BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
Turkey’s next attempt to choose a president, an election conducted by the country’s parliament, is slated for August 20th. By the time you read this, chaos might already be present in Turkey. You see, the religiously based AKP that won the parliamentary elections a few weeks ago has had the temerity to put forward one of its own, Abdullah Gul, who’s served as Foreign Minister. You’d think that’d be fine, right? Not in Turkey. There, the military is graced (largely by itself and as a holdover from the murderous dictator, Ataturk’s, days) with the mantle of “defender of secularism” in an otherwise largely primitively religious country. So there’s a clash brewing.
Who wins and under what circumstances may effect Turkey’s (non)entry into the European Union. It could also impact Genocide recognition and overall Armenian issues.
And speaking of those issues, the Treaty of Sevres, much vilified and denigrated by Turkey, was celebrated at an August 12th event. This is our way of bringing to the fore our irridenta with Turkey. As I’ll never tire of stressing, raising the question of our lands, from any and all angles is crucial. Otherwise, what’s the point of all our efforts regarding Genocide recognition? Some pathetic sense of historic satisfaction? A feeling of a debt paid to our predecessors so we no longer feel guilty? Bah, humbug! All that is meaningless and actually wrong, since the murderers would have won, or more importantly, we would have lost that which made our ancestors and us what we are.
That’s why it is also heartening to see a new front being (re)opened. You probably noticed the news item about holding the third congress of heirs of Genocide survivors. The first two were held nine decades ago. This angle is great because it presents an unassailable set of claiman’s to what we lost. I would have inherited what my parents would have inherited from theirs, had they/we not been driven off and/or murdered. So this assemblage of the injured can truly speak for those who require restitution. It’s exciting. But let’s be sure to keep this congress on track so it doesn’t become a mealy-mouthed organ for spineless bureaucrats, be they Diaspora or homeland dwelling.
All this is evidence of our growing political maturity and ability to flex our political muscle even under less than ideal circumstances. If you have any doubts, check out Lebanon’s recent by-election to replace two murdered members of parliament. In one of the districts, Armenia’s had a lot of numerical, voting, clout. The winner did so by a narrow margin. More interesting is the loser, a former president of Lebanon. He was on the slate of those supporting the current government. The ARF has been on the other side of the fence while the other two Armenian political parties have been with the government. The ARF’s efforts paid off and, by all accounts, we made a real difference.
There’s even some societal humor in this. The losing side is astonished by the ARF’s actions. What part of being in the opposition and party to the anti-government demonstrations of the last two years could have led someone to believe any other political course would have been taken, especially since attempts by our side to come to some agreement had been rebuffed right down to the last minute? For some years now, we had not been taken seriously enough by other sectors in Lebanese life, partly because of the exodus of our community over the last three decades. That’ll probably change now.
Internally too, within the Armenian community, there’s humor. I was told a story of one family member presenting the above argument to others who supported the non-ARF side. Upon doing so, this person was branded as a Tashnagtzagan. Who knew it was so easy to become one?!
However, let’s not start riding too high. We could be attacked from any number of angles. For example, Karl Rove, known as the so-called-president’s brain, has left the White House claiming he’s going to spend more time with his family (probably won’t) but won’t work on a Republican candidate’s presidential campaign (he just might). He probably will write some memoirs. Let things cool off and blow over. Remember, he’s one of the key architects of a pointless, destabilizing war that has already cost the U.S. Treasury half a trillion (that’s a lot of zeroes) dollars. He’ll allow the well-established American penchant for quickly forgetting anything from the past to kick in, then he’ll be ba-ack.
Why is this of concern to us? He could easily be picked up as a lobbyist for Turkey, and his network of vermin, er friends, in D.C. would make him a formidable adversary. He might not even wait very long to do this, just work behind the scenes. Look at Dick Gephardt, it took barely over a year for him to sell out his principles to lobby against the Genocide resolution. How long would it take for someone like Rove with hardly any ethical inhibitions to jump into the fray?
Of greater concern is something more insidious. I was recently party to a discussion wherein Rove’s gifts as a strategist were noted as an example of the type of talent we need within our organizations. I hastened to point out that such skills, disengaged as they are in Rove’s case from principles, are not something to be emulated. I recall reading Rove being quoted as saying that he’d switch to the other side if he thought his %u218revolution’ was complete. So he admitted being a hired gun. Is that what we want to encourage among ourselves?
Let’s keep engaging more members of our community in the struggle for the three R’s–recognition, reparations, return of lands. Let’s also start widening our web of activists to non-Armenian individuals and groups. Let’s savor our victories, learn from them and our defeats, and avail ourselves of every opportunity to decently advance our cause, all while keeping an eagle eye out for any forces that might align to counter or deter our struggle for justice.