ARS Issues Open Letter To AGBU And Armenian Assembly


Feb 12th, 2010

The Armenian Relief Society (ARS) on Friday issued an open letter to
the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) and the Armenian Assembly
calling for clarification over reports that the two organizations had
sought the exclusion of the ARS from a scheduled meeting about the
Armenia-Turkey protocols with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
and a select group of Armenian American organization. We provide the
statement below:

Two weeks ago, it was announced that the U.S. State Department had
invited a select group of Armenian American organizations to a meeting
to discuss the Turkish-Armenian protocols and related topics, leaving
out several other organizations. On many occasions, the Armenian
Relief Society, which will celebrate the 100th anniversary of its
humanitarian work this year, has participated in discussions with
the U.S. administration on matters of central importance to Armenians.

Therefore, the ARS wrote an official letter to the State Department
requesting, as the largest women’s organization in the U.S. and the
Armenian Diaspora, to participate in the meeting.

In the past few days, we were surprised to learn from the press that
the AGBU leadership in the U.S. had expressed its opposition to the
participation of the ARS in this meeting. The news was followed by
a press release circulated by the Armenian Assembly-and bearing the
signature of the AGBU as well-regarding the meeting with the State
Department and Armenian American representation with convoluted

Whereas the Turkish-Armenian protocols are not an issue of concern
to solely this or that Armenian organization or group, as they deal
with a central national matter,

Whereas the right to decide on the Armenian community’s representatives
to meet with the U.S. administration is up to Armenian Americans as
a whole, and no organization, group, or individual can reserve to
themselves the right to choose those representatives, thereby playing
a divisive role in the community,

Whereas discussing such issues behind closed doors complicates matters
and lends itself to unnecessary polemics,

Whereas the ARS has always been and will continue to be open with
the people and has nothing to hide from it,

We therefore ask the leadership of the AGBU and the Armenian Assembly
to publicly clarify their position regarding the ARS.

In our letter addressed to the U.S. State Department, we did not
ask to replace any organization and we did not make any allegations
about any organization. It is our sincere hope that the reports about
the position of the AGBU, the positions expressed on its behalf, and
the attributions made to the AGBU regarding the steps it has taken,
are untrue. We hope that it will become clear that this episode is
nothing more than an effort by non-Armenian circles to impose the
ratification of the protocols on the Armenians and Armenia, and to sow
divisions among Armenian Americans on the eve of the 95th anniversary
of the Armenian Genocide. We also hope that the necessary corrections
will ensue.

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