Of Hate Crimes and Intolerance: Lessons Must be Learned

The interior of the DIY bar was damaged after the attack

BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN

Two days after the parliamentary elections in Armenia, a homemade car bomb was used to vandalize DIY, a bar in Yerevan frequented by non-traditionalist thinkers in Armenia and a safe-haven for the often-persecuted LGBT community in Armenia.

This act is a hate crime. There are no other words to describe it. Police arrested two culprits and controversy erupted when two people, who are members of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation parliamentary bloc opted to bail out the suspects Hampig and Mgrdich (also referred to as Arame) Khapazian, who allegedly targeted the bar owner for her activism in the LGBT community, and participation in a Gay Pride Parade in Turkey.

These individuals’ mere affiliation with the ARF sparked a campaign in the Armenian press and on social media accusing the party of being behind the attacks and condoning the acts. The situation became more inflamed after of one of those posting bail made comments to the press in defense of the suspects, as well as his personal contention that pre-trial arrests—in general—are unjustified.

This, like any other hate crime is deplorable and must be condemned by all forces in and outside of Armenia.

For 121 years, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation has been on the forefront of advocating and working for justice, human rights and against intolerance and persecution. The party’s ideology and advocacy HAVE NOT changed.

It is truly unfortunate that the ARF members did not use their leadership perch to advance dialogue and discussion of tolerance and acceptance in our country. However, for people to use their statements to accuse an entire party that operates internationally of masterminding this attack is equally counterproductive.

In the US we have witnessed, as recently as last week, how still divisive the issue of LGBT rights can be and how, as a so-called advanced society, some elements are unable to fully comprehend the fundamentals of freedom and equality.

The fact of the matter is that this horrible incident has brought to fore the dire imperative for constructive discussion, discourse and dialogue about tolerance. If we are to advance as a nation we all have to work toward and practice what the ARF preamble says, which is that no individual or state has the right to oppress or persecute any other.

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31 Comments

  1. Heghapokhagan said:

    It is obvioius those guys did it through their own personal hatred. What if they were members of Republican Party of Armenia??

  2. Vahe said:

    “homemade car bomb”? No… it was likely a hand-thrown firebomb, judging from the cctv footage. And, anyway, are there car bombs that aren’t homemade? Is there a carbomb manufacturer out there? 😉

  3. Sevak said:

    Punish the wrong-doer party members. That artsvig guy needs to be told off and warned in the most serious way. He supported the terrorist attack in the heart of Yerevan. …

  4. Pingback: AYF Shant Chapter’s Statement on Homophobic Fire-Bombing Hate Crime in Yerevan « Notes of a Spurkahye

  5. Harutik said:

    Psycho-sexual disorders: pedophilia, necrophilia, incest, homosexuality and various fetishes of sorts….

    No sense in embracing any of these human abnormalities in a small and conservative nation like Armenia. If they don’t like it, the so-called “LGBT” community of freaks can stay away from Armenia. There is always New York, London and San Francisco for their type to feel at home in.

    • Ara said:

      And what will you do if your son or daughter turns out to be homosexual? Will you throw them out of the house? Have them beg for food? And what would you tell their mother?

      Homosexuality is something people are born with. Just like blond hair.

    • Tsayt said:

      All one can deduce is such outpour of hatred against fellow Armenians, fellow human beings, only proves the undeniable display of one’s own sexual insecurities.

  6. armen h said:

    What is even more unfortunate is that two leading ARF parliamentary members put up the cash bond for the release of the criminals and did not condemn the criminal act. Then the ARF leaders claimed that “those type of people” apparently alluding the gays and lesbians, are a danger to Armenia’s society.

  7. Robert Davidian said:

    When you write: “It is truly unfortunate that the ARF members did not use their leadership perch to advance dialogue and discussion of tolerance and acceptance in our country,” HOW “unfortunate” do you mean? Can an ARF MP REMAIN a legitimate rep of the ARF, while acting and speaking in direct OPPOSITION to the stated platform positions of his OWN party? OR, do think he must resign?

  8. Tsoghig said:

    It is so disappointing to read that the ARF members in Hayastan are so idealogically different than ARF members and supporters in the US. I am a proud hamageer, future member and this incidence makes me sick. I don’t remember who said it, i think Paulo Frerre, that often when oppressed people gain authority they oppress people. That is the dked way. The ARF leaders in Armenia should be better leaders and learn from their mistreatment to never treat ANYONE the way Turks treat Armenians or the way the ARF was treated during LTP.

    • bigmoustache said:

      i 100% agree with you, it also goes for the ARF in beirut, canada, europe and elsewhere. totally different

  9. Tsoghig said:

    One last thing…why do people make it their personal business to abuse homosexuals around the world? It is like the attackers suffered some personal harm just because someone who has nothing to do with them happens to be gay. Everyone needs to mind their own business and stay the f out of other people’s lives, there are more important things to worry about in life, like winning elections!

  10. Serge said:

    It is a very sad day for Armenia, Armenians and ARF. Is this the independent country we have waited so long for? Has ARF encouraged us to dream of an independent country so that fascists could rule and drive the population out. I can’t understand why anyone should have the right to dictate others how to live their lives. Armenia belongs to everyone, to live in their homeland in peace, freedom and safety. We have so many unresolved issues and we are mobilising our energy to attack vulnerable groups and minorities. There was a time Armenians in that region were in the forefront of progressive values, today we have fallen decades behind Turkey. While the gay pride in Istanbul has ambitions to be one of the largest events in Europe, in Armenia they are burning gay bars and calling for the extermination of gay people. I wonder how that will that go down in the civilised world whose support we are constantly asking for.

  11. Micha said:

    Well … this article is just a pure water beautiful “bla-bla-bla”. During decades FRA did nothing to improve the situation in Armenia. All we see is that FRA brought more and more “nationalistic” and square-headed debate. The real nationalism is in creating a democracy. If we are not capable of building a democratic society where all minorities and citizens are safe and respected, than this means we don’t love enough our country. Armenia needs some fresh mindset, some inspiration. For the time being all the inspiration comes from Dodi Gago and Serge Sargsyan. Until we didn’t bring up an opposition movement with strong democratic and patriotic stance, nothing will change and worse than that … we will loose Armenia. Dodi Gagos and Serge Sargsyan will sell out out. They already have created the biggest exodus after the Genocide… our homeland is loosing its population. How can we be happy with such a lousy governance. We’re not French or even Israelis to afford experimentations like “Dodi Gago” and SS. We don’t have that chance to explore the “beneath” of statehood. We got neighbours with not always friendly ambitions… Our survival is in oiur statehood. We’re loosing it … And we talk about positive and constructive discussion…. Am I delirring or I’ve missed something ? Do you suggest that we may have a constructive discussion we Dodi Gago and SS ?

  12. Micha said:

    Dashnaks should be in the opposition to the government and never collaborate with it …. or , worse , in it. No single Armenian gov was worth of collaborating. All of them failed… they’re all loosers ! You cannot collaborate with loosers… who put their personal interest above national interests. We need to kick all them out. If Dashnaks will not choose their camp they will be kicked out … You can’t go against your own people. You serve it. Otherwise it will wake up and kick your ass :) You have to choose : you serve people or you prefer people surve you ! I prefer to serve my people.
    Your turn !

  13. Greg said:

    By this logic many of the tenants of the ARF which require dedication and self-sacrifice are “not liberal,” because they put nation and responsibility first, before any personal “pleasure” and even “freedom.” ARF is not a “liberal” ideology, but one of dedication, sacrifice and service. It is this liberalism that is destroying the West which does not stand up to the number of threats that it is facing, now you want the same in Armenia. How are we going to fight the Turks or Azeris with the “mentality” and “lifestyle” of the likes of turkophile Tsomak Oganezova? Armenian nation is already dying, now we need our families to be broken up and have more people who just “enjoy life” and do not have Armenian children. That is just what we need in Armenia and the likes of Tsomak Oganezova are actively encouraging that. They are not neutral on the issue but are actively propagating their lifestyle. I am sure the Turks are very happy the way things are going with all the ills, this is just another “trend” to completely cull what is left of the Armenian people. No wonder these people love Turkey (and on number of occasions said they can “never compare Turkey with Armenia”) and had a picture of Ataturk (I do not know if they had it because he was a Turk or Gay, but probably both) in the bar. Did anyone even think for a moment that maybe those guys were upset by that? How would you feel if they had a picture of Hitler in there? Do you think Ataturk (one of the masterminds of the Armenian Genocide who invaded and destroyed the First Republic) is any less, actually to Armenians he is hundreds times worst for his role in the genocide!

    • deaf said:

      Several studies show that on average only 5% of the entire male population of a community are gay or have some kind of homosexual tendency. I really doubt that that small percentage of people can destroy the Armenian nation, in fact, Israel which is the only developed and democratic nation in middle-east is fully tolerant towards gay people, to the extent, that gays serve in the Israeli army and I haven’t heard of any major gay-related incident so far in their army.Besides, homosexuality is not synonymous with infertility. The main reasons behind Armenia’s population drop are immigration and the unwillingness of middle class young couples to have more than one or two kids. So if you really want to save Armenia leave these poor people alone and stick to the main problems: corruption, lawlessness, apathy, government controlled media…

  14. bayrakiniyakan said:

    a fish gets rotten from its head ! Vahan Hrant Armen Ardzvik = penguin and the other penguins of the ARF Armenia ….geran lapetsin tashnagtsutyune Hayastani mech …for twenty years ARF popularity in Armenia went down why ? ARF clean yourself from your old leadership and return
    to your traditions of the past glory … and save the Armenian nation and the homeland !
    we have enough of all the currant leaders of 5% popularity next time it can be 0,00 % !

  15. Aris said:

    Gay Armenians have the right to live in peace and prosperity in their own country. Homosexuality is legal in Armenia and what is missing from Armenia’s penal code is an anti-discriminatory measure that would send arsonists like these behind bars for a good portion of their bigoted lives.

  16. AdilJavid said:

    The attack is not really about the LGBT community. That bar is a conduit for turkish intelligence activities. That is what the turks do if you scoff at that you either naive or working in turkish interests. Turkish intelligence is always keen on recruiting Armenians who are outside the mainstream of thought. Having a picture of Ataturk in the bar makes it obvious where their hearts lay, no pun intended. If they could have gotten away with putting up the turkish flag there they would have. Turkish operatives go to that bar to recruit and exchange intelligence information about the national security of Armenia. The same thing happens in Los angeles at a turkish bar/restaurant that has an Armenian night on thursdays. It’s a great way to recruit future traitors.It’s a very convient way and place for turks to make Armenians help them. Especially through blackmail. As many gay Armenians don’t want to be found out. You have to understand that turks devote alot of resources in every way possible to defeat us. Attending a gay pride parade in turkey is the cherry on the cake. There are plenty of gay establishments in yerevan as much as anyother city but were other places targeted? No. This is a blatantly pro turkish establishment that promotes turkey and I contend is one of the doors of turkish espionage in yerevan. And don’t forget one also in Los Angeles.

  17. FooFoo the Beirutie. said:

    I’m so pride,I mean proud of the ARF’s position on the Armenian LGBT, as The First Christian’s, Armenians we should love everybody.God bless the ARF and The LGBT.

  18. Armenian said:

    In Azerbaijan, people who go out of their way to harm, hurt, distort, defame and dehumanize Armenians are national heroes. Apparently that’s the case in Armenia, too. Bravo, Hayastan! You’re becoming just as anti-Armenian as your neighbors.

    I am amazed that for a people like us- people who have been historically persecuted for being who we are, speaking the language we speak, and looking the way we do, we’re so quick to persecute our own kind. Where can Armenians of all backgrounds go if their own homeland does not welcome them?

    I would also like to state that it is very unfortunate that this primitive idea of “beating the Turks” exists only in the form of procreation and physical warfare. If Armenians are so concerned about rising above the Turks and Azeris, why not try to make a better, more stable, secure and democratic society for the country? Eliminate corruption to better the lives of Armenians at home. The Azeris have an abysmal human rights record, but with events like these, we don’t seem to be too far behind them.

    Superiority exists in more than just numbers and weapons, but it seems that some Armenians would rather trade sexual “perversions” for democratic ones. It’s ironic, too. The very people who talk about combating “sexual perversion” for the sake of national interests are the same ones who rig elections, and probably funnel money from the government to their own pockets. What a shame.

  19. elpe4457 said:

    a successful nation is tolerant and passionate to the disadvantaged, sick , elderly , and also to the gay and lesbians, we are NOT living in the dark ages anymore……..what would you do if your son or daughter is homosexual ???? disown them ?
    let’s clean up the corruption which is the real danger to the country

  20. Micha said:

    Greg,
    Liberalism is not our enemy. We are our enemies. Our stupidity, narrow-mindness, weakness and cowardness contribute to our failure. If I read you message, there is no single word of condemnation of the attack. You don’t agree with Tsomak Oganezova, it’s fine. But before debating on here stance, start by condemning the violence she was a victim.

    There is something horrible about us Armenians. We learnt absolutely nothing from our past.
    What was the genocide ? Why on earth you want the rest of the world to recognize your victimhood ? Why ? People just don’t care about you and your cause….

    Your behaviour towards gays and lesbians is exactly the same…. you don’t care how those folks live, if they suffer or they’re happy. You’re hating them for what they are. Exactly the same thing you forefathers suffered from in the Ottoman Empire… they were hated because they were Armenians …

    If we have no capacity to open our minds, to think about a place where all Armenians can be happy and acceppted, then forget about Genocide… its recognition won’t help you, folks ! Cause you’re already dead

  21. Peter Megerdumian said:

    How can you demonize a whole political party for the wrongdoing of one person. Is that not a form of hatred that these gay activists claim to be fighting against.

  22. hayrenaser said:

    before anyone casts a stone at the “sick and the perverted” think of what it would be like, if you and your lifestyles were ostracized and victimized…you cannot force your morals on others, the point being, live and let others live, no one died and made YOU god’s right arm and enforcer of the high ethics that defines the armenian nation and the golbal moral authority in general,
    no one has the right to decide who is armenian and who isn’t, and if it is indeed true, that there was a picture of ataturk (anitzyal anasoon, as revolting as it seems), at DIY, that person, business or entity has the right to express themselves within the confines of their personal space and the law,
    i personally detest anything religious,specially those of abrahamic origins (jewish, muslim, christian) and all the rest of the mind numbing witchcraft philosophies , does that mean i have the right to bomb them out of existence because they are threatening my national unity, isn’t that the same argument ataturk and hitler used to attempt to exterminate you know who, it seems to me that yesterdays victim has turned to today’s oppressor, sadly, unlike us, the jews have coalesced with all their co-victims to ensure justice and equality for everyone (including homosexuals), yet we as small as we are in numbers, are actively rejecting, denying, and forcing our gay compatriots to form ties with our arch enemy, instead of embracing them as rightful heirs of our nation and reaping the benefits that they can contribute to make armenia a great country that it should be…
    and to respond to our well informed hayrenakits “harutik”, homosexuality… (unlike some of the psycho-sexual disorders you have so selectively listed such as pedophilia, necrophilia, incest) is consensual between people with similar attractions, you cannot teach or convert anyone into a homosexual lifestyle, you either are or you are not,
    where as,
    pedophilia, necrophilia, incest, are non-consensual, and forced upon others, the only issue you and other hardcore heterosexuals like yourselves should be concerned with, is when a homosexual forces him/her self on you, which intern becomes a crime, which is entirely a whole different issue,
    and avetis “JAN” if you consider this to finally be some good news from Armenia, the very fact that you are allowed to express your disturbing view is really no less revolting than walking into DIY and seeing a photograph of ataturk, (iskuyn sirt kharneliq)
    we are all resident aliens of this planet, equal care-takers, with equal rights and protections, so if you don’t like something, don’t be a part of it,
    imagine for one minute if the majority were homosexuals and they do to you what you are doing to them, would you like it ????

  23. ArdeVast Atheian said:

    What trumps the other? Whether a Hai is homosexual or whether he is an Armenian? I’ll always embrace the Armenian. How can an Armenian place more value on his countryman’s sexual orientation? How many unnecessary such filters shall we apply weeding our ranks further when there are already so few of us? I’ll apologize to our Armenian homosexuals for some of the unfortunate intolerant comments here.

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