BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN
GLENDALE—“The youth is the hope for a freedom-seeking Armenian Nation,” said Armenian Revolutionary Federation Bureau member Dr. Viken Hovsepian during his keynote address, on December 12, at a 1,500-strong capacity-filled celebration of the ARF’s 120th anniversary at the Glendale High School auditorium. Hovsepian also underscored that Armenians must be guided by national interests that will eventually result in the realization of a free, independent and united Armenia.
Hovsepian touched on the misconception that there are state interests and national interest. Those, he explained, who prescribe to the former are content with the current state of affairs and with the current boundaries of Armenia and deem themselves as “realists” and dismiss those who believe in national interests as “idealists.”
“This is a lie,” exclaimed Hovsepian who said that the ARF, through its work throughout the decades has shattered that myth, “because there can only be one interest—the national interest.”
He also addressed naysayers, who throughout history have questioned the role of the ARF. To illustrate that the ARF has played and continues to play a significant role in national matters, he asked the audience to “what would have happened if the ARF did not exist?”
By citing the creation of the first Independent Republic of Armenia, to the critical role the ARF played in creating Diaspora communities, protecting the rights of the Lebanese community during the civil war and the Iranian community at a time of various instabilities, as well as the role the ARF has played in the Karabakh Liberation Struggle and the second independence of Armenia, Hovsepian outlined that not only the ARF has had a role in national events, but has been a critical presence and a player throughout its 120-year history.
Hovsepian outlined the difficulties of engaging the youth in national issues and read an excerpt from the writings of great ARF leader Arshag Jamalian, who in 1930 spoke of the challenges to engage the youth—especially in the US—in words that hold true today.
“Today’s youth has the drive, creativity and the will to justify the hopes placed on it,” said Hovsepian, who said as a witness to the mind of today’s youth, he can ensure that the national aspirations of Armenians will be realized by the youth.
ARF Western US Central Committee chairman, Avedik Izmirlian, also extolled the abilities of the youth in his remarks during the celebration.
He said the Armenian youth are the ideal of justice of the Armenian nation, for which the ARF has fought for 120 years.
Izmirlian also discussed the Armenia-Turkey protocols and told the audience that a year ago, from the same stage, the ARF sounding the alarm about the dangers inherent in the protocols, and today, he said, we know that Turkey was forcing the resolution of the Karabakh conflict as a precondition to the ratification of the documents.
He warned, however, that the chapter on the protocols is not closed and dangers still loom with unprecedented consequences. He, once again, called on the Armenian authorities to withdraw its signature from the protocols and, once and for all, “get out of this game.”
Speaking on behalf of the Armenian Youth Federation, Tro Krikorian emphasized the youth’s involvement in the national struggle and pledged to continue the legacy of the ARF.
If the theme of the celebration was to encourage and highlight the role of the youth, the most impressive display was the 120-member ARF “Badanegan” (Junior) Organization chorus, which not only opened the program but also performed some of the most popular patriotic songs. Under the direction of conductor Mikael Avetisyan, the chorus also performed the climactic conclusion of the event accompanied by all the singers who were featured during the program. They were, Salpy Mayilian and Razmig Mansourian, and Kevork Hadjian, who was in Los Angeles from Armenia and was accompanied on the piano by Levon Abrahamian. A recitation of Kevork Emin’s “Menk” was presented by Andranig Soghomonian.
The celebration was an opportunity to revisit the past accomplishments of the ARF and to look at current activities of the party. Master of Ceremonies Grigor Ogaryan introduced the various stages of the ARF’s history, which were video presentations that intermittently played during the program.
The Zvartnots Dance Troupe, under the direction of Vartan and Siranoush Gevorkian also performed several traditional Armenian dances.
PHOTO CREDIT: NORA YACOUBIAN