Astarjian: This Is the Party I Knew

This is the party I knew, this is the party I grew up with, this is the party that shaped my political conviction, and this is the party I love. Men with guts, attempting to revolutionize the status quo, have finally stepped up to the plate to resurrect the old roadmap and coin anew a healthy, viable, and effective national manifesto directing the nation to a clear path to viability and success. Once again, the Tashnagtsutiun has become Hai joghovurti ightseri ardahaydiche (the implementer of the wishes of the Armenian nation). Once again it is leading the nation.

This is the Tashnagtsutiun I knew, this is the party that for decades awakened and led the nation through disastrous times to preserve its ethnicity, and to keep demanding what is rightfully ours: our lands. This is the party that, together with other forces, liberated Karabagh. This is the party of Kristapor, Rostom, and Zavarian. This is the party of Hrair Mahroukhian. This is the party of the fedayees who picked up their mauzers to fight the Ottoman tyranny. This is the Tashnag Party!

That much for excitement! With this roadmap, the work is cut out for the party and the nation. The party will have to prepare and mobilize the nation to face the rigors of change, bravely and with healthy reasoning. It is not an easy task; to bring the entire nation under one tent is a major undertaking. There are those who are so comfortable with where they are that they would resist any kind of change. There are the fainthearted who get scared of their own shadow, and who would not like to rock the boat. And there are those who have not yet shed their slavery-obedience mentality, ingrained in their psyche by the Ottoman tyrant. They are still saying Padishahim chok yasha (May you live long my Pasha). This kind of a mentality is nourished by the institutionalized church, which is true to its past (when fedayees, “the trouble makers,” were defending the hamlets and the Armenian families, some of the clergy and pastors were handing them over to the Turkish authorities, so that their community would go unharmed).

That kind of prayer is still a part of our liturgy, where the priest says a “long live” prayer for the president rather than the country. Imagine if you will a Baptist church in Atlanta, Georgia praying for George W.’s or Dick Cheney’s success and long life. That is preposterous. But that kind of thinking, subjugation, still prevails in the minds of armchair pseudo-intellectual politicos who may consider the roadmap to be impossible to implement, because it clashes with the policies and interests of the big powers, and because we are a small nation. That is a false argument. Being effective has little to do with size; a virus, which cannot be seen with an ordinary microscope, is more virulent than an elephant.

Finally there are those who consider Etchmiadzin not only their spiritual home, but also their political hub, and the Catholicos, whomever he might be, the supreme authority—an Ayatollah of sorts. They fail to realize that Etchmiadzin is governed by a constitution imposed upon it by the Tsars some two centuries ago, hence its subjugation.

Similar provisions of sahmanatrutiun (constitution) was imposed on the Azgayin Zhoghov in Istanbul by the Sultan in 1864.

To implement the roadmap, one has to attempt to educate the clergy by highlighting their religious obligations, rather than allowing them to meddle in secular political matters.

The Church has converted us to a millet (an ethnic religious sect); that is what the Turks called us, and that is what they forced us to accept through our ecclesiastical structures, and that is what we should reject if we are to make progress as a viable nation and a sovereign people.

Some years ago when an armed conflict erupted between the Barzani and Talabani Kurdish factions in northern Iraq, TV 7 needed a commentator, so they called Father Dajad, rather than the Hairenik or the AGBU, to get what they needed. They identified Armenians with their church, and not by its secular organizations. Examples are abound, but I just remembered this one. It is the church’s position to be at the forefront in order to subjugate the nation to its will, and steer it away from secularism.

Some months ago, a very high-ranking clergyman’s efforts to recruit me to write articles in support of the church failed. He said, and I am paraphrasing: “… since the political parties are weak, this is the time for the church to move forward to fill the vacuum.”

The church should not project itself as a leader of the Armenian nation. Their mission is to teach the meaning of the Immaculate Conception, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and his philosophy of love and forgiveness.

The roadmap has to keep the churches at bay; they have a numbing effect on the revolutionary spirit.

With this roadmap, the Tashnag Party has asserted its authority and leadership of the nation. Though the diaspora supports them, they still need allies and allegiances, and to put an alliance together is a monumental job.

With power comes responsibilities, and it is the party’s duty to do its best to live up to its promise to the nation outlined in the roadmap.

Dr. Henry Astarjian

Dr. Henry Astarjian

Dr. Henry Astarjian was born in Kirkuk, Iraq. In 1958, he graduated from the Royal College of Medicine and went on to serve as an army medical officer in Iraqi Kurdistan. He continued his medical education in Scotland and England. In 1966, he emigrated to the U.S. In 1992, he served as a New Hampshire delegate to the Republication National Convention in Houston, Texas. For three years Astarjian addressed the Kurdish Parliament in Exile in Brussels, defending Armenian rights to Western Armenia. For three consecutive years, he addressed the American Kurds in California and Maryland. He is the author of The Struggle for Kirkuk, published by Preager and Preager International Securities.
Dr. Henry Astarjian

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  1. I have to say Mr. Astarjian — I would consider this article very wise and intelligent, if it were not for the fact that you ignored the OTHER Church that has pushed a political agenda (or the political agenda that has pushed the Church?).

  2. Hye, Henry Astarjian, your Opinion piece was very educational for me.  I learned a lot, I’ve lived some you wrote of… at least I always felt that ‘my’ people were there… IN THE ARENA!  We were there over all the years, maintaining our Armenian nation’s identity, our Armenian flag, and the church I attended stood for all the right reasons – and if any erred, it was better than being always on the wrong side of the page…  which we still have today!  I was saddened that my brethern in the USSR had to exist under the communism,  which to this day has left it mark, i.e. Serge.  So, Dumanian, critics are a dime a dozen, but I can accept being in the wrong on occasion, as I may have been, but at least I was on the right trolley… and still, am proud to be there! Manooshag

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