Monte Melkonian (November 25, 1957 – June 12, 1993) was a lieutenant of an Armenian underground marxist-nationalist guerrilla organization (ASALA) that fought Turkey for an Armenian homeland; an Armenian military commander during the Karabakh war; and writer.
The Right to Struggle (1993)
- At the turn of the [20th] century, of course, the Armenian people were subject to extremely heavy oppression by the Ottoman sultan. Entertaining tragically misguided hopes of being aided by the European powers, some inexperienced and naive Armenian leaders embraced a very regrettable strategy—one which even more regrettably has not been abandoned to this day: they attempted to enlist the imperialist powers to intervene on behalf of the w:Armenians... In an almost pathetic attempt to establish such a common ground, some Armenian intellectuals pulled religion and linguistics out of their hat... Well, subsequent events—and one and one-half million martyrs—show how convincing this line of argument was for our "Indo-European brothers."
- P. 6.
- ...By continuing to invoke Wilson's map and the Treaty of Sèvres we are in fact promoting an unjust notion of our homeland. And this is neither realistic nor in any way conducive to an equitable understanding with other people in the region. Even worse, to do so is to propagate the historically disastrous notion that the best interests of the Armenian people are better defined and "guaranteed" by imperialist governments than by the Armenian people themselves.
- P. 8.
- ...The right to self-determination refers to the right of a given population (usually a nation) to create its own future more or less free from external coercion, but within the limits of the historical realities with which it is faced.
- P. 17.
- As a first step, we should recognize that the Armenian people's fight for national self-determination is first and foremost the duty and task of the Armenian people themselves. We do not believe in benevolent friends, the inevitable triumph of justice, or covertly and cleverly manipulating the superpowers. If we are to achieve national self-determination, then we ourselves, the Armenian people, will have to fight for it. We believe in the power of organized masses and in the capacity of our people to determine their own future. We believe in revolution.
- P. 60.
- No amount of moral admonishment or "indirect pressure" will guarantee that our demands are met, in the absence of our own organizational presence on the ground. Only by struggling ourselves can we convince our allies of our attachment to the revolution, to the land, and to our national rights. And only by struggling ourselves will we have the chance to impose our demands, in the face of all reactionary opposition."
- P. 63.
- ...Let us ask ourselves whether in principle a "Free, Independent Armenia" is a realistic goal that would serve the interests of the Armenian people in the long run. As we seek an answer to this question, we should keep in mind that realism is a guiding principle for revolutionaries. Before advancing political slogans, one should first pose the question: Is it realizable? If it is not, then it should not be adopted.
- P. 13.
- It is time we spoke frankly about a w:taboo subject: historical developments since 1915 have rendered more distant than ever the reunification of the whole Armenian homeland. The sooner we face this fact, the sooner we can set out with full force to realize the goal of Armenian national self-determination.
- P. 61.
- In view of our strategic goal, and keeping in mind that objective conditions within "Western Armenia" have made it necessary to re-evaluate the future status of that region vis-a-vis the Armenians, we have argued that the much-vaunted "Free, Independent and United Armenia" is neither attainable nor preferable, from the position of the interests of the Armenian people. Propagating this chimerical goal only depletes our already limited human and material resources and wastes time which we cannot afford to waste.
- P. 62.
- ...The relationship of a people to their homeland is crucial. A people will naturally have a difficult time maintaining a common cultural identity without a collective presence in their homeland. Only in its homeland can a people develop economically, culturally and socially as a homogeneous entity. In fact, this is the crux of why some of us consider it necessary to struggle to live in our homeland.
- P. 13.
- “Our people have had the honor to be among those who founded the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Despite the innumerable errors, both large and small, it is an undeniable fact that only as a part of the USSR have our people been able to survive Turkish invasion, live within secure borders, and progress economically and culturally. In spite of the current criticisms expressed from every quarter, it is a fact that the inhabitants of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic today enjoy a higher standard of living and more security than have Armenians at any other time in their three thousand year history. And all of this has taken place in the face of enormous challenges, including foreign invasion, economic isolation, civil war and an unimaginably costly World War.”
- “National Self-Determination or National Suicide?” p. 165. The article was originally written in Armenian, dated October 24, 1988, and posted form Poissy Prison, in France. It was first published in the first edition of The Right to Struggle, 1990.
- ...In essence, the A.R.F.'s present strategy does not differ from the strategy it pursued at the turn of the [20th] century. The A.R.F. viewed its armed propaganda as a means of introducing the "Armenian Cause" (Hai Tad) into the arena of international politics. In fact, almost all of the A.R.F.'s tactics, armed or not, are still aimed at somehow convincing "Western" governments and diplomatic circles to sponsor the party's demands... This strategy is very dependent on foreign initiatives, and it implies a belief that the Armenian people's future cannot be determined primarily by the Armenian people themselves.
- P. 55-56.
- Another characteristic of the A.R.F.'s "Western"-dependent strategy is its complete disregard for the need to transfer the Armenian armed struggle to the historic Armenian homeland, the need to build a mass-based guerrilla force closely aligned with Turkish and Kurdish revolutionaries. Many appeals in A.R.F. literature and propaganda are directed to "international public opinion" and other non-Armenian audiences. Meanwhile, few appeals are directed to the Armenian people themselves...
- P. 57.
- And fully in keeping with the demagogic prejudices of the party, no A.R.F leader would seriously propose participating cooperatively in the struggle of the people of w:Turkey against the fascist regime there... While the A.R.F. reprints maps showing the borders of a supposed "Armenia" proposed in the unratified w:Treaty of Sèvres, the party's literature ignores the native population within the borders of this "Armenia." It should be pointed out that this population, consisting of w:Kurds, Turks, Lazes and others, exceeds six million. One wonders what kind of Armenia the A.R.F. envisions in which Armenians will be an absolute—if not minuscule—minority...
- P. 57.
- In practice [the A.R.F.'s strategy] abandons the fate of our people to the caprice of the "Western" powers, particularly the U.S.A.—and these are states whose interests are opposed to ours.
- P. 57.
- While many of us feel a strong emotional attachment to our homeland, we should not allow emotions to deter us from speaking of things the way they really are. It should be remembered that this very surrender to emotion has led to insane and counterproductive atrocities on the scale of the Ankara and Istanbul suicide assaults, as well as the Orly bombing and the Lisbon disaster. By surrendering to emotions we enable the A.R.F. and slogans like "w:Hagop Hagopian" to lead thousands of well-intentioned patriots down a path which does not lead to Armenia, and to sacrifice the lives of young fighters in campaigns which directly contradict the interests of the Armenian people. If we are to achieve even the minimum requirements for Armenian national self-determination, we must approach problems in a serious and sober manner.
- P. 60.
- In spite of w:ASALA and Armenian Revolutionary Federation rhetoric, armed propaganda is not a tactic which can "force" foreign powers to support our political demands; nor does it deal "lethal blows" to the Turkish regime.
- P. 64.