April 8, 2008
BOSTON - Massachusetts Municipal Association
The Massachusetts Municipal Association firmly believes that in order to build and sustain strong and vibrant communities throughout the Commonwealth, it is essential to promote and protect basic human rights, mutual understanding, and reconciliation.
In a resolution adopted on September 11, 2007, the MMA Board of Directors stated that the terrible crimes committed against the Armenian people by the Ottoman Empire in 1915 must be recognized as genocide. In its resolution, the MMA applauded the New England Regional Director and New England Regional Executive Committee of the ADL for unequivocally recognizing the Armenian Genocide. The MMA further called on the National ADL to adopt the position of the New England Region at the ADL’s National Commission meeting in November and to support the Congressional Resolution on the Armenian Genocide.
The MMA Board of Directors expresses its strong disapproval that the National ADL did not use the opportunity of its November meeting to clarify and strengthen its earlier statements concerning recognition of the Armenian Genocide. The Board believes that unequivocal recognition of the Armenian Genocide is both a matter of basic justice to its victims as well as essential to efforts to prevent future genocides.
Since 1999, the MMA has been an official sponsor of the No Place for Hate (NPFH) program offered by the New England Region of the ADL. The NPFH program is intended to assist municipalities in Massachusetts to combat bias and promote tolerance. By helping to reduce acts of violence and discrimination, NPFH has brought important tangible benefits to the cities and towns which have chosen to participate in the program. It stands as a worthy monument to the good works of the man who inspired its creation, the late Leonard Zakim.
The inconsistency between the National ADL’s position on the Armenian Genocide and the human rights principles underlying NPFH is a matter of great concern to MMA Board members and the municipalities they represent. The MMA feels strongly that it is imperative to speak with absolute clarity on genocide and that, due to the NPFH program’s association with the National ADL, the Association will no longer be a sponsor of the program.
While these issues will continue to be discussed by municipalities and concerned individuals, the NPFH program has changed. The New England Region of the ADL recently announced that the NPFH program is moving to a community-based model. The program will be available as a resource to community and civic groups but will no longer seek local government sponsorship or certify cities and towns as NPFH communities.
For Massachusetts municipalities that seek a program specifically designed for local governments to promote tolerance, combat racism and discrimination, and facilitate community building, the MMA commends the National League of Cities Inclusive Communities program, which can be accessed via the NLC’s website (www.nlc.org). The NLC’s program includes 190 cities and towns in 40 states and provides an ever-expanding toolbox for municipal officials.
Statement Adopted by Vote of the MMA Board of Directors on 04/08/08
Statement by the Massachusetts Municipal Association Ending Sponsorship of No Place for Hate Program
April 8, 2008