BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
It’s funny that just as in last week’s article, I feel compelled to explain the roots, the basis, of what I am about to assert, colloquially – “where I’m coming from.” Otherwise, my views may seem contradictory, or, at least unlikely to lead to the conclusions that follow.
I write these words as someone who:
1. was never enamored of many Armenians’ obsession with “unity” at any or all costs, or perceiving it as an end in itself;
2. has attended, and observed, with a critical eye, the events I address;
3. is saddened by youthful energies misdirected and abused by people with ulterior motives or self-aggrandizing agendas.
It’s time for the Unified Young Armenians (UYA) to mature. It’s time for UYA to stop serving (I hope for the most part inadvertently) other, outside (geographically), political purposes. It’s time to start cooperating with ALL the other organizations in the greater Los Angeles area when it comes to major April 24 activities instead of acting obstreperous.
When the UYA (then known as the United Armenian Students) first organized its “circular” Hollywood March in 2001, many factors were at play. It was an attempt at unified action by sincere young Armenians. Unfortunately, by all accounts, it was also a tool in the hands of the disgraced President Levon Der Bedrossian’s LA-minions who managed to gain effective control over what might have been a proud achievement. But most importantly, as I wrote in 2004, it was “a moment of political maturation for the segment of our community that had most recently departed from Armenia. It was strangely fulfilling and inspiring.”
Since then, the event, put on with great effort and significant expense, has stagnated. April 24th cannot serve merely as a time of self-assertion. It must also be a day when Armenians worldwide most intensely channel their political will and demands. These must be targeted at our state enemies – primarily Turkey (Azerbaijan is, of course, more immediate, but it is also a mere bump in the road compared to its big-brother). To that end, we must take actions that are relevant, even when in the symbolic realm. Hence, April 24th actions must be directed at Turkey. In Los Angeles, that means the Turkish Consulate General located at the corner of Wilshire and Crescent Heights.
Fortunately, all other groups in LA have come together in organizing and supporting the decades-long tradition of demonstrating at the consulate. The AYF, which organized that action for many years, has even ceded its aegis over the event to the joint, community-wide, effort. The UYA refuses to join.
That must stop. Other segments of our community, long known for their recalcitrance, and, I would add, petulance and divisiveness, have lent their name and influence to these Turkey-directed demonstrations. It’s time for UYA to follow suit.
Clearly, given the Republic of Armenia’s most recent election results, Der Bedrossian’s time has come and gone. Equally clearly, there are energized, sincere, activists who dedicate much effort to organizing UYA’s march each year. Imagine how much more potent we could be in LA if that energy was not needlessly dissipated. In parallel, if this separatism is about ego—individual or organizational—then it’s also time to take a big gulp and swallow that excess pride. Everyone else is doing it to further common goals, the UYA and its members should be held to the same standard.
I ask UYA to join the rest of the community in 2018.
I ask everyone to urge UYA to join the rest of the community in 2018.