Greek American Human Rights Activist Aris Anagnos Dies at 94

Aris Anagnos, a Greek American human rights and social justice activist, died of natural causes on Monday, at the age of 94.

Born in Greece on December 17, 1923, Anagnos served in the Greek Army in World War II. After the war he left for the U.S. to study at UCLA. After he graduated he went on to build a successful insurance business in Southern California.

The Greek American man founded the American Hellenic Council of Southern California, an organization that promotes Hellenism and the Greek issues in the U.S.. He also became a champion of social justice and was very active in the fight for peace in Kosovo and Serbia, and for human rights movements in Latin America.

For his activism, Anagnos was awarded the Ralph Bunche Peace Award by the United Nations Association.

Earlier, when Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974, Anagnos and other  fellow Greeks established the Save Cyprus Council (later renamed the American-Hellenic Council), which grew into a principal political lobbying group dedicated to the promotion of Greek-American interests.

Anagnos has served on the Board of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California since the early 1980s, including a two-year term as president of that chapter. He is also the former Executive Vice President of Southern California Americans for Democratic Action, a liberal lobbying organization.

Along with Martin Sheen, Ed Asner, Jodie Evans, Noam Chomsky, and Howard Zinn, Anagnos sat on the Board of Directors of the Office of the Americas (OA), a non-profit organization dedicated to anti-war and anti-U.S. foreign policy activism.

In 2002 Anagnos was a signatory to Not in Our Name’s “Statement of Conscience,” which condemned the Bush administration’s “stark new measures of repression” domestically, and its “unjust, immoral, illegitimate, [and] openly imperial policy towards the world.”