‘Defender’ of Armenian Nation and its Cause Nora Hovsepian: A Tourist in Turkey?
Posted on September. 14. 2019
BY APPO JABARIAN Managing Editor USA Armenian Life Magazine print/electronic editions Hye Kiank Armenian Weekly print/electronic editions armenianlife.com USA Armenian Life Facebook Page
One Sunday evening in Oct. 2017, as a lifetime defender of Armenian Cause and a founding supporter of Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) since mid-1980’s, I attended an annual gala night organized by ANCA- Western Region in Los Angeles. ANCA-WR Board Chairwoman Nora Hovsepian stated that the Armenian Cause “belongs not just to us, but to every single Armenian across the globe; a Cause which requires passion, activism and participation; a Cause which we pursue as David against Goliath every day; a noble Cause which seeks justice in an often-unjust world. … the ANCA serves as the defender of the Armenian Nation and its Cause throughout the United States.” I remembered Mrs. Hovsepian’s ill-vised 2014 visit to Turkey while she held a leadership position in ANCA and the following question came to mind: Can a person like Mrs. Hovsepian be a top “Defender of the Armenian Nation and its Cause” and visit Armenians’ archenemy Turkey? Mrs. Hovsepian is Armenian Revolutionary Federation Western US (ARF-WUS) Central Committee Chairman Dr. Viken Hovsepian’s wife.
In the aftermath of her Turkey ‘visit,’ many rank-and-file members of ANCA’s parent organization ARF were troubled that ARF-Western US Central Committee Chairman Dr. Hovsepian’s spouse Nora, had visited Armenians’ archenemy Turkey under the pretext of ‘visiting’ her ancestral lands in Western Armenia while she was holding a top leadership position within ANCA. She produced a video documentary. Oddly, right around the same time around 2014, Turks had organized Turkish Anatolian Festival in So. Calif. promoting the false propaganda that the entire Anatolia which includes Turkish-occupied Greek Pontus, Greek Smyrna, Greek Constantinople, Western Armenia, Armenian Cilicia, Northern Kurdistan, Assyrian Merdin, Northern Cyprus, Arab Syrian territory of Alexandretta (‘Hatay’ today) have been the lands of ‘indigenous Turks’ when in fact Turks are the direct descendants of Seljuk that invaded the Armenian Highlands and adjacent territories in 1070’s from the Steppes of Central Asia. When such insulting ‘festivals’ used to take place, to its credit, ARF’s youth organization, Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) used to be on the front lines demonstrating against and countering such Turkish lies. AYF-WR which had earned a solid reputation for taking the initiative and for organizing protest rallies countering Turkish false claims anywhere in the Southland. But to the surprise of thousands of AYF supporters and sympathizers in Western U.S., AYF-WR was silenced and rendered passive. Why? Did the Hovsepian husband and wife duo order AYF to remain ‘neutral?’ Were Vicken and Nora Hovsepian covertly participating in an anti-Armenian track-two diplomacy with Turkey being actively promoted by Turkey’s lackeys within the U.S. State Dept.? In her ‘pilgrimage-tourism’ promotion video, Nora Hovsepian says: “Like many of us, I was deeply conflicted by the thought of being a tourist in present day Turkey and I was entirely unsure of how I would react to the reality of occupied homeland.” Has this been one of the ‘deliverables’ of her participation in the anti-Armenian and pro-Turkish track two diplomacy? Wouldn’t it make sense to abandon such a controversial idea that causes a person to be “deeply conflicted?” Before stating as to how she “would react,” she should have asked as to “How tens of thousands of Armenians in ARF and the wider community in Diaspora and Armenia would react to her unwarranted ‘visit?’” Regarding the question “Should Armenians ‘Visits’ Turkey?” The answer “NO” has been long-ingrained in the psyche of the survivors of the Turkish-executed 1915-1923 Armenian Genocide and their descendants for obvious reasons. In regards, to ‘visiting’ Turkey, there are three main groups of Armenians with varying situation and positions on this crucial issue:
Group 1: Members of this group constitute the absolute majority of Armenians in Armenia and the Diaspora who refuse to visit what is now called Turkey. As long as Turkey refuses to make amends, this group members will pursue a lifetime commitment to defend relentlessly the Armenian nation and its Cause; to serve as watchdogs in order to detect any suspicious activities undermining their people’s interests and legitimate rights for justice for the Armenian Cause; to maintain their unequivocal loyalty to the common political principles and unwritten policy NOT to visit Turkey, NOT to consume Turkish products, NOT to support Turkey’s economy in any shape or form, to ACTIVELY BOYCOTT Turkey on all fronts and at every step of the way, as long as Turkey refuses to make amends for its crimes against humanity – Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians and Cypriots; and for its newest crimes against Yezidis, Kurds, Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians and Arabs by actively supporting ISIS and other terrorist organizations in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Kurdistan, Cyprus and Armenia.
Group 2: Members of this group constitute a tiny minority who are somehow obligated to travel to Turkey as they may be citizens of that entity and may still have family ties and/or real and personal properties; or they may be diplomats in service of a variety of nations; scholars conducting studies in the field of archaeology and history; religious/spiritual servants; second- or third-generation survivors on a mission to reclaim ownership of ancestral real and/or personal properties;
Group 3: Members of this controversial group constitute the tiniest minority of all. They are not obligated to ‘visit’ Turkey yet they go there for plain tourism or some other unknown reasons. They maybe collaborators of Turkey or Turkey’s paid lackeys in Washington and elsewhere. Many in this group seem to not care about the Armenian Cause or they may have fallen victims to the newest wave of brainwashing “to forgive and forget” and “move on.”
As a member of group 1, over the years, several Armenian journalists and activists, including this writer, have received invitations to ‘visit’ what is now called Turkey. Obviously, I declined to accept. I refuse to allow Turkey to stamp its ‘entry’ visa in my passport.
Turkey owes millions of forcibly uprooted and dispossessed Armenians 1) Blood money for the one and one half million victims of the Turkish-executed 1915-1923 Armenian Genocide and Mass Dispossession; 2) Return of ancestral lands in Western Armenia and Armenian Cilicia; 3) Restitution for real and personal properties illegally confiscated from the victims. As long as Turkey refuses to make amends, it will continue to be top target of worldwide boycott.
Although I don’t approve the idea of supporting the Turkish tourism industry, I do respect individual cases and I understand the special cases pertaining group 2.
However, serious issues emerge when certain individuals like Dr. Hovsepian’s spouse Nora pretend to be chief ‘defenders’ of Armenian Nation and its Cause, but they turn around and travel to Turkey under any pretext while Turkey is connivingly plotting to defraud the Armenian people.
If such individuals think they can be autocratic and take unilateral decision, they’re terribly mistaken. The last time I checked many of the Armenian political organizations are not top-down but ground-up. The party leaders are elected by the membership and they’re held accountable by the members at every step of the way. Perpetual transparency and accountability serve as a valid health certificate for any organization, family unit, and a sovereign state.
Members of group 1 that constitute the landslide majority among Armenians, have learned throughout their life that Turkey would be off-limits for any leaders of all Armenian civic and political organizations that proclaim to actively pursue justice for the Armenian Cause. No Diaspora group can claim to be the legitimate representative of the Diaspora. There has not been any universal suffrage to mandate such binding and legal representation.
It is also a common knowledge that none of the Armenian political parties or political advocacy groups in Armenia and Diaspora are mandated by the people to engage in any kind of secret or open negotiations with Turkey without any public approval or consent.
Armenian Assembly of America (AAA), Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), Armenian Democratic League – Ramgavar Party (ADL-Ramgavar), Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF-Tashnag Party), Social Democratic Hunchak Party (SDHP-Hunchak Party) and Armenian American Political Action Committee (AAPAC) are among several organizations worldwide whose mission is to defend the Armenian Nation and its Cause; to protect individual and collective rights and interests of Armenia and Armenian Diaspora population. If anyone of the organizational leaders who breaches or violates the unwritten policy NOT TO VISIT TURKEY WITHOUT ANY PUBLIC MANDATE would sustain irreparable political damage within the ranks of the 12-million-strong Armenian Nation. This is a vital understanding and widely observed unwritten policy in Armenia and Diaspora.
Certain self-serving corporate interests and their lackey politicians and diplomats like to claim that any Armenian refusing to visit Turkey is ‘emotional.’ These American lackeys of Turkey within the American university and political circles also peddle the misguided notion that Armenians should be “‘open-minded’ and visit Turkey.”
These anti-Armenian elements are in constant search for ‘open-minded’ Armenians to conspire against fellow Armenians both in US and around the globe by engaging in track-two diplomacy with Turkey that tend to be traps for Armenians and damaging to their collective interests.
There’s nothing emotional about being in quest of Justice! Administration of Justice is the bedrock of any healthy civil society. When an individual or group of individuals become victims of injustice, they’re fully backed by a judicial system that toils to bring the culprit(s) to Justice and to secure restitution to the victims. Among many forms of damages, of course the victims suffer emotional damage but to misconstrue a victim as being ‘emotional’ in their pursuit of justice is ludicrous.
So, please don’t tell me that the victims of the Turkish-executed Armenian, Greek, Assyrian Genocides and Massive Dispossession who refuse to ‘visit’ Turkey is being ‘emotional.’ It’s a matter of sound political decision and strategy to not contribute to Turkey’s tourism industry and its economy. Boycott is an important and a just and effective political weapon.
Visiting Turkey while simultaneously holding a leadership position within an Armenian political advocacy organization like ANCA, is nothing less than a political suicide. Violators of that policy like Dr. Vicken Hovsepian and Nora Hovsepian, must be held accountable.