PASADENA–A capacity crowd of more than 2000 Armenian Revolutionary Federation members–affiliate organization representatives–community members and a large contingent of youth gathered at Pasadena City College’s Sexson Auditorium Sunday evening to mark the ARF’s 111th anniversary during a celebration organized by the ARF Western US Central Committee.
The evening’s keynote speaker Aghvan Vartanian–a member of ARF Executive Council of Armenia and the head of ARF parliamentary faction presented a summary of ARF activities and accomplishmen’s in Armenia throughout the last few years.
Western Prelate Moushegh Mardirossian–ARF Bureau member Dr. Viken Hovsepian–ARF Central Committee representative Viken Yacoubian–Consul General of Armenia Valery Mkrtumian with the Consulate staff–as well as representatives of other organizations and parties attended the anniversary celebration.
The celebration was unique–since it emphasized the importance of the youth in the continuing struggle to pursue Armenian national aspirations. Master of Ceremonies Mkhitar Muradian eloquently highlighted the important role of the youth by announcing the recent re-activation of the ARF Shant Student Organization.
Speaking on behalf of the student organization–Muradian highlighted the this ARF unit’s perspectives and approached in the pursuit of the Armenian Cause and reaffirmed the youth’s commitment toward continuing the struggle for justice.
Levon Marashlian–professor of history at Glendale Community College–conveyed the spirit and message of the Armenian students–highlighting that while young Armenia’s may have aspirations to succeed in business and accumulate wealth–they have a responsibility toward the national ideals and goals of the Armenian nation.
ARF Western US Central Committee member Khajag Dikidjian stressed the ARF’s role as being the in defending of the interests and aspirations of all Armenia’s around the world–involving the youth and utilizing its potential in this struggle. All speakers also emphasized the importance of strengthening relations between Armenia and the Diaspora.
The untimely waiver of Section 907–as well as the fruitless efforts of the so-called Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission were addressed by all speakers–who echoed the sentiment that efforts to thwart Genocide recognition and to eliminate the Section 907–were contradictory to the interests of Armenia’s throughout the world–the interests for which the Armenian lobby has been struggling for so many years.
In his remarks–Muradian–said that the "ARF is the child borne of the Armenian people–its members representing all classes of society–and is the torchbearer for intellectual progress and development." He added that the students have consistently contributed to ARF history and the Shant Student Association will try to do the same.
Muradian verified that the historical memory is still awake and called on all the Armenian students to join together in defense of Armenia’s interests and the Armenian people. He challenged those present to condemn the reconciliation commission–which aimed to foster reconciliation with Turkey–while burying the Armenian Cause and Genocide recognition efforts. He concluded that the Shant Student Association will follow its mission to prepare students throughout American universities to work towards achieving recognition of the genocide.
Prof. Marashlian–spoke about the mindframe and spirit of Armenian students who reside in the US and showed a corresponding video to all those who attended. He stressed the affects of materialism which misdirects the mentality of the youth. He challenged everybody to be realistic in their approach to get a higher education–which–according to him–will be of greater help in achieving our goals.
Dikidjian also emphasized the important role of the youth–who will efficiently and effectively carry out their responsibilities to their country and will guarantee the well-being of Armenia. He spoke about the responsibilities that Armenia and the Diaspora are faced with–giving the examples of the socio-economic situation of Armenia–in combating corruption–and pursuing genocide recognition.
Regarding the significance of assisting Armenia by all means–Dikidjian pointed out several community organizations that have succeeded in caring out their responsibilities–including the Armenian Relief Society–the Armenian Educational Foundation–the Armenian Evangelical Association and others. He challenged all Armenian organizations to direct their efforts toward serving their nation.
The ARF succeeded in the past and will succeed in the future with the help of the youth. "A strong ARF will guarantee a strong Armenia," concluded Dikidjian.
In his remarks–Vartanian summarized the ARF’s activities–bearing the responsibility of being the most organized political party in Armenia. "Even today–in a difficult period of independent statehood–we must continue demonstrating our loyalty to the more than 100-year-old ARF history," added Vartanian.
He also spoke about the ARF’s integral role in the Karabakh self-defense movement–the creation of the National Army–and the ARF’s constant struggle with any illegal actions in the economic field or falsified elections. He pointed out the necessity of a stronger Armenia-Diaspora relations and indicated that the ARF is constantly urging the Armenian government to make a significant commitment to improve the political and socio-economic condition of the country.
Regarding relations with Turkey–Vartanian reiterated the ARF’s position on the so-called reconciliation commission–pointing out that an official dialogue can only be carried out between officials who represent the governmen’s of the two countries.
"Our party is already operating in its second century and its primary mission is to serve the people–and we will continue to persevere in the future," concluded Vartanian.
During the ceremony a moving performance was staged by actress Mary Rose Abousefian–who presented Karekin Njdeh–one of the founders of the AYF.
A video chronicling the beliefs and activities of the ARF and produced by Horizon Television–was also featured during the program.
The Homenetmen Pasadena Azadamard chapter–along with the Homenetmen Western Region Marching Band carried out the traditional flag ceremony at the opening of the event. The National anthems were performed by Suren Hazarian–who was accompanied by Levon Abrahamian on the piano. The ceremony also featured performances by Hayastan folk group–led by Michael Avetissian–as well as singers Karnig Sarkisian–Razmig Mansourian and Nersik Ispirian.