Hamshen, a non-governmental women’s rights activist, has voted in favor of Turkish Armenian MP Garo Paylan’s bid for the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize, according to the Turkish-Armenian news website Ermenihaber .am. Saida Ohanyan, president of the International Association of “Hamshanuhi”, an organization committed to defending the rights of women in Hamshen, has nominated Garo Paylan
An association of Armenian women from Hamshen has asked the Nobel Committee to nominate Garo Paylan, a Turkish-Armenian lawmaker from the People’s Democratic Party, for the Nobel Peace Prize.
In her message, the association’s president, Saida Ohanyan, said she dedicated all her life to the campaign for the protection of the Armenians and other ethnic groups residing in Turkey, Rusarminfo.ru reports.
Paylan recently submitted a written proposal to the Turkish parliament with a request for creating a special commission to investigate the assassination of Hrant Dink, the founding editor-in-chief of the Istanbul-based Armenian weekly Agos.
Harut Sassounian of Glendale isn’t Catholic and doesn’t know whether Pope Francis would accept the Nobel Peace Prize if the pontiff was awarded it.
But the publisher of The California Courier, an English-language weekly about Armenian news, felt strongly that the Pope should be nominated for his humility, his bold recognition of the Armenian Genocide and for attention to human rights causes around the world.
So after learning that his good friend and ex-Canadian Parliamentarian Sarkis Assadourian had asked a Member of Parliament earlier this year to nominate Pope Francis for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize, Sassounian approached Rep. Adam Schiff to see if he could do the same and strengthen that nomination.
Schiff, D-Burbank, who has a sizeable Armenian-American constituency, did some research, wrote the nomination letter and got it signed by nearly three dozen colleagues from the U.S. House of Representatives before sending it off to the five-member Nobel Committee on Tuesday.
Pope Francis is already considered a top contender for the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize for participating in behind-the-scenes diplomacy regarding the recent U.S.-Cuba rapprochement and for being an outspoken advocate for immigrants, refugees and the downtrodden. This year’s Nobel Peace Prize will be awarded on Friday.
For Sassounian, the sooner the pontiff is awarded the honor, the better. Perhaps, he reasoned, Schiff’s letter for next year’s prize may even add weight to this year’s nomination.
“I know (the pope) doesn’t need the honor. He may even refuse the prize if he gets it for all I know,” said Sassounian, a member of the Armenian Orthodox Church. “I think we owe it to him and to ourselves to recognize we have such an incredible human being, a true man of God, a spiritual figure of first magnitude.”
Other Nobel Peace Prize favorites out of the more than 270 candidates this year include Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency worker who leaked classified documents about government surveillance, a little known Catholic priest Mussie Zerai who has helped save the lives of migrants and refugees crossing the Mediterranean Sea, Congolese gynecologist Denis Mukwege who has campaigned against the use of rape as a weapon of war, and Free Saudi Liberals founder Raif Badawi.
Sassounian was particularly proud during a Vatican Mass in April when Pope Francis described the slaughter of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks during World War I as the first genocide of the 20th century.
President Barack Obama, despite campaign promises, has failed to use the term genocide, apparently due to political pressure from Turkey. The Pope’s statements, which were made at a Mass for the 100th anniversary of the start of the killings, prompted Turkey — who has long denied there was a systematic campaign by Ottoman Turks to kill Armenians — to recall its own ambassador to the Holy See.
“The pope is not concerned about politics; he’s concerned about good values, principles and the truth,” said Sassounian, who says at least a dozen members of his family perished in the Armenian Genocide between 1915-1923.
After Schiff was approached by Sassounian, he said he was pleased to learn that members of Congress have the ability to nominate someone for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Pope Francis seemed like “the perfect candidate,” Schiff said, because of his work to solve conflicts peacefully and his leadership on trying to treat the refugees in the war in Syria with compassion and humanity.
“Obviously, he’s just won over Catholics and non-Catholics like around the world,” said Schiff, who is Jewish and the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
Awarding Pope Francis the Nobel Peace Prize would call attention to all those trying to do their part to provide sanctuary for those fleeing the violence in Syria and Iraq, Schiff said.
Pope Francis recently called on Catholic parishes around the world to offer sanctuary to refugee families and a Vatican parish has already accepted at least one Syrian family.
If he’s selected, “I have no doubt he will use whatever comes with the Nobel Prize to help facilitate resettlement of refugees” even further, Schiff said.
Schiff argues the United States needs to significantly expand its refugee program as it has taken in few Syrians. In addition, Schiff is urging the Obama administration to grant humanitarian parole to 7,000 Syrian families who already have approved immigration petitions and family in the U.S. but have not been allowed to immigrate because of annual caps. Those caps were removed for Haitians following the devastating 2010 earthquake, and they should also be lifted in this situation, Schiff said.