We thank Nossaman LLP for their support of the Race For Recognition – Nossaman sent the email below to their entire team recognizing their attorney Artin Shaverdian, LA2DC Executive Committee member and educating on the Armenian Genocide. Read below:
As many of you know, Artin Shaverdian is participating in a coast-to-coast bicycle and running relay marathon to raise awareness of modern day genocides, including the Armenian Genocide. This past weekend, Artin rode a leg from California into Arizona and through a portion of Nevada crossing the Colorado River (see attached), and he is looking forward to joining the caravan and his fellow riders in Kansas City, Missouri on Saturday for the remainder of the ride into Washington DC. Some historical background regarding this issue follows:
The Ottoman Empire spanned over the Balkans in the Middle East from the fourteenth to the twentieth century. The Empire bordered Russia, Iraq, Syria, Greece, Bulgaria and the Mediterranean Sea. For over thousands of years, Armenians resided in Mesopotamia, governed by various empires such as the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Persians, Arabs and Mongols. This community flourished with its unique language, literature, art and architecture. In 301 C.E., Armenia was the first nation to adopt Christianity as a state religion. The Ottomans invaded the Armenian homeland during the eleventh century and took control over the region. Due to European industrialization and the weakening of the government, the empire experienced a decline in the nineteenth century. By the end of the century, several of its inhabitants, such as the Greeks, Serbians and Romanians gained independence; however the Arabs in the Middle East and the Armenians remained under Ottoman rule. Although Armenians could practice their faith, Armenian citizens were regularly persecuted. The Ottoman Sultan began to institute programs against the Armenians between 1894-1896 as the result of a continuous religious and ethnic divide between the Muslim Turks and the Christian Armenians and their push for social and political reform.
When World War I started, the Ottoman Empire joined the Central Powers. As the world was engaged in war, the Ottoman Empire began a systematic campaign to eliminate the Armenians in the Empire. Ottoman authorities created widespread propaganda against Armenians under the belief that they were a threat to the national security. The propaganda was disseminated through sermons of town criers and Muslim mullahs who labeled Armenians infidels, traitors and spies. On April 24, 1915 Armenian intellectuals and leaders were arrested, tortured and killed. The Armenians serving in the military were forced into hard labor after the confiscation of their weapons. Meanwhile, Armenians’ property was also confiscated throughout the empire. Armenian men were arrested and killed in mass shootings as women, children, and the elderly were taken out of their homes and forced to desert. Thousands of Armenians died and those who survived were put into concentration camps. Despite the hundreds of eyewitnesses from several officials around the world, the killings continued until 1923 as the new Ottoman leader, Mustafa Kemal, expelled the rest of the Armenians, in addition the Greeks and Assyrians. An armed intervention never took place even though there was overwhelming knowledge and awareness of the atrocities.
Contemporary scholars estimate that over 1.5 million Armenians were killed in the genocide. In addition, tens of thousands were displaced and their land and property no longer belonged to them. The official stance of the Turkish government is that what took place was not a genocide and it actively denies that an intentional annihilation occurred. The Armenian genocide provided a precedent for future genocides. The Armenian genocide apparently influenced Adolf Hitler’s quest to eliminate the Jews. In a speech given prior to his invasion of Poland in 1939, Hitler stated: “I have issued the command — and I’ll have anybody who utters but one word of criticism executed by a firing squad — that our war aim does not consist in reaching certain lines, but in the physical destruction of the enemy. Accordingly, I have placed my death-head formation in readiness — for the present only in the East — with orders to them to send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children of Polish derivation and language. Only thus shall we gain the living space (Lebensraum) which we need. Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”
In the past 100 years, 100 million people have died in genocides including: the Holocaust, and atrocities in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfur, Korea and Wounded Knee. At this moment, genocides are underway or being threatened in several parts of the world.
On April 24, 2015, cyclists and runners set out from Los Angeles to kick off a coast-to-coast relay marathon, to raise awareness of modern day genocides and ask that all nations including the United States unite to prevent genocides by recognizing past genocides, including the Armenian Genocide. The LA2DC race has 26 legs in 11 states across the country, covering a total of approximately 2800 miles and ending in our nation’s capital. Every leg marks an atrocity location in the Ottoman Empire and elsewhere: Auschwitz, Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfur, etc. As the athletes run/ride across the country, they are stopping and publicly thanking those people/churches/leaders/legislators who saved genocide victims and are doing the difficult work of genocide detection and prevention.
Visit www.la2dc.org to stay informed and follow the progress of the riders on Instagram and Facebook.
Chair of Nossaman’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee
About Nossaman LLP:
Nossaman is an innovative mid-sized law firm working on cutting-edge issues across seven U.S. offices. Our expertise is focused in distinct areas of law and policy, as well as in specific industries. With a strong foundation in California, we have built nationally recognized practices in infrastructure, litigation, healthcare, environment and real estate, public policy, and corporate law. The Firm has been an industry leader in California for seven decades. We know the land, the law, the courts, and the lawmakers. We also know the issues, from local bank failures and congested highways, to environmental conservation issues and scarce water supply. Nossaman is helping to solve many of the complex challenges public agencies and companies doing business in California face today. Additionally, we offer strong capabilities in Washington, DC, resulting from a strategic merger that expanded the Firm’s depth in several core areas including public policy, environmental permitting and litigation, and infrastructure. Nossaman attorneys in the capital monitor regulatory and legislative developments that affect clients’ economic and legal interests and present clients’ views on these issues to Members of Congress and Administration officials so that they are considered when decisions are made. We also specialize in administrative law proceedings before the agencies and the courts.