Azad-Hye Dubai 06 May 2006
Giragos Kuyumjian is one of the prominent members of the Kuwaiti Armenian community. He has been active in the last two decades, not only in the Armenian community, but also in the Arab press, where he has signed dozens of significant articles mostly on Armenian subjects (history, politics, literature, etc.).
During the latest visit of His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of Cilicia, to Kuwait (November 2005), Kuyumjian wished to inform the Catholicos on the present situation of the Armenian community in Kuwait and the difficulties the members are facing, especially in the administrative domain. He prepared a letter in Armenian language and handed it over to His Holiness during the above visit.
Although generally speaking the visit of Catholicos Aram I to Kuwait was considered - in terms of contacts with the Kuwaiti officials and the presentation of the Armenian subjects to the journalists - a successful one, nevertheless this success did not have any impact in resolving inner problems of Kuwaiti Armenians, some deeply rooted in the existing structure.
Kuyumjian notices that the public figures in the Kuwaiti Armenian community are forming groups of influence, pursuing their own benefits, thus wasting the time of the other members and burdening the meetings with trivial issues.
He believes that this and other negative aspects in the community could be corrected only with the direct intervention of Catholicos Aram.
Kuyumjian refers to the malpractice of assigning people with no qualification to important positions in the community. He says that efficient individuals are being excluded from the public life and the stage is occupied with those who have moderate capabilities. As a result, community life quality is deteriorating. Same persons are being `elected' to the same or similar positions, thus projecting the impression that there are no new talents.
The authoritarian aspects of community rule are shown when the decisions taken during official meetings are replaced with other decisions, tailored by people of influence.
Another deadly aspect of the society, Kuyumjian says, is the `hidden or sometimes even noticeable tendency of ignoring each other'. The result is that hundreds of Armenians are left out and their capabilities are ignored, without giving them the chance to bring any benefit to the society.
Kuyumjian concludes his thoughts be underlining the need for `genuine reforms'. He regrets that no development has been achieved in community life during the last period. Only few acts of individual bravery have been recorded.
Kuyumjian pleads to the Catholicos `to wipe up and burn once and for all the thorns and shrubs that are spreading under the fruitful trees of our national orchard starting from Kuwait'.
He believes that Kuwaiti Armenians can serve as a model for reforms, if only the Catholicos acknowledges the existing situation and gives the signal for long awaited changes.
________________________________________ Below is Giragos Kuyumjian's translated letter. See original Armenian letter at the end of the English translation.
To His Holiness Aram I Catholicos of Cilicia
The Armenians of Kuwait had been the first organized and active progressive community in the Gulf and enjoyed a good reputation for long. Unfortunately, this process that lasted for several decades, has not reached to the point of genuine maturity, a fact that is highlighted every year with recurring setbacks.
Regrettably, we are all witnesses of the prevailing undesirable conditions. A general hopeless view is nestling inside many of us, according to which it is not possible to confront the declining trend of events.
With overwhelming zeal, I would like to mention herein several phenomena, against which I cannot remain silent or inactive, leaving matters to sheer luck or fate, especially that the issues under perspective need your serious and decisive intervention.
I have been dealing with community affairs for more than two decades now, during which I have been closely following the affairs concerning the society, maintaining always the hope that the main issues concerning our community will be eventually resolved and open new horizons in front of our new generations and prosperous community life.
Sadly, I have noticed that the issues under discussion, are not only remaining without solution, but also they are adding new complications to the already existing one (examples are abundant). Thus the Armenians of this country are facing more difficulties & challenges:
Please allow me to elaborate:
1- In order to lead a public life, it is important to be organized in a way that each individual undertakes a certain responsibility, under the general understanding of pursuing common goals. This organized effort, however, becomes an objective in itself and ceases to provide any benefit to the community, if the participating individuals start forming distinctive groups of people. In that case, others who are outside this group are under the risk to be disadvantaged, ignored and rejected.
Such tendency to form group cliques leads to antagonism, as individuals will be easily carried away with intense feelings of blind revenge and changing temperaments. They always and intentionally waste the time of the other members and the official meetings with trivial matters, harm the efforts of achieving harmony amongst the different elements of the society and lead the step of the public life: church, school, unions, etc. from one failure to another.
The remedy of this phenomenon that has taken firm roots in our community cannot be done without the intervention of Your Holiness, because it has come to the level of endangering the future of the community.
2- Supported individuals in leading positions are used to intervene in all fields, without taking into consideration any limit or right to do so. Moreover, they continue to deal with the national establishments as if they were dealing with their own possessions, by arbitrarily appointing the members of different national councils, without evaluating their qualifications or what they have achieved in practical life to get the said positions. As a result, efficient individuals are excluded from public positions and are replaced with individuals who are void of personal opinion, ready to say yes and no according to what is required from them, thus exhibiting excellent flexibility towards the desires of their sponsors. Individuals with moderate capabilities and low ceiling ambitions are pushed forwards. Our national structure has become a playing toy in the hands of such people, who - it is painful to admit - have the support and blessing of some of our political and religious higher circles.
The appointing and especially the selection of the Chairmen of the various councils is continuing to take place in the most inherited manner. As if there are no other personalities with capacity and intelligence in this community. The same names are mentioned in the community bodies, inheriting the positions from one session to another, just changing their assistants or deputies in the course of this rotation. Sometimes certain reshuffling of positions may take place, but still this happens within the circle of the same group of people. Due to political interference, some loud-speaking personalities may occupy the stage, displaying their pompous characters. The masses are not able anymore to recognize its leadership. It is not clear who decides what: The National Council, the Diocesan Council, the Prelacy, etc. The majority of the members of the above bodies also do not recognize their duties and rights and they are not certain about the sphere of their influence. The implementation of the greater part of the decisions taken during these meetings is not guaranteed. On the contrary, entirely different decisions are adopted by influence (dictatorial principles and no democracy at all).
3- A hidden or sometimes even obvious tendency of ignoring each other is prevailing in the community, something that has started from the days of Archbishop Father Oshagan. It is a policy that has served the targets of those who have started it, but which had and continues to have harmful implications on the society. As a consequence dozens, if not hundreds, of powerful, graduate high dignity generous Armenians have stayed away from the mainstream community life, because they have not found the necessary respect, consideration and sympathy. It is regretful that the persons behind this harmful tactic still have under their disposal all the opportunities and means to continue their destructive behaviour. Only with Your intervention these people would refrain, at least on temporary basis, from practicing their bad habits. Hence in order to get steady results it is imperative to reconsider the way we are administrating our national affairs. This will be possible through genuine reforms. Decades of deteriorated state of affairs had taken us to the point where no whatsoever development or progress is noticed, not any success is achieved in the level of external relationships, not any progress in the domain of public and religious life of the community, excluding very few acts of heroism, which have personal characters, which, as much as they are effective, they cannot replace the expression of the collective will.
Your Holiness, as a member of the Armenian community of Kuwait, my direct concern is the situation of the Armenian community here, in the way that I tried to describe with the most sincere and honest words. However the circle of my concerns is wider and includes the other Diasporan communities.
Father, if there are similar situations in our other communities, I would like - in the sake of the preservation of the noble feelings of our suffered Armenians, in the sake of our Holy Church and the safeguarding of our faithful people - To plead you to wipe up and burn once and for all the thorns and shrubs that are spreading under the fruitful trees of our national orchard, so that our nation and specially our young generation, would breathe healthy fresh air, they would progress and develop according to the best prevailing political and social needs, far away from any artificial obstacles and polluted national atmosphere starting from Kuwait.
Very respectfully yours,
Giragos N. Kuyumjian Kuwait 24 November 2005
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