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

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

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

Your Holiness,

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

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

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
24 November 2005 =112ahz92