Editorial: Confronting the Politics of Exclusion

Upcoming Clinton Meeting Reveals Disturbing Fractures in Community

On Feb. 9, leading Armenian American groups will meet with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, apparently to discuss issues of mutual concern. The meeting is being held at the State Department’s invitation, following discussions with various community and advocacy groups. The meeting is widely expected to address Armeno-Turkish relations, focusing on the controversial protocols that are now under consideration.

On the surface, such a meeting would appear welcome—reflecting the U.S.’s willingness to develop consensus, or at least to hear the input of Armenian Americans in developing its policies. Unfortunately, however, much goodwill has already been lost in the process. This is mainly due to missteps taken by the State Department, then reinforced by several Armenian American groups. For those unaware, the State Department initially issued invitations to a small, exclusive, and imbalanced group of organizations–the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, the Armenian Assembly of America (AAA), the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), the Knights of Vartan, and the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA). Clearly, this list is remarkable more for its exclusions than its inclusions. To put it bluntly, the inclusion of the Diocese without the Prelacy is patently ridiculous, and is compounded by the fact that the Protestant and Catholic communities–with significant presences nationwide–were excluded as well. And then, there is the inclusion of the AGBU without the Armenian Relief Society (ARS)–the largest Armenian American women’s group, which pursues significant charitable activities here and in Armenia. We could also mention other groups–traditional political parties, cultural organizations, and others that have maintained significant voices in our community.

The immediate questions that come to mind are, “Why?” and “To what end”? From the original list, we can surmise only one of two answers: Either the State Department is seeking to generate phony “consensus” on the protocols, and is therefore gathering the softest elements on this issue (with the exception of ANCA); or the State Department is listening to voices in the community that, for their own purposes, seek to exclude others who might “compete” with them for legitimacy as representatives. The cynical among us might go even further: Perhaps the Armenian government, seeking to portray the diaspora as favoring its misguided initiatives, has found the ear of someone in putting this lineup together.

Whatever the scenario, such a move is a clear non-starter, for it further divides our community and creates false competition instead of allowing us to come together.

In response to this move, community protests came almost immediately–mainly from the ANCA, as well as from the excluded organizations themselves. Interestingly, no protests were heard from the AGBU, AAA, Knights of Vartan, or Diocese, presumably because they had gotten in themselves. The game here, apparently, is get in the room, then shut the door behind you. How selfish.

In response to the protests, the State Department–apparently not without some embarrassment–has widened the field a bit. As of this week, the Catholics, Protestants, Prelacy,  as well as independent groups such as the United Armenian Fund and the Armenian Bar Association, have been added to the list. But the ARS remains excluded, apparently due to strenuous protests from the AGBU, backed by the AAA. How petty! What does the AGBU gain by excluding the ARS from such a meeting? The honor of being the only benevolent group worthy of being invited? The AGBU has a long and proud history of benevolence, both in the diaspora and Armenia. Its seat at the table is assured by this record, not by excluding other groups. We urge all groups to come together and shed such nonsense, once and for all.

We live in a moment when consensus is imperative—especially before a U.S. State Department that would exploit our dissension. Let’s not allow such maneuvers to weaken our resolve. We must come together, with one voice and one purpose, before it’s too late.


  1. “we must come together, with one voice and one purpose, before it’s too late.”
    The above statement must be the greeting of every Armenian from now on. Before the meeting, the members must meet and come up with a representative for this meting. This will show that Armenians are united in Diaspora. Otherwise, we will be defeated very easily by everyone as long as we are divided.
    We need a new Armenian national political party to protect our national interest in everywhere!

  2. If we are to assume that issues of mutual concern to Armenians in the US and the US State department include Armenia, then the present state, the status, of Armenia is relevant, and fundamentally so. And if we want to talk about the diversity of opinions in the Diaspora, fractures in the community, and the politics of exclusion, then we have to talk about the elephant in the room.
    Where is the representation of the democratic movement in Armenia? Because it is not the ARF, the ANCA, or the AAA. It is not the ARS, or the Knights of Vartan. It is not this Prelacy, or that Diocese.  In fact, every single one of these organizations either supports the ruling regime in Armenia today, supports the protocols, has financial investments tied in to the ruling regime, or some combination therein.
    Not a single one of those organizations stood up for the people of Armenia, for the victims of March 1, for the youth who continue to be beaten for exercising their civil rights, or for the political prisoners.
    So let’s talk about exclusion, and lets talk about phony, shall we?

  3. Despite her condescending tone, Tzitzernak has offered comments worth considering. The Armenian-American community, unfortunately, has taken a largely conservative position re Armenia. When the chips are down, most groups support the authorities rather than the people — even when those authorities are clearly in the wrong. The only possible exception is in foreign policy matters related to Hai Tahd, where some organizations have taken a principled stand.

    Unfortunately, Tzitzernak goes too far in extending ‘exclusion’ to our community as a whole. Let’s be clear: This meeting is designed for SD to meet with the Armenian-American community (i.e. US citizens of Armenian ancestry), not with the democratic movement in Armenia. If the movement wishes to be represented in such meetings, it needs to find ways to have its voice represented through indigenous voices here (just as diasporan parties can only become relevant in Armenia if they succeed in having their voice represented through indigenous voices there). Otherwise, the proper channel is the usual one — quiet, unpublicized meetings between the US Administration and Armenia’s opposition (which has periodically occurred during the past 18 years, and will undoubtedly continue). So let’s not mix apples with oranges here.

  4. I agree that the ARS should be present at this meeting. But my interrogations is to wether we should be  including the next generation in these strategic meetings… AYF, ACYOA, maybe others should also be invited.

  5. Hye, deliberate discriminations for inclusions/exclusions by the staff of the United States State Departments!  Democracy in action – ala Hilary et al. 
    Of course the ARS, a womens’ organization of dedicated volunteers over the last 100 years shall have a voice at this meeting.  Not only for the Armenian women  world over,  but ell to present to the world that womens’ voices shall not be shunted aside – that women shall be heard!   Too, Hilary, as  women shall support all such  women – especially now, as women the world watch…
    Obviously, the exclusions were to ‘stack the deck’ – Hilary, et al, your true colors are showing, again.
    I can imagine you as the president of the United States of Armerica…. Manooshag

  6. I think you all are missing the point, a democratic Armenia is a healthy Armenia that cannot be manipulated into signing any harmful agreements such as the protocols, and unfortunately NONE of the organizations, including the ARF affiliated have brought up that point. Lets be very realistic, there are other organizations in the Diaspora, in the USA that do care and actively pursue that. This is not an assault on the ARF members, or the AAA, or the AGBU, but their leadership, especially in Armenia is too connected to this corrupt Armenian regime, too much money is involved. Lastly, how can we demand Genocide recognition, a human rights issue, if we Armenians in the Diaspora are letting our brothers and sisters loose principle human rights in our own homeland?

  7. Hillary Clinton has a lot to learn from running a failed-US State Department.  Continuing to implement failed policies of the past will sink the Department into a greater State of failure to achieve its objectives.

    What are the goals of the US State Department?
    –  Access route to the world’s largest and most strategic gas & oil reserves in Central Asia (Turkmenistan & Kazakhstan) 

    Armenia is the only viable energy route (penetrating the Caucasus) for access and control of central Asian gas & oil fields.

    Turkey is a corridor from Europe with a dead end (closed borders with Armenia); and Azerbaijan is locked-out from the West (closed border with Armenia).

    Why not via Georgia?; it is deemed unstable and unreliable with continuous Russian destabilization efforts.  No access via Iran; no access via Pakistan; and naturally no access via the Russian Federation.  That leaves Armenia.

    Why is it so important to the West?  Because, it provides an end to Russian dominance (leverage and influence) of gas supplies to Europe.  Russia would be wakened and later dismembered into independent republics (dagestan, tataristan, chechnya, etc..).  Prevent China and India from developing too fast by controlling the energy reserves that China is competing with the West.

    So Hillary, start thinking with a fresh and just approach; genocide recognition; accountability for the crimes of Genocide by Turkey; reparations; and restitution.

  8. Dr. Kasbarian,
    Unfortunately, Tzitzernak goes too far in extending ‘exclusion’ to our community as a whole. Let’s be clear: This meeting is designed for SD to meet with the Armenian-American community (i.e. US citizens of Armenian ancestry), not with the democratic movement in Armenia. If the movement wishes to be represented in such meetings, it needs to find ways to have its voice represented through indigenous voices here (just as diasporan parties can only become relevant in Armenia if they succeed in having their voice represented through indigenous voices there).
    I generally agree that the pro-democracy movement has yet to organize itself — but I think you misunderstood what Tzitzernak was saying.  Why can’t these organizations themselves be pro-democracy?  If they’re not pro-democracy, what are they?  If they do not want to give the people of Armenia a voice (and in fact have directly stood in the way of that movement) — what right do they have to talk about a treaty between the REPUBLIC OF ARMENIA and Turkey?  If the lack of democracy in Armenia doesn’t impact our community, neither do the Protocols.
    But the Hnchaks are a “homegrown” voice in America who are pro-democracy.  Granted, they are small, but if the ANCA and ARF are making the case that Hillary Clinton isn’t meeting with a representative sample of the Armenian-American community, this also applies to them.  As the AAA should be fighting to include the broader community in these talks, the ANCA should be fighting to get the pro-democracy elements in there as well.
    And lastly, since you took such a thoughtful position re: Armenia in your first paragraph, why not organize a “homegrown” movement yourself?  As Carin so correctly pointed out, no meeting with the Secretary of State can be as good of a defender of Armenian national interests than a democratically elected president.  Your second paragraph was mildly true — but out of everything that you could have said, it was a little disappointing.

  9. Dear Antranig:

    excellent choice of wording! “Conservative position re Armenia”, huh? How about “ignoring all warning signals; or turning a blind eye on gross violations of human rights and dignity; or endangering the national security of Armenia by giving a card blanche to the oligarchic regime in power to run the country against the interest of its people? Which one these is conservative, you think?

    But this is not the most serious exclusion of your statement—the most serious one is that you think that the movement for democratic Armenia is not represented in the US. My dear friend Antranig, it’s time to see that this movement is here and is represented by MOST people in the Diaspora…..both with and without US citizenship!

    Looooove the way the Weekly is talking about exclusion! They got their own skeletons in the closet.

    Good job, Tzitzernak. Unfortunately, there are still some people (fortunately a minority) that don’t understand that until and unless we have a decent government back home (the one supported by its people inside and, yes, outside f its borders!), they will all be subject to manipulations by the State Departments of the world. 

  10. The ARF did an excellent job, in this instance, of blowing  the whistle on Hillary Clinton’s State Department and achieved largely what it set out to do.  So let us recognize that.
    I want to point out that there are people in Hayastan and in the Diaspora who have been blogging this and other Armenian sites lately who demand that the Diaspora stay out of Armenia’s business while some others, on the other hand, demand that the Diaspora organize a pro-democracy movement, which of course is an example of non-citizens trying to effect change in Armenia.   So which is it?
    Also in some ways, the Diaspora is caught in a Catch 22: Those people and groups outside Armenia who protest too loudly about the lack of democracy in Armenia sometimes find themselves unable to do good work in Armenia due to a government that is very unhappy with those who criticize it. The government can shut them  up and shut them down.

  11. Armenians should demonstrate in force against all those traitors who agree to participate in such a divide-and-conquer meeting.

  12. Grigorian, you claerly do not read the weekly and have no idea how very different voices are expressed there… so, whatever!

  13. I agree with Svetlana:  In this case the traitors who agree to participate in such a divide-and-conquer meeting is the AGBU and the Armenian Assembly of America (AAA).  I am ashamed and appaled of them both, when at this time of extreme importance for the survival of Armenia and the future of her sovereignty; they are both betraying Armenia and Armenian soil as well as Artsakh by acting like traitors and excluding the very voices of our entire people in the Diaspora.  Shame on them both and I hope that they come to their senses before it’s too late!!!!!!!

  14. Point very well taken Carin, as the existing government of Armenia was not chosen by the people democratically; therefore they are clearly not the voice of Armenia when they signed the protocols.   Furthermore, the protocols are not and cannot be in effect.  This should be brought up at the meeting with Hillary Clinton and the State Dept.

  15. Thanks are due to the Editor of the Armenian Weekly for providing a forum where the many voices of the diaspora can be heard.  Judging from the above exchanges, and those that have not yet surfaced, there seems to be little consensus about the multitude of issues we all face.  I’m not surprised, and in fact, welcome the differences of opinion.
    I am, however, deeply disturbed by the absence of a profound outrage against the deaths of 10 Armenians killed by other Armenians because they dared challenge the authorities, and equally disturbed by the fact that there has been no concerted demand on the part of  diasporan organizations to reveal the identity of the criminals.
    We may point the finger at Secretary Clinton and demand that an entire army of ‘representatives’ from all diasporan organizations be invited to meet with her.  But what will they say that the Department of State hasn’t already heard or knows?  More to the point, will they express concern about the fact that the courts of Armenia make a mockery of the basic tenets of Justice and Liberty for all?  Will they ask the Secretary to help restore a modicum of dignity for a significant portion of the populace for whom daily survival demands a herculean effort?  Above all, will they ask the Secretary’s help to expedite the revelation of the names of those who wasted 10 lives and help their families have closure?
    I fear not,  for this large army of ‘representatives,’ a designation questionable at  best, will be too busy trying to score points to hold it over their peers or picking up tidbits with which to fill their newspapers and impress shrinking constituencies.
    Tzitzernak Armenian has helped shift the debate from the parochial level to the larger issues at hand and certainly more urgent ones.  I thank him for that. But I disagree with those who think that he has gone too far.  In fact, Tzitzernak Armenian has not gone far enough.

  16. As an outsider Kurd, I believe that the ARF was and still is the “only” political organization inside and outside of Armenia, which has really worked for the betterment of All Armenians inside and outside of Armenia.
    During 1900-1915 period, they were our worthy and chivalrous adversaries. Yes we fought each other, we had our disagreements, but my greatfather told me stories on how the ARF fedayis treated our women and children. They had this principle of “Never touch innocent men, children and women,” which earned them if not love but respect of Kurdish civilians. I cannot say that about the turks, they mercilessly are killing anyone and everyone whom they remotely suspect.

  17. Listen Up!  Direct your anger and energy against the evil US State Department.  Not fellow Armenians regardless what organization they belong.  For God’s sake, stop your petty arguments and think!  Yes, think!  Understand Armenia’s geo-strategic importance and strength; learn how to negotiate.

  18. Hye, morison, what is the point of your message?  Bringing all the issues you are concerned about –
    then mentioning an ‘army of representatives’  is as a pot of stew – gueveg.  Armenia has its many
    problems with it governments – so – look around you so too we also have problems here in USA!
    The ‘army of representatives’ you mention – on the scale of justice – is top heavy with those who are
    PROprotocols – ala Hilary… top heavy with those who agree with Hilary.  Actually you enhance
    the status of the ANCA – the lone ‘opponent’ who had been invited to the gathering by Hilary ‘ – much like King Arthur who was able to pull out his sword – and to lead his nation.  At least here we think we
    have a democratic government – well balanced and truthful – or do we?  You too, as a PROprotocol,
    are enjoying your 15 minutes with the likes of a Hilary… don’t let this ‘moment of power’ so to speak,
    go to your heads… Hilary runs the show, not you.    Manooshag

  19. I am glad there has been such an interesting debate. In response to some of the comments above, I will say:

    -Regarding Catch-22’s, diasporan involvement and a democratic movement: I am not demanding that a democratic movement by those outside of Armenia start. I would ask that the existence of the voice outside of Armenia that is pro-democratic, and against the present regime, be recognized as an important voice (that already exists), and not be shut-out. Those groups that demand broader diasporan representation in a meeting, should be doing so with regards to all issues – not just for those groups that are convenient to their own agenda. If we’re all working together, than such organizations should be fighting for ALL viewpoints to be heard. If not, then they are doing the excluding.

    – The point of supporting our fellow Armenians, is, in fact, exactly my point. Starting from the bottom up, the fundaments of our society, with both the diaspora and Armenia in mind. And that is exactly what these diasporan organizations did not do after March 1, and everything that has followed. Unity and support of fellow Armenians does not apply only when convenient.

    -Not getting lost in petty things – I agree. Basic human rights, murder, beatings, and imprisonments – these are realities that are today, that should be fundamental to every Armenian. Most things after that are relatively petty and/or can be worked out. But, lets get our priorities straight.

  20. Carin’s point is quite valuable: There is an important connection between Armenia’s domestic affairs and its foreign policy. In this case, boosting democracy should make Armenia less prone to outside manipulation (although i would caution that this isn’t so automatically — i can think of democratic movements elsewhere that, for their own reasons, have managed to cave in on foreign policy issues). And yes, our leading Diasporan groups must recognize this and work accordingly; otherwise, we may easily see a repeat of March 1, when most of the Diaspora fell silent and ultimately, acquiesced in the farce that ensued.

    To clarify, i think we should distinguish between the ‘democratic movement in Armenia,’ as such, and the spread of pro-democracy ideas and programs in Diaspora. The former implies an entity or subject, whose representation is still thin among groups best-established throughout our community. The latter is something each of our groups should pursue — perhaps with help from Armenia’s pro-democracy elements.

    At the same time, i’m concerned over something else: Those claiming to speak on behalf of Armenia’s democratic movement often denigrate those who deviate, even slightly, from their priorities. Doesn’t seem very democratic to me! (For example, can one discuss the Protocols — a national security disaster-in-the-making — without absolutely having to address March 1 in the same breath? Yes, i think so. The same goes for those who discuss March 1, who can — and usually do –without absolutely having to address Hai Tahd in the same breath.)  I’ve also found that those who make March 1 their primary weapon of opposition don’t seem to take seriously the Protocols, the threats posed by Turkey and Azerbajan, or larger issues pertaining to Hai Tahd. I know there are significant exceptions to this — some are found in this exchange, for example — but the trend exists nonetheless.

    In any event, a good discussion.

  21. I agree with Mr. Kasparyan that this has been a good discussion, but alas, it may have come to an end due to Mr. Kasparyan’s circular reasoning.

  22. Dr. Kasbarian,
    I think you have missed the entire point of the movement all together.  Considering we think that the current authorities and system of power completely shuts the people out of any decision making or any potential influence they could have on policy…what exactly would we be protesting if not that entire system?  To even begin having some effect on policy, wouldn’t we first have to create a system of power that draws its legitimacy from the people and not from Moscow or Washington D.C.?  Protesting specific policies seems counterproductive.  At the very least, it suggests we live in a normal democracy (and we know there are some “opposition” forces who pretend so).

  23. We are all for democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.
    But asking the US State Department, as some Armenian Americans have contemplated doing, to come down hard on the Armenian government for its human rights violations is a double edged sword. What they may be unintentionally doing is making it easier for the US to pressure Armenia to make concessions on Turkey, the Genocide, and Karabagh.
    For example, the US may say to Armenia: “We are getting pressure from Armenian Americans to make you respect human rights.  What are you going to do about it?”   Armenia knows that the US is not serious about human rights violations.  The US simply uses human rights as an excuse to pressure Armenia on other issues.  So how does Armenia reduce this additional US pressure on human rights?  By making concessions to Turkey and Azerbaijan.  This is hardly what Armenian Americans want.
    I don’t say that we should not be pro-democracy vis a vis Armenia here in the US. But asking an outside power (the US) to intervene in Armenia’s internal affairs comes with definite risks.  The US is not interested in human rights, by and large.  If it were, it would not be so cozy with Azerbaijan and Turkey and every undemocratic regime in Central Asia.  Diasporans should use their  own methods to advance the cause of human rights in Armenia and not rely on other countries.
    A final point:  democracy is not necessarily a path to perfection for any society.  Does US policy always reflect the desires of the American people?  Do our representatives in Congress always represent us?    How do we measure what people want?   I want to direct you to a recent column by Pat Buchanan on democracy:

  24. Thanks Dave for a very wise advise, you sound absolutelywright, I fully agree with your comment. And I hop some others will also.

  25. Nobody is suggesting that these orgs lobby against the Armenian government with the State department or the halls of Congress (although if you are particularly concerned about that, you should note how the ANCA did just that between 1994-1998).
    Instead, we are saying the most powerful case against the Protocols cannot be made by these organizations who the state department knows have lost all credibility with the people of Armenia, and who are slowly losing sway within their own communities.  Read the latest issue of Masis (the english half) to understand why.
    But that the pro-democracy movement is excluded from ALL representation is a matter of fact, and not just for this meeting.

  26. Interesting thought Dave, but how would you justify keeping quiet here in the US about human rights violations and a lack of serious democratic reform in Armenia when our guys in Yerevan are already making grand concessions without us even beginning to exert significant pressure through Washington on the rights issue?
    I understand your point but in all seriousness allowing this carte blanche mentality to prevail will not keep the Dodi Gagos and like at bay.

  27. One thing I have noticed in every discussion of the Protocols (and in this thread in the comments of Tzitzernark and Carin) is the implication that nobody has the right to protest the policies of the Armenian Government that sell out the Armenian Cause unless they first prove their bona fides by having vigorously protested the Armenian Government’s March 1 killings. Now I will be the first to say (as others already have) that the Diaspora and organizations that I support did not denounce the anti-democratic crackdown nearly as strongly as they should have at the time. But does that mean we have no right to protest anything else the Armenian authorities do ever again?

    Similarly, when Carin writes “Lastly, how can we demand Genocide recognition, a human rights issue, if we Armenians in the Diaspora are letting our brothers and sisters loose principle human rights in our own homeland?” it raises an analagous question…How can anyone demand human rights for the March 1 protesters if they didn’t protest just as loudly when Levon Ter Petrossian banned a leading opposition party, jailed its leaders, killed one in jail, and closed down 12 of its newspapers, television and radio stations, and news agencies?

    Wasn’t that also anti-democratic and a violation of human rights principles? Should we look at the record of each of the organizations that is screaming now and see if they were quiet then before we allow them the priviledge of protesting? Or is there there a footnote in Universal Declaration of Human Rights that says that its terms apply to every person in the world, unless you belong to the ARF? I’m not raising this analogy to silence anyone who has been attacking Serge’s oligarchy and suppression of human rights.  I am only saying: can’t we criticize Serge for both his anti-democratic policies and his policies that surrender the Armenian Cause to Turkey?

  28. EXCELLENT POINT DIKRAN. It should have been made long ago on this forum and others. You can thank Henry and his henchmen for desperately trying to push that warped idea based on his personal experiences of March 1st (I’m not justifying March 1st Henry – it was wrong – but don’t let emotion entangle you more that it has). If people have beef with different political parties, religious institutions or policies of this or that party/organization/leadership etc that’s great they should voice them BUT that doesn’t mean that whoever doesn’t share their frustrations should be marginalized or isn’t qualified to make their own assessment about RA policies.

  29. “How can anyone demand human rights for the March 1 protesters if they didn’t protest just as loudly when Levon Ter Petrossian banned a leading opposition party, jailed its leaders, killed one in jail, and closed down 12 of its newspapers, television and radio stations, and news agencies?
    That’s a huge assumption, especially considering you know none of these people.  How do you know they didn’t?  Or in my case, how do you know I wasn’t 4 years old at the time?
    But to answer the question: The Defense Minister of the time who carried out the banning, and “killings” and accussed the ARF of terrorism was none other than Serge Sarkisian.  The ARF after March 1 joined a coalition with him.  It seems they have forgiven everybody who was involved in that banning or found some justification behind it — if they’re ok with it, why would we obsess over it now? ;)
    Here is the original letter from Sarkisian to LTP about the ARF in 1994, it’s page 5 if you scroll down.
    Once the protocols issue goes away (and go away it will), these Diaspora organizations will go back to the long sleeping slumber they were in before last September.  Things will go back to the way they were.  Or, here’s a more important question for you: had the Protocols not happened, would ANYBODY be talking about the gross human rights violations Serge has committed.  Would you yourself even care?

  30. The venom – and that’s what it is – against Diasporans probably has its roots not in principled criticism of diaporan groups who did or did not take certain actions for the last 20 years, but in something else. 

    Probably a general frustration, jealousy, narrowmindness, or just the desire to sound off.   Criticize these organizations if you wish – that’s ok – but there is something else going on.   There is an unwillingness to see the huge benefit that the diaspora has been and could be.   It’s a form of snobbery.   There are people who have been dissatisfied with Armenian American groups for a long time, going back 70 to 100 years, and they will say anything to damn them and the entire diaspora. 

    I do not think that the average Armenian citizen dislikes the diaspora.  I do not think that they think the diaspora should mind its  own business.   The ARF, Ramgavars, Hunchaks, and other groups could be nearly perfect, and the critics would always find something to damn them.   When you are dissatisfied, it is going to find an expression somehow, somewhere, sometime.

    There’s a nastiness there that is just waiting to get out, and there is nothing we can do about it except to continue to keep working for Armenia.  Maybe those who dislike the diaspora and fault it for every thing it  has ever done can help the diaspora to overcome the crime that some in Armenia have brought into the heretofore largely peaceful and law-abiding Armenian American community.   As if the diaspora didn’t have enough problems  before this phenomenon?

  31. Tom,
    Maybe those who dislike the diaspora and fault it for every thing it  has ever done can help the diaspora to overcome the crime that some in Armenia have brought into the heretofore largely peaceful and law-abiding Armenian American community.   As if the diaspora didn’t have enough problems  before this phenomenon?
    There we have it!  I’m glad you were able to hold off your anti-Hayastantsi venom to phrase that so neatly!  I also enjoyed how you lumped the ARF, Ramgavars, and Hnchaks into one category — that only shows how ignorant you are of your own community (for your information, the Hnchaks happen to agree with almost everything we’re saying here — I even linked to their Masis paper).
    But just out of curiosity, if what we’re saying is “venom” — and nothing else — what exactly would criticism be like?  Along what lines would an honest criticism of “the diaspora” be?
    I also find it kind of strange that just because we are at odds with these Diaspora organizations — we seem to be at odds with the ENTIRE Diaspora.  And also, why exactly are we, proud citizens of the United States, not considered to be part of this “Diaspora” that you love so much?  Why are we outsiders?
    Anyway, I could go on a rant about the Armenian mafia and Beiruit…or the assasinations that took place during the formative years of the Armenian American community…but lucky for the Weekly’s readers I’m not going to stoop that low.

  32. Varant, I agree with ‘If people have beef with different political parties, religious institutions or policies of this or that party/organization/leadership etc that’s great they should voice them BUT that doesn’t mean that whoever doesn’t share their frustrations should be marginalized or isn’t qualified to make their own assessment about RA policies.”  BUT if these organizations have yet to admit their mistakes, show us that we’re headed in a different direction than the one we were on before, or at least have some symbolic gesture towards the pro-democracy movement — what exactly has changed?  The Protocols, believe it or not, are not the greatest threat the Armenians face.

  33. Some people just like to complain.  If someone says A, they’ll say B.  If someone says B, they’ll say A.  If you point this out, they’ll change the subject.    It’s endless.  Pretty soon, all that person knows is that he has a huge need to talk and complain instead of doing something about it.

  34. And also, why exactly are we, proud citizens of the United States, not considered to be part of this “Diaspora” that you love so much?  Why are we outsiders?

    Henry,  You’re considered an outsider because you portray yourself an outsider.  I’ve read many of your posts over the last few months and when you refer to the diaspora or diasporan organizations you generally put yourself on the other side of the fence.  You refer to them as “they” and not “we”.  You’re generally one of the first to post comments (which is great by the way) and you set the stage.  I would never guess that you’re a citizen of the US.  Based on your writings, I’d think you just came over from Armenia.  That’s not because of your actual opinions, but because of the way you express them.  You are in fact part of the diaspora, and you are in fact someone that these diasporan organizations represent.  That being said…..what have you done to change the situation here in the US?  I know you’re not on the governing bodies of any of these organizations.  But…..just as I’m not a politician, I still have an indirect say in US policy.  The beauty of the democratic process is every vote/voice counts.  Have you approached your local rep from the ANC, Armenian Assembly, or any of these other organizations?  Have you tried to get your opinion across to those that represent you in meetings like this one with the State Department?  Have you tried to organize other people that share your opinion?  Have you done anything other than talk down to people in forums like this?  (And yes, while you’re usually articulate, you have a habit of talking/writing down to people.  Once you start calling people and their opinions “ignorant” you move from healthy debate to name calling.)  If you’ve done any or all those things, then I applaud your efforts.  If you haven’t, then I think it’s time to get off the keyboard and take some action.  I find it so ironic that the organizations you’re against actual share your opinions on the current situations.  I don’t think you’re for the protocols, and you’re clearly not a supporter of SS.  YES, these organizations should have stepped up sooner.  YES, there’s more that could have been done.  To take a stance of “too little too late” though is short sighted.  What exactly are you waiting for on an admission of mistake…..a formal letter of apology?  You want to see that “we’re headed in a different direction than the one we were on before”.  I believe you claimed that previously, the organizations were either publically supporting SS or just not standing up against him.  Now they’re standing against him, which seems to be what you think they should have been doing all along.  I don’t think you’re going to get more of a direction shift than that.
    I don’t know you Henry.  Maybe you’re nothing like how I perceive you, but this is what you project through these posts.  Bottom line, I hope you’re actually making yourself a part of the democracy you’re advocating.  Like I said, I don’t know you, so I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that you are.  Having an opinion is great as is debating that opinion.  If you really want to make a difference though, I hope your opinions are more than just posts on armenianweekly.com and Facebook.  (Yes, I read some of your stuff there too around the time of the protocol protests.  The part about women and children protesters in the diaspora that should be beat within inches of their lives in order to understand what the people of Armenia went through particularly caught my attention.)

  35. Great Article by Appo Jabarian (02/08/10 issue of USA Armenian Life Magazine), here’s a small excerpt of it below:

    “Were the protocols a curse that unwittingly yielded a set of blessings? Positively, they produced some very tangible unintended blessings – far-reaching and durable accomplishments by Armenians.

    – An unprecedented number of 60,000 (yes sixty thousand) Armenians took their disapproval of the Protocols to the streets in Yerevan strongly criticizing the government of Pres. Sargsyan, yet not one Armenian’s nose bled. Whereas the 2008 post-presidential election demonstrations by pro-Ter-Petrossyan protesters numbering a mere 20,000 (twenty thousand) caused the ransacking of storefronts in the center of Yerevan and clashes with Police that contributed to the deaths of several civilians. In stark contrast, the 2009 anti-Protocols demonstrations were marked by discipline, law and order;

    – The worldwide opposition to the Protocols re-enforced the correct notion that the Armenian people in Armenia-Artsakh and the Diaspora are united in their efforts to help protect their national home;

    – The Armenian Diaspora gained recognition for its importance as a strong political power both by Armenia’s president and Turkey’s Prime Minister. Pres. Sargsyan embarked on a Diaspora-wide visit to the large centers of the Armenian dispersion not necessarily to pay homage but to “sell” the Protocols as being a “good deal.” Even though the Armenian Presidential tour was qualified as being a mere show, it still underlined the importance of the Diaspora. As for Turkey’s Prime Minister Reccep Tayyip Erdogan, in an October 2009 interview with The Wall Street Journal, in a pointed reference to the Armenian Diaspora, he said: “When Pres. Sarkisian was on an international visit, he was faced by a reaction from the Armenian Diaspora. So what he does in face of the reaction of the Diaspora is very important. If he can stand firm, and if it is the government of Armenia and not the Armenian Diaspora that is determining policy in Armenia, then I think that we can move forward;””

    “- The emergence of a patriotic opposition that’s loyal to the national security and interests of the Armenian state. The harmonious opposition jointly mounted by the three traditional Armenian political parties has served as a model for healthy and constructive opposition. Additionally, the new opposition reaffirmed its intention not to let their disapproval of Armenian leadership’s policies serve as a reason for cutting aid to the needy; for stopping the investments in the country’s economy, and for declining to visit or settle in the homeland.”

  36. Hmm, Mike…I seem to be a personal intrigue for many people (my name has come up many times — often not in a good way — throughout the Armenian American community in recent months).  And you seem to have addressed me and not the issues at hand, which I hate doing because it doesn’t make healthy discourse.  But your comments were actually thoughtful and I guess you deserve a response.
    I have done more than most.  I have volunteered at day orphanages in Armenia and pursue developments there often (as you can tell).  I go almost every summer, and I try to visit the villages and provinces as often as I do Yerevan. and I have met/know/have spoken to very high ranking members of both Levon’s Camp, Kocharyan’s Camp, and everything in between.  We lost relatives during the ’88 Earthquake and my father and uncle were part of the first responders (at least from Yerevan).  Furthermore, my family was involved with driving supplies in and out of Artsakh during the war (across enemy lines and yadadada).  Other members of my family (keeping aside the mandatory conscription) serve in the Army as high ranking officers.  We also left for no other reason except a purely medical emergency.  And even then, we waited until the war was over.  I no doubt believe had we stayed, I would be playing a good role in Armenia’s future, as I am here.
    In terms of American organizations…I have done everything from calling my representatives, emails, and letters.  I’ve also personally interned for the ANCA.  I was part of a delegation with Oshagan Srpazan and a few ANCA board members going around Capitol Hill.  I carried their luggage (literally) and took pictures (hence why I’m not in them, although the text mentions me), and I did as much I could (I’d like to think I convinced Peter King, my House Rep, with the help of the ANCA, to make a few remarks for the House record on the Armenian genocide that year).  It was a rewarding experience and I bought the female staff flowers the day I left.  I thank them for their experience, and I hope once people clear their heads of the gross misconceptions and presumptions they have of me they can see that I have worked with all of these people, been involved, and continue to be involved in many ways (especially on an issue like genocide recognition, which has no partisan lines I hope).  I have also been honest, everywhere I have gone.  I made no secret of my Levon sympathies at AYF meetings (yes, I used to go).  I can say that most of my “opponents,” unfortunately, are not.  I’m not judging an entire viewpoint based on the people who represent them, but that has been my personal experience.  I have also been a camp counselor at Camp Haiastan — and I’d like to think I was one of the few there endowed with “cultural” or “educational” skills (me and about 4 other counselors).  Right now, I’m organizing a local based committee to get Peter King to sign on as a co-sponsor for the genocide bill — I think there are enough Armenians in his district to at least give it a shot — although he wins his elections by about a 12 point margin at the very least.  And this was ALL after March 1.
    Furthermore, I’ve helped organize a New York-Yerevan conference between members of our youth to try to create a better understanding between us.  This was with the AGBU folk.  I semi-moderated the event and I think it was quite a success.  (You can “FIND” my name Henry if you want to see what I said/did in those articles).  I have also worked and interned at numerous AAA or Diocese related organizations.  I have also been to many AAA events and have spoken with Bryan Ardouny (and Aram Hamparian) many times (discussions often reach 30 minutes).  I have heard their responses (excuses) and concerns on all of these issues.  Furthermore, I have talked to board members on these organizations.  I have also followed their press releases and the email newsletters.  I am very familiar with all of their ideas, I have confronted them, I have engaged them, and I have listened to them (more listening than anything, I would say).
    I have also chosen to write about and discuss Armenia as often as I can.  I can tell you I convinced every single one of my history teachers in high school to spend time on the Armenian genocide.  Recently, I think I encouraged one of my Ottoman studies professors (a denier, nonetheless) to include Henry Morgenthau’s story in the lecture class’s reading material.  I just recently finished my 47 page paper on Armenian national identity and its divisions.  You can read it here, it’s called APeopleFortheMountains.
    In the Diaspora, I fight the fight I’m fighting now.  In Armenia, when I can, I fight for women’s rights, pessimism, and a-nationalism.  In the Hayastantsi community here, I fight certain mentalities.
    As you can see, I am personally familiar with, have worked with, have helped, and have engaged the entire spectrum of Armenian politics — both Diaspora and in Armenia.  That is actually quite unusual.  I have yet to meet somebody who has done the same.  Most people tend to hover to one camp, and or if they don’t like what they see they disengage with the community altogether.  I have met widows of Fidayis who died in war, Fidayis still alive and rich, Fidayis still alive and in jail, and widows of Fidayis who’s husbands were…let’s just say gunned down…on the streets of Yerevan by…let’s just say people with authority.
    I have also NEVER used my past deeds and accomplishments to propel my current ideas forward (although you can see how advantageous that could be).  I speak out not because I’m ignorant of these organizations and these people, but because I know them as good as they know themselves.  I have also yet to meet a young person in the Diaspora (although this is relevant for the older ones too) who is as informed as I am about what has been going on in Armenia since 1991.  I’m not talking about some opinionated analysis, but knowing simple facts, faces, and events.
    Also, I am organizing a “home grown” pro-democracy movement here in the States.  Hopefully we can break the status quo.
    And lastly, I use my full name when I post on the internet.  I addressed the “hope you get beat” comments on another thread and I don’t see why I should do it again.  People who keep bringing that up need to get over it, quickly.  If I were to hang on every little insult people on the other side of the fence through at me — trust me — we’d never get a proper discussion going.
    You have also misunderstood my usage of “we” and “they.”  I often use we, but it is incorrect to say that these organizations represent me.  Far from it.  (Although I appreciate you being conscious of such things, WE all should be) ;).
    I hope my personal life, my personal heroics, personal flaws, and the egos of my opponents can be set aside.  There seems to be more important things at stake.
    And lastly, since this is a personal note — I thank the staff at the Armenian Weekly for tolerating diverse opinions.  If the Diaspora could have more of this, you might still have passionate people, and also ignorant people, but I bet you you’d have less passionate ignorant people (quite a dangerous combination).

  37. And now, if I may comment on something substantive:
    I find it so ironic that the organizations you’re against actual share your opinions on the current situations.  I don’t think you’re for the protocols, and you’re clearly not a supporter of SS.  YES, these organizations should have stepped up sooner.  YES, there’s more that could have been done.
    No.  These organizations did not keep silent or “not do enough.”  In fact, they acted as branches of Kocharyan’s and Serge’s regime, especially through the media.  In many ways, they continue to do so today without realizing it.  Right now, if you happen to be an opposition party in Armenia, your protesters get beaten, killed, stabbed, humiliated, your offices are destroyed, your press is censored, your candidates are barred from running, and your businesses are taxed to death and or taken from you.  This is not just a local Hayastantsi issue — but in fact it is also relevant to many Diaspora Armenians who try to do good in Armenia.  And it isn’t just a Levon thing, other opposition groups get treated like this as well.  For some strange reason, however, the ARF’s supporters are free to roam the streets of downtown Yerevan, ARF heads go on TV and give hour long interviews with State Channel 1, and they get to hold as many protests as they want without policy brutality.  Also, the ARF gets to have its VERY OWN TV CHANNEL (Yerkir Media), and ARF oligarchs (like Hrant Vartanyan, Bagrat Sarksyan) get to keep their businesses (Grand Tobacco Conglomerate, and Media Mogul, respectively).
    The other “camp” in our community tends to be wealthier.  They all have major business ventures and investments in Armenia and it is just as much in their interest to keep the status quo as it is in Serge’s and Kocharyans (same goes for ARFers IN Armenia).  (This might explain some Diaspora orgs’s silent support for the Protocols).  Don’t get me wrong, some are legitimate folk that are honest in what they do.  But honest people seldom get what they want.
    From my very first comments on this forum — I have tried to open your eyes to this.  Nothing will change until we break this taboo and break the establishment.

    “What exactly are you waiting for on an admission of mistake…..a formal letter of apology?  You want to see that “we’re headed in a different direction than the one we were on before”.  I believe you claimed that previously, the organizations were either publically supporting SS or just not standing up against him.  Now they’re standing against him, which seems to be what you think they should have been doing all along.  I don’t think you’re going to get more of a direction shift than that.
    Actually, a letter of apology is exactly what I want (and exactly what the people of Armenia want).  Apologies are taken seriously in Armenia and it takes a lot to apologize.  It shows sincerity.  But if not, they can stop spreading propaganda about Armenia’s opposition.  They can be more balanced in the media.  Symbolic gestures might be powerful tools as well, but this is just the beginning, there is much more they can do.  ACTUALLY, I know VERY high ranking people WITHIN these organizations that are sympathetic to everything I have said.  All they would really have to do is put those people in the driver’s seat.
    You see — right now this “opposition” is a one-time advocacy issue.  And even then, it is directed against Serge Sarkisian…who is by far a more benevolent leader than Robert Kocharyan ever was (for one, nobody has been ‘gunned down’ yet on his watch — that’s a great leap forward from Kocharyan’s days).  The power dynamic is not so much between Serge and Levon, right now (although it’s important), it is between Kocharyan and Serge.  In fact, everything the Diaspora is mad at Serge for doing, Kocharyan has done separately.  He has recognized the border.  He has formed a ‘historical commission’ — (remember TARC?), and he has committed human rights violations/oligarchies/all that good stuff.  Why are we all of a sudden mad at Serge?  If anything, the Protocols are a STEP AHEAD of Kocharyan because we might get an open border with them.
    And lastly, to directly answer your question… Usually when an organization wants to do what you are advocating…their leadership rank resigns.  (Often they only resign and still play an active role, but nonetheless they resign because they do not have the credibility to lead forward, and they need to give the new “direction” they’ve decided to take some force).  There was an article on this recently, actually.  Sadly, nothing has changed.
    Hope this was helpful.

  38. The AAA and AGBU just issued a joint statement regarding the Clinton meeting.  Funny how they accuse the ANCA/ARF of playing games with the meeting, but they are the ones vetoing the participation of the Prelacy, the Catholics, the Protestants, the ARS, among others.  I wonder why the Diocese didn’t sign that press release.  Perhaps they realize that they shouldn’t be blocking the participation of the Prelacy, Catholics, and Protestants.

  39. Here is part of the AAA’s press release today:
    “Late last week, unfortunately, a specious editorial by the Armenian 
    Weekly, about the upcoming meeting with Secretary of State Hillary 
    Clinton, not only misrepresented the facts, but unfortunately sowed 
    seeds of division instead of presenting a united front. While the State 
    Department had asked for discussions to consider expanding the meeting 
    to include four more slots, the Armenian Assembly of America and the 
    Armenian National Committee of America/Armenian Revolutionary 
    Federation could not reach consensus on who those additional 
    participants should be or several other matters. To date, the Armenian 
    National Committee of America has not even confirmed whether it will 
    attend or not, regardless of the ultimate configuration of the meeting 
    participants, and has also declined to meet at the Embassy of the 
    Republic of Armenia with all the groups invited prior to the meeting 
    with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.”

    My questions:
    1) Are AAA and AGBU now both in the same line of work? One is a lobbying group/political group (AAA) and the other (AGBU) is supposedly non-partisan. Is this now a formal alliance?  AAA speaks for AGBU now? I would think that AGBU would be embarrassed by this.
    2) Who-oh-who ever thought up the wrong-headed idea of Armenian American groups meeting at the Armenian Embassy just prior to a meeting with the US State Department? I am shocked.  This is such bad form. Look, Armenia is a foreign country.  You can visit the embassy. You can do lots of stuff there.  But American groups, even Armenian ones, are not supposed to huddle with or at a foreign embassy under the present circumstances. It makes it look like the Armenian American groups are getting marching orders from a foreign country.  This makes Armenian Americans look clumsy and foreign. I am flat-out aghast and utterly bewildered by this mis-step.  Meet anywhere else but the embassy. 
    3) Exactly what organizations were discussed as being “candidates” for an invitation with Clinton and what were the disagreements between AAA and ANCA?  AAA is  being very sly.  There is also something very condescending about the AAA’s press release.
    4) I notice that the AAA has lately become more aggressive against other Armenian groups than it is even against Turkey.  Has the AAA become an adversary of Armenian Americans? I would like to see AAA be as tough against the Turks. I fear I will be waiting a long time for that.

  40. 1. Serge Sargsyan is not a democratically-elected president.  Stop pretending that he is!

    2. Going public with Armenian-Americans’ dirty laundry and divisions is nonconstructive.

    3. Neither the AAA nor the ANCA “represent[s] a large cross-section of our community” today.

    4. The Republic of Armenia should not be setting, monitoring or controlling the agenda and actions of Armenian-Americans and Armenian-American groups.

    5. The “four more slots” should include the Hnchaks and at least 1 Hayastantsi-majority U.S. organization that will address key democracy and human rights issues in Armenia and the Diaspora, because neither the AAA/AGBU/Diocese nor the ANCA/ARS/Prelacy has the principled leadership and dignity to do so (yet)!

    6. Advancing Armenian interests and rights has never been and should never be a Ramgavar (AAA/AGBU/Diocese) versus Dashnaktsutyun (ANCA/ARS/Prelacy) battle.

    7. Stop putting personal and partisan interests ahead of national ones!

    8. And, when and if you meet Hillary Clinton, repeat after me: Justice & Democracy & Development! 

  41. I, for one, am a Diasporan Armenian, by definition. I do not have “venom” towards other Diasporans. I will tell you however, that I feel, as a Diasporan Armenian, I am in the “Diaspora” that is of or pertaining to “Armenia”. That means that Armenia, the country, and people, are my priority.  Their safety, their rights, their freedoms, and their dignity.
    The reason March 1, the present and past reaction by Diasporan organizations to the events of March 1, is constantly relevant, is that it reveals the underlying misplaced priorities, and in some cases, hypocrisy, of certain Diasporan organizations.
    What would I like to see from these Diasporan organizations? An apology letter? Maybe.  I’ll leave the final decision on that to Dumanian.  I would like to see them put the priorities of the Republic of Armenia, and the people of the Republic of Armenia, first. First, ahead of their party politics and church politics, and in some cases, financial gain and personal politics.  If that were done, had been done, then much of this would be moot. But it wasn’t. …
    I want to see the AYF youth protest for the youth who are beaten whenever they try to stand up for their civil rights, for their “brothers and sisters” in Armenia. I want to see the ARS write a letter when their “sisters” in Armenia are harassed and sometimes beaten for organizing rallies in support of their husbands.  I want to see the Knights of Vartan protest because an old man was beaten and kicked by police.  I want to see the ARF up in arms and in the streets because liberators of Artsakh are in prison.
    And if this upcoming meeting was the first time these fractures were revealed to someone, they obviously have their head in the sand.
    Lastly, the fact that anyone who agrees with Dumanian is considered “his henchman” just goes to show just how unable  and unwilling some are to see and accept that there is, in fact, a pro-opposition pro-democracy movement of Armenians based in the US.

  42. The AGBU, AAA, KoV and the Diocese have proven on numerous occasions to share one very shrewd talent: the ability to make a mockery of our cause before the largest audience of odars at any given moment.
    I am not surprised by their most recent infantile antics Halebtzi but yet this time I’m not amused either.

  43. ARF/ANC leaders: it would go a long way if you apologized for not doing more to prevent and/or denounce March 1. If you called for Serzh and Edward’s resignation or helped send them into exile, even better. And all this is asked of you, regardless of whether other organizations ever follow suit or apologize for staying silent during LTP’s or Kocharian’s horrific regimes. Take the high road that would make your fedayi predecessors and hamageers proud, even if it means that the ARF may be banned again in Hayastan. What’s the use of working for Hye Tad in the homeland under this regime if you have to turn a blind eye, forsake your principles, and lose your constituent base?

  44. Or what’s the point of being the “party of Njdeh” if you side with a regime that throws Artsakh Fidayis dying of heart compications in jail for 8 years.  Why doesn’t the Dashnak media here in the U.S. even REPORT on that?  I know they read Radio Free Liberty.
    Shucks, imagine what Njdeh would think about what you’ve done to his party.  Lead our people through a genocide only to become Robert Kocharyan’s you know what.

  45. Interesting how Patil and others take cheap shots at the ARF-ANCA about the need to apologize  for not doing enough after March 1.   Are you kidding me?  The ARF pulled out of the coaltion and is working toward “regime change.”
    Has anyone for a minute stopped to consider that the Etchmiadzin-AAA-AGBU connection among those three organizations and vis a vis Sarkisian is exponentially stronger and more patently obvious than anything the ARF ever enjoyed in Armenia.  Look at the principles leaders of those three organizations, look at their financial relationship, look how they are all interconnected, and look at how they all cross paths with Sarkisian.
    If those three organizations like to trample on the ARF-ANCA, Prelacy, ARS, etc because they think they speak for the majority of the community, they have been even more complicit about March 1 than the ARF.
    The Clinton meeting is just for show.  Nothing will come of it.  It’s therefore even more pathetic that the AGBU and AAA want to block the ARS from attending.  Who still thinks the AAA works for the community and not for the State Department?
    And it’s in the United States’ interest to have Sarkisian in power – corrupt and all – because he can be controlled.  Why would the US want a democratic Armenia?

  46. Two things to say on that Stepan:
    1) The AGBU-AAA-Echmiadzin coalition has never acted as a branch of the Kocharyan/Sarksyan regime, spreading its propaganda, justifying the March 1 crackdown, and or spreading lies about the opposition.  They are guilty of being silent and singing that infamous March 17 joint press release.  Beyond a few Ramgavar folk at the Mirror Spectator, the other camp has been behaving themselves.
    2) I have lost all faith in the AAA.  They don’t even have a popular support.  A few rich folk control the organization and I don’t see how we can fight against that without explicit accusations related to their business ventures.  Although I’m on that too!
    3) But I don’t think it’s fair to say that the other side hasn’t gotten any scorn from us.  In fact, I encourage you to read my last article.  I am very critical of the AAA.  I think I called them ‘idiotic.’
    But on this note: Honestly, the other camp is much more credible in some ways than the ARF.  For one, the AAA folk essentially believe that supporting whatever regime is in power is the best way they can help as a Diaspora organization.  They have held this philosophy for a very long time.  That can actually be argued to be true in many respects.  That’s what the Ramgavars said in 1990 — “we supported the Soviets for this long because we knew they wouldn’t last,” etc..  And some don’t even think the Diaspora should get involved.  This philosophy can be argued on its merits.  The philosophy of the ARF is contradictory and bizarre.  And destructive.
    Let me sum it up this way: they don’t stand IN THE WAY of the pro-democracy movement.  In fact, if the opposition were to come into power — they would probably switch sides immediately (as they have often done).  Many in the ARF actively fight the pro-democracy movement and have promised to do so forever.
    I think we give them as much attention as they deserve, which isn’t much.

  47. Look at the above comment from Levon and Appo Jabarian from USA Armenian Life Magazine (a hardcore ARF guy): He thinks one of the good things that came out of the Protocols was  “The emergence of a patriotic opposition that’s loyal to the national security and interests of the Armenian state.
    You hear that?  That means the opposition we had before wasn’t PATRIOTIC, wasn’t loyal to the NATIONAL SECURITY of Armenia.  Yep, we’re just a bunch of Jew-lovin-Levon-worshippin’-cult-like agents of the CIA and Turkish Intelligence Agency.  Good thing you guys stopped us, too!

  48. Stepan, you are missing the point, perhaps intentionally. This is not a pissing contest over which organizations were more complicit with various regimes, where those “most guilty” get to be the “only ones guilty.” No one who has lived the people’s struggle for Armenian justice and democracy ever thought the Etchmiadzin-AAA-AGBU connection was clean. And you are right about the AAA working for the State Dept. By contrast, ARF hamageers long believed, perhaps naively, that the Antelias-ARF-ANC connection fought the good fight honestly, cleanly, and for the people.   As I said in my prior post, …” regardless of whether other organizations ever follow suit or apologize for staying silent during LTP’s or Kocharian’s horrific regimes,” the ARF should take the high road and win back the trust of their constituent base.  As for your claim that the ARF is working on “regime change,” I can’t say that Jeckyll & Hyde-Oskanian (whom the ARF has been warming up to and who panders to the West) has proven to be a defender of the Armenian people. Many ARF hamageers would like to know what ARF members around the world think of the directives they are receiving from their higher ups in Armenia with which they, the members, don’t agree, but must adhere to. More transparency from the ARF and ANC, please.

  49. I want to see the ARF be a vigorous, nationalistic party that does not stand for the anti-nationalist, inept, and corrupt policies of Armenia’s leaders and oligarchs.  I want to see the ARF push its traditional platform 100% and educate the people of Armenia, many of whom do not have access to the information they need.  What does the ARF to bring information to the common man and woman, both in Yerevan and the countryside.  The ARF was the premier political party.  Why has it not lived up to its reputation?   Let the lion out of its cage.

  50. The ARF blessed Serge Sargsyan’s nonelection and signed off on the bogus parliamentary report into the slaughter of March 1-2, 2008 last year!

    Several senior ARF Bureau members have extensive ties to the Sargsyan regime.  For example, Vahan Hovhannisyan’s daughter is married to Serge Sargsyan’s nephew.  Hovhannisyan owns everything from restaurant chains to large plots of  land in Yerevan.

    And, ARF’s Hrant Markarian  just two days ago said that the ARF would NOT organize street protests if the Armenian National Assembly ratifies the dreaded protocols even WITHOUT the legally-binding reservations of Armenia’s Constitutional Court.

    That is how much the ARF “cares” for Hye Tad!

  51. To Tom: Unforunately, highest ARF structures are so infiltrated with influence agents from all sides (see: The First Directorate: My 32 Years in Intelligence and Espionage Against the West by former Soviet KGB general Oleg Kalugin) that ARF cannot be ‘a vigorous, nationalistic party that does not stand for the anti-nationalist, inept, and corrupt policies of Armenia’s leaders and oligarchs.’ Kalugin reveals that their agents have become ARF’s most influential leaders. If it’s true, what struggle against Russian agents Serjik and his foreign minister Edikcan we expect from this party? After all, don’t you see how closely ARF works with any government in Armenia knowing too well that all the governments are hated by the people? Where is ARF’s traditional platform? In the case of defeatist protocols, too, ARF just showing off on the surface that the party is in opposition to the government policies. In reality, they work in tandem. For me, there is only ONE party: my people.

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