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Monte Melkonian: Times of Slander

Seta Kabranian Melkonian

For many years, every June 12th and November 25th, I have been sending Hetq.am a writing dedicated to Monte.

These writings often include an excerpt from Monte's letters. Rarely, considering the relevance of the content, I have included a long quote to keep Monte's words in context. Usually, it is not difficult to find timely quotes in Monte's letters. However, this time seems to be an exception.

On September 15th and 16th, standing in front of audiences in California, I expressed hope that all is not lost, that with hard work an independent Artsakh could still be saved. Moreover, the Artsakh people’s right to self-determination could be brought to international platforms. Only a few days later, Artsakh was savagely thrown aside like a crumpled piece of paper.

Monte never lost hope even in the most difficult situations. Perhaps it was our love and perseverance, the bright sliver of hope, which throughout the years helped both Monte and me to overcome trials and difficulties.

Now, trying to imagine Monte’s reaction to the current situation, an indescribable sadness, disappointment and even anger prevails. Indifference is not compatible with Monte. He did not discriminate when it came to country, people, the oppressed, be it in Artsakh or Palestine. Monte fought against all injustices and supported the rights of all the oppressed.

Sometimes I filled the gap that resulted from Monte selflessness. In a letter sent from Shahumian region of Artsakh on 4 November 1991, he wrote: "What are you doing? Do you have time for your studies? I feel bad thinking about how much work I’ve left on you."

The responsibility of keeping Monte's words alive is now on me. But Monte’s achievements are a legacy to the people. Over the years, various presidents of the republics of Armenia and Artsakh have awarded his legacy with state medals and awards.

In recent years, probably as a tool for psychological oppression, Monte’s name has been banned in various international social media networks. People are subjected to censorship and their right to free speech is violated. However, there seems to be no tangible government approach to this issue. To date, no official representative has contacted me or any member of our family to discuss the issue. Forget about our psychological and emotional upheavals.

The ban on any information about Monte is allegedly related to his membership in ASALA, an organization Monte left forty years ago denouncing it publicly in the Western media. Monte believed that the lives of the innocent had to be preserved at all costs, regardless of their ethnicity. In a writing authored with his comrades, it is noted: "Although Turkish diplomats are worthy targets for attacks, none of their family members should become victims if they do not serve the Turkish regime. Moreover, family members should not be deliberately targeted."

Referring to specific circumstances, including an operation allegedly carried out by Monte, it is explained that "... the main target was the diplomat, but due to last minute circumstances or mistakes (?) one or more family members were sacrificed."

Monte never spoke about any operations he may have carried out. And if mistakes were made during his activity, he only learned from them and made sure not to repeat them.

His compassion for Azeri civilians is also proof of that. For the record, let me reiterate again, Monte did not take part in the Kojali battles. Monte's enemies can attribute many things to him, but it is impossible to prove what did not occur. Such attributions remain in the realm of gossip and slander: something Monte never tolerated.

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