Dear Armenian-American Millennials

DearArmenianAmericanMillenials
DearArmenianAmericanMillenials

March For Justice 2016

BY ALIK OURFALIAN

Dear Armenian-American Millennials,

I’m sick and tired of Armenian-Americans, especially our generation of millennials, thinking our biggest concern is genocide recognition when it comes to supporting political candidates.

Over the past few days, I’ve seen a lot of “s/he isn’t going to recognize the genocide”-type comments on social media, as well as people criticizing others for voting with Armenian-American issues in mind because “neither candidate will recognize the genocide anyway.” The U.S. stance on Armenian-American issues extends far beyond genocide recognition. This is not me making a case for any specific candidate. All I’m asking is that you recognize that we have other concerns and issues and to think about how those concerns are affecting our community.

The situation in Artsakh today is very real. Our homeland continues to be under attack by Azerbaijan. Just a few months ago in April, we saw how quickly matters escalated. The U.S., as one of the leading powers on the globe, has a lot of influence, even halfway across the world. Its foreign policies concerning Azerbaijan — and its biggest ally, Turkey — should be of great importance to us. So far, the U.S. stance has been in support of Azerbaijan’s claims to Artsakh. The U.S. has interests in Azerbaijan’s oil supply, which is why it ignores the gross violations of human rights and democracy taking place in Azerbaijan. It also has a military base in Turkey, the strategic location of which is important to the U.S. given the situation in the Middle East. The U.S. and Turkey are also NATO allies, having an obligation to support each other in case of war.

It’s not difficult to see why a U.S. foreign policy favoring Turkey and Azerbaijan has the potential to have severe consequences for us as Armenian-Americans. Think for a second about the worst-case scenario: Azerbaijan declaring full-fledged war against Artsakh. Now think about what the U.S. would do. Think about the effects of U.S. foreign policy then, not only on our Armenian-American community, but on our brothers and sisters in Artsakh and Armenia. These are the things we should concern ourselves with and worry about. These are the concerns we should make known to our representatives in government.

Our community no longer cares about a U.S. president’s use of the word genocide. Aside from pissing off Turkey for a few days, that’s not going to do much. Reagan used the word genocide in 1981, yet we’re still in the same predicament today. When it comes to the Armenian Genocide, our demands from Turkey and the international community are so much bigger than that. We want reparations. We want our historic homeland back. Until the United States, as in the U.S. Congress, recognizes the genocide and works with the international community to demand recognition and reparations from Turkey, a U.S. president’s words don’t mean much.

So I beg you, in the future, read up on the issues we face. Understand our community’s stance on these issues. Think about a candidate’s policy and its potential effect. Don’t use genocide recognition as the only criteria in evaluating Armenian-American issues.

Sincerely,

Alik Ourfalian, An Armenian-American Millennial

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13 Comments

  1. Taniel said:

    Dear Alik:
    Armenian Americans are fully aware of Artsakh’s importance and have worked towards strengthening the US – Artsakh relationship for more than two decades – in terms of economic aid, recognition of Artsakh by individual US states, and in many other ways.

  2. John Evans said:

    I do not know Alik, but I sympathize with her frustration. Clearly there are more issues at stake than recognition of the Armenian Genocide, important as that is. The future of the Republic of Armenia and the fate of Artsakh definitely warrant our full attention in these days, election or no election. I look forward to discussing these questions with some of you in Los Angeles next week, and with others as time marches on.

  3. Karen Jallatyan said:

    Dear Armenian-American millennials, grow up, by reading books and learning how to think. It would be great if you would also read books in Armenian, because the genocide will be well and complete if you were to forget your cultural heritage that is lodged in the Armenian language. Հասկցա՞ք։ Comment here if you are wondering were you can learn Armenian and what contemporary texts you might be interested reading in Armenian these days.

  4. Peter M said:

    I subscribe to four English-language Armenian newspapers. I read internet-based news and posts from around the world. The overwhelming majority of that information IS NOT genocide related. I am not impressed by the sentiment, of some, that the Armenian diaspora is obsessed with the Armenian Genocide. It is simply not true.

    Does the issue of justice, for what happened from 1915 to 1923, occupy space in political discourse? Yes. But it is either spin-toward-some-agenda or simply a poor reading of the reality, that leads someone to ignore all the other things (culturally & politically) that Armenians spend time doing, thinking about, and talking about.

    There is room for those who want to focus on the Armenian Genocide. There will continue to be room, no matter how much some people want to move on.

  5. Michael Sosikian said:

    I am a son of an Armenian who born in Van during 1917 when the Whole Vasbouragan region was independent. My big concern was, is and will remain as an Armenian American, the following history fact: during May of 1920, then, 28th President Woodrow Wilson asked Senate to approve American mandate on the Western Armenia (Bitlis, Van, Erzrum and Trabizon), that period Senate was Republican, Republicans categorically refused to do that. The result of that refusal, all those of second and third generation of the regions mentioned above born in diaspora, means actually

  6. Menua Yesayan said:

    I just wanted to take a minute and thank you for writing this article. As an Armenian-American millennial, I love that this article is reaching so many Armenian college students and I just wish that there was a way to make sure that my generation, along with all other Armenians world-wide, had a way of staying connected and sticking together to understand and fight for what our community, as a whole, needs.

  7. Ari said:

    Well said Alik. I am proud of all young Armenians like your – from whichever country.

    Armenia has no allies. History is very clear about this fact. Russia can’t be trusted because it became a financier and supporter of Turkish nationalists just after the genocide- even though it was supposed to be the protector of Christians in the Middle East and Western Armenia. Even now, the Russians would not scrap the unjust
    Soviet Era Moscow Treaty of 1923 because they prefer the Turks over the Armenians.

    Our only hope is ourselves! We need to get rid of corruption in Armenia, educate our new generation well, modernize the economy and support democratic institutions. Armenia needs to become the Singapore of the region while pursuing the restoration of justice and reparations from the Turks.

  8. hye said:

    Alik, Genocide recognition is important, but we need to agree that it is draining our energy and taking our attention away from other important issues. Armenian American community is proud of it’s Millennials.

  9. Lu said:

    Oh naive Armenian American millennial, it doesn’t matter who gets elected or who’s in the White House. Foreign policy is formulated by higher ups, elected officials only support that policy.

    • ari said:

      Agree! Economic interests of big corporations, feeding corrupt politicians abroad and lobbyists in the US takes precedence over any ethically right actions. The US does not practice what is preaches when it comes to foreign policy.

  10. Armen said:

    I know I’m going to get some flack for this but Donald Trump getting elected is the best thing that could have happened for Armenia, assuming that he continues his courtship with Putin and removes the economic sanctions against Russia.

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