

“Regimes and leaders come and go, but the nation is eternal!

“Let us remain vigilant, engaged, and united in our purpose. Let us carry on the torch of our cause, until justice is restored to our long-suffering nation.”

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Harut Sassounian

California Courier Editor
Harut Sassounian is the publisher of The California Courier, a weekly newspaper based in Glendale, Calif. He is the president of the Armenia Artsakh Fund, a non-profit organization that has donated to Armenia and Artsakh $917 million of humanitarian aid, mostly medicines, since 1989 (including its predecessor, the United Armenian Fund). He has been decorated by the presidents of Armenia and Artsakh and the heads of the Armenian Apostolic and Catholic churches. He is also the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.

2 Comments

  1. Baron Sassounian may you live another 100 years! VARZGET GADAR.
    The enemy may be able to get us riled up, but they can’t ever touch the passionate Armenian heart.
    Let’s go people. Think big. Act smart. Rise up. There’s no time like the present.
     

  2. In brief,                                                                                                                                                                                Unfortunately  our  authorities  in  Armenia   in  spite   of   their   promises   they  never  ever  used   Mr.  Sassounian’s    expertise,  skills  and  selfless  patriotism   in  Armenian  and    Foreign   Affairs. Maybe  we  were able  to hinder  this   national  dilemma.
    We   wish   if   we have   had  only   100   “Haiordis”    like   Mr.  Harut   Sassounian.
    Dr. Babajanian
    USA

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