Armenian officials discourage Diasporans from sending aid to Armenia

Humanitarian aid for Artsakh sent by ARS of Greece arrives in Armenia, December 2020 (Photo: Twitter/Armenian Relief Society)

Just when you think you have come across every oddity in Armenia, someone will surprise you with a brand new one. Let me warn you that this problem has nothing to do with internal politics. It has to do with incompetent, careless, and sometimes, corrupt officials whose unacceptable conduct has been going on for over 30 years in Armenia.

Last week, I received an email from Kevork Yazedjian, a scholar and activist in Armenia. He described his frustration and anger at an objectionable incident that he had just experienced. He addressed his email to PM Nikol Pashinyan, the head of the State Income Committee and the High Commissioner of Diaspora Affairs of Armenia. Yazedjian sent copies of his email to hundreds of Armenians in and out of Armenia to alert them and seek their intervention.

The problem started on June 27 when Yazedjian, along with his sister and her husband, went to the State Income Committee’s office to pick up Armenian books sent from the United States by Vahakn Kupelian who had shipped 78 copies of his mother’s, Siran Seza’s (1903-1973), two novels: Shattered Lives (2015) and Book of Genesis (2019). Kupelian had asked Yazedjian to donate the books to libraries throughout Armenia and Artsakh. When the government official Mr. Sahakyan noticed multiple copies of the two books, he became suspicious that Yazedjian was going to sell them. Sahakyan wrote a memo to the customs officers at the Yerevan airport, asking them to evaluate the price of these books and charge Yazedjian the corresponding import duty.

At the customs office, Yazedjian was shocked when five officials, after consulting with each other, told him that copies of the two novels will be sent to the National Security Service (NSS) to inspect their contents! Yazedjian wondered if censorship of books was part of the duties of the NSS. He was concerned that by the time NSS employees finished reading the two novels, he could be asked to pay a large amount for storage fees. Disgusted by this violation of free speech in a “democratic country,” Yazedjian told the customs officials that they can have the books.

After he sent several letters of protest to various officials, Yazedjian received on June 30 an unexpected phone call from Sahakyan, who asked him to come over so he could give him the books. When he arrived at the office the next day, Sahakyan was not there, but his boss received Yazedjian with utmost courtesy, saying that he had received many complaints about this case which had embarrassed him in front of the whole world. The chief customs officer also claimed that his office had sent several pages of the novels to the NSS, asking them to review them urgently. The NSS had supposedly replied that there are no national security issues in the two novels. 

Given this frustrating experience and his serious interest in Armenian literature, Yazedjian has come up with a new proposal, asking the government to facilitate the transfer of Armenian books and periodicals to Armenia through diplomatic pouch by Armenia’s embassies and consulates overseas.

There is a second more shocking example of gross negligence by Armenian officials which had serious medical and diplomatic repercussions.

After the Artsakh War of 2020, on Dec. 12, 2020 and January 9, 2021, the Armenian Relief Society (ARS) of Greece collected urgently needed humanitarian aid which was flown to Armenia by two Greek military planes. A small part of the cargo was released shortly after its arrival and distributed by the ARS. More than a year later, however, it was discovered that the bulk of the aid was still at the customs’ warehouse at the Yerevan Airport. After several letters of complaint which had remained unanswered, Armenia’s recently-appointed Ambassador to Greece, Tigran Mkrtchyan, responded on June 28, 2022, with troubling news: while the ARS humanitarian aid was finally cleared from customs, “due to the expiration of the items [medicines], part of the cargo had to be destroyed.”

Amb. Mkrtchyan was answering the Greek Armenian community’s letters sent to Pashinyan and other officials on December 14, 2020 and February 7, 2022.

The urgently dispatched medicines were supposed to save the lives of Armenian soldiers wounded during the 2020 war. Who will be held responsible for the loss of the lives of the soldiers who were deprived of these medicines? Furthermore, has the Armenian government sent a letter of apology to the Greek government for the lengthy delay in releasing and destroying urgently flown medicines to Armenia? Greece may not be as responsive next time there is a medical emergency in Armenia. Besides Armenia’s utter negligence in clearing the cargo, the ARS did not even get a reply to its two letters until 18 months later!

This is a prime example of gross negligence. Regrettably, no Armenian official was held responsible for this scandalous behavior, and no one was dismissed! No good deed goes unpunished in Armenia!

avatar

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 $917 million 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.

7 Comments

  1. Imagine a Ministry of Defence(MOD) run by the same bureaucrats. They occupy a very large building in Yerevan. What do they have to show for it?

    • Turks are from the Asian foothills. your kind doesn’t belong in Anatolia or the caucus. Turks are squatting on Armenian soil via rape, (masters of that), theft, murder and of course historical revision. Criminal people. not all Turks of course. But most. Can we agree on that?

  2. Im still waiting for the accounting of the worst run war by the weasel loser PM and his useless traitor administration. Oh hes too busy secretly handing over ancient Armenian lands to Asian invading Seljuk Turks and Tatar Azeri’s.

  3. The present regime in Armenia considers the Armenian Diaspora a threat to its increasingly oppressive authority. After trying and failing to seize control of Diasporan institutions, it has adopted a policy of loosening ties with the largest proportion of Armenian people able, globally, to help their Homeland…

  4. LITTLE HAROUTIG SASSOUNIAN FINALLY WOKE UP AFTER 30 YEARS!!! CORRUPT AND INEPT ARMENIAN “LEADERS” HAVE DESTROYED ARMENIA WORSE THAN TURKS.

  5. Some of the most idiotic people in the world live in Armenia, however regarding the second Artsakh “war” and the reaction of a sizeable portion of the population, their idiocy also happened to enter the realm of treason against the nation. One segment, the patriotic side that got duped, gave life and limb to try to save the integrity of the Armenian nation. The other segment, a gigantic number of traitors, didn’t give a damn and partied in the cafes of Yerevan while watching the other patriotic segment get killed. It was all too obvious there was a plan in place to “lose on purpose”. This can only mean that the current regime in Armenia actually is a perpetrator of genocide. A genocide against Artsakh Armenians, and treason against Armenia. In the example of holding back medical supplies during war time, in a real and serious nation, those taking on such “decisions” would be executed for treason and “gross negligence” would not even be applicable. But here we are with a treasonous clown show of a government fully still in place after two years of intentionally destroying the backbone of the defenders of Armenia as well as the diaspora. There is no hope for the Armenian people, unless a revolution takes place in Armenia and ALL of the former “leaders” are made to account for their crimes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*