BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
In case anyone had any doubts, I am a member of the ARF, the Tashnagtzoutiun. As such, there’s something that has been bothering and frustrating me to an ever increasing degree. Why have we not been able to get through to the citizens/residents/voters of the Republic of Armenia, at least as measured by election results? We’ve done better in Artzakh, but there, the political dynamics, the small size, and our efforts during the war that liberated the region from Azerbaijan create a different environment.
This problem exists in the Diaspora too, at least the “pre-post-Soviet” part of it, but to a much lesser degree. Someone who has come to work with us on certain projects thought we were some right-wing organization and was very leery of us, because of that perception, though the reality of what the ARF is has been clarified, at least to that compatriot.
But the big problem is in the homeland. It seems to me we’ve done many of the right things, and certainly espoused and championed the right positions on the issues. Yet, this has not translated into popular support. And, this can’t be laid exclusively at the foot of the electoral shenanigans that are standard fare every time local, parliamentary, or presidential elections roll around.
Don’t believe me? Here are examples, in no particular order:
We were among the first to prepare a plan for the country’s economic development, even before independence was formally declared.
We spoke out against the murder of Vahe Avetian by “Nemetz Roobo’s” (one of the oligarchs) thugs.
We have organized several Armenians and Progressive Politics Conferences to address numerous timely issues that confront our nation.
We warned against the type of changes in the pension system that would leave the elderly even more destitute, yet the ruling parties enacted those modifications.
We have been strong advocates of efforts to clean up the systemic corruption plaguing all aspects of life in the country.
We have stood firm and served as the standard bearer to rally the people whenever it looked like the military victory in Artsakh would be converted into a diplomatic defeat.
We condemned the firebombing of a bar, DIY, that was targeted because gays and lesbians tended to frequent it.
We led the charge against them when the infamous “protocols” with Turkey were made public because they ceded our historical and territorial rights, along with dealing a setback on Artsakh.
We have worked on issues of women’s abuse, even organizing a march in Hollywood to call attention to the problem.
We have publicized the environmental problems caused by poor government policy and rampant corruption.
We, most recently, came out against the bus fare increase that was set to go into effect in Yerevan last week.
So, what’s missing? Why have we not been able to connect? Is it a lack of trust? Is it the lingering, seven-decades-of Soviet-propaganda-based, stigma our organization has among some segments of Armenian society? What are we doing wrong? What are we not doing correctly?
If you’ve got thoughts, answers, or even criticism, please, send it our way, at least by responding to this article