Zhirayr Sefilian’s Speech
Armenian Volunteers Unit, Yerevan, Armenia -- December 19, 2006
As you know, the first gathering undertaken by the “Hai Kamavorakanneri Hamakhmbum” [Assembly of Armenian Volunteers] was followed by the arrests of Jirair Sefilian, the coordinator of this initiative, and Vardan Malkhasian, a member of the Assembly, the search of the Assembly's central office, and the interrogation of certain members.
Presented below is the verbatim transcription of the tape-recorded speech made by Jirair Sefilian, coordinator of the initiative known as “Hai Kamavorakanneri Hamakhmbum,” at the above-mentioned gathering. This speech is the basis of the criminal case.
First, I wish to introduce Ara (meeting chair). Arayik Hairapetian is the son of our killed comrade, Major Hairapetian.
In recent years, generally speaking, we have come forth with statements basically recalling, accentuating the events pertaining to the liberated territories. But, as we noted, just with the appeal of our declaration we have already emerged from those narrow circles and can conceive of engaging, in every sense, in all national issues of ours. During those years, many people approached us and asked, “Boys, is it really true that they [the NKR and/or RA government] wish to return the territories?” I wish to answer that question now and thereafter let's agree to not speak about it. There have been occasions, we have stated through the press, likewise I'm repeating now; we will smash, crack open the head of whoever dares to surrender land, and, believe me, there are many individuals in our country who will do that.
Let's move on. Let's not talk further about the liberated territories. As our comrade Aghayan stressed, in saying “Hai Kamavorakan,” we do not just mean those having participated in the war; likewise I wish to underscore that, because that's how we began our work. We did not start with just participants in the war. Here I also wish to touch upon this to say that, unfortunately, today we don't need the majority of the war participants. I say this with much pain but that is the truth. Namely, the qualitative characteristics of the war participants are not sufficient for us today in order for us to be able to win this war. Today we are facing a much more serious, difficult issue; therefore, our quality must be much higher than what it was 14 years ago.
Therefore, we must place the emphasis on our becoming organized. Thoughts were expressed periodically in speeches given here that “it's enough to talk about what to do. Let's not discriminate among means.” I agree, truly, let's not discriminate, but let's first become organized. The reason why our country has been in this condition for these past 14 years is the absence of an organized force, which is essentially guided by national ideas, national values; such a force doesn't exist; such an organized force doesn't exist.
There are such individuals; our task is to immediately find, assemble and organize such persons. We don't see getting organized without discipline. We must have conscious discipline, the kind we had in 1990, 1988 or 1992, whereby no one forced us to stand in volunteer lines.
I was quite young in 1992; the majority of the members of our military unit, our detachments, were perhaps twice my age, but I didn't force those men to come
and stand in line before me, they had come voluntarily, they knew that it wasn't possible to create an army without standing in line. Today likewise we must achieve that same emotional state. All of us must reach the point of standing in line. If we don't get to that emotional state, no task can be accomplished.
As a nation, we have many positive aspects as well as negative aspects, of course. One of those is that all of us love our own private home – I'm referring to the micro house – very much. We transform our family into our fortress; our home is our fortress, and I'm convinced that this causes great harm in terms of solving our serious national problems. The time has come for us to consider the macro house – I'm referring to the fatherland – as our home; namely, as long as we don't realize that we need to make sacrifices to build the macro house, it is meaningless to maintain, protect the micro house. It is my conviction that we, yes, if you please, our family, we Armenians . . . don't have respect for . . . but without fail we must work for our house, each one of us according to his ability. One can put in 2 hours a day, another 1 hour. One can put in 2 days a week, each of us according to his limit, without f ail, but we must take some sort of step, engage in some sort of operation, in order to build the macro house. If this consciousness does not prevail, we won't make progress. One of the important reasons for our assembly is also that we wish to find persons who won't sell out. Are there such persons in our country? I am asking you, are there? [ shouts of “Yes, yes” in the hall ]. Is there anyone who won't sell out for millions? [ shouts of “Yes, thank God, there are” in the hall ]. Let's find those persons. Imagine, there is nothing more powerful on this earth than a man of ideology. A hundred men of ideology can overturn mountains. Let's find those individuals.
I'm convinced that they exist in Armenia; they're not in the political arena; basically there may be exceptions in the political arena but, for the most part, they are in their homes, sitting quietly, not saying anything. Disillusioned, they are caught up in their own hopes/emotions [ indiscernible; similar sounding words in Armenian ], both physically and mentally. Let's find those persons. Our task, the task of this assembly, is to seek out, discover and, of course, immediately organize those individuals. I stress again, until we get organized, no task can move forward. By repeating, “Kocharian, Serge, resign,” they will not resign; these persons will not resign as a result of peaceful demonstrations; I assure you, they will not resign because of external pressure. If we get organized and are able to create a qualitatively serious force, they will resign. [ shouts of “Isn't it too late?” from the hall ] It is never too late, until the point where we are . . . it's not too late. In terms of our national ideals, we still have many plans to carry out, and I am optimistic in this regard.
The Artskah liberation war bears witness to the fact that we were finally able to turn the wheel of history in the opposite direction for the first time in 2000 years, and we shall continue to turn that wheel in that direction. Of course, we did not wage war in order to see the present-day situation; we did not wage war for this present-day immoral, hideous, perverted situation, one in which our people are enslaved, oppressed and impoverished. This causes us pain, but what can I say? Perhaps things had to get this bad before we came to our senses. Perhaps.
Many of my friends made a point of saying “let's not blame the ruling authorities.” I fully share their opinion. The Robiks [Roberts] and the Sergiks [Serges] are not to blame; they are simply the representatives of the dregs of our nation and they are doing their despicable thing. There's nothing surprising in this, nor is it blameworthy. We must blame ourselves – Where are we? Why aren't we getting organized? All of us are generals; each one of us is a separate general.
This is one of our Armenian illnesses. Every Armenian is a general; indeed, I'm of the opinion that all of us are this way qualitatively, but let's realize that today we also have a problem with serving as soldiers. You're a general but come and say, “My dear friend, at this moment I have come to serve as a soldier.” If we can rediscover this consciousness in us, our work will move forward. It won't do to constantly argue with each other, saying, “This is the correct way, that is the correct way, this won't do, this idea, that idea.” Let's place our trust in a group of men. If you trust in me and have come here today, then let's continue to maintain that trust and work together. Let each of us serve within our limits.
My friend forgot to mention that I wished to give the opportunity for those who have questions to ask them and I'll answer. Let me express another thought and then we'll move on to questions. Chiefly, our assembly has two so-called tasks: one is long-range; the other, short-term. I would qualify the long-range task as strategic, the short-term one as tactical. The long-term one is for us to be able to eventually create an ideological army, an idealized political unit, in our country, in which national-ideological values, national values, also Christian, spiritual values, which we have inherited from our forefathers, shall rule. In the final analysis, let me say succinctly: morality must be pivotal in our ideology, and all our plans must be derived from morality. I deem that we Armenians are in this shape, this pitiful situation today not only inArmeniabut all over the world, because we have drifted far from our essence.
Our essence has been morality. I cannot substantiate this in writing, I feel this genetically, that we Armenians, genetically, thousands of years ago in our past, our essence was morality. We have strayed, and that's why we are in this condition today. We have earned our present-day wretchedness, the present-day slavery of our people. Let's correct ourselves. Therefore, the long-range task of this assembly is to eventually start a national ideological movement, and to tender it with a political unit, and to gradually solve all our problems. But it can take a few years for us to accomplish this. Until this takes place, let's not expect qualitative changes.
But we have one most important task, which is to get rid of these authorities; that is to say, we must get organized in these next few months to the point where we will be able to prevent the reproduction of these individuals because if they become reproduced, we will have serious difficulty in accomplishing our long-range task. After being reproduced, these monsters will be much more dangerous. In these next few months, it is very important for us to become organized.
Along with organizing ourselves, why not also organize the opposition to a certain extent. Let it be such, that the tactics of struggle waged by the opposition this time around produce results to a certain extent. Why not, let's imagine that the more we become organized, the more we can make the opposition see our point of view, initially by talking to them and, if necessary, by striking fear in, imposing our will on them as well, why not, that depends on us.
I can't do anything alone; we can't do anything with fifty people; we must be numerous, so we can impose our word on the opposition too. Today we have more to say, and we have more of a task of explaining, when it comes to the opposition, as opposed to the authorities. It is meaningless to give qualifications about the ruling regime, and neither do I want to delve into the awful situation prevailing in our country today.
I consider it meaningless to enumerate the realms one by one, because we all know them, and we all agree on them. In this sense, I can specify one thing, that for the first time the Armenian in his own country, on his own soil – I'm not a historian, I don't know if it happened in the past – that the Armenian, for the first time, is being assimilated on his own soil. Today, many of our youths are becoming assimilated inYerevan; they are growing up as Armenians in name only but they are not Armenians in essence. This indicates, in my opinion, that the knife has already reached the bone.
If there are questions, I am prepared to answer them.
Again I wish to touch on the appeals of our friends in the movement: “let's not spare any means, let's not discriminate among means.” I agree, but let's first get organized. Speaking about us solving the problem by taking up arms, I find that meaningless. Let's not speak today about how we will be able to remove these people [from power], to start with, and then solve serious matters concerning our country. I want us not to think at all about means in the coming months, not to discuss means and not argue among ourselves; let's just get organized. It is meaningless to talk without being organized.
We've been having conversations for ten years and today we see that every day brings a new group into the political arena. Yes, those who say, “We should sweep up, wipe the field clean,” are well meaning, but how? Go and wipe it clean, let's see, how are you going to wipe Robert Kocharian away, how? Who are you fooling? What are you suggesting? Taking the people toBaghramian Streetfor the umpteenth time where they will get beat up again and we won't be able to defend them?
This is literally absurd. I don't wish to criticize anybody. Rather, I want us, all of us gathered here, to understand each other, that until we get organized, until we become a few thousand in number and learn to stand up and sit down like one person, nothing will happen, we will not be able to do anything. Moreover, concerning your trust in me, for which I am thankful to all of you, as well as for your presence here today, I assure you that I am aware of the responsibility, the load that we shall take upon ourselves, I am aware of my responsibility, and we shall make this assembly of ours succeed without fail. It is possible that we will limp as we walk but we will succeed without fail. And I am convinced that God is with us.
Translated by Aris G. Sevag