BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
Last week, the Western U.S. Region of the ARF completed its biennial convention with the election of a new Central Committee (CC), as I wrote two years ago as well.
In that piece, I noted “guarded optimism” among ARF members. It seems to have paid off. In evaluating the preceding two years of activity, the convention found that very good work had been done on many fronts, especially the financial, while naturally noting some deficiencies as well.
Not having attended one of these conventions in 20 years, I was pleased that the level of tension over issues and personalities had subsided and the level of discourse had improved a bit.
Perhaps the gravity of the 100th anniversary of the Genocide helped the discourse. As you’ve probably already seen, besides the traditional statement issued by the convention, a thorough and extensive presentation of our demands from Turkey has been issued, in English. This will also be translated into Armenian and printed in both languages as a pamphlet. There’s even discussion of translating it into Kurdish and Turkish.
This statement is undergirded by one of the best convention resolutions I’ve seen laying out strategic guidance for the organization’s activities over the next two years. The other major concern and focus of the two-weekend-long conclave was youth. How to further energize the AYF, strengthen the AYF Juniors, and reach out to engage college students all drew much attention. In fact, a special mid-week session dedicated to youth issues was convened for all able to attend.
There was some turnover in the membership of the newly elected CC with six people reelected, rounded out with two completely new members and three “return engagements.” One of the new members brings valuable awareness of and connections to the environmental and social movements holding the Republic of Armenia’s government’s feet to the fire. This is promising because it will enable us to better support efforts to strengthen the rule of law and civil society in the larger of our two republics.
Perhaps the most pleasing aspect of the decisions made by the convention is the renewed focus on Western Armenia, not only its liberation and related reparations, but also in the form of programs and efforts to reconnect us with home, particularly in the context of the 100th.
Of course, none of this happens without broad community engagement and participation, which will be heightened given the convention’s call for an inclusive approach to all segments of our communities dispersed west of the Mississippi. So get ready, you may well receive a call…