Sassounian: Armenians Need to Pursue Their Cause with More Confidence and Commitment

This week’s column deals with the self-defeating attitude of some Armenians whose negative outlook manifested itself once again with the latest news about the French bill criminalizing denial of the Armenian Genocide.

However, should the Constitutional Council reject the bill, it would not be the end of the world, as Sarkozy has pledged to amend it and resubmit it to both legislative houses. Nevertheless, the pursuit of the Armenian Cause does not depend on any particular bill. Armenians have many other major demands from Turkey under international law.

Some people hold the skeptical view that any project undertaken by Armenians is doomed to failure. A few years ago, I was advised by several readers not to call for dismissal of the Los Angeles Times managing editor for censoring an article by Mark Arax on the Armenian Genocide. On another occasion, I was advised not to ask Time Magazine to apologize and make amends for disseminating a Turkish denialist DVD. I ignored the defeatist suggestions that countering such powerful publications would be futile and even counter-productive. It was not an easy struggle, but I am happy to report that Armenian activists prevailed in both campaigns.

It is noteworthy that such apathetic individuals not only fail to offer any assistance or encouragement, but go to great lengths to discourage those who are furthering the interests of the community. Interestingly, those who sit on their hands are usually the ones who complain the most about others who are serving the common cause.

Imagine if 20 years ago the small band of Armenian freedom fighters had listened to such naysayers and decided that it was not possible to liberate Artaskh (Karabagh) from Azeri and Soviet occupation forces! Would I be here today if my ancestors, the brave people of Zeitoun, located in the heartland of the Ottoman Empire, had not fought against powerful Turkish armies and won more than 40 battles and hundreds of skirmishes to preserve their safety and autonomy?

Returning to our own times, how often are we told by misinformed Armenians with an “all-knowing” attitude that the U.S. Congress will never recognize the Armenian Genocide, when in fact it was recognized in 1975 and 1984? Or how many times have these misguided fortune-tellers prophesized that no U.S. president will ever recognize the Armenian Genocide because Turkey is too important, unaware that President Ronald Reagan recognized it in a Presidential Proclamation on April 22, 1981?

These same Armenians were confident that the French Parliament would not adopt a bill criminalizing denial of the Armenian Genocide last December, either because there would be a last-minute snag or that President Nicolas Sarkozy was tricking Armenians to get their votes in the upcoming presidential elections. Yet, the Frnech Parliament approved the legislation by a wide margin. When the bill made its way to the Senate on Jan. 23, once again the skeptics confidently predicted that an unexpected development would block its passage. The bill was adopted by a vote of 127-86.

Last week, when some French legislators, aided and abetted by the Turkish ambassador, appealed the bill to the Constitutional Council, some Armenians fell into deep depression. They insisted there was an anti-Armenian conspiracy, claiming to have known all along that the initiative would end up in failure. These people do not seem to realize that the appeal does not necessarily mean defeat of the bill. In fact, should the Council determine that the bill is constitutional, those arrested for denying the Armenian Genocide will not be able to challenge the new law.

However, should the Constitutional Council reject the bill, it would not be the end of the world, as Sarkozy has pledged to amend it and resubmit it to both legislative houses. Nevertheless, the pursuit of the Armenian Cause does not depend on any particular bill. Armenians have many other major demands from Turkey under international law.

Rather than simply deploring that the bill has ended in the Constitutional Council, Armenians should demand that certain members of the court disqualify themselves from this case due to their impermissible affiliation with Turkish think tanks or for having made prejudicial statements on this issue. It is noteworthy that six of the French Senators who filed for the appeal are currently enjoying themselves in Azerbaijan as guests of the state, tasting Caspian caviar and indulging in other Azeri “delicacies.”

Far more important than any bill is Armenians’ solemn determination to continue the struggle for their rightful cause, undeterred by setbacks or obstacles. Having survived several millennia of occupation, pillage, massacres, and genocide, Armenians cannot succumb or surrender at the first sign of adversity!

Armenians can go forward only when they purge themselves of their self-defeating attitude and subservient mentality, left over from centuries of Ottoman Turkish subjugation and servitude.


Harut Sassounian

California Courier Editor
Harut Sassounian is the publisher of The California Courier, a weekly newspaper based in Glendale, Calif. He is the president of the Armenia Artsakh Fund, a non-profit organization that has donated to Armenia and Artsakh $917 million of humanitarian aid, mostly medicines, since 1989 (including its predecessor, the United Armenian Fund). He has been decorated by the presidents of Armenia and Artsakh and the heads of the Armenian Apostolic and Catholic churches. He is also the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.


  1. bravo well said Mr. Sassounian.. well said..

    Your article came right on time as few of us have been dealing with such Armenians on another thread.. it is very discouraging indeed when you see some of our brothers and sisters act exactly how you described in your article, and put a dumper on everyone else who continue to fight on.. however, it is very promising when such people don’t get to bring us down because when one has a goal and determination, nothing can stop us…

    thank you for putting a smile and giving us encouragement to go on..


  2. I agree with Mr. Sassounian wholeheartedly. I wish to see a more organized, more focused and wisdespread fight against the denial of the Armenian Genocide. I am hopeful that the French Constitutional Council will approve the French bill criminalizing the Armenian Genocide Denial.

    Turkey in no time soon will accept the truth and reality of the Armenian Genocide. We have to fight outside Turkey will organization, and inside Turkey with the intellectual circles to illuminate the brainwashed masses of the lies the Turkish government planted in them for 100 plus years.

  3. 100% sad but true…

    We Armenians are sometimes our own worst enemy’s…. It was an Armenian who gave Talaat the names of the 250 or so intellectuals..(who was later himself killed)..
    It was our church leaders that said, “do not fight back as the Turks wouldn’t harm us”….and its Armenian today that think all action are destined to fail and or “dangerous”..

    My grandfather, on the other hand, was a wealthy Armenian turned fighter called Haik Chavish who, upon learning that the Turks were murdering Armenians, left the Turkish Army and banded with 40 other Armenian fighters going from one village to another causing MAJOR havoc to Turkish fighters, supply lines, confiscating Turkish arms..etc. .I later learned he had quite a reputation and his name alone instilled fear in Turkish soldiers..He had a bounty on his head and if it wasn’t for his courage and his fighting spirit, i wouldn’t be here today

    I never understood today’s current sheepish Armenian mentality.. Turks committed a major crime against our people and our nation..In many way the genocide continues today.. They need to pay for that crime. Its every Armenian’s duty to secure justice for these crimes OR HISTORY DOES AND WILL REPEAT ITSELF..Today’s Turks and Azeri’s ARE OUR ENEMY and until they come to terms with Armenians living in peace on our own historical lands, they will not stop to see the destruction of our people…

  4. As before,I stick to my viewpoint that Harut Sassounian is our (ex) officio spokesman this side of the Atlantic ocean.I wish we could some day recognize him as our official spokesman,better yet elected /delegated political affairs chief .
    As to his above article and comments ,indeed,once again he shows clout and determination in his (hopefully)and all of ours to forge ahead .
    Nothing ought to dampen our will or readiness to carry on what was the LEGACY of our martyrs.To seek justice and see that it is prevailed.
    best to Harut and all who will followw the Fighting spirit!!!! he has shown…

    • J the Turk… are you referring to the TUrkish bark but no bite status?? or are you referring to Turkish threats that go no where?? you are right…Turkish gov is a fighter but fighter on paper like paper tiger……

    • John the Turk,,, so scared of the truth that your people need laws so no one even talks of your genocidal past. Why would anyone with “nothing to hide” need those laws? Low self esteem. Face it, your criminals and cowards…Also understand: This will never end. It will only get worse for your kind..It already has…

    • Turk.. 21 plus countries recognize the Armenian Genocide, billions of people around the world know about the facts of the Armenian Genocide, hundreds of thousands of Turks recognize the Armenian Genocide. If that is paper tiger for you, so be it.. Tomorrow you will see what happens..

  5. John, it’s on paper all right, numerous (4,000+?)claims/ lawsuits against your Govt from many countries, documentation of Genocide being compiled not only by Armenians but now, Assyrians and others. Published recent apologies from Kurdish representatives for their part in the AG. Be consistent, are you also calling the Kurds “liars” too? From what little I know of them, this would be a very, very, foolish thing to do. Now, I discover, you (Turkey) even messed with the Zazas- who are these people and what did you do to them? I feel like that guy in “Midnight Express”. At this rate, it’s going to be a very long time before you get a good Armenian/Assyrian/Greek/Chaldean/Kurdish/Maronite/Zaza Dinner.

  6. Mr. Sassounian,
    It’s good to read your articles and speeches as a reminder for our politicians ‘in Armenia or Diaspora’, to stand firm on our legitimate rights.
    I praise your support of Armenian president’s latest move, and encouragement in your other article ‘Sarkisian Makes Major Strategic Shift in Demands from Turkey’, while he is being criticized on many internal affairs, and suppression of democracy.

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