PASADENA, CA–On November 4th, over 100 members of the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) and ARF Shant Student Association (SSA) packed the halls of the Pasadena Armenian Center for a special discussion regarding the Armenia-Turkey protocols. The meeting was called by the AYF Central Executive in order to evaluate recent developments and outline the next steps in the campaign to stop the protocols.
“As youth, we feel it is our obligation to be on the forefront of this struggle which affects all Armenians, no matter where they are,” said AYF CE Chairman Arek Santikian. “We called this briefing together to inform our membership of what is going on and engage them in the next phase of our campaign.”
The event opened up with AYF Central Executive member Allen Yekikian speaking about the work carried out by the AYF over the last two months—from the 10,000 person rally at Pelanconi Park, to the demonstration against President Serzh Sargsyan at the Beverly Hilton, to the protests at the Montebello Genocide monument, to the hunger strike in front of the Armenian Consulate, and so on. Yekikian highlighted the fact that these efforts had a huge impact on not only the local community, but people all around the world. Through the use of technology, the AYF was able to spread the message of what was going on to Armenians as far away as Toronto, Beirut, and Yerevan and helped to motivate others to take similar actions to have their voice heard.
Following Yekikian’s recap of the campaign’s impact, ARF Central Committee member Aram Kaloustian took to the floor to offer his remarks about where we stand today with the protocols. After presenting the stance of the ARF and its call for a serious overhaul of the corruption and oligarchic rule in Armenia, Kaloustian posed the question to the individuals present whether it is better to affect change from inside of the government as a minority or from the outside as an opposition. Continuing in his lecture he stressed that the Armenian and Turkish Parliament still have to both ratify the protocols for it to go into effect.
The ‘Stop the Protocols’ Task Force was next to address the audience, delivering a power point presentation of what the next steps would be in its action plan. Members of the Task Force made clear that the scope of their work would be greatly expanded and called on attendees to volunteer for the more than half-a-dozen subcommittees created for this new phase in the campaign.
“In the coming weeks and months, the Task Force plans on taking the issue directly to the people and utilizing the full range of its manpower to reinforce the campaign to stop the protocols,” said Task Force member Levon Abrahamian. “By seeing the turnout here today, our determination only grows stronger.”
A healthy discussion ensued after the presentations during which SSA and AYF members posed various questions and gave suggestions on the action plan. Some of the things proposed included exploring ways of directly reaching out to the youth in Armenia and publicizing the wide-ranging opposition that exists to the protocols in both the Diaspora and the homeland.
The event concluded with clipboards being passed around and over a third of the attendees signing up for sub-committees.
For more information about campaign against the Turkey-Armenia protocols, visit www.stoptheprotocols.com.