WATERTOWN, Mass.—Members of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF/Dashnaktsutyun) and the Armenian community of New England paid tribute this week to the nationalist and democratic socialist political party, marking its robust and solemn 129-year history and sharing in the optimism and vision of its future.
“Throughout its history, Dashnaktsutyun has earned the love and gratitude of the Armenian people for the unconditional service it provided the nation even in the most difficult and sometimes insurmountable circumstances,” said ARF “Sardarabad” Gomidehoutiun member Mourad Manougian, “begging the question: what would have been the fate of the Armenian people if this giant was not born out of the bosom of the Armenian people?”
Organized by the ARF “Sardarabad” Gomideh of Boston and the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) Greater Boston “Nejdeh” Chapter, the event welcomed members of the local New England clergy including Reverend Archpriest Antranig Baljian on behalf of His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian and St. Stephen’s Armenian Apostolic Church, Reverend Father Stephan Baljian of St. Gregory Armenian Apostolic Church of Merrimack Valley and Reverend Dr. Avedis Boynerian of Armenian Memorial Church; members of the Armenian Relief Society Central Executive Board; and members of the ARF Eastern US Central Committee; board members and representatives of the ARS, AYF, Hamazkayin and Homenetmen regional and local chapters. Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian and representatives from other Armenian educational and cultural organizations were also in attendance.
“For the past 129 years, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation has been the party for the worker and laborer, craftsman and merchant, the intellectual and soldier, the student and the teacher, the villager and the statesman,” said ARS Executive Director and organizing committee member Verginie Touloumian in her formal remarks. “Yes, the party was established when we did not even have an independent country. But throughout its entire span, the party has never stopped working for the welfare, strengthening, empowerment and prosperity of the Homeland.”
“We are responsible for continuing the fight of our forefathers and creating a brighter future for Armenia,” said AYF Greater Boston “Nejdeh” Chapter co-chair Ida Barsoumian. She was accompanied by fellow co-chair Saro Sakaian and dozens of other members from their chapter, which led the group of about 200 guests at the Armenian Cultural and Educational Center (ACEC) in anthems and revolutionary songs throughout the program. The AYF was also responsible for producing two short videos—one featuring junior AYF members and the other a historical account by Armenian National Committee of America-Eastern Region (ANCA-ER) chair Dr. Dikran Kaligian and former ARF director Tatul Sonentz Papazian of pivotal moments in recent ARF history—the 1975 Boston commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, the 1988 Spitak earthquake and the Arstakh War.
Sunday evening’s celebration occurred on the heels of a momentous accomplishment in Washington, DC where the US House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly for House Resolution 296, reaffirming the US recognition of the Armenian Genocide and exemplifying the tireless efforts of the Armenian National Committees and their loyalty to the Armenian Cause. “This is, once more, a testimony to the resolve and dedication of an energized and engaged community that believes in and is committed to the fight for justice,” said keynote speaker and ARF Bureau chair Hagop Der Khatchadourian. “It is this same courage, engagement and commitment that have characterized the Dashnagtsagans, the army of volunteers that have sworn to dedicate themselves to the service of Armenia and the Armenian nation.”
A son of the Diaspora, Der Khatchadourian recalled growing up in Lebanon in the late 1960s and early 1970s, dreaming of a free, independent and united Armenia. “We adhered to the notion of one nation, regardless of where we lived, with one overwhelming struggle,” said Der Khatchadourian during his eloquent remarks delivered almost entirely in the English language.
That unyielding dream, as Der Khatchadourian explained, would be kept alive long-term despite the fight against corruption, assimilation, a seemingly indestructible Soviet Union, an invincible Turkish government, divisive politics and authoritarian administrations. “The ARF became a target as the most organized and disciplined force in the Homeland,” said Der Khatchadourian. “The ARF believed that statehood is a permanent value to be cherished and protected, while authorities are by nature temporary and replaceable.”
On the Artsakh front, Der Khatchadourian expressed optimism in his reference to the recently established international Friends for Artsakh network. As for negotiations with the OSCE Minsk Group, the situation has maintained a status quo. “We do not view this negatively because we’re aware that any immediate push to produce results will not end up with a deal favoring the Armenian side,” he explained. “We’re ready to help Armenia and Artsakh resist such pressure and never give up its victories gained through sweat and blood.”
Der Khatchadourian concluded his remarks with a hopeful focus on the Armenian Diaspora and a call to create a consensus on a national agenda and open a new era of cooperation with pan-Armenian organizations.
The event was streamed live on the Armenian Weekly Facebook page.
Leeza ArakelianAssistant Editor