Last weekend, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) of the Western U.S. held its 52nd Convention. This meeting occurs every other year. It reviews and evaluates the organization’s activities of the preceding two years and adopts the outline of the next two year’s activities.
It had been 24 years since I had the honor of participating in this meeting as a delegate. I was representing Burbank’s ARF unit, named Aghbalian after the famous revolutionary, organizer, and minister of the first Armenian republic. The biggest and best change I noticed a quarter century on was the much larger percentage of women among both the delegates and those attending in an advisory/consultative capacity.
Since the ARF has always been more than just a political party, more than just a revolutionary group, more than just another Diasporan organization; since it has been a central ideological entity attracting the largest number of free thinking Armenians; since it therefore serves as the organizational focus for a family of associations/institutions/societies serving various of our nation’s needs; these groups were also represented and contributed to the discourse and analysis grounding the resolutions adopted to guide operations for the next two years.
This convention addressed many internal organizational issues affecting and about all levels of the organization, even though this particular meeting’s scope was formally limited to local and regional issues, not worldwide Armenian ones. These naturally bubble up periodically in any organization, especially a political one such as the ARF. The discussions were passionate, but didn’t degenerate into meaningless exchanges as can sometimes happen. The conclusions were also well reasoned and their wording took a lot of time to craft, requiring extensive efforts by the resolutions committee charged with the task.
Of course, nothing is perfect. It was fascinating to observe how human nature played out. In a room full of almost 100 people, all largely in agreement about most issues, otherwise small, even miniscule, differences of opinion and approach somehow came to loom large. Later, during central committee elections, things were also heated. But, that’s the nature of the beast known as elections, isn’t it? The result was positive, with a good mix of old and new, another small step forward for the organization. The other factor that made the whole convention difficult was the shortened time allotted to it since I had last participated. We confront so many challenges as a nation and community that a somewhat longer time frame must be considered.
Numerous resolutions were adopted, but the ones that stand out for me were those about Western Armenia, reaffirming a statement of demands crafted four years ago and renewed ever since, emphasizing the importance of all-encompassing (in terms of community organizations) April 24 activities, and raising the level of activity on the Azerbaijan front to address the massive anti-Armenian efforts of that country.
As the ARF in the U.S. west of the Mississippi river embarks on the next biennium of the ongoing journey of the Armenian nation’s life and struggles, the input, the participation, the support, and yes, even constructive criticism of all concerned is welcomed. Your engagement assures a better collective future for all of us Diasporans, homeland dwellers (including the scattered remnants in Western Armenia), and even nations and countries neighboring the Armenian highlands.