US Armenian lobby calls for assassination of Armenian premier

The Washington director of the largest Armenian lobby in the US has sparked controversy with social media posts apparently calling for the assassination of Nikol Pashinyan, Armenia’s prime minister. 

“Years from now, children yet unborn will ask their grandfathers: ‘Babig, what did you do when Artsakh was attacked?’” Aram Suren Hamparian, director of the Armenian National Committee of America in Washington, wrote on Facebook, using the name for an unrecognised breakaway area of the Karabakh region, which is internationally recognized as the territory of Armenia’s neighbour Azerbaijan.

Hamparian continued: “Did you defend our homeland, did you protect our people?’ Far too many – many of them cops reaping robust cash bonuses today – will stare down at their shoes in shame and either mumble a lie or admit: ‘I defended Nikol Pashinyan against his own people’.”

Later, Hamparian called on Pashinyan’s bodyguards to take action, when, in his words, “an Armenian guarding Pashinyan values his souls more than his paycheck.”

Hamparian’s posts sparked debate among social media users, with one user voicing support for Pashinyan, saying, “You’re inciting against Pashinyan who’s doing his best to get a peaceful solution for Artsakh (Karabakh),” which saw provocations by Armenian fighters in recent months and years.

Another said: “This is a shameful message unbecoming of a head of an Armenian American political group. Calling for an assassination of an elected leader of a country that is a partner of the U.S. is incompatible with American values, no matter how you feel about that leader’s actions. Violence has no place in politics.”

Yet another user expressed concern about the stability of the Armenian state and called for the police to take action against opposition leaders protesting on the streets. They also called on the Armenian Foreign Ministry to keep a close eye on external efforts to disrupt the country.

Armenia has a large diaspora with what many observers call an outsized influence on domestic affairs in the landlocked Caucasian country.

Meanwhile, in Armenia, eight individuals, including seven members of the “Crusaders’ Military-Patriotic Society,” were detained on Sunday on allegations of attempting to seize power by force and planning to assassinate Pashinyan and other members of the government, according to the Armenian National Security Service.

ANCA: Ties to terrorism, violence

The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) is known for its efforts to officially recognise Armenian claims regarding the events of 1915 throughout the US and, if possible, impose sanctions on Turkey.

The suggestions of violence in the social media posts are not uncharacteristic for ANCA, which is also known for its links with Armenian terrorist groups and terrorists operating in the US.

Mourad Topalian, who had ties to the organisation since the 1970s while serving as its chairman, was arrested in 1999 on weapons and explosives charges and sentenced to prison in 2001.

ANCA has continued its support for Armenian terrorist groups even in recent years. The organisation made significant efforts to secure the release of Armenian terrorist Hampig Sassounian, who in 1982 assassinated Kemal Arikan, the Turkish consul general in Los Angeles.

In March 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom directly informed ANCA of his decision to release Sassounian.

Nora Hovsepian, chairwoman of the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region, expressed gratitude for the decision, stating: “Were truly grateful to Governor Newsom for this decision.”

Despite Turkey being one of the first countries to recognise Armenia’s independence in 1991, the two countries have been divided on a range of issues, including Yerevan’s occupation of Azerbaijani territories, the events of 1915 during the reign of the Ottoman Empire, and the border closure between the two neighbouring countries since 1993.

In 2021, Ankara and Yerevan appointed special representatives to normalise ties.

Last week, in the wake of provocations by Armenian forces in Karabakh, Azerbaijan said it had launched “counter-terrorism” activities in the region to uphold a 2020 trilateral peace agreement with Russia and Armenia. After 24 hours, a cease-fire was reached in the region.

In the fall of 2020, Azerbaijan liberated several cities, villages, and settlements in Karabakh from nearly 30 years of Armenian occupation. The war ended that November with a Russia-brokered cease-fire.

Tensions between the two nations, however, continue despite ongoing talks aiming for a long-term peace deal.

Pashinyan and Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev are set to meet on Oct. 5 in the Spanish city of Granada to discuss the signing of a peace treaty between the two countries.

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