My name is Aroutin Hartounian, and I am the president of the Unified Young Armenians (UYA), a 501 (c) 3 non-profit youth organization based in City of Glendale which for over a decade has tirelessly worked for the promotion of human rights, including but not limited to bringing forth the issue of the Armenian Genocide and demanding justice for this most heinous crime against the mankind.
Many within the community are aware of my background, my work, and my involvement in a number of organizations including the Rotary, the Glendale Police Department’s Community Police Partnership Advisory Committee (C-PPAC), and others. Many are also aware that as the president of the Unified Young Armenians, I am responsible for organizing a number of Armenian Genocide commemoration events in Southern California.
As an alumni of Glendale Community College, I was disheartened to see the “letter to editor” published in El Vaquero titled “Armenians Have Achieved Some, Not All, Goals.” The ideas put forth in the letter concerning the Armenian Genocide and the quest for historical justice was at a minimum ludicrous. At worst, the article was racist and filled with hatred vis-à-vis the Armenian community. It was an uneducated, unprofessional, and futile attempt at altering history. The ideas presented in that article were in line with the denialist and hatemongering propaganda of the governments of Turkey and Azerbaijan, their paid lobbyists, and their allies.
Secondly and more importantly, the letter published both in the electronic and paper copy of the El Vaquero was attributed to “Aroutin Hartounian,” which matched both my first and my last names. It is noteworthy that in the recent past, there have been numerous amateurish yet concentrated efforts made in an effort to discredit me, my work of over a decade, and my beliefs which have been very clearly put forth in a number of forums, including during the various events, in a number of articles, and as apparent from the official position of Unified Young Armenians. This “letter to editor” is a continuation of the futile attempts to discredit me. For the sake of clarity, while the name of the individual alleged to have written that article matches both my first name and last name, I have NOT written this article and I do NOT agree with any part of that article.
It is professional and good faith practice for any newspaper to first verify the identity of the individuals sending in the “letter to editor” by contacting him or her via phone, asking his or her address, etc., before publishing a piece. While El Vaquero does not have any such verification procedure in place, this unfortunate episode will perhaps serve as a learning experience for the paper and it will hopefully revise its policy as it pertains to the publishing of such letters.
Returning to the article itself, if such an individual with the exact first and last name in fact does exist, and he holds such outlandish and racist ideas and beliefs, this surely would be a whole different topic to consider. In that case, we should categorize that letter as a futile attempt at a short lived publicity and fame. However, to combat such moral decay, as a society we would need to bring potent anti-racism programs back to our schools. That, of course will be the best case scenario.
In a second scenario, unless there is another individual with the same first and last name who the El Vaquero can successfully verify to have written this racist piece, this is nothing but a pure crime of identity theft. Surely, using the modern law enforcement tools, using the IP address logged in the email which the “letter to editor” was sent, the criminal will be found and will be brought to justice.
However, it is noteworthy that this is NOT a first. This latest act of desperation comes only days after attempts to create fake profiles on facebook and other social media networks bearing my information. This attempt also bears the same modus operandi of a number of entities which we have closely monitored in the last years. In one such episode, hackers from Azerbaijan hacked my personal accounts and attempted to publicize my personal and private information.
On a more positive note, I want to thank the City of Glendale, the Glendale Community College, and the communities living the Southern California who have been supportive of Unified Young Armenians and the mission which it has pursued. Because of the amazing work of the justice seeking individuals around the world, the Armenian Genocide has received wider recognition by governments, scholars, and institutions. Today, more than ever, the world is condemning the Turkish Government for committing the most heinous crime of Genocide against the Armenians, Greeks, and Assyrians. Furthermore, unlike the author of the “letter to editor” titled “Armenians Have Achieved Some, Not All, Goals,” today the world properly condemns the Turkish Government for the crimes of those leading it during the Armenian Genocide, from 1896 to 1923. A heinous crime was committed. As there are no statutes of limitation for the crime of murder when one person is killed, how can any entity have the audacity to say that the murder of more than 1,500,000 people should be treated less severely? There was a crime, and therefore there must be a punishment. The Turkish Government must be brave enough to accept its past and pay just reparations to the Armenians, Greeks, and Assyrians. The modern Turkish Government has been unjustly enriched by illegally taking over the belongings of the Armenians, Greeks, and Assyrians. Under any fair legal system, the victims of unjust enrichment must be placed in the same position as they were before they were subjected to that crime.
It is especially significant that while the governments of Turkey and Azerbaijan, and their allies, are spending millions of dollars on lobbyists in United States to alter history, brave and righteous Turkish scholars, activists and authors are supporting the recognition of the Armenian Genocide and are calling for the payment of just reparations, a position which is shared by me and my friends and colleagues at Unified Young Armenians.
Lastly, we are confident that it is the firm and widespread support of Unified Young Armenians by the public, elected officials, academics, and organizations that creates the sense of jealousy and desperation which leads to such childish attempts. Such attempts can only strengthen our resolve. We pledge to continue our work with ever greater dedication, vigor, and commitment.
Unified Young Armenians (UYA)
EDITOR’S NOTE: Numerous attempts have been made on El Vaquero’s end to contact the writer of the last issue’s letter in question but that person has not replied.
Due to the unfortunate circumstances in UYA President Aroutin Hartounian’s letter, it has been determined that the previous submission policy must be updated and strengthened to prevent similar matters from happening again. Please refer to the new submission policy on the bottom left corner of page two in the May 15 issue of El Vaquero.