Overdue Recognition for Andreas Roubian


Andreas Roubian receives a medal from Karabagh President Bako Sahakian.

By Hagop Vartivarian

NEW YORK —More than 20 years ago, a handful of New Yorkers, largely young Armenians, inspired by the Karabagh liberation movement, created the Karabagh Committee. They set to work in the American-Armenian community to educate and raise awareness about the plight of the Armenians in Karabagh. Part of the scope of the committee’s work was securing substantial financial donations to aid victims of the war and to assist the movement.

The Karabagh Committee worked tirelessly, gathering support from Armenians from various countries and all walks of life. This work of unifying the community for a cause was met with great success as they received support not only from major philanthropists, but on the grassroots level.

One of the young and dedicated organizers living in New Jersey, Andreas Roubian, came to be the leader of this group of heroes, and his home became the site of the meetings for years. Meetings with influential representatives from Armenia, Karabagh, the US and Russia, as well as with American-Armenian activists, also took place at Roubian’s home. In addition to the meetings, collection campaigns and social gatherings were organized by the committee.

While it is not possible to make any comparison with the youth of Karabagh and Armenia fighting for the liberation of Karabagh at the cost of their own lives, the work of the Karabagh Committee of New York, including the large sums it raised and sent to Karabagh, should be recognized, as well as their raising of awareness, which provided significant aid and comfort to this same youth as well as essential aid to victims of the fighting. At a time in which the Soviet Union was in its death throes, this support was a lifeline, and praise is due to the Armenian-American patriots who pressed on.

In addition to the financial support, many of the committee members, including Roubain, risked their own lives to travel in this war-torn region in order to ensure aid was being properly utilized. He also documented on film frontline activities which were presented to capacity crowds in the greater New York area. Without a doubt, one day, in order to do justice to the great work done by these men, the activities of the Karabagh Committee will be written down in the annals of history.

Roubian, who is of Evangelical faith, became the benefactor of the Ghazanchetots Sourp Asdvadzadzin Cathedral of Shushi. He personally supervised and financed its reconstruction. The cathedral was dedicated to the memory of his parents, Dr. and Mrs. Zaven Roubian. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, this was the first Armenian church to be resurrected on Armenian lands, and it became a good example for the future benefactors of the Armenian Diaspora or homeland to follow.

During this year’s visit to the US, and on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the independence of Artsakh, two awards were presented to Roubian by Karabagh President Bako Sahakian. These awards were to honor his patriotism and philanthropy from the onset of the liberation movement through the subsequent 20 years. The prestigious medal of Vachagan Parebashd and a proclamation of recognition under the Artsakh Constitution were both presented to Roubian during the ceremony.

The kind words of Ambassador Garen Nazarian, the United Nations representative of the Republic of Armenia, were particularly touching at a November 18 reception in the embassy during the visit of Sahakian to New York, where Roubian was given the medal and proclamation.

Well-known figures from Armenian life in the New York and New Jersey area were present alongside former Karabagh Committee members Hrach Kaprielian, Hirant Gulian and brothers Armen and Paul Shahinian. The Primate of Artsakh, Archbishop Pargev Martirossian, was present together with Robert Avetisyan, the permanent representative of the Republic of Mountainous Karabagh to the United States.

Nazarian gave words of welcome and introduced the guests. Then Sahakian spoke about Roubian’s unparalleled efforts during the liberation struggle.

Aide to Sahakian David Babayan read the edict: “In connection with the 20th anniversary of the Republic of Mountainous Karabagh, we award the American-Armenian benefactor Andreas Roubian for his service to the Republic of Mountainous Karabagh in the fields of the economy, culture, education and scholarship, healthcare, and politics.”

In his words of thanks, Roubian said that his collaborators had earned this medal, but even more than them, those who through the sacrifice of their lives liberated Karabagh. He said, “I dedicate this to them.”

The evening was a moving one, especially for those who lived day to day through the moments of the liberation of the Armenian regions of Lachin, Stepanakert and Shushi, Fizouli and Jebrayil. Together with those days of pride, they remembered Armenian martyrs sacrificed on the frontlines.

(This article was translated from the Armenian original.)