BY HRANT APOVIAN
“What use is it to dream
and try to change anything
when the ax comes down
to destroy it all,
just at the moment when
the roots have taken hold in the soil”
(Hagop Melik – Hagopian, 1835 – 1888)
Now that “the roots have taken hold in the soil”, the future of Armenia depends on all of us. The people have arisen and there is no going back. There has been dramatic change in Armenia. It is our duty in the diaspora to support those brave men and women that have taken to the streets to reclaim ownership of their destiny and for a brighter future for Armenia. Regrettably, because of an absence of a clear strategy it is difficult to have a clear vision of future political developments.
One may think the specter of change in Armenia may never materialize. There may be no change in the ruling government, there may be no social change, no social justice, no rule of law, no end to oligarchs who are stifling the economy, no unity of purpose, no national ideology.
One may predict that nothing will change, the revolution that was started by the citizens of Armenia, was never to be. There was no revolution of any color. Thankfully, no blood was spilled but the police did use force and arrested some protesters. Those who are entrenched in their comfortable posts may never step down. The people who are downtrodden may rise once again because they have overcome their fear.
Opposition political parties have not been able to unite on a common platform. They did not want to cede to their individual ambitions. They were not able to agree on one candidate representing all opposition forces.
An opposition party that belongs to an oligarch follows its own course. Not long ago it was part of the ruling government. Its leader can not alienate his former partners and jeopardize his business interests.
An opposition party led by a former president who squandered the nation’s wealth; who sold entire factories and government property to acolytes in a giant garage sale, who outlawed the Armenian Revolutionary Federation and imprisoned its members; and described national ideology as a “fake category” is waiting for the right moment to stage a comeback.
An opposition party that got up to 37 percent of the vote in the recent presidential elections and could have won the election outright, were it not for massive election fraud, is unable to capitalize on a popular uprising and lacks the organizational capability to bring the change to fruition.
Another opposition party that wants to safeguard the security and stability of a reborn nation, that cannot afford dangerous upheavals, that will not condone a bloody revolution, that is opposed to any kind of change by force has resolved to change the regime at all levels, for the creation of a homeland based on democratic principles, social justice, the rule of law and a national ideology.
There are other parties that do not truly represent the popular will, and are set to support the ruling party, with utmost disregard for the welfare of the populace, vying for good graces with the “elected” president. Then there are fringe political parties in the Diaspora that have rushed to align themselves with the ruling government, while well aware of the sad state of our nation. They have evolved into several splinters and their membership does not necessarily agree with their alliances.
A national non profit benevolent organization that professes not to delve in politics does so energetically, supporting all that is wrong with the gang of oligarchs ruling Armenia.
It is imperative that the Armenian Church that historically has sustained the survival of our people in times of turmoil or occupation, will forcefully speak out in favor of the plight of the people, or refrain from taking sides in the present situation.
Finally, a diaspora that with a few exceptions looks at Armenia with nostalgia and high expectations, does his duty by supporting financially and visiting the homeland, but is apathetic to the plight of the citizens of Armenia, condemns those who leave rather than stay and fight for change, but is not willing to support those who are on the ramparts.
This is definitely not the Armenia that generation after generation dreamed of. A reborn independent Armenia should be based on a pan-Armenian National Ideology. It should be the homeland for all Armenians with equal obligations, equal representation, and equal rights. It should be democratic, prosperous and a safe haven for a people that has suffered enough, endured the first genocide of the twentieth century, that has endured Soviet rule and is spread out in all corners of the world.
The popular movement that has arisen in Armenia is genuine in all aspects. People have deep rooted grievances and are angry. They want change. However there is no cohesive plan of action and the system is such that it will stifle change. The people who have a stranglehold on leadership positions, will not relinquish power. Too much is at stake for Oligarchs who are in possession of the nation’s wealth.
What is disturbing is the fact that the West is supporting the ruling government. One would think that a popular revolution of some color would be acclaimed and democracy would be promoted. One can only suspect that this kind of blind support for the ruling government in Armenia, makes it more amenable to foreign interests and hence susceptible to unwanted intervention.
Starting with the rebirth of our nation, there has not been security. A series of assassinations have plagued Armenia; The assassination of the first president of Nagorno – Karabakh, the assassination of prominent Nagorno – Karabakh military commanders, the attack on the parliament in Armenia with the assassination of the defense minister and a multitude of sporadic assassinations of public officials have not been elicited or resolved.
It is a sad day for our nation. A Nagorno – Karabakh war hero, an ARF member, mayor of the city of Proshian was assassinated. It is an assassination with a political subtext. Was it aimed at the ARF? Is it a message to the ARF not to support the popular movement? Or is it a plot to draw the ARF into a face-off.
This is a red line that should not have been crossed. It brings back memories of dark periods in our history. No national hero deserves to be killed by his own people. This killing should not go unpunished.
One would hope that “The roots have taken hold in the soil” even if the movement runs out of steam. The citizens of Armenia will eventually overcome the forces of evil by sustaining the pressure and bring about genuine change. One can only hope that the aspiring forces in Armenia will put the nation’s interests above personal ambitions. The only way out of the present deadlock is for the government and the opposition to come together and implement real radical and substantive changes.