BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
Things are starting to move on the occasion of the Genocide’s centennial. I hasten to agree with fellow columnist Haut Sassounian that the Genocide wasn’t just one year, but stretched, in one bloody form or another, over eight. So we have a lot of time to do our work.
Unfortunately, nothing serious seems to be emanating from Armenia. The closest thing to that was Sarkissian’s inviting Erdoğan to Armenia for April 24, 2015, which has been met with utter silence, and is probably a dud from a public relations perspective.
In the Diaspora, communities have come together to plan programs. So far, I have not encountered anything too exciting from the formal, traditional, structures. However, there are glimmers of hope.
In LA, Fethiye Çetin will be speaking at Armenian venues. While she is not new to the enlightened side of Turkish society regarding matters of the Genocide, nor is she new to Armenians in that respect, up to now, her “type” has not been a very frequent presence at Diaspora events, much less ones organized by a coalition representing an overwhelming portion of the community. They have appeared in academic, or similar, settings. Hopefully, this is the beginning of a new, higher, level of cooperation with right-minded Turks living in Turkey.
Similar glimmers of hope for somewhat novel approaches to getting the word out are evident in two events I am aware of. The 100km Tribute*(100kmtribute.com), is a walk/bicycle ride/motorcycle ride that will happen this Thanksgiving weekend, and raise money for Research on Armenian Architecture’s new 36 volume series on our architectural heritage. Another is a cross-country run/bicycle ride LA2DC.com, which, as the name implies, will have participants traversing the country in stages to publicize our issues.
These types of specific interest activities are almost endless in their variety. Why should the Armenian Philatelic Association, Armenian Numismatic Society, Lark Musical Society, Green Armenia, Armenia Tree Project, Armenian-American Chamber of Commerce, Armenian Engineers and Scientists Association, Armenian Allied Arts Association, Armenian Technology Group, etc. each not organize activities/programs that appeal to their particular constituencies?
The specific interest activities are important so those of us who are minimally engaged in community life will get more fired up. They are even more important for those of our compatriots who are disengaged, but in their hearts-of-hearts, do care and would participate more if the right opportunity presented itself. The centennial is a chance to activate these segments of our communities. In turn, with more participants, those who are even less connected or involved will get more exposure through friends and family, and they might become energized.
There is an underlying sense of guilt, especially among those who are not too involved. This is our chance to engage a massive number of new/returning activists to our struggle for Western Armenia and justice throughout our homeland. If our community leadership thinks and acts in these terms, many people will be drawn in for a generation.
There’s also a worrisome side to all this. I’ve heard comments to the effect of “after a hundred years, it’s over, give up.” Of course this is utter poppycock. If this is the case, how then are we to explain the rebirth of Israel and Ireland? What about the ongoing efforts of Scotland to regain its independence? All three of these examples involve centuries, not just one. But the kind of defeatism manifested by notions of a time limit on justice is very real and destructive. It must be addressed head on, and those suffering from the malady offered every possible remedy.
All this takes wisdom and effort. Let’s demonstrate we have the right stuff and use the Genocide’s centennial to launch a vigorous effort to regain all of what is ours. Join the efforts being planned. Don’t like what you see? Organize your own (just avoid scheduling conflicts with others’ events).
Let’s meet to celebrate our successes on the “other side” of the centennial.
* For full disclosure– I am one of the organizers