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