I hesitate to write about my experience in Armenia only because it is difficult to find words to explain my emotions. Constantly being surrounded by everything Armenian amazes me every morning when I open my eyes in Yerevan.
Being a diasporan Armenian visiting his homeland simply makes everything in Armenia different, even so from everything Armenian that we have in Glendale. Speaking, listening, and reading Armenian everywhere here is obviously a natural thing to the locals, but I still find it strange as this is the first time ever I am being exposed to it. These include the greetings we receive every time we enter a grocery store, the sales receipts, the street names, etc.
Listening to lyrics like “hou-merik inch lav-ne angakh hayasdan, hayasdan anoush eh sirenk hayasdan.” and driving around in the homeland establishes an actual physical bond that was previously just a concept in my mind.
Since our landing in Armenia, we are constantly reminded that it is apricot season and are told to try some everywhere we go. We’ve eaten apricots literally everywhere; at churches, at roadsides, street corners, at the airport, in buildings, and from locals offering us apricots just to be courteous.
We visited the museum Madenataran today and saw Mesrob Mashdots’ statue, the founder of our beautiful alphabet. The museum was filled with several ancient gospels and historic texts chronicling the rich history of our literature.
Next we went to the Dzizernagapert, which is the Armenian Genocide memorial. Before visiting the memorial, we went to the Armenian Genocide museum on the grounds; there I witnessed some gruesome photos and such that I had never seen before. A couple were the Turkish plans to massacre the Armenians, photos of the deportations, a Turkish solider teasing Armenians with a loaf of bread and things that just filled my heart with pain, anger, and disbelief toward what took place during the Genocide.
After leaving and visiting Erebuni and the Pantheon, and having the chance to adjust ourselves back into the spirits of lively Yerevan, we went to watch a soccer match between our local Pyunik vs. Dinamo (some Croatian team). We went with some friends from the local HEM (Armenia’s AYF) and were in for quite a surprise. People yelling, screaming, running, chanting, the energy in the stadium was so incredible! Team Armenia jerseys were everywhere, and half of our section was standing up the entire game. We left the stadium and took our energy out into the night life of Yerevan; it was the last night we would be there for a while as we geared up to leave for Artsakh the next morning
P.S. Armenian chants were a lot of fun; stuff like, “hye-enk, hye-enk, menk hezor enk, menk hbard enk, menk bidi hakhtenk”
Our visit to Garni and Geghard today marked the first time we truly got a glimpse of this country’s natural beauty. The road up to Garni was windy and kind of bumpy, but the views of the Ararat valley were incredible. Once we got to Garni, we got to walk inside the temple which was built before Christ during Armenia’s pagan years. I had only read about things this old in textbooks, but today I got to sit on the steps of one and take a picture with it. By far the best thing about the temple is that it sits at the edge of a steep canyon with the Garni River winding through it. The view from up here is truly breathtaking and to just stand there and feel the wind on your face and soak in the view was amazing.
After buying some homemade batsukh (fruit leather) and soujoukh (the sweet kind) from the vendors at the temple, we continued up the road to Geghard. This church is built in a canyon with a few of its rooms carved into the cliff side. Just before we entered the church courtyard, we decided to make a slight detour up a steep, rocky path that led to small rooms carved into the cliff face. The hike required a little more work than we thought it would but it was well worth the effort. Once again the view from up here didn’t fail to amaze us.
Joining us on these tours and our nights out in this city is Manouk, a native Yerevantsi and member of the local AYF chapter. We all clicked with him the moment we met and having him with us has made our trip more interesting than it already is. As we exchange stories about how life is in our respective countries we gain a much better understanding of the people here. Communicating with him is also very helpful in building the group’s Armenian skills and often times funny as we try to describe the words we are trying to say.
We then carefully clambered/slid down the cliff side and entered Geghard’s courtyard. The first room that we saw was carved out of stone and looked like a cave except for the detailed carvings on the walls, ceiling, and pillars. There was a window at the top that let in a beam of light. The acoustics in the room are incredible. Berj and Kevork decided to start singing Der Voghormya and the way their voices resonated gave me chills. I can just imagine priests conducting service in here and how amazing it would sound. After all that singing, we all went quiet for a moment so that we could hear just how wonderfully silent the church can be.
We made our way to several other smaller carved out rooms and then to the main church, which stands on its own and is made of slabs of rosy tufa stone (of course). All the rooms were dark and any light that is available is through small windows or lit candles. The church is surrounded by forest, which adds to this monastery’s beauty.
Perhaps the best part of the day came when we all sat down for lunch in a local family’s backyard restaurant. Not only was the food good (including the best fish I’ve ever tasted), but the setting was relaxing. We ate outside on a large picnic table under the shade of dozens of large fruit trees.
As the oghi flowed, our group began to open up to each other even more than we have been over the past few days. Life, death, friends, and family were all discussed while we ate and drank and sang. These are the moments which make this trip so worthwhile. Living with others and working towards a common goal brings so many different emotions out of you that would otherwise not occur at home. I’m really looking forward to getting to know this group of people over the next five weeks and becoming more like family than friends.
GLENDALEThe Armenian Cultural Foundation (ACF) Glendale Chapter marked the opening of its long anticipated Youth Center on Sunday, July 12 as hundreds from the community attended a special ribbon cutting ceremony to inaugurate the new building, located at the center of a diverse and growing city of over 200,000.
The Krikor and Mariam Karamanoukian Glendale Youth Center, located at 211 West Chestnut St. Glendale 91204, will be dedicated to the enhancement and progression of the Glendale community.
A distinctively designed green and yellow building, the new center will also serve as a place where the citys youth can spend their after school hours studying in the library, working on projects in the computer lab, and getting involved with various local non-profit organizations.
Among other programs, the community will have access to a host of internship opportunities, social services, gang and drug prevention programs, youth sports and recreation programs, and opportunities for the community to come together through cultural exchange. It will also work in tandem with neighboring St. Marys Armenian Apostolic Church to serve as a bridge linking new generations with the faith and values of their ancestors.
The planning for the new center officially began in 2004 when the Glendale Chapter of the Armenian Cultural Foundation brought together representatives from various community organizations to embark on the unprecedented project.
A committee, composed of representatives from these organizations, was soon formed to assess the feasibility of the project and to map out a course for developing the building. Three years later, on December 18, 2007, a small groundbreaking ceremony took place to commence the construction of the building.
There was a time when the initiative of building such a center was considered only a distant dream, Glendale ACF Chairman Vahe Bozoian told Asbarez. Today, through the dedication of many loyal and committed individuals as well as gracious contributors, that dream has become a reality.
Bozoian went on to say that the new Youth Center will be considered the pride and joy of all Glendalians for generations to come.
Prior to the opening of the new center, community organizations had no place to call their own, meeting at several different locations in an ad hoc fashion, never certain of the availability for locations to host events.
The official ribbon cutting ceremony was attended by over 200 guests and led by Western Prelate Arch. Moushegh Mardirosian along with several priests from Saint Marys.
Glendale is home to over three dozen Armenian organizations serving the community. The ACF Youth center will house the local chapters of the Armenian Relief Society (ARS) (along with its Saturday school), the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF), the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, the Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society, the Armenian National Committee, and the Armenian Cultural Foundation.
At the ceremony, members from each of these organizations stood at their respective office doorsteps to greet the ribbon cutting procession, as benefactors cut ribbons for the individual offices they sponsored.
After ceremony, the crowd was invited inside where guest speakers congratulated the community and thanked all those who contributed to the establishment of the building.
Remarks were delivered by California State Assemblyman Paul Krekorian (D-43), Glendale City Council Member Ara Najarian, ARF Western US Central Committee Member Hovan Tashjian, and the Chairperson of the ACF Glendale Aharonian Chapter Vahe Bozoian.
As the event came to an end members of the Glendale AYF gathered around in buildings youth room to share ideas on how their chapter would utilize the new facilities to achieve their organizations goals. One member, Meghedi Babakhanlou, said she couldnt wait to start advertising the centers free tutoring services to Glendale Youth. “I can’t wait to help kids with their school work, she exclaimed. There are many families who can’t afford private tutoring services for their children and I am very excited that we now have a place in Glendale to address that issue.
As you all have heard, the trip has been amazing. It’s my first time in Hayastan and it’s pretty hard to find words to describe the emotions you get when you visit places that you have read about and seen in pictures.
Today we went to the churches of Soorp Gayane and Soorp Hripsime. The designs and details and size of each of the buildings are truly unbelievable, especially after you find out that the churches were built around 600 AD. Etchmiadzin was also an amazing sight to see. And I know I might sound generic when I use words like “amazing” and “unbelievable” but it’s impossible to find words in any language that can describe the places we’ve seen. They really are places that you need to see for yourself.
Today was also a very emotional day for us. We went to Yeraploor which is a cemetery that holds the graves of our fedayees and our heroes that lost their lives fighting for Artsakh. You walk around and you read each tombstone. Some names you recognize from songs and stories and some you don’t recognize. Some are only 19 years old. But, you realize that each has given the same sacrifice for our people.
The groundskeeper, who acted as our guide, added to the emotions of sadness but also to the pride and appreciation felt towards our heroes. He fought and was wounded in Artsakh, on his hand was a tattoo which read, “PARK MONTE” in honor of the man who led the people of his region. He let us know that not many people have the honor of carrying that mark. As we walked he explained how each of the fallen is honored to be buried overlooking Ararat. He spoke of the courage needed to sacrifice your life for your country. His words were enunciated with such power and with such fire that you knew if conflict were ever to arise again he would be there to fight, regardless of his condition.
You can’t help but ask yourself if you would do the same. I think any of us can say that this experience at Yeraploor is and will be one of the most memorable experiences of our lives. Our new friend Albert did not hesitate to take a few pictures with us before we left.
Next, we went to Sardarabad where we met a woman who told us to wait around because the museum would open in half an hour. Slowly, our conversation builds and she begins to tell us how she takes care of the truly beautiful garden that surrounds the graves and photos of those from her region who passed during the battles of Artsakh, one of which was her beloved husband. She told us the story of his passing. She introduced us to her son, named after his father, who he had never seen before. You don’t know how to respond or what to say. What words can you find to express to her how meaningful and honorable her husband’s sacrifice was? Just imagine the strength of this woman and her family. Everyday she willingly goes to work, where she takes care of the memorial of her fallen husband. This was another unforgettable experience. The strength and courage of our people amazes me.
On a much much lighter note, I’ll update you on a few interesting events that have recently taken place. The other day Kevork, Kevork, Levon, and I went out to get breakfast for everyone. We stopped at a bakery to get some bread. The woman greated us and waited in front of a wall of different kinds of bread as we discussed what we wanted. We decided on two loaves. Before I continue, let me emphasize that we were at a BAKERY, we were planning on purchasing some BREAD for breakfast, we now knew how much BREAD we wanted, and the nice woman was standing in front of piles of BREAD. Take a second to visualize. OK, so the next thing that came out of Levon’s mouth was “Hatz oonik?” and we all kind of stood there for a second and looked at each other. Then we realized what he said and we all began to laugh. The woman also began to laugh as she responded by pointing at the stacks of bread behind her and saying “Ayo hatz oonink.” We’ve already reminded each other of the story thousands of times and it seems to be just as funny each time.
Another notable occurrence, after our tour of the Bureau building we were walking down an alley where we heard a familiar tune. We walked a little further and realized that an Armenian man in a big truck parked on the side of the road was bumping T-Payne’s “Blame It on the Alcohol.” Put yourself in our shoes. This time, all 8 of us began to laugh. Hopefully you guys find these stories kind of funny. We miss all of you back home and hope all is well.
We started out our wonderful journey by heading to the store to buy hatz yev baneer for breakfast. The group had an “intense” discussion about the previous night, then we went to the Bureau office to visit the museum that was located downstairs.
Anoush, the curator of the museum, gave us an in depth tour of the exhibits. From what Anoush was saying, I immediately picked up the fact that she was extremely intelligent on this subject when she was speaking.
However, as a non fluent speaker in Armenian, I found it very hard to understand what she was saying, due to the fact that she was speaking extremely fast; but I didn’t care because I’m so desperate to speak/understand my language that any exposure is great.
After the Bureau office, our group headed to the Kerakyun Marmin building, which is the headquarters of the ARF in Armenia.
Riding on the metro... almost
Seeing this made me realize that we Armenians are very powerful and anything we set our mind to will definitely come true and nothing can stop us from what we have to say or do.
Throughout the day as we walked through Yerevan we went to the beautiful church of St. Gregory the Illuminator that I am hoping to get married in.
We also went and experienced the metro underground for the first time.
This trip is by far THE best experience I’ve ever had. This would be my first time coming to my homeland and I love it so much. Being in Armenia for a day or so already makes me want to buy a house and move here. I honestly love this group and we have had so much fun, we all just clicked and to me they’re like my brothers and sisters. I have a feeling I am not going to want to leave Armenia because I’m having the time of my life!!!
Anyone can tell you that the plane ride to the destination is the worst part of it all.
But my overwhelming anticipation to finally arrive in Armenia kept me awake the full 20 hour trip. I didn’t know what to expect of Armenia once I got there but I had a feeling this would all be worth it.
As we arrived to Zvartnots it hit me like a bag of bricks, I was in my Motherland for the first time. The only thing I wanted to do at this point was step out of the plane and say “Parev” to everyone that I saw.
As we reached the arrival gate we see Berj’s father who was kind enough to come welcome us. So there we are, we have all our luggage and are waiting for the van to come pick us up, everyone tired and excited at the same time. Finally the van arrives and we head out to our apartment building in Yerevan.
While driving I turn to my right to gaze at a gorgeous view of Mount Ararat. I couldn’t stop staring at it and just thinking, thinking about how much work everyone in that van has put in for our Armenia, thinking about how one day I would love to have a simple picnic at the base of Ararat and not have to see it on the other side of the border.
My final thoughts on Ararat, as it disappeared behind buildings, were “I want that back.”
We reach our apartment building and I notice the other buildings around us have a unique style, each unit with a balcony of its own and each balcony designed in their own special way. Some had tile around it others had nice stones, as if to point out the individuality of the families living there. Our apartment units were simple and plain, yet I wouldn’t take a suite at the Marriot hotel over it.
At this point all of us are hungry but no restaurants are open only 24 hour grocery stores. Our first meal in Armenia was a traditional one; we had bread with cheese, boureg and apricot juice. Sitting on a small table, barely enough room to fit everyone, we shared one of the greatest meals of our lives.
After we rested for a little while we decided to walk the streets of Yerevan and possibly eat again. When you hear someone say the drivers in Armenia really don’t care about pedestrians, the stories they tell are 100% true. We had many close encounters in our 2 hour walk through of the city.
We also saw a lot of very interesting things, like a local shawerma restaurant called Sayat Shawerma, which I would recommend to anyone looking for a very good shawerma meal.
On our way back to the apartment we learned how to deal with the drivers that almost run you over, you simply stick your arm out and yell at them, they either apologize by sticking their arms out of the window and showing you the universal hand gesture for thank you/I�m sorry or they drive away mumbling to themselves about how rude you were–oh the irony in that!
It is currently 9:30 P.M. so the night is young and we are ready for a fun filled evening in the city. For my first day in Yerevan, I can tell you that this day alone was worth that 20 hour Trip.
LOS ANGELES–After months of planning, preparation and endless fundraising, the Youth Corps of the Armenian Youth Federation departed from Los Angeles on Wednesday, headed toward the independent Republic of Armenia, where the group will run a day camp for youth in Gyumri.
Last year, AYF Camp Gyumri, was a home away from home for hundreds of children in Armenia. It was also a place of comfort and familiarity for another group of young Armenians, who traveled thousands of miles in search of a means to connect with the home of their ancestors.
The participants this year are: Serop Chalian, Levon Abrahamian, Berj Parseghian, Kevork Babayan, Kevork Kebabjian, Sanan Haroun Arianna DeLeon, Nora Injeyan, and Alex DerAlexanian.
The group will be in the homeland for over a month, spending the summer with the children of a city still struggling to rebuild after the devastating 1988 earthquake.
It’s midnight on Wednesday and the group is en route to Yerevan….
Asbarez and Youth Corps will be bloging live from Armenia and Little Armenia, to share the experiences of this group as they live and working in the Homeland.
This week we preview the Summer 2009 issue of the Armenian Youth Federation’s quarterly publication, Haytoug. The upcoming issue will focus on the theme of solidarity between peoples and causes. Visit the AYF Booth at the Navasartian Games (July 2-5) to pick up a free copy. It will also be available at community centers, schools and local Armenian book stores.
Human nature is often described as self-interested, egotistical and insular, where individuals do not have concern for anything outside of the realm which directly affects them. While it may seem logical and prudent for everyone to put their heads down and focus solely on their immediate desires, this is not the way to achieving positive and tangible change on any level. The attitude described above leads to the creation and intensification of dividing lines among people that should otherwise be unified.
For Armenians the need for solidarity exists on three distinct levels: amongst ourselves, with the struggles of our local American communities and within the sphere of transnational social issues and persecuted minorities. Armenians in general need to make a much more earnest effort to communicate and coordinate with one another; especially regarding core national issues which are inarguable. For far too long, divisive, skeptical and outdated mindsets have laid obstacles, preventing full cooperation. Its high time we realize the importance and value of every active and motivated community member in matters which really matter.
Furthermore, as a Diasporan population we must mobilize ourselves to get involved in local issues that impact the areas which we inhabitanything from movements advocating environmental consciousness to immigrant rights movements and the fight against local racism. Even in a diverse city like Los Angeles, we see intolerant and xenophobic sentiments expressed against Armenians. Hearing radio show hosts joke about finishing what the Turks started, or reading columns by school teachers who feel entitled to deride students for trying to maintain their culture and help their community, to experiencing a police department riddled with chauvinistic officers who stereotype and characterize civilians, shows that our plight is not much different from what Blacks, Hispanics, Asians or any other minority group have gone through or continue to go through.
On a global level we must remind ourselves that issues such as genocide, oppressive labor practices and foreign dominationwhich are issues that have profoundly affected Armenians– affect the entire human race and people from all walks of life. We see that the same aggression carried out against the Armenian people by Turkey has also been repeatedly committed against the likes of the Greeks, Assyrians, Kurds, and even dissenting Turks. Thus, our call for justice is part and parcel of this broader struggle to, once and for all, put an end to the brutality of the Turkish state. This naturally aligns our cause with that of the Kurds. Of course, the movement for recognition of the Armenian Genocide has always been propelled by the understanding that failing to recognize past injustices will only contribute to history repeating itself. Thus amplifying the urgency with which we must speak out and take action against the current genocide in Darfur, in an effort to stop current and future atrocities.
When approaching Armenian issues from these perspectives, one that draws connections rather than divisions with other peoples, you lay the groundwork for solidarity and future collaboration. Such collaboration is important not only for the intrinsic moral value it wields but also for the broader bases of strength it can help build in achieving serious progress. The pooling of resources and collective power that is gained from coalition building should never be underestimated. In addition, allying with other groups has always been one of the ways Armenian activists have learned more about themselves and gained valuable skills for pushing our own movement forward.
Although we have a unique obligation to, first and foremost, serve our community, we also owe it to ourselves to stand with one another and to stand with others struggling against oppression.
Through solidarity we can prove the old proverb, big fish eat little fish to be wrong.
On September 2, 1938 an editorial appeared in the Hairenik Weekly condemning the Turkish governments brutal crackdown of its Kurdish population in Dersim. The editorial drew the following link between the common struggle for freedom waged by both Armenians and Kurds:
The case with the Kurds is a fight born of desperation, similar to the stand of the Armenians in 1918, a resistance which takes into account neither numbers nor odds. It is the natural instinct for self-preservation and self-determination to which all peoples aspire.
Such an expression of solidarity with the Kurdish Cause was not an aberration but, rather, a direct extension of the Armenian Revolutionary Federations rich legacy of standing shoulder to shoulder with all groups struggling against oppression. Drawing such links between other movements for social justice and the Armenian Cause is an important principle which deserves proper attention, not only for its moral and historical significance, but also for its political implications in todays context of Hai Tahd activism.
There are two major underlying aspects behind the principle of solidarity. One is the moral aspect which considers freedom to be a social, rather than mere individual, pursuit. It is based on the belief that one can only truly be free when freedom becomes achieved for all others around them as well; for how can one truly be content and secure in their freedom if they are surrounded by suffering and injustice? This concept is perhaps best captured in Martin Luther King Jrs famous quote, Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
The other dimension for solidarity hinges on a more practical political calculation: the belief that by coming together with others around a common goal, one can help build a broader base of power and improve social conditions. Indeed, by pooling resources and manpower, movements which are able to collaborate with one another are logically much more likely to achieve victories. The smaller a group or movement is, the more central this consideration becomes in their hopes for pursuing justice.
The ARF Legacy
In the history of the Armenian Cause, both of these dimensions have played a role in motivating initiatives to form bonds with non-Armenian circles. From very early on its existence, the ARF cultivated ties with other peoples who similarly struggled for liberation against despotic regimes. Such groups included the Russians, Kurds, Persians, Assyrians, Macedonians and even ordinary Turks who suffered under the Sultan.
Within the Armenian communities of the Ottoman Empire, the Kurdish masses stood out as an especially important group to establish cooperation with. Like Armenians, Kurdish peasants lived a servile existence under Ottoman rule and faced similar levels of exploitation. The ARF sought to explain that both peoples had a shared interest in resisting Turkish tyranny and the brutality of Kurdish landowning chieftains.
Several early ARF World Congresses passed decisions calling for the establishment of relations with Kurds; the pages of Droshak, the ARFs official publication, commonly featured calls for peace with the Kurds; and fedayees such as Ishkhan, Vartkes, Goms, Roupen, Kevork Chavoush, Rosdom and many others made attempts to build bridges with the Kurdish working class. Although these attempts did not bear full fruit, there were in fact a handful of Kurds who were courageous enough to go against their powerful chiefs and join with the ARF in its struggle against the Sultan. Kurdish figures such as Msto, Valad Nuri, Kerpela Abbas, and Hamzeh put their lives on the line and fought shoulder to shoulder with Armenians. There was even a mixed Armeno-Kurdish ARF group led by the fedayee Mjo.
Nevertheless, the lack of a revolutionary consciousness and the grip of the feudal clan system within the Kurdish community served as an obstacle to broad-based collaboration. Many Kurds succumbed to the divide and conquer policies designed by the Turkish state and participated in the massacre of Armenians.
Following the Genocide, however, as the Turkish government turned its genocidal focus against the Kurds, the ARF once again extended a hand of harmony and collaboration to the Kurdish people. Figures such as Vahan Papazian worked to bring Kurds together and help them organize resistance against the increasingly repressive policies of Kemalist Turkey. Due to Papazians efforts, a first-ever national Kurdish league called Hoybun was formed in Lebanon in 1927. ARF leaders such as Garo Sassouni also allied in favor of the Kurdish struggle and the ARF officially raised the Kurdish issue at meetings of the Socialist International, beginning in 1925.
Thus, as can be seen, attempts at solidarity between Kurds and Armenians persevered even in the face of past Kurdish involvement in atrocities against Armenians. This was due to the fact that Kurds are a people whose fate has been inextricably linked to that of Armenians. Both have been victims of Turkish brutality and have had their national rights denied.
Just as Turkish authorities once viewed Armenians call for equality and democracy as a threat to their empire, Ankara today interprets the Kurdish peoples demand for basic human rights as meaning separatism. Just as the Ottoman authorities refused to recognize the national identity of Armenians and called them Christian Turks, the Kurdish people have had to fight Turkeys attempts to officially classify them as Mountain Turks. Just as they once did to Armenians, the Turkish government continues to suppress the language, history, and identity of Kurds; ransacks their schools and cultural monuments; bans their political parties and newspapers; pillages their towns and villages; terrorizes their families and children; subjects Kurds to a policy of Turkification; and attacks their human rights workers and journalists.
There is no better example of the horrific consequences of allowing Turkey to get away with the Genocide than what is happening today to the Kurds. Allowing a crime to go unpunished only tells the criminal that they can get away with the same crimes over and over again. We see this very clearly today in the case of Turkeys policy toward the Kurds.
In this sense, there is a moral imperative to show solidarity with the Kurdish peoples struggle. At the same time, there is a tactical imperative to form cooperation with all those who share an interest in putting an end to Turkeys inhumanity. The strength of all movements demanding justice from Turkey would be amplified if such diverse groups came together around their mutual points of concern. Not doing so would only serve the interests of the Turkish state and continue the divide-and-conquer policy it has so long pursued.
In addition, as has been pointed out by academic Bilgit Ayata, dialogue between Armenians and Kurds has the potential to serve as a counterweight to the counterproductive approach being pushed on the state level between Turkey and Armenia. Instead of succumbing to Turkeys imposition of dominance under the guise of Turkish-Armenian reconciliation, Armenians should seek common cause with the Kurdish people and ask themselves how there can ever be genuine friendship with a country that still systematically oppresses over 20% of its own population.
Although there have been many disappointments and negative experiences in the ARFs attempts to form coalitions with other struggles, there have also been many positive achievements. Indeed, some of the instances of collaboration with other liberation movements have undoubtedly formed one of the most remarkable chapters in ARF history. In this light, the benefits of collaboration should continue to be pursued, albeit carefully and with the vigilance that ensures that the rights of Armenians are never made expendable.
____________ Editor’s Note: This article is featured in the Summer 2009 issue of Haytoug, a quarterly publication by the Armenian Youth Federation. The upcoming issue will focus on the theme of solidarity between peoples and causes. Visit the AYF Booth at the Navasartian Games (July 2-5) to pick up a free copy. It will also be available at community centers, schools and local Armenian book stores.You can also download it in PDF today and visit the website to sign up for a free subscription.