By Sahag Toutjian
The infamous perpetrators of the crimes of 1st March 2008 against the Armenian people have enjoyed another year of reprieve, one of them with the cloak of president of the Republic of Armenia, and the other with the mantle of the sole male predator of Yerevan. While awaiting the inevitable due process of fair retribution and the return of human – forget national – dignity, it might be instructive to attempt a lucid assessment of the tragedy now armored with the thick layers of three years of deceit, additional crimes and an array of grotesque camouflage intended to cover the trail of the original crime.
A bad tragedy performance is bad either because its author is bad or because the actors enacting it are incapable to imprint their talent, individuality and conviction to even a mediocre play on the stage. However, a bad tragedy played by bad actors and produced by an untalented supporting staff will stop short of enactment if the audience is alert, critical, and actively expresses its discontent. The tragedy is bound to stop automatically when the audience refuses to attend. Likewise, a social, political or national tragedy will fail to materialize when the majority of citizens involved refuse to condone its performance. It will collapse on itself and will be aborted by the unequivocal stand of the critical mass of people against it when it runs counter to everything they believe and cherish as an essential part of their life.
The Armenian tragedy of 1st March 2008, authored, staged and performed by an — albeit illegitimate — Armenian president on Liberty Square in Yerevan, Armenia against a gathering of peaceful demonstrators, is just one link in a long, ugly chain. This is the chain of subterfuge, murderous rule and unaccounted crimes committed by an imposed tyrant misnamed president and his appointed successor. The ruthless tandem that usurped political power, have been masquerading for well over a dozen years as guardians of the security of Armenia, monopolizing the entire state and government leverages for their narrow selfish ends. They have completely blocked the forward march of the newly independent Armenian state, replacing it with the enrichment and hollow opulence of their handpicked gang of fellow assassins, plunderers and oligarchs simultaneously mimicking as members of a government, national assembly and the judiciary – a full twentieth-century version of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. During this interval, the political, social and economic problems faced by the fledgling republic have been compounded to a dangerous level of inextricability, with not even partial solutions on the horizon.
Throughout its blood-drenched history, the Armenian people have been duped to watch, helplessly, countless dramas and heartbreaking tragedies – including, surprisingly, a number of unsavory stereotype farces – featuring their own miseries, aspirations, destiny and slow extermination. And the Armenian people, my very own – along with many others, unfortunate peoples of planet Earth, who were and still are victims of persecutions and genocides — have silently endured them interminably.
Adding insult to injury, we are recently witnessing a new breed of apologists of past and present oppressors of the Armenian people. These peddlers of national poison are, at this very moment, light-handedly endangering the survival of a free and independent Armenia. This they do when they emit confusing or mixed signals to justify and abet the present rulers who undermine the well-being of the backbone of Armenia’s active population by making life unbearable for them politically, socially and economically. In the end, emigration becomes the only option left for the population, with a final outcome outweighing even the long-range effects of the Genocide.
Of course, these ill-advised peddlers do not represent the majority of the Armenian people. However, they do represent – very sadly – the prevailing noisy section of the Armenian establishment, those who “count”: the “celebrities”, the rich and famous, a number of organizations, including quite a few of the traditional and lately formed political parties, the splinters of what used to be the Armenian Church, the so-called benevolent unions, and the self-styled activists for the rights of the Armenian people. In brief, all those who claim to represent the abused silent majority of the perplexed and undecided Armenian communities whom they bombard day in and day out with their mass media as passive herds or as their inherited property.
All these respectable entities comprising the Armenian community have a handy, immaculate apology for their servile stand vis-a-vis the insolent usurpers of power in Yerevan who are holding the future of Armenia and the ten-million strong Armenian people worldwide, hostage to their purely personal, selfish agenda. Supposedly, they want to safeguard Armenia from a worst disaster, that of perishing altogether. They want to keep the Armenian ship from sinking. They do not want to shoot the pirate disguised as captain of “our” ship. They say: “We’ve got to be nice to our impostor/plunderer captain, because we need him for our national salvation.”
With saviors like these, who needs enemies or “neighborly” genocide perpetrators?
These well-intentioned entities fail to perceive the obvious: Because of the utter uselessness and harmfulness of Armenia’s unfit, disloyal rulers, our motherland is being rapidly vacated. It is being abandoned by the sector of its population that has been its backbone, namely the young, the craftsmen, the trained professionals. And our ship of national salvation is sinking before our eyes, whether we are citizens of the Republic of Armenia or members of an undefined Diaspora – a cacophony to be “harmonized” by an appointed Minister of Diaspora, to be exploited as a passive reserve by the plunderers.
Let the Tunisians, Egyptians, Libyans, Bahrainis and Yemenis depose their corrupt rulers and freeze the stolen billions in Swiss bank accounts to their rightful owners, the people. Let them shoot their ship’s Captain Ahab. We Armenians know better. We keep our depraved captains at the helm. And we sink all together (provided he does not sneak out at the moment of peril).
Almost one century after the Genocide of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks, we did not need to be reminded by self-elected Armenian presidents that we have to brace ourselves, since our genocide is of the permanent brand, and may be committed indiscriminately by Turks and a specific brand of Armenians alike. All they need is to make more frequent 1st March type outings of their black-robed and black-masked sharpshooting mercenaries against peaceful demonstrators, and plunder the peaceful, Gandhi-like citizens of Armenia so that they’ll have to resort to mass exodus to procure a livelihood for their families. That way, our problems with our neighboring countries will be simplified. And everybody will go to his preferred pursuits: one president will be free for his favorite pastime at the casinos of Monte Carlo, the second will enjoy the wild animals and diamonds of Namibia (or the “exotic” country of his choice), and, oh, did we forget anybody? Well, the Armenian people, you ask? But let’s get serious, that’s outside the presidential concerns, isn’t it?
Sad? Distressing? But it’s the play being performed at Liberty Square today the 1st of March 2011, where special events are being concocted to keep out the intrusion of freedom fighters to the holy grounds of the royal neo-nobility.
But I feel a fresh breeze in the air, a breath of new vigor and a surge of hope coming from the burning deserts of North Africa all the way to Liberty Square in Yerevan on the 1st of March 2011. This is the year of daring and hope, the year when disinherited young people of plundered and impoverished countries throughout the world realized that they, too, and their children, are entitled to a decent future. And this is the time when all Armenians of good will – of whatever social background and political leanings – have concluded that the dead end of 1st March 2008 is long past, that the Armenian people is on the threshold of setting itself free at last.
I am confident. The freedom fighters will return to Liberty Square to seal their freedom, just as their soul brothers – linked via the worldwide web — are doing in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain Yemen and elsewhere in the wide world. And they’ll bring with them the valiant political prisoners Nikol Pashinyan, Sassoon Mikayelyan, Harutyun Urutyan, Sarkis Hatsbanian, Murad Bojolyan, Aram Bareghamyan, Ara Hovhannisyan, Shmavon Galstyan, Roman Mnatsakanyan, and whoever else is still retained captive in the accursed dungeons of the free and independent Republic of Armenia.
I hear their footsteps.