Armenian Professional Society organizes a thought provoking event

Armenian Professional Society organizes a thought provoking event

Armenian Professional Society



The Armenian Professional Society has invited several prominent community members to come and present their individual ideas about what direction the community should take, if and when the Genocide is recognized by the United States and Turkey.


DATE: May 7, 2007


TIME: 7:00 pm SHARP light refreshments will be served with the  program to promptly start at 7:30 PM. Seating is limited to just 230.  First come, first seated.




PLACE: Glendale Main Library Auditorium, 222 E. Harvard Ave, Glendale, Ca. 91210


Invited guests:
Mark Chenian
Dr. Levon Marashlian
Harut Sassounian
Hovan Simonian
Ben Charchian


Moderator: Dr. Hrair Dekmejian


This event is guaranteed to be thought provoking.  Come and hear what the various views and opinions are contemplated from demands for reparations to just being thankful that recognition was finally obtained.  A large part of the program will be devoted to questions of the panel members and their answers. Be part of this necessary process. 


Armenian Professional Society | P. O. Box 1944 | Glendale | CA | 91209-1944

  1. Azad-Hye Moderator May 25, 2007, 1:56 pm
    The following is a report about the above event as published in the ARMENIAN REPORTER
    A symposium asks what comes after recognition
    by Lory Tatoulian
    GLENDALE, Calif. — On Monday May 7, 250 people gathered at the Glendale Public Library to attend a special symposium titled, “If The Armenian Genocide is Recognized, What Does the Armenian Community Expect Next?” The event was organized by the Armenian Professional Society, one of whose many goals is to bring vibrant programs, thinkers, and speakers to the public arena. The evening's program brought together a panel of five guests: Ben Charchian, Mark Chenian, Levon Marashlian, Harut Sassounian, and Hovann Simonian. The colloquium was moderated by Hrair Dekemejian, professor of political science at USC and author of many books.
    During the forum each panelist was allotted eight minutes to present his articles and opinions on the matter. The range of thought and abstracts varied from legal resources to a more opinion-oriented discourse.
    Ben Charchian, an attorney representing the law firm Vartkes Yeghiayan and Associates, spoke first. Charchian's presentation focused on how the courts can be used to go beyond Genocide recognition. “The court system is an excellent means to get reparations from companies. These are companies that unduly profited because of the Armenian Genocide.”
    The law firm of Vartkes Yeghiayan settled two major lawsuits regarding reparations; one was with AXA, the other with New York Life. Yeghiayan's law firm believes in being active now, not waiting for Genocide recognition. Charchian explained: “These companies issued life insurance policies to Armenians before the Genocide. After the Genocide they breached their contracts, didn't pay the beneficiaries of those who were murdered during the Armenian Genocide. We have to attend to these lawsuits.” This is contract law, he said, “and the Genocide is a background issue.”
    Yeghiayan's law firm is systematically preparing to file many more lawsuits against companies to gain reparations. Charchian believes that the power of the court will be the conduit through which success can be achieved. “The courts listen to these issues on common law, breaching of contract; those are the way they decide. We need to go after these companies now. The good news is we don't have to wait until Genocide recognition, we are actually getting reparations as these two companies show.” Charchian also expressed his views on the courts' limitations. He gave the example of Deutsche Bank's presence in Western Armenia during and after the Genocide. Deutsche Bank looted the accounts of Armenian patrons' assets after the Genocide, he said. In addition, the bank used Armenians who survived the death marches as slave laborers to construct significant portions of the Berlin-Baghdad railways.
    Next in line on the panel was entrepreneur and community activist Mark Chenian, vice president of an investment firm in Beverly Hills. Chenian is also serves on the Steering Committee at USC's Institute of Armenian Studies. Chenian began by reworking the question and posing one of his own. He asked “What direction will the Armenian community take if and when the Genocide is recognized?” Chenian presented a series of suggestions. “Armenians fundamentally have to change their thinking from relying on others into self-reliance. We need a core of legal scholarship. We should recruit top-notch students to study the constitutional private law and combine the students with revered scholars and then be allowed to claim our case within the sphere of human rights, international law, genocide, and other related war crimes.” Chenian continued a litany of his admonitions, one being that all Armenians should not only have a sophomoric understanding of the Genocide, but be able to expand the scope of their knowledge and understand it with scholarly insight.

    Levon Marashilian began by expressing many of his viewpoints “Turkey's recognition of the Armenian Genocide is not anywhere around the corner. If there were no financial or territorial consequences for Turkey to worry about, recognition would be easier.” Marashlian teaches at the local community college here. He has written many newspaper articles on the Armenian Genocide. Marashlian said that many Armenians wish to have recognition but feel it is no longer realistic to gain back territory or financial compensation. “Recognition without justice is nowhere near enough. Justice is essential for Armenia's survival and prosperity as a country. Without justice Armenia has a very dark future. The purpose of the Genocide was to eliminate Armenia as a factor from the region forever. Armenia now is a landlocked country with little resources. If it weren't for the Genocide, there would be about 25 million Armenians living there today. Justice for the Genocide is the only way Armenia can become a country you can be proud of. The Armenians who say that compensation is out of the picture are willingly condemning Armenia to remain in its current state.” Marashlian's closing statements were echoed with favorable applause form the audience.


    Harut Sassounian, a community activist and prolific writer, has written many articles on the Armenian Genocide. He is the publisher of the California Courier and his other roles include serving as the vice president of the Lincy Foundation and president of the United Armenia Fund. In his opening remarks, Sassouinian declared “The Armenian Genocide is already recognized. The whole world already knows that there was a genocide.” He continued, “countries and presidents around the world for years have recognized the Genocide. President Reagan recognized it in 1981. We have to get out of the victim mentality, and instead be self-assured and demand our rights. We have to get on the offensive and take the initiative. The Turkish government has not officially recognized the Armenian Genocide; that's their problem. They know its true; we know its true. It would be in their interest to recognize it.” He went on to explain that if Turkey continues to deny the Genocide, they it will continually have to pay the price with aversive public opinion on a global scale. “Our dream is not for Turkey to recognize the Genocide. An entire civilization was annihilated, our ancient lands were taken from us. We need the return of the looted assets of the Armenian nation.”


    The last guest on the panel to speak was doctorial candidate Hovann Simonian. He is co-author of the book, Troubled Waters: The Geopolitics of the Caspian. He also recently published a book about the Hemshin people living in Northern Turkey who were forcefully converted to Islam about 300 years ago. Simonian's presentation was more linear. “The type of compensation Armenian should ask for is private restitution. People should be able to ask for either the return of their private property or monetary compensation. The Armenian Church can likewise ask for all its churches ands monasteries back. That can be negotiated.”


    The program continued with a dialogue session of questions and answers with the audience. Academic cadences and sheer concern mixed throughout the evening, with audience members exploring insightful solutions to this most pressing issue.


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