NY Governor Pataki Honors 102 Year-Old Armenian Genocide Survivor

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NY Governor Pataki Honors 102 Year-Old Armenian Genocide Survivor

Presents Powerfully-worded Proclamation to Lucy Derderian at Moving Ceremony in his Manhattan Executive Offices

Published in the Armenian Weekly and elsewhere

April 2002

NEW YORK, NY — In an emotional tribute to the Armenian Genocide, New York Governor George E. Pataki presented his annual Armenian Genocide proclamation to Lucy Derderian, a 102 year-old survivor of the Armenian Genocide, during an April 25th ceremony at his Manhattan offices, reported the Armenian National Committee (ANC) of New York.

Speaking to an intimate gathering, Governor Pataki recalled the suffering of the Armenian people at the hands of the Ottoman Turkish government and called for recognizing the Genocide for what it was, "genocide."

The Governor's powerfully worded proclamation stated that, "the Armenian Genocide of 1915-23 was an organized extermination campaign employed by the Ottoman Turkish authorities." The proclamation further noted that, "the final result of the Armenian Genocide of 1915-23 was the near extermination of the Armenian people, the loss of the majority of their ancestral lands and the dispersing into many areas of the world the scarred survivors of this extreme crime against people."

Condemning the Turkish Government's denial of this great crime against humanity, the Governor's proclamation explained, "[this denial] is an abomination that occupies no proper place in debates carried out by New Yorkers, who represent some of the most intellectual and also the most morally certain people anywhere; as the movement toward full recognition of the Genocide follows its steady pace, every human being wanting to be counted as an Armenian Genocide recognition supporter can be considered a citizen of New York or an honorary citizen of New York."

"We want to thank Governor Pataki for his leadership in the fight for full recognition of the Armenian Genocide" commented Alex Sarafian, chairman of the ANC of New York. "We appreciate the Governor's continued dedication and personal involvement in this cause, as illustrated today by his presentation of his proclamation to Mrs. Derderian during a very moving ceremony."

"Speaking to the Governor today, I can see why New York's Armenian community, — from Erie to Albany to New York City — sees in him a friend who cares deeply about the Armenian Genocide and understands what is at stake — for Armenians and for all people — in allowing Turkey to continue denying this crime against humanity,” added Sarafian.

Opening the meeting and making introductions was Antovk Pidedjian, Esq., who has served as master of ceremonies for several of the Governor's Armenian Genocide observances, including a program in April of 1998 featuring presentations by Vartan Gregorian, President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and Peter Balakian, renowned writer, college professor, and author of "The Black Dog of Fate."

In May of last year Governor Pataki issued a proclamation naming June 17th as the Empire State's Armenian Apostolic Church Recognition Day, in recognition of the 1700th anniversary of Armenia's adoption of Christianity as its state religion.

As in years past, Governor Pataki was assisted in arranging this program by James Barcia, who coordinates his outreach to New York's diverse ethnic communities.

Participating in the gathering along with Mrs. Derderian were Aggie Ellian of the New York Armenian Home in Flushing, New York and Alex Sarafian and David Attarian representing the ANC of New York. Also taking part was the pastor of St. Illuminator's Armenian Apostolic Cathedral, Very Rev. Father Muron Aznikian, who also represented the Armenian Prelacy. Accompanying him were Gilda Kupelian from the Armenian National Education Council, Deacon Shant Kazanjian, and Christine Karamanian.

Among the media covering the program were Tony Barsamian, owner of the Queens Gazette, Ardzagang Armenian Television, Associated Press photographer Harry Kundakjian, the Armenian Weekly, and journalist Florence Avakian.

The Armenian National Committee is the largest Armenian American grassroots political organization in New York and nationwide. The ANC actively advances a broad range of issues of concern to the Armenian-American community.

Full text of Proclamation

Proclamation

Whereas, the Empire State is proud to be the place where countless citizens of the world have settled to become leaders in various areas of endeavor, mindful that the journey taken by many of these fine men and women did not always begin voluntarily or happily; many of New York and the Nation’s Armenian citizens who arrived in the early part of the last century came here as a result of the Armenian Genocide of 1915-23, a tragic event that nearly ended the lives of all Armenians; and

Whereas, the time between most Armenians’ arrival up until their modern presence here has been notably fruitful for them and for the greater community of New York and America, but a sincere effort at acknowledging the circumstances of their bittersweet trek to our welcoming shores helps us understand and admire Armenians far better; a learned appreciation for their history will also teach people a sad lesson in man’s inhumanity to his fellow man, and the lengths to which neglect by the world community can cause the already-tragic taking of one life to multiply into a tremendously costly, genuine exercise in genocide; and

Whereas, the Armenian Genocide of 1915-23 was an organized extermination campaign employed by the Ottoman Turkish authorities, under whose imperial authority most Armenians lived; agents of the Turkish Government who included military personnel and willing civilian volunteers utilized some of the cruelest methods every used against people to wipe out Armenian men, women and children; those Armenians spared a quick and violent death by blade, bullet or beating were starved and dehydrated during exile marches that represent a different, unspeakable, type of journey for Armenians and also for Greeks and Assyrians, two other Christian minorities singled out by the Turks for their differences; and

Whereas, the final result of the Armenian Genocide of 1915-23 was the near extermination of the Armenian people, the loss of the majority of their ancestral lands and the dispersing into many areas of the world the scarred survivors of this extreme crime against people; today Armenians throughout their diaspora struggle to support their homeland, a shadow of a once-proud nation that was the first state - in 301 A.D. - ever to adopt Christianity as its official religion; every endeavor to preserve the rich language, cultural and religious traditions of Armenia must now be viewed as a step toward compensating for the damage done by the Genocide; few cultures save the Jews, who endured the Holocaust years after the Armenian Genocide, must carry such a burden; and

Whereas, denial of the Armenian Genocide of 1915-23 is an abomination that occupies no proper place in debates carried out by New Yorkers, who represent some of the most intellectual by also the most morally certain people anywhere; as the movement toward full recognition of the Genocide follows its steady pace, every human being wanting to be counted as an Armenian Genocide recognition supporter can be considered a citizen of New York or an honorary citizen of New York; that is, they will be a friendly neighbor among a growing but still cherished community of people who treasure the truth;

Now, Therefore, I, George E. Pataki, Governor of the State of New York, do hereby proclaim April 24, 2002 as

ARMENIAN REMEMBRANCE DAY

in the Empire State.

Given under my hand and the Privy Seal of the State at the Capitol in the City of Albany this nineteenth day of April in the year two thousand two.


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