In Solidarity with the Armenians of Lebanon

By Houry Mayissian

My community in Lebanon needs me. It needs you, it needs us.

Lebanon’s imminent economic collapse and increasingly deepening political crisis have had an insurmountable toll on the Armenian community. To add insult to injury, in the last two days the community has faced anti-Armenian protests and other acts of racism instigated by groups loyal to the Turkish government.

All this is too much to bear even for an old, proud and strong community like Lebanon’s.

These past few days I keep reliving experiences growing up in this community and so many of these early life memories are about giving. Like the time we donated clothes and money to a drive to support the victims of the 1988 earthquake. I was five years-old.

Or that time when I was a member of the AYF Nigol Aghpalian juniors varchoutyoun and we started what has now become a long-standing tradition of creating handmade Christmas decorations and selling them door to door. That first year, after a lot of blood, sweat and tears, we made a net profit of $500 USD. We were very proud to donate the entire sum to the Lebanon-based Artsakh Fund. The kids in Artsakh needed that money more than we did.

From piggy banks at our schools to major community-wide fundraisers for vulnerable community members, for Armenia and Artsakh, growing up in the Armenian community of Lebanon I learned the importance of giving back to our nation and to our cause.

Throughout Lebanon’s neverending economic ordeals and political crises, including 15 years of civil war, this community has relentlessly been a beacon of light for advocacy, intellectual discourse and leadership for Armenian communities worldwide.

Generations of Lebanese Armenians have become community leaders, teachers and Hai Tahd advocates, shaping our cause, our communities and our nation’s trajectory across the globe.

Many community members have sacrificed their lives for the freedom of Artsakh, for attracting worldwide attention to and demanding accountability for the Armenian Genocide.

Last but not least, the community has tended with open arms to the plight of Armenian refugees fleeing from war-torn communities such as those of Iraq and Syria.

Now this community needs our support – our unequivocal financial and moral support.

In recent weeks many donation drives have been set up to support the community. The Armenian Relief Society’s Feed Lebanon is one as well as Aztag Daily—the official publication of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation in Lebanon. There are also similar campaigns for the Armenian community of Anjar and the Melankton and Haig Arslanian Djemaran. Give to one, give to all. Times are hard everywhere, but in the example set so many times by the Armenian community of Lebanon, give despite how tough it is at the moment, because they need it more.

Alongside financial assistance, the Armenian community of Lebanon also needs our moral support and advocacy, particularly in light of the recent Armenophobic attacks against the community.

It is time to give back and stand in solidarity with the Armenians of Lebanon.

This article was first published in The Armenian Weekly.

Houry Mayissian is a communications professional with journalism and public relations experiences in Dubai, Beirut, and Sydney. She has studied European politics and society at the University of Oxford, specializing on the democratic reform process in Armenia as part of its European integration. She is currently based in Yerevan.

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