SACRAMENTO, CA – Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) National and California leaders joined State Assemblymember Chris Holden, pro-Armenian state legislators, and Republic of Armenia National Assembly member Arthur Khachatryan at a State Capitol program this week for the ceremonial signing of the California-Syunik sister-state agreement established through passage of ACR 105. Legislators also praised the passage of AJR 1, condemning Azerbaijan’s blockade and aggression against Artsakh, demanding the immediate release of Armenian prisoners of war and top Artsakh leaders, reaffirming Artsakh’s right to self-determination, and calling out Azerbaijan’s hostile policies against Armenia.
The program was organized by Assemblymember Holden and the ANCA, with the support of the California Legislative Armenian Caucus Foundation.
Video highlights from the program are available on the CA Assembly YouTube Channel:
Assemblymember Holden, who was the lead sponsor of ACR 105 and AJR 1, noted, “I am here today with my fellow state representatives to reaffirm our ongoing commitments to the Armenian community. It is crucial to acknowledge that, during political unrest, united people will never fall.” Assemblymember Holden continued, reflecting on the profound significance of ACR 105 and AJR 1, noting that “there is power in our solidarity and there is even more when we acknowledge the wrongs committed and urge for justice. We set precedent for the future with our action or inaction, and today, we are creating long-lasting ties to thread forward a better tomorrow.”
Armenia National Assembly member Khachatryan thanked CA Assemblymember Holden for championing the resolutions and shared his appreciation with California legislators and the ANCA for the opportunity to participate in this historic effort to strengthen the bonds between California and Armenia. He stressed that the passage of ACR 105 and AJR 1 “send a very important political message to the world, to Azerbaijan, and to its patron, Turkey.” Khachatryan noted that despite Azerbaijan’s aggression, “the page on Artsakh is not closed. The people of Artsakh have the right to decide on their own destiny as any other people in the world.”
Khachatryan also discussed Azerbaijan’s ongoing aggressive and hostile actions against the Republic of Armenia. “There are those who thought that Azerbaijan had quenched its thirst for Armenian blood with the genocidal ethnic cleansing and occupation of Artsakh. But – as we predicted and events on the ground have demonstrated – that is clearly not the case. Moving the goalposts, Baku is now challenging the international borders of Armenia – which it has renamed Western Azerbaijan, threatening to force a corridor through Syunik to get a land connection with Turkey, and openly claiming for itself the right to rewrite Armenia’s Constitution.”
Khachatryan praised the newly established sister-state relationship with California, noting that it will help develop stronger economic, cultural, and economic ties that will help Syunik, which remains at risk in the face of ongoing Azerbaijani military occupation of border villages and threats of renewed attacks by Turkey.
“We continue to press – nationally, regionally, and locally – for a fundamental reset of U.S. policy that restores Artsakh for its citizens, secures Armenia for posterity, and sanctions Azerbaijan for its crimes,” said ANCA National Board Member Aida Dimejian. “We thank Assemblymember Holden and elected officials from across California for their leadership in giving voice to the policy aims and national aspirations of our state’s nearly million-strong Armenian community.”
CA State legislators participating in the program included Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, State Senators Anthony Portantino, Bob Archuleta, and Maria Elena Durazo, and State Assemblymembers Mike Fong, James Gallagher, Jim Patterson, Cottie Petrie-Norris, Luz Rivas, and Rick Chavez Zbur, former State Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian and former CA Assembly speakers John Perez and Bob Hertzberg.
“I want to thank my colleagues for ACR 105 and AJR 01 to make sure that we recognize today’s struggle in Artsakh, that is a struggle for freedom, for dignity, and for humanity; and that we need to stand up in solidarity with the Armenian people of Artsakh in this present day struggle for liberation against genocide,” stated Superintendent Thurmond, who is a co-chair of the California State Holocaust and Genocide Commission.
“The thing that I’ve always loved about the Armenian community is their abiding faith, coming through horrors, coming through terror, and coming to this country and becoming such a vibrant part of the California story,” stated Assemblymember Gallagher, who praised the community’s commitment to justice, speaking up for the voiceless, and passion for freedom and free enterprise.
“Armenia is still suffering. Armenians across this globe are still suffering. And the Genocide is something that we must never forget,” stated State Senator Archuleta, who represents the Montebello area, and pledged to work to declare the Armenian Genocide memorial there a California State Historical Site.
State Assemblymember Patterson noted, “It’s a wonderful thing for us to cement that relationship officially with California and the [Syunik] region in Armenia,” and stressed his warm 30-year relationship with Central California’s Armenian community.
Among ANCA and community leaders joining ANCA National Board Member Aida Dimejian at the program and reception were ANCA San Fernando Valley East Chair Dr. Avo Babian, ANCA Crescenta Valley Chair Dr. Alice Chalian, ANCA Pasadena’s Rita Abajian, and ANCA Northern California leaders Matt Senekeremian, Ani Yenikomshian, Khatchig Tazian, and Henry Aghajanov, as well as, St. James Armenian Church Pastor, Father Yeghishe Ksachikyan. On behalf of the ANCA, Dr. Chalian thanked Assemblymember Holden, State legislators, and Armenian National Assembly member Khachatryan for their leadership in strengthening the bonds between California, Armenia, and Artsakh.
Following the ceremony at the California State Capitol, Khachatryan traveled to Washington, DC, at the invitation of the ANCA, for policy discussions with key U.S. Senate and House members.