Ellis Island Medal of Honor officials reject Hovnan Derderian’s request to strip Appo Jabarian of his award by virtue of the First Amendment, Freedom of Speech and Press

Posted on March. 4. 2019


Americans enjoy the freedom of the press. Armenians poured into America for the same freedom. This writer came to America to function as a journalist enjoying the same freedom.
As an investigative writer I have unmasked corruption at the highest level of the Armenian Church. I have printed some of these disclosures penned by a variety of international authors. In doing so my life has been threatened.
As a journalist I will continue to report on the world-wide pattern of corruption of our church. I will publish articles penned by others from every corner of the globe. Hopefully this will open a healthy debate about our church.
A series of recent events brought to the forefront a major scandal that occurred in New York, in May 2016, involving Primate Hovnan Derderian of Armenian Church Western Diocese.
In an attempt to publicly ridicule, embarrass and silence this author, Derderian plotted to strip an investigative journalist from his Ellis Island Medal of Honor award. Through a proxy, reportedly he demanded from Ellis Island Medal of Honor Awards organizers to recall the Medal of Honor from this recipient. Derderian had threatened to return his award in the event this writer’s award was not recalled.
His allegations were that the Armenian American investigative journalist “had spread falsehoods and lies about Derderian.” All his claims were rejected as they proved unfounded. And the validity of Appo Jabarian’s award has been recognized and maintained. Normally when a nominee is denied an award he would not be aware of it. Therefore, there is no harm. But once a nominee is approved and awarded such a national award and recognition, it can be totally devastating to be stripped of such an award. To the credit of the National Ethnic Coalition Organization (NECO), Derderian’s allegations were debunked and rejected saving the honorable reputation of the legitimate awardee.
Derderian’s scandalous attempt to strip Jabarian from his Ellis Island Medal was in retaliation of Jabarian’s three articles exposing Derderian’s misdeeds. Respectively, in August 2015, an article titled “Arch. Hovnan Derderian Meddles in Armenian Presidential Campaign at Western Diocese” (read here http://www.armenianlife.com/2019/03/03/arch-hovnan-derderian-meddles-in-armenian-presidential-campaign-at-western-diocese-2/); in Sept. 2015, another article, “Catholicos Karekin II’s Rep. Arch. Hovnan Derderian Violates the Armenian and American Constitutions” (read here http://www.armenianlife.com/2019/03/03/catholicos-karekin-iis-rep-arch-hovnan-derderian-violates-the-armenian-and-american-constitutions-2/); and in early May 2016, a third article “Is Archbishop Derderian a Spiritual Leader or Ottoman Despot?”  (read here http://www.armenianlife.com/2019/03/03/is-archbishop-derderian-a-spiritual-leader-or-ottoman-despot-2/) were published in both USA Armenian Life Magazine and Hye Kiank Armenian weekly.
Once Derderian’s deplorable act against the free press and freedom of speech were subjected to utter failure, the author of this article moved on without writing an expose on the corrupted clergy’s misdeeds. Simply put, in the heart of hearts, this writer had forgiven and forgotten. He had decided to move on.
However, with the embarrassing defeat with NECO, Derderian of Western Diocese remained headstrong to “destroy” the publication of USA Armenian Life Magazine at all cost. Over the years a litany of his misdeeds against the paper has been fairly long.  In one episode, he has reportedly demanded all Armenian American organizations to boycott USA Armenian Life Magazine and its sister publication Armenian-language Hye Kiank Armenian Weekly thus hoping to deprive the publications from advertising sales revenues which is a crucial lifeline for members of the free press.
As a writer I was attacked and terrorized while exercising my rights to expose corruption in Echmiadzin and the Armenian Church Western Diocese. Three men dressed in black who walked out of the Diocese building in broad daylight on Dec. 23, came to the street in front of the Western Diocese building (recorded on video here’s the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srtn1r-F2nY) and started their verbal death threat.  Making matters worse, neither Hovnan Derderian nor any officials from Diocesan Council have condemned the death threat delivered by three thugs who came out of the Diocese.
Upon arrival of the Burbank Police, they vanished. To date despite positive identification by the victim to law enforcement officials, local and federal law enforcement agencies have failed to apprehend the suspects to bring them to justice.
I have had to hire 24/7 protection for my life forcing me to incur huge expenses. Where are the suspects? Where have they vanished to? They need to be brought to justice. Were they ‘imported’ from Armenia’s organized crime units controlled by certain oligarchs associated with Karekin II? If so, have they been ‘shipped’ back upon ‘successful accomplishment’ of their criminal mission?
California State University Long Beach, Political Science Professor Z.S. Andrew Demirdjian wrote, Jan. 11, in USA Armenian Life Magazine: “Rather than be primitive and use the sword to disagree with the press, use the mighty pen to correct the press in a civilized fashion. Shooting the messenger, metaphorically speaking, is a long-established practice among dictators and insecure politicians the world over. This type of practice is medieval and it should be eradicated from a civil society of Armenia and its vast Diaspora.”
In his same article titled, “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” he continued: “Common cause believes the press must be protected as an institution from attacks by public officials and other disgruntled citizens. … This situation makes the present a critical time to educate the public about the importance of an independent press that can report on issues without bias and with full transparency. Armenians have to do the same thing in order to educate those who are still cave dwellers.”
In conclusion he wrote: “That a democracy cannot function without a free press is a truism. I am sure that Catholicos Karekin II’s followers (including Derderian—Editor) … are free to be loyal to him and to protect his image. Likewise, Mr. Jabarian has the inalienable right to report the news about him or even criticize him. Without the news we, the people, would be ignorant of events and issues; without constructive criticism, we would ultimately regress; without the press, we would be in the dark.”
Living in a vibrant democracy, this writer – like countless other writers, has the right to circulate opinions in print without censorship; enjoying the same Freedom of The Press under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. This right is defined and guaranteed in the United States by the First Amendment for journalists to print without government control. Derderian and his like-minded cohorts mistakenly think that we still live under despotic Turkish Ottoman rule and they can violently, forcibly and illegally silence their critics without repercussions trampling upon democratic rights to Freedom of Speech guaranteed by our First Amendment.
Derderian’s vindictiveness has been unrelenting and knows no bounds.  Surely, he holds hostage to a host of morally healthy and spiritually devoted church members along with the clergy under his jurisdiction in a blatant abuse of power.
Good, wholesome members of clergy roam inside and outside the Western Diocese in trepidation to speak for their livelihoods may be threatened. As a free journalist, I am not bound with such dread or fear and I am free as well as obligated to report the worldwide pattern of corruption in our church. It is well within my right to publish articles penned by myself and others from every corner of the globe. Hopefully this will open a healthy debate about our church and about our common future as a people and a global community.
The Freedom of the Press, under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, is guaranteed in the United States for journalists to print without government control. In my case this also applies without control or censorship from the Armenian Church Western Diocese in Burbank, California where the same rule of law applies. The last time I checked, Republic of California, where Burbank is located, was still in the Union and had not seceded to join a third-world dictatorship.
Over the centuries Armenians have endured under negative circumstances. They have remarkably bounced back from the brink of annihilation as a nation and they have rebuilt their national home in the twin republics of Armenia and Artsakh (Karabakh) as well as the expansive Diaspora.  It is in their DNA. The Velvet Revolution has been a breath of fresh air for our people. The new Armenian government has separated the church and state. Now the current government will not undermine our ancestral Homeland’s and Diaspora’s Armenian civil society’s right to forge ahead with much needed reform within the national institutes including the Armenian Church. And now that Armenia is free from the Soviet corruption and its Diaspora is free from despotic Turkish Ottoman rule, Armenians everywhere firmly believe that it is their collective birthright to pave the way for unprecedented recovery.  The Armenian nation deserves better.  It is up to the Armenians all over the world to clean their church and other institutions.
As USA Armenian Life Magazine and Hye Kiank Armenian weekly get ready to go to print, letters, telephone calls, emails, comments on social media and personal visits by several members of the community are pouring into this paper with encouraging words to keep up the newspapers’ journalistic mission.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. We now have at our disposal a fairly long list of Derderian’s shenanigans. Hardly a day goes by without new members of Derderian’s inner circle stepping forward with new information. Stay tuned! More to come!
As I write, whistle-blowers are stepping forward. From this day forward, will Derderian devise new tactics to silence them?


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