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Archive for the ‘News’ Category

AGBU Spearheads The Promise to Educate Movement to Foster Armenian Genocide Education

NEW YORK — On August 14, the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), in partnership with Survival Pictures, the production company behind The Promise, and major Armenian organizations in North America, launched The Promise to Educate campaign to raise funds for the advancement of Armenian Genocide education across the United States.

Expanding on the social impact mission of The Promise and recognizing the gaps in genocide education in the U.S., AGBU and its partners have initiated a campaign to send copies of the film and relevant curriculum resources to public educational institutions across the country. While human rights issues and related history are included in the social studies curricula of the vast majority of public schools, the Armenian Genocide goes largely ignored. Currently, the Armenian Genocide is not a required subject in history courses in most schools and lack of awareness and teaching materials leaves it on the sidelines.

“The primary goal of the filmmakers of The Promise was not only to bring our history to light, but to encourage a dialogue among middle school and high school students and their teachers,” said AGBU Central Board Member Ani Manoukian. “The AGBU Alternative Education Department works to provide a diverse range of resources on various topics of Armenian language, history and culture for classrooms. The distribution of The Promise DVDs, along with tailored study materials, provides access to trustworthy information about the Armenian Genocide, challenging the powerful forces of denial.”

Donations will allow AGBU to supply Keep The Promise Educational Packages to American public middle and high schools, higher educational institutions and libraries. Each package includes a copy of The Promise DVD, a letter from filmmaker Terry George, a tailored The Promise Study Guide and a reference of Armenian Genocide curriculum resources and contacts. The package is developed in cooperation with well-known genocide education organizations, such as the Armenian National Institute (ANI), The Genocide Education Project and the Zoryan Institute.

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New IAGS President Henry Theriault to Speak at NAASR on Genocide Studies Agenda

BELMONT, MA — Join Dr. Henry Theriault, recently elected as President of the International Association of Genocide Studies (IAGS), in conversation with NAASR’s Academic Director Marc Mamigonian, on the state of genocide studies today and the place of Armenian Genocide studies within the field as a whole. The event, entitled “Setting the Agenda: Genocide Studies Today and the Place of the Armenian Genocide,” will take place on Thursday, October 21, 2017, at the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) Center, 395 Concord Ave., Belmont, MA 02478. The program is presented as the first of the 2017-2018 NAASR / Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Lecture Series on Contemporary Armenian Issues.

Dr. Theriault has served as founding co-editor of the peer-reviewed journal Genocide Studies International, chaired the Armenian Genocide Reparations Study Group and was lead author of its 2015 final report, and his autobiographical narrative, “Out of the Shadow of War and Genocide,” was included in Advancing Genocide Studies: Personal Accounts and Insights from Scholars in the Field (2015), edited by Samuel Totten. After 19 years on the faculty in the Philosophy Department at Worcester State, in 2017 he became Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs.

As a scholar who has been a leading voice among of genocide studies over the past decade and more, and now as President of the IAGS, a position to which he was elected in June 2017, Theriault is among those setting the agenda for genocide studies. In his inaugural address, he stated that “genocide studies has been at the forefront of recent human rights advances. … Demagogues attack the sensibilities genocide studies engenders. Our work is a crucial challenge to their propaganda. IAGS must strive against this marginalization while innovatively expanding the field, especially creating space for emerging scholars particularly vulnerable to this backlash.”

For more information about this program, contact NAASR at 617-489-1610 or

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Garo Paylan: It Is Sad That We Failed to Protect the Remains of Our Ancestors

VAN (Armradio) — The Turkish Parliament member of pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Garo Paylan visited Van to verify the information that toilets are built in a historic Armenian cemetery, Artsakhpress reports.

According to Agos, the territory was surrounded by barbed wire. Paylan talked to the local residents.

“Wherever I touched, human bones were found. There is no doubt anymore that this territory used to be an Armenian cemetery”, he said.

Paylan told Agos that the territory had been a dwelling place from the times of Urartu. “Armenian people lived there since then. Everyone whom I talked to told about churches and schools. But alas, these memories are erased.”

Paylan emphasized that according to the local residents, the gravestones of the cemetery had been eliminated in 1940-50s. “A Muslim chapel, a toilet and a café are built at the place of the cemetery. It is sad that we failed to protect the remains of our ancestors”.

According to Agos, Arshile Gorky was born in Dilkaya in Edremit region of Van. The spring that was built near his house and destroyed after some time was restored in 2015 and a sign was established by the Municipality of Edremit. Now the sign is removed and the spring water is cut off, Paylan says. According to him, all the documents of Armenian life are eliminated.

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Garo Paylan: Turkey Returns to Its Old State Regarding Armenian Issue

ISTANBUL — Garo Paylan, Istanbul Armenian MP of the opposition pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) reflected on the Turkish authorities’ policy toward the Armenian and Kurdish issues.

Paylan stated that in recent times, Turkish authorities are making the curtailing of freedom of speech enter also the country’s parliament, as he recalled that sincere discussions on Armenian and Kurdish issues will from now on be banned in parliament, according to Cumhuriyet (Republic) daily of Turkey.

“Just as the average citizens are forbidden to talk freely, the same is going to be done to the Parliament members. Turkey is returning to the former state in the Armenian and Kurdish issue, when these issues were a taboo [in the country],” said the Armenian member of the Turkish parliament. “All this is done by the hands of the ruling Justice and Development Party [(AKP)].”

Pursuant to recent amendments to internal regulations of the parliament of Turkey, the MPs of the country will from now on be penalized for saying “Armenian Genocide” and “Kurdistan.”

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Literary Critic Ter-Khachatryan to Speak in New Jersey, Boston, Glendale on Panos Terlemezian

WATERTOWN – Yervand Ter-Khachatryan, a prominent literary critic from Armenia, will be in the United States on a book tour sponsored by the Tekeyan Cultural Association (TCA) of the United States and Canada. He will speak in New Jersey on August 4, Watertown on August 6, and Glendale on August 16, and will be hosted by local Tekeyan chapters. In addition, the Boston event is cosponsored by St. James Armenian Church. His talks will be on the memoirs of painter and political activist Panos Terlemezian of Van, which he has edited and annotated.

Terlemezian’s newly published memoirs constitute a treasure-trove for Armenians. They were only recently discovered in manuscript form in the archives of the State Art Museum of Armenia. Terlemezian was a prominent painter after whom the Terlemezian School of the Arts in Yerevan has been named. He was a multitalented historical figure who is also known as a freedom fighter and one of the leaders of the battles Van waged for self-defense in 1915. He was one of the founders of the Armenagan party. Van Armenians were among the few groups to survive the Armenian Genocide, thanks to their successful battles for self-defense, after which they withdrew into the territory of the present Republic of Armenia. Terlemezian was among these refugees.

At a mature age, Terlemezian developed his artistic talents, studying in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Paris, and attained undisputed fame. The discovery of Terlemezian’s memoirs proves that he was an equally talented prose writer. He depicts his early life in Van, its historic insurrection and his subsequent life as a refugee in Armenia.

In addition to bringing to life Terlemezian’s book manuscript, Ter-Khachatryan has conducted pioneering work in discovering, reevaluating and publishing the masterpieces of Western Armenian literature, which are not very well known in the Republic of Armenia. There are few literary scholars knowledgeable in this field, and he is breathing new life into it, despite having scanty resources.

Yervand Ter-Khachatryan (Yuri Khachatryan) was born on April 25, 1949 in the village of Karakhach in the Vedi district of Armenia (today Ararat Province). In 1971, he graduated the philological division of Yerevan State University, and finished his graduate work two years later on contemporary Armenian literature, with a thesis on the lyric poetry of Paroyr Sevak.
He worked at the Martiros Saryan Museum as a scholar from 1972 to 1979, and then as assistant research director at the State Art Museum of Armenia from 1979 to 1982. From 1979 to 2000, he taught the history of Russian literature at Yerevan State University.

He studied in detail the literary corpus of authors such as Paroyr Sevak, Kostan Zarian, Hrant Nazariants, Indra (Diran Chrakian), Karbis Surenian, Albert Kostanian and Abraham Alikian, and assembled, edited and published ten books and anthologies of their works. He has published many articles and studies in the press dedicated to Armenian literature, and various issues of art and culture. He has edited books of art criticism and albums.

The major portion of Ter-Khachatryan’s literary and philological work is dedicated to Western Armenian and diasporan Armenian literature.

He has assembled and published the only complete collection of the works of the famous Western Armenian poet and translator Hrant Nazariants (1884-1962) under the title Asteghahev menutiun [Starry-Breathed Solitude] (Yerevan, 2008) with a forward and one hundred pages of extensive annotations.

After Indra’s death, only two collections of his works have been published. The first was in 1974 in Beirut, and the second in Yerevan in 1980. There is no archive on Indra, and his writings are scattered in various Western Armenian and diasporan Armenian periodicals and publications. Ter-Khachatryan has put together two volumes of his works, called Hovin dzayne [The Sound of the Wind], with a long preface and scholarly footnotes. A third volume has been ready but could not yet be published for lack of a sponsor.

From 1999 to 2016, Ter-Khachatryan published eight volumes of Kostan Zarian’s works, together with copious introductions and notes, and Karik Pasmachian’s anthology, called Avartakhagh [Endgame], in 2005. He published two annotated volumes of Abraham Alikian’s poetry and translations called Hez irikun [Mild Evening] and Handipakats aper [Facing Shores] in 2008 and 2009 respectively, with long forwards. He prepared and published the collection Gevorg Gantaharian: Amenun usutsiche [Gevorg Gantaharian: Everyone’s Teacher] in 2011 in Yerevan, Zhirayr Tanielian’s Panasirutean pavighnerun mech [In the Labyrinths of Poetry] in 2011 in Beirut, and Bebo Simonian’s Kraganutean jampun vra [On the Path of Literature] in 2016 in Beirut, all, as always, with long introductions and annotations.

At the same time that he was teaching, he edited the literary and cultural monthly Varuzhan from 1992 to 1994, worked as part of the editorial staff of Nork monthly from 1996 to 1998, and served as chief editor of Grakan tert from 1998 to 1999.
At present, Ter-Khachatryan works as the lecturer of the Chair of Diasporan [Armenian] Literature at Yerevan State University. He is a member of the Writers Union of Armenia, the Journalists Union of Armenia, and the International Federation of Journalists.

Ter-Khachatryan will speak in New Jersey on August 4 at 8 pm at the TCA Center at 560 Sylvan Avenue, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Original paintings will be displayed at the Center. RSVP Helen Misk at 347-368-6993.

The lecture in Boston will take place on August 6 at 12:30 pm after the Divine Liturgy at St. James Armenian Church in Watertown. For more information, email or call 617 924-4455.

The lecture in Glendale, California, hosted by the Los Angeles TCA chapter, will take place at 7:30 pm at St. Gregory Armenian Catholic Church, Kouyoumjian Hall (1510 E. Mountain Street, Glendale), and will include as additional speakers Lilit Keheyan and Edmond Y. Azadian.


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Turkish Parliament Passes Bill Banning Using the Term “Armenian Genocide”

ANKARA — The Turkish parliament passed the bill that stipulates changes in the internal rules of procedure, Diken reports. According to it lawmakers are banned from mentioning the Armenian Genocide in the parliament. As could have been expected, the AK and the Nationalist Movement Party voted in favor of the bill, while the opposition voted against.

As was reported earlier the bill stipulates a punishment for those lawmakers who break the rule by “insulting the history and common past of the Turkish people” that is using the term “Armenian Genocide” while speaking about the “events of 1915”. The ban also includes terms like “Kurdistan”, “Kurdish regions”.

Those who refuse to take an oath in the Parliament after being elected will not be able to enjoy their rights. Lawmakers are banned from bringing any text posters or placards to the Parliament.

Those Members of Parliament who break the law will temporarily be removed from the legislative body, as well as will pay a penalty in the amount of 1/3 of their salaries.

The bill was earlier passed by the parliament’s constitutional committee.

Ozgyur Ozel, a lawmaker of the Republican People’s Party, took the floor during earlier debates and as a sign of protest covered the podium with a black cloth.

The MP said the bill is unconstitutional. “With this bill you are taking away the freedom of speech of lawmakers. This will take the parliament 250 years back”, the MP said.

Another opposition lawmaker said the bill seeks to eliminate the opposition in the parliament, and create a unanimous parliament, therefore a unanimous society.

Lawmakers of the Democratic People’s Party said there is no sense in taking part in the debates and left the hall in sign of protest.

Istanbul-Armenian lawmaker. Garo Paylan, from the People’s Democratic Party, called the bill “a nationalist authoritarian coalition proposal of the AK and NMP parties”.

Armenian lawmaker Selina Dogan from the opposition Republican People’s Party also opposed the bill, saying ““Certainly, nobody must insult the history and common past of the Turkish people. However, what will you say about the other peoples? For instance, can is it OK to insult the history of the Armenian people?”, she said.

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Turkish Lawmakers Could Face Punishment Over Armenian Genocide Remarks

ANKARA — Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), a far-right political party that adheres to Turkish ultranationalism, have drafted new Rules of Procedure for the country’s Parliament. The 18-point document, in part, envisages limiting the words used by the opposition.

The new bill stipulates imposing fines on those lawmakers who will use the “Armenian Genocide” and “Kurdistan” terms. Deputies will be fined 12,000 liras for “insulting the Turkish nation and its history”, which makes up to two-thirds of an MP’s salary (the salary of deputies is $ 5,900 ), Hurriyet reports.

The draft law also features a series of nationalist clauses, one of which reads: “Nation is a religious and ethnic group brought together around the common values, fate and future developed through historical processes.”

Earlier this year, Istanbul-Armenian MP, Garo Paylan was punished for using the word “Genocide” and was deprived of the right to participate in the next three parliamentary sessions. Later, it was proposed to deprive him of his deputy mandate for “inciting ethnic hatred.”

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Panel Discussion and Community Conversation on the Significance of “the Promise”

By Michael Rettig

The highly anticipated nationwide release of “The Promise” in April sparked a flurry of excitement in the Armenian American community. Armenian organizations across the country rallied in support of the first major Hollywood film to tell the story of the Armenian Genocide to a wide audience. Because of this energy, the film has continued to be a topic of discussion three months after its release. “The Promise” undoubtedly increased awareness of the Genocide, but it is important for Armenians to keep the issue at the forefront of public discourse.

On Tuesday June 27, the Armenian Cultural Conservancy of Fresno hosted a panel discussion on “The Promise” to analyze the importance and lasting impact of the film. The event, cosponsored by St. Paul Armenian Church, was moderated by local attorney Marshall D. Moushigian and included film maker Dr. Carla Garapedian, associate producer of “The Promise”; Dr. Matthew Jendian, Professor and Chair of the Sociology Department at Fresno State; the Fresno County Superior Court Justice Houry Sanderson; and Professor Jack Geiger, professor of Theater Arts at West Hills Community College. The panelists delivered opening remarks and then engaged in a lively discussion with the audience before concluding.

A common theme throughout the evening was the question of whether “The Promise” was an effective vehicle for educating the general public about the Armenian Genocide. According to Professor Geiger, the film’s love story enabled it to attract a wider audience. “If it were only about the facts of the Genocide, it would have been a documentary,” said Professor Geiger, “Like all great stories, the movie incorporates themes we could relate to against the backdrop of significant events.”

Dr. Jendian echoed this sentiment in stressing the unique role that drama plays in fostering empathy in a way history books and documentaries do not. According to Dr. Jendian, the purpose of the film was not to explain why the Genocide happened, but to show the events that took place and stimulate conversation. Successful drama invests the viewer in the characters and inspires them to further research the film’s topic. Dr. Jendian used “The Promise” as an educational tool by assigning his students to write reflections on the film for extra credit. “Their responses revealed a much more nuanced view of the Genocide than our intellectual study in the class produced,” said Dr. Jendian. “They were deeply moved.”

Dr. Garapedian noted that director Terry George was adamant that the film garner a PG-13 rating so it could be shown in classrooms. The panelists unanimously agreed that the film was artistically and educationally more effective because of its subtle dealing with the violence. Professor Greiger appreciated that “The Promise” did not rely on sensational violence to tell its story. “I don’t think anyone who saw the movie left with any doubt about the brutality of the treatment of the victim. Despite this, they were able to keep the PG-13 rating, enabling it to be used for educational purposes.”

One scene that stood out to Judge Sanderson was the arrest of more than 200 Armenian intellectuals in Istanbul. “When you systematically arrest the leaders of a society, it clearly depicts the genocidal intent of the perpetrators,” stated Judge Sanderson. “The film makers were able to portray that event while leaving most of the violence to the imagination.”

The audience was especially curious about the film’s cast, both how they were impacted by the experience and how their involvement affected popular opinion. According to Dr. Garapedian, lead star Christian Bale immersed himself in the history when he accompanied her to the Ararat Eskijian Museum in Los Angeles. There he learned more about the Genocide and the producers’ vision for the film. Bale demonstrated his passion for the role when he appeared on multiple talk shows with fellow co-stars Oscar Isaac and Charlotte Le Bon to promote the film, thus increasing public awareness.

Dr. Garapedian revealed that the producers wanted to cast as many Turkish actors as possible, but many of them refused due to fear of reprisals from the Turkish government. However, Dr. Garapedian noted the actors who played the carriage driver Mustafa and the deputy governor who helped protect the orphans were both Turkish. Dr. Jendian, whose paternal grandmother was adopted and cared for by a Turkish family, appreciated that the film depicted such noble Turks. “Everyone in a society does not embrace Genocide,” said Dr. Jendian. “Without people with a heart for others, many of us would not have survived.”

Reflections such as this panel demonstrate that the Genocide is not only an Armenian issue, but a universal issue that must be continually engaged with. “The Promise” is an important milestone in the effort to educate the public and achieve nationwide recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

Photo by Alain Ekmalian

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Adrienne Alexanian Presents Father’s Memoir, Forced into Genocide

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Armenian Assembly of America co-sponsored a book presentation of Forced into Genocide: Memoirs of an Armenian Soldier in the Ottoman Turkish Army, written by Yervant Edward Alexanian, an eye-witness to the massacre and dislocation of his family and countrymen in Ottoman Turkey during the Armenian Genocide. Adrienne G. Alexanian, Yervant’s daughter, has spent years preparing her father’s manuscript for publication, which she presented at St. Mary Armenian Apostolic Church in Washington, D.C on Sunday. The Assembly co-sponsored the event with St. Mary Armenian Apostolic Church, Knights and Daughters of Vartan, and the Armenian National Committee of America.

Born in Sivas, Turkey, Yervant survived the Hamidian massacres as an infant to later fight for survival as a conscript in the Ottoman Turkish Army during the 1915 Genocide. Despite everything he went through and witnessed, “he was prepared to die” instead of saving his own life by converting to Islam. He fled to America in 1920, where he spent his life advocating for justice for his people. There are no other books or comparable account which exists in Armenian literature on this aspect of the Genocide.

Yervant passed away in 1983, leaving behind many documents and pictures discovered by his daughter. Adrienne explained that the memoirs came to light by chance while she was going through her father’s belongings. He did not share stories of the Armenian Genocide with his daughter, wishing to not burden his family. Instead, he wrote down his memoirs as a form of therapy that would later live on through Adrienne’s efforts.

Award winning Middle East journalist Robert Fisk highlighted Yervant’s memoirs in one of his articles on Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide in The Independent on March 22, 2017. “Forced into Genocide is Yervant Alexanian’s own frightful account of his people’s suffering, with unimpeachable documentation – in vast enough amounts to prevent the usual Turkish ‘genocide deniers’ (twins of the European ‘deniers’ of the Jewish Holocaust) of denouncing the book as a forgery,” Fisk wrote. “It is a story which Erdogan should be reading – and publicising – right now, for it involves more ‘Nazi practices’ than the new Sultan of Istanbul would ever want to acknowledge,” he added.

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Governor Brown Signs State Budget with $3 Million for Armenian American Museum

SACRAMENTO — California Governor Jerry Brown signed the 2017-2018 state budget on Tuesday with $3 million earmarked for the Armenian American Museum. The new funding will be dispersed over the next 3 years at $1 million per year. The approval brings the State’s total funding commitment for the Museum to $4 million.

“We are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with our State of California leaders to build a historic cultural and educational center that will honor the rich history and celebrate the diverse cultures who call our great state home,” stated Museum Governing Board Co-Chair Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian.

“We would like to express our special thanks to Senator Anthony J. Portantino, Senate Pro Tem Kevin de León, and Budget Subcommittee Chair Richard Roth for leading the efforts to prioritize the funding in the 2017-2018 state budget,” stated Museum Governing Board Co-Chair Archbishop Hovnan Derderian.

The $3 million funding request was initiated in the State Senate by Senator Anthony J. Portantino with the support of Senate Pro Tem Kevin de León and Budget Subcommittee Chair Richard Roth. Upon the approval by the Senate Budget Subcommittee and Budget Conference Committee, the new funding for the Armenian American Museum was included in the 2017-2018 state budget proposal approved by the State Legislature on June 15.

“There is a long history of California supporting laudable museum projects around the state,” stated Senator Anthony J. Portantino. “I wanted to make sure that the Armenian American Museum garners equal and fair support.”

“It was an honor to work with my colleagues in the California legislature to secure $3 million dollars in funding for the Armenian American Museum,” stated Senate Pro Tem Kevin de León. “I am proud to stand in solidarity with the Armenian community.”

Last year, Governor Brown approved the 2016-2017 state budget with $1 million for the Armenian American Museum, an initiative led by Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian and supported by Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate Pro Tem Kevin de León. Governor Brown’s January budget proposal released earlier this year suspended the previously approved $1 million for the Museum. State Legislators called for the restoration of the funds and advocated for additional funding in the 2017-2018 state budget.

“The Armenian American Museum in Glendale has the potential to serve as a beacon of hope for countless visitors through its work to embrace our diversity, educate, and empower all who step through its doors,” wrote Assemblymember Laura Friedman in a letter in March urging the Governor to reinstate the $1 million for the Museum. Friedman’s support for building the Museum in Glendale began as a Glendale City Councilmember and she has continued to advocate for the project in the State Assembly as one of her top priorities.

Ultimately, Governor Brown’s May Revise budget proposal reinstated the initial $1 million and the 2017-2018 budget signed by Governor Brown today commits an additional $3 million for the Armenian American Museum.

“The State of California’s investment in the Armenian American Museum lays the foundation for a momentous project that will serve generations to come,” stated Museum Governing Board Co-Chair Bishop Mikael Mouradian.

Museum officials continue to work closely with the City of Glendale on developing the project’s concept design, traffic, parking, economic, and environmental studies in preparation for the upcoming ground lease agreement consideration by the Glendale City Council.

“We are looking forward to working with our City of Glendale partners to build an iconic center in the heart of Glendale’s Arts and Entertainment District,” stated Museum Governing Board Co-Chair Reverend Berdj Djambazian.

The Museum’s concept design by Alajajian Marcoosi Architects for the proposed downtown Glendale site was unveiled in December 2016. The concept design’s animated video tour can be viewed at

For more information about the Armenian American Museum, visit or call (844) 586-4626.

About Armenian American Museum
The Armenian American Museum is a developing project in Glendale, CA, with a mission to promote understanding and appreciation of America’s ethnic and cultural diversity by sharing the Armenian American experience. When completed, it will serve as a cultural campus that enriches the community, educates the public on the Armenian American story, and empowers individuals to embrace cultural diversity and speak out against prejudice.

The governing board of the Armenian American Museum consists of representatives from the following ten Armenian American institutions and organizations: Armenian Catholic Eparchy, Armenian Cultural Foundation, Armenian Evangelical Union of North America, Armenian General Benevolent Union – Western District, Armenian Missionary Association of America, Armenian Relief Society – Western USA, Nor Or Charitable Foundation, Nor Serount Cultural Association, Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America, and Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

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'Genocide Monument'

Using the unrecognized Genocides of the past as a reason to keep vigilance on all current ones around the world. The iPhone app is now available free on the Apple App Store. The Android and Blackberry versions of 'Genocide Monument' are currently being funded for production.