A few months back, Zareh Sinanyan, the Republic of Armenia’s (RoA) High Commissioner of Diaspora Affairs paid an official visit to the US with various public and semi-public meetings held.
I managed to get to one in North Hollywood, somewhat late. A loud protest had led to his withdrawing from the hall until the protesters left. When I arrived, he was already answering questions and probably quite irritated by the protest. But that doesn’t excuse his making the comments I heard.
Sinanyan’s family had moved to the US from Armenia in 1988. He is a product of Burbank public schools, UCLA and USC’s law school. One of his early involvements was with the Burbank ANCA (I helped recruit him), and later Glendale ANCA, after which he started serving on the latter city’s citizen committees and ultimately got elected to its city council. He resigned to accept his current position.
When he was running for City Council, he came under vicious attack for some Turk-related social media postings. Many deserted him at that time, but the ANCA stuck with him. Thus, it was painful to hear him attacking the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF), ANCA’s parent organization, from his high position. It doesn’t speak well of his understanding of gratitude, even loyalty. There’s an adage that goes something like “be kind to people on your way up, so they will be kind to you on your way down.”
It was particularly galling to hear him assert that youth were being misled/lied to by the ARF and that soon these same youngsters would awaken to realize the ‘error’ of their ways, and as a result, completely drop out of Armenian life (n.b. Sinanyan studiously avoided naming the ARF, but who he was referring to was amply clear). The presumptuousness and arrogance of that assertion were breathtaking.
That’s what profoundly saddened me, and I realized Sinanyan was too far gone. He has hitched his wagon to the current incompetent regime governing the RoA. It’s a real shame because some of the ideas and programs he was promoting seemed to hold some promise. But when connected to such a faltering regime, they are likely doomed to remain on paper or meet with trifling success at best.
We speak much of using the Diaspora’s resources to strengthen our homeland’s statehood. Sinanyan could have been a shining example of just that. Unfortunately, as often occurs when someone gets a taste of power, it becomes a narcotic, and everyone loses.
We need more Zareh Sinanyans, but principled ones.
I have followed and read your columns for years. I agree with you on the case of Zareh Synanyan. I was surprised when Pashinyan chose him as a commissioner of diaspora. There was always trouble linked to his name while in Glendale council with ambitions to go further in local politics. He is a product not only Burbank high and couple of universities, he is also a product of ANCA. Now, I don’t belong to the organization, but always believed they are the ones working really hard in diaspora for Armenian causes with good leadership in DC and showed my appreciation by helping with my contributions to the organization. I don’t take it serious what Synanyan says about ARF or ANCA. My concern is what Armenian ANCA is doing. They never succeeded in Armenia with any benefit, on the contrary they are very damaging to Armenian politics. What I don’t understand (since I don’t know the insights of the organization) why the ANCA in the West, in diaspora don’t criticize or do changes with the members in Armenia. I always believed that the members of Armenia’s ANCA were placed by Kocharian/Sargisyan team and always tried to scramble the government. Please explain to me the difference of ANCA in diaspora vs Armenia. Who governs ANCA worldwide, or is there such a thing? BTW I don’t live in Los Angeles county.