By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
There has been a serious lack of coordination in dealing with critical global issues. Armenians around the world have repeatedly come under attack with Armenia or the Diaspora hardly lifting a finger.
In the aftermath of the US occupation of Iraq in 2003, Armenians along with millions of other Iraqis suffered great losses. While not much could have been done to secure their physical safety, there should have been an organized effort by the Armenian government and Armenians worldwide to assist those who left all their possessions behind and fled the country. Regrettably, nothing was done to help resettle Iraqi Armenian refugees in the Homeland or anywhere else.
Fortunately, the Armenian response was more vigorous during the still ongoing Syrian conflict. The Armenian Republic’s Diaspora Ministry assisted many of the 15,000 Syrian Armenians who moved to the Homeland, while Diaspora communities actively raised funds to help the destitute Armenians in Syria. However, the assistance provided has been woefully inadequate relative to the enormous needs of those remaining in Syria, and those who have escaped to Lebanon and Armenia.
There could be other unexpected man-made or natural disasters such as the devastating earthquake that struck northern Armenia in 1988, from which Armenians are still struggling to recover 25 years later!
What about the enduring threat to Artsakh? After years of bluffing, should Azerbaijan’s psychopathic President someday launch a full-blown attack on Artsakh, are Armenians around the world ready to rush to the rescue of their compatriots in the Homeland? Although the responsibility for defending the borders falls on the armed forces of the twin Armenian Republics, shouldn’t Diaspora Armenians have a coordinated contingency plan to confront such an existential eventuality? All necessary arrangements should be made in advance, so that when the attack comes, there would be an immediate counteraction.
Another critical issue needing Armenians’ immediate attention is the chaotic situation prevailing in Turkey and the possible dangers facing the Armenian community, in particular:
1) Total disarray in the Turkish government due to the ruling party’s recent loss of parliamentary majority and new elections scheduled for November 1;
2) Recurrent bombings of Kurdish regions in Northern Iraq by the Turkish Air Force, and violent clashes between the Turkish military and Kurds inside Turkey;
3) Worldwide criticism of Turkish President Erdogan's autocratic rule, his support of ISIS terrorists, and draconian measures taken against political opponents.
This is the ideal opportunity for Armenians outside Turkey to join the anti-Erdogan international chorus. It is also the suitable time to cooperate with millions of Kurds opposing the Erdogan regime; but, this is not the right time to remain quiet when the Turkish regime arrests Fatma Barout, Co-Mayor of the Soor district of Dikranakert. Where is the outcry against the arbitrary arrest of this courageous Armenian woman? There has not been a single complaint from anyone in Armenia or Diaspora! Mayor Barout and her family were in Armenia last month to attend the Pan-Armenian Games. On that occasion, they visited the Genocide Memorial and Museum in Yerevan and paid their respects to the 1.5 million Armenian martyrs.
Armenians worldwide should also support the youth of Nor Zartonk (Renaissance) movement in Istanbul who are struggling against all odds to defend Armenian and other minority rights in Turkey. One of the group’s activists has complained that they were not even getting moral support from the Diaspora, let alone Armenia. Nor Zartonk members, who have been physically attacked by Turkish extremists, have been holding protests at Camp Armen during the last two months, demanding that the Turkish government return the confiscated Camp to the Armenian community.
Since Armenians are dispersed throughout the world, they could fall victim to other unfortunate incidents in the future. It is imperative that a single worldwide Armenian committee, composed of representatives of Armenia and Artsakh, and major Diasporan organizations, develops contingency plans for emergencies affecting Armenians in any part of the world. Holding fundraising events and meetings to put action plans together should be done before, not after, the occurrence of tragic events.
The Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee, during its upcoming Yerevan conference, could be renamed and transformed into a permanent pan-Armenian body that would deal with all aspects of Armenia-Diaspora relations, particularly emergency situations.