By ARF-AU | Saturday, 28 April 2018


Within Diaspora communities, including here in Australia, there exists a vociferous minority who are devoid of ideology and founding principles. Instead, they receive sustenance from opportunities to create divisions because of events that happen around them.

These ‘critics’, as we will refer to them, are those who watch the Armenian Revolutionary Federation from the shadows, while our members and members of our affiliated community organisations work – educating youth, preserving our language and culture, maintaining community schools, advocating for Armenian and Armenian-Australian issues, providing relief to Armenia and Artsakh, keeping Armenians connected through scouts, sports, dance, theatre, music and more.

When all is peaceful, these critics make up for their inferiority complexes – caused by deficiencies in size, strength and reputation – by calling for ‘unity’, unable to swallow any deserved credit unilaterally received by active, Diaspora-nurturing organisations like the Armenian Youth Federation, Armenian National Committee, Homenetmen, Hamazkaine and the Armenian Relief Society, who happen to be aligned with the ARF, as well as others.

The calls for ‘unity’ by some of these critics are of course proven false, as the very moment that they are given an opportunity to attack the ARF, they transform into roaring lions. We don't know if this mutation is biologically possible, but it seems possible when shielded by a mobile phone screen, separated from society with cables and satellites, and armed with a keyboard.

This gives way for these virtual lions to aggressively kick cold buckets of water over their years of preaching for ‘unity’, only to start the art of the talk. Talk by type. Talk by text. Talk by like. Talk by share. Talk to just spray mud, hoping enough of it sticks.

Over the past two weeks, attacking the ARF in diaspora communities - including here in Australia - has become popular. Why? Because the ARF in Armenia decided to side with their Coalition partner's nominated candidate, Serzh Sargsyan in his pursuit to become the country's Prime Minister.

Sargsyan’s unpopularity was proven when sustained protests led by the leading face of the #REJECTSERZH Movement, Opposition MP Nikol Pashinyan, forced the former president’s resignation from the prime ministership.

This was exactly the opportunity that these virtual lions of the Diaspora – who seem intent to spread divisive poison within the community like the Soviet loyalists of yesteryear – needed. They realised the ARF sided with the guy who was proven to not be the people’s choice, then proceeded to reveal their true colours, which were unsurprisingly not colours of unity. Rather, their true colours were colours of prejudice.

And while they talk and they type, we work. Rosdom - an ARF founding member - once said: "We worked so hard, we forgot to talk."

While this might seem incomprehensible to some, it is responsible to us. If it is a mistake, it is a more acceptable error than the reverse, which is what the keyboard lions are guilty of doing.

On the ground here in Australia, the past two weeks has seen our combined community efforts demand justice for the Armenian Genocide. Our message of the importance of holding Turkey accountable for their sins reached over 1 million Australian homes thanks to the March for Justice and the resulting media coverage it received.

We helped expose an Australian MP who praised Azerbaijan after visiting to Baku for elections, with media slamming his unacceptable position.

We held a fundraiser for beds for fallen soldiers' families at an event. We honoured the legacy of Avedis Aharonian, promoting Armenian literature and culture to the masses. In the same vein, one of our affiliate organisations was busy forming a choir. Our scouts went on an educational camp.

The Armenian Genocide was commemorated in Sydney and in Melbourne – two events that require time, effort and resources to turn into a reality. We had school principals and teachers preparing programs for Term 2. Organisation reached fever pitch ahead of the Centenary of Armenia’s First Independence. Our youth were preparing for AYF-AU Youth Corps, which will see 30 young Australians run day camps for local, underprivileged children in Armenia and Artsakh for over a month this northern summer.

All of this, and more, while our hearts were beating with the people of our beloved Armenia.

We did not talk. We walked. Like we always have.

Our lack of audio was criticised by some in Diaspora communities, including here in Australia. It was said that marching for justice is poor form when Armenia is fighting for regime change. We do not apologise for continuing to hold Turkey and Azerbaijan to account, while expressing solidarity with the people of Armenia. For us, the sins of Sargsyan can be dealt with in parallel to honouring the memory of our forefathers, by not giving denialist Erdogan and war-mongering Aliyev free passes.

People criticised that the ARF in Australia is displaying party discipline. Yes, we are loyal to our party's decentralised principals. They have served us well for 128 years. We do display a united front in public, regardless of what each of our bodies of authority decide in respective communities. We do not apologise for that discipline of not airing any laundry – clean or dirty.

In saying that, just like we agree with many decisions that our brothers and sisters make in their respective communities, including in Armenia, there are also decisions we do not agree with. However our party democracy allows for the representation of differences of opinion through internal processes, which the ARF in Australia utilises to make its opinions heard and duly considered.

We have decided against releasing a statement regurgitating what the Armenian Youth Federation of Australia already said in theirs, but let there be no doubt that we were and remain 100% supportive of that statement, which declared complete and utter solidarity with the people of the Republic of Armenia.

We welcome that the expression of their rights to freedom of speech led the people of Armenia to a tangible political outcome with the resignation of Sargsyan as Prime Minister. This was a good result signifying the true spirit of democracy.

We also welcome the open dialogue between Pashinyan and other political forces in Armenia, initiated by our organisation's representatives in Yerevan. This will hopefully pave a path acceptable by the people, because to us, to our ideology, to our vision and to our agenda, it is the people who matter.

And to the critical lions of communities like ours in Australia, we encourage you to to walk in the shoes of the ARF before criticising our activities.

One hundred years ago is not ancient in historical terms, and that is when the ARF led our people to victories in Sardarabad, Pash Abaran and Gharakilise, which ensured we have an Armenian Republic today.

The ARF planned the first steps of justice for the Armenian Genocide through the might of the likes of Tehlirian among our ranks. The ARF continued ensuing steps towards that justice by carrying the torch of Hai Tad, by maintaining our country’s flag, our emblem, our anthem, while many were assimilating into Soviet communism, even cooperating with the Union that promoted said assimilation.

If these facts are too historical, or too far from the reality for our community who are more interested in what we do now for Armenia… let’s consider this.

How many organisations sent volunteers into the terrain of Artsakh during its most trying days? How many organisations have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to help our brothers and sisters survive in Syria since the war? How many organisations have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to help Artsakh rebuild, remain populated, and get stronger? How many organisations have representatives on Ilham Aliyev’s persona non grata list with an “arrest on arrival” to Baku order?

How many organisations regularly send young people, in the dozens, to help the underprivileged in Armenia and Artsakh? How many organisations have rebuilt youth centres and kindergartens in Armenia and Artsakh? How many organisations have led investment efforts into projects that help secure Armenia and Artsakh’s borders? How many organisations send more students and campers to Armenia and Artsakh, who support our two Republics through their tourism, among other ways?

These activities, and the dozens we fail to mention, do not come from ‘seasonal patriotism’, which is triggered by an event or to some, an opportunity. They come from coordinated, organised and relentless activity. They come from clarity in ideology and goals. They come from an absolute adoration of Armenia, Artsakh and everything Armenian.

Our wish with this anti-statement is not to silence these critics. It is for these critics to forever emerge from the shadows. They will realise they have an old but never ageing friend in the ARF, who shares their passion for Armenia, for Artsakh and for the Armenian world. We look forward to working hand in hand with all our brothers and sisters. We want to mutate into lions together, and to roar together.

We are an organisation that has preached and practiced unity since we were formed in 1890 to bring our revolutionaries together. We love everything and everyone Armenian. We will fight for it, we will write for it. We will protect their rights, regardless the means or distance. We are with Armenia. We are with the people of Armenia. We are with the Armenian people.

- The Armenian Revolutionary Federation - Australia Central Committee