ANCA barnstorms across America, rallying support for Artsakh’s rights and Armenia’s security

ANCA Chairman Raffi Hamparian, Policy Director Alex Galitsky, Government Affairs Director Tereza Yerimyan and National Grassroots Director Gev Iskajyan speaking at community forums across the U.S., rallying support to reinforce Armenia sovereignty and ensure Artsakh residents’ right of return

WASHINGTON—Over the past months, ANCA national board and staff members have barnstormed across the United States, mobilizing Armenian American communities through a series of public forums, workshops and events aimed at empowering local activists and coordinating advocacy efforts to bolster Armenia’s sovereignty and hold Azerbaijan accountable for its genocide of Artsakh and ongoing aggression against Armenia.

Spearheaded by newly-appointed Grassroots Director Gev Iskajyan, the ANCA national team participated in over a dozen events across 10 states, speaking with Armenian American youth leaders and veteran community activists about a broad range of ANCA legislative advocacy priorities.

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Following his return from Artsakh, where he led the ANC-Artsakh office, Iskajyan spoke at several student forums in Los Angeles, including with the Armenian Students’ Associations at the College of the Canyons, UC Riverside, UCLA and USC – addressing the immediate challenges facing the 150,000 Armenians forcibly displaced from their homes in Artsakh.  He stressed the role of the diaspora in securing expanded humanitarian assistance to those in need and forcefully advocating for the safe and dignified return of Artsakh’s Armenians under international protection.

In March, Iskajyan and ANCA Policy Director Alex Galitsky joined the Armenian Youth Federation of Texas’s annual campout, where they spoke with over 50 youth leaders about community activism, Azerbaijan’s ethnic cleansing of Artsakh and the role of the ANCA in shaping U.S. policy towards Armenia.

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Iskajyan also participated in the AYF Western United States annual Hye Tahd Conference hosted in coordination with the Board of Regents of Prelacy Armenian Schools and Pilibos Armenian School, attended by more than 500 high school students from Pilibos, Ferrahian, and Mesrobian Armenian Schools. The Hye Tahd Conference included a variety of speakers, including keynote remarks by Iskajyan — who opened the conference by reflecting on his experiences in Artsakh and stressing the responsibility of youth activists as the next generation of community leaders to be a voice for the voiceless and remain tireless in their commitment to the vision of a free, independent and united Armenia.

“The ANCA is working fervently to make sure Armenian American voices are heard and represented at this critical juncture for the Armenian nation,” stated Iskajyan. “The activation and empowerment of our grassroots — the driving engine of our strength — is essential for the achievement of our mission and goals.”

In New York, Galitsky participated in Armenian Engineers and Scientists of America’s (AESA) 13th annual mentoring forum at Fordham University, co-sponsored by the ANCA, speaking with young Armenian-American professionals about the ANCA’s professional development and mentoring programs – including the Leo Sarkisian Summer Internship Program and the ANCA’s Hovig Apo Saghdejian Capital Gateway Program, which play a critical role in ensuring the voice of the Armenian-American community is represented in a diverse range of industries.

Against the backdrop of the 109th-anniversary commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, the ANCA national team joined with local communities across the country to stress the need to mobilize efforts to reverse the genocide of Artsakh through coordinated advocacy around supporting the right of return.

At Genocide commemorations in Massachusetts and Illinois titled “1915-2024: What Has Changed?”, ANCA National Board Chair Raffi Hamparian discussed the continuation of the Armenian Genocide today at the hands of Turkey and Azerbaijan – and the relentless work of the ANCA over the decades to ensure that Armenia and Artsakh’s place at the table of nations is not erased.

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Raffi Hamparian thanked volunteers for their unshakable devotion to strengthening their community and advancing the Cause with unmatched patience, perseverance, and a generosity of spirit.  Hamparian issued a rallying calling to “Fight for justice. Fight for our community. Fight for that which makes us all stronger. Fight to make us more united – not for an empty brand of unity – but fighting for unity in support of true and honorable principles. Fight for our community centers. Fight for our Armenian schools. Fight for restoring Artsakh’s independence. Fight for Armenia.”

Speaking in Montvale, NJ, and Philadelphia, PA, ANCA Policy Director Alex Galitsky addressed the failure of the U.S. to uphold its commitment to “never again” by actively enabling Azerbaijan’s ethnic cleansing of Artsakh – stressing the need to pressure the Biden Administration to guarantee a right of return, the failure to do which would only result in legitimizing Azerbaijan’s genocidal crimes.

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“The right of return must not be some slogan we chant at protests, not just empty words that our leaders use to placate us and win our votes,” stated Galitsky. “We must demand that the right of return be at the forefront of negotiations – that our leaders demand this Administration make ensuring the safe and dignified return of Armenians a condition of any peace agreement. That is how we can reverse the genocide that has unfolded, and ensure our commitment to ‘never again’ actually means something.”

During community events in Albany, New York, and St. Louis, Missouri, ANCA Government Affairs Director Tereza Yerimyan spoke to the ANCA’s ongoing efforts to ensure vital humanitarian assistance for the victims of Azerbaijan’s genocide of Artsakh – as well as policy to codify recognition, remembrance, and education on the Armenian Genocide through the passage of the Armenian Genocide Education Act, which would allocate funding to support public education on the Armenian Genocide.

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“There is no way to sugarcoat the content of our message today,” stated Yerimyan. “We are living through another genocide of our people. For decades, we taught and spoke of the past, the Armenian Genocide perpetrated by the Turkish government under the Ottoman Empire, then continued under the rule of the so-called modern-day ‘democratized’ Turkey established by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.  We fought for justice and recognition, and we continue this fight today – but now we must also work to stop and reverse a modern-day genocide of the Armenians of Artsakh.”

ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian speaking at the April 24th March to Justice rally in front of the White House

Speaking at an April 24th White House rally organized by the Armenian Youth Federation, ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian was blunt.  “Those who committed this genocide – and those who materially aided and morally emboldened it – must be held accountable.  That includes President Biden and his predecessor, President Trump. Here – at the White House. In Congress – where legislators must ban U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan. In the court of public opinion – before the American people. And – perhaps most crucially – at the ballot box.”

Addressing communities in Chicago, Illinois, and Detroit, Iskajyan spoke to the ANCA’s ongoing efforts to impose punitive measures against Azerbaijan to hold it accountable for its genocide of Artsakh – including imposing Magnitsky Act Sanctions against Azerbaijani officials responsible for war crimes and human rights abuses and to permanently cut military assistance to Azerbaijan.

Iskajyan inspired with stories of hope, resilience, and resistance of Artsakh survivors of ethnic cleansing, and their calls to continue the fight for justice for the Armenian nation.  “As much as commemorations, vigils, and remembrances are important to honor the history of everything that we lost, our focus is on justice,” stated Iskajyan.  “We don’t plan to cry, don’t have time to put our heads down and sulk – we were born Armenian, we don’t have that luxury.  Why? Because we have to actively fight to exist like many other communities have done, generation after generation.  To us, nothing is guaranteed; everything is fought for.  And we are ready to take up that fight.”

In the coming months, the ANCA will continue to engage with local communities and grassroots activists across the country to support the passage of critical legislation to hold Azerbaijani war criminals accountable, suspend military assistance to Azerbaijan, secure urgently needed humanitarian assistance for Artsakh’s refugees, and advocate for the right of Artsakh’s Armenians to return to their home under safe and secure conditions.

The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) is the largest and most influential Armenian-American grassroots organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters and supporters throughout the United States and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCA actively advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.

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