The Diaspora and Yerevan

By Avedis Kevorkian, Philadelphia, PA  USA, 9 july 2012

It would appear that the Armenian Diaspora may be able, for the first time, to truly influence what is going on in Yerevan.

What started my thinking is the fact that there is a Petition being circulated calling on the Yerevan government to do something about a murder.  I have refused to sign the Petition.

By Avedis Kevorkian, Philadelphia, PA  USA, 9 july 2012

It would appear that the Armenian Diaspora may be able, for the first time, to truly influence what is going on in Yerevan.

What started my thinking is the fact that there is a Petition being circulated calling on the Yerevan government to do something about a murder.  I have refused to sign the Petition.

Permit me to take a step back and explain the situation.  Not too long ago, a prominent young doctor was severely beaten in a restaurant, and he died of his injuries in the hospital.  For some time, nothing seemed to have been done by the previously inept police, although “everyone” knew what had happened.

Hence, the Petition circulating in the Diaspora.

Then, as I was beginning to vent my spleen about another crime that was going unpunished, I learned that the six thugs involved have been arrested and that the influential MP who owned the restaurant has resigned.

What brought about this unexpected action?  The people, bless them, started to protest, and the protests grew and grew.  Even crooks and thieves and thugs cannot fail to see that perhaps––just perhaps––”we have gone too far, this time.” 

But, being the obstinate character that I am, I feel certain it was not the fear of futile Petitions circulating in the West.

What, then, is the best way that the Diaspora can bring about change in a corrupt Yerevan?   What will get the attention of those crooks and thieves and thugs is––are you ready?––BOYCOTT.  That is right.  All Armenians in the Diaspora should boycott Armenia.

That means no sending of money, even to destitute relatives and friends.  It means no tourism, It means no investments, no joint ventures, no partnerships.  It means no supporting of cultural institutions and artists.  It means the breaking of all ties.

It also means that the Armenians in the Diaspora should no longer pressure their host countries to invest in Armenia.  No more loans, no more loan guarantees.  No buying of Armenian products, no selling to Armenia.

It also means that the Armenians should tell the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the World Bank no more loans to Armenia, no more loan guarantees, no more anything.

It means no more honoring and flattering and being photographed with Armenia’s ambassadors, and no more free dinners for them.

It means: “Armenia?  Never heard of it!”

Then, when the money stops coming in and there is no more money to steal to build bigger and better villas at home and abroad, when there is no more money to buy up the property of the poor people (steal from, really) for their own use, maybe––just maybe––the message will get through to the crooks and thieves and thugs that the Diaspora has finally decided that “enough is enough.”

What is that I hear you saying?  “It is your homeland you are hurting.”  Correction.  America is my homeland.  If I never set foot in Armenia again, I will not die disappointed.  Sorry if that offends, but I was asked why I didn’t sign the Petition that was sent to me––Please, no more, thank you.  And, for those of you who throw clichés around, the full statement by Stephen Decatur is: “In her intercourse with other nations, may my country be right, but my country right or wrong.”  Most people quote the last five (stupid) words only.

This isn’t about me, it is about the murdered doctor and the Yerevan mentality.  But, let me reinforce my comment: “I was an Armenian yesterday, when Armenia was a Soviet Republic; I am an Armenian today, when it is a free nation; I will be an Armenian tomorrow, when there no longer is an Armenia.  I don’t need a country with borders, with a postal system, with a currency, with a flag, with a national anthem for me to be an Armenian.”  Satisfied?

But, surely “a Boycott will hurt the people,” I hear you say. “the very people whose protests seem to have spurred a corrupt government into action.”  It may, indeed, hurt, but like the foul-tasting medicine that will cure the ailment, sometimes harsh measures are necessary.

After all, because six thugs have been arrested and an MP has resigned does not mean that the guilty parties will be found guilty.  What this latest action may be designed to do is quell the protests and––even though they will be ignored––end the Petitions.  A Boycott will say to the corrupt government in Yerevan, “we are watching.”  Otherwise, business as usual from the Diaspora will mean business as usual in Yerevan.

On my last visit to Yerevan, an American with a non-governmental organization said to me: “The only honest politician in Armenia is the one who is out of office.”  I thought he was joking.  Maybe if the Armenian Diaspora Boycotts Armenia, the country will abound in honest politicians, for a change.

 

12 comments
  1. Two questions:

    1. How come there is no way to vote no stars?
    2. Is that a real name, or an alias for Something Someoneoglu?

  2. Disgusting Article

    What a disgusting article! The author is not an Armenian; he is just an Armenian decomposed soul who thinks that one can be Armenian without considering Armenia to be his homeland. We, Armenians, should start our boycott of such rubbish. Keep away from Armenia, Mr. American.   

    1. Not an Armenian?

      Aram,
      I would not characterize the article as “disgusting”. To me the article is more of an expression of hurt and disappointment. Let us face it, especially those of us who are now in their 60s or passed their 60s, the image of a free and independent Armenia we harbored then is a far cry from the reality we have encountered since its independence. Who would have imagined then that Armenian thugs would beat an up-and-coming Armenian young man to death in Armenia? Or an Armenian officer in the army would abuse a subordinate.

      I think what Avedis is doing is an attempt to preserve his sanity and find refuge in his reality: America or the Diaspora is his reality, as it is the reality for many of us, as well.

      Avedis makes it poignantly clear that the Diaspora has been and will continue to be ineffective to have any say to change the norms of conduct in Armenia. What he advocates, I believe, is akin to a parent who as a last resort opts for ‘tough love”, however painful. In Avedis’s mind we have come to that point. I cannot fault him for feeling that way and I am not implying that I have come to the point of sharing his thoughts and feelings or advocating others to do as well. More and more, I am also left under the impression that Armenians in Armenia care only for their pocketbooks and nothing else seems to matter to them.
       
      I agree with him that the Armenian ambassador, the Armenian consuls general, Armenia’s Diaspora minister and other Armenian dignitaries who visit the Diaspora have been afforded attention and affection not on the merits of the conduct of the country they represent, but because of the sentimental affection we still reserve for Armenia. His is a wake-up call, and I regard it as a personal choice knowing that what he advocates is hard to implement as an Armenian Diaspora policy, given our sentimental attachment to Armenia.

  3. I very much sympathize

    I very much sympathize with the feelings of Avedis Kevorkian even though I would not back such drastic actions.I adore my country. However my love to my motherland obliges me to criticize her in the strongest manner & for her own good.

    Diasporan individuals should complain to the Armenian ambassadors & consuls in their countries.They should write, complain directly to the Armenian president.

    Such articles should be written. Enough is enough.

  4. Nonsense!

    If anyone's up to boycotting our homeland, it's up to them. There's a bunch of boycotters already: Turkey and Azerbaijan. The fact is most of us won't. It would take too long to say why and most of you know anyway–you don't punish the people. And finally, I'll reserve the right to boycott you. Don't get offended. I'm sure there will be plenty of country clubs you can attend in your homeland of America. Good luck!

  5. I Completly Agree

    I completely agree. People are willing to boycott Harsnakar; why not the whole country?

    If they are concerned about innocent people getting hurt, how come they don't have those concerns when it comes to boycotting the restaurant where the crime took place? After all, the restaurant employs many innocent people working hard to make an honest living. The restaurant buys supplies from other firms that also employ innocent people. To be sure, boycotting the restaurant would hurt hundreds of innocents. Most people wouldn't mind that and they would support boycotting Harsnakar. But isn't Harsnakar a microcosm of the whole country?

    The Diaspora should rally behind this message and boycott Armenia! This is an excellent piece. Unfortunately, it will fall upon irrational ears and you will get criticized for being "unpatriotic". We pay dearly for such monumental perversity. 

  6. How About Investing

    How about investing your time and energy to change Armenia? No, Armenian-Americans are too selfish. They need to buy a mansion, a Benz, lots of diamonds, spend thousands on plastic surgery. They are too worried about their "daily hassles" to do anything for Armenia. Have you spent any time volunteering in Armenia, Avedis? Any energy to change attitudes or perhaps educate the younger generation?

  7. I wonder why

    I wonder why some people are so upset of Kevorkian's candid expressions. Please let's look into the mirror and check ourselves. Armenia, motherland or not, has ceased to inspire people in the Diaspora. The ruling elite and the church too are responsible for this sad affair. Not even during the soviet years there was so much disenchantment. Even those who were staunchly critical of Soviet Armenia were proud of the many achievements in Arts and Sciences if not of the other aspects of the country.

    Of course boycotting will hurt people, but please tell us what you propose and how do you want to achieve a substantial change in Armenia for a fair society, and not necessarily a democratic country as it is understood in the west.

    Those who have commented on this thread have probably seen the video-clip showing the demonstration at the Consulate of Armenia in Glendale. The lady presenting the petition-letter questioned, and rightly so, what will those who are disgusted of the situation in Armenia do come November when again there will be a marathon fundraising for Armenia.

  8. Become Grounded

    We, Armenians, are great "hyphenated citizens" in various countries: well-respected, democratic, and successful. We are good businessmen/women, lawyers, doctors, even politicians, but when it comes to living together in a country or running it or as a nation thriving on democratic principles, we fail miserably. We have too many examples of this in Armenia and the Diaspora.

    At one end, we are (rightfully) tormented with our history and the genocide that displaced us. On the other hand, we are appalled at the leadership (both political and Church) of a republic that is supposed to represent us. It is a catch 22: if we successfully boycott Armenia as proposed by Mr. Kevorkian, the result would be suicidal. If we don't show strong opposition to the current state, it means we are supporting the unethical, undemocratic, self-serving bunch of crooks (some call them traitors).

    We need to find a solution to this problem. We have all the intellect, capacity, and money in the world to do it. Most of the Armenian political parties who oppose the current state are inept and incapable it seems. These parties are run by a generation, who in its glory days did wonderful things. However, they are out of steam, possibly out of touch, and don't seem to have new solutions to current problems. Most of the younger generation are either turned off, not interested or don't have the savvy to make a difference. If there is one thing we could do as responsible Armenians it is to coach the new generation and give them the opportunity to make a difference. In the absecne of the right medication and treatment for a healthy habitat bacteria and viruses will thrive. This is the situation in Armenia.

    It is easier to destroy than to build. Armenia, as a republic, has a destroyed morality, reputation, broken checks and balances, and supported inept institutions run by the cronies of oligarchs and self-serving crooks. The current head of Echmiadzin and his cronies are classic examples of how the "leadership" of our sacred institution has become the very anti-Christ. I am a strong believer that if you remove key perpetrators from power (i.e., the few rotten apples), the good and the capable will thrive because they are no longer suppressed. How to do this is the biggest challenge and should be our focus. Democratic means have more or less failed or are not possible because the virus has spread too broadly. Not depriving a country of its oxygen is one way of doing it, but not ideal as it could end up being mortal. Some people advocate a "revolution" or selective assassinations. It may eventually come to a revolution to make that change, if all has failed. This revolution would come from within Armenia (not from the Diaspora), like all revolutions or uprisings. Violence should be a last resort though. Some already suggest we have reached this point.

    We, the Diaspora, need to have roots or a physical location to call it Armenia. The entire world sees the republic as our "homeland". Most in the Diaspora see it as a "district" of a homeland that somehow "survived," but they don't feel any closeness to it. We need to be realistic. We seem to be very grounded when it comes to our businesses and lives, but not when it comes to our nation and in running a country. Those who strongly support Armenia, can show their support by living there and making it a stronger, democratic country. However, if you strongly support it but have no intention living there, that means you are strongly supporting the current (government, Church leadership, and oligarch) thugs that are running the country, "officially" representing it to the world, and carrying (i.e., abusing) our sacred flag.

    If anything we can do in the Diaspora, it is to identify and fully support (financially, morally, and physically) all those elements within the republic which uphold true democratic principles, our Armenian faith (both as a nation and its religion) and are principled. We should also support the new generation to take over the leadership of many of the political parties and organizations which can move our nation into the 21st century. These are the two groups that will make the difference leading to a true democratic country that we deserve. Neither unconditional support nor total boycotts are good solutions, although selective and strategic efforts on both ends are healthy.

  9. Boycott Yerevan, Not Armenia

    I regard Avedis’s call to boycott Yerevan is intended as a boycott the lavish hotels, restaurants and upscale shops of Yerevan and businesses owned and run by the oligarchs. I do not believe that he advocates we do not visit the countryside. I believe he advises that we be content with the accommodation in a village home, where a family rents a room to a visitor and runs a small farm or business.

    Let's face it: Yerevan may not be safe anymore, with its mafiosi-like car plates and its swift street justice. Vahe’s beating to death was not an isolated incident. Even the president’s protocol chief is not immune to a John Gotti-style justice. Readers might remember that he was given a beating by the orders of the former Mayor of Yerevan who resigned but is a minister now, I understand.

    Boycotting Yerevan and its institutions, but not Armenia’s multitude of villages and its people, may be a win-win idea.

  10. What a horrible idea and article

    What a horrible idea and article.  Avedis has confirmed what I suspected for a few years now, he is out of touch.  But he is not since a number of people who left comments share his destructive idea.  First, boycotts do not work unless it is targeted at a business.  What Avedis is calling for is like a UN sanctions, which have not had much success.  Second, the people of Armenia and those in the Diaspora have stood up to this current example of wrong doing, and what we should be encouraging is more activism among the locals to take matters into their hands, and peacefully demonstrate.  We should not allow Western outlets or Armenian provocateurs to hi-jack these issues and use them to cause civil disorder.

    As for Avedis not caring if Armenia exists, let me remind him that various peoples throughout history and even today have fought and died to have a state of their own.  Armenians will not exist if Armenia does not exist.  It is called a white genocide, and if readers have not heard of the term before, a quick search on the internet will illuminate the said readers.  So while Armenia's existence may not matter to self righteous types like Avedis, it does to real Armenians.  And since Avedis says he is American and that is his country, then let him not write on issues related to Armenia and Armenians, because again, he is frighteningly out of touch with the situation.

  11. Armenian Consul General’s Response

    Լոս Անջելեսի հյուպատոս «…"Մի՛ գոռգոռացեք, Հայաստանին ամոթանք մի՛ տվեք, «շենքիս» առաջն էլ բողոքի ակցիա մի՛ կազմակերպեք…" Los Angeles Consul General: "…Do not shame Armenia, do not organize protests in front of my building…"

    You may read the text at Hetq.am
     

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