In a powerful letter addressed to the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA-WR) Board of Directors, the California Teachers Association (CTA) President E. Toby Boyd shared his group’s “solidarity with the Armenian Community in denouncing in the strongest possible terms the aggressions and war crimes committed in Artsakh by the Azerbaijani government.” CTA is one of the largest and most powerful teachers’ unions in the country with over 300,000 members and a high political profile in California politics.
In a response letter, the ANCA-WR Board Chair Nora Hovsepian, Esq. expressed gratitude for CTA’s letter of support for the plight of the Armenian people further noting, “[T]he importance of teaching about the Armenian Genocide is even more pronounced when unpunished crimes against humanity become unwelcome invitations to continue the same policies of genocidal intent. Unfortunately, the Armenians of Artsakh and Armenia are currently suffering an existential threat, as they once again fall victim to the aggression and unbridled attacks of Turkey and Azerbaijan. Tragically, the world, for the most part, remains silent once again, allowing this threat to continue with impunity.”
“I am very pleased that CTA passed this resolution in support of Artsakh and the larger Armenian Diaspora. It is very important to always stand up for justice, peace, and humanity,” said LAUSD teacher and advisor Ingrid Gunnell who brought this critical matter to the CTA Representative Assembly and the CTA Board of Directors for approval. “I have long advocated for CALSTRS to divest from Turkish investments, and have stood with the ANCA-WR, Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, and GTA President Taline Arsenian in this fight for years, through the passage of AB1320 in 2019. I have marched with the LA Armenian Community on April 24th and worked with Sedda Antekelian of the USC Shoah Foundation to bring professional development about the Armenian Genocide to educators in LAUSD. This is advocacy that sees no end in sight, as greed, power, and hatred have flourished in this region against a relatively small population for well over a hundred years.”
“The California Teachers Association has and continues to be an organization that promotes human rights advocacy in our state, nation, and the world. As a CTA member and an Armenian-American, I am proud that my state union, like my local union — the Glendale Teachers Association — has taken a strong position on the human rights violations and injustices that continue to occur in Artsakh and Armenia,” remarked GTA President Taline Krikorian Arsenian. “It is important for community organizations, advocacy groups, legislators, and world governments, as well as individuals like you and me, to use our collective voices to tell our story, recognize Artsakh, and ensure awareness of these war crimes and human rights violations. It is imperative that the aggressors be held accountable and that the Armenian victims of these crimes against humanity be made whole through reparations.”
A GUSD educator of 21 years and a member of the ANCA-WR Education Committee, Arsenian continued, “I am honored to be working with the ANCA-WR Education Committee consisting of a diverse and strong group of professionals who are dedicated to bringing awareness of Armenian genocide, culture, and history to students in California, the nation, and the world.” She concluded by saying, “I am truly grateful for my fellow union colleague and community activist, Ingrid Gunnell, for spearheading this effort with the CTA. She is a dedicated activist for all victims of harm and a social and human rights advocate.”
Azerbaijan’s premeditated and coordinated military assault on Artsakh with the direct support of Turkey and mercenary terrorists has seen a number of gruesome war crimes committed against Armenian servicemen and civilians alike, further resulting in a major humanitarian crisis that has seen over 100,000 Armenians displaced from their indigenous homeland.
The full text of the CTA letter is provided below:
The California Teachers Association stands in solidarity with the Armenia Community in denouncing in the strongest possible terms the aggressions and war crimes committed in Artsakh by the Azerbaijani government. These acts, committed with the backing of the Turkish government, include bombings of schools, hospitals, and places of worship while people under attack continue to struggle through a worldwide pandemic.
We remain deeply troubled by and condemn the violent history of Turkey toward the Armenian people and its ongoing denial of the Armenian genocide it committed a century ago. Those crimes against humanity have gone unanswered, and the nation responsible has evaded responsibility. Now, with these new Turkish-backed attacks on Artsakh and Armenia that began in September, the older crimes are being compounded and exacerbated by these new aggressions.
CTA believes that a failure to learn history is an unwelcome invitation to repeat it. Since 2016 California schools have been required to teach students about the Armenian genocide. Many CTA members are of Armenian heritage or live or teach in communities rich with Armenian heritage such as Fresno and Glendale. The current situation in Artsakh is of grave concern to our members in those communities and throughout the state.
CTA policy recognizes that peace is superior to war and believes in the interdependence of all people. CTA unequivocally condemns Azerbaijan and Turkey for their aggression on the people of Artsakh and Armenia. We urge an immediate ceasefire and a permanent end to these attacks. California educators stand with you, and will continue to do what we can, both in and out of our classrooms, to help ANCA raise awareness and bring peace and justice to the Armenian people.
The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region is the largest and most influential nonpartisan Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues in pursuit of the Armenian Cause.