WATERTOWN — On September 28, the night after the Azerbaijani attack on Artsakh and Armenia, the Armenians for Biden organization held an online Zoom event. While promoting the candidacy of Vice President Joseph Biden for president of the United States this November, it put on the record the candidate’s positions on the Armenian Genocide and Artsakh.
Speakers included Mike Carpenter, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Congresswoman Jackie Speier, Michigan State Rep. Mari Manoogian, Michelle Kwan, Biden for President staff member and two-time Olympic medalist, Greg Mekenian from Biden for President Ethnic Engagement, political advocate Anthony Barsamian and Ambassador Nina Hachigian, Deputy Mayor for International Affairs for the City of Los Angeles. Around 240 people were registered on the call, according to Mekenian, and as some of these included multiple viewers the total number of participants might be as high as 300.
Mekenian provided a general introduction to the presidential race, the Artsakh attacks, and the urgency for voting in the election. Manoogian, only the second Armenian American to serve in Michigan’s House of Representatives, and from a district with several thousand Armenians, noted the outsize influence the US president has on US foreign policy.
She condemned the actions of the current president as follows: “From the time that President Trump entered the White House, seeing President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan of Turkey and his thugs on our American soil, seeing his thugs beat up American citizens who were protesting, seeing the lack of response from the Trump White House, in a very serious way really underscored for me that Donald Trump does not stand for Armenian Americans or our issues. Time and again he has failed to speak up when our Armenian brothers and sisters in Armenia and Artsakh were in peril, and this to me is a really critically important issue.”
Manoogian also spoke about issues on which Biden’s stance, she felt, would benefit Armenian Americans, including implementation of affordable health care and protection of coverage for people with preexisting conditions and the preservation of Medicare and Social Security. She introduced Kwan, and stated afterwards that it is important to have non-Armenians to serve as advocates for Armenian-American issues.
Kwan, who has served as an American public diplomacy envoy, noted the critical role of the Armenian-American community, which she characterized as over 500,000 in number, in the forthcoming elections, especially in key battleground states like Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. Consequently its mobilization is considered very important. Kwan spoke of her own immigrant success story and how Biden and his vice presidential nominee Senator Kamala Harris fight for the American dream.