LOS ANGELES—The Armenians and Progressive Politics Conference on “Armenia at 21” proudly sponsored by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, came to a close with its last leg held in Los Angeles, California at the Hollywood Armenian Center on October 5th and 6th. The L.A. segment of the Conference was the third and last portion of a tour which took panelists to New York City, Berkeley and finally Hollywood. The Conference was deemed as an overall success by the organizers and attendees alike, as it achieved its objective of introducing progressive thought to a diverse community of participants. It comprised of four sessions with each of the informative panels engaging attendees with issues dealing with the social, civil and human rights challenges in the Republic of Armenia after 21 years.
The first panel presented through a plenary session and entitled “Human Rights in Armenia,” offered a general overview of certain challenges facing Armenia and how the latter ought to institutionalize and develop itself as a state and be viewed in the context of human rights issues facing the geographical region in which it is situated. Consecutively, Saturday session panels covered the topics of “Rule of Law/Corruption/Elections” and “21 Year Trajectory of Armenia’s Statehood, Economy & Society.”
One of the highlights of the Conference was its keynote speaker, Blase Bonpane, a renowned author, activist and KPFK radio host and Director of the Office of the Americas. Bonpane’s discussion centered on “Consciousness and Moral Revolution.”
The panelists included a diverse group of academics and activists from Armenia and Diaspora, and offered the opportunity of a pluralistic and progressive coverage of issues of interest to all those who were interested in the progress of human rights in Armenia. The group also included many activists who have been consistently critical of the ARF and the organizers’ policies, a fact which not only did not deter the latter from extending the invitations, but was welcomed based on the principles of free speech and appreciation of pluralism.
Due to an unfortunate security issue which could have threatened the well-being of one of the panelists as well as the safety of attending audience, led the organizing committee to cancel one of the presentations, while offering the contents of the presentation paper to be read by any one of the other panelists. This decision and ensuing offer caused some of the other panelists to overreact unequivocally and to refrain from making their own presentations, denying the attendees from hearing much anticipated discussion.
Consistent with the ideology of the sponsoring party and the commitment toward the cause of progressive politics, the organizers remain committed not to be swayed by intrusions and intolerance on either side of the political spectrum, and will continue to educate the Armenian People and its youth in ways of promoting a free and healthy exchange of ideas and progressive thought.