A double rainbow stretched its colorful ribbons from Mt. Ararat to Mardakert during the historic week of May 28, 2018, the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the first Republic of Armenia in 1918. History, which has over the centuries been stingy with its smile on the Armenian nation, this time outdid itself in magical fashion. We, more than 50 of our Armenian members from around the world, were there to witness the resurrection of the first Republic’s miracle of existence into the new Armenia’s promise of life, liberty, and justice for all.
The continuation of that sacred line of duty also found reflection in the Armenian Bar Association as my colleagues, while assembled in Shushi, Artsakh, conferred upon me the position and responsibility of Chairman of the Association’s Board of Governors. There, on that holy land, I was handed the torch that my esteemed predecessors entrusted upon me to illuminate the proverbial path, the mission of our Armenian Bar Association. This torch has been held high by many accomplished attorneys and together we remain determined to fearlessly and fiercely defend and uphold the rights of our compatriots wherever they may be.
During our annual plenary meetings in Shushi, we met the President of the Republic of Artsakh, Supreme Court Justices and their staff, the Chief Prosecutor and his cadre of civil servants, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and his top command, numerous Parliament members, various government officials, Artsakh State University professors, law students and members of the general public. To a person, they all genuinely celebrated our presence in Artsakh and encouraged us to keep up the good work. We continued our meetings in Yerevan with the Minister of Justice and President of the Chamber of Advocates of Armenia (state bar equivalent). Finally, our last official meeting was that of our Board of Governors with the newly-elected Board and our Executive Committee, which took place, in honor of the heroes of 1918, on May 28, 2018, in the Marriott Hotel conference center. After the Board meeting, we stepped outside to join a massive and joyful public concert in the Republic Square to share with our fellow Hyes the triumphant Battle of Sardarabad which helped liberate and launch the independent country of Armenia on May 28, 1918 and set the foundation of our current Republic of Armenia, established in 1991, just two years after our Armenian Bar Association was established in 1989. Needless to say, our entire group will forever cherish this epic trip which broadened our minds and opened our hearts toward and deep into our homeland.
While enjoying the ancient allure and modern attractions of our homeland, we did not forget the massive amount of work that lies ahead. Of course, we are comforted and appreciative that we have the support of our army of students, lawyers, attorneys, professors and judges worldwide who have chosen to support our mission. Our projects span from elementary school introductory legal education programs and high school mock trial programs to law school mentorship programs and post-law school graduate support programs. They range from academic scholarships to the work of the Armenian Rights Watch Committee and its published articles that shine a spotlight on some very challenging, contemporary legal issues. We are proud of our newly established Artsakh Law Initiative Committee (ALIC), which boasts a pro-bono legal clinic in the Republic of Artsakh as well as an internship at the office of the Artsakh Human Rights Defender. In addition, our Armenian Genocide Reparations Committee (AGRC) is revving its engines as it prepares to fire out of the pit in the name of all that who were lost, all that was taken from us 103 years ago. Also, our pro-bono legal clinic in Glendale, California continues to offer free legal assistance to the general public. These are just a few of the projects of the Armenian Bar Association.
I would like to thank every single one of our members for their dedication and trust in our Armenian Bar Association and its Board of Governors. Our members are our source of energy and reassurance that we can fulfill the promises we have made to enhance our collective future. Our projects are many and they demand from our entire membership all of our skills, time and energy for us to be effective and provide worthwhile services for our intended recipients.
Our organization is very agile and entirely able even with its limited resources. We have been very careful and cautious in our steps to ensure that we thoughtfully use our gifted resources for meaningful and impactful endeavors. I call on each of us to accept the challenge to help us grow by welcoming new members into our family. Our new members will further enable us to continue the good work of the Armenian Bar Association worldwide while contributing to our new and cutting-edge projects in the near future.
Together, we are the Armenian Bar Association!
Gerard V. Kassabian, J.D., LL.M.
Chairman of the Board of Governors
Armenian Bar Association