Monte Melkonian, the Comrade in Struggles

Contributors:

Published

We do not believe in heroes. Yet, when collective ideas and praxis incarnate into one historical figure, who, in turn, contributes to them, we think that a surge of this figure in the internationalist imaginary can prove politically useful. This is why we commissioned Garine Boghossian to write this text about Armenian internationalist activist, Monte Melkonian.

Featured Image
Mural representing Monte Melkonian accompanied by the Armenian and Artsakh flags on the road between Yerevan and Sevan. / Photo by Gardmanahay (2021).

There was Monte, alias Saro, peering through sandbags in Iranian Kurdistan. Then came Monte, alias Abu Sindi, huddling with Yasser Arafat under a hailstorm of shrapnel in Beirut. Then there was Monte, prisoner number 751783, alone in a dark cell in a prison outside Paris. Next came Monte, now alias Timothy Sean McCormich, collecting soda bottles on the street after a rally for slobodan Milosevic, the new leader of a Yugoslavia that was sliding into madness. And finally, there was commander Avo in the distant mountains of Karabakh, peering through binoculars at a battlefield strewn with buckled armor.” (Markar Melkonian, My brother’s road, 2005).

Monte Melkonian’s revolutionary journey started as a protestor against the U.S. war in Vietnam, and ended in 1993, on the battlefield for the liberation of Nagorno-Karabakh. Throughout his life, he participated in struggles from the Red Brigades in Italy, to the Iranian revolution, the Kurdish resistance, the Palestinian liberation movement and struggle, the Lebanese civil war, and the Armenian armed struggle in the Diaspora. A third generation Armenian-American from California and a trained archeologist from University of California, Berkeley, Monte left the United States in his early twenties and traveled the world to join oppressed peoples’ struggles, primarily focusing on the Armenian struggle.

His published letters reveal his commitment to the notions of self-determination and anti-colonialism guided by Lenin’s ethos, while his active participation in the fight for the oppressed are a testimony to his engagement, applying his beliefs into practice.