Message from the Chair – October, 2017

You may not know the name Tigran Berakchyan.  Neither did I, until I had to, until I wanted to, until I was crushed and devastated. Carrying the name of the “King of Kings” and bearing the distinguishing crest of the “yan,” you would be correct in recognizing that Tigran’s roots hail firmly from that tribe whom the great poet Barouyr Sevag profoundly asserted, “We are few, but they call us Armenian.”

You may not know who Tigran Berakchyan is, but he is at the heart of why the members of the Armenian Bar Association work passionately to achieve its mission.

Born in 1997, 19 year-old Tigran, was the older of two sons from the Arabkir neighborhood of Yerevan. Known for his patriotism, his brother, Vahram, remembers that Tigran insisted that he report to his compulsory and much-needed military service in Artsakh, on the front lines protecting the frontier from enemy incursions, and nowhere else.  In April, 2016, Tigran was one of dozens of native sons who lost their lives in deadly-hot battles near Jabrail (Jrakan).  He went so that others could live, so that others could prosper, so that others could have futures and children of their own.

It is with Tigran’s courage in mind that three years ago, the Armenian Bar Association decided at its Mid-Year Meeting in Miami to amend its by-laws to state that a fundamental purpose of our organization is to assist Artsakh in obtaining official recognition of its statehood under international law.

It is with Tigran’s belief that the Armenians of Artsakh have the right to determine their own destiny that at its recent Mid-Year Meeting in Washington, D.C., the Board of Governors unanimously decided:

  1. to enter a Memorandum of Understanding with Artsakh State University and Yerevan State University to establish and underwrite the expenses for a free legal clinic for the citizens of Artsakh;
  2. to establish a summer internship program at the Office of the Artsakh Ombudsman in which Armenian-American law students would help in the development, education, and protection of human rights in Artsakh; and
  3. to convene its next Annual Meeting in May 2018 in Artsakh and Armenia to further the work of our organization on the ground and to recognize and honor—in person—the 100th anniversary of the First Republic of Armenia.

In Washington, we also welcomed another warrior for the cause, Robert Avetisyan, our Artsakh Ambassador to the United States of America, received updates about the tenuous, yet promising situation in Artsakh, and renewed our pledge of allegiance to the people of Artsakh and their quest for peace and stability.

It is in recognition of Tigran’s supreme sacrifice at the tender age of 19 that the Armenian Bar Association understands that the future of our people is in the hands of our youth.  For this reason, we have formally adopted the National Armenian Law Students Association as a part of our organization, with its leader having a seat at the table of our board of governors.  It is why so many of our programs are directed towards advancing the legal education of our students and their career development, whether through successful events like our signature Mentorship Program reception, the award of student scholarships, our Artsakh internship program, or the judicial clerkship conference and so much more.

The heroic Central California-born freedom fighter, Commander Monte Melkonian, once said, “If we lose Karabakh, we turn the final page in our people’s history.”  Tigran Berakchyan understood intrinsically the heavy weight and full meaning of Monte’s admonition.  Tigran was truly proud to serve in the Armenian Army, and he refused to change into civilian clothing when he would return home from Artsakh on leave.  Ultimately, Tigran gave his most precious possession—his own life–in defense of the Armenian Cause.

In recognition of the valor of Tigran and all of his colleagues who fiercely and fearlessly defend the rights of the Armenian people and nation, the Armenian Bar Association will spare no effort to continue to pursue our mission to vigorously advocate in defense of the dignity of the Armenian people, anywhere and everywhere we are.

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