Monday, April 27, 2015

Our Century

The earth shifted ever so slightly this month. An irreversible tide that was a hundred years coming crashed on the shores of seas we no longer have ownership of. But it doesn't matter because right now we are the world.

After a century of demanding justice, recognition and restitution, after a century of pain, desolation and despair, after a century of tortured memories passing from one generation to the next, on the one hundredth anniversary of that catastrophic event, we are indeed the world.

Torchlight March, Yerevan
The epic events of the past several weeks - a papal mass that should shame the perpetrator and all those who bend to its will, a massive rock concert on the eve of the Armenian Genocide that rocked Yerevan's Republic Square and our hearts, an unprecedented sea of descendants marching for justice in Los Angeles - have changed the course of our future.

We were able to release ourselves from being perpetual victims. We were able to stand together, united, unbreakable and unshakeable. We told the world that we are here, we may be a few, we may be dispersed, we may have different ideologies but we are steadfast, for you cannot discount millions of people who refuse to surrender, who refuse to be silenced, who refuse injustice. We reached a tipping point.

What we do with this capital, depends on us. 

March to Justice, LA
The continued strength and resilience of our communities, their lobbying efforts in power centers around the world, not only for Armenian Genocide recognition but for the security and empowerment of the Republic of Armenia and the recognition of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic and a deepening engagement with Armenia's civil society initiatives must become part of the equation in the Diaspora's activities.

Simultaneously, assisting and, if need be, pressuring the current government of the Republic of Armenia to institutionalize democratic values, the protection of human rights, social justice, to conduct free and fair elections, implement sound economic policies, ensure political plurality and eradicate impunity must become a priority for the citizens of Armenia. 

These two strands do not have to be mutually exclusive. On the contrary, accomplishing one without the other will not propel us forward.

Armenians in the Diaspora, who have been struggling for Genocide recognition are now seeing the result of their decades-long work. The activists and lobbyists who courted politicians in the corridors of power, the community leaders, who tried to mobilize their members despite divisions, the scholars, whose invaluable academic work laid the foundation and proved without a reasonable doubt, that the atrocities committed against the Armenian nation by Ottoman Turkey had all the elements of genocide, have all played an important role. This is power.

System of a Down concert, Yerevan
Certain segments in Armenia have been making strides in new technologies, education, social entrepreneurship and in elevating social consciousness despite the inadequacy and incompetence of the authorities. While it has a long way to go, citizens are slowly recoiling from the traditional model of servitude which successive governments have banked on to maintain power. And this past month, Armenians in Armenia finally realized that they are not an isolated island, closed off from the world both figuratively and literally, but they were indeed part of the human family, part of the world. This too, is power.

Events, circumstances and experiences such as we witnessed this past month instilled hope, both in the Diaspora and in Armenia. The next century is ours to define and navigate. Now, let's not lose the momentum. 

Armenia is Rising. 

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