BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN
I am trying to wrap my head around news that my colleague, Raffi Doudaklian, with whom I have worked side-by-side at Asbarez for years during the heyday of the Artsakh war, the early days of our independent republic and whose column we published in our newspaper, was brutally beaten by unknown assailants in Bourj Hammoud, Lebanon earlier this week.
Doudaklian is now executive director of the Tufenkian Foundation, which focuses on humanitarian efforts in Artsakh, border villages and of late providing housing for wounded soldiers. He was visiting Lebanon last week weekend, accompanied by the Artsakh director of Tufenkian on foundation business.
“After we finished our work, on Monday evening, we went to get the car parked in Bourj Hammoud. That’s when two guys attacked me; one from behind, one from the front. They hit my head and face,” Doudaklian told Hetq.am, adding that it all happened so fast he didn’t have time to clearly see their faces.
Doudaklian told Hetq.am that the attack might be linked to his writings and the outspoken views he has expressed.
“I don’t know. I broach many issues in my articles. I really can’t say if they’ve irritated some. But I suspect the attack is connected to my writings,” Doudaklian told hetq.am.
The Armenian Revolutionary Federation’s Lebanon Central Committee issued an announcement on Monday condemning the attack on Doudaklian, which occurred in the vicinity of the organization’s center in Bourdj Hammoud.
Doudaklian grew up in Anjar, Lebanon and spend his youth in Bourj Hammoud before moving to Los Angeles, where he worked at Asbarez. He then served as principal at the ARS Armenian school. He moved to Armenia with his family more than a decade ago and was named to the Tufenkian Foundation directorship recently.
When he moved to Armenia, he wanted to keep his connection to the Armenian press and began writing his column “Նամակ Երկրէն—Letter from the Country [homeland],” which recently was published in other Armenian press outlets, including Hetq.am.
Bourdj Hammoud, and the larger Lebanese-Armenian community for decades were the cradle of Armenian Diaspora serving as the anchor for our religious, cultural, educational and political institutions that defined our identity and nurtured us to advance the Armenian Cause.
So, when Doudaklian went to Beirut on Tufenkian business, he was also going home. Never did he fathom that in the same neighborhood where he spent countless days and nights he would be the target of a beating.
It was just a few weeks ago that in this same space I condemned an attack at the Yerevan City Council where members of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia attacked and beat up female members of the Yerkir Tsirani party when they attempted to demonstrate the poor standards of living in one of the poorest Yerevan neighborhoods.
“Whether one approves of the methods used by members of the opposition Yerkir Tsirani party or not, the use of force against any colleague, especially women, is reprehensible and must be condemned by all factions and people who claim to be serving the people of Armenia,” I wrote about the City Council kerfuffle.
How do the goons who beat up Doudaklian differ from the Republican Party of Armenia members who beat up women?
The arcane practice of beating outspoken critics into silence has no room in our society and community, which has been groomed and nurtured to fight injustice and advocate for human rights.
Those responsible for the attack of Doudaklian, who says he suffers from headaches and is seeking medical treatment for damage to his eye, must be brought to justice. We look at the leading organizations in Lebanon to investigate the incident and take appropriate measures.