Commentary: A New Frontier

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By Edmond Y. Azadian

Democracy is the most potent yet the most fragile philosophy. It can contribute to justice and equality in society, or it may turn into a weapon of abuse in the hands of demagogues. The Armenian Democratic Liberal (ADL) organization has been a part of diasporan community life for almost 90 years — and in the aftermath of Armenia’s independence, it has also been introduced in the political life of the homeland. But after 70 years of a one-party dictatorship, it was unrealistic that society there would be democratized overnight. That is why nascent political forces in Armenia tried aggressively to disrupt or alienate the traditional Armenian political parties.
All three political parties — the ADL, Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) and the Hunchak Party — had their share of tribulations in Armenia. The ARF experienced a rebound and was able to occupy its place in Armenia’s political life. The ADL was splintered and the fallout came to shake the very foundations and the structure of the organization, not only in Armenia but in the diaspora.

There were, of course, some opportunists, waiting in the wings, to exploit the moment to promote some selfish agendas, in terms of personal ambitions and profit or just to serve the outside forces, which benefited from the organization’s weaknesses and divisions.

The problems started just around the period when Armenia regained its independence. But despite many hurdles, the organization was able to garner enough strength to have 21 members in the parliament. It also began to publish its daily newspaper Azg, which became a beacon of democratic ideals and which for the first time introduced Western journalistic norms and traditions in Armenia.

Last but not least, the organization built its first-ever diaspora-Armenian cultural center through its cultural arm — the Tekeyan Cultural Association.

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These success stories did not jibe well with the plans of its adversaries, which began to plot against the ADL, with the willing cooperation of certain disloyal members hidden within the ranks of the organization.

One person in particular was used as a front by two dark forces, which were intent on destroying the ADL. One group represented the perennial adversaries of the organization and the other group comprised some disgruntled members who had an axe to grind with the leadership of the organization, which in its 50 years of history, had its outstanding achievements.

The plot to implode the organization from within began three years ago in Athens, where a general assembly was held in the absence of most of its chapters, placing the results of the convocation under a cloud of illegality.
A plan was put into motion to punish, expel or suspend leaders and members who had shaped the history of the organization.

A campaign to usurp the assets of the organization was also unleashed. A business partner of the most vociferous opponent of the ADL from within had already caused the foreclosure of a piece of property in Los Angeles. That person went to court in Armenia to take over the ownership of the daily Azg, but he failed miserably.

The last charade took place last April in Amman, Jordan, where opponents tried to stage a general assembly, from which the majority of the regions and members shied away. And in the absence of a majority, that person “re-elected” himself as the chairman of the Central Committee of the ADL. The assembly was nothing but a farce and the results were invalid.

This group, which has isolated itself from the general membership, continues its ludicrous presumptions and contention by its “punitive” actions without any legal power to do so.

Throughout these developments, many well-intentioned members tried to patch up the differences, to unify the organization by keeping the in-fighting from spilling over to the general public, but to no avail.

Now history has proved that everything had happened for a reason. Thus, the minority of the troublemakers have isolated themselves. And all the genuine forces have come together to rejuvenate the organization.

The restructuring of the ADL coincides with the re-emergence of the Armenagan-ADL Party in Armenia, where members of the new organization will congregate on October 3.

These new developments have generated tremendous enthusiasm. Many regional representatives and individual members from around the world will converge on Yerevan to lend their support to the Armenagan-ADL Party and coordinate their activities with the homeland to recreate a network of politically-active groups around the globe contributing to the goals and aspirations of Armenia.

The isolated group is already in a panic trying to make some noise bigger than itself.
October 3 will prove to be a watershed for the revival of the ADL in Armenia so that it can continue carrying on its traditional mission.

A new frontier for the organization is in the making.

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