Angry Picketers Greet Sarkisian in New York

Demand Rejection of Protocols

Armenian Americans answered the ARF’s call to form a picket line today across the street from the New York Palace Hotel, where Armenia President Serge Sarkisian was scheduled to meet with representatives of eastern United States Armenian American organizations to discuss the controversial Armenia-Turkey protocols.

Blockades and guardrails contained picketers who held signs proclaiming, “Don’t compromise Armenia’s future!” “Armenians Want Justice!” “Turkey Accept the Genocide!” and “No to the Protocols!” Picketers held small Armenian flags and chanted, “Sarkisian, tavajan [traitor],” “Sarkisian, can’t you see? You can’t sell our legacy!” and “No more protocols, No more lies!” A large banner directed to Sarkisian declared, “Do Not Betray the Armenian Nation!”

From the picket’s start the mood was serious and the demonstrators were indignant and angry. The atmosphere quickly grew intense with chants of “Turkey is guilty! Turkey must pay!” Early on, the crowd sang Armenia’s national anthem, “Mer Hairenik” (“Our Fatherland”).

Sarkisian and meeting attendees were already in the hotel when the picket began at 4 p.m. The meeting was scheduled to start at 5 p.m. and last for over two hours. The area inside and outside the hotel was heavily guarded by New York City police officers and plain-clothed agents, as well as Sarkisian’s own security guards.

In the hotel, a small group of protesters representing the Association of Concerned Young Armenian Americans attempted to deliver a letter to Sarkisian expressing their opposition to the protocols. They were met with resistance. During a heated discussion with members of the president’s security team, they demanded to deliver their letter personally to Sarkisian, saying that too much discussion on the protocols was occurring behind closed doors and challenging Sarkisian to honor his earlier promises to hear all opinions on the protocols during his tour of major diasporan cities.

Security permitted one of the young people to enter the secure area near the meeting room to deliver the letter, only if the others left the building. The association’s representative was told to wait until Sarkisan’s meeting concluded to deliver the letter. After waiting for over three hours to deliver the message from Armenian American youth—with no response from Sarkisian—the representative departed with the letter in hand.

At around 7 p.m., as the picket entered its final minutes, dozens of picketers moved from the picket area across the street to assemble directly in front of the Palace Hotel’s entrance, where they chanted and sang Armenian patriotic songs. Police moved in to force picketers out of the area and back across the street from the hotel, where they remained until dispersing around 7:30 p.m.


  1. Shouting names like “traitor”, etc.  does not enhance the argument of the protestors.  The president
    of  Armenia  has come to hear our viewpoints.   Respectful, reasoned, arguments and dialogue
    are reqauired, not insults.

  2. From: Masis Babajanian <>
    Subject: The Flawed protocols
    Date: Saturday, October 3, 2009, 2:57 AM

    Dear Prelacy of the Western and Eastern Diocese,
    We respond to your message sent in support of the protocols.
    On the basis of 4 fundamental principles, we are outraged and formally condemn the churches stance regarding the Turco-Armenian, or more accurately the Turco-Sarkissian, protocols.  We understand that churches have historically shunned away from having their constituents question their stance, expecting them to accept information and ideas without query.  Unfortunately, our Armenian Government has behaved in like manner.  However, your statements in the current setting deal with secular matters, subjecting you to due criticism.  We will succinctly summarize our four points below.
    First,  under the principles of separation of church and state, the Armenian Church should not wholeheartedly support one political opinion versus another.  Its function in this issue ought to be to placate differing parties.  The political arena is full of treachery, deceit, lobbying, crime, and debauchery, as described by former President Ronald Reagan.  We have consistently tried to separate these themes from churches in general.  Sadly, your biased position in this issue has engulfed you into such a political arena.
    Secondly,  a poll has shown that 90% of the US Armenians are against the protocols.  Do you think these people are ignorant?   Do you expect to sway 90% of the population regarding this matter in the next week?  If not, how do you expect to retain the trust, support, and attendance of these people in the long run?  It is concerning that our place of faith has strikingly contrasting opinions from us on such a vital measure in our nation’s identity, interest, and future.
    Thirdly, you explanation of the protocols is exceedingly euphemistic.  Our genocide is going to be put to question in front of the world.  Why don’t the Jews agree to such a measure?  It is entirely possible for the Turkish government to utilize its ample resources and immoral and corrupt influence to sway the conclusion of this proposed genocide committee.  Just recently, the Turkish police has tampered with the videotaped evidence in the murder of Hrant Dink.  They have over 600 years of experience undertaking such measures.  The death of 1.5 million Armenians, including my great grandfather’s, becomes a circus and a mockery in front of the world.  How will we answer to the nations who have recognized our Genocide?  Furthermore, formally relinquishing any claims to Western Armenia has not only legal ramifications, but also spiritual ones.  Armenians lose contact with their ancestral roots with this measure.  If such roots are lost, Armenia will no longer be a place of deeper meaning.  Visiting there will be akin to going to Disneyland or Hawaii, simply a site to appreciate aesthetics.
    Finally,  the Armenian People have endured great sacrifices and persecution in support of the Armenian Church.  If religion were not an issue, our historical conflicts would not happen.  If we were Muslim, we’d likely live peacefully in Eastern Anatolia, although we would be assimilated into the Turkish nation.   Having lost so many lives and security because of religious issues,  we find it ridiculous to have our church support measures to trivialize our pain, our losses, and our history.  Our continued strife has been to preserve the Church’s identity  and our loss in this struggle will ultimately result in the collapse of the Armenian Church.
    It is obvious that your position is influenced by political figures who support you.  We hope that you deviate from such a sycophantic stance.  Your predecessors did not bow down to Stalin nor to the Ottoman Empire, often times risking their lives.   We request that you follow their footsteps and demonstrate in your own words, “success, wisdom, and courage… in this crucial endeavor.”
    Respectfully yours,
    Masis Babajanian, MD                                                             Ishkhan Babajanian, MD

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