While the battle for Artsakh continues with the criminal Azeri regime and their Turkish overlords, we must consider this a pause between rounds of long term struggle. Armenia is in the midst of an expected, but unfortunate political crisis. With the painful humanitarian recovery process just beginning, the Turkish alliance has launched a more subtle but potentially more harmful war. This is not a military campaign nor one with borders. It is an assault on the very existence of the Armenian civilization. A petro dollar-funded campaign expanded their attack on the TRUTH to fronts such as the legitimacy of our Christian Church, our territorial rights in Armenia proper and the foundations of our proud and distinguished history. To the Azerbaijani criminals, nothing is Armenian. Our churches are Caucasian Albanian. Our indigenous presence on these lands is a fraud, and the very nature of our culture is a myth. It reeks of the stench of evil lies—relentless and shameless—and is being fed to a world that is ignorant of the truth and susceptible to being bought.
It has been clear for some time that criminal Azerbaijan will not stop with any negotiated solution in Artsakh. The rants and rhetoric of Aliyev on Armenian territory and culture are being backed with a substantial professional campaign of influence and public relations firms to discredit our very right to exist and to return Armenia to a nationless state. If you believe this is overstated, then spend a moment on the website 1905.az to read a series of revisionist articles designed to undermine the foundation of our identity. This website is just one example, and the volume and “quality” has been increasing. These are not emotional, hate-filled rants. They are professionally written by resources either internal or external to their den of deceit. The Azeris have long maintained an effective campaign with “friendly” journalistic sources to promote their illegal position on “territorial integrity” in Artsakh. The majority of Armenians have been exposed to their revisionism on the relationship of the Nagorno-Karabakh oblast during the Soviet time to Azerbaijan. This current campaign goes far beyond Artsakh. It strikes at the very essence of our civilization by promoting their “right” to all of Armenia and challenging much of our historical claims. A series of articles attempt to reinterpret the Armenian presence in Karabakh from prior to the Persian/Russian exchange in the 1820s through WWI. It is an obvious campaign to discredit our historical indigenous presence on these lands. Before you ignore the effort as absurd, please consider two things. They are not trying to convince Armenians. Read some of the material while considering yourself a third party in a politically charged environment. We just concluded a conflict where it was clear that we have few true friends. Can we afford to sit and watch the Turkish alliance tip that scale even further while we count on others to reject their claims?
The latest attack is in our backyard of Boston—a proclamation issued by Mayor Marty Walsh and the city of Boston to proclaim February 26, 2021 as “Khojaly Commemoration Day.” The Azeris are feeling confident enough that they have spread their lies in a historically Armenian stronghold and had the local government issue a proclamation that accuses Armenian soldiers of murdering hundreds of women and children. Our response has been swift and fact-based, but it has been REACTIVE. Are you convinced now? Yes, we are insulted by the lack of integrity of this proclamation, but we would serve our interests better by understanding how this is happening and what our PROACTIVE strategy must be. Frankly part of the problem has been the fact that Armenians have not taken this seriously. Our belief in our causes and our history is so profound that we find it nearly impossible that anyone could take the Azeri lies seriously. This is a dangerous and naïve position to take. Human weakness allows for people to be influenced. That influence can take many forms, and Azerbaijan is using all of them. We trust the truth that is in our possession, but it must be promoted to counter evil. Many of us react emotionally when we see propaganda aggression and then return to our daily lives. Have we seen enough to take this personally? Is it challenging who you are? Are you motivated to do more than get upset? Activism is a sustained response with the truth—not emotion—as guidance. Members of the Boston community or anywhere else this has happened should be taking this affront personally. It is your people they are identifying as murderers. Our reaction of “how dare they after their criminal assault on Armenians” is inadequate. Stating our case as victims has not and will not be effective. It will elicit empathy (we have a warehouse of that), but not the eradication of the problem. We must improve our support network and increase the visibility of the truth.
The suggestion of “support network” and “the truth” are critical to a breakthrough in this challenge. They represent important elements of the solution that today are not optimized in our diaspora. When we consider the “support network,” we should think of our lobbying and advocacy resources, such as the Armenian National Committee (ANC) and the Armenian Assembly, who both work tirelessly and under-resourced to promote our interests. Their budgets are a small fraction of the amount of influence peddling the combined Azeri/Turkish alliance spends. Armenian advocacy relies on passion, efficient thinking and our place as citizens in the nations we reside in. Nevertheless, our financial resources are an issue that must be addressed.
Activists are the vanguards of action and must be armed with the truth.
The matter of the “truth” traditionally lies in the hands of our scholars. In the last 50 years, the foundation of scholarly work to promote the truth in areas such as history and art has become prominent. Academics, intellectuals and scholars have been and are being trained and supported to produce the research and publications necessary to keep the truth visible. Ironically one would expect a strong relationship between the activist and the scholarly community. Activists are the vanguards of action and must be armed with the truth. Scholars are blessed with the skill and patience to uncover the truth, but they need others to maximize its impact. Many of our scholars are more passive because of a desire to equate the truth with neutrality. We need more scholars who are willing to advocate for what is right without regard to critics. Part of our solution is to improve a sustainable relationship with these two important communities to overcome the aggression of the Turkish alliance. Providing the research and literary support to our activists will only improve and expand their impact on the “support network.” Our scholars will find new and innovative audiences for their work, which will eventually lead to more sources of funding and incremental research. This may also help one of the main problems of developing scholars today: finding meaningful employment.
In my view, collaboration opens new possibilities for our efforts. We have many admirable attributes as a community, but collaboration is still in its infancy. Artificial walls prevented meaningful activity for decades. The emergence of the RoA has enabled new areas of cooperation, however we often need to be reminded that our organizations are merely the means and not the end. At times, we become so passionate that we miss opportunities. Scholarly organizations such as NAASR, the Society for Armenian Studies (SAS) and the Armenian Museum of America should have a natural working relationship with the ANC, Armenian Assembly and Knights of Vartan. Imagine the possibilities, relative to the Azeri aggression, if all of these groups cooperated in a truth campaign for the purposes of proactively addressing the propaganda, revisionist work and attempts to weaken the foundations of the Armenian nation. I believe that no one group can complete this mission and relying on all to do their part independently does not result in the desired outcome.
The Azeris requested that “proclamation” on the very weekend that we remember the horrific Sumgait massacres. This was intentional to suppress our efforts and cause pain. Why don’t we have monitoring capabilities through our political friends on commemorative days? Collaboration with diverse skills will prevent these omissions and promote our interests. These well organized attacks on our church, our indigenous territory and our history are indications of a new and serious investment. This is far more damaging than the worn out arguments of Turkish genocide denial. The battle for recognition in the United States is now defined as simply when the US President will use the term genocide. The Turkish rhetoric has failed to prevent the truth from shining. This Azeri campaign is more focused on justifying their criminal behavior to create a nationless people with a rogue and relentless campaign of sinister distortions. They are proudly promoting their work as a service to correcting INJUSTICES. They are disguising themselves as honorable global citizens at our expense. The criminal is promoting justice. If this doesn’t rally Armenians to work together in a professional campaign, then God help us.
Armenians faced similar challenges in the 1960s when genocide denial was rampant in the world. Scholarly work was limited, and activism was in its infancy. This was overcome with collaboration and investment, however we must remind ourselves that the Turkish objective then was to prevent the truth and escape the consequences. Today they seek our destruction with a campaign to remove the legitimacy of our civilization. Each generation carries the banner of truth. The truth must always prevail. That is our responsibility. Embrace the truth to defend our rights.