Newton’s David Boyajian recognized for role in countering genocide denial

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Watertown TAB & Press, Watertown, Mass.
Tue May 13, 2008

WATERTOWN - The Governor’s Council issued a resolution at the Massachusetts State House on April 30 honoring Newton resident David Boyajian for his role in the campaign against the Anti-Defamation League’s denial of the Armenian Genocide and for questioning the appropriateness of towns’ affiliation with the ADL’s No Place for Hate anti-bias program.

The resolution was introduced by Marilyn Petitto Devaney, a Governor’s Council member and Watertown Town Councilor.

The resolution cited Boyajian’s leadership in “successful efforts to have communities sever ties with the ADL’s No Place for Hate and to end the Massachusetts Municipal Association’s sponsorship” of the program. The resolution further described the ADL’s opposition to Congressional affirmation of the Armenian Genocide as “depriving the Armenians of their history.”

The ADL has yet to unambiguously acknowledge the genocide and has opposed recognition of it by the U.S. Congress.

Boyajian, Armenian-Americans and human rights advocates have argued that No Place for Hate’s human rights mission is incompatible with the stance of the ADL on the widely recognized genocide committed against Armenians by Turkey from 1915 to 1923.

Boyajian’s letter in the Watertown TAB on July 6, 2007, and his subsequent activism sparked the issue, which soon became international news.

In acceptance remarks, Boyajian thanked the Armenian National Committee of America for its efforts in the campaign and praised “the human rights commissioners, elected officials and citizens” in the towns that dropped No Place for Hate. Boyajian urged people to “strive for consistency, not selectivity, in recognizing genocide and human rights violations.”

He also thanked the people “even in other countries, of all ethnic, religious and political backgrounds” who supported the campaign to censure the ADL.

Boyajian singled out “Jewish Americans who have stood for principle” by criticizing the ADL “when they could have remained silent.”

He concluded by saying, “If you think you see injustice, speak up. Individuals and organizations will hear you, and sometimes the world may wind up being a better place because of it.”

About 50 people attended the proceedings, many of them Armenian-Americans. A group of Wellesley High School political science students on a field trip to the State House also attended. Wellesley is affiliated with No Place for Hate.

Watertown decertified its No Place for Hate on Aug. 11, 2007. In the months following, Arlington, Bedford, Belmont, Lexington, Medford, Needham, Newburyport, Newton, Northampton, Peabody, Somerville and Westwood followed suit.

The Massachusetts Municipal Association, the umbrella organization for the state’s cities and towns, voted April 8 to cease its sponsorship of all No Place for Hate programs. The program still exists, however, in more than 40 Massachusetts municipalities and in several states, including California, Colorado, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas.

The ADL established No Place for Hate in 1999 in Massachusetts towns and owns the federal trademark for the program’s name.

On April 22, the Watertown Town Council issued a proclamation sponsored by Council President Clyde Younger also honoring Boyajian for his journalism and activism regarding genocide denial.

In a recent article in TAB newspapers, Boyajian called on Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts to stop funding No Place for Hate and to drop its designation as a No Place for Hate company.