Friday, 23 January 2009

Armenian neo-nazi get united and organised. Does anyone care?

In December 2008, just before New Year holidays, the Association of Armenian Nationalists was established in Armenia by notorious ultra-nationalist groups and individuals. Among them – Armenian Aryan Order, ultra-nationalist group known for its anti-semitism and homophobia. The declared aim of this newly established union is “bringing together similarly-minded people in Diaspora and Armenia, and the creation of a strong Armenian nationalist organisation”.

They made number of political statements in past, related to current issues; number of hateful speeches to put themselves into headlines. They did even small protest action against Israel over Gaza. Do not get fooled. The rights of the Palestine people are the least they care about. They have different agenda.

True, these groups’ influence seems insignificant for now, and the situation in Armenia is not as dramatic as in Russia where numerous ethnic Armenians, along with other foreigners or non-Russian locals were murdered by neo-nazi. However, prevention is the best way to deal with the problem. Surrounded by significant internal and external problems, more nationalism and intolerance is the least which Armenia needs now. The key to solving many existing problems in our society, as well as those facing internationally is more tolerance and less nationalism.

Any exhibition of hate by these groups or this newly established union should face the strongest opposition of mainstream political forces, civil society and law-enforcement agencies. This is, of course, more like a wishful thinking. Sadly, the reality is different, and at times it’s very difficult to discern voices of our mainstream political parties or civil society representatives from those of neo-nazi. In past, not a single politician, civil society representative or media outlet (one or two exceptions) condemned hateful statements by Avetisyan, head of Aryans.

Interestingly, as head of Aryans mentioned during a press conference yesterday, they will aim to collaborate with similar organisations in neighbouring countries, as well as Europe and... Russia. I wonder what the ‘outcome’ of their meeting with the Russian ‘colleagues’ would be. So far we are aware of only one type of ‘outcome’ after such ‘meetings’.

We do not want instances of hate graffiti and hate speech to evolve into something uglier, do we?

*source of photos: Onnik Krikorian / Oneworld Multimedia 2007


Summer School for Curators, Yerevan said...

It's absurd how these groups appropriate other signs and slogans from neo-nazi groups in other countries. Like - "Armenia for Armenians", as if anyone even threatens this motto.

These new emerging groups and organizations are highly disturbing, but well, Armenians always copy from the Russians -from lifestyle to politics.

What the civil society should work towards is breaking this paradigm of being a bad copy of the worst original.

Onnik Krikorian said...

Unfortunately, the activity of nationalists in Armenia has been on the increase in recent years and in the past six months it's become more noticeable.

They're also very open as well. One of the waiters at an upmarket cafe with wi-fi, for example, has his laptop there which customers can see and sometimes use.

His desktop wallpaper is him making a Nazi salute in front of a giant swastika backdrop. Interestingly, he's a Diasporan. Actually, he's a lousy waiter as well, but anyway.

Back to Avetisian, though. His supporters say he's not anti-semitic. Here's a brilliant quote from his Aryan Union to "prove" the fact:

Martirosian claimed that his boss is not intolerant of the Jewish people. “For example, he has also threatened Georgians with violence and expulsion,” he argued.

Anyway, there is little tolerance in society for anything different and such a phenomenon was bound to emerge. One can only hope that most Armenians will not resort to more drastic measures as a result of their prejudices.

It can only be hoped that tolerance is encouraged and as has been said on your blog before, education is key. Still, with the nationalists becoming more active on Turkey and Azerbaijan, I suspect the opposite will happen.

When nationalism rather than reasoned discussion is encouraged in support of "historical issues" it can only increase and expand to target other "Un-Armenian" groups. And we can thank a mediocre press and civil society for that as well.

nazarian said...

During the past 11-12 years the state propaganda machine has been discrediting the centrist ideologies as defeatist. When the ruling party in Armenia subscribes to neo-nazi ideology and another party in the ruling coalition has right-wing ideology about the ethnic makeup of the country, it is not surprising that the far right would feel encouraged.

Onnik Krikorian said...

Incidentally, I noticed the name "Armen Avetisyan" pop up in another news story:

/PanARMENIAN.Net/ On January 19, 1 500 000 + 1 NGO will organize a march toward the Armenian Genocide Memorial to commemorate Agos newspaper editor Hrant Dink who was assassinated two years ago in Istanbul.

"As Hrant Dink was born in Malatia, the action participants will gather at the stele commemorating those killed in Malatia vilayet of Western Armenia," Armen Avetisyan, 1 500 000 + 1 NGO leader, told a PanARMENIAN.Net reporter.

"This will not be a political action but commemoration of the Great Armenian, Hrant Dink," he said.

I really hope it isn't the same Armen Avetisyan because if it is, they're also using other events to spread their message.

Ironically, if it is the same Avetisyan, the message he wants to spread is totally at odds with that Dink did.

The name of the NGO and the reference to it not being a "political action," makes me suspect the worst.

Does anybody know?

antifa said...

Did Dashnaks join this group? as far as I know the only nazi (national socialist) party in Armenia is dashnaktsutyun. The organizations that you mentioned are only ultra nationalists. They are not and can not be big threat in comparison to dashnaktsutyun because they don't mix the so called nationalistic supremacy to politics or to a political direction.

artmika said...

Antifa, Dashnaks did not join this group. True, so far the latter's influence is insignificant. However, they do attempt mixing their "aryan ideology" with the politics.

Onnik, I tried searching for Armen Avetisyan of "1 500 000 + 1" NGO. No much info re that specific NGO too. On the other hand, I checked Aryans' website, and they do not have info on the action you cited. So, may be they are not the same people, not sure though.

Anonymous said...

More Nationalism is needed, I am glad there are Armenians standing up for their own. 88 Misht Hay

artmika said...

To Anonymous: ...and what will happen if others in their countries "stand up for their own"? What will happen with Armenians there? And not only Armenians...