More Than 1 500 Attend ARF 108th Anniversary Celberation

GLENDALE–The 108th anniversary of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation was marked during a celebration gathering at the Glendale High School auditorium Sunday–with more than 1,500 community members on hand to hear keynote speaker ARF Bureau member Vicken Hovspeian discuss the party’s vision for the future.

The reinstitution of the ARF in Armenia–following the fall of the Levon Ter-Petrosyan regime–became a focal point of the evening–as all speakers reflected on the past year with the clear message that time proved that all allegations against the party were fabricated and politically motivated. Each speaker also outlined the manner in which the ARF’s reinstatement has had a positive effect on the Armenian reality–be that in Armenia or in the Western United States.

Attending the ceremony were Western Prelate Bishop Moushegh Mardirossian–Armenia’s Consul General to Los Angeles Armen Melkonian and his consular staff–ARF Bureau members Vicken Hovsepian and Apo Boghigian–a representative of Western Primate Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian–representatives of the Armenian Democratic League (Ramkavar Party) and the Social Democratic Hunchakian Party–representatives of the central and regional executives of the Armenian Relief Society–the Hamazkayine and the Homenetmen–the Prelacy Executive Council–the Central Executive Council of the Catholicosate of the Holy See of Cilicia–as well as members and representatives of the compatriotic unions and other community organizations.

The program began with the observance of a moment of silence in memory of the late ARF leader Hrair Maroukhian who passed away last month–after a long illness. Maroukhian was buried in Armenia as a hero.

In his remarks–Bureau member Hovsepian focused on ARF relations with the Armenian authorities–explaining that it had become evident that the ARF was justified in its policies vis–vis the former leadership and its warnings against the posturing adopted by the ex-regime regarding the Diaspora and especially the ARF.

Hovsepian stressed that it had just become evident–that criticism against the former regime’s policies regarding the Karabakh conflict and its resolution within the international arena were just–and that the criticism resulted in a positive shift in Armenian foreign policy by the Robert Kocharian administration.

He stressed several incidents in the past year as encouraging–among them the resignation of Levon Ter-Petrosyan–the strengthening of Karabakh’s status as a foreign policy priority and the positive approach toward Diaspora-Armenia relations.

Hovsepian also rejected claims that the ARF had taken over the current administration in Armenia–explaining that while such rumors were false and baseless–but the ARF had a moral obligation in ensuring the realization plans and campaign proposals initiated by Kocharian–since "after all–those were the issues based on which the ARF decided to support Kocharian’s candidacy."

He concluded his remarks by outlining the deman’s placed on the ARF in Armenia and the Diaspora and urged the public to join in the effort of collectively resolving national issues.

In his remarks–ARF Western US Central Committee member John Kossakian–focused on the issues facing the ARF in the Western United States–and through an objective analysis of the Armenian-American community–stressed the task ahead for the ARF and the community.

Kossakian emphasized that since the change in leadership in Armenia–schismatic efforts to disrupt and polarize the community had ended–adding that the Armenian consulates and embassies were now working closely with the ARF and other forces in the community–to promote unity and cooperation.

He underlined the current situation of the Armenian community in the Western Region–by stressing that it had become an impossibility for all community organizations and institutions to fully serve the needs of the growing community. He explained that with several immigration trends beginning in the mid to late 1970’s to the most recent wave of immigration from Armenia–the community had experienced a demographic changed.

Kossakian stated that the aforementioned changes had prompted the formation of sub-communities representing the various areas from which the immigration had occurred–resulting in the creation compatriotic unions and organizations.

He warned–however–that some of the said organizations had veered from their mission of preserving and maintaining the cultural heritage and identity which is unique to the respective representative region. Kossakian said that some of these newly-founded organizations aim to shift the political balance in the community. He urged those organizations to remains within the guidelines of their mission and truly enhance the cultural identity of the Armenian-American community.

Kossakian also pointed out that contacts with the Armenian youth on college campuses–as well students attending non-Armenian public and private schools–has been discouraging and called for a renewed vigor in those activities.

On a more positive note–Kossakian cited the United Armenian Fund as a example of cooperation between organizations.

He recalled a banquet marking the UAF’s 100th humanitarian airlift to Armenia–as a sign that organizations with various backgrounds and missions could come together for a common cause.

He said the UAF celebration–which included President Kocharian–Catholicoses Karekin I and Aram I–as well as benefactor Kirk Kerkorian and Elizabeth Dole–came to demonstrated the willingness of the community to unite in the name of assisting Armenia.

Kossakian pointed to the victories and achievemen’s on the political front and cited effort to maintain Section 907–which restricts direct US assistance to Azerbaijan–until the latter lifts the blockade of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. He also discussed the recent US allocation of $90 million to Armenia was also among victories realized in the past year.

He especially commended the efforts of the Armenian National Committee of America which despite severe financial difficulties was able to win the fight for the Armenian people.

Also speaking was Armenian Youth Federation Central Executive member Shoushig Avakian–who–in an bilingual address–discussed that organization’s commitment to realizing the goal of a free united and independent Armenia.

She outlined that the AYF was cognizant of current issues facing the Armenian youth in America–and while addressing those issues and waging a battle against assimilation–the AYF also worked–in concert with the ARF–to ensure that the cause begun 108 years ago continued until its fruition.

Congressional failure to repeal Section 907 was also a focal point of remarks made by Mistress of Ceremonies Arpi Khanjian–who reiterated the speakers’ concerns and deman’s regarding Armenia–Karabakh and the pursuit of the Armenian Cause {Hai Tahd].

Khanjian also highlighted the recognition of the Genocide by the French parliament and the Belgian senate as part of the achievemen’s of the party and its efforts to fight for justice.

The program began with an official flag ceremony conducted by the Homenetmen Pasadena Azadamard chapter scouts. The national anthems of Armenia and the US were performed by Karen Gharibian–accompanied on the piano by Armen Aharonian. A video presentation highlighting Hai-Tahd activities was also presented during the program.

The cultural portion of the program was unique and impressive. A skit commemorating the life of ARF founder Simon Zavarian was presented by the Glendale ARF Badenegan chapter bearing the ARF leader’s name.

A stage arrangement depicting "Revolution," which included recitation–song–video and music was presented by Jaquelin Gharakhanian–Alenoush Yeghnasari–Armine Galoustian and Garine Avakian–who was later performed several patriotic songs along with the father and son team of Haibert and Raffik Allahverdian. The singers were accompanied by the Lark Musical Society’s folk instrumental group comprised of Verjin Alimyan (Kanon)–Souren Mehrabyan (Tar)–Norik Manoukyan (Shvi)–Yegish Manoukyan (Doudouk)–Rouben Harutunyan (Doudouk)–Gagik Simonian (keyboards) and Henrik Avoyan (drums).

The program concluded with the singing of the ARF anthem Mshak Panvor.

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