GLENDALE–The second of a series of events for the Artsakh 20th Anniversary of the Liberation Movement held under the auspices of the ARF Central Committee of Western US, and organized by a coordinating committee from the ARF “Aghbalian,” “Aharonian” and “Zavarian” Gomidehs in Burbank, Glendale and La Crescenta respectively, was a Literary Evening held at the Glendale Public Library, on Sunday, April 6.
Color and black and white photographs of the landscape and churches of Artsakh by Vahe Peroomian, monumen’s and images dedicated to the martyrs for freedom, and photographs of the children of Artsakh were displayed. A special Artsakh bread filled with herbs and greens–Jingalov Hatz–was also available for all those who had never tasted it, missed it since their last visit to Artsakh or did not know that in Glendale, practically everything Armenian can be found.
The program mood was set with a special music-poetry video presentation by Anahid Ishkhanian taped at the Gantzasar monastery in Artsakh. Following the video, Ishkahnian appeared in person, wearing a traditional green and red costume of Artsakh , and expressed her excitement about the program and about the milestone that was being celebrated, as one of the very few “Artsakhtsi” poets residing in LA.
Opening remarks were made by Hourig Fournouzian on behalf of the Artsakh 20th Anniversary Coordinating Committee, with special thanks to The Armenian Writers’ Association of California for their cooperation and efforts in helping the Coordinating Committee organize this event, as well as all attendees and participants. Fournouzian spoke about the mission of the Coordinating Committee and emphasized the importance of the community coming together to express its solidarity with the people of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and their right to self determination and struggle as a stepping-stone to the concept of a Free, Independent, and United Armenia, and expressing it by adopting the slogan Artsakh IS Armenia.
The program was enriched with the participation of poets and writers, such as Gevork Christinian, Garoush Hairyantz, Ester Davtyan, and Khosrov Assoian who in addition to their readings & recitation, provided commentaries with their own perspective about the strength and character of the people of Artsakh, the determination of those who gave their lives to liberate Artsakh, and their hopes and dreams for Artsakh as part of Armenia. Their enthusiasm and high energy level was apparent in how they jumped in to recite poetry with Ishkhanian, deviated from their selections, and added new poems or excerpts to match their reactions to the continuing program. They were not shy to tell the audience what they expected, in addition to analyzing and evaluating the audience reactions. They explained their works and delivered them in such pleasing manner, that even Anahid Ishkhanian, as MC, objected that they were not leaving much room for those who recite their works. Judging from the laughter, admiration and poignant reactions of the audience, the writers were well received and appreciated.
Keynote speaker, Professor Garo Momdjian, provided an analysis of the emergence of the liberation movement, which hastened the disintegration of the former Soviet Union. The trigger was the attack of the Azeris on Armenian homes and centers on the way to Askeran, which led to mass protests in Armenia chanting “Kharabagheh mer neh”-Kharabagh is ours. He observed that Kedashen and Shahoumian were lost due to failures of the political process. Momjian continued, that despite all the advances, it is clear that at the end, lands are liberated only with blood. He explained that since the 1700s the political orientation of the Armenia’s has been steered towards Russia, and the problems rose due to the Bolshevig Revolution in 1917. As our political leadership tried to swing the Russian orientation to another direction, as a result, we incurred losses, and these were Kedashen and Shahumian.
“The western interests are aligned with Turkey, Azerbaijan and the other Muslim former-Soviet nations, which leave Armenia, to align itself with Russia and Iran, in order to ensure its security interests. During the past century, nations are not truly independent states, but need the super-powers in order to ensure their economy and security”, added Momdjian.
He said that poetry is important in order to remind us and the new generations of all those fighters who gave their lives to Karabakh’s freedom, and to prepare the new generations for the instance when they may need to follow the examples of those before them to help sustain that freedom. This is not about moral victory, but physical victory of a people. In order to keep our freedom, we need to sustain the status quo. We know that Artsakh (Armenian name for Karabakh) cannot exist as a separate entity, at the end it can only be a part of Armenia. We should always have in mind the case of Nakhichevan and how it was emptied of Armenia’s. He cautioned that we need to keep one eye on Artsakh and one on Javakh. “Imagine what we could have accomplished in Artsakh with the funds spent on three Diaspora conferences.”
The event was concluded with a beautiful poetry read by Anahid Ishkhanian in a special Artsakh dialect titled “Eench oonem, log tsez madagh”- which means let all my belongings be a sacrifice for you. A typical characteristic of an Artsakhtsi, who is selfless, proud, and willing to do anything for his or her friend.
The evening was concluded with a reception during which it seemd the crowd gathered came to reinstate the forgotten fact that we are all soldiers in the fight for our Free, Independent, and United Armenia. Some people take up guns, some, like the event’s participants replace the guns with pens and the bullets with words. Words, that are sometimes stronger than a killing bullet.