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Event draws heated debate

By Josh Kleinbaum, News-Press and Leader

GLENDALE CITY HALL — Councilman Rafi Manoukian and members of the Armenian Council of America accused each other of politicizing an event that was designed to bring the community together in memory of a tragedy.

As community leaders planned the city’s annual Armenian Genocide Remembrance activities, including an April 24 ceremony, arguments broke out over who will serve on the Week of Remembrance Committee that plans the events.

Vasken Khodanian, chairman of the Armenian Council of America, claims Manoukian excluded all but one representative of his group from the committee and filled it with members who have ties to the Armenian National Committee.

“When the city came out with the Week of Remembrance events, it was a way to unite the Glendale community,” Khodanian said. “It’s a little bit disturbing for us when we see they’re trying to isolate certain organizations or individuals.”

Manoukian, chairman of the committee, dismissed the allegation, saying he simply put people he trusted on the committee.

“What I did, I invited one individual from each organization, and I invited people that I’ve worked with in the past,” Manoukian said. “If they happened to be [Armenian National Committee]-affiliated, that’s fine. Some of my friends are affiliated with the [Armenian National Committee], but that’s the way it is. They’re some of the people I rely on when I’m on committees.”

The Armenian National Committee and the Armenian Council of America are organizations with ties to competing political parties in Armenia.

Khodanian and other members of the Armenian Council of America said the organizations should have equal representation on the committee.

“Once again, Rafi has used the power instilled in him by the people to pursue the [Armenian National Committee] agenda,” said Garry Sinanian, a member of the Armenian Council of America and a City Council candidate. “It’s really disgusting how he’s become a puppet.”

Khodanian called on Manoukian to appoint four Armenian Council of America members who served on the Week of Remembrance committee in the past — Sinanian, Peter Darakjian, Mike Khatchadourian and Razmig Dertavitian. Manoukian refused.

“It’s unfortunate they feel they have to go this route,” Manoukian said. “I don’t know what they’re trying to do by making it political.”

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