SAN DIEGO, CA – A delegation of members from the Armenian Council of America (ACA) and Gaidz Youth Organization (GYO) took part in the California Democratic Party Convention held at the San Diego Hilton Bay Front Hotel and San Diego Convention Center, Feb. 10 – 12.
Among the activities at the Convention were various workshops on grassroots organizing, political data presentations, tabling for political office candidates, Caucus meetings and much more. The Feb. 12 General Session of the convention featured speakers, among whom were Governor Jerry Brown, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, State Assembly Speaker John Perez, California Democratic Party Chair John Burton, Vice Chair Eric Bauman, and others.
Following the General Session was a meeting and the first election of the California Armenian American Democrats (CAAD), who celebrated their success in achieving full Charter status by the California Democratic Party (CDP), becoming the first Charter organization since the 1950’s, and setting the stage for others to follow.
The membership of CAAD, which includes members from ACA and the Armenian National Committee of America (ANC), San Gabriel Valley Armenian Democrats (SGVAD), and Southern California Armenian American Democrats (SCAD), collaborated to protest against the Progressive Caucus’ decision to include Armenian Genocide denier and host of the Young Turk TV program, Cenk Uygur, as the keynote speaker on the panel for the Caucus meeting. CAAD submitted a letter to the Chair of the Progressive Caucus highlighting Uygur’s track record of genocide denial and urging his removal from the panel.
Although Uygur was allowed to speak, he was given the opportunity to rectify his reputation as a genocide denier before his talk, but failed to address the issue at hand when he referred to his comments on the Armenian Genocide by stating “I understand the tremendous emotional pain of the Armenian community during that historical period,” and failing to use the words “genocide” or “Armenian Genocide” during his brief and vague explanation of his past comments. Some protesters walked out during his speech and other protesters stayed at the meeting with their backs turned to Uygur while others confronted him during the general question and answer session.
On Nov. 20, 1991 Uygur wrote a column in the Daily Pennsylvanian titled “Historical Fact or Falsehood?” in which he stated the following: “The claims of an Armenian Genocide are not based on historical facts. If the history of the period is examined it becomes evident that in fact no such genocide took place.”
In 1999, he submitted an open letter to Salon.com referring to the Armenian Genocide as propaganda. In the letter he states, “I once asked a professor of mine who taught a class on the laws of war and war crimes at Columbia Law School to deprogram me from all the propaganda I had received growing up Turkish. I asked him to please find me evidence of the genocide by neutral scholars so I could know the truth. After investigating the issue, he came back and said that he could not find one non-Armenian scholar who believed this was a genocide, but since “it looked like a duck, it walked like a duck and it talked like a duck, it must be a duck.” If that’s not the product of excellent propaganda, I don’t know what is.”
On Sunday, Eric Bauman, Vice Chair of the CDP announced the recommendation for the full ratification of CAAD, by the Organizational Development Committee which was approved by the CDP delegates at large. Bauman expressed his optimistic outlook on the prosperity of the newly formed organization which already boasts well over 500 members from across the Golden State.