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27 03 2008 . Ter-Petrossyan's U.S. Supporters
Jabarian's Mar. 28 col.) -- Ter-Petrossyan's U.S. Supporters Stifle Free Speech Through Violence

On Saturday, March 22, at around 10:30 p.m., during a live broadcast of a round table discussion in Glendale, California, two supporters of Levon Ter-Petrossyan, a failed presidential candidate, attacked the studios of ARTN TV, then they intruded upon the participants of the TV show that was underway, aiming to interrupt their discussion, said a spokesman of the TV station.

This invasion of the TV station caused a wave of complaints by Armenian TV viewers. The spokesman added that "the nature of that incident and the style in which it was carried out is totally compatible with the so-called 'democracy project' that is adopted by 'H.H.Sh.,' also known as the 'Armenian National Movement’ political party (the main backers of Ter-Petrossyan's candidacy)."

The spokesman continued: "By way of direct threats of ‘liquidation’ of TV show participants; threatening their lives; and cursing, the invaders demanded that the show be stopped. This awfully unpleasant attack -- nothing short of an attempt to stifle free speech -- boldly reflects these forces' 'vision' for and attitude toward freedom, democracy and human rights. But in the United States of America, similar acts of sabotage cannot prevail. This incident's investigation has been assigned to law enforcement officials."

On Monday, March 24, during an interview with USA Armenian Life Magazine and Hye Kiank Armenian Weekly, Mr. Robert Oglakhchyan, President and Chief Executive Officer of ARTN-TV Company, told this writer "the management of the studio strongly condemns this very disturbing act that intended to obstruct the work of free media." He said that on Saturday night upon learning of this incident, the City of Glendale Police Dept. rapidly responded and rushed to the scene and began interrogating the victims. A thorough investigation is being conducted. On Tuesday, March 25, it became apparent that the violators of law and order will be held accountable.

This incident reconfirms the fact that in order to undermine free speech, Ter-Petrossyan's supporters are capable of resorting to violence, even in the United States!

As many readers may recall, several Ter-Petrossyan supporters disrespectfully rejected dialogue in the form of free exchange of ideas and opinions via USA Armenian Life online. They have even resorted to foul language directed against this writer.

During the period from March 13 through March 25, the editorial offices of USA Armenian Life received several responses from readers from around the world.

The letter-writers were separated into four groups. The first group consisted of Ter-Petrossyan supporters. The second group consisted of Serge Sargsyan supporters. The third was composed of patriots critical of both Ter-Petrossyan's "anti-Armenia activities" and Sargsyan's "state-level corruption." The fourth group consisted of patriots who were critical of the corruption taking place during the current administration, but because of the imminent danger posed by Ter-Petrossyan, chose to help Armenia fend-off a far more serious danger that threatens its very existence, stability and statehood.

The overwhelming majority of letter-writers belonged to the fourth group. Those who belonged to the first group represented only 15% of the total responses received. Most of the responses received from the first group rejected any dialogue demanding that their e-addresses be removed from the USA Armenian Life online distribution list.

Here are the new responses received to my last week’s column:

Armen Ohanian wrote via e-mail: "Dear Appo, I hope you know Armenian. Like a brother, don't send me your garbage. It's not possible. ... We are in lopsided conditions. You are indulging in America and are philosophizing on what is good, what is bad for us, and here, innocent people have died, thousands of people have been injured and are afraid to go to the hospital because the Police is pursuing them. Hundreds of people are afraid to come out of their homes. Over a hundred are arrested and the real criminals are in the streets. This is not a duel between Levon and Serge. This is a problem between our society and the authorities. The people do not trust the authorities, are afraid of the police, of the tax collectors. ... It's not necessary to divide Armenia between pro-Levon and pro-Serge forces. So, if you cannot help, at least don't sabotage. Dear Appo, if I get one more e-mail from you, I'll be forced to resort to cursing you with the last available words."

Maïté Jardin e-wrote: "It's not my country, I am not Arménian [sic] but French, I leave here since 3 years, and I agree with German Avagyan [who] wrote: '.... Come and live in Armenia, and after that you will have a right to write about MY COUNTRY....' Please be a little bit objective. I don't want to receive new article without objectivity, you don't leave [sic] here. Thanks."

Samvel Teymurazyan wrote: "Dear Mr. Jabarian, I read your article in the Armenian Life magazine and I must tell you that it is no different than the Gorbachev type of news and info we get every day on the Armenian public television. I won't talk about all the disinformation you give in your article but about a couple of key things that not only people like you but what is the most unfortunate, the government of Armenia and the current illeterate [sic] president and prime minister have not been able to understand. ... And let me assure you that now this is not about Levon becoming president, this is about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and the people of Armenia WILL overthrow the totalitarian regime and get rid of illeterate [sic] and nicknamed government members."

Jack A. wrote via e-mail: "Please, don't ever get intimidated by those who, regrettably, lack the political maturity to appreciate the involvement of the anti-Armenian elements in the planning of the disastrous events of the last few days. Armenia has been the real loser and this, undoubtedly, to the great satisfaction of her enemies. In my humble opinion, I would add that if the opposition believes in what it advocates, it should be part of a Coalition Government and debate the problems, which are of great concern to its followers, in the Parliament, rather that in the street, as civilized people. I would suggest that you create your own website which will enable you to reach a much larger readership. Keep on with the good work."

Gary Grigorian wrote: "Please keep me on your email list. By the way, most of the information on Ter-Petrossyan is correct. I have lived in Armenia 5 years under his rule and I believe you are correct about him!"

Maria Cristina Koutoudjian e-wrote: "I liked so much your article about Levon Ter-Petrossyan. You were able to inform us with chronological accuracy, the facts that occurred in the post-election Armenia. The truth must be told, even if it hurts certain prides."

Ara Nahabedian wrote: "Thanks for the responses. Those who are able to contribute but are not doing anything to support the present day Independent Armenia are negligent and shameful. We may hear about the corruption in the present Armenian regime, but that does not give the right to refuse to contribute for the continuation of independent Armenia. Armen Ayvazian's article regarding the consequences of Ter-Petrossyan's request for an independent investigation on the recent events, projects the eventual loss of Armenia. I do not know who started the fighting really. But the fact that they did happen is already a big blow for the country and its people. If a political candidate cannot play the game with the present rules, then he or she should quit, and not look for any foreign country for help. Politics or life is not a football game with a referee. It’s not a fair game. They should put up with the present setup and struggle as best as they can for a better future."

Annie C. wrote via e-mail: "Many thanks for this article. Levon Ter-Petrossyan is truly a straw man and Alexander Arzumanian is the biggest traitor of our times!"

Haig Adomian wrote via e-mail: "People say that it is hard to do the right thing, I disagree. It is not particularly hard to do the right thing, if you are sure it is right. What is hard is to know what exactly is the right thing to do. Obviously there are loyal patriots on different sides of the current electoral controversy in Armenia. Each side deeply believes in doing what is best for Armenia. I therefore deeply appreciate USA Armenian Life and Hye Kiank's elucidation of the issue. I have the greatest respect for several candidates of the opposition. At least a couple of them are clearly better men than the victorious candidate. I nevertheless concur with your acceptance of the election result -- though without celebration. Now let the victors take action and demonstrate their worthiness by reducing corruption, foreign influence, imports, and capital flight. Let them remove casino owners and oligarchs from the ranks of their trusted friends and advisors. Let them stop hobnobbing with CIA stooges and Neocon nincompoops who masquerade as 'advisors.' Let them stop selling trophy industrial assets to Russian corporations, and start offering those assets -- when necessary -- to Diasporan Armenians. And let them create more good-paying jobs for average workers through intelligent protectionism, investment in infrastructure and industry, and economic planning. Let them govern like national leaders with a vision, not ward bosses with a fat wallet, a fat ass and a bottle of vodka. None of us are perfect. But Serge Sargsyan has the job, and it is time for him to step up, and lead. May God be with him and with our Homeland."

Arevig Caprielian, Rare Book Librarian, Assistant Head of Cataloging Department, New York Society Library wrote via e-mail: "Sireli Paron Jabarian, Have I ever told you what a pleasure it is to read your lucid, substantial (and substantiated) and timely articles? Thank you for voicing and wording our utmost concerns."

Levon Thorose wrote via e-mail: "Thank you for publishing the various views of people with respect to your article on Armenia's Post-Election Riots. It is enlightening to listen to our people. I hope it is not a sample of our entire nation. I would like to know if possible at all, how many people think like Mr. Bernard Nazarian. I liked his response the best. I hope people do not confuse Armenia's National Security with many other important issues in Armenia. Sad to say, as shown by people responses to your article, that there are many in our nation who do not understand that Armenia's national security and stability is the utmost important priority. All those who are confused about what constitutes Armenia's national priorities, in their confusion, may be swayed mindlessly to act in favor of Armenia's enemies. Furthermore, any leader that confuses and compromises his country’s security and stability priorities with any other lower level problems we have in Armenia is either a bad leader or has been influenced by external powers as a mouthpiece to influence all those people who are confused in their priorities. Clearly Armenia's stability and security should be on the very top of the list of priorities. Armenia's strength to defend her security and stability is next to that top. And so on the list of priorities goes down to many thousands of very important issues. Of course, we should be focused on solving the highest priorities first to optimize our limited energy and national resources. And we should be focused to resolve many top priority problems in parallel to develop our country. Of course, corruption is an important issue, and we need to eliminate it from our culture. So are many other issues, which are rooted in our culture such as women's rights, as well as many very important issues of unemployment, education, economy, etc. Nobody denies the fact that we have a lot of problems to resolve, and we will. In the past 16 years, Armenia has resolved many problems and there are more to work on, but we need security and stability to continue that work."

Thorose continued: "Levon Ter-Petrossyan clearly compromised Armenia's security and stability with his actions. He took a good issue that we all agree we need to resolve; swayed thousands of confused people and went beyond the threshold of stability. These people's mindless actions hurt our nation in many ways and caused loss of lives. But we will overcome this, I am sure. I hope these people learn the lesson and grow from this experience, so that they do not support another mindless or sold-out opportunist like Ter-Petrossyan."

Artin Avedissian wrote via e-mail: "I think your views are unbiased and you have the right to be concerned with the future of our motherland just like any Armenian living in Armenia regardless where you live! I fully support your views and join the Fourth Group of your correspondents who are 'critical of the corruption taking place during the current administration, but because of the imminent danger posed by Ter-Petrossyan, chose to help Armenia fend-off a far more serious danger that threatens the very existence of Armenia's stability and statehood.’"

Garo Artinian wrote via e-mail: "I agree with Bernard Nazarian. The majority of Armenians are concerned with the national security of our landlocked homeland, its peaceful progress and the unity of the people. In unity we have strength; at least that much we should have learned from our history. I am happy that there has been a coalition government of 4 parties. If the rest want to participate, they need to talk and negotiate and not destroy. Hooliganism has no place in this era. It was definitely non leaderly and non presidential for Levon Ter-Petrossyan to turn His Holiness the Vehapar away who had come to TALK in the spirit of peace and unity. As I've said before, Armenians DO Not Have The Luxury of Colorful Revolutions. The minute we turned our eyes away from the borders, the minute they smelled trouble in the State, they attacked. The changes in the democratic process should develop gradually as the social psyche - the way we think, the conscience and the socio-economic status of our people develop. Armenia's national security has precedence over the process of democratization. Until then the Law and Order should be enforced and applied to all concerned."

Annie Saatjian wrote: "I was shocked to read such reactions from your readers. Sadly most Armenians still have double standards when it comes to Armenia. Being ‘Hayrenaser’ (Patriotic) does not mean to accept anything for the sake of preserving the homeland. Why can we report certain things and must stay quiet about others? The reason why I enjoy reading your columns and newspaper is because you are not afraid to admit and report the truth. Isn't it time that we Armenians unite and work positively for our homeland? Some of your readers, especially that PhD candidate should get an anger management course before expressing himself like an angry kid. Keep up the good journalism. I am really proud of you."

Pedro Zarokian wrote via e-mail: "Good break down of the writers. It's interesting how remedial the thinking level of an average Levon Ter-Petrossyan supporter is, that they can not even comprehend that if one is against Levon, that does not mean they're for Serge!"
It is to be hoped that those who were manipulated by Ter-Petrossyan’s exploitation of their legitimate complaints will not allow him to victimize them again. There is no question that most of the Ter-Petrossyan supporters’ violent tactics -- like the one exhibited in the Greater Los Angeles area -- to stifle free speech even in the USA reconfirms the fact that they are capable of utilizing violence in order to realize their political objectives, no matter how unpopular they are.

It is also to be hoped that the international community will take into consideration the fact that the Ter-Petrossyan segment of the opposition -- however violently it operates -- does not have a monopoly of the opposition. There are other political forces that represent the legitimate opposition that is loyal to Armenia’s stability and statehood.

Armenians have lost their independent statehood for too long -- over six hundred years -- to sit idly by and let the inner or outer destructive forces hijack their centuries-old dream.

At this critical juncture, many Armenians realize that pro-active participation in neutralizing the present and future hurdles is a prerequisite to the continuation of the nation-building process that began during the last few years.


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