Service to the nation: past, present and future; in the diaspora and the homeland
BY GARO R. MADENLIAN
The Armenian Revolutionary Federation, throughout its 130-year history has played a key role in securing the survival of the Armenian people and the advancement and development of the Armenian nation, and history is permanently interwoven on multiple fronts with a varied array of activities and over a century of dedication. Many times it sacrificed its best and brightest for the “cause” such as during the revolutionary years with the fedayee movement in defense of Armenian villages; the Independence years including the battles of Sardarabad, Bash Abaran, Gharakilise and establishment of the first Republic of Armenia in 1918 without which Armenia would not exist today; the early post-Soviet years including the February Revolt that saved thousands of lives, defense of Zangezur which guaranteed Syunik remains part of Armenia’s borders, and Operation Nemesis that brought the perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide to justice.
Soon after, during the rebuilding/Diaspora years the ARF established a vast worldwide network complete with schools, churches, newspapers, youth and scouting organizations such as the AYF and Homenetmen; educational, cultural, humanitarian, and social services organizations such as Armenian Relief Society (ARS), Armenian Cultural Foundation (ACF) and Hamazkayin; and advocacy organizations such as the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA). All this to preserve the Armenian nation, help it survive and thrive, and continue its dedicated work towards a just resolution of the Armenian Cause (Hye Tahd). Throughout these Diaspora years, Armenian communities flourished but inevitably faced crises and in times of need the ARF and its companion organizations rose to the occasion, defending the Armenian community in Lebanon during civil wars, providing aid after the devastating Earthquake in Armenia, and of course the defense and liberation of Artsakh, just to name a few…
Some overlook, ignore or conveniently forget the ARF’s contributions to Armenian communities everywhere; others try to revise history to lessen or minimize ARF’s role while some even attack it; and in doing so, a few even resort to childish and vulgar name calling most likely motivated by self-interest and frustrated by their own incompetence. Needless to say, they’ve all failed miserably such as the Soviet Union, Levon Ter Petrosian and others…
The cause endures because the goals are pure, the work goes on because it’s a collective effort vital to the success of the national agenda, and the dream shall never die because it’s righteous…
Pandemic: ARF and Companion Organizations Step Up Worldwide Efforts
During this pandemic, ARF regional bodies throughout the world mobilized along with companion organizations to provide vital assistance in the form of food and supplies to families in need. In Lebanon the situation was even worse because of the pre-pandemic financial collapse which left many without the means to survive. The ARF stepped in, provided, secured, and continues to ensure the survival of that very important Armenian community.
ARF in the Western US
Here in the Western US, the ARF quickly organized and led the Covid-19 Armenian Community Task Force with its companion organizations. The task force provided resources and information to community members and made sure materials were available in Armenian. Spearheaded by the ANCA WR they were able to have informational interviews and official updates online regarding the pandemic and necessary safety measures; they provided info about government services available to individuals and small business owners, and where to seek assistance, often times with ARS social services.
It then formed a Supplies Task Force that raised funds to purchase food and supplies to be used by local task forces organized by each Gomideh working out of their respective community centers throughout the Western United States from where they would deliver food and care packages to community members in need. This regional effort, implemented by local task forces was also coordinated with all the sister organizations, most notably the ARS and it Social Service office which helped secure and package items and served as a point of contact for community members as it regularly does 365 days a year, and the AYF which helped on all fronts especially making deliveries.
Each Gomideh/local task force also proactively reached out to its community members to offer assistance, checked on the elderly and those that were ill, and coordinated deliveries in their areas. In essence, the vast network of community centers and organizations became beacons of hope and security for the community.
Many of the companion organizations’ regional and local executives and the ARF Gomidehs also provided assistance and supplies to first responders, hospitals, nursing homes and worked closely with local government agencies to ensure community members were safe and received assistance.
Concurrently, the ARF and its companion organizations recognized the dire situation in Lebanon and as usual stepped up and raised much needed funds for the Armenian community there and provided a vital emergency donation to help the ARF Youth and Student Association in Armenia continue its work with a promise to do more soon.
ARF in Armenia
In Armenia, as the coronavirus continued to spread due to the government’s inability to manage the situation, the ARF stepped in and its Youth (AYF in Armenia) and Nigol Aghbalian Student Association delivered, and continue to provide life-saving food and supplies to rural villages throughout the country, and proactively provided health and safety guidelines for people to protect themselves.
The ARF reached out to the government of Armenia multiple times and offered its assistance and resources to manage the pandemic and defeat the virus together.
In early March the first official case of Covid-19 infection was reported in Armenia but the government continued holding large gatherings for its referendum through March 13th then finally cancelled the remainder of its gatherings.
On March 14th the ARF made an announcement regarding the gravity of the situation and called for the people to follow public guidelines and directives to remain safe. It also pointed out that that the government is best situated to lead a unified and coordinated effort to manage the pandemic with concrete steps to keep people from being infected, and for everyone to stop political campaigning and posturing to collectively focus on overcoming the crisis together.
Then on March 16th in a second announcement ARF offered its tremendous worldwide resources and capabilities to the government of Armenia to work together in stopping the spread of the coronavirus.
Again, on March 21st the ARF Bureau called on its worldwide network including companion organizations to put aside all political differences, and work together to assist communities everywhere in service to the Armenian people, and specifically to join in and contribute to the Armenian government’s efforts to overcome this pandemic.
No response from the current government of Armenia… as the ARF Youth and Student Association members continued to visit rural villages and provide vital assistance to those in need…
In May there were a few more announcements by the ARF identifying problem areas and stressing the imperative for the government of Armenia to take the matter seriously, again presenting an evaluation of the government’s shortcomings and identifying the necessary steps to take in order to protect the population.
Eventually, after repeated attempts to work together went unanswered and due to the government’s ongoing mismanagement of the crisis and failure to properly safeguard the health and safety of the citizenry, the ARF called for a special meeting of Parliament to address the crisis, evaluate the government’s response so far, and make necessary changes and/or corrections to properly move forward and safeguard lives in the homeland.
Soon after, Levon Ter Petrosian, one of Armenia’s former presidents announced for the second time that everyone should work together, and those who criticize the Prime Minister and government during this war [against the virus] are traitors. This was followed by the Prime Minister’s remarks that everyone should work together and it’s not the time to criticize, otherwise he will take action against opposition groups. Within days he used offensive and vulgar language to insult the ARF for suggesting an emergency meeting of Parliament to evaluate and deal with this crisis.
And now the political turmoil continues while ARF Youth and Student Association members continue to deliver food and supplies to rural villages throughout Armenia…
Even so, the diaspora must join and still do its part to help the Homeland.
Join Us: ARF Western US Launches CovAID Assistance to Armenia
The ARF Western US now turns its attention to helping villages in Armenia get through this coronavirus crisis; the ARF Homeland Initiatives Committee has partnered with ARF Shant Student Association and the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) for the COVAID Armenia fundraiser to provide humanitarian assistance and resources in the form of food and supplies to villages throughout Armenia as part of the of the ongoing “Help Your Compatriot” campaign in Armenia organized by the ARF Youth and Student Association.
Join us and make a real difference in people’s lives. Contribute to the CovAID Armenia fundraiser today and encourage your family and friends to do the same.