The California Senate, with a vote of 36-0, unanimously passed the Armenian Genocide Education Act (AB 1915), which adds Armenian Genocide survivor and witness oral
testimonies into the teachings of human rights in California public schools and encourages state and local professional development activities to provide teachers with resources to teach about the Genocide, reported the Armenian National Committee of America Western Region.
This bill, authored by Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, builds upon the first legislation passed in 1985, AB 1273, which incorporated the Armenian Genocide in the Social Studies Curriculum.
AB 1915 received unanimous support in the California State Assembly in April and was swiftly moved on to the Senate floor under the watchful leadership and full support of incoming Senate President Pro Tem, Kevin De Leon. The bill will now be forwarded to the Governor to be signed into law.
“The ANCA WR applauds the California State Senate for their steadfast support on this critical education bill and Senators De Leon and Mark Wyland along with co-authors Assembly members Nazarian and Katcho Achadjian for their unwavering commitment and leadership,” stated Nora Hovsepian, Chair of ANCA Western Region.
“At every step, we had an unprecedented response from the grassroots on this bill. We can’t thank you enough and want you to know that our collective voice was heard loud and clear throughout the halls of the California State Capitol. We look forward to having the Governor sign the bill into law and continuing our work alongside our elected officials and our schools to ensure that future generations learn about the Armenian Genocide of 1915,” added Elen Asatryan, Executive Director of ANCA WR.
In his introductory remarks, Senator Wyland provided resounding remarks about the importance of Genocide Education in public schools, provided background information on AB 1915, and discussed the importance of the oral history component that comes with the AB 1915.
In the months, weeks, and days leading up to the vote, the ANCA Western Region worked closely with legislators to ensure they learned of the broad, enthusiastic support for the measure. Just since last week, close to 5,000 community members responded to the ANCA WR action alert, communicating their support for the bill to Senator De Leon.
Currently, California is one of 11 states, including Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Virginia, which have the Armenian Genocide included in their curriculum.
Coauthors of AB 1915 on the Assembly side include Assembly Members Achadjian, Ammiano, Ian Calderon, Fox, Hall, Holden, Nestande, Patterson, and Wilk. Coauthors on the Senate side include Senators Berryhill, Lara, Vidak, and Yee.
“I am so glad that my colleagues in the Senate unanimously voted for AB 1915. As this bill comes back to the Assembly, and ultimately advances to Governor Brown’s desk, I look forward to its swift implementation. The teaching of human rights and more specifically, the Armenian Genocide is significant in ensuring that future generations of Californians are educated about our past, in hopes of deterring such acts in the future by being better informed,“ stated Author of AB 1915, Assemblymember Nazarian.
The Armenian Genocide (1915-23) was the deliberate and systematic destruction of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire during and just after World War I. It was characterized by massacres, and deportations involving forced marches under conditions designed to lead to the death of the deportees, with the total number of deaths reaching 1.5 million.
The majority of Armenian Diaspora communities were formed by the Genocide survivors.
Present-day Turkey denies the fact of the Armenian Genocide, justifying the atrocities as “deportation to secure Armenians”. Only a few Turkish intellectuals, including Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk and scholar Taner Akcam, speak openly about the necessity to recognize this crime against humanity.
The Armenian Genocide was recognized by Uruguay, Russia, France, Lithuania, the Italian Chamber of Deputies, majority of U.S. states, parliaments of Greece, Cyprus, Argentina, Belgium and Wales, National Council of Switzerland, Chamber of Commons of Canada, Polish Sejm, Vatican, European Parliament and the World Council of Churches.