PASADENA–Armenia and Diaspora are one unit and Karabakh is an all-Armenian liberation struggle–emphasized Hagop Pakradouni when speaking to a 2000-strong audience during the 107th anniversary of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Sunday at Pasadena City College’s Sexson auditorium.
The representative of the ARF Central Committee of Lebanon stressed that the ARF was created and continues to be an ideological movement with service and dedication as its most strong suit–adding that independence and freedom guide the ARF into pursuing that movement.
These three bases–Pakradouni stressed–have been the anchor for the ARF’s work and experience throughout its 107-year history–while adding that the whatever the party has undertaken–it has been for the betterment of the entire Armenian nation.
"No one [person or entity] can lay claim to Armenia or the Armenian Cause," stressed Pakradouni–who brought his years of experience as an educator–writer and an active figure in the Lebanon political arena to the Western United States with his remarks during the celebration.
Throughout his remarks–Pakradouni further stressed the ARF’s commitment to the principles of democracy and independence through freedom.
In outlining these concepts he reminded the audience that the triumphs and tribulations of Armenia and Karabakh are national issues and those laying claim to one or both do not have the best interests of the Armenian nation at hand.
He continued by emphasizing that Armenia and the Diaspora cannot be viewed as separate entities–explaining that with the renewed independence in Armenia both must complement one another in order for the emergence of a stronger nation.
"An organized Diaspora can only serve to benefit Armenia and Karabakh–while a strong Armenia can further strengthen the Diaspora," explained Pakradouni.
Pakradouni emphasized that the only threat facing Armenia’s is Turkey–both for Armenia and the Diaspora–adding that in the course of dialogue with Turkish officials Armenia’s cannot concede an inch and must pursue the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by Turkey and reparations for that crime against humanity.
Pakradouni categorized the Karabakh conflict as the most important issue for the Armenian people today.
"Karabakh–with its resilience and as an independent state is the door to Armenia’s security–the guarantee for Armenian unity and the key to Armenia’s longevity," stated Pakradouni.
The ARF leader stressed that neither Turkey–the superpowers–the co-chairmen or those drunk with Azeri oil prospects can force Karabakh to make any concessions–adding that only Karabakh can determine its own fate.
He concluded his remarks by paying homage to those who have given their lives for the liberation of the Armenian during the 107-year history of the ARF.
The program commenced with a retrospective slide/video presentation accompanied by a recitation of a poem by Rouben Zartarian performed by late actor and recitor from Lebanon Tatoul Aynedjian.
The opening remarks were delivered by Master of Ceremonies–Asbarez Assistant Editor Vatche Proodian–who stressed that the gathering was not based on tradition or the need to come together–but that unique annual opportunity when the ARF presents its report of activities to its members–supporters and the community at large.
Charles Lousararian delivered the address on behalf of the ARF Central Committee of the Western US–during which he stressed the numerous obstacles and the tough terrain which the ARF has endured–yet overcome during its history.
Lousararian also outlined the multi-faceted sphere of activity the ARF has undertaken which have become the party’s raison d’tre and mission statement.
He pointed to several facets of ARF activity in the past year–specifically discussing the ongoing dialogue between the ARF and the leadership of Armenia–stating that despite the existence of such dialogue–no tangible results have emanated from them and the ARF remains outlawed in its own country.
Lousararian vowed that the ARF would continue its constructive criticism of any issue which threatens the well-being of the entire Armenian nation and is incongruent to the aspirations of the Armenian people worldwide.
Also addressing the crowd was Silva Bezdjian who represented the Central Executive of the Armenian Youth Federation-the ARF Youth Organization of Western America. In her remarks–Bezdjian vowed that the AYF would continue the path carved out by its parent organization and by outlining several important activities that the organization had undertake–in the past–she pointed to her organization’s commitment to fight for justice and self-determination for the Armenian people.
Among the endeavors listed by Bezdjian were the AYF’s campaigns against the establishment of a Turkish Chair at UCLA–a signature/petition drive directed at the OSCE Summit of Foreign Ministers in Copenhagen and finally the Western Region’s participation in the Fifth ARF Youth Jamboree in Armenia–during which participants attended the trial of ARF leader Vahan Hovanessian and joined their counterparts in Armenia in protesting the authorities persecution of the ARF.
The program began with a flag ceremony officiated by the Homenetmen Pasadena "Azadamart" chapter and the Homenetmen marching band.
The national anthems were performed by the Holy Martyrs Ferrahian school choir under the leadership of Alfred Mardoyan. The choir also performed patriotic songs during the program.
The program concluded with the rendition of several national and patriotic songs by singer Karnig Sarkissian and his band.
Also attending the gathering were ARF Bureau member Apo Boghigian–Western Prelate Bishop Moushegh Mardirossian–members of the ARF Western Region Central Committee and leaders of affiliate and area Armenian organizations.