Sassounian: Worldwide Collaboration Required to Confront Pan-Armenian Crises

By Harut Sassounian

There has been a serious lack of coordination in dealing with critical global issues. Armenians around the world have repeatedly come under attack with Armenia or the Diaspora hardly lifting a finger.

In the aftermath of the U.S. occupation of Iraq in 2003, Armenians along with millions of other Iraqis suffered great losses. While not much could have been done to secure their physical safety, there should have been an organized effort by the Armenian government and Armenians worldwide to assist those who left all their possessions behind and fled the country. Regrettably, nothing was done to help resettle Iraqi Armenian refugees in the Homeland or anywhere else.

Fortunately, the Armenian response was more vigorous during the still ongoing Syrian conflict. The Armenia’s Diaspora Ministry assisted many of the 15,000 Syrian Armenians who moved to the Homeland, while Diaspora communities actively raised funds to help the destitute Armenians in Syria. However, the assistance provided has been woefully inadequate relative to the enormous needs of those remaining in Syria, and those who have escaped to Lebanon and Armenia.

There could be other unexpected manmade or natural disasters such as the devastating earthquake that struck northern Armenia in 1988, from which Armenians are still struggling to recover 25 years later!

What about the enduring threat to Artsakh? After years of bluffing, should Azerbaijan’s psychopathic President Ilham Aliyev someday launch a full-blown attack on Artsakh, are Armenians around the world ready to rush to the rescue of their compatriots in the Homeland? Although the responsibility for defending the borders falls on the armed forces of the twin Armenian Republics, shouldn’t Diaspora Armenians have a coordinated contingency plan to confront such an existential eventuality? All necessary arrangements should be made in advance, so that when the attack comes, there would be an immediate counteraction.

Another critical issue needing Armenians’ immediate attention is the chaotic situation prevailing in Turkey and the possible dangers facing the Armenian community, in particular:

1) Total disarray in the Turkish government due to the ruling party’s recent loss of parliamentary majority and new elections scheduled for Nov. 1;

2) Recurrent bombings of Kurdish regions in Northern Iraq by the Turkish Air Force, and violent clashes between the Turkish military and Kurds inside Turkey;

3) Worldwide criticism of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s autocratic rule, his support of ISIS terrorists, and draconian measures taken against political opponents.

This is the ideal opportunity for Armenians outside Turkey to join the anti-Erdogan international chorus. It is also the suitable time to cooperate with millions of Kurds opposing the Erdogan regime; but, this is not the right time to remain quiet when the Turkish regime arrests Fatma Barout, Co-Mayor of the Sur district of Dikranakert. Where is the outcry against the arbitrary arrest of this courageous Armenian woman? There has not been a single complaint from anyone in Armenia or Diaspora! Mayor Barout and her family were in Armenia last month to attend the Pan-Armenian Games. On that occasion, they visited the Genocide Memorial and Museum in Yerevan and paid their respects to the 1.5 million Armenian martyrs.

Armenians worldwide should also support the youth of Nor Zartonk  (Renaissance) movement in Istanbul who are struggling against all odds to defend Armenian and other minority rights in Turkey. One of the group’s activists has complained that they were not even getting moral support from the Diaspora, let alone Armenia. Nor Zartonk members, who have been physically attacked by Turkish extremists, have been holding protests at Camp Armen during the last two months, demanding that the Turkish government return the confiscated Camp to the Armenian community.

Since Armenians are dispersed throughout the world, they could fall victim to other unfortunate incidents in the future. It is imperative that a single worldwide Armenian committee, composed of representatives of Armenia and Artsakh, and major Diasporan organizations, develops contingency plans for emergencies affecting Armenians in any part of the world. Holding fundraising events and meetings to put action plans together should be done before, not after, the occurrence of tragic events.

The Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee, during its upcoming Yerevan conference, could be renamed and transformed into a permanent pan-Armenian body that would deal with all aspects of Armenia-Diaspora relations, particularly emergency situations.

Harut Sassounian

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 one billion dollars 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. I used to think about this all the time when I was litte actually. I would see war videos of what was going on in Artsakh. It was sickening to see innocent people in that kind of suffering. Let’s make this happen. I’d go and save people. Sign me up.

  2. Sassounian says: “there has been a serious lack of coordination”. What Sassounian means: “why is everyone not agreeing with me and doing only the things I want done?” So, let’s never say a word against the country primarily responsible for the destruction of Iraq’s Armenian community, let’s never say a word against the country primarily responsible for the destruction of Syria’s Armenian community, just direct all energy into hatred against Turkey and grab any unfocused excuse to do it.

  3. Harut Sassounian points out the lack of a coordinated response from the government of Armenia and the Diaspora to the emergency needs of Armenians. A logical course of action for a coordinated response would be to establish a worldwide committee to address and respond to emergencies.

  4. The idea of a Pan Armenian Committee is not new. It has been talked about and urged by all nationalists every time our fragile yet resilient nation faced a crisis. We need to consider all good ideas and include them in a universal policy, supported and financed by all armenians aimed for our common good, especifically the survival and advancement of our nation and homeland. “All for one and one for all”

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