BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN
Two days after the parliamentary elections in Armenia, a homemade car bomb was used to vandalize DIY, a bar in Yerevan frequented by non-traditionalist thinkers in Armenia and a safe-haven for the often-persecuted LGBT community in Armenia.
This act is a hate crime. There are no other words to describe it. Police arrested two culprits and controversy erupted when two people, who are members of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation parliamentary bloc opted to bail out the suspects Hampig and Mgrdich (also referred to as Arame) Khapazian, who allegedly targeted the bar owner for her activism in the LGBT community, and participation in a Gay Pride Parade in Turkey.
These individuals’ mere affiliation with the ARF sparked a campaign in the Armenian press and on social media accusing the party of being behind the attacks and condoning the acts. The situation became more inflamed after of one of those posting bail made comments to the press in defense of the suspects, as well as his personal contention that pre-trial arrests—in general—are unjustified.
This, like any other hate crime is deplorable and must be condemned by all forces in and outside of Armenia.
For 121 years, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation has been on the forefront of advocating and working for justice, human rights and against intolerance and persecution. The party’s ideology and advocacy HAVE NOT changed.
It is truly unfortunate that the ARF members did not use their leadership perch to advance dialogue and discussion of tolerance and acceptance in our country. However, for people to use their statements to accuse an entire party that operates internationally of masterminding this attack is equally counterproductive.
In the US we have witnessed, as recently as last week, how still divisive the issue of LGBT rights can be and how, as a so-called advanced society, some elements are unable to fully comprehend the fundamentals of freedom and equality.
The fact of the matter is that this horrible incident has brought to fore the dire imperative for constructive discussion, discourse and dialogue about tolerance. If we are to advance as a nation we all have to work toward and practice what the ARF preamble says, which is that no individual or state has the right to oppress or persecute any other.