By Hagop Vartivarian
NEW YORK —More than 20 years ago, a handful of New Yorkers, largely young Armenians, inspired by the Karabagh liberation movement, created the Karabagh Committee. They set to work in the American-Armenian community to educate and raise awareness about the plight of the Armenians in Karabagh. Part of the scope of the committee’s work was securing substantial financial donations to aid victims of the war and to assist the movement.
The Karabagh Committee worked tirelessly, gathering support from Armenians from various countries and all walks of life. This work of unifying the community for a cause was met with great success as they received support not only from major philanthropists, but on the grassroots level.
One of the young and dedicated organizers living in New Jersey, Andreas Roubian, came to be the leader of this group of heroes, and his home became the site of the meetings for years. Meetings with influential representatives from Armenia, Karabagh, the US and Russia, as well as with American-Armenian activists, also took place at Roubian’s home. In addition to the meetings, collection campaigns and social gatherings were organized by the committee.
While it is not possible to make any comparison with the youth of Karabagh and Armenia fighting for the liberation of Karabagh at the cost of their own lives, the work of the Karabagh Committee of New York, including the large sums it raised and sent to Karabagh, should be recognized, as well as their raising of awareness, which provided significant aid and comfort to this same youth as well as essential aid to victims of the fighting. At a time in which the Soviet Union was in its death throes, this support was a lifeline, and praise is due to the Armenian-American patriots who pressed on.
In addition to the financial support, many of the committee members, including Roubain, risked their own lives to travel in this war-torn region in order to ensure aid was being properly utilized. He also documented on film frontline activities which were presented to capacity crowds in the greater New York area. Without a doubt, one day, in order to do justice to the great work done by these men, the activities of the Karabagh Committee will be written down in the annals of history.