Greenville, S.C. & Charlotte, N.C.– In efforts to expand Armenian activism in growing communities Armenian National Committee-Eastern Region Executive Director, Karine Birazian, visited with Armenians in Greenville, South Carolina, and Charlotte, North Carolina. Together, they met with staffers for Senator Jim DeMint (NC-R), and Congressmen Bob Inglis (SC-R-4), Sue Myrick (NC-R-09), and Mel Watt (NC-D-12) in their district offices to discuss the Armenian genocide legislation, the genocide in Darfur, and other foreign policy matters, reported the ANC-Eastern Region.
Upon the warm arrival in Greenville, South Carolina, Birazian met with activists Haro and Mariam Setian and three generations of the Enjaian family: Mike, his son Steve, and two children, Bethany and Andrew, who spent the afternoon visiting the staff from both Rep. Inglis and Senator DeMint’s offices. Birazian, along with others in the meeting, had an opportunity to spend time educating the staff about the Armenian genocide, the need for the passage of an Armenian genocide resolution as well as urging both offices to make a moral decision and do the right thing.
Birazian also enjoyed the warm company of other Armenians and non-Armenians in South Carolina during a community gathering on current Armenian issues. Following the events, Setian commented, “We were grateful for the warm reception that DeMint and Ingis’ office showed us; our main concern is that justice be served. We, as American citizens, can talk a good game about equality and justice, but we need to follow through.”
Similar to the meeting with activists in South Carolina, prior to the congressional meetings in Charlotte, Birazian met with several community members and spent the afternoon discussing key issues facing the Armenian American communities today. From utilization of the ANCA website to empowering them to take action, the trip was an opportunity get to know members of both communities.
Joining Birazian at Rep. Myrick’s and Watt’s offices were community members Jack Hagopian, Pierre Arbajian, Charles Diamond, Dr. Sylvie Bastajian, and Dr. David Boyajian. The delegation had an opportunity to meet with the staff of the two congressional offices and spent time discussing many issues of concern to the Armenians of Charlotte as well as the various activities they are undertaking. The many issues raised during the meeting was of H. Res. 106, divestment issues in Darfur, the ongoing blockade in Armenia, and the support for foreign aid to Armenia. Jack Hagopian, a community leader and retired military officer, discussed efforts the Armenian community of Charlotte is pursuing, including a health fair that was organized by the Church last year by Bastajian and the growing population of Armenians, both new immigrants and retirees that are settling in the Charlotte area. Hagopian also shared the recent article printed in the Charlotte Observer about the Armenian community and the need to pass this legislation.
“It is impossible to believe that in today’s America intelligent Americans would make the choice not to speak out on an issue like genocide. This is no different than those Turks who stood by as this happened in their country. Although the Armenian genocide happened almost a hundred years ago, these `leaders’ make themselves complicit with the leaders of the Ottoman Government in 1915…I am proud that the Armenian community, having suffered through such a horrific event, has not just focused on themselves but has tried to teach about how these horrific acts develop and attempted to stop those events occurring today,” commented Hagopian.
Reflecting on her trip, Birazian stated, “This was a wonderful opportunity to meet Armenians and non-Armenians in both Greenville and Charlotte and discuss what the ANCA does, and how they can take part in the Armenian cause. I welcome their enthusiasm and thank them for their generous hospitality. I look forward to continue to work with both communities to build a strong foundation of activism.”
Following Birazian’s visit, Dr. Sam Danagoulian from Greensboro, NC joined the ANCA and the Genocide Intervention Network during their Washington, D.C. grassroots advocacy campaign to end the cycle of genocide. During his visit, Danagoulian and ANCA activists visited all 13 North Carolina Congressional offices and had an opportunity to meet with Senator Burr’s office to raise awareness about the Armenian Genocide and divestment issues in Darfur. Currently the genocide legislation, H. Res. 106, has 184 cosponsors in the House and the resolution in the senate, S. Res. 106, mirrors the house resolution has 26 cosponsors.
The Armenian National Committee of America 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.
#1 ANCA ER Director Karine Birazian, along with NC Activists Dr. Sylvie Bastajian, Pierre Arbajian, Jack Hagopian, Dr. David Boyajian and Community Liaison, Torre Jessup for Rep. Mel Watt
#2 Armenian activists from SC, and ANCA ER Director Karine Birazian joining Legislative Director Assistant Dr. Brenda Ballard, Constituent Liaison Manager Julie Wilson for Rep. Bob Inglis’ office
#3 Left to Right: Jack Hagopian, ANCA ER Director Karine Birazian, Dr. Sylvie Bastajian, Chief of Staff, Hal Weatherman for Rep. Sue Myrick’s office, Pierre Arbajian, and Charles Diamond