Impressions: ARF Western US Regional Convention

Garen Yegparian
Garen Yegparian

Garen Yegparian

BY GAREN YEGPARIAN

Last weekend, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation of the Western US held its 52nd Convention. This meeting occurs every other year. It reviews and evaluates the organization’s activities of the preceding two years and adopts the outline of the next two year’s activities.

It had been 24 years since I had the honor of participating in this meeting as a delegate. I was representing Burbank’s ARF unit, named Aghpalian after the famous revolutionary, organizer, and minister of the first Armenian republic. The biggest and best change I noticed a quarter century on was the much larger percentage of women among both the delegates and those attending in an advisory/consultative capacity.

Since the ARF has always been more than just a political party, more than just a revolutionary group, more than just another Diasporan organization; since it has been a central ideological entity attracting the largest number of free thinking Armenians; since it therefore serves as the organizational focus for a family of associations/institutions/societies serving various of our nation’s needs; these groups were also represented and contributed to the discourse and analysis grounding the resolutions adopted to guide operations for the next two years.

This convention addressed a lot of internal organizational issues impacting and about all levels of the organization, even though this particular meeting’s scope was formally limited to local and regional issues, not worldwide Armenian ones. These naturally bubble up periodically in any organization, especially a political one such as the ARF. The discussions were passionate, but didn’t degenerate into meaningless exchanges as can sometimes happen. The conclusions were also well reasoned and their wording took a lot of time to craft, requiring extensive efforts by the resolutions committee charged with the task.

Of course nothing is perfect. It was fascinating to observe how human nature played out. In a room full of almost 100 people, all largely in agreement about most issues, otherwise small, even miniscule, differences of opinion and approach somehow came to loom large. Later, during central committee elections, things were also heated. But, that’s the nature of the beast known as elections, isn’t it? The result was positive, with a good mix of old and new, another small step forward for the organization. The other factor that made the whole convention difficult was the shortened time allotted to it since I had last participated. We confront so many challenges as a nation and community that a somewhat longer time frame must be considered.

Numerous resolutions were adopted, but the ones that stand out for me were those about Western Armenia, reaffirming a statement of demands crafted four years ago and renewed ever since, emphasizing the importance of all-encompassing (in terms of community organizations) April 24th activities, and raising the level of activity on the Azerbaijan front to address the massive anti-Armenian efforts of that country.

As the ARF in the U.S. west of the Mississippi river embarks on the next biennium of the ongoing journey of the Armenian nation’s life and struggles, the input, the participation, the support, and yes, even constructive criticism of all concerned is welcomed. Your engagement assures a better collective future for all of us Diasporans, homeland dwellers (including the scattered remnants in Western Armenia), and even nations and countries neighboring the Armenian highlands.

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6 Comments

  1. State of Emergency said:

    So how does the ARF feel about its buddies in the Republican Party of Armenia being hauled off to jail one by one. How is it that the enlightened ARF happen to align themselves with thieves and killers? Something is seriously wrong with this picture. If the ARF doesn’t come out and clear the air, they can kiss the great majority of their young constitutions in and outside of Armenia good bye. It was either out of sheer incompetence or out right cahoots. You tells us which?

  2. Jacque said:

    I’m glad that it was mentioned the free expression and opinions of all members and followers is extremely important
    In the development and progression of the party and the Armenian cause. That said it’s to be seen if the opinion of members and none members is going to be heard and even implemented in future decisions that is important to the survival of our cause and people in the very challenging atmosphere of western US.
    For me the most important issue is the unification of work and tasks between all organizations under the ARF and our communities. The ARF has to play a better guiding role to assure harmonious work among all organizations, from Homenetmen to ARS to Hamazkayin to Armenian school.
    Right now all these organizations just coexist but don’t have any meaningful relationship. Together they would be much better equipped and effective to serve the needs of the communities they serve. As of now everyone does what they do with no common purpose or goal just to keep the doors oppen and the names alive, we should be doing more and we all look up the line, to the ARF.
    Help is needed and we the branches of the ARF that makes it the strong tree that it is are fading away and withering.

  3. Hagop said:

    WESTERN ARMENIAN LANDS WILL NEVER RETURN TO ARMENIA!! THE SMALL TOENAIL OF LAND WE HAVE NOW IS BEING DEPLETED OF ARMENIANS DUE TO CORRUPTION, ZERO ECONOMY, ZERO EMPLOYMENT, AND NEGATIVE BIRTH RATES!!!! ARMENIAN LEADERS ARE CROOKS WHO RUINED THE COUNTRY SO WHAT DO YOU THINK IS GOING TO HAPPEN IF CURRENT ARMENIA RECLAIMS WESTERN ARMENIAN LANDS????? ARMENIANS WILL BE OUTNUMBERED BY MUSLIMS IN THEIR OWN HOMELAND!!!!!! ARMENIAN LEADERS WILL THEN HAVE MORE LANDS TO DESTROY AND RUN TO THE GROUND DUE TO CORRUPTION, THEFT, LAND GRABS, FRAUD AND MURDER!!!!! IT WOULD BE NICE TO HAVE A LARGER ARMENIA AS LONG AS WE HAVE NEW AND DIFFERENT LEADERS!!!

  4. gabe Korajian said:

    Dear Mr. Yegparian, Thank you for your coverage on the ARF Western US Regional Convention. I am glad the delegation managed to have an open dialogue and assessed its work for the last two years. Unfortunately, this same convention, including you, totally failed to address the role Dashnaktsutyun played in Armenia during Sargsyan’s presidency.

    Unfortunately, Dashnaktsutyun’s involvement with Serj Sargsyan’s regime has caused many of us to wonder about the integrity of our leadership. Frankly speaking, Dashnaktsutyun has collaborated and worked closely with one of the most corrupt dictators of the world. The leadership should have known Sargssyan’s government is considered to be one of the most corrupt, inefficient and kleptocratic regimes in the world and had taken a different approach. As a result of the President’s failed leadership, Armenia, today, has become a nearly failed state.
     
    During Sargsyan’s presidency, forty percent of the population of Armenia lived in poverty, the country owed over 10 billion dollars in foreign debt, corruption was rampant, the rule of law was non-existent, peaceful demonstrators were taken to prison, and a large number of our citizens have left the country because they cannot earn a living wage. In the last eight years of Serj Sargsyan’s presidency, over 500,000 citizens have left Armenia, never to return. Was Dashnaktsutyun blind not to see all these atrocities committed on the people of Armenia?
     
    In all reality, during Sargsyan’s tenure, Armenia has become a country for the rich and the well-connected, while the majority of its citizens struggle to feed their families. Socioeconomic conditions were deplorable. In short, while only a handful of the people in Armenia were happy, the majority have little or no hope. In all this, Dashnaktsutyun collaborated and fully supported Serj Sargsyan.
     
    As for human rights abuses, Sargsyan had deprived Armenians some of the basic liberties commonly upheld in most democratic nations. In fact, to silence public voices, he had created and supported one of the most brutal police forces in the region. This lawless regime, maimed, slapped, pushed, arrested and, if necessary, kill peaceful citizens. Sargsyan also arrested and jailed anyone who opposed his regime. During all this, Dashnaktsutyun remained silent, collaborated and supported Sargsyan.

    During Sargsyan’s tenure, our soldiers on the border were deprived of food and equipment to fight the war against Azerbaijan.  As a result of such a military failure, in April 2016, we lost over 100 young soldiers who were on the front lines protecting their country. It is only now that we are finding out how corrupt the army was. It is only now are learning that people like General Manuel was feeding his Tigers and bears with food donated to the Army by students. While such crimes were taking place, Dashnaktsutyun collaborated and worked with Serj Sargsyan. They pretended not to see all these atrocities.

    Unfortunately, until the last days of the peaceful removal of Serj Sargsyan, Dashnaktsutyun had opposed the youth movement and threw full support to Serj Sargsyan. Shame, Shame, Shame.

    Dear GAREN, it is these issues we would have liked the AYF to address in the convention. As a known and honest journalist, it was these issues we were expecting you to cover. Our dear friend, what do you have to say about the unacceptable collaboration of Dashnaktsutyun with Dictator Serj Sargsyan. What is your opinion, Sir?

    We will be happy if you can answer these questions. Don’t forget, the members of the AYF are now an educated group who can see and judge for themselves. They are seeking for answers from the leadership.
     

  5. Sarkis Ghazarian said:

    In the 24 years since the writer’s last ARF Western Region Convention he noticed an increase in the number of women who were elected delegates or invited guests, yet he fails to point out the fact that out of the 11 new members of the ARF Central Committee there is only one woman member of this executive body. NOT much progress for a political party that took great pride in pointing out the number of women in the First Republic of Armenia government during the recent 100 anniversary celebrations.

  6. gabe Korajian said:

    Where are you GAREN YEGPARIAN? Based on journalism ethics and adherence to professionalism, I expect Garen Yehgpariant to provide some answers to my questions, mostly derived from this article. Writing articles is a good thing. When someone writes, they should also be responsible enough to answer to questions needing explanation.

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