The founding fathers of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation—Kristapor, Rosdom and Zavarian—conceived of the party, whose 125th anniversary will be celebrated in the Western United States this weekend, with the aim of serving and protecting the Armenian people—its needs, its aspirations and its fundamental freedoms —and to guarantee their inalienable right to live on their ancestral lands free of oppression and persecution.
This simple yet complex mission has been the only guiding force that has propelled the party to move forward well into its second century of existence and to stay relevant at every juncture of our contemporary history be that marshalling a nation toward fighting for independence, organizing Diaspora communities, bearing arms for the liberation of our homeland or rallying those very communities around a common cause—the Armenian Cause.
Interestingly, the challenges facing the founding fathers are not that dissimilar to ones facing our nation today. Issues of oppression, tyranny, persecution and threat to our national security still exist on a daily basis. By clinging on to the basic tenets of its genesis, the party has evolved to adeptly address the challenges facing it and the Armenian Nation.
The socio-economic and geopolitical realities at play at the time of the establishment of the ARF bear a resemblance to the current realities in the region, which are affecting the way Armenians are responding to the global events that are impacting them on a daily basis. The Syrian crisis, for example, is unleashing a wrath on civilians reminiscent of a century past. Azerbaijan’s military threats to Artsakh—and the security of the region in general—beckoned our ARF heroes to action and ultimate victory.
However, 125 years later the ARF is a well-oiled machine with a strong foothold in the homeland and Diaspora, making it a global force in the Armenian national reality. This also makes the challenges facing the ARF even more intricate as the playing field for the party envelopes the entire world, with its unique complexities.
As has been true to the ARF’s quasquicentennial trajectory, the party is ready and willing to confront the challenges facing the Armenian Nation. After all we are the party that has been borne out of the people to serve the people and its aspirations. There is no need to for the party to re-pledge its commitment to its principles, but there is a need for the party recalibrate its effort and focus on hard work to achieve its goals, which are also the national goals of our people as our national priorities converge with global events.
Let there be no mistake. The ARF has persevered and stayed relevant because of its convictions that Armenians must enjoy the basic rights and freedoms to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, as well as the further—just—pursuit of a FREE, UNITED AND INDEPENDENT HOMELAND.
The ARF is the guarantor of that ideal, which can only cease being a dream, through hard work and unwavering will. Let us all come together and clear a pathway for the ARF—Tashnagtsutyan jampa patetsek.*
*the last line of the ARF anthem, Mshak Panvor.
About this Special Issue
In planning this special edition of Asbarez marking the 125th anniversary of the birth of this great party, we decided to tighten the focus and feature its past, highlight some of the figures who have become legends within the Armenian reality and look at the present with a keen eye on the future.
To produce this issue, we also consulted one of the most prominent ARF publications, The Armenian Review, which is the party’s academic journal published out of Boston since 1948. In researching the The Armenian Review archives we were reminded of its rich content that reflected the party’s history at various intervals and presented critical aspects in the English language for consumption by the academic community.
Thanks to our collaboration with The Armenian Review editors, we are publishing two pieces from that venerable journals.
In 1949, Simon Vratzian‘s authoritative history of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation appeared on the pages of The Armenian Review in three installments. In this issue we are presenting the first part of the said series “The Armenian Revolution and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation.” Another reprint from The Armenian Review is an homage to General Dro by James A. Mandalian, the long time editor of the publication, immediately after the great hero’s death in Watertown, Mass. in 1956. General Dro’s profile was published in 1957.
Another great national hero that is being profiled here in Karekin Njdeh in a piece authored by David Arakelyan,. which was published on December 21, 2015 on the 60th anniversary of his death.
An excerpt from the recently published translation of Hrach Dasnabedian‘s “Who is the Tashnagtsagan”–Who is an ARF Member–which was produced by the ARF Rosdom Gomideh on the occasion of the ARF’s 125th anniversary and adeptly translated by Ishkhan Jinbashian.
Community leader and activist Dr. Viken Yacoubian was elected to the ARF Bureau last year during the party’s 32nd World Congress. In an interview with Asbarez Editor Ara Khachatourian, Yacoubian discusses the challenges facing the party and reinforces the importance of elevating the party’s ideaology.
Finally, we present reporting on the three-day long celebration of ARF’s 125th annniversary in Armenia, which took place in early December.