WALTHAM, Mass. (A.W.)—Around 180 Boston community leaders, activists, and supporters gathered at the house of Mr. and Mrs. Avo and Carmen Barmakian to celebrate the 115th anniversary of the Hairenik Weekly and the 80th anniversary of the Armenian Weekly. Richard Hovannisian, Professor Emeritus of History and first holder of the AEF Chair in Modern Armenian History at UCLA, was the evening’s keynote speaker.
Heather Krafian, member of the organizing committee, welcomed the guests. She thanked the Barmakians for their hospitality, and as a sign of appreciation presented them with a copy of Hrair (Hawk) Khatcherian’s One Church, One Nation. Krafian then introduced Armenian Weekly columnist Kristi Rendahl, who MC-ed the event.
Following a brief introduction by Rendahl, Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Eastern Region Central Committee (CC) member Antranig Kasbarian offered his remarks, and spoke about the relevance of the papers in today’s world. He also spoke about the Weekly’s influence and reach under the editorship of Khatchig Mouradian, and the focus on Western Armenia. Kasbarian then introduced Prof. Hovannisian.
Prof. Hovannisian spoke about the history of both papers since their founding. He spoke about the challenges the Armenian community faced in the early years of the Hairenik Weekly, and how the newspaper served the various needs of that survivor community, starting with the important task of locating loved ones post-genocide. He then spoke about the need for the English-language Weekly, and how important it was for the newer generations who spoke little or no English. He stressed the significance and contributions of the papers throughout the years, and about the legendary figures who were once involved with the papers.
Next, Rendahl offered remarks. She spoke about her upbringing in North Dakota, her travels to Armenia, and her experience with the Weekly.
Plaques were then presented to the editors on behalf of Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian. The plaque presented to the Weekly read: “To all whom these presents may come, greetings; may it hereafter be proclaimed, throughout the county and the Commonwealth that the Honorable High Sheriff of Middlesex, on behalf of a grateful citizenry, does this day pay homage to: The Armenian Weekly Newspaper in recognition of your 80 years of continued publication and service to the Armenian community. Your dedication and reporting on issues most important to the Armenian community has contributed to the impact Armenians have on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and Middlesex County. May you continue your success for many years to come.”
Hairenik Weekly contributor and poet Avik Derentz recited a poem he had written in honor of the newspapers.
Next, Rendahl introduced Weekly columnist Tom Vartabedian, who spoke about his nearly 50 years with the paper. Vartabedian reminisced about his time with various editors. He spoke about what the paper has and continues to offer to the community, and talked about some of the personal encounters he has had with readers.
Following Vartabedian’s remarks, Armenian Weekly Editor Nanore Barsoumian spoke about her experience with the Weekly, and the paper’s mission of advocating for social and political justice. She also recognized three past editors who were present at the event: Muriel Parseghian, Antranig Kasbarian, and Khatchig Mouradian.
Barsoumian then introduced Weekly columnist Michael Mensoian, and spoke about his contributions to the paper, his vision and dedication. Barsoumian spoke about some of the themes in Mensoian’s articles, such as domestic violence and the security of Artsakh.
Mensoian then addressed the crowd and spoke about his contributions to the Weekly, and why he felt compelled to write about some of the themes he addressed in his columns. He most of all spoke about and stressed the importance of Artsakh’s security, and why Armenians needed to remain vigilant in order to safeguard the Republic’s borders.
Hairenik Weekly Editor Zaven Torigian then spoke about the Hairenik newspaper. He told anecdotes relating to the old Hairenik building at 212 Stewart Street in Boston, reminding the audience about the significance and rich history of the Hairenik. He also remembered past Editor Kevork Donabedian, and welcomed his widow, Mrs. Arpi Donabedian who was among the attendees.
Torigian then recognized Garbis Zerdelian for his decades-long service to the paper. Zerdelian has proofread the Hairenik Weekly for decades.
Then both editors recognized Dr. Henry Astarjian who for decades has contributed to both papers, writing about Armeno-Kurdish relations, Turkey, and Armenia. Torigian spoke about Dr. Astarjian’s work, while Barsoumian called Astarjian’s columns “a dose of tough love.”
Dr. Astarjian then addressed the audience and spoke about his involvement with the Armenian Weekly, and his days writing under some of the earlier editors of the paper, such as Vahe Habeshian and Khatchig Mouradian. He also spoke about the challenges and corruption that has faced the new Republic since independence, and his writings in the Weekly during those early years of the Republic.
All three honorees were presented with a symbolic gift, a copy of Hrair (Hawk) Khatcherian’s One Church, One Nation.
Among the attendees were ARF Eastern Region Central Committee (CC) members Antranig Kasbarian, Angele Manougian, Levon Attarian, as well as ARF CC Executive Director Maral Choloyan; and ARF Sardarabad Gomideh Chairperson Hovannes Janessian. Also present were current and past Hairenik staff members, and representatives from ARS central and regional offices, Homentmen, AYF, and various other Armenian organizations.