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11 03 2008 - By Harry Koundakjian
By Harry Koundakjian
UNITED NATIONS, NY - Florence Avakian, an accredited United Nations journalist, and free lance writer based in New York, recently was interviewed on Al Jazeera television which has a worldwide audience of over 70 million. The interview which took place at United Nations headquarters in New York, focused on the Armenian Genocide, and its prospects for recognition by the United States Congress.
She emphasized that the issue was one of moral and human rights, and should not be compromised because of political expediency. This first genocide of the 20th century was a catalyst in persuading Rafael Lemkin to call the mass slaughter of a people a "genocide", she said.
Ms. Avakian pointed out that early United States administrations had recognized the magnitude of the Armenian tragedy perpetrated by Ottoman Turkey, and that The New York Times during that period, had run front page articles about the horrific events. This accentuated the plight of the refugees, and resulted in American efforts to help the survivors. Even Hitler, she reiterated, had chillingly stated, "Who remembers the extermination of the Armenians", before he started his own plan.
When asked about Turkey's intention to close the American base in Turkey, as well as other such threats, she said the issue must not be one of "callous political expediency", As an influential world power, the United States should stand up as a beacon of justice. Even today, the world is seeing genocides and ethnic cleansing continue, with virtually no action taken to prevent them, a precursor to future genocides, she noted.
With huge military and industrial corporations joining the well-financed Turkish lobby and the Bush administration to stop the Genocide bill, several members of Congress caved in, causing the bill to be tabled indefinitely, she pointed out.
While a freshman student at Hunter College High School in New York, Ms. Avakian had represented her school on the NBC television series "The New York Times Youth Forum" on the topic of genocide. At that time, she was privileged to meet Rafael Lemkin who was the moderator of the program.
Florence Avakian received a Master of Arts (M.A.) degree in Political Science on a Falk Fellowship at Michigan State University. She was also awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Fellowship in Journalism to Cornell University, and an English Union Speaking Fellowship to Oxford University in England.
At the United Nations, she has interviewed several world leaders including India's Indira Gandhi, Georgia's President Edward Schevardnadze, Turkey's President Bulent Ecevit, and Cypriot Presidents Archbishop Makarios, Glafkos Clerides, and Spyros Kyprianou, among others. She is a regular member of the United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA).
In the last several years, Ms. Avakian has had her Op Ed articles on the Armenian Genocide and Armenian issues published in The New York Times, Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Examiner, Baltimore Sun, and the Hearst Feature Service.
Ms. Avakian is a frequent contributor to The Armenian Reporter, and to Ararat Magazine. She is also the news reporter in English every week on the Armenian Radio Hour of New Jersey.
Source: "Azg" Armenian Daily, Yerevan, 13 February 2008


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