Armenian Genocide 105th Anniversary COVID-19 Humanitarian Response

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To commemorate the 105th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, a coalition of Armenian community organizations in Southern California launched a nationwide fundraiser in support of Feeding America to provide 1.5 million meals to Americans in need, in honor of Near East Relief and the innocent victims of genocide.

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Retrieved on: 
Wednesday, April 22, 2020 - 3:00pm
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Armenian National Committee of America - Western Region
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Key Points: 
  • To commemorate the 105th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, a coalition of Armenian community organizations in Southern California launched a nationwide fundraiser in support of Feeding America to provide 1.5 million meals to Americans in need, in honor of Near East Relief and the innocent victims of genocide.
  • The American people and the Armenian nation are inextricably bound thanks to the courage and generosity of the American public in assisting the survivors of the Armenian Genocide, remarked Saro Kerkonian, Chair of the Armenian Genocide Committee.
  • These resolutions marked the first official recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the United States, ending decades of genocide denial at the behest of Turkey.
  • Both the House and Senate resolutions firmly rejected Turkeys ongoing denial of the Armenian Genocide, and encouraged public education about the Armenian Genocide and the role of the United States in the humanitarian response.


Los Angeles, April 22, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) --

  • To commemorate the 105th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, a coalition of Armenian community organizations in Southern California launched a nationwide fundraiser in support of Feeding America to provide 1.5 million meals to Americans in need, in honor of Near East Relief and the innocent victims of genocide.
  • The "1.5 Million Meals for 1.5 Million Lives" humanitarian appeal was launched on Friday April 17th, and by Monday April 20th the fundraising target had been met. The fundraiser, still ongoing, has now raised enough to provide over 2.5 million meals.
  • April 24th, 2020 marks the 105th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, where under the guise of war the Ottoman Turkish Empire undertook the systematic eradication of 1.5 million Armenians as well as an additional 1.5 million Greeks, Assyrians, and other indigenous Christian minorities.
  • The government of Turkey denies this crime to this day, and routinely coerces foreign governments into enforcing genocide denial as the last stage of this crime, using this tragedy as a diplomatic bargaining chip.
  • Late last year, both the House of Representatives and the Senate passed historic bipartisan resolutions recognizing the Armenian Genocide and acknowledging the contributions of Near East Relief and the American public to the survival of the Armenian people.
  • Near East Relief (NER) was the first major international humanitarian relief operation in the world, funded by the American People and led by humanitarians, religious leaders, healthcare workers and first-responders.
  • NER pooled resources to save 132,000 Armenian orphans and over one million refugees, and established over 400 refugee processing centers, hospitals, vocational schools, and orphanages thereby ensuring the survival of the Armenian people. 
  • The Armenian National Committee of America - Western Region launched its “America, We Thank You: An Armenian Tribute to the Near East Relief” on the centennary of the Armenian Genocide to honor the work of the NER and its supporters across the country who ensured the survival of the Armenian nation.

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On April 24th, 2020 the Armenian-American community will commemorate the 105th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide where the Ottoman Turkish Empire under the guise of World War I undertook the deliberate and systematic eradication of 1.5 million Armenians as well as an additional 1.5 million Assyrians, Greeks, and other indigenous Christian minorities. 

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, in place of the annual March for Justice demonstration that has historically brought tens of thousands of Armenians to the streets of Los Angeles in calling on Turkey to recognize the Armenian Genocide, the Armenian Genocide Committee (AGC), UACLA and UYA have launched an humanitarian fundraiser in support of Feeding America to honor Near East Relief and provide 1.5 million meals to Americans in need. 

Near East Relief was the United States’ first Congressionally sanctioned non-governmental organization - and the first major international humanitarian relief operation of its kind in the world - that mobilized all facets of the American citizenry to respond to the systematic destruction of the Armenian people half a world away. 

“The American people and the Armenian nation are inextricably bound thanks to the courage and generosity of the American public in assisting the survivors of the Armenian Genocide”, remarked Saro Kerkonian, Chair of the Armenian Genocide Committee. “Just as the U.S. came to the aid of the Armenian people in their time of need, it is our collective responsibility to assist the American public through these challenging times by organizing this campaign to provide 1.5 million meals in honor of the 1.5 million victims of the Armenian Genocide.”

Through the efforts of doctors, humanitarian workers, missionaries, religious institutions and other first-responders in conjunction with State and Federal governments, Near East Relief was able to pool resources and raise over a hundred million dollars to save 132,000 Armenian orphans and over one million refugees, by establishing over 400 refugee processing centers, hospitals, vocational schools and orphanages to ensure the survival of the Armenian people.

To honor this outpouring of generosity by the American people between 1915 and 1930, and to highlight the role of Near East Relief in ensuring the survival of the Armenian people, the ANCA-WR launched its “America We Thank You: An Armenian Tribute to Near East Relief” initiative on the centenary of the Armenian genocide. The campaign documented the work of Near East Relief throughout Asia Minor, as well as the contributions of Americans across the country; raising awareness of relief efforts at a state-by-state level. 

“It is thanks to the eyewitness accounts of first-responders and humanitarian workers who saw the genocide unfold that the memory of its victims and survivors lives on in the United States today,” said Armen Sahakyan, Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of America - Western Region. “Their testimony has been integral to the cause for justice and recognition of the Armenian Genocide, with the latest milestone being last year’s historic, near-unanimous adoption of official recognition resolutions by the two chambers of U.S. Congress.”

Late last year, the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate passed historic resolutions with overwhelming bipartisan support recognizing the Armenian Genocide: House Resolution 296 was passed 405 votes to 11 with 3 voting present in October 2019, followed by Senate Resolution 150 which was passed with unanimous consent in December. These resolutions marked the first official recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the United States, ending decades of genocide denial at the behest of Turkey. 

The Congressional resolutions also recognized the historic response of Near East Relief, citing how Near East Relief was formed at the encouragement of President Woodrow Wilson, chartered by an Act of Congress, and raised over $116,000,000 ($2.5 billion in today’s money) for relief operations. 

Both the House and Senate resolutions firmly rejected Turkey’s ongoing denial of the Armenian Genocide, and encouraged public education about the Armenian Genocide and the role of the United States in the humanitarian response. To those ends, the Armenian National Committee of America - Western Region Education Committee has worked tirelessly to implement Genocide Education curricula in public schools, working with local ANCA-WR chapters to address the needs of Armenian-American teachers, parents and students at school sites by monitoring and proposing activities and programs.

“Through our America We Thank You campaign, the ANCA-WR has been able to build awareness of this proud chapter of our shared history, introducing Near East Relief into public education, and honoring its work through State and Federal congressional resolutions,” Sahakyan remarked. “This fundraising campaign is a natural extension of our America We Thank You initiative, as we now come together to assist the American people during these challenging times.”

Feeding America is a United States–based nonprofit organization and one of the largest food relief operations in the country. It maintains a nationwide network of more than 200 food banks that feed more than 46 million people through food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and other community-based agencies. Feeding America estimates that as many as 1 in 8 people struggle with hunger in the U.S. 

The community fundraising target of 1.5 million meals was met on April 20th, 2020 just three days after the campaign launched. The campaign is now on track to provide well over 2.5 million meals to Americans in need. The Armenian-American community of Southern California will continue taking donations at 1915neveragain.org

The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region is the largest and most influential nonpartisan Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues in pursuit of the Armenian Cause.

Alex Galitsky
Armenian National Committee of America - Western Region
(818) 745-4555
alex@ancawr.org