YEREVAN— Armenian-Canadian actress and film producer Arsinée Khanjian, at a press conference on Monday said that thousands of Armenians have signed the “Justice Within Armenia” initiative’s petition for democracy, justice and transparent elections. The petition was launched on September 21 by well-known Armenians from Armenia and the Armenian Diaspora.
The “Justice Within Armenia” campaign has the goal of a democratic, just and transparent elections in Armenia, and plans to send 20 observers to monitor the 2017 parliamentary elections.
Actor Hrant Tokhatyan was present at the press conference alongside Khanjian, while Armenian-American singer-songwriter, political activist, and System of a Down front man Serj Tankian, Armenian-Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan, and Armenian-American filmmaker Eric Nazarian were participated via Skype.
“Armenia’s independence was an important achievement, gift and a dream come true for Diaspora Armenians, but we, as individuals, were unable to make our contribution at the time,” Khanjian said.
“However, we have always lived with the consciousness to support Armenia, to help the country rise not only in the cultural field, but also develop as an independent, sovereign and democratic state,” she added.
She noted, however, that the situation is getting more and more troublesome, and this has caused concern among Diaspora Armenians and served as a basis for the “Justice Within Armenia” initiative.
Tokhatyan, as a citizen of Armenia and as a part of the “Justice Within Armenia” campaign, said “the unity of concerned individuals will always benefit Armenia.”
Tankian spoke of his concern regarding the divide among Diaspora Armenians and Armenia.
“Not just the government, but the whole institution of Armenia should be taking advantage of us [Diaspora Armenians] in a positive way. We need to be the right ambassadors of the country around the world—and we’re not,” he said.
Nazarian spoke of his concern about the lack of human rights upheld within Armenia. “While the diaspora comes to the aid of Armenia during times of need, the diaspora does not have a voice in the country.”
The filmmaker commented that the question to ask President Sarkisian should not be about strategies of collaborations between the Diaspora and Armenia, but rather upholding human rights within our country. “What have we become as a nation/people? How do we differ from our enemies?” retorted Nazarian.
“It would be presumptuous for us to think that we have a role without understanding the day to day detail of what life means there, Egoyan remarked. “But what we do understand is that we have the responsibility to commit everything that we can to support the political health, the economic health, the human rights record of a country that we cherish.”