In 2010, Alfred de Zayas, who has served as chief of petitions at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, is the retired secretary of the UN Human Rights Committee, and former senior counsel with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, spoke at a lecture in UCLA about the politics and laws surrounding genocides on an international level. His words, presented in full here, are laden with with excerpts from the Statute of the International Court of Justice, legitimising the claims of reparation by all those who have experienced genocide.
Every victim of genocide and crimes against humanity deserves justice. As such, every survivor and his/her descendants of the Armenian genocide deserves restitution and compensation for harms committed against the people as a whole.
One of the more interesting aspects of the article actually lies within the comments. The Armenian youth show their concern and willingness to work with an organization that unites our people as a whole, working to voice our concerns and bring justice not just in the matter of genocide, but in all issues.
“… In order to be taken seriously, we have to speak in one voice. Several different voices will undermine and weaken our case. In this respect an Armenia Diaspora Artsakh Union needs to be formed or a Universal Armenian committee should be elected and internationally recognized as the official body presenting the grievances of the Armenian people.” It’s definitely a curious idea, not one that has not been thought of before, but perhaps one that might succeed in the present where it has failed in the past. Unfortunately, there are too many headstrong Armenian organizations that would be loathe to relent their authority in favour of a higher body speaking on behalf of all of them. However, a united front by the multiple existing factions would definitely help quicken the process of achieving justice.
“…To those who would call me naive: How has realistic passivity and acquiescence worked for us? All gains we have achieved have come from activism borne of commitment to the IDEAL of justice.” These words bear the truth. We have the International Court on our side. Technically speaking, we have most of the tools necessary. What we lack in is the willpower to succeed it seems. We rather passively watch time absorb all opportunities, the strong reign over the weak and the world move on while we reflect on the past, lament and mourn. And watch. And watch. Where are the Khrimian Hayrigs of this generation? Where are the Karekin Njtehs and Trasdamad Ganayans? Where are the Tamara Atamians and Sosseh Vartanians? We applaud activism in others but forget to stand up ourselves against injustice. We despair and complain about the darkness instead of lighting a single candle to briefly lighten the oppressive presence of the lack of light.
Perhaps it’s about time for a new tactic to be utilized, one where we back our lawyers and professors, experts who can bring us forward from this standstill. Professors like de Zayas should be applauded and their words hailed from every media standpoint. Drop the passivity and adopt a headstrong proactive model!
The Armenia that was ingrained in our minds and hearts from an extremely young age, the mountains with the sun setting between them with birds flying overhead and fluffy clouds, seems to become a distant memory as we age and realize that what Armenians seem to do best is attack themselves. Harsh words and ludicrous claims bombard our fragile image of a homeland we long for, effectively pushing many as far away from the community atmosphere as possible. Before independence, we constantly complained about the Soviet Regime and the oppressive nature of the governing system. Today, we complain about every aspect of our Armenia, from the oligarchic regime to the traditional views, the strong influence of the Apostolic Church to the rampant poverty that seems to have become an intrinsic piece of Armenia’s woven fabric.
What hurts the most, however, is when there are groups of people adamant about bringing about change without upsetting the balance of traditional values and yet are met with not simple hostility but vicious attacks on reputation. What I am speaking so enraged about is an article by an Armenian obvious LGBT community advocate repulsed by the recent attack on DIY LGBY-friendly club in Yerevan. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christopher-atamian/armenia-government-lgbt_b_1616737.html?utm_hp_ref=twitter&comm_ref=false)
What truly causes the deepest gashes are the anti-Dashnak sentiments expressed within the piece. The party is by no means an angelic force, yet it has never committed any acts that would deem it worthy of such remarkably disturbing statements such as believing the ARF to be “the equivalent of Armenian Zionists” and an abominable fascist party. Furthermore, the author blatantly spreads lies through his words, “ The ARF and the Armenian government have yet to release official statements condemning this last, cowardly attack. In fact Eduard Sharmazanov, the deputy speaker of parliament, also spoke positively about the alleged attackers in a post on his Facebook page.” Last I checked, the incident was condemned vehemently by the heads of the ARF party, as well as many other government officials. Not only did Vahan Hovhannisyan release multiple statements on the issue, but ARF chapters around the world frantically worked to distance themselves from the acts of delinquent individuals, speaking of the party’s true mandate as viewing all in an equal light.
Christopher Atamian might have a legitimate point to raise, but he is rather late in mounting this particular train, where the incident has passed and statements have been presented. There are those who should be indiscriminately punished for their words and deeds, but this form of slurring and complete falsifying of a party’s intentions are deplorable to say the least and in every manner questionable. If the author is against a party for lack of information on all the good it performs, especially in the diaspora, I have no quarrel with that but simply feel saddened by the prospect. However, when the author intentionally attacks a party that has faithfully served its nation for over a century, he only serves to discredit himself. That the Huffington Post would allow for the publication of such hate-speech only serves to tarnish the media outlet’s impeccable reputation.
Armenia has many traditional views that are strongly opposed by the more liberal West, but that in no way speaks for the nation degenerating into a fascist state. Armenians are in reality quite tolerant of many if not most ideals and sectarian communities. It may be a mostly homogeneous country, but it shows little to no discrimination to admitting those of other nationalities into her hearth.