BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
With apologies to readers for the week I took off from writing, I’m back with the COVID-instigated doldrums behind me. It has served as something of an unexpected stay-cation and has, perhaps perversely, been somewhat refreshing.
Meanwhile, April 24th, 2020 came and went. It was the most uninspiring Genocide commemoration season I have experienced (other than 1993 when, on the 24th, I was driving cross-country to store my car at my parents’ place in Toms River, NJ in preparation for a months-long organizing stint in Artsakh).
The only interesting snippets I have are from a friend who observed these two: the beginnings of a motorized gathering in Hollywood (a few dozen, each, cars and motorcycles at around 10 am on the 24th) and they were anticipating more, planning to drive around with Armenian tricolors on the vehicles; numerous police officers stationed in front of the building housing the Los Angeles Consulate General of Turkey, with no demonstrators around. I got a good chuckle out of the second one. It reminded me of when we’d hold smaller demonstrations/pickets at Turkish diplomatic facilities or, when we had political prisoners whose release we were pursuing, other establishments, and the number of police would outnumber the number of activists protesting!
I caught a little bit of the on-line programming that was presented by the joint, community-wide commemorative committee we’ve got in the Los Angeles basin. It was informative, to be sure, but hardly what one wants and expects on that singular day of the calendar for Armenians.
As I wrote before, Turkey must be thrilled with this virus and what it as accomplished in damping our efforts. It’s not just Genocide commemorative efforts, but overall organizational and political work that is also at low ebb.
But Turkey has not been idle.
I assembled a Genocide hike to maintain the tradition of the past six-seven years that Armenian hiking groups have established. Of course under the pandemic’s constraints, I just contacted a few friends, and ultimately only three of us hiked. I’d thought to have each of us relate our families’ survival and heroism stories. But the conversation took a different course. One of us had recently been to Jerusalem and was gushing about the treasures we have there as one of the three remaining Christian denominations with rights to significant tracts of the old city and its pilgrimage sites. But he also expressed concern about Ankara and what is is reputed to be doing against us on those lands. He was also perturbed by the great propaganda work Ankara is doing to further its denial and anti-Armenian propaganda. He expressed great dismay at our leadership and wondered where our talent was, perceiving that we were not producing equivalent material.
This was very interesting to me since by coincidence, just a day or two earlier another friend reported seeing a VERY slickly, strongly, and (as usual) deceptively prepared video of Turkish propaganda that could lead any reasonable person to doubt the veracity of the Genocide. The conversation resulted in an idea he put forth that I think is exceptional and necessary to add to our arsenal.
The material he had seen was clearly prepared by very competent, albeit conscience-less public relations experts or advertising folks. The idea is to make such cretins pay for the blood-money they are receiving from Turkey. If they have no qualms about blatantly lying for money, then we should have no qualms about taking the battle to their doorstep and holding them personally accountable. Whether this means picketing their homes, embarrassing them online, or whatever else that my not-too-PR-astute mind cannot invent, it should be done to call them out for their sliminess. It should become VERY personal for them, just like the murder of our families, theft of our property, and dispossession from our homeland is for us. We should go right up the very edge of the law, no holds barred. I have no doubt that woven into our communities we have the expertise needed. Let’s put together this hit squad (forgive the negative connotation since these people would be nothing short of heroes) and cut them loose.
Let them gather information on those culpable for Turkey’s anti-Armenian public relations successes. Let them produce whatever material in whatever form on whatever platform they think is effective to apply pressure upon, discomfit, and embarrass those ethical criminals.
Perhaps, with thanks and apologies to Marvel Comics, we could name them the Armenian Avengers. Then, all that remains would be for this team’s leader to call out “Avengers Assemble” and they would get busy naming and shaming the culprits!