ARF Bureau Chairman Hagop Der Khatchadourian Visits Aleppo

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ARF Celebrates 101st Anniversary of the First Republic of Armenia

The Armenian Youth Federation of Syria organized a celebration dedicated to the 101st anniversary of the First Republic of Armenia in Aleppo on June 1 at “Yesayan” hall. The main speaker of the event, Armenian Revolutionary Federation Bureau Chairman Hagop Der Khatchadourian, travelled from Armenia to Aleppo to participate in the event.

In his keynote address , Der Khatchadourian spoke about the symbols of independence and the current political developments, saying “May 28th: the most important page in our recent history was written in blood and sweat. Our statehood was reborn from this chaos; Armenia once again became a part of the global [Armenian] family and has become a country that has been strongly entrenched in progress and social justice, even during the harshest times.”

Der Khatchadourian explained that it was almost thirty years ago that we [the ARF] delivered the symbols of our statehood and independence that was preserved in the Diaspora during the years of exile [under the Soviet Union]: the tricolor, the National Anthem, coat of arms, and national identity, to the newly free and independent Armenia. Unfortunately, this joy [at having an independent country] was mixed with frustration when the first president of the Republic of Armenia destroyed the belief of pan-Armenian solidarity and began to create divisions within the people of Armenia and the Diaspora.

“We see this happening again today, with the divisive characterization of ‘black and white,’ with the occasional poisonous and hatful acts that have spilled into public domain, instead of the promise of ‘love and tolerance.’ For example, the actions against long-time ARF Bureau chairman Hrant Markarian, his son and grandchildren, which should have been condemned by the highest of government officials remains unanswered – with no statements made by any high-ranking officials or governmental members,” said Der Khachadourian.

In conclusion, Der Khatchadourian called on our people to unite, stressing the fact that “we should not take for granted the value of our nation—this opportunity to have an independent Armenia and Artsakh. We should be ready to develop Armenia and Artsakh without any compromises. Together, with our homeland, and through the fair distribution of roles, by helping one another, we will be able to strengthen our statehood, strengthen Artsakh, Javakhk and the Diaspora in order to see our national aspirations come true.”
On the morning of June, the ARF Bureau chairman, attended the Divine Liturgy held at the Forty Martyrs Cathedral. Following church services, Der Khatchadourian met with representatives of community and affiliate organizations.

“First, I would like to congratulate this magnificent community for being one of the Diaspora’s radiating communities—the place [Syria] where the survivors of the Armenian Genocide began creating the Diaspora with their hard-work. The people who turned their mourning for the Genocide into a struggle, then established it as a cultural hub and helped create other regions and flourished. Although, the recent emigration from Aleppo due to the civil war has had its negative effects, but it has helped contribute to the revitalization of other Diasporan cities, especially in Canada, Sweden, Australia and elsewhere,” said Der-Khachadourian who also reflected on his life in Aleppo and shared fond memories from his childhood.

Der Khatchadourian, and his delegation visited the Armenian evangelical community in Syria, whose leader welcomed the ARF Bureau chairman and stated that the his presence in Aleppo was not only a joyous moment for the Armenian evangelical community and its affiliate associations and institutions, but to all Syrian Armenians.

“The Armenian Evangelical Community of Syria, with your investment and followers, is an advocate of our national values, and has its own place in our national life,” said Der-Khachadourian who commended the Evangelical leaders for their coordinated and unified efforts.

In the evening, Der Khachadourian attended a concert of spiritual music, organized by the Aleppo Prelacyt at the Forty Martyrs Cathedral, which was dedicated to the first lady of Syria.

On the same day, Der Khachatourian and his delegation were welcomed by the Armenian Catholic community and representatives of the Holy Trinity church.

On the morning of Monday, June, Der Khatchadourian, accompanied by representatives of Aleppo’s community and affiliate organizations, visited Nor Kyugh. The visit began at St. Gregory the Illuminator church, after which the delegation visited a social service center, as well as the editorial offices of the Gandzasar newspaper and Arevelk printing house.

Der Khatchadourian also visited the local Armenian Relief Society and Hamazkayin “Zavarian” Cultural centers. A trip to Aleppo would not have been complete without a visit to the Karen Jeppe Djemaran [Academy], where Hagop Der Khatchadourian in the presence of local officials, Karen Jeppe administration, religious leaders and ARF members, officially unveiled the bust in memory of Raffi Bchachkjian, an ARF member who was the leader of the self-defense efforts of the Armenian neighborhoods in Aleppo.

“Unger Raffi’s heroic deeds have not remained within the borders of Syria, but have reached all Armenians. Unger Raffi with his spirit and dedication to the ARF will inspire future generations. On this occasion [of the unveiling of the bust], I want to convey well-wishes from the entire ARF family, from Armenia to the Diaspora,” said Der Khachadourian.

“Dear Unger Raffi, let your memory continue to be an inspiration. With your actions, you have added to the vast pantheon of the ARF heroes of our past. Not only are we proud of you, as you are a continuation of our heroic history, but as a guarantee for our prosperous future,” added Der Khachadourian.

On Tuesday, June 4, Der Khatchadourian met with the leaders of the Syrian-Armenian Emergency Relief and Rehabilitation Center. During the meeting, which lasted almost an hour, Der Khatchadourian commended the work of the executive committee, which over the last 7 years, organized and preserved the community. Der Khatchadourian expressed his appreciation of this historic, noble mission, especially in the spheres of humanitarian and educational work.

He stressed that rebuilding the Syrian-Armenian institutions and the community must continue with the same spirit and vigor, while utilizing new methods of cooperation. He expressed that these practical acts that the executive committee has undertaken demonstrates support to the Syrian government and the president.

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