SACRAMENTO, CA — In a demonstration of the Armenian American community’s leadership in working to end genocide worldwide, the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA-WR) joined the Sacramento Committee on Conscious for its second annual “Call to Conscience,” a rally for Darfur at the State Capitol in Sacramento on Tuesday, August 8th. The ANCA-WR was represented by Community Relations Director, Haig Hovsepian who delivered remarks at the human rights rally.
The human rights rally in Sacramento was organized in support of California State Assembly Bill 2941. This measure, authored by Assemblymember Paul Koretz (D-West Hollywood), calls for the divestment of California Public Employee Retirement System funds from companies that continue to do business with the government of Sudan. Since 2003, the government of Sudan has been conducting a campaign of genocide in the Darfur region. Speaking to the crowd gathered for the rally, Assemblymember Koretz shared that, “Hundreds of thousands have lost their lives. Millions are homeless or displaced. But despite the widespread scale of genocide, the international community and our own government stand by virtually inactive.”
The rally was opened by Rabbi Reuben Taff, founder of the Sacramento Committee on Conscience. Among the featured speakers at the rally were James Sweeny, legislative advocate for the California NAACP, Assemblymember Koretz, and Assembly member Jerome E. Horton (D-Inglewood). Adam Sterling, national policy director of the Sudan Divestment Task Force, introduced the speakers and updated the community about the situation in Darfur.
Speaking on behalf of the Armenian American community, Haig Hovsepian explained that the Armenian community “understands to our very core the importance of calling a genocide, a genocide. The Genocide Convention was a convention on the prevention and punishment of genocide. It is not only a call to identify it, but to also take the necessary measures to put an end to it and punish those who perpetrate genocide.”
Following the rally, many attendees visited the offices of their State Senators asking them to support AB 2941, which was overwhelmingly passed the California State Assembly this May. The bill was promptly considered by the State Senate’s Judiciary Committee, where it was unanimously adopted.
“As an Armenian American, I feel that it is important that we show our solidarity with those who stand up for justice for the victims of genocide,” noted Allen Yekikan, an ANCA-WR intern who participated in the Darfur rally. “This rally was a great opportunity for me to be a part of an experience where we not only raised our voices on an issue, but saw the fruits of our grassroots effort.”
The ANCA is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots political 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.