Sunday, July 29, 2012


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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Armenian National Committee of America
1711 N Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036
Tel. (202) 775-1918 * Fax. (202) 775-5648 *
For Immediate Release ~ 2012-07-23
Contact: Carina Khanjian ~ Tel: (202) 775-1918 / (703) 585-8254 cell

WASHINGTON, DC - Oprah Winfrey’s Blog today declared New York Times best-selling author Chris Bohjalian’s novel on the Armenian Genocide, “The Sandcastle Girls”, as the must-read Book of the Week, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

The announcement was first posted on, where the editors of O and informed their fans about “the newest releases that they couldn’t stop reading.” This week, “The Sandcastle Girls” was at the top of their list.’s Nathalie Gorman explained “Best known for his thrillers like Midwives, Chris Bohjalian has come out with a different kind of page turner—a searing, tautly woven tale of war and the legacy it leaves behind.” She goes on to note, “This rendering of one of history's greatest (and least known) tragedies is an nuanced, sophisticated portrayal of what it means not only to endure, but to insist on hope.”

The complete review is posted below.

“The overwhelming and well-deserved praise for Bohjalian’s masterful literary piece about the Armenian Genocide in prominent mainstream American media outlets, such as Oprah’s Blog, highlights the powerful role that his novel is playing in educating readers about this crime, and Turkey’s ongoing denial of both truth and justice,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “The Sandcastle Girls" represents - in addition to a great literary work - a great contribution to the American and global public awareness that will be required to end, forever, the cycle of genocide and denial."

More Praise for “The Sandcastle Girls” in Newspapers Across the U.S.

In addition to captivating the interest of Oprah Winfrey’s editors, “The Sandcastle Girls” and the Armenian Genocide issue has caught the attention of many notable American newspapers and online publications, including -“The Miami Herald”, “The Florida Times Union”, “The Minneapolis Star Tribune”, Ohio’s “The Columbus Dispatch”, “The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel”, South Carolina’s “The Hilton Head Island Packet”, and

Amy Driscoll, in her review for The Miami Herald, wrote about the real potential impact the novel has on educating American civil society about the Armenian Genocide. “Bohjalian’s book is about the ways the past informs the present, about the pain but also the richness of heritage. If his goal is to educate us, make us see what has been almost left behind in the dust of history, he succeeds. And after reading this book, we aren’t likely to forget,” noted Driscoll.

The complete Miami Herald review is available online and was published in the Friday, July 20 issue of the print edition.

Brandy Hilboldt Allport of The Florida Times Union wrote, “Bohjalian deftly widens a telescopic lens to encompass the ‘Meds Yeghern,’ or ‘Great Calamity’ of the Armenian genocide and then narrows it so that readers focus on the characters and join them in their passage through the story. The well-researched history that forms the background informs, intrigues and enchants — even as recollections of horror mount.”

The complete Florida Times Union review is available online and was published in the Sunday, July 22 issue of the print edition.

Margaret Quamme of The Columbus Dispatch claimed, “For a historical novel, ‘The Sandcastle Girls’ is remarkably supple, employing only the most telling of details.” Quamme further wrote about the novel’s potential of galvanizing a growing movement to help raise awareness about the cycle of genocide. “Laura and Bohjalian keep their eyes on the personal, the little moments that illuminate broader social movements. But moment-by-moment, and passage by passage, the novel lights up a disturbing period of history.”

The complete Columbus Dispatch review is available online and was published in the Sunday, July 22 issue of the print edition.

Additionally, last week, “The Sandcastle Girls” received stellar appraisals from the Washington Post, USA Today, The Boston Globe, Entertainment Weekly and People Magazine. These follow powerhouse literary reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal, and Booklist, collectively offering exceptional praise for both the author and the book, with excerpts posted on

Hours before his novel hit book stores, Bohjalian launched his book tour in Los Angeles and continued traveling to events in San Francisco, California and Watertown, Massachusetts. Bohjalian will be having a Capitol Hill Debut of the book in Washington D.C., co-hosted by Congressional Armenian Genocide Resolution lead sponsors, Representatives Robert Dold (R-IL) and Adam Schiff (D-CA). Bohjalian will be meeting with Congressional members throughout the day on August 1, 2012 and then offering remarks and signing books beginning at 6 p.m. at the Rayburn House Office Building, Room B-369.

Bohjalian will also be in New Milford, New Jersey at 7:30pm on August 2 at the Hovnanian School for an event sponsored by the ANC of New Jersey, as well as and event organized by the ANC of New York and hosted by the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) at 7:00pm on August 3, 2012.

The complete roster of events across the country is available online at

In his 15th book, The Sandcastle Girls, Bohjalian brings us on a very different kind of journey. The spellbinding tale travels between Aleppo, Syria in 1915 and Bronxville, New York in 2012 – a sweeping historical love story steeped in the author’s Armenian heritage, making it his most personal novel to date.

Armenian Americans and interested readers are encouraged to purchase “The Sandcastle Girls” online from, Barnes and Noble and Indiebound or from their local book sellers.

To join the ANCA in helping put “The Sandcastle Girls” on the Congressional summer reading list through a contribution to the ANCA Endowment donate-a-book program.

#### Book of the Week Announcement
Read more:

Book of the Week: The Sandcastle Girls
Posted: Mon 07/23/2012 01:30 PM | By: Nathalie Gorman

Each week, we'll be letting you know about new releases the editors of O and couldn't stop reading. This Monday, we're bowled over by the new novel:

The Sandcastle Girls
By Chris Bohjalian

Best known for his thrillers like Midwives, Chris Bohjalian has come out with a different kind of page turner—a searing, tautly woven tale of war and the legacy it leaves behind. The novel is actually two stories in one: That of Elizabeth Endicott and Armen Petrosian, lovers who meet in Syria during the Armenian genocide, and that of Laura Petrosian, their adult granddaughter, who, nearly a century after her grandparents met, wants to make sense of why they were so silent about their youth. Laura's suburban existence is radically different from the violent setting in which her grandparents fell in love. Yet all three want the answer to one question: After such horror, is any kind of happiness possible? As a reader you want so badly for Bohjalian's passionate characters to find some version of yes. And find it they do—but at a terrifying cost. This rendering of one of history's greatest (and least known) tragedies is an nuanced, sophisticated portrayal of what it means not only to endure, but to insist on hope.

Copyright © Armenian National Committee of America, 2009
1711 N Street NW • Washington, DC 20036 • Ph: (202) 775-1918 • Fax: (202) 775-5648 •

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Sunday, July 22, 2012

July 19, 2012 Turkey’s Human Rights Hypocrisy By TANER AKCAM
Op-Ed Contributor
July 19, 2012

Turkey’s Human Rights Hypocrisy

Worcester, Mass.
A NEW political order is emerging in the Middle East, and Turkey aspires to be its leader by taking a stand against authoritarian regimes. Earlier this week, Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, went so far as to denounce the Syrian government’s continuing massacres of civilians as “attempted genocide.”
Turkey’s desire to champion human rights in the region is a welcome development, but Mr. Erdogan’s condemnation of Syria is remarkably hypocritical. As long as Turkey continues to deny crimes committed against non-Turks in the early 1900s, during the final years of the Ottoman Empire, its calls for freedom, justice and humanitarian values will ring false.
Turkey’s attempt to cultivate an image as the global protector of Muslim rights is compromised by a legacy of ethnic cleansing and genocide against Christians and terror against Arabs and Kurds. Memories of these crimes are very much alive throughout former Ottoman territories. And Turkey cannot serve as a democratic model until it acknowledges that brutal violence, population transfers and genocide underlie the modern Turkish state.  
Using documents from the Ottoman government archives in Istanbul, which were once classified as top secret, I have sought to pull back the veil on Turkey’s century of denial. These documents clearly demonstrate that Ottoman demographic policy from 1913 to 1918 was genocidal. Indeed, the phrase “crimes against humanity” was coined as a legal term and first used on May 24, 1915, in response to the genocide against Armenians and other Christian civilians.
Britain, France and Russia initially defined Ottoman atrocities as “crimes against Christianity” but later substituted “humanity” after considering the negative reaction that such a specific term could elicit from Muslims in their colonies.
Today, Mr. Erdogan is seeking to be a global spokesman for Muslim values. In June 2011, he told thousands gathered to celebrate the landslide victory of his Justice and Development Party, known as the A.K.P.: “Sarajevo won today as much as Istanbul; Beirut won as much as Izmir; Damascus won as much as Ankara. Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin, the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza won as much as Diyarbakir.” 
Speaking in support of oppressed Muslims has earned him popularity. But if Mr. Erdogan aspires to defend freedom and democracy in the region, he must also address the legitimate fears of Christians in the Middle East. Just as the European powers opted for universalism in 1915 by denouncing “crimes against humanity,” Mr. Erdogan must move beyond his narrow focus on “crimes against Muslims.” All oppressed peoples deserve protection.
It isn’t a coincidence that many Christians and other minorities in Syria support Bashar al-Assad’s Baath Party; they are willing to sacrifice freedom for security. While Turkish rhetoric appeals to the Sunni Muslim majority’s demand for freedom in Syria, it does not relieve Syrian Christians’ anxiety about their future. On the contrary, Syrian Christians listening to Mr. Erdogan and his denialist rhetoric are reminded of 1915, and that makes Turkey look very much like a security threat to them.
Confronting the past is closely linked to security, stability and democracy in the Middle East. Persistent denial of historical injustices not only impedes democratization but also hampers stable relations between different ethnic and religious groups.
This is particularly true in former Ottoman lands, where people view one another in the cloaks of their ancestors. In addition to the reverberations of the Armenian genocide, mass crimes against Kurds and Alevis in Turkey, violence against Kurds and Arabs in Iraq, and Christian-Muslim tensions in Syria and Lebanon continue to poison contemporary politics.
The popularity of the A.K.P. in Turkey and the Muslim world affords Mr. Erdogan an opportunity to usher in an era of tolerance. By acknowledging the genocide against Christians and crimes against other groups, the Turks can become leaders in the realm of human rights. But Turkey’s efforts to paint itself as a beacon of freedom and democracy will fail so long as Turkey refuses to atone for Ottoman sins.
Moral purists and hard-nosed realists mistakenly believe that pursuing justice and national interests are mutually exclusive. But acknowledging historical wrongs is not a zero-sum game.
In the Middle East, the past is the present. And truth and reconciliation are integral to establishing a new, stable regional order founded on respect for human rights and dignity. Turkey should lead by example.
Taner Akcam, a professor of history at Clark University, is the author of “The Young Turks’ Crime Against Humanity: The Armenian Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing in the Ottoman Empire.”

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Turks Rebuke School Genocide Classes

Just when you think life has dealt you a pat hand, along comes a conniver to steal your pot.
For the past four years, members of our Armenian Genocide Education Committee of Merrimack Valley have filtered in and out of high schools north of Boston.
We’ve also expanded our reach to include schools around Greater Boston like Newton South. Scores of children have benefitted from our lessons. In most every case, instructors have been overwhelmed by the impact being made, for they, too, come out learning a valuable lesson in history.
There hasn’t been one repercussion, not even a grunt from a naysayer—until now. A vile and vindictive article from a pro-Turkish website (History of Truth) crossed my eyes bearing the headline: “Armenians Spreading Their Lies at High Schools.”
The gutless piece failed to carry a byline, thus making it more intolerable.
What’s more, a photograph of Wilmington High students holding samples of postage stamps they had designed carried the inscription: “Their Lies Reached to Schools.”
The group photo also had the two presenters that day, myself and Albert S. Movsesian. The ideas for a postage stamp were being sent to the postmaster general of the United States in an effort to get a commemorative stamp minted for the 100th anniversary in 2015.
A completely harmless project meant to both elucidate and arouse our younger non-Armenian population was slurred with malice.
The rebuttal was generated in response to an all-encompassing piece written by chairman Dro Kanayan giving readers a fairly detailed account of the progress made in schools this year. How effective has it been?
While attending a grand niece‘s Chelmsford High graduation party the week before, I approached a table occupied by students who had been addressed during a genocide class taught by Jennifer Doak.
“Hey, you look familiar. Aren’t you the guy who spoke to us about the Armenian Genocide?” a co-ed remarked.
“Yes, that’s me,” I replied. “What do you remember most about the class?”
“How difficult it was for your race to be slaughtered like that,” she replied. “We loved the story about the Calvin Coolidge Orphan Rug and how it found its way to the White House.”
The article goes go to say that the “Armenian Diaspora is spreading its lies by telling them at high schools.”
The next paragraph quoted Kanayan’s story: “Armenian researcher Dro Kanayan said for those people who feel that our elders and the youth cannot work together, don’t worry. Kanayan and both of his peers, Albert Movsesian and Tom Vartabedian, have been working together to have the so-called Armenian Genocide included in the high school curriculum on Human Rights in the Merrimack Valley.”
“They are teaching students about the so-called Armenian Genocide and Armenian culture.”
The story went on to say how we have “poisoned” the students in over 10 high schools, providing individual classroom presentation on comparative genocides over the past 100 years.
It proceeded to include other high school students, including a deaf student we encountered at Newton South who had learned about the genocide through American Sign Language.
Adding more insult to injury, a second photo was used of Dro Kanayan holding a picture of his famous grandfather General Dro, who led the siege at Bash Abaran during World War I.
I should be fuming over such poppycock. Instead, I hold no regret over those who are ill-informed and continue to show their absurdity. The more Turkey refutes historical fact, the more scornful it becomes.
The more truth will prevail and people will see how superficial the Turkish government continues to remain. What people lack in intelligence, they usually make up for in stupidity.
I recall once how vandals had climbed to the top of a billboard in Watertown and defaced a genocide sign that had been sponsored by activist/artist Daniel Varoujan Hejinian. For years, Hejinian has been putting up these notices to draw attention during April 24th.
For the most part, the Armenian papers publicized the act, but it also caught the attention of the American press, which matters more. The fact that some screwball scaled a building at night to commit an act of degradation suddenly became media hype. It appeared in newspapers and television networks, giving the Armenian Genocide more exposure than normal.
During a commemoration that week in Merrimack Valley, a local priest approached the podium and talked about the insanity.
“If that’s the way our genocide is going to catch the outside public’s eye, then let the billboards be vandalized,” he lashed out. “And let those responsible find guilt in the process.”