Saturday, December 18, 2004

The following is a letter I sent off to the members and committees of Parliament that had e-mail addresses:

Dear Members of Parliament,

I am writing to you to encourage you to vote AGAINST the deployment of Armenian troops to Iraq.

My name is Ara Khachig Manoogian. I am an American-born Armenian, who permanently resides in Artsakh, Martuni. I am the grandson of Vahan “Ivan” Manoogian, born in Dilijan, Armenia. My grandfather left his home in 1915 as part of the Tsar’s army, and later joined a group of fedais who went on to defend the Armenians of Erzerum and Van. As a result of my grandfathers’ service to the Armenian people, upon his return to Bolshevik Armenia, like many of his fellow fedais, he would have been executed for his desertion of the Russian army and was forced to seek refuge elsewhere.

Like many others, my grandfather and grandmother (who was a refugee from Van), were welcomed by the people of Iraq, who opened their country to thousands of Armenians in their greatest time of need and allowed them to live a free and prosperous life.

Though my immediate family has left Iraq, quite a few relatives remain in the country. From them I’ve received reports that their lives after the US occupation have changed for the worse, but they have not been treated any different than their fellow Iraqi’s until recent news of the possible Armenian deployment of troops.

The Armenians of Iraq have stood by Armenia’s side following independence. They have a strong understanding that Armenians must support each other, especially those who are vulnerable. Today, our most vulnerable compatriots are the 25,000 Iraqi Armenians. Like members of other ethnic groups that are represented In the Coalition that is occupying Iraq, Armenians could face the dangers of kidnapping and death as a direct result of the deployment of Armenian troops.

Armenia will receive nothing in the way of benefits for this ill-advised deployment. If anything, the deployment will increase the distance between Armenia and a Europe that is overwhelmingly opposed to the U.S. occupation. Will Armenia send troops to Iraq now, when the resistance is escalating, and European coalition members are trying desperately to get out of Iraq?

Armenian history has recorded many instances where choices have been made which have caused suffering to our people. The deployment of Armenian troops to Iraq, if it should happen, will be one of those unwise choices. The people of Armenia overwhelmingly reject this deployment. Please do not add your names to the list of those responsible for the further suffering of Armenians in Iraq. I again urge you to vote AGAINST the Armenian troop deployment.


Ara Khachig Manoogian
Artsakh, Martuni

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