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Monday, April 25, 2005

Back from Ottawa

Alright, I am back. It was a long day for me. I had to get up at 5 am and get some stuff sorted out, then had to rush to the ակումբ (Armenian community centre) to catch the bus. And on top of that, it was raining like it's never rained before. There were overall 4 buses taking off from Toronto (more were supposed to come but for some reason the company let the organisers down). Took off at about 6:30 am. We had a half-hour service stop halfway to Ottawa, and then continued for another 2 hours or so. We arrived around 10:30-10:45 am if I remember correctly. Soon after that, the Montrealers arrived, and they were not as many as we expected them to be. They were saying that in previous years there used to be 20 buses (??!) from Montreal alone. Well there's no way there were 20 buses in total, let alone only from Montreal.

When we got to Ottawa there were a few people there already who had set up the audio system. The media was not there, which was a big relief to me after seeing all those flags of the Republic of Armenia. The "ceremony" was organised by the ARF (Armenian Revolutionary Federation) / ARFYOC (Armenian Revolutionary Federation Youth Organisation of Canada). I was expecting that they would bring flags, but I was hoping that they would at least make it different this year, it being the 90th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide... Boy was I mistaken! Actually, it was different. Yes indeed it was. There were more flags. Now don't get me wrong, I have always liked the ARF better than other Armenian parties, including the Ramgavars (due to the fact that I grew up in an ARF-supporting home and community), but lately I've been growing increasingly cold towards it, thanks in no small part to a revision of my political opinions (I've been looking into the Hunchak party ideologies). But I think my dislike of the ARF is also due to the fact that they are very unrealistic if not anti-realistic. Yesterday's speech by the representative of the Կեդրոնական Կոմիտէ (central committee) of the ARF was disgusting. Not only did he not have good command of the Armenian language (which most of the "ceremony" was in), his constant references to "Greater Armenia" did not appeal to my tastes. When I say unrealistic, I mean it. Those ARF-supporters who stayed at home due to "bad weather" (rain) rather than coming out in their thousands to Ottawa would not, in a thousand years, move to those lands even if they are given back to Armenians. In fact, they are not even moving back to Armenia-proper, which I dare say has better infrastructure and is much more developed than most areas of eastern Turkey that are included in the "historical western Armenia" map. They talk about the brave Armenian martyrs and the need to take up arms and fight for our lands, but they would not even stand under the rain without umbrellas. The majority of the supporters of such talk were not even present (as mentioned above). What do they expect from non-Armenians if they, as Armenians (and probably grandchildren of genocide survivors), didn't care about filling that field in front of the Turkish Consulate? Where were they? Glued in front of their TVs, or whining about the necessity of getting back their ancestors' lands? Or singing «Ատանայի Կոտորածը» (Massacre of Adana) and forgetting all about «Մենք Պէտք Է Կռուենք» (We must fight) and its lyrics: «Ամօ՛թ այն հային եւ բիւր նախատինք, Որ ազգի սիրոյն չի գործում բարիք:» (Shame and scorn on the Armenian who does not do good for his nation). Shame indeed. A big shame on the ARF for turning the Armenian Genocide into a nationalistic agenda, thereby giving ammo not to the Armenians, but to the Turkish government and the deniers on its payroll.

Do I regret going there yesterday? Yes and no. Yes because it was very disappointing and frustrating, and because I supported them in a way (by being there), and moreover got counted as belonging to the ARF crowd. No because I was a witness to it so I could report on their idiocy and their use and abuse of my great-grandparents' memory to further their so-called "nationalistic" / "patriotic" goals. The ARF and its supporters must realise that waving the flag of Armenia does not make one an Armenian. And for Christ's sake quit talking about the "white genocide" when you don't even speak Armenian with your children at home.

Well, that's all I wanted to say (this entry has a soft-ish tone because I find myself unable to put into words the extent of my anger and frustration). You can check out the photos from the "ceremony" here. For photos of a REAL demonstration and commemoration, check out this and this and this (thanks Armen from Iran for the links). Not a flag to be seen - I bet that takes away from the validity of the demonstration/commemoration. OK, I'm starting to sound sarcastic, so I will end this here.

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