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Providence Celebrates 126th Anniversary of the ARF

WARWICK, R.I.—The Providence Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Kristapor gomidehoutiun celebrated the 126th Anniversary of the ARF at the Harbor Lights Marina and Country Club overlooking Narraganset Bay on Dec. 3.

Keynote speaker unger Mourad Topalian

The Master of Ceremonies, unger Hrag Arakelian, introduced the chairman of the Providence ARF, unger Hagop Donoyan, who thanked the 150 guests for attending and outlined the evening’s program. A short moment of silence was requested for two recent fallen ungers—Tom Vartabedian of Haverhill, Mass. and Ara Demirdjian, ARF Bureau’s Executive Director.

The national anthems of the United States and Armenian and Mshag Panvor were sung by ungerouhies Dalita Getzoyan, Taleen Donoyan, and Menar Tarpinian, respectively.

Der Hayr Kapriel Nazarian, pastor of Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Church, provided words of encouragement to the organization for playing a prominent role in our community throughout the decades and blessed the dinner which was to be served. He spoke of warrior Vardan Mamikonian with Father Ghevont by his side in the large mural that adorns the back wall of the church.  Father Ghevont has been called the soul of the movement of Christian resistance. Der Kapriel, like all of the church’s priests before him, vowed to continue to stand side by side with the ARF as the new spiritual leader of the Providence community.

The evening’s honorees

The room was decorated with wall murals of photos from the ARF family of organizations—the Armenian Relief Society (ARS), the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF), Homenetmen, and Hamazkayin; for therein lies the strength of the ARF in this and all communities where Armenians reside all over the world. A slideshow of fedayees (freedom fighters) from the days of the past to local dedicated ungers who have passed was on display throughout the evening.

Five members of the sister organizations were then called to the dais to be recognized for their service to our community. The honorees included ungerouhi Rita Minassian (AYF), ungerouhi Maggie Madarentz (Hamazkayin) who was absent due to illness, ungerouhi Karen Pilla (ARS), yeghpayr Sarkis Minassian (Homenetmen), and ungerouhi Seta Tarpinian (ARS).

The guest speaker of the evening, unger Mourad Topalian of Los Angeles, California, is a prominent member of the Armenian community in the United States. He is a former Chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), whose involvement with ANCA began in 1976.

Topalian was asked to share his thoughts on the current standing and activities of the organization and what can be done to strengthen Armenia.  He spoke proudly of the impact the ARF has had all over the world from its inception to present day.

Topalian was especially encouraged by the defense of our lands during the April War in Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabagh/NKR) and by the inroads the ARF has made in the Armenian government, especially and including the work of the three ARF Ministers and the recent establishment of a 1000-man National Guard.  Recognizing that all governments have challenges and Armenia is no different from what we see all over the world—including the United States—he feels strongly that the ARF and its supporters must make every possible effort to work with and become part of the government in Yerevan. Topalian stressed that necessary changes must be made from within the Armenian government, and that changes from the outside can only lead to dangerous outcomes.

Members of the Providence ARF

Topalian stated that it is a God-given right to be free and that we must do all we can as a diaspora to defend our lands. He spoke of the annexation of Artsakh and hopefully of someday freeing Javakhk and Nakhichevan as well.

Topalian said that he felt honored to be in Providence had strong words of praise for the Providence community led by the ARF.  He particularly praised the work of the Armenian National Committee of R.I., which he feels is the model ANC chapter in the nation.

The traditional momavaroutioun (cake lighting) then took place to help raise funds for the organization. Unger Hagop Donoyan announced to the crowd that the Providence ARF Kristapor chapter is donating $1,000 to aid in Syrian relief efforts.

Sevag Khachadourian, Martin Haroutunian, and Shahan Nercessian performed Armenian patriotic songs.  The gathering listened to and joined in singing the inspiring ARF revolutionary and patriotic songs throughout the remainder of the evening.

Unger Mourad arrived on the East Coast in the evening of Dec. 2 and was greeted at Logan Airport by several Providence ARF members. They proceeded to the community center in Providence, where he presented a lecture to the Providence AYF.  Immediately following, a khrakjank (social gathering) took place in the ARF office, creating an opportunity to enjoy an ungergan (social) gathering with food and drink, while sharing great memories and hopes for the future.

 

3 Comments on Providence Celebrates 126th Anniversary of the ARF

  1. avatar John Jerikian // December 6, 2016 at 5:42 pm // Reply

    Very proud of Providence. Keep up the good work

  2. It’s great to see Mourad Topalian, along with his experience & wisdom, making the rounds around America.

  3. Congratulations to the Providence ARF and to the community in general. In a broader sense, I would like to comment on the role of the ARF in Armenia vis a vis the government. What is missing today on the Armenian political scence is a strong opposition. The absense of such creates a power vacuum that the ruling Republican Party takes advantage. What seats remaIn in the Parliament are diluted into several groups with no unity of thought….thus the absense of an important oppostion. When street protests take place, the government simply waits out the events since there is no political groups strong enough to represent those interests.
    I have always felt the ARF was a logical choice for an opposition party in the short term. With its populist history and widespread support in the diaspora , it would be an opportunity to engage common citizens and the diaspora. Of course the decision on how to optimize influence is always up for debate. Do you operate more effectively as an opposition party or do you collaborate in a power sharing deal to manifest change from the inside. The ARF has chosen the latter path currently with ministerial posts and governors posts. Time will tell whether this worked along with the Karapetyan government. At this stage in Armenia’s evolution, the only change that counts is that which improves the daily lives of the common citizen. This has always been the ARF’s core value….. the people. Whether during the tragic period of 1890-1923 when they gave hope to an oppressed people or the post 1923 diaspora era when their popular support and organizational skills built much of the diaspora, the ARF strength is to be a party of the citizens of our nation. We pray for peace and prosperity.

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