Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Arsinee Khanjian: Open Letter to the Armenian Diaspora

The response below was not published by Massis Post even though it was send via their article submission page and directly to its editor. This response was in reaction to an article in Massis Post entitled Arsinee Khanjian: Open Letter to the Armenian Diaspora.. Freedom of expression is demanded in Armenia, but California-based Massis Post seems to have another policy.

Arsinee Khanjian: Open Letter to the Armenian Diaspora

David Davidian
September 29, 2016

In 1968, John Lennon wrote in a song, “You say you got a real solution, well, you know we'd all love to see the plan”. This refrain in one form or another has been heard throughout human history. The solution to Armenia's problems as enacted by the Pre or Founding Parliament group was to attack a police station, kill Armenian policemen, and take Armenian medical and negotiator personnel hostage. This was the operational definition of their “plan”. I would not want any of these people and their “plans” governing Armenia. Not only has this group been completely discredited, they achieved nothing politically. This is worse than bad planning; it is not an expression of human rights advocacy, and, moreover, does not demonstrate a path to replacing the existing plutocracy in Armenia. To the contrary, it became the group's political suicide.

The naive among us, especially diaspora Armenians, erroneously viewed and justified this armed action as political protest. It was not! It was a crime scene, just as it would be a crime scene if an armed group attacked a police station in downtown Toronto. At the scene, people milled around, taking photos and yelling (including at the police) in support of the armed actions. These people would be considered violators of police lines or even co-conspirators in many cities in the democratic “west”. I was in Boston when the Tsarnaev brothers were running through east Watertown, Massachusetts. I assure all readers here that any overt public expression of support for the marathon bombers would have resulted in immediate arrest. Anybody who dared leave their house would immediately be apprehended by the police in east Watertown. It was indeed a police state lock-down. Yet, when the equivalent takes place in Armenia, everybody's human rights is claimed violated, the government is faulted unequivocally for everything, and its elimination demanded.

I am sure it was humiliating for Arsinee Khanjian to both be arrested by the Yerevan police and not be recognized as a Canadian-Armenian actress. However, this is not a movie scene, it is reality. Reality must take into account the possibility of getting what one wishes for. I, for one, do not wish for an armed group to dictate the future of the state of Armenia. One need only view how the overthrow of the Shah of Iran by secular revolutionaries was usurped by a theocracy. Yes, the Shah was overthrown, the wish granted!

If one thinks critically about the two-week standoff, minus all the romantic notions, a leading hypothesis explaining the event is that it both enabled Armenia to suspend further negotiations with Azerbaijan and to discredit the Pre or Founding Parliament group and its supporters. We do not know if this was planned by the Armenian government or not; however, the results speak much louder than this armed group purportedly representing Armenia's salvation.

To address those who will inevitably claim I am nothing but a lackey for the current Armenian government, I am not. This is just as incorrect as claiming that Arsinee Khanjian supports armed attacks on police stations. I doubt she advocates attacking police stations in downtown Toronto.

Yerevan, Armenia

David Davidian lives in Armenia, is an Adjunct Lecturer at the American University of Armenia, and a former Technical Intelligence Analyst for major international IT firms.


  1. Hi David, I agree with your position. Though I do not think that there is any chance to change the country as long as it is dependent to russia and has no own means to pronounce its own agenda. It is somewhat sad, but if you want the diaspora to stop being naivem this is the answer you will get. I think that the idea of Armenia is locked down to the piece of land which is called the Republic of Armenia. We have to think further than that. First we have no other choice, because the Republic does not seem to have the potential to liberate itself from this multiple blockades. Second the only chance is the diaspora. Though not much better off than the republic it has not that pressure on itself. Most of us live in free countries. We must analyze and start to formulate interests that are align with those of the countries we live in.

  2. Sparky,

    Thank you for taking the time to comment. A naive Armenian diaspora is its own entity. It is not a function of the state of affairs in Armenia. Armenia has progressed a lot in 25 years, the Armenian diaspora hasn't. How anybody expects Armenia to magically have created equivalent social and civil structures to the US, Canada, or western Europe, demonstrates a clear lack of understanding. There is absolutely no way Armenia could have developed the same set of economic, societal, and civil characteristics as does the US, for example, protected by two massive oceans, and having built its infrastructure on usurped lands and natural resources. It took over 250 years for the US to achieve its status, which including two centuries of slavery. Western Europe stole much of its wealth during nearly 400 years of colonialism. Yet, a post-soviet Armenia is expected to achieve the same in 25 years.

    All developing countries in the world are associated with the interests of larger powers. Lithuania has aligned its national policies to that of the EU and NATO, but at least a quarter of its population has emigrated. Wishing the world would stop and allow Armenia to run its own affairs is a fantasy. Wishing Armenia could act as if it were in a different geopolitical location is an illusion as well. Armenia could lift the combined Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades anytime – by evacuating Nagorno-Karabakh and pretending a million and a half Armenians were not subject to a Turkish genocide with their land and wealth stolen. Neither of these acts would be in Armenian's interest.

    Armenia's interests differ from the interests of countries that host diaspora Armenians. Are you suggesting that Armenia simultaneously assume the interest of the US, Canada, France, UK, Australia, Italy, etc.? I assume you would categorize places such as Lebanon, Russia, Iran, etc., as not “free”. Perhaps I didn't understand your position.

    The issues I have with the “Open Letter” include its lack of understanding and arrogance.

    David Davidian
    Yerevan, Armenia

  3. EXCELLENT, cogent response by Mr. Davidian. Those (in both Armenia and the diaspora) who insist Armenia should be "pro West" are ironically the mirror image of those who advocate a "pro Russia" Armenia; both failing to recognize that Armenia can and must only be pro Armenia. Since its independence, Armenia has had a consistent "complementarity policy", which has allowed it to gradually, yet persistently, maneuver through a precariously fine line to strengthen its foreign and domestic policy objectives and security interests. Those who advocate taking clear-cut sides must demonstrate how that would be in Armenia's best interest. For example, how has this strategy worked out for Ukraine - a large natural-resource-rich country of 45M at the heart of Europe, not surrounded by two hostile neighbors with genocidal intent - so far?

    It is convenient for the "pro West" advocates to forget or ignore the fact that Armenia pulled out of the EU Association agreement at the last minute because the agreement was essentially forcing Armenia to take sides without receiving commensurate benefits and guarantees in return. This failed zero-sum demand was EU's fault, not Armenia's, which the EU recognized subsequently (after the Ukraine mess) and is now working with Armenia to draw up a more balanced solution. Despite the benefit of hindsight, it seems convenient for some to simply blame Armenia's leadership for "selling out" to Russia instead of acknowledging their pro-Armenia decision, which avoided a fate potentially worse than that of Ukraine!

    Sparky proposes that "we must analyze and start to formulate interests that are aligned with those of the countries we live in". Great idea! But how is this different from Armenia's "complementarity policy" since its independence? Further, there are large diasporan communities in the U.S. and Russia. How does Sparky propose these two disparate communities to formulate mutually beneficial objectives between their respective host countries and Armenia when, at present, the U.S. and Russia seem to be heading toward a new cold war of sorts? You see, Sparky, Armenia's leadership is neither at fault nor in control of the rapid development of hostilities between these two powers. Nor do the diasporans have the political clout or the financial power to isolate Armenia from this process.

    Diasporans would be wise not to confuse Hollywood movies with real life in a hostile environment where the options are very limited!

    Concerned diasporan from California.

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  6. Armenia is a young nation. Armenia is a growing nation. Armenia is a nation that is located in very difficult and volatile area of the world. Armenians therefore need to be patient, objective, rational, positive and most important of all, constructive. If Diasporans want to partake in nation-bulding that is wonderful; they should do so without reservations but they should do so intelligently. What Diasporans cannot do however is treat Armenia like a laboratory where to conduct dangerous - often Western funded - experiments or an exotic zoo where they periodically visit to see the two legged animals walking about.

    Diasporans like Arsine Khanjian had no business getting involved in illegal demonstrations in support of foreign-funded militants that had murdered policemen in an attempt to overthrow the Armenian government by force. In a normal country Khanjian would have been put away for a very long time for aiding and abetting foreign-funded militants. Sadly, Diasporans like her and her husband (who actively promotes gay rights in Armenia) are slowly becoming a liability for Armenia.

    Armenia is a TYPICAL developing nation with TYPICAL growing pains. Actually, when one considers that the country is tiny, impoverished, resourceless, remote, landlocked, blockaded by two neighbors and in a state of war since its independence, one may actually realize that Armenia is actually not doing so bad after all. It could have been much worst. But Armenia is alive and well. The relentless complaints about the country are for the most part being propagated by Western intelligence agencies via their proxies (servants) in Armenian communities around the world. The net result: Today’s hysteria, panic, hate, hopelessness, disillusionment and thus, population flight. Armenians may think they are running away from “injustice”, “corruption” or “oligarchs” what they are actually doing is running away from the constant negativity being propagated by Western powers. Injustice, corruption and oligarchs are much worst in most countries of the world. Yet, it sometimes feels like Armenians are the only ones fleeing from it en mass.

    The Western agenda to weaken Armenia has achieved some success.

    Western powers want to foment a revolution in Armenia like the one they managed in Ukraine - simply because Armenia is allied to Russia. Armenia's strategic ties to Russia is why Western agents throughout Armenian society (and there are a lot of them) constantly air Armenia’s dirty laundry and why they constantly bad mouth Russia. Had Armenia been in bed with Uncle Sam instead, we wouldn’t be seeing any protests against our “corrupt leaders” or “oligarchs”. For Uncle Sam, the problem with Armenia is not the lack of "democracy" in the country but the presence of Russian troops in the country.

  7. I'd like to remind the reader that Western powers are in the south Caucasus merely to undermine Russian(and to a lesser extent Iranian power, wherease Russians are in the south Cacuasus to protect Russia from the spread of Turkism and Islamic radicalism. Therefore, Armenia and Russia are natural allies and have been so for the past two hundred years. Had it not been for the Russian presence in the south Caucaus during the past 2 hundred years, there would not have been a nation called Armenia in the Turkic/Islamic infested south Caucasus. Had it not been for Russian support during the past 25 years, Armenia would have at the very least lost Artsakh. Despite some flaws that may exist within the relationship between Yerevan and Moscow, Russia remains Armenia one and only ally in the world.

    In this day in age (i.e. after seeing what Western powers have done to nations like Greece, Venezuela, Lebanon, Serbia, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Libya, Syria and Ukraine) there are 3 possible explanations for Russophobes in Armenian society: 1) Idiots; 2) Western financed agents; 3) All of the above.

    At the end of the day we must realize that the imperial/toxic agenda of Western powers is alive and well in Armenia today only because we Armenians are foolish enough or, in the case of the thousands of Western-funded NGO workers in Armenia, financially desperate enough to allow it. In other words, we are the ones empowering them and their toxic agendas in our country.

    Anyway, despite the hysterical rantings of Armenians, Armenia is slowly but surely developing and moving forward. Armenians have a choice: Armenians can begin developing a positive attitude and join in the long, difficult process of nation-building or continue staying on the murky sidelines and continue spewing their poison. Those who choose the latter are essentially doing the bidding of Armenia’s enemies and should be ashamed of calling themselves Armenian...