California to Declare April 24,‘Genocide Remembrance Day’ as State Holiday

Okuma Süresi: 4 Dakika

California State Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian has finally succeeded in passing a legislative bill (AB 1801) he had sponsored to declare April 24, Genocide Remembrance Day, a state holiday.

The bill mandates that every year on April 24, all community colleges and public schools throughout California will close. State employees will be given time off with pay.

The text of the bill explains that: “The Legislature finds and declares that Genocide Remembrance Day would be a day for all to reflect on past and present genocides, but especially those that have felt the impact of these atrocities and groups that have found refuge in California, including, but not limited to, the Holocaust, Holodomor, and the Genocides of the Armenian, Assyrian, Greek, Cambodian, and Rwandan communities. Genocide Remembrance Day would be observed annually on April 24, also known as Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, during the week the state of California traditionally recognizes Genocide Awareness Week.”

The text further states that on April 24 or on an alternate date “public schools and educational institutions throughout this state may include exercises, funded through existing resources, remembering and honoring the many contributions that survivors of genocide have made to this country. The State Board of Education may adopt a model curriculum guide to be available for use by public schools for exercises related to Genocide Remembrance Day.”

The State Assembly and Senate members worked tirelessly for months to have both Chambers of the California legislature adopt this bill. The odyssey started on February 7, 2022 when it was introduced in the State Assembly. The bill passed through several committees: Governmental Organization: 20 yes, 0 no; Higher Education: 12 yes, 0 no; Appropriations: 12 yes, 0 no; and the full State Assembly on May 26, 2022 by a vote of 75 yes and 0 no.

The bill then went to the State Senate passing through the following committees: Governmental Organization: 14 yes, 0 no; Education: 6 yes, 0 no; Appropriations: 7 yes, 0 no; and the full Senate on August 23, 2022 by a vote of 40 yes 0 no. The bill then went back to the State Assembly on August 24, 2022 in order to reconcile it with Senate amendments. It passed by a vote of 77 yes, 0 no.

The bill was then submitted to California Governor Gavin Newsom for his signature on August 31, 2022. I contacted the Governor’s office and was told that he has until September 30, 2022 to sign or veto the bill.

I spoke with the sponsor of the bill, Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian, and congratulated him on his great efforts to pass this historic bill.

Another close friend of the Armenian community, State Senator Anthony Portantino, sent me the following empathetic message: “Far too many Californian families have been tragically affected by genocide. It’s sadly something that has touched many cultures since the first genocide of the 20th Century was perpetrated against the Armenian people by the Ottoman Turks. While we learn about Native American conquest, the Holocaust and other horrific violence committed against humanity, in our schools we don’t currently have one day that speaks to all of these atrocities and brings people together to remember, to love and to care for one another across ethnic communities. One day out of 365 for grieving and healing purposes is appropriate and I was proud to support it.”

Meanwhile, Turkish denialists are lobbying against the bill, trying to convince Gov. Newsom not to sign it into law. The Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA), a notorious genocide denialist organization, issued a statement on September 5, 2022 urging “the Turkish American community and friends of Turkey to send letters, faxes, and emails to Governor Newsom in order to urge him to veto” the Genocide Remembrance Day.

Here is what the ATAA urged its supporters to do: “Please communicate to Governor Newsom and his staff today and get your voice heard! Please copy/paste and send your sample letter using the email form link: Web contact form: . Please choose subject: AB01801\State holidays: Genocide Remembrance Day. Or send a letter to: The Honorable Gavin Newsom, Governor, State of California, 1021 O Street, Suite 9000, Sacramento, CA 95814.

In addition, the ATAA urged its supporters to send emails to: Jim DeBoo, the Governor’s Executive Secretary: [email protected]; and David Sapp, the Governor’s Chief Deputy Legal Affairs Secretary: [email protected], with this subject line: “AB01801\State holidays: Genocide Remembrance Day,”

To counter the Turkish denialist lobbying efforts, the Armenian community should inundate Gov. Newsom’s office with emails and letters, using the above provided contacts, urging him to sign AB 1801 into law. Act quickly, because the Governor will make his decision between now and Sept. 30.

Let us see who has the stronger voice in California: The large Armenian community numbering hundreds of thousands or a few Turks who want to export to California the Turkish government’s denial of the Armenian Genocide?

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  1. Ferruh Demirmen Avatar
    Ferruh Demirmen

    An outright racist, anti-Turkish anti-Moslem bill, pushed by the Armenian lobby, and the substance of which has led to the murderous activities of the ASALA/JCAG terrorist organizations that killed 58 Turkish citizens including 31 Turkish diplomats during 1973-1988. Three of these murders took place in California. The bill silences voices in the California education system that oppose the so-called Armenian genocide, thereby usurping the First Amendement rights of students and teachers alike. The US Constitution prohibits federal and state governments from adopting such bills and laws. An outright shame!

  2. Harut Sassounian Avatar
    Harut Sassounian

    Everything you wrote is untrue. It is time that you stop denying the facts. The bill doesn’t do any of these things. The constitution does not prohibit such laws. I suggest that you read the US constitution. Maybe you are reading the constitution of some other country more familiar to you. You mean you are going to teach the US constitution to 120 California Assemblymen and Senators? You must be kidding!

  3. Ferruh Demirmen Avatar
    Ferruh Demirmen

    You must be joking or ignorant. Check “The First Amendment prohibits Congress … from abridging the right to free speech. This prohibition has since been made applicable to state and local governments through the Fourteenth Amendment, and generally prohibits government interference with free speech rights.” The 14th Amendment also prevents states from infringing on “the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States” without due process of law.

    If AB 1801 takes effect, students and teachers will not dare to argue and discuss the pros and cons of the “Armenian genocide” narrative. “Free speech”? It will be a joke.

    When this billed was introduced, the views of the Turkish side were not heard or solicited. Not a single legislator would in fact dare to make such a suggestion. The bill was rammed through the California legislative bodies without any debate as though “Armenian genocide” was an established fact, ignoring the controversy surrounding it among historians, and certainly ignoring the rulings of the European courts such as ECtHR. Not to mention that there is not a single court verdict as to “Armenian genocide” as required by the 1948 Genocide Convention. Any doubt? The British would have certainly known. Check the findings of the 1919-21 Malta Tribunal.

    And I must add that the claimed loss of 1.5 million Armenians during Relocation is one of the biggest shams in human history. Any comment how many innocent civilian Moslems were killed in Anatolia and the Greater Caucuses by Armenian insurrectionists and forces during that period? You certainly wouldn’t want to know.

    You haven’t commented about the ASALA/JCAG murderous acts, and how the likes of Hampig Sassounian and Gourgen Yanikian became assassins right in California where you publish “The California Courier.” Were the ASALA and JCAG terror organizations ever discussed while AB 1801 was being “discussed” by the California politicians? If any politician even attempted to do that, he/she would have been thrown out of the door!

    I hope Governor Newsom will be sensible and veto AB 1801. He certainly caved in to ANCA-WR when he let Hampig-The-Murderer go free.

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