Armenian American lawyer: “Artsakh is a holy place for every Armenian”

Hayern Aysor’s correspondent sat down for an interview with President of the Unified Young Armenians Organization of Glendale Harutyun Harutyunyan.

Harutyun Harutyunyan obtained his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of California-Los Angeles and went on to obtain his PhD in Law at Southwestern Law School. He continued working at Garo Ghazarian’s law firm and then opened the Law Office of Harutyun Harutyunyan. He is a founding member of the Glendale Law Group and executive director of the Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee.

Hayern Aysor: Mr. Harutyunyan, what was the motive behind the creation of the Unified Young Armenians Organization?

Harutyun Harutyunyan: The Unified Young Armenians Organization is an independent organization that was established in 2001 with a march/demonstration organized in the Little Armenia District in Los Angeles.

When we were establishing the organization, our goal was to speak out about the issues concerning young Armenians in order to give positive solutions to those issues. Wherever we notice anti-Armenian moods, we immediately respond, counterinfluence and take adequate steps.

The Organization fights for condemnation and recognition of the Armenian Genocide and the injustices against other nations (Darfur, Sudan). We also take action for the solution to issues related to the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Due to our efforts, in 2014, the California State Senate recognized Artsakh’s independence and its right to self-determination.

We have carried out many different kinds of activities throughout the past decade. As is known, the administration of the Americana in Glendale refused to allocate an area for posting a billboard devoted to the screening of the Armenian Genocide film “Architects of Denial”, and our organization also helped solve this issue. We have organized protests against Ramil Safarov, the Azerbaijani who axed Armenian officer Gurgen Margaryan in his sleep in Budapest. We have also participated in the elections for Mayor of Glendale.

In 2007, we opened an Armenian school that is free of charge and offers courses devoted to Armenian language, history and culture. We started with 5 students and now have 70.

Hayern Aysor: How many people are involved in the fight for justice? Who can join the organization?

Harutyun Harutyunyan: Throughout the years, we have registered over 700 Armenians of all ages and from different countries. Our doors are always open for everyone. We are ready to collaborate with any interested individual or organization wishing to collaborate with us.

The Consulate of the Republic of Armenia in Glendale is also in close collaboration with our organization.

Hayern Aysor: What motivates you?

Harutyun Harutyunyan: I think it all started with the youth movement. There was a gap that needed to be filled. It was necessary to consolidate the community and not let young Armenians become detached from their roots. It was necessary to connect them to Armenia and engage them in the efforts for preservation of the Armenian identity. If we young Armenians don’t take such steps and state our claims, then who will?

My legal background helps me a lot on the job. In fact, most of the leaders of the organization are lawyers.

Hayern Aysor: What is the current priority objective of the organization?

Harutyun Harutyunyan: Currently, the major item on our agenda is the issue of renaming one of the streets of Glendale after Artsakh. We are making efforts in this direction with the support of four Armenian political figures in Glendale.

Two years ago, our organization and current Mayor of Glendale Vartan Gharpetian managed to present the issue to the relevant bodies. I fully hope we announce the news about this major event in a couple of months.

Hayern Aysor: Mr. Harutyunyan, how do you feel when you say ��?Artsakh’?

Harutyun Harutyunyan: I am certain that Artsakh is a holy place for every Armenian and a place that we must maintain at any price and through combined efforts.

We follow the events taking place in Armenia and Artsakh from a distance. We don’t want to see any territory returned, but we want to ensure a peaceful life for our generations. Through our actions, we need to force the adversaries to keep silent and acknowledge the fact that Artsakh has been and always will be an Armenian territory. The Four-Day Artsakh War taught us a lot.

Hayern Aysor: To what extent has the Unified Young Armenians Organization been maintaining its ties with Armenia throughout its existence?

Harutyun Harutyunyan: Armenia and the Armenian people are always in our focus whether we visit Armenia or not. We hope we pay regular visits to Armenia in the future and strengthen our cooperation with the Homeland.

Until now, we have thought about making the Armenian community of Los Angeles stronger and more consolidated. We are concerned about Armenia’s development and want to see many positive changes in the Homeland, and only through coordinated efforts will we be able to achieve success.

During my visit to Armenia, I had a meeting with Minister of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia Hranush Hakobyan, who attached importance to our organization’s active and pro-national activities and stated that our organization received a certificate of appreciation of the Ministry of Diaspora for its faithful and effective efforts for development of the Armenia-Diaspora partnership, as well as recognition and consolidation of the Armenian Genocide.

Interview by Gevorg Chichyan

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