The biggest thing going on of course is the explosion of pent up indignity in the Arab and broader Moslem worlds. First Tunisia, then Egypt, removed nominally “elected” despots. What comes next will not necessarily be a step in the right direction. Look at what happened after the most recent Iranian Revolution that toppled the shah. The people of those countries will have to be very eagle-eyed and wary of analogous developments. There lot will not be easy, since the establishment will have much external support under the guise of maintaining the much-vaunted “stability” that leads to cynical international political positions.
This upwelling of popular action is not over. Other regimes may be toppled and the groundswell could even impact the West (one can only hope) where populations have been either complacent or misled (Le Pen supporters in France, Tea Partyers in the USA) for almost two generations now.
But in all this, where do Armenia and Armenians fall? Amazingly, I’ve seen next to nothing about the impacts on or participation of our communities in the current actions. Sure, our communities aren’t what they used to be in the Arab Middle East, but they’re still there. The LA Times wrote about the Copts in Egypt, but that’s about as close as anything got to addressing Armenians. Further, could this impact the people, nations, and countries (recognized and unrecognized) of the former Soviet Bloc? In either regard, have we nothing to say about this? Personally, I’m thrilled, but very leery of how everything could go sour and people would be repressed again.
In the Greater LA-area community, a number of great events have been going on. Sadly, I can only attend some. One that I missed was the Ruben Hakhverdyan concert put on by the AYF. That guy’s lyrics are incredibly potent.
The ARPA institute put on a panel discussion of Armenian electeds addressing Armenians’ participation in electoral politics. Three panelists were Glendale office holders and the fourth a California Assemblymember. The commentary and questions, posed both by the moderator and audience, made for an interesting exchange. Positive and negative aspects were addressed, from level of voter turnout, to non-Armenian perceptions of us, to differing dynamics in our ghetto versus sparse communities, to how local political engagement can lead to higher levels and what this means for our issues, and even to the place of partisan political considerations in our involvement. Attendance was lighter than I’d expected for such an important topic, and I know ARPA usually does a good job of getting the word out about its events, so I’m a bit puzzled.
The AYF’s gathering and protest march in Hollywood bringing attention to domestic violence in Armenia was another important step taken in the maturation of our community and struggle. We address precious few social issues during the course of our community activities, and we must do more, for the sake of those suffering in Armenia and our credibility and sanity in the Diaspora. The argument that we will “embarrass our homeland” just doesn’t cut it. Turning a blind eye to bad policy and behavior just encourages more of it. Shining a spotlight on wrongs makes the perpetrators think twice and gains us long term allies among different constituencies beside which we live in the Diaspora.
Postcards. Who would’ve guessed they’d be of assistance in spreading the word of the Armenian Genocide in Turkey? A Turkish journalist, Osman Köker, has published a book of Armenian postcards from the immediate pre-Genocide era. He uses the book and associated exhibit essentially to ask the question of his compatriots— “What happened to all the Armenians and their homes and institutions that are portrayed in these postcards?” He spoke at the Glendale Library.
Keep organizing and attending these events, and stay on top of movements working for the betterment and liberation of average folk.