LOS ANGELES–The “Stop the Protocols” Campaign, a broad-based coalition of Armenian youth groups and organizations across the United States, demonstrated Friday against the Turkey-Armenia protocols at the Swiss Consulate in Los Angeles.
The protest sought to inform the Swiss government of the contradictions in participating in a process that has seen the drafting of a set of one-sided protocols that threaten Armenia and undermine the rights of all Armenians. During the demonstration a delegation met with the Consul General to deliver a written letter to the Swiss government expressing the campaigns concerns.
“The meeting with the Swiss Consul General was an important step in expressing our community’s disapproval of the protocols and course being taken in the Turkey-Armenia negotiations process, explained Caspar Jivalagian, who met with Consul Brigitta Schoch Dettweiler alongside Haroutin Haroutinian.
The so-called protocols call on Armenia for the establishment of a “historical commission” to examine historical “problems” between the two countries, a move many analysts and genocide scholars consider a ploy by Turkey to cast doubt on the veracity of the Armenian Genocide.
As the primary mediator between the Turkish and Armenian governments, the Swiss government has been involved in the negotiations process between the two countries since before the drafting of the protocols.
“We explained to the Consul that the protest was not against the Swiss government but against the mediation process,” added Jivalagian. “The voice of our community needs to be heard by all those involved in making decisions affecting the fate of the Armenian nation.”
During the visit, the delegation, which also included Haroutin Haroutinian, also thanked the Swiss government for its firm stand in recognition of the Armenian Genocide. “But we stressed very heavily on how her government’s role in the mediation processes–the protocols in particular–go counter to the traditions and the beliefs of the Swiss people,” explained Haroutinian.
Schoch Dettweiler, for her part, said her government was not involved in the drafting of the protocols, adding that the Swiss are trying to stay as neutral as possible and are only interested in facilitating talks between Armenia and Turkey.
Expressing respect toward the demonstrators for taking time to make their voices heard, Schoch Dettweiler promised she would relay the letter to her government, as well as the demonstrators’ overall message that the protocols go against fundamental Swiss values.
“Our message got across, they understand our points, and we hope that when she takes our letter back to her government, they listen to what we said,” explained Arek Santikian.
Pointing to the hundred people rallied outside the consulate, one demonstrator, Patil Aslanian, exclaimed that “if we do not express our opposition, then the Armenian government will not see how the overwhelming majority of people in the Diaspora are against the protocols.”
Only by being active and united, she continued, will the Diaspora be able to show its discontent and work toward stopping these protocols.
“At this point it doesn’t matter what organization you are a part of or what political opinions you hold, none of us agree with these protocols and all of us agree on the Armenian Cause so we are all working together and speaking with one voice to call for a serious change and an immediate stop to these protocols,” she said.
Built around the shared conviction that these protocols must be stopped at all costs, the “Stop The Protocols” Coalition consists of the ARF Shant Student Association, Unified Young Armenians, Armenian Youth Federation, Woodbury University Armenian Students Association, UCLA Armenian Students Association, and others. For more information, updates, and ways to get active on this issue, visit: http://stoptheprotocols.com
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