The Tavush Movement: Resilience and Faith

Aram Balian

The following remarks were offered at the “Greater Washington Supports Tavush” vigil, organized by the AYF D.C. “Ani” Chapter Seniors on May 8, 2024.

We are gathered here, under the dark skies of remembrance and resolve, mere steps from the holy sanctuary of our Soorp Khatch Armenian Church and the candles we light every day in prayer and remembrance. Bagrat Surpazan is leading hundreds of our brothers and sisters in Armenia from Tavush to Yerevan, demanding an end to concessions and the illegal surrender of our lands. 

While we cannot be with them physically, we are here to support our people, our church and our spiritual leaders, as they march to affirm the inviolable right of Armenians to live in their homeland, without fear, without fear of loss, without fear of death. 

To live as Armenians.

In the heart of every Armenian thrums the undying strength of our ancestors, a melody of resilience and Christian faith that has carried us through millennia. 

As we come together here today, we must remember that Armenia is not merely a state with arbitrary borders drawn on a map; it is not the Alma-Ata declaration. It is not just 29,800 kilometers. Armenia – Mer Haiastanuh, Mer Hairenikuh, Mer Yergiruh – is the sacred guardian of our culture, our history and our collective future.

A future teetering on the precipice of disaster. 

We have already witnessed such profound loss – a loss that echoes in the wind through the valleys of our beautiful Artsakh. A loss previously unimaginable, realized in the throes of panic and capitulation. 

This was not just a territorial loss, but a deep, wrenching fracture in the very soul of our nation. A stark reminder that nothing is guaranteed, not even our existence. Throughout the grand tapestry of history, many nations have faded into oblivion, leaving behind mere whispers of what once was and what could have been. 

The current so-called leaders of Armenia never respected Artsakh. They never respected our homeland. They demonize Artsakh’s citizens. They besmirch our church, our beliefs, our ideals, dragging our heroes down in selfishness and self-preservation – experts at injecting venom and hate into Armenian hearts. 

They ask us to accept that further surrender of Armenian soil – of Armenian sovereignty – will somehow usher in a new age of so-called peace and so-called prosperity. The politics of appeasement, “peace at any price,” does not work.

They ask us to accept surrendering our lands, lands we have lived on for thousands of years, for false promises from a genocidal dictator who is determined to eradicate every last Armenian – including all of us here tonight.

These are lands our brothers and sisters have fought for, died for, lands that our people called home. Lands that thousands of brave Armenian men and women are still defending.

And so we must come together, thousands of miles away, to stand in support of our brothers and sisters, for the Tavush movement is not one of foreign agents, revolution or radicalism. It is one of rationality. It is a plea for stability and cohesion in the face of evil, of treason, of genocidal intent. It is an ask, no, a demand for unwavering strength in the guardianship of our nation, our land, our homeland – in defense of Tavush, Syunik, Lori, Yerevan and more.

We seek only peace. We do not seek war, for war is brutal; war is hell. And let it be known here and now, there is something far worse than war – the prospect of capitulation, of isolation and of vulnerability.

We seek only love. For there is no room for hate. the hatred that has taken so much from us and continues to do so year after year. 

And so, I tell you all, we must not falter in our beliefs, in our ideals, in our support for Tavush. We must reject any and all land concessions as acts of treason against Armenia’s very identity. 

To concede is to undermine our struggle, to betray the memories of those who died in 1915, who died in 1993 and 1994, who fought and died in 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023. Who fought for and with the belief in an azad, angakh, miyastyal Haiastan. 

We stand now at a crossroads, where the path we choose will determine the fate of our nation. Let us choose the path of unwavering resolve and uncompromising dedication to the sovereignty of our beloved Hairenik.

So, as we come together tonight, let this ignite a new resolve in you, in all of us – a resolve to see Armenia thrive, not just survive. 

Let us demand a government driven by merit – a government of strength, of competency, of selflessness, led by those with the Armenian nation at heart, the best in their fields, because to safeguard our future, we need every advantage, every ounce of wisdom and strength we can muster. 

Let this vigil not only be a symbol of our anger but a beacon of our unyielding determination. Let the light of those burning candles you hold tonight guide us forward, casting away the shadows of doubt and illuminating the way toward a future graced with peace, dignity and enduring strength.

For Armenia, for our children and for all the generations to come, let us pledge tonight never to waver in our dedication to our homeland.

Hai, Haiastan, Hairenik ou Asdvadz!

Aram Balian

Aram Balian

Aram Balian is vice president of business development at Haverford Homes. He previously worked in investment banking and financial technology. Aram was formerly the executive director of the ANCA Eastern Region; he currently serves on the ANCA-ER board. Aram graduated cum laude with a BA in political science and psychology from Columbia University. He is an AYF alumnus and served as treasurer and vice-chair of the AYF Eastern Region Central Executive.
Aram Balian

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  1. Very well put. The underlying fundamental question is why does the Armenian leadership pursue such a disastrous policy? What is wrong with them?

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