PASADENA–"Today in Armenia–the Armenian Revolutionary Federation is considered the defender of morals and ethics," stated ARF Bureau Representative Hrant Markarian and keynote speaker at the 110th anniversary celebration held at Pasadena City College Sunday December 3.
Over 2,000 members of the community filled the Sexton Auditorium to hear Markarian’s message–who traveled all the way from Armenia for the special occasion. The evenings guests included Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian–Prelate Bishop Moushegh Mardirossian represented by Papken Charian–Rev. Joseph Matossian–ARF Bureau member Vicken Hovsepian–Consul General of the Republic of Armenia Armen Melkonian–and community representatives.
Opening remarks were made by Saro Nazarian. The statement of the ARF Western Region Central Committee was presented by Rep. Viken Yacoubian. Chris Guldjian spoke on behalf of the Armenian Youth Federation–as well as Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee Western Region–Alex Sardar. The struggles which have characterized modern Armenian history–and the role of the ARF in defending the rights of the Armenian nation were addressed objectively by all speakers. of the
Markarian stated the history of the ARF and the history of the Armenian people are one in the same since the party has never pursued gains or interests not advantageous to the entire nation. The victories achieved by Armenia’s are the same victories set forth by the ARF–therefore–the victories of the party belong only to the people.
He then focused on addressing the current activities of the ARF and its role over the past decade–condemning the hardships imposed on the party by the Ter-Petrosian regime. Markarian said the Armenian government’s increasing awareness and desire to pursue the Armenian cause is a result of the ARF’s efforts in the same field. He also stressed the party’s primary interest in the liberation of Artsakh and highlighted the undertakings of the ARF towards the realization of this goal. The party continued to assist Artsakh despite the Ter-Petrosian government’s uncooperative and prejudicial attitude towards the ARF.
The present Armenian government has allowed the ARF to participate in the political life of the country and carry out its responsibilities towards the homeland. Markarian praised the current government’s efforts at securing international recognition of the Armenian Genocide. He mentioned the current problems in Armenia and the need to address each and every one. "The ARF will never give up on Armenia or its duty to improve the situation in the country. If need be–the party is prepared to assume power."
Any concessions made to the Azeris is unacceptable. He stressed the right of the Armenian people to liberate the Shahumian and Gedashen regions of Artsakh. Autonomy for the Armenia’s of Javakhk and the reorganization of the Diaspora are also concerns of the ARF. Victory in the Karabakh conflict is a matter of pride and honor for the party.
A summary of the turbulent episodes of the past 110 years of Armenian history was presented by Viken Yacoubian–who mentioned the fact that these events are all tied to the party’s history as well. These episodes include the Hamidian massacres–genocide–dispersion–independence–Soviet rule–organization of diasporan communities–’Iron Curtain’ separating the homeland from the diaspora–Karabakh conflict–Armenia’s second independence–economic collapse and so forth.
Yacoubian spoke about the Armenian National Committee’s role in Genocide recognition and domestic politics. He mentioned the fact that ANC-endorsed Congressman Adam Schiff was elected to office and that this is a huge victory for the community. The ANC will continue to ensure passage of an Armenian Genocide resolution in Congress–despite the unfortunate killing of the bill by House Speaker Hastert and President Clinton this past October. This was reassured by Executive Director of the ANC Western Region Alex Sardar
The need to involve the youth within the community was also stressed by Yacoubian. This point was touched upon by AYF member Chris Guldjian who encouraged the youth to become more active within the party. Guldjian briefed the community members on the activities organized by the AYF.
A cultural program concluded the evening with a poetry recital by Milen Hayriyan–and musical performances by Rouben Hakhvertian–Karnig Sarkissian–Hovig Krikorian and Nersik Ispirian. The flag ceremony was conducted by the Homenetmen Pasadena Azadamard Chapter. The national anthem was sung by Hovig Krikorian and the singing of "Mshag Panvor."