Western Armenian National Congress–Arrogance Gone Wild

By Avedis Kevorkian, Philadelphia, PA, 2 January 2010
More than a year after the American elections, there are still some people who are fighting the result of November 2008–if the messages that I am sent and forwarded are anything to go by.  I no longer tell the senders to get a life and do something useful, but I do read some of the messages, now and then, and continue to be fascinated by them.

I don’t receive any messages from Armenians still lamenting the death of the first Armenian republic, in 1920, but I knew they were still around.  Now, I have proof, with the report from the “Western Armenian National Congress” [WAN-C].

Obviously, word never reached me in the cave in which I was living, but it has been around for a couple of years, and its aim is to impose itself on the government–any government, apparently–in Yerevan under the assumption that the Diaspora has a right to not only intrude itself in the government of the “homeland” but also actually be part of and more-or-less dictate to Yerevan.Admittedly, I am not the brightest candle on the cake, but I know of no other diaspora with the conceit that it has a right to be part of a government of a country in which it does not live.

A visit to the web-site of the Western Armenian National Congress [WANCongress]–for it is the organization under discussion–explains (in a difficult-to-understand translation of what I assume was a better-written original Armenian) the group’s reason for being is “On the assumption that. . .the modern Republic of Armenia. . .on the territory of the Soviet Armenia which is twice smaller than the territory of the first Republic of Armenia, de jure is not the successor of the first republic AND IS NOT AUTHORIZED BY THE WESTERN ARMENIAN REPRESENTATIVE AGENCIES to represent their rights. . . .” [emphasis added]

Notice the conceit: because the present republic is smaller than the first, some western Armenians have decided that the present republic is not a true successor to the first and, therefore, isn’t qualified–“authorized”–to represent Armenia’s interests.  These diasporans have decided that they are [better] authorized–notice their self-description “Western Armenian Representative Agencies”–to speak for the Armenians.  I don’t recall giving any of them my mandate.  (Should I comment that since the present Republic of Turkey is smaller than the Ottoman Empire, it, too, isn’t a true successor?  In which case, may I presume that no territorial or other claims can be made against today’s Turkey?)

Should one ask now or later if these western organizations are the same ones that ill-served the Armenians for the past 120 years and failed to make a success of the first republic?

In furtherance of their efforts, WAN-C has issued what appears to be a proclamation alerting the world to a forthcoming “Western Armenian Congress.”  In it, WAN-C says that the Western Armenians “are the main source for the secure and efficient function of the present Republic of Armenia.”  The first comment is to ask “who said so?” and the second is “if I were connected in any way with the crooks and thieves and thugs who are running (I keep having to be sure not to type “ruining”) Armenia, I would keep very silent and not boast of it.”

The statement then says that “Western Armenians, however, do not have an organizational capacity nor coordination mechanisms DESPITE [emphasis added] the existence of a multitude of associations, organizations and political parties.”  What WAN-C fails to realize is that this failure is BECAUSE of the myriads of “association, organizations and political parties.”  We are to believe that if, let us say, there are 20 of these groups that cannot do anything effective, 21 will.  Does the word “arrogance” come to mind?

WAN-C, we are told was created in 2006.  Was its purpose to eliminate all the other bodies that have proven to be ineffective?  No.  It would appear, like the good Armenians they are, they decided to add yet another organization to the Armenian collection.

It would appear that this Congress will distribute “responsibilities and roles between the Western Armenians and the Republic of Armenia.”  Think of it; the Diaspora is going to assign Yerevan its tasks!  If the word “arrogance” didn’t come to mind, above, does it come to mind now?

In another long hard-to-decipher paragraph, there is a reference to “. . .occupation of the [first] Armenian Republic, its violent sovietization, partitioning, deprivation of sovereignty. . . .”   Apparently, this new group will undo the past.  Apparently, also, WAN-C thinks that the “sovietization” of Armenia was a bad thing.  What they obviously don’t want to admit is that the sovietization was the best thing to have happened to Armenia–and I will argue that point with all comers!.  As an independent country, small and poor, abandoned by the West (remember no one wanted a League of Nations Mandate for the country), it would not have survived invasion from Kemalist Turkey, and certainly would not have survived World War II–the Turks would have used that war to finish the job it didn’t have time to do in World War I.  It is the fact that there was a Soviet Armenia that there is now a Republic of Armenia–for these people in the Diaspora to want to run from afar.

In another convoluted sentence that almost defies comprehension, the statement says: “The thesis that the Armenians were doomed to Genocide and nothing depended on strategy and tactics of national liberation movement, on way of thinking and behavior of national leaders is a strained myth.”  If the meaning is that the “national liberation movements”–that is, the creation and activities of the so-called “political” parties of the late 19th century–had no bearing on the Hamidian massacres and the Young Turk Genocide, then my advice to the authors of that statement is to stop smoking what they have been because it is affecting their brains.  It can be argued–and I certainly will–that  the Armenian “political” parties did the Armenians no good in the 19th century, no good in the pre-Genocide 20th century, no good in the post-Genocide 20th century, and no good into the 21st century.

From their cafes and garrets in Berlin, Geneva, Paris, Moscow, and Constantinople and Smyrna and, possibly, Tiflis, these nationalists were too busy believing that the West would support them, they forgot to speak anytime with the Anatolian Armenians and ask themselves what the Turks would do to them.  But, competing with themselves then–as they do now–they were blind to the fact that the West at best pays lip-service to the Armenians, and would do nothing to stop the 1894/96 massacres (and certainly wouldn’t punish the Turks), would do nothing to help the Armenians at that foolish Constantinople Bank episode (and would fail to punish the Turks for the deaths that followed), and would  do nothing to prevent the Adana killings, though their ships will be in the harbor (and certainly would not punish the Turks), so why was no one surprised that nothing was done to prevent the 1915 Genocide?  My views still stand, even if I have misunderstood that sentence–after more than a dozen re-readings of it.

In another of those convoluted and almost incomprehensible paragraphs there is reference to “. . .conservation and development of Armenian life (culture, education, economics) in Soviet Armenia [so far so good] in spite of criminal totalitarian antinational regime destroying national, spiritual life. . . .”  Apparently, one part of Soviet Armenia was building Armenia and another part of Soviet Armenia was destroying Armenia.  Yes, it would appear that just as some Right-wingnuts are still fighting November 2008, in this country, so, too, are there Armenians still fighting 1920.

WAN-C’s aim is to create the mechanisms to provide for the “full-fledged participation of the Armenian Diaspora. . .the biggest and the most significant part of the nation, in restoration and perspective development of the Armenian nationhood.”   From its relative comfort and ease and prosperity, the Diaspora is going to help run Armenia.   If the word “arrogance” didn’t come to mind above, does it come to mind, now?

Invitations will be sent out soon for the Congress in Paris.  Somehow, I never received the invitation to the founding Congress in 2006.  It probably fell behind the sorting table at my local Post Office.  I will have to pay a visit and alert them to an impressive-looking envelope from France.  I certainly don’t want to miss the experience of listening to a group of self-appointed, self-serving egotists whose heads are firmly affixed backwards.

  1. Baron Avedis,  look into the mirror

    Baron Avedis,  you should look into the mirror and see the arrogance in your writing my friend.
    Here are my views of the WAN-C and I hope I am right in my assumptions:

    – This is not an additional organization to the ones exisiting; it’s  an entity that will eventually represent all of them legally to other governments.
    – They will not ‘dictate’ what the homeland government will do, but they will have a say in their decisions
    Does the word ‘arrogance’ come to mind when you remember what the ‘homeland’ government did with the protocols without even considering the 7million+ diaspora Armenians??  We don’t want that to be repeated anymore and we don’t want our homeland to be sold by corrupt mafioso governments.
    – If the homeland government is not recognizing the diaspora Armenians, then who will represent us?  Nalbandian said in Paris; "We don’t need the opinions of the diaspora Armenians"…if the word "arrogance" didn’t come to mind above, does it come to mind, now?
    – Finally, we should never give-up, we have to fight for our rights and the blood of the innocent victims of the Genocide. History doesn’t change, but politics can change…

    I hope you will never get an invitation to Paris, since with your pessimism you might hinder what might be the best solution for our homeland.  On second thought may be your presence might change your views and you might become a supporter. 

    Please keep us informed.

  2.  Thank you for your concern

    Thank you for your concern about me.  I will add you to the list of those who worry about me, thus freeing me from worrying about myself and getting on with other things. But to important matters.

    I am pleased to learn that the Western Armenian National Congress is to unify all Armenian organizations and become its spokesman, thus representing to the world one, unified voice.  The day that happens will mean that you and I are the two oldest people in the world.

    If you think for one minute that an Armenian organization–ANY Armenian organization–is going to defer to another super/supra organization, in effect giving up its independence, then permit me to suggest politely that you, too, stop smoking whatever it is you are smoking.

    Does WAN-C actually expect the so-called "political" parties–and their satellite groups–to stand down and no longer proclaim "WE represent the Armenians; WE speak for the Armenians"?

    Do you?

    Recently, I became involved with our local Veterans organization which, uniquely in America enjoys the support of all the Churches in the area, and we have set ourselves the task of erecting a khatchkar on the now-unmarked grave of the only (to our knowledge) Armenian to have served in the Union Navy during America’s Civil War (and later settled in Philadlehia as its first Armenian).  In our effort to enlist the support of other veterans groups, I wrote to one for support.  The first question I was asked was "To which Church do you belong?"  

    I hope the good doctor who administers to the health of this web-site will forgive me, "But, what in Hell’s name does our Church affiliation have to do with erecting a khatchkar on the grave of a Civil War Naval Officer?"  It is obvious that his Veterans group belongs to one or the other church and that affiliation is more important than honoring an Armenian. When Uncle Sam was seeking his servicemen and women to fight in the country’s wars, he didn’t give one little old Yankee Doodle damn about which church Armenians belonged to.  But, I digress.

    Every Armenian organization invited to Paris–you can be sure that no chezoks will be invited–will want to control the "one" voice or it will not join.

    It was ever thus and thus it will ever be.

    And the idea that the Diaspora has the right to dictate to Yerevan and Yerevan will allow itself to be dictated to is so preposterous that it defies belief.

    But, enough.

    Avedis Kevorkian

    1. Church and others…
      Avedis, the Armenian organizations will try to penetrate and destroy this initiative.  That’s what they do to keep their power and control over Armenians.  But we have to wait and see what will be the result and who will ‘win’, in the meantime we have to do our best to make a change for our cause and future by helping this initiative.  You are either in or out.

      I never said that the WAN will unify all Armenian organizations!  that is impossible and will never happen!!  but hopefully they will end-up representing all Armenians, at least in the diaspora.

      I have to agree with you that we give too much importance to the church, that has to go!!  the church should stay out of politics, we have had too much divisions because of the church, they are not as innocent in their actions either…

      If you want to reply to any comment, please click on the reply option under that comment.  That way we can see the sequence of the communication. Thanks!

      1. Replay to “Church and others”

        Confessing ignorance, I am not familiar with the machinations of current Armenian organizations, or what the Armenian Church is doing. Being a strong advocate of separation of Church and State, I am suspicious whenever the two engage in "unholy" alliances … whenever the Church craves inappropriate power … whenever the State or political organizations seek to manipulate the Church … or whenever the Church becomes unduly submissive/subservient to the State.  

        Having said that, I believe the Church must be obedient to the teachings of Jesus Christ and to maintain a faithful prophetic Christian ministry, irrespective of the cost.

        Thank you.

  3. This will bring only new divisions and additional hostility

    Dear Avedis, You are right in almost all your points.  This new Armenian "organization" is going to bring new divisions and additional hostility among the Diaspora Armenians as well as between the Armenians of Diaspora and the homeland.  Another sound analysis of this ill-conceived "Western Armenian" was provided by Dr. Armen Ayvazyan in his PROBLEMS OF SELF-ORGANISATION OF ARMENIANS IN THE MODERN PHASE OF THE ARMENIAN QUESTION –


  4. Russian “Sovietization”

    If Russian "Sovietization" was, as this author claims, the "best" thing to have happened to Armenia in 1920, then the author must also be against present-day Armenian independence as declared in 1991.  After all, the threat of a Turkish invasion still exists so why did not Armenia stay under Russian protection in 1991 instead of going it alone?  And don’t tell me that Russian troops are still in Armenia.  They could leave at any time and thus do not offer permanent protection. 

    This author has a very unfortunate tendency to exaggerate and be sarcastic.  The fact that the Russian Soviets took over Armenia in 1920 was not a "good" thing per se.  The protection that it offered was simply a by productof Russian/Soviet imperialism.  Russia did not  mean to "protect" Armenia.  Indeed, the Soviets aided Kemalist Turkey at the same time it "protected" Armenia.  Soviet Russia arrested and tortured and murdered many good Armenians in the ensuing decades.  Does the author consider that to be a "good" thing?

    The author knows all this but likes to stick his finger in peoples’ eye to make a point.  That is not right, and he loses credibility by doing so, making him look like a know-it-all. 

    If a woman is about to be murdered and a rapist comes along and snatches her away and saves her from being murdered, we don’t say that it is the "best" thing that could have happened to her.  To say so is utter stupidity.

    As for a Diasporan Congress, there is much validity to this.  Western Armenians have rights that the present Arnenian government could not care less about.  Indeed, the present corrupt and unfairly "elected" government of Armenia does not even protect the interests of its own citizens.  It would be nice to see the author suggest positive steps that we all could take instead of writing snarling sarcasm.

  5. WAN-C

    It seems that we do not learn from our mistakes . I think Mr. Avedis Kevorkian has put his finger on all  shortcomings of this new organization. Vartkes’ criticism falls short on many issues:

    Is it not true that this is another organization among many? What makes him think that this WAN-C will be able to do what the others could not accoplish? Wishfull thinking maybe!

    OK..OK we have a mafioso government but does Vartkes think that any Diaspora organization can change that? Logic dictates the contrary . The change has to come within.

    An historical observation: Never..never..never in our history Armenians have ever showed a unified front . All one has to do is study history starting with the actions of many Nakharars to modern (!!!!) political parties. 

    These individuals of good will who are trying to establish  this  new organization , honestly do they think that Ramgavars, Hunchaks or Tasnags will join forces. ? It is an emphetic NO…They will try to "run"  WAN-C according to their agendas, thus, a non effectual organization.

    One wishes that WAN-C would be all that it promises to be, BUT, historical experience , our ingrained political agendas which are "Hodatz" will prevent that.

    1. Tsouge Kelkhen eh hodadz

      I agree with your last comment along with the unwillingness of our traditional parties to give up their perceived "sovereignity".

      That’s the status quo which surprisingly almost everybody agrees on. I know of Tashnags who individually will admit that’s the case. I am highlighting them as they are the most organized and voiceful in the Diaspora compared to the others.

      Here is my question: Do we resign to the status quo and let nature take its course, which eventually will lead us to getting nowehere?

      Or, do we come to our senses and do something about it? Do we still want to remain in our "otomanized" tribal mentality as Ara Baliozian would have said?

      Aren’t there enough people with a liberated mentality to leave the past behind and think of constructive ways to shape our future? Will we languish in the wilderness and tear ourselves apart by letting things continue the way they are?

      I, as an individual, would prefer to do something about it, try my best and if it fails let my conscious be at rest that I did not stay on the sidelines watching our rights thrown in the dustbin of history.

      Recognition of Genocide is not enough. May be return of lands is wishful thinking; but there are a host of other matters, such as our cultural monuments, churches and personal properties, the right to return. These are all matters that are too important to neglect. WAN-C is willing to undertake the pursuit of those issues through legal means in international courts. Why don’t we give it a chance?

      1. Change or else…

        Exactly to the point!  Bravo Norair.   It’s so sad to see some Armenians have given-up already, they look back to history and think that we can never change.

        If we don’t change starting NOW, then we will be only in history books in 50 to 100 years max!
        The Armenian political parties are obsolete.  We need to find better and practical means, like recruiting high-class lawyers, politicians, military people, intellectuals, etc.  and not as volunteers (as most other Armenian organizations do) but on payroll.  WAN-C is doing that and more. Shame on those Armenians who can’t grasp the importance of this initiative and don’t support it wholeheartedly, it’s our only hope!  if not, then tell me what other steps have been planned for us?  don’t even mention the lobbying crap!

        We can change, we can do it, start now and don’t listen to people who have given up and aren’t ready to help Armenia and Armenians in any way.  As Norair said: "I would prefer to try my best and if it fails let my conscious be at rest that I did not stay on the sidelines watching our rights thrown in the dustbin of history."

  6. Kevorkian is not ready to

    Kevorkian is not ready to argue any point.  That’s absurd.  He cannot.  He’s a leftist.  "Sovietization was the best thing."  What utter trash.

    But the "western armenian" rubric is a CIA/Homeland Security concoction, just as the "Hay Heghapokhakanneri Dashnaktsutyune" which then morphed into yet another splinter group. 

    May there be light, but this will not happen here.  Here we have leftists pretending to be balanced and yet other leftists pretending to be on the right, and so on. 

    Leave us alone.

  7. WAN-C

    In words of one syllable

    It seems that there are some who have a hard time with what I write, so this will be my last word on this theme, and I will use short words and those with one sound.

    No Hye group will die of its own free will.


    No Hye group will say to a Hye group–old or new–”We will let you speak for us.”


    No Hye group will say to a Hye group–old or new–”We will let you speak for the Hyes, and we will not claim that right for us, any more.”


    In short, if WAN thinks that all the Hye groups will join it and not say a word and, thus, let WAN be the one, sole, voice for the Hyes who do not live in the home of the Hyes, it is not in this world.


    And, if WAN thinks that it has the right to tell the Hyes in their own land what they are to do and what they are not to do, they could be thought sick in the head and in need of close care.


    And, if WAN thinks that those who head the groups who run the world will pay heed to what WAN says–when WAN can not speak for the land of the Hyes since it is not part of that land of the Hyes–then it could be said that those who run WAN are to be feared for they may not be in their right mind.  The group who runs the land of the Hyes is the sole group to speak for the land of the Hyes and to those who run the world.  It is a clear fact that the state–a state–is the sole group that can send pleas to world groups, not self-formed groups who think and say they have the right.  States speak to states on things that bear on the rights of states.


    If WAN wants to think it can be the one, sole, voice for the Hyes, and that it will then speak for the Hye cause (what that may be), it will find that it, like all the Hye groups, is just one more such group with big–and false–views of its role. 


    But, let them dream, for a dream it be.  Is it not called a dream when it makes seem real what is not real?  But, when a group thinks the dream is real and tries to act on it, the time has come to say, “Face up to the truth; and the truth is the world out there does not give a damn about the Hyes.”  


    Join the queue of those who have been lied to, but know that you, too, will be lied to.  Thus it has been, and thus it will be as long as the Hyes think as they do–that “our cause is just and if my group tells the world, the world will see it our way.”


    Avedis Kevorkian

    Philadelphia, PA  USA

    8 january 2010







    1. your way or the highway?

      Avedis,  it seems that you have a hard time understanding what WAN is all about.

      They are not trying to kill any Hye group.

      They will not speak for or represent other Hye groups.

      WAN does not think that all the Hye groups will join it, and they don’t even have to.  This is a completely different concept or entity that will work independently and with different goals than other Hye groups.

      And, someone has to be sick in the head and in need of close care if he or she thinks that WAN will tell the Hyes in their own land what they are to do and what they are not to do…

      "The group who runs the land of the Hyes is the sole group to speak for the land of the Hyes"  YES, they can speak of the current land of the Hyes, but they definitely are not speaking  for the Western Armenian lands, where we, as individuals and inheritors of those lands, have full right to defend our rights since they are not defending us and selling our lands and cause!!

      It’s a nice thing to have a dream and make it come true!  but being hopeless like you is surely not a good thing to be!

      It’s better to try and fail, than to stay idle and be a pessimist.  Just give them a chance and wish they will succeed.

      Avedis,  in your 1st paragraph you seem to be giving-up on us as well by saying "this will be my last word on this theme", why would a smart person like you assume that everyone else must agree with your thoughts?  You are not doing the same to them, are you?

  8. More on Sovietization

    Little known history :

    Nor Or is published in the USA. It was Pro- Soviet Armenia. Thus,  its former editor, the late Antranig Antreassian came to the attention of FBI  during the height of the Cold War. He was under surveillance by the Federal agents day and night. Finally, they pulled him in for an interview and asked about his connections with Soviet Armenia. His answer was, "Gentelmen, imagine you have a child who is on death bed and will die very soon. One day a doctor shows up and saves the child. Do you worry what color is the doctor's suite, do you care if he is wearing red apron or white?"
    That was the last time he was bothered by FBI.

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