LITTLE ARMENIA– Two days after the parliamentary elections in Armenia, a homemade firebomb 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.
The Internet and social media sites are abuzz with condemnation of this deplorable act, which some forces are blaming the Armenian Revolutionary Federation because of the suspects’ alleged affiliation with the party.
Asbarez caught up with ARF Western US Central Committee Chairman Avedik Izmirlian, who, on behalf of the ARF condemned the hate crime and called for “frank and honest discussion about intolerance.”
Below is the complete interview:
ASBAREZ: What are your views on the vandalism incident in Yerevan last week?
AVEDIK IZMIRLIAN: The Armenian Revolutionary Federation Western US Central Committee strongly condemns and deplores the recent vandalism and destruction of a business in Yerevan. We also find the incident’s root impetus of homophobia and intolerance as equally reprehensible. We believe that those responsible for this act must be brought to justice based on the letter of the law.
ASBAREZ: Soon after the incident there was a lot of finger pointing at the ARF because individuals allegedly involved with incident had affiliations with the organization. Should the ARF be blamed for this act?
A.I.: Equally deplorable are efforts by certain individuals and groups to politicize this matter and point the finger of blame at the Armenian Revolutionary Federation.
The Armenian Revolutionary Federation had no involvement whatsoever with this crime. Our party was founded on the credo of advocating individual rights and fighting all forms of oppression, exploitation and discrimination.
We also strongly condemn and find it absolutely unacceptable any effort to legitimize this crime and any inflammatory statements that further exacerbates the situation.
From its inception, the ARF has been on the forefront of the movement for human rights and justice and has relentlessly combated efforts to curtail or stifle fundamental rights and freedoms be that of a nation, a group or individuals.
ASBAREZ: This is an incident that took place in Armenia, why should it matter here in the United States?
A.I.: Because this is a universal issue. Discrimination based on race, religion, nationality or sexual orientation has always been a contentious issue in societies as advanced as the one here in the United States. It is the ARF’s conviction, however, that in a civilized society, oppressing or stifling individual rights is unacceptable and must be outright rejected.
ASBAREZ: Are there lessons to be taken from this situation?
A.I.: We believe that this incident must become an opportunity for frank and honest discussion about intolerance, persecution and discrimination in our society and serve as an impetus for the advancement of justice and human rights.
The ARF’s just mission of fighting for the aspiration of the Armenian Nation is anchored on the firm belief that no individual or state has the right to oppress or take away fundamental freedoms. After all that is what propels us-the ARF-to advance and fight for the ARMENIAN CAUSE.