ALEPPO, Syria—ARF Bureau Representative Hagop Der Khatchadourian called for unity during a recent trip to Syria. On June 1, the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) of Syria organized a celebration dedicated to the 101st anniversary of the First Republic of Armenia in Aleppo. During his speech, Der Khatchadourian spoke of the symbols of independence and current political developments, saying “May 28th: the most important page in our recent history was written in blood and sweat. Our statehood was reborn from this chaos; Armenia once again became a part of the global [Armenian] family and has become a country that has been strongly entrenched in progress and social justice, even when in the most destructive conditions.”
Der Khatchadourian explained that it was almost thirty years ago, under great mental disposition that we [the ARF] delivered the symbols of statehood and independence that was preserved in the diaspora during the years of exile [under the Soviet Union]: the tricolor, anthem, coat of arms and national identity, to the newly free and independent Armenia. Unfortunately, this joy [at having an independent country] was mixed with frustration when the first president of the Republic of Armenia destroyed the belief of pan-Armenian solidarity and began to create divisions within the people of Armenia and the diaspora.
We see this happening again today, with the creation of divisions of black and white, with the occasional poisonous and hatred acts spilled in public, instead of love and tolerance, he said. For example, the actions against long-time ARF Bureau Representative Hrant Markaryan, his son and grandchildren, which should have been condemned by the highest of government officials remain unanswered – with no statements made by any high-ranking officials or governmental members.
Der Khatchadourian ultimately called on our people to unite, stressing that we should not take for granted the value of our nation and this opportunity to have an independent Armenia and Artsakh. We should be ready to develop Armenia and Artsakh without any compromises. Together, with our statehood, the fair distribution of roles, by helping one another, we will be able to strengthen Artsakh, Javakhk and the Diaspora in order to see our national dreams come true.
On June 2, Der Khatchadourian attended church at the Forty Martyrs Cathedral. After Divine Liturgy, he met with representatives of national and sister organizations. The ARF Bureau Representative, who spent much of his childhood in Aleppo, thanked the attendees, especially Dr. Hoori Azezian for her warm welcome. “I would like to congratulate this magnificent community for being one of the diaspora’s radiating communities: the main region [Syria] where the survivors of the Armenian Genocide began creating the diaspora with their hard-work; the people who turned their mourning for Genocide into demand, then turned it into a cultural hub who in turn created and helped other regions flourish. Although, the recent emigration from Aleppo due to the civil war has had its negative impacts, it has helped contribute to the revitalization of other diasporan cities, especially in Canada, Sweden, Australia and elsewhere.”
Der Khatchadourian and his delegation also visited the Armenian evangelical community in Syria. Mayor Haroutune Selimian welcomed Der Khatchadourian and stated that the arrival of the ARF Bureau Representative to Aleppo is not only a joy for the Armenian evangelical community and its related associations and institutions, but to all Syrian Armenians. The representative of the ARF Bureau highlighted the united council. “The Armenian Evangelical Community and the remaining converts in their cooperation relied on the call for united work of the organization. The Armenian Evangelical Community of Syria with your investment and followers is the proponent of our national values and has its own place in our pan-Armenian life. The ARF Bureau representative highly commended Mayor Selimian’s pan-Armenian, unified, national work. In the evening, the ARF Bureau representative attended a spiritual concert held by the Armenian Diocese of Beroea at the Forty Martyrs Cathedral, which was dedicated to the first lady of Syria.
The ARF Bureau Representative was also welcomed by the Armenian Catholic community and representatives of the Holy Trinity church.
On June 3, Der Khatchadourian visited Nor Kyugh. The visit began at Saint Krikor Lusavorich church, after which the delegation visited the National Shelter, “Arevelk” printing. During the visit, Der Khatchadourian also visited the local Armenian Relief Society (ARS) and Hamazkayin “Zavarian” Cultural centers. The visit would not have been complete without a visit to Karen Jeppe Jemaran. That’s where Der Khatchadourian in the presence of local officials, Djemeran administration, priests and ARF members, officially unveiled the bust in memory of Raffi Bchachkjian, an ARF member who was the leader of the self-defense of the Armenian neighborhoods in Aleppo.
“Unger [comrade] Raffi’s heroic deeds have not remained within the borders of Syria, but have reached all Armenians,” said Der Khatchadourian. “Unger Raffi with his essence and dedication to the ARF will inspire future generations. Dear Unger Raffi, let your memorial continue to be an inspiration. With your actions, you have added to the treasures of the ARF heroes of our past. Not only are we proud of you, as you are a continuation of our heroic past, but as a guarantee for our continuous future.”
On June 4, Der Khatchadourian met with the Central Committees of the Syrian-Armenians’ Emergency Relief and Rehabilitation Center. Der Khatchadourian stressed that the Syrian-Armenians’ restoration work should be continued with the same spirit and vigor, while utilizing new methods of cooperation.