Capacity Crowd of Over 3,000 Comes Together to Mark ARF’s 125th Anniversary
PASADENA–The Pasadena Civic Auditorium was overflowing with a capacity crowd of more than 3,000 who came together Sunday to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation at an event organized by the ARF Western US Central Committee. The organizing committee was forced to turn away hundreds of people as the hall had reached capacity.
The message of the evening was a resounding call to action to more aggressively push for the demands and just aspirations of the Armenian people, and for the ARF to continue its mission of bringing together Armenians of all walks of life to collectively advance the Armenian Cause.
The evening’s keynote speaker, ARF Bureau member Armen Rustamian, who is also the party’s parliamentary bloc president in Armenia, spoke of the need to assess the lessons the ARF has learned during the past 25 years of an independent Armenia and to focus the organization’s efforts in advancing the building blocks for creating an Armenia that can become socio-economically more just and politically more independent. He also said that not one inch of territory can be comprised and conceded, in discussing the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Delivering the remarks on behalf of the ARF Western US Central Committee, its chairman, Dr. Viken Hovsepian outlined that in the 125 years, the ARF’s mission and priorities continue to be service to the people on the road to advancing justice and our National priorities.
He also said that the ARF will continue to demand that the Turkish government, not only recognize but make reparations for the crime of Genocide, and demand that the Azerbaijani government to end it military policy of destabilizing the south Caucasus because Artsakh is an indivisible and indigenous Armenian territory, whose territory is sacred and cannot be compromised.
He also looked inward at the Armenian community and said that the ARF will demand that the Armenian Church elevate its outreach to the community by educating the young generation about the tenets of the Armenian Church. He also called on Armenian schools to step up their efforts and ensure that students speak the Armenian language. He also said that the ARF must look at itself and learn from past lessons to be able to persevere to greater successes.
“Today, from Washington to Moscow to Ankara all eyes are fixated on our community—the Los Angeles Armenian community—to figure out the strengths and secrets of our potential and how we expend them on political realities,”
“Today, from Armenia to Syria, from Artsakh to Lebanon and beyond, our brothers and sisters look to us in anticipation to understand how we direct the impact of our collective strength to our goals and whether we take part in the general efforts with new paradigms,” said Hovsepian.
“We are confident in our strength. A strength, whose one fraction we collectively demonstrated last April 24, when 160,000 Armenians–in the name of 1 million on these shores, in the name of the memory of 1.5 million martyred saints, and in the name of 10 million Armenians around the world—looked at each other in the eye and shoulder-to-shoulder pledged to continue our struggle toward absolute victory,” explained the ARF leader.
Hovsepian also said that the ARF will continue to demand from the government of the Armenia “because we believe that our brothers and sisters who live in our state deserve more and deserve better than what they are given today.”
He said the Armenian people, regardless of where they reside, must demand a more “just and bright” Armenia, adding that while it is understandable that building a nation takes time and great sacrifice. However, Hovsepian pointed out, that the efforts during the past 25 years of independence have been meager and insufficient.
Earlier during the program Gev Iskajian, the chairman of the Armenian Youth Federation Central Executive, outlined the activities of the organization in service to the Armenian people from its inception in 1933 by Karekin Njdeh to its current activism, which spans college campuses and impacts the youth today in pursuing the Armenian Cause.
The evening’s program began with an impressive flag ceremony by the Homenetmen Western Region Scouts who entered from the back of the auditorium, carrying flags and being led by the Homentemen Marching Band, preceded by a moving performance of “Akh Haiatan” by Garine Avakian. This was followed by the singing of the US and Armenian national anthems by students of the Lark Musical Society, after which the curtain was raised to reveal a 150-member strong choir of the AYF Junior organization. Before the performance by the juniors, Alique Boyajian took a moment to deliver remarks pledging a new generation’s commitment to the ARF and its mission,
Mistress of Ceremonies, Miganoush Adjemian began her opening remarks by welcoming those in attendance, and throughout the evening adeptly guided the program to its fruition, intermittently interjecting explanations about the ARF, its emblem, anthem and its affiliate organizations.
An impressive roster of performers took the stage and not only entertained but conveyed the evening’s message through song, music, recitation and dance. The performers in addition to Avakian, the Lark Musical Society and the AYF Juniors Choir included the Hamazkayin Ani Dance Troupe, the Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School Chorus, the Greg Hosharian Trio, Payla Kevorkian, Armen Movsesyan, Kristapor Arabian, as well as Andre, Tata and Harout Pamboukjian.