Thursday, May 29, 2014

Creating the Armenian Dream

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Samvel believes in an Armenian Dream..for a very bright future for his country based on creating a knowledge-based economy that will make Armenia the Switzerland of the Caucasus.
We could live all over the world, miles apart, and embody all the culture differences of the countries we were born and raised in. Yet, we are bound by this noble idea, this “Armenian-ness,” the Armenian Spirit that burns like an eternal flame in many of us. We are a proud and principled people. We view ourselves as smart, industrious, dedicated, generous, kind, principled, forthright, and honest. The Armenian Spirit is what bonds us. We know it when we see it and admire our countrymen who embody these virtues we so value.
Samvel's vision was to make the future open for each and every child in the Republic of Armenia.
Samvel’s vision was to make the future open for each and every child in the Republic of Armenia.
Allow me to introduce Samvel Movsisyan. He has at least a triple dose of the Armenian Spirit and the values we so cherish.
Samvel has a passion for Armenia and Armenians. He wants to help the people of Armenia to not only survive but thrive. He wants the Republic of Armenia to succeed. In order for that to happen, there must be meaningful jobs and career opportunities for Armenians in Armenia. The future must be bright enough with work and career opportunities that emigration is out of the question—and, in fact, turns into repatriation and immigration. Samvel has dedicated his life to these noble goals, and has created and manages three NGOs dedicated to this mission.
Like all young Armenian men, Samvel served in the Army of the Republic of Armenia. In the army, Samvel had the opportunity to visit villages all around the country. Like many, he got to see, appreciate, and love the rural Armenia and Armenians. Samvel saw how people were leaving the country because they could not earn a living, and he knew this was bad for the country. During this time, Samvel realized that he had a passion for communicating with the people not only in the army but in all walks of life. He has a special and deep affinity with the people of the Armenia.
After the army, Samvel studied IT at the European Regional Academy (ERA). He was advised to participate in the student council to enhance his leadership skills and give his education a service component. As members of the student council were expected to participate in service projects in the community, Samvel decided to implement a project in an orphanage. He researched various orphanages in Armenia, and found one named Hope that resonated with him. He called the director and arranged a group visit to this orphanage in Gyumri. They collected boxes of clothes, treats, and school supplies for the Hope orphanage. At the orphanage, Samvel did what he does: He talked to, well, everyone.
He especially spent time talking with the children. He met a child who was crying. Samvel asked him why he was crying. The child said he wanted to be like Samvel and to go places and help people. He especially wanted to go home. His father was a humble laborer who did not make enough to support all of his children, so this young fellow found himself in the orphanage. It was a defining moment for Samvel who decided, at that point, to dedicate himself to the education of the young who had no opportunities. The child was only 11. Samvel talked to him about the possibilities he could have, that he could maybe even become president of Armenia. The boy stopped crying and started smiling… Samvel then knew his life’s work.
Samvel is not one to leave today’s work for tomorrow. He started the Future is Open educational NGO (see the very next day. His vision was to make the future open for each and every child in the Republic of Armenia. This organization was created with the belief that equal educational opportunities for all children is one of the most important requirements for the comprehensive development of Armenia and the realization of future citizens’ potential. The mission is simple: “We believe that with educational programs for the endangered children (orphanages and special schools, disadvantaged families), which we have been conducting already for more than six years, we can help them to become decent citizens of Armenia.”
As the Future is Open began to gain traction and grow, more volunteers started to participate, both from within Armenia and abroad. The results were encouraging. Young Armenians were graduating from the orphanages and special schools with better future plans and perspectives. Yet, there was also the feedback from the volunteers that many young people didn’t see a future for themselves in Armenia. They were thinking about leaving the country because they could not earn a decent living. This saddened Samvel…but not for long. Samvel and his team do not wallow in such emotions.
Samvel and his team knew more was needed. For the future to be open for the youth he was serving in the Future is Open, there needed to be jobs and career opportunities. Armenia needed more entrepreneurs and leaders within the young generation to believe, organize, and work for the future of Armenia; and more innovators and “techno-preneurs” to work in the IT direction, which the team believes has the potential to become the growth engine of Armenia.
In order for Armenia to have jobs and careers, Armenia needs thriving companies to create and offer those jobs and careers. Samvel realized that Armenia could not rely on multi-nationals to provide opportunities in Armenia; rather, Armenians themselves would have to create the enterprises that would, in turn, create the jobs and careers.
It took years of hard work and research (including a course of study at the Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) in India for Samvel), but in due time two foundations were established: the Leadership School and IT School Foundations. Samvel followed his academic focus and founded the IT School Foundation ( The vision of this foundation is to create, nurture, and expand a tech base for Armenia and make the Ararat Valley the Silicon Valley of the Caucasus.
Innovators and techno-preneurs are one of the most important requirements for the development of Armenia and its transition to the knowledge society model. “We believe that through future-oriented, practical and fast education, we can contribute to the formation of new generation IT specialists,” Samvel says. To foster entrepreneurship in Armenia, the Leadership School Foundation ( was founded in 2009. “In the global reality of accelerating changes, Armenia needs faster development, one of the most important requirements of which is the discovery and development of strong leaders within the young generation. We believe that in cooperation with prominent Armenian and international leaders, thinkers and organizations, we can support the development of future leaders.”
The Leadership School is an additional course of study for working people, generally ages 18-35, both non-college and college-educated. They leadership and entrepreneurship, business English, LINUX, and in the background of all this: self-confidence and pride. The Leadership School fills a gap that universities in Armenia do not. The school has about 20 students per year. The course of study is 200,000 dram (or approximately $700). The graduation rate is 50 percent simply because not everyone has the entrepreneurial fire to complete the vigorous program. The school has a cadre of about 150 professionals who give lectures once or twice a year.
From the Armenian Weekly community, Ken Hachikian, Ara Surenian, and I have all lectured, via Skype, to Leadership School students. Alumni help current students bring their ideas to the marketplace. The kinds of businesses started by graduates include dental clinics, IT, finance, and audit firms. There are even Syrian-Armenian refugees in the current cohort of students.
At only 31 years old, Samvel has created 3 registered foundations that are the vehicles in his steadfast mission to be of service to his country and his people. It is clear that the ERA, which has a distinct bias for “Practical Orientation of Education,” had an impact on Samvel. All three of these foundations are geared to providing practical, valuable, and immediately applicable training to their students. These foundations are fully registered with the government. I related that the Armenian government’s perception of the Armenian Diaspora is not the most positive, especially in regards to diasporans doing business in Armenia. His response was simple: “No matter what people think about the government, the rules for foundations are very clear and more aboveboard than ever before.”
Samvel acknowledges the concept of the American Dream. He believes in a similar Armenian Dream. His Armenian Dream is for a very bright future for his country based on creating a knowledge-based economy that will make Armenia the Switzerland of the Caucuses. He believes that Armenians need to do our best and to work hard. These three foundations exist to make this dream a reality.
This summer Samvel is coming to the US. He will be visiting New York, Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. He is not coming here to ask for money. He is coming here to ask for opportunity. Thus, his visit is not a fundraising trip, but rather a business development and alliance development trip. He is interested in meeting Armenian-American business leaders and entrepreneurs that would be interested in:
  • advising and doing business with Armenia-based start-ups;
  • contracting with the growing IT providers in Armenia; and
  • discussing business ideas that could benefit Armenia
To contact Samvel, e-mail, or Skype at smavel.movsisyan.

Sassounian: Why Turks Were Able to Exterminate Armenians, but not Jews

This is the second and final part of a column I wrote last month, analyzing why the Young Turks were able to exterminate the Armenians, but could not carry out their simultaneous plan to eliminate the Jewish settlers of Palestine.
On May 9, 1917, Reuters disseminated the following news report by settler Aaron Aaronsohn: “an order was given to deport all Jews from Tel Aviv, including citizens of the Central Powers [Germany and Austria-Hungary], within 48 hours. A week before, 300 Jews were expelled from Jerusalem. Jamal Pasha declared that their fate would be that of the Armenians. The 8,000 deportees from Tel Aviv were not allowed to take any provisions with them, and after the expulsion their houses were looted by Bedouin mobs.”
Shortly thereafter, Oskar Cohen, a Jewish socialist member of the German Parliament, asked the chancellor to press the Turkish government “to vigorously prevent the recurrence in Palestine of atrocities” against Jews similar to the ones committed against the Armenians.
On June 8, Aaronsohn wrote in his diary: “The cry we raised was effective. The Turks and the Germans were quick to realize that one cannot get away with slaughtering the Jews like the Armenians. German financing of the war might have suffered because of the Jews. Therefore they ceased the new deportations.”
Palestine, the official journal of the British Zionist movement, described the significant difference between the lobbying capabilities of Jews and Armenians: “The German government knows that the Jews do not compare to the Armenians in terms of their world power, and that the weight of the Jews in Germany is therefore different from that of the Armenians.”
Mordecai Ben-Hillel Hacohen, a prominent chronicler of Jewish history in Palestine, wrote in his diary on March 30, 1917: “the Turkish government has been stained in the eyes of the whole country because of its crime against the Armenians, and perhaps the government will reconsider its thoughts of doing thus to the Jews as well…”
Moshe Smilansky, a leader of the Jewish agricultural settlements in Palestine, after relating reports of the terrible massacres of Armenians, concluded: “The testimony of the eye witnesses aroused fear and panic in the Jewish audience. Who knows what would have been our fate were it not for Morgenthau, the American representative in Constantinople, and the fear of the world press which is ‘controlled’ by the Jews.”
Yair Auron reported in his book that Meir Dizengoff, a leader of the Jewish refugees in Palestine throughout World War I, “worked in close cooperation with the Zionist delegation in Constantinople, which was pro-German and pro-Turkish. According to Dizengoff, there were also excellent relations with the German consul in Palestine. … The consul served as a conduit for transferring funds to the Yishuv [Jewish community], on orders from the German Ambassador in Constantinople.” Dizengoff also stated that the Germans were the ones who assisted and saved the Yishuv. “The fact that Jamal Pasha became more sympathetic to the Jews was due to Germany.” Dizengoff recalled Jamal and Enver Pashas’ threats to the Jews: “Zionists beware! If you oppose us, we will do to you what we have done to the Armenians.”
In October 1917, when the Turkish authorities uncovered the Jewish Nili spy ring, a new threat loomed over the Jewish settlers in Palestine, giving yet another excuse for the Turks to oppress them. They feared that such anti-Turkish efforts would result in harsh counter-measures as practiced against Armenians. The Turkish governor of Haifa met with Jewish leaders of the village of Zichron Yaakov on Oct. 4, 1917, and threatened that unless they cooperated with his demands, he would do to them what he did to Armenians. He told them that he “bare handedly killed several Armenians, and his soldiers killed thousands of them.”
Chaim Margalit-Kalvarisky, the representative of the Jewish Colonization Association in Galilee, wrote the following note in his diary: “I received word from a fairly dependable source that the [Turkish] high command was very angry at the Jewish settlement, and they were consulting about the possibility of a general deportation of all the Jews of Palestine to the furthest provinces of the Empire [Eastern Anatolia].” Kalvarisky recorded Jamal Pasha’s ominous words after a heated exchange with him: “Heaven help the people whose sons are those cursed spies. We taught the Armenian people a lesson about such deeds, and we will not hesitate to take the same steps in this case.”
Having witnessed the brutality of the Turks against Armenians who were accused of insubordination and rebellion, the Jewish settlers decided to be completely submissive and not challenge the Turkish authorities. Auron observed that “there was not a single attack by a Jewish settler on a Turkish soldier.” What ultimately saved the Jews was the occupation of Palestine by the British forces, precluding further brutalities and massacres by the Turkish authorities.
At the end, 1.5 million Armenians were wiped out, whereas the Jewish settlers of Palestine suffered relatively minor losses. During the war years, the Jewish population of Palestine was reduced from 86,000 to 55,000. Despite the fact that Armenians also had their advocates in Europe and the United States, the Jewish settlers enjoyed the double protection of powerful countries on both sides of the war: the Western countries, including the United States, and Germany, Turkey’s military ally. Vahakn Dadrian, in his book The History of the Armenian Genocide, relates that Hans Wangenheim, the German ambassador to Turkey, told U.S. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau: “I will help the Zionists…but I shall do nothing for the Armenians.”
While Germany saved the Jewish settlers of Palestine, it assisted the Young Turk regime in exterminating the Armenians

ADL’s Abraham Foxman Recognizes Armenian Genocide

By Laura Boghosian
BOSTON—After years of equivocation, Anti-Defamation League (ADL) National Director Abraham Foxman this month publicly acknowledged that the Turkish massacres of the Armenian people constituted genocide.
This recognition came after a seven-year campaign in which the Armenian and Jewish communities, as well as human rights activists and local officials, demanded that the ADL affirm this historical truth.
In remarks delivered at Suffolk University Law School’s commencement on May 17, Foxman stated, “Had there been people of courage to act in 1915 when the Armenian Genocide was taking place, had there been international intervention when massacres in Cambodia, Bosnia, and the genocide in Rwanda were happening, innocent lives in great numbers could have been saved.”
The announcement that Foxman would deliver the keynote address and receive an honorary degree unleashed widespread criticism that the university planned to honor a man who refused to issue a clear statement on the Armenian Genocide and who actively lobbied against its recognition.
Groups including the Suffolk chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, Suffolk student organizations, the Armenian Bar Association, Suffolk alumni, and others called on the university to rescind its invitation. When Suffolk refused, several faculty members carried small Armenian flags in silent protest onto the stage where Foxman spoke.
Foxman’s remarks at Suffolk stand in contrast to the ADL’s 2007 statement that the “consequences” of the Turkish government’s actions were “tantamount to genocide.” The Armenian community and its supporters rejected that statement as its qualifiers circumvented the “intent” required by the 1948 United Nations Genocide Convention.
An ADL statement one year later alleging it had “referred to those massacres and atrocities as genocide” was likewise rebuffed as it only “referred” to the unacceptable 2007 statement. Recent claims by Foxman and the ADL that this 2008 release clearly and unequivocally acknowledged the Armenian Genocide are false.
Since that time, human rights activists have continued to press the ADL for an unequivocal acknowledgement, as well as an end to its lobbying for the Turkish government to prevent passage of a Congressional Resolution affirming the Armenian Genocide.
“Abe Foxman’s reference to the Armenian massacres as genocide, without any qualifiers, is a welcome change,” stated Herman Purutyan, Massachusetts chair of the Armenian Assembly of America. “Even though Foxman continues to assert that he had previously acknowledged the genocide, the basis for his claims are a chain of statements, at the root of which is the 2007 statement full of qualifications, intended to obfuscate the question. We expect that Foxman’s statement at Suffolk is not only his personal view, but that it also reflects ADL’s official position. ADL should confirm this by publishing an unequivocal statement on its website, and joining in the efforts to have the U. S. Congress recognize the Armenian Genocide by passing the resolution currently before it.”
Foxman’s remarks reflected growing support by Jewish organizations for recognition of the Armenian Genocide. In March, ADL New England Regional Director Robert Trestan was quoted as stating that the ADL “now fully recognizes the Armenian Genocide without reservation.”
The following month, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) issued a release that read, “We pause in mournful tribute to the memories of the estimated 1.5 million victims of the Meds Yeghern, the Genocide of Armenians, committed in the final years of the Ottoman Empire.” Describing the genocide as “an unspeakable crime against humanity,” the AJC called on the Turkish government to confront the truth.
The Israeli Knesset discussed recognition of the Armenian Genocide at a plenum on May 13. A motion by the left-wing Meretz Party to recognize the genocide before its 100th anniversary next year received support from across the political spectrum, including from the rightist coalition government.
“These reversals of position by major Jewish organizations are quite significant for all those committed to recognition of the genocides of the past century,” said Dikran Kaligian, chairman of the Armenian National Committee (ANC) of Eastern Massachusetts. “No longer will Turkey be able to exploit the differences between the positions of these organizations’ leadership and their membership—the vast majority of whom want nothing to do with Turkey’s genocide denial campaign.”
Locally, the Coalition to Recognize the Armenian Genocide was established in 2008 to foster communication between the Armenian and Jewish communities and to raise awareness of the Armenian Genocide within the Jewish community. Its objectives include advocating for official recognition of the genocide by the United States government. Coalition members include representatives from the Armenian National Committee of America and the Armenian Assembly of America. The coalition facilitated contacts between Armenian activists and members of the ADL and created an online petition calling on Congress to recognize the Armenian Genocide; it has gathered over 21,000 signatures to date.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Lowell Genocide Memorial Gets Rave Notice

LOWELL, Mass.—Knot by knot, a mother’s hands weave the history of her people.
These hands performed another ritual May 10 when they welcomed a crowd of more than 300 people to their side at Lowell City Hall.
At long last (three years in the making) this unique genocide memorial stands proud inside City Hall Plaza—the first time such a monument finds itself across government soil in America.
While other monument unveilings went through some tenuous moments in other parts of the world, this one was dedicated and blessed with fanfare as various churches and organizations staged a united stand behind a group called the Merrimack Valley Armenian Monument Committee.
The stone exceeds six feet in length and takes its place in Monument Park where other ethnic groups are represented. Anyone entering or leaving the building is bound to take notice.
The mother’s hands jets out over a khatchkar (cross-stone) wrapped around an elaborate border with an emotional message below. At the base, an inscription reads, “In Memory” and “Ee Hishadag,” in Armenian.
“There are approximately 230 monuments dedicated to the Armenian Genocide in 42 countries around the world,” said artistic designer Daniel Varoujan Hejinian. “Most of these monuments are located in land belonging to Armenian churches and organizations. What’s so special about this is the fact it is a first in the diaspora—an Armenian Genocide memorial in front of a government building.”
Combined with bronze and granite, the stone shows a mother’s weaving hands sculptured in clay, then refined through an elaborate process to exude a 3-dimensional effect.
As a model, the artist used his sister Lena’s hands. Buried into the foundation of the stone was an actual piece of crochet done by Hejinian’s mother as a symbolic gesture of his family history and the qualities that enhanced the concept.
“In spite of the pain and horror of our genocide, the Armenian people everywhere cast their hopes and dreams, knot by knot, as they bloom and prosper,” added Hejinian, who has personally put up more than 50 genocide billboards around Greater Boston over the past 18 years.
“Our mothers were dream weavers,” he added. “They worked the mills in Lowell, holding down nearly two-thirds of all textile jobs in this city. They came here to weave the fabric of our culture and we owe them all a debt of gratitude.”
Ironic that the unveiling took place on the eve of Mother’s Day after an earlier date was postponed due to a conflict. The fact it rained did little to deter the crowd.
Crowd pours around ‘A Mother’s Hands’ Genocide Memorial with cameras in hand. (Tom Vartabedian Photo)
Crowd pours around ‘A Mother’s Hands’ Genocide Memorial with cameras in hand. (Tom Vartabedian Photo)
Chairman Armen Jeknavorian found a prominent Mother’s Day saying in capturing the moment, “The earth’s warmth is in the mother’s hands.” He, too, looked to the mills for a symbolic connection to the memorial. Like his parents before him, they coped with difficult times in bringing homage to the community.
“The Armenian population in Lowell during the early 1930’s was significant,” he noted. “They built and consecrated their own church in 1916. Our history remains proud with prosperity.”
A procession in the downtown sector was led by members of the Sam Manoian Post, Armenian-American Veterans, led by Commander Richard Juknavorian.
Replica of ‘A Mother’s Hands’ Genocide Memorial is presented to artistic designer Daniel Varoujan Hejinian, center, by Merimack Valley Armenian Monument Committee. Making the presentation were Chairman Armen Jeknavorian, left, and Dr. Ara Jeknavorian. (Tom Vartabedian Photo)
Replica of ‘A Mother’s Hands’ Genocide Memorial is presented to artistic designer Daniel Varoujan Hejinian, center, by Merimack Valley Armenian Monument Committee. Making the presentation were Chairman Armen Jeknavorian, left, and Dr. Ara Jeknavorian. (Tom Vartabedian Photo)
A torch bearing an eternal flame made its way to the entourage, led by youth activists Garo Tashjian and Mgo Kassabian. It originated in Armenia, making its first stop here, and will proceed through communities across America before winding up in Historic Armenia next April.
Children from different church schools held banners and marched with their elder counterparts amid a police escort. Umbrellas were the order of the day before it finally cleared for the dedication ceremony shortly thereafter.
In attendance was Nellie Nazarian, the lone genocide survivor in Merrimack Valley, joined by her family. The 102-year-old was embraced by Armenians and Americans alike for her resilience as she posed for photographs before the stone.
In a special certificate from U.S. Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (Lowell), she applauded the courageous Armenian men and women who have thrived to become a vital part of her community.
“This first monument of its kind in Lowell stands as a testament to Armenians throughout history,” she pointed out. “While we remember the deceased, we also celebrate those who survived, worked the mills, and raised their families with dignity.”
U.S. Congressman John Tierney (Peabody), another strong advocate on Armenian issues, described the monument as a symbol of this community’s strength and resilience in the face of adversity.
“Rest assured that I will continue my efforts to address core humanitarian and economic difficulties that face the Armenian population,” he said.
Other proclamations and remarks were issued by State Senator Eileen Donaghue, State Representative David Nangle, Mayor Rodney Elliott, City Manager Kevin Murphy, City Councilor Rita Mercier (a former ANCA Freedom Award winner), and City Councilor James Milinazzo, who embraced the monument idea and selected the site as former mayor.
Members of Sam Manoian Post, Armenian-American Veterans of Lowell, make their way along downtown Lowell in the rain, led by Commander Richard Juknavorian. (Tom Vartabedian Photo)
Members of Sam Manoian Post, Armenian-American Veterans of Lowell, make their way along downtown Lowell in the rain, led by Commander Richard Juknavorian. (Tom Vartabedian Photo)
Youth of the community presided over a flag-raising ceremony following the monument blessing.
An ambitious fund-raising effort launched a year ago brought it the $35,000 needed by Skylight Studios of Woburn for construction. Another $15,000 is being raised toward the perpetual care. Contributions poured in from around the country from donors who found the concept both eclectic and ingenious.
A reception followed at Lowell High School, where a miniaturized replica of the memorial was presented to Hejinian by committee members as a gesture of gratitude.
A delightful cultural interlude was provided by soloist Sevan Dulgarian, a UMass Amherst freshman and Greater Boston AYF Chapter member.
Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian spoke both at the unveiling and the luncheon. He served as honorary chairman of the project after a visit last summer to the Lowell Folk Festival where he noticed an Armenian tricolor and volunteered to get involved.
“The memorial represents the true Armenian-American dream: an opportunity for us to show the public who we are and what we teach,” he brought out. “The more we teach, the sooner people will realize the truth about our genocide. Your effort here is compatible with what was accomplished at Armenian Heritage Park in Boston. Heart. Commitment. Energy. All the qualities go into it.”
Three students were called upon to read their winning essays on a theme that reflected the monument. They were Anna Shahtanian and Matthew Kochakian, both of St. Gregory Church, North Andover, and Isabelle Kapoian, Sts. Vartanantz Church, Chelmsford.
The event was televised by Haykaram Nahapetyan, representing public television of Armenia H1, and also received front-page exposure in the local press. Serving as master of ceremonies throughout the day was Dr. Ara Jeknavorian, committee activist and co-chairman of the Armenian National Committee of Merrimack Valley.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

An ANCA Open Letter about Azerbaijan’s Growing Threat

Dear fellow friends of Armenia:
“Our main enemies are the Armenians of the world!”
That’s not Talaat Pasha or Abdul Hamid talking. And these words aren’t from 1915.
They were recently spoken by Azerbaijan’s Ilham Aliyev. Baku’s oil-rich autocrat who openly lays claim to Yerevan, pardons anti-Armenian axe-killers, and, with his Turkish partners, is striving to isolate Armenia and destroy Artsakh.
He’s angry, full of irrational hatred against each and every Armenian around the world.
We haven’t seen a world leader demonize an entire ethnicity like this since Nazi Germany.
And it’s not just talk.
He’s backed up his threats with tens of millions of lobbying dollars. With fatal cross-border attacks, sniper fire, and a vast multi-billion dollar arms build-up.
Aliyev spends more on arms every year than Armenia’s entire state budget.
Scary as it may be, it’s time we took Aliyev at his word. With his allies in Ankara, he’s out to finish the work of 1915. He’s announced his motive, has the opportunity, and is buying the weapons.
So, what stands in his way?
Well, first and foremost, the brave young men who stand guard, night and day, along the frontiers of Armenian freedom. These soldiers are true heroes.
And behind these courageous defense forces (and their families) are the rest of us. You and me and the 7 out of 10 Armenians who live outside our homeland.
We’re the Second Army of the Armenian nation—in many ways, our homeland’s first line of defense. But, like any army, we need our people’s support—the resources, financial and otherwise—to sustain and strengthen our advocacy.
We are not called upon to make the sacrifices of soldiers, who put their lives on the line every day. But, make no mistake, the stakes for Armenia are just as high. Armenians worldwide, inspired by the Hai Tahd movement, truly play a vital role in protecting our homeland and promoting our rights.
Today our activism is more crucial than ever. Our nation is calling to us, as she has so often before. Recall the words of our great poet Yeghishe Charents:
“Oh! Armenian People, Your Salvation Lies Only in Your Collective Power.”
Charents was right then, and his wise words still echo in our hearts.
In this timeless spirit of common service to our greater cause, let us, as proud sons and daughters of a united nation, rally to the call of our homeland.
None of us can do everything, but each of us should do something. And a great place to start is by being part of ANCA Telethon 2014.
This is, very simply, the devotion we owe to our past. The determination we owe to our future. And the sacred debt we owe to ourselves. With your enduring faith and continued support, we can fight on all the fronts of the Armenian Cause:
– Securing Armenian Genocide recognition and reparations (starting with Turkey’s return of Armenian Church properties) through advocacy and the assertion of our national rights through an innovative new ANCA law and justice center in Washington, D.C.
–Strengthening Armenia, creating jobs, reversing out-migration, fighting corruption, fostering democracy, growing the U.S.-Armenia economic relationship, and building Homeland-Diaspora consensus and cooperation around our shared national ideals.
–Defending and supporting the status and security of the independent Republic of Nagorno Karabagh, pushing back against Azerbaijani aggression, and fighting the growing power of anti-Armenian lobbies here in America. Just last week we lead the drive to get California to recognize the independence of the Nagorno Karabagh Republic!
–Investing in ourselves, our community, and especially our youth, through the purchase of a new ANCA Capital Gateway House, a home for Armenians from across American who have come to Washington to start careers in politics, policy-making, and the media.
–Maintaining Armenian identity and culture in our diaspora, by engaging and inspiring our youth and encouraging civic activism, and by protecting our communities in the Middle East by ensuring the delivery of international humanitarian relief to our at-risk communities.
We’re fighting 24×7 for your views and values, on all these issues and many others. With your early support for the ANCA Telethon we’ll be able to do even more. Large or small, every donation makes a difference.
As always, I am eager to hear your thoughts, comments, and suggestions. E-mail me any time at To give, simply visit the secure website,
Aram Hamparian
Executive Director,
Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA)

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Magnum State Terror - Genocide

Article of the Day
The Magnum State Terror - Genocide
Prof. Khatchatur I. Pilikian
Thursday, 15 May 2014 Volume # 9, Issue # 89 Page 1
RAG MAMOUL receives material from around the world and in many languages. Our Liberal principles advocate ‘Freedom of speech’ as a mainstay of our beliefs; consequently the subjects and ideas presented will not necessarily reflect our point of view.
All published material is reviewed, however, we rely on the kind understanding of our audience when grammatical and spelling mistakes are missed. And in some rare cases, correction of submitted material is purposely not addressed, if it changes the implied context of the author.
In a masterpiece of a poem titled An Evening Promenade= Akşam Gesintisi, written soon after he was released, in 1950, from prison, Nazim Hikmet, posthumous 2002 Nobel laureate, remembered his Armenian friend whose father was butchered “in the Kurdish mountains.” Hikmet versified his rage against such
crimes, calling them “this black shame brought on the Turkish people.” (bu karayı sürenleri Türk halkının alnina).
Kemalist Turkey had kept its greatest poet, Hikmet, incarcerated for 13 years.
The original inhabitants in their ancestral lands being wiped off, Western or Turkish Armenia, and parts of Eastern or Russian Armenia, eventually became part of the Kemalist Republic of Turkey in 1923.
The eminent British member of both The Balkan and The British Armenian Committees, Bishop Harold Buxton, assessed the human cost of the Genocide of the Armenians.

Thursday, 15 May 2014 Volume # 9, Issue # 89 Page 2
He wrote: “In the First World War, the Armenians lost as many lives as did the whole British Empire”.
Let me confess, both of my parents, who dared outlive the Genocide of 1915, never entertained hatred towards the Turkish people. I feel serenely proud of that ethical heritage. That magnum crime was, my parents believed, the essence of the rabid nationalist politics nurtured among the late-Ottoman hierarchy, eventually sanctioned by the proto-Nazi Young Turks.
Deep in my heart I wish Armenians had no such experience to talk about. I would have been happier if people all over the world also had no such terrorizing experience. But most importantly, I truly believe that our precious and only world will be a much better place to live, and die for that matter, if that ultimate state terrorism is banished out of existence for all times to come. No wonder this plea, mentioned in an Armenian dictum: “I pray God not to let this evil befall my worst enemy.”
Whenever and wherever it happened, and alas it still happens, genocide is always premeditated, conceptualized and its execution meticulously organized at the highest governmental levels.
Significantly, implementing genocide’s execution always demanded a world turbulence characterizing each epoch.
During centuries of colonial expansions and endemic wars, genocide and slavery were the necessary masts of the pirating strategy for the conquest of land and raw material. All colonial powers were engaged in it. World opinion, still in its infancy, was no more than a feeble gesture.
The imperialism of the 20th century made a world war somehow the ‘prerequisite’ for any attempt to implement the execution of genocide as a ‘final solution’. World opinion was starting to bite. The UN was founded and ‘man’s inhumanity to man’ had finally a name—Genocide, and an international tribunal (Nuremberg) was set to condemn and punish its perpetrators.
But even after the Second World War another epochal turbulence--the Cold War era--‘acted’ as a ‘shock absorbent’ for horrendous genocides…
Toward the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st, the Cold War finally melted away in the heat of the arrogance of globalization, while genocide persists to remain on the threshold of rampant conflicts in all corners of the world.
The new world turbulence is now labelled the Long War, the latest neo-con synonym for the war on terror.
Wars were not and are not causes but excuses for Genocides.
Thursday, 15 May 2014 Volume # 9, Issue # 89 Page 3
In the case of the Genocide of the Armenians the crucial vicious acts were already initiated and were being executed before the Ottoman Turkey's declaration of War on Nov. 5, 1914.
In a nutshell, the Armenian tragedy did not start because of the WWI in 1915--as the Ottoman Young Turk government and subsequent Turkish governments were and are still keen to link the magnum historical criminal act with 1915 WWI, hence their claim of the 'betrayal' of the Armenians. And even, alas, our In Memoriam April 24 1915, took the date of the rounding up of Armenian intellectuals as the 'starting' point of our magnum tragedy, thus unwittingly, albeit apparently ‘yielding’ to the criminal excuse. Here are the stages of that man’s Inhumanity to man before 1915.
A. Preliminary Implementation
Kâmil Pasha (1838-1912), Grand Vizier or the Prime Minister of the Ottoman Empire and four times Sultan Abdul Hamid’s prime minister, declared in late 1870s, the following:
"If we nurtured snakes in our midst in Europe, we should not repeat the same folly in Asiatic Tajkastan [Turkey]. […]Thus, we must eliminate, leave behind no traces of that Armenian nation. And to accomplish this task, we are lacking in nothing; […]We can declare a religious war--waged against a nation that has no arms, no army, and no defender, whereas, in contrast, we have one of the greatest and richest states of the world as our comrade-in-arms and the guardian of our Asian world." (Quoted in the Armenian literary monthly, Ports=Trial. Tiflis, 1879)
From 1894-1896 in Sassun, Van, Zeitun and Diarbekir, Turkish attacks on Armenians resulted in the massacre of 300,000 Armenians. Some 3,000 villages were burned. Prof. Em. Dillon (1854-1933), the Irish linguist and journalist, sketched the tragedy and concluded thus: “It is already proven that the pillage and the massacres of Sassun is the deliberately organized act of the Sublime Porte, an act planned meticulously and executed mercilessly.”
B. Preparatory/tactical executions
The massacres in Adana (Cilicia) of April 1909 resulted in 30,000 Armenian deaths. “This massacre was more terrible than those in the days of Abdul Hamid . . . Those Armenians who had succeeded in escaping the first carnage are now destroyed. Adana has become a veritable inferno.” Helen Davenport Gibbons, eyewitness to the Adana massacres.
On July 27, 1914 the government of the Young Turks started conscripting Armenians, before the First World War broke out. The move was intended to deplete the Armenian nation of its able-bodied male population who were herded into amele tabourou=labour battalions, eventually to order them to dig their own mass graves…
On August 2, 1914 the Young Turks decided to create, out of its Teshkilati Makhsusa=special formation, a new structure to deal with ‘interior matters’, so as to start and implement their proto-Nazi party conference decisions.
On August 6, 1914 a secret agreement between Turkey and Germany promised Caucasus (including Eastern/Russian Armenia) to Turkey.
Before Ottoman Turkey’s declaration of war on the Entente powers (November 5) and until December 1914, 200,000 Armenian civilians, mostly women, the elderly and children were already uprooted and decimated, not counting the imminent tragedy, as mentioned above, prepared for the 300,000 conscripted Armenian male population. Few thousand Armenians had managed to flee and reach Russian occupied Eastern Armenia. Many of them served in the volunteer regiments of the tsar fighting in Western--so-called Turkish Armenia. An estimated 300,000 Armenians fought alongside the Entente powers in Europe and the Middle East, including Palestine -- a classic example of cannon fodder of 600,000 Armenians sacrificing their lives, country and all for the imperialist appetites of both the Entente and the Central Powers.
The First World War set the stage for the Final Solution.
C. Strategic Executions / Final Solution
Thus declared Nazim Bey Selanikly (1870-1926), the executive secretary of the Young Turks Central Board, early in 1915, during a Central Board meeting presided over by his comrade-brother Talaat:
“It is imperative that the Armenian people be completely exterminated; that not even one single Armenian be left on our soil; that the name, Armenian, be obliterated. We are now at war; there is no more auspicious occasion than this; this country must be purged of all non-Turk elements”.
Starting on April 24, 1915 and until mid-May, the Armenian civic population was practically depleted of its intellectuals; 196 writers, 575 musicians, 336 doctors, 176 teachers and college professors, 160 lawyers, 62 architects, 64 actors...were arrested, deported, disappeared for good...
On June 15, 1915 twenty prominent members of the Armenian Social Democratic Hnchakian Party were hanged in Bayazit Square, Istanbul. The Hnchakians stood in opposition to the Ittihadists. That was a mortal sin.
The culminating act of the genocidal scheme was thus set in motion. The elderly, the women and the children, nearly the entire Armenian population of Asia Minor was ordered out, southward toward the deserts of Northern Syria.
Vandalism, rape, extortion, torture, starvation, murder infinitum. The rest is...the scream of humanity at its most infernal.
The basic question remains: what kind of world are we living in?
UNESCO has been warning, for decades, that the greatest shame of the current civilization is that thousands of children die of hunger every single day. Today that number has reached the staggering 44,000 hungry children dying each day, as if a Hiroshima bomb is unleashed every single day just to kill children.
Can there be any doubt that this child cleansing is also the unmentioned genocide of humanity, on-going and authentic, which surely is the outcome of our socio-economic and industrial military system, now coined with cynical panache as Globalization, whereby tens of thousands of nuclear warheads, each averaging at least 20 times the destructive power of a Hiroshima bomb, are already in deployment all around the world.

Meanwhile billions pour into the pockets of the warmongers of modern metropolises. These warlords of mammon would eventually thrive in an ‘Inorganic Paradise’—a ‘paradise’ void of universal human rights and sustained by legalized torture; glorification of violence geared towards maximizing profit at any cost; xenophobic state terror protected with religious fervour. And, topping as if the macabre orgy, genocide has been already tested, for a century now, to become the collateral damage of its inorganically modernized and sweat-shopped ‘global village’ of hunger and debt.
When genocides, torture, poverty and wars are justified as “human nature” or as a historical and economic necessary evil, nay even as historical inevitability of the “so called” clashing civilizations, then and there silence acquires an obscene eloquence in support of inhumanity-- sheer barbarism of total terror.
Unless, of course, humanity will ‘rage against the dying’ of its dreams and refuses to become cannon fodder for the ‘profane patrons’ of genocide: mammon, racism and terror, thus guarding its deeds of tolerance and justice, fair share and good care, compassion and conscience—the true wealth of the world, hence the health of nations.

Diaspora News
Washington DC , USA
Schiff Presses Erdogan, Gul on Genocide,
at Meeting in Ankara
Schiff: “Fact That Some Armenians Escaped Annihilation Makes It No Less a Genocide”
WASHINGTON— As part of a Congressional Delegation to the Middle East and Asia focused on terrorism, homeland security and the war in Syria, Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) had separate meetings with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, President Abdullah Gul and other Turkish high government officials.
In his meeting with the Prime Minister, Schiff challenged the notion expressed by Erdogan in a recent interview that because there are Armenian survivors still living in Turkey, there could have been no genocide. This is the equivalent, Schiff argued, of saying that because some Jews in Europe escaped death, there was no Holocaust. Schiff also questioned whether it was possible to have the open discourse in Turkey about the events of 1915-1923 that Erdogan called for in his statement of April 23rd, if Turkish professors, historians, journalists and ordinary citizens still faced demotion, intimidation, potential prosecution or violence for expressing the conviction that the Armenian Genocide is a historic fact.
In his meeting with President Gul, Schiff said that he wanted to speak for the many tens of thousands of his constituents of Armenian descent who may never get the chance to address the President directly.
―You will not find one of my 80,000 Armenian constituents untouched by the Genocide,‖ he said. ―Each of them has lost a parent or grandparent, their cousins, brothers or sisters, or their entire family. Their pain is real, their wounds are open, this is no distant relic of the past. To say, as you and the Prime Minister have, that yes, Armenians suffered but so too did Turks during World War I, is akin to saying that the Germans also suffered during World War II. It is true that many German civilians died, many noncombatants, but that does not negate the Holocaust any more than the fact that many Turks died could negate the Genocide. To propose, as you have, that a historic commission be established to ascertain the facts of the Genocide is not unlike suggesting that a commission needs to be established to determine whether the Holocaust took place.‖
Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hagopian
After a violent attack on Syrian Kessab – a majority Armenian town, the Armenians forcibly moved to the now Turkish village Vakf, on May 15, will be moved to Beirut. Informed the Minister of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia Hranush Hagopian.
―We were working with the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Armenian organizations in Lebanon and Syria. Our point is that 5 more persons joined the 22 who expressed a desire to reunite with their families, the families are not in Armenia, that is why they should reach either Beirut, or Latakia. According to our sources, since they had no documents, these days they had received documents to be able to move, tomorrow, May 15, they must pass to Beirut‖,– said the Minister.
The Ministry had earlier appealed to the Armenian Delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross, handing over the list of all Kessab-Armenians who are in Turkey, and had asked for help to reunite the Kessab-Armenians with their families.

Our main aim is to produce, broadcast and publish a digital communication journal
that will be distributed throughout a vast network of 25,000 + qualified Armenian
recipients, in Armenia and the Diaspora.
Articles from well-known authors, issues affecting Armenia and Armenians, reports of
events organized in Armenia and the Diaspora, press releases and general
commentary/viewpoints will be the mainstay basis of this undertaking.
By taking advantage of modern technology, we will be disseminating acceptable
(Edited) information, in as many languages as possible, and will endeavour to publish
at least one article per day at the minimum.
This massive and growing digital reach, should be very attractive to concerned
columnists, readers and advertisers as it will be prepared and presented in a visually
simple, easy to read and attractive format.

Editorial Staff
ALINE BALIAN (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
DIANA DER GARABEDIAN (Buenos Aires, Argentine)
SEVAG HAGOPIAN (Beirut, Lebanon)
Dr. MINAS KOJAYAN (Los Angeles, USA)
HAYG NACCASHIAN (Montreal, Canada)
GARABED SAYABALIAN (Marseille, France)
Tel: +374 77 00 22 11 Fax: +1 647 435 0800

Obama Listens to Repeated References to Armenian Genocide at Shoah Gala

On May 7, I attended a very impressive benefit gala at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza hotel in Los Angeles, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the USC Shoah Foundation, which archives the testimonies of survivors and witnesses of the Jewish Holocaust, the Armenian, Cambodian, and Rwandan Genocides, and the 1937 Nanjing Massacre.
Internationally acclaimed Oscar-winning director Steven Spielberg, after filming “Schindler’s List,” established the Shoah Foundation to collect and preserve the personal accounts of survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust. In 2006, the Shoah Foundation became part of the University of Southern California and currently holds 52,000 video testimonies in 34 languages, representing 58 countries. It is the largest archive of its kind in the world.
The gala was attended by President Obama, who received the “Ambassador for Humanity” award. Also in attendance were Samuel Jackson, Octavia Spencer, Barbra Streisand, Liam Neeson, and Bruce Springsteen, who performed two of his poignant songs, “Promised Land,” and “Dancing in the Dark.”
In 2010, the Armenian Film Foundation and J. Michael Hagopian signed a historic agreement with the Shoah Foundation to digitize, preserve, and disseminate filmed interviews with survivors and witnesses of the Armenian Genocide. Last month, 400 digitized copies of the Armenian testimonies were delivered to USC Shoah Foundation’s Institute for Visual History and Education. By the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide on April 24, 2015, the Armenian testimonies, after they are translated, subtitled, and indexed, will be made available along with eyewitness accounts of the Holocaust and other genocides to 50 institutions (including the U.S. Holocaust Museum) in 30 countries.
Nearly 100 Armenian-Americans attended the May 7 gala, raising over $100,000 for the Armenian collection at Shoah. During the evening’s program, several speakers made references to the Armenian Genocide. Spielberg was the first to announce that the Armenian Genocide testimonies were to be included in the Shoah archives. A video shown to the attendees featured several photographs of J. Michael Hagopian, genocide survivor Paul Andonian, and Armenian deportees on a death march. Shoah Foundation Executive Director Stephen Smith also spoke about the Armenian Genocide, acknowledging the presence of Yevnige Salibian, a 104-year-old genocide survivor from Aintab. Banquet host comedian Conan O’Brien, after acknowledging Salibian’s presence from the podium, walked over to her table when the gala ended and had a picture taken with her.
As an honored guest, Salibian was seated next to TV celebrity Kim Kardashian. The following day, Kardashian posted on social media her photograph with Salibian, adding the following message: “Honored to be at the USC Shoah Foundation event to support Armenian Genocide testimonies. I’m sitting next to the most inspiring 100-year-old Armenian Genocide survivor.” Within a few days, her posting received close to 400,000 “Likes” and almost 5,000 comments on Instagram, and 110,000 “Likes” on her Facebook page.
Despite repeated references to the Armenian Genocide from the podium, Obama did not make any direct references to Armenians or the Armenian Genocide in his 18-minute speech, nor was he expected to do so! However, the president made indirect references to genocides other than the Holocaust, without specifying them. Here are some excerpts:
“I want to say a special word to the survivors who are with us this evening, not just of the Holocaust, but as Steven [Spielberg] noted, survivors of other unimaginable crimes.”
“If the memories of the Shoah survivors teach us anything, it is that silence is evil’s greatest co-conspirator. And it’s up to us—each of us, every one of us—to forcefully condemn any denial of the Holocaust.”
“You [Spielberg]…documented the experience not only of the Holocaust, but of atrocities before and since. … To you and everybody at the Shoah Foundation, and for all that you’ve done, for setting a light, an eternal flame of testimony, that can’t be extinguished and cannot be denied, we express our deepest gratitude.”
Armenians do not need to press Obama to explicitly refer to the Armenian Genocide. Another U.S. president, Ronald Reagan, already acknowledged it in his Presidential Proclamation of April 22, 1981. It is unnecessary to insist that every U.S. president make the same acknowledgment year after year. Obama may consider using the term Armenian Genocide not for the sake of Armenians, but to uphold his own integrity by keeping the solemn pledge he made as a presidential candidate. Only then could he fully qualify as an “Ambassador for Humanity.”

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

European Court Orders Turkey to Pay Cyprus over Invasion

European Court Orders Turkey to Pay Cyprus over Invasion

May 12, 2014

ISTANBUL (AP)—Europe’s top human rights court in its largest ever judgment ordered Turkey on Monday to pay 90 million euros ($123 million) to Cyprus for its 1974 invasion and the island’s subsequent division.
The decision from the European Court of Human Rights said the passage of time did not erase Turkey’s responsibility in the case, ruling that Turkey must pay 30 million euros in damages to relatives of those missing in the operations and 60 million euros for “the enclaved Greek-Cypriot residents of the Karpas peninsula.”
Hundreds of Greek Cypriots still live in the Karpas peninsula in the northernmost tip of the breakaway Turkish Cypriot part of the island.
Cyprus has been divided since Turkey invaded in 1974 after a coup by supporters of union with Greece. Only Turkey recognizes the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state that was proclaimed in the north of the island.
The judgment comes as the Turkish and Greek Cypriot communities are making a new effort to reunite the island.
Speaking ahead of the ruling on Monday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu warned that a judgment against Turkey would come at a delicate time and said that he viewed it as “neither binding nor of any value.”
“Not only is it legally problematic, its timing is wrong,” Davutoglu said.
The court said it would be up to the government of Cyprus to determine how to award the damages. Turkey has not always complied with the court’s rulings.
In a 1998 ruling, the Strasbourg court ordered Turkey to pay Titina Loizidou compensation for depriving her of property in the seaside city of Kyrenia. It was the first case in which a Greek Cypriot successfully sued Turkey over the invasion and earned the right to compensation.
Turkey paid the money in 2003, but has yet to comply with an earlier European Court decision ordering Ankara to allow Loizidou to reclaim her property.
Analysts noted that the case was notable not only because of its size, but also because it took Turkey to task for the invasion and awarded the money to Cyprus on behalf of individuals, a sensitive point that could affect current reunification talks.
“The big question is how the decision will affect the negotiations that are the most promising ever. It could put the talks into difficulty,” said Cengiz Aktar, an analyst on Turkey-EU affairs at the Istanbul Policy Center.
Achilleas Demetriades, a prominent human rights lawyer in Cyprus, who has won several cases in the European Court involving Turkey, said that the judgment pertains to Turkey’s failure to carry out an effective investigation of the whereabouts of Greek Cypriots who disappeared during and after the invasion of the island, and to provide that information to relatives of the missing.
The European Court of Human Rights most recently made news when it deemed, through a verdict, that public denial of the Armenian Genocide does not constitute a crime in Europe, contradicting several European laws that criminalize the public denial of the Armenian Genocide as with similar laws regarding the Jewish Holocaust. The Swiss government has since then appealed the Court’s decision amid public backlash.

The Road from Diyarbakir: A Call to Deepen Kurdish Commitment to Genocide Justice

click for more
The poster of the conference
BERLIN, Germany (A.W.)—On May 10, a conference on “The 1915 Genocide: Collective Responsibility and Roles; Kurdish, Armenian, Assyrian Relations” was held in Berlin. It brought together two generations of Kurdish intellectuals to discuss inter-communal relations before and after the genocide and the responsibilities of Kurds in the process and conciliation and making amends.
Armenian Weekly Editor Khatchig Mouradian delivered the following speech, in Turkish, calling on Kurdish opinion-makers and politicians to expand and deepen their role in bringing justice to the victims of the Armenian Genocide.
For the Turkish version of the speech, click here.
I pass through Diyarbakir on all my trips to Turkey.
In January 2013, I was scheduled to speak at a conference in Ankara dedicated to Hrant Dink, and once again I decided to first make a stop in Diyarbakir.
It was Jan. 17 when I landed in Diyarbakir. Some of you here will remember that day. Hundreds of thousands had gathered for the funeral of activist Sakine Cansiz and her comrades.
As I stood in the crowd listening to the speeches, my mind wandered from Dersim to Diyarbakir to Ankara…
Two days later, in Ankara, I delivered my first speech in Turkish.
I started like this:
How did Turkish come to me?
I did not learn it to add one more foreign language to my CV.
Turkish came to me the day I was born. I had not asked for it, yet I could not reject it, either.
It came to me in the voice of my grandmother.
For you, Turkish is the mother tongue. For me it’s my grandmother’s language.
My grandparents survived the genocide and ended up in Lebanon with practically nothing. They rebuilt their lives from scratch, and gave my parents the gift of life.
And when I was born, they gave me one of the few things they were, in fact, able to bring with them from Kilikia: the Turkish language.
For you, Turkish is the language of parental love.
For me, it is the burden of death and dispossession.
My Turkish has memories of death and dispossession from Adana, Kilis, Konya Eregli, and Hasanbeyli. The villages and towns of my grandparents.
And today, for the first time, I speak that language from a podium.
Today, for the first time, I return that gift of death and dispossession to the lands it came from…
At the end of the speech, I said:
But asking others to open their eyes and acknowledge the suffering of Armenians can never be enough.
What is necessary is justice.
So today, I return the language of death and dispossession to you.
And instead, in the name of my grandparents, Khachadour and Meline Mouradian, Ardashes and Aghavni Gharibian, I demand a language of justice.
Today, as we discuss “The 1915 Genocide: Collective Responsibility and Roles,” I once again think about the funeral and my speech. And my mind wanders from Dersim to Diyarbakir to Ankara. Because I believe the road to justice passes through Diyarbakir.
A scene from the conference (Photo:
A scene from the conference (Photo:
I can hear the sound of justice, albeit faint, in the ringing of the Sourp Giragos Church bell, in the voices of Islamized Armenians learning the Armenian language, and—sometimes—in the statements of Kurdish leaders.
And that sound must be amplified, so that it reaches Van, Hakkari, Şırnak, Dersim, Batman, Bitlis, and Ağrı.
And eventually Ankara.
Let us not talk about brotherhood and peace. I am tired of the incessant use, misuse, and abuse of these words in Turkey.
Let us not talk about shared dolma, shared pain, an Anatolian diaspora, Turkish passports, lobbies, condolences, and other absurdities.
The road to conciliation passes through justice. There are no shortcuts.
Ankara keeps the border with Armenia shut, but Diyarbakir can open another border: The border with the diaspora.
And that border can only open with justice.
As we approach the centennial of the Armenian Genocide, let our minds, together, wander from Dersim, to Diyarbakir, to Ankara.
Many of you here know that Sakine Cansiz was from Dersim, and that her nom de guerre, Sara, was her Armenian grandmother’s name.
Hundreds of thousands gathered to pay their respect to Sakine Cansiz in January last year. But that respect has not been paid to Sakine’s grandmother, and the million and a half who perished during the genocide.
Mouradian during his speech.
Mouradian during his speech.
That respect has not been paid to my grandparents.
So let hundreds of thousands gather in Diyarbakir on April 24, 2015, to commemorate the genocide of the Armenians, Assyrians, and Pontic Greeks.
And to make the voice of justice stronger.

13 Comments on The Road from Diyarbakir: A Call to Deepen Kurdish Commitment to Genocide Justice

  1. how can there be justice when all the pertinent records have been destroyed in the Turkish archives
    according to the Turkish media a truck transporting papers flying all over the road and a closer examination by a reporter proved that the archives are being sanitized.
  2. avatar BERGE JERMAKIAN // May 13, 2014 at 9:53 am // Reply
    My dad and his brothers escaped the pogrom of 1894-96 and made their way to the USA. They never talked about what happened, but gave me Armenian as my first language. I have for these many years helplessly agonized over the loss of life and a nation in the various pogroms that keep occurring in Turkey. I thank the wisdom of my father for bringing us up in the United States, a safe nation!
  3. avatar Paulette Bezazian // May 13, 2014 at 11:58 am // Reply
    The Armenian side of my family came from Dikranagerd. They emigrated to Constantinople, then my grandfather was sent to the US to find work. He ultimately brought over the rest of his family. Our lives would have been very different had this not happened, whether for better or worse, I do not know. I do know, however, that I am grateful for the values my grandfather taught me. Like most immigrants, however, he did not want to teach us Armenian–we were Americans and that was that.
    Unless, however, Turkey takes responsibility for the history of the genocides against various peoples, there will be no reconciliation.
    • @Paulette, this is the first time I hear that most immigrants did not want to teach their children and grandchildren their mother tongue. I would argue the reason why those Armenians who did not get to teach their kids Armenian, the earlier generations of Armenians who escaped the Turkish slaughter and ended up in America in particular, was because they were too busy trying to rebuild their shattered lives and also because they were too preoccupied with their economic survivals.
      One other reason I can think of was because, unlike these days with all the necessary means, back in those days the Armenian communities were scattered all over the United States with no established community centers, schools and such. It is inevitable that under such circumstances some children fall victim to assimilation. Despite all the reasons I mentioned and given their state of minds and the lack of formal educational centers, I still think the best way they could have gotten back at their Turkish murderers would have been to make sure to at least pass onto their children their spoken Armenian. I say this because I strongly believe it is one’s language, therefore one’s culture as a result, that acts as a shield and deterrent against assimilation. What better way for these people to spit at the faces of their racist and blood-thirsty Turkish killers than to revive and grow even stronger!
  4. avatar Bedros Zerdelian // May 13, 2014 at 12:09 pm // Reply
    Bravo Kkatchig, God bless the memory of your patriarchal family and your mission for JUSTICE.
    Thank you.
  5. {“Let us not talk about brotherhood and peace. I am tired of the incessant use, misuse, and abuse of these words in Turkey.
    Let us not talk about shared dolma, shared pain, an Anatolian diaspora, Turkish passports, lobbies, condolences, and other absurdities.”}
    Well said Mr. Mouradian.
    that’s the word for it: Absurdities.
  6. my grandparents escaped from aintab, they spoke turkish with each other and other Armenians that have escaped from the genocide. but they would speak Armenian to their grandchildren, i learned turkish by listening to them and their and friends conversation in turkish. when i meet turks and i speak turkish to them the first thing they ask me is are you a turk! i tell them i am Armenian and that my grandparents escaped from turkey genocide, some would deny it and other’s would just keep grandparents lost a lot of their relatives to the genocide. the day will come turkey will admit to the Armenian genocide.
  7. avatar arsho zakarian // May 13, 2014 at 7:22 pm // Reply
    I too learned Turkish from my grandmother, she was from Kayseri/Gessaria. It was forbidden to speak Armenian, whoever did, their tongue was cut off. This is not a fable, in my research, I found out that kind of harsh and inhuman punishment was vey true…My grandmother suffered and agonized not knowing Armenian and she instructed all her grandkids not to speak that language after her death. “benden sowna bou lisane ghoneshmayin” she said. As a survivor of Genocide, she never forgot those horrific years, she told us the stories and was able to convey along the brutal treatment, the kindness very few Turks showed. It means that truth, justice and humanity can be found even when governments and authorities deny, cover up, destroy and spend millions to distort history, reality, memoirs and archives.
  8. When Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974 we found out how “civilized” the Turks are. In other words given the opportunity they would repeat the 1915 genocide all over again, which they did. The Turkish DNA has not changed. Let’s not deceive ourselves. But what is more sickening is that they are being protected by the US and their politicians know they can get away with murder since the United States is their protector for whatever reason. All I know is that the Turks are brutal, uncivilized without a trace of humanity in their little pinky. The 1915 genocide was repeated in Cyprus in 1974 when horror stories were heard throughout the island. I am not going to repeat them here but we can all use our imagination. Also, more than two thousand young Greek Cypriot men disappeared without a trace. To this day no one knows what happened to them. Did we hear about sanctions from the European Union or the USA??? Talk about double standard and pure hypocrisy!!!!
  9. avatar Partev Panossian // May 13, 2014 at 11:43 pm // Reply
    Khachik, You are great. Armenian People need Thousands of Khachik Mouradians to teach History of Armenians to the World. Specially to the present government of Armenia.
  10. avatar Tina Bastajian // May 14, 2014 at 3:38 am // Reply
    See you in Diyarbakir in 2015.
  11. Turkey must take responsibility for its crime and pay the price , i’m sick and tired of listening to people who believe that with Turkish kind words all our pain will go away , now way , it doesn’t work like that , that will only help our nation disappear slowly , either Turkey acknowledges the Armenian Genocide or war it is .
  12. avatar Sylva-MD-Poetry // May 14, 2014 at 10:31 am // Reply
    I Shall Return Where I Belonged ““Dikranagerd-Tigranakert””
    Your Name Harshly Degraded, Shan’’t Vanish,
    As Our Souls Breathing Soundlessly There!
    Return . . . Dear Armenians return from everywhere
    Return . . . to your real land From Artsakh to Anatolia
    and further west To view dead valleys . . . rivers.
    To Tigranakert where King Tigranes II (Dikran the Great*)
    Implanted his first stone to build a civilized city,
    He turned it green, like Eden’’s place.
    See the invaders change everything including the name
    By smashing every piece of rock carved with it,
    Changing it from Dikranagerd to Diyarbakir;
    Changed King’’s Dikran name to Diyar from word dar
    That means ‘‘homes’’ in stolen languages and . . . why
    The Bakir . . . means a new land . . . newborn!
    Return . . .
    To see your churches, cathedrals destroyed
    Their grounds no longer filled of marbles . . . stones
    Scene . . . full of wild plants . . . dried weeds and smelly sands,
    Bones of killed animals, and insects scattered, dry, breathless.
    No khoran, altars left to pray and call old God.
    Even the Almighty, scornfully lost his faith . . .
    Left those lands for scavengers to breathe in,
    Robbers of stones and of churches to
    Build on seized lands, many ugly shanty homes
    Deprived of basic art . . .
    Nevertheless . . . still, you can see some stones
    Carved on crosses typical of Armenian art, Khatchkar
    In it the Armenian alphabet which can still be read.
    Some rocks are decorated by our ancient animals and planets.
    Your cemeteries are alive only awaiting excavation;
    Let souls of DNA arise and wrestle with slayers and
    Scream to reach the sky . . .
    Narrate what the slayers did
    In that artful, educated, dedicated people’’s fertile lands.
    Recently I saw on TV . . .
    Photos that left me smashed soundless . . .
    That ruins crossed my hidden volcanic flames . . .
    To shout where are the real humans in this life.
    On my grandparents’’ serenade dative terrains . . .
    There were schools, colleges, goldsmiths, music, art . . .
    On every corner, the bells jingled calling saints.
    My grandmother used to say,
    ““Our house was near the cathedral **
    Every Sunday the city was quiet
    Believers attended there to pray!””
    June 27, 2010
    From My Historical Poetry Collection…”My Son-My Sun:Chants Ann,…” June2011

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Akcam: Sorry, But We’re No Longer Impressed: We’ve Changed.

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“The poor speak at length of the rich man’s possessions, but it benefits them not.” (Zenginin malı fukaranın çenesini yorarmış). So goes the Turkish expression, and thus is it is with the Turkish Prime Minister’s recent comments on the events of 1915. No doubt, they will be discussed and debated at length, because no Turkish Prime Minister before Mr. Erdoğan has ever given such a speech. But are his words really that earthshaking?
I’m not at all enthused about the prospect of weighing in on the matter at this point. Clearly, there are many things that could be said! I am reminded of the half full/half empty debate. Some will now see the glass of “1915 debate” as half full and the prime minister’s words as an historic event—possibly even a “turning point,” since, before his speech, it was nearly empty. Such positive declarations will most likely emerge from circles close (or closer) to the AKP government, those who have not been on the receiving end of its harsh and repressive policies. Even Turkey’s more liberal sectors are sure to respond in a cautiously optimistic “wait-and-see” manner to Erdoğan’s utterances.
On the other hand, there will be those who will look at the still empty portion of the glass with a time-honored cynicism. In these quarters the speech is sure to be met with wry assessments such as: “Just another of Tayyip’s games,” and “Talk is cheap; actions speak louder than words.” These will be followed by suspicions: “Why now [after more than a decade in power]?” and “What’s the real reason for such pronouncements?” These statements will no doubt come from the opponents of Erdoğan and his party: from the malcontents and the scoffers!
And then there will be some middle-of-the-roaders who will approve of the prime minister’s statements but find them insufficient…. For them the glass is both half full and half empty. Feeling perhaps burned by the government’s failed “gestures” toward the country’s Alevi and Kurdish minorities, these people are now inclined to dismiss the statement as a vain or hopeless attempt at some sort of reconciliation.
Do I lean toward this approach? Not at all! In fact, I am more inclined to view this whole debate (as outlined above) as distressingly boring and unproductive.
I’m looking to go deeper, to find an understanding that goes beyond this glass half-empty/half-full debate.
Is that possible? I believe that it just might be…
But first of all, I would like to add a small historical note to those who are characterizing Erdoğan’s speech as offering “totally new” and “historic” utterances: it doesn’t. And outside of the prime minister’s speech there is nothing really new being said here. These ideas and opinions have all—all—been expressed dozens of times and in many different venues and manners, most notably by former Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, and usually as part of a call to preserve a “just and equitable memory,” (adil hafıza) a protective rubric used in an effort to equate the horrors of the Armenian deportations with Turkish losses at Gallipoli and Sarıkamış.
Don’t get me wrong: it is truly significant that the Turkish prime minister would repeat these things in his “official” capacity, but let’s keep things in perspective: “historic” is a bit strong.
Even so, I would wrong not to acknowledge that there are a number of very powerful ideas contained within Mr. Erdoğan’s speech: first and foremost, his calls that “differing statements should be met with empathy and tolerance” and for “working to listen to and understand the other.” In effect, these statements are important for giving an ‘official’ sanction for free discussion of the events of 1915. Nevertheless, such a statement comes across as more than a bit peculiar, calling as it does for people to embrace what should in any case be a given in the 21st century.
Another important aspect of Erdoğan’s statements was his call for the “understanding and sharing of [our] sorrows” and to avoid attempts “either to establish a hierarchy of suffering or to create a comparison between or competing [levels] of suffering.” Even so, I can’t help but offer a bitter chuckle… When I first returned to Turkey for the first time in 1993 I remember being terrified when I found myself everywhere met with hateful stares—even by those on the Left—for having said such things. I admit, it’s a strange feeling some 21 years later to now hear these same things emerging from the mouth of the prime minister! Like them or not, they show that we made at least some progress over the past two decades.
The third important idea in Erdoğan’s speech was his expressing the hope that “those Armenians who lost their lives during the conditions at the beginning of the 20th century should rest in peace; we wish to offer our condolences to their descendants (torunlar).” It’s true that he made no mention of the year 1915, nor used the word ‘massacre’ (katliam) or others that might describe the events of that time, but this sentence is nevertheless the most important one in his entire speech. It expresses a human dimension heretofore missing from such utterances. In this sense, at least, it does represent an undeniable novelty. Even so, it is less important for me to comment on this expression of condolence than to hear how it is received by those whose family members were annihilated during these events.
In the prime minister’s speech I did however notice one lie that was overlooked in the general confusion. “We have opened our archives for use to all researchers,” he claimed. That’s a bald-faced lie.
One of the most important archives for the Armenian genocide is that of the Turkish Chiefs of Staff. This archive has neither been properly catalogued, nor has it ever been open to researchers. And there’s nothing encouraging about the fact that such blatant untruths could still be included in such a speech.

Our Opinions have been elevated from ‘Treason’ to ‘Opinion’
Even leaving aside columnist Fehmi Koru’s strange claim that “an apology for history has already been given,” what meaning should we derive from the prime minister’s speech? The Justice and Development Party (known in Turkey by the acronym AKP), which, since coming to power in 2002 has been making some significant changes in the traditional policies of the Turkish Republic, has also shifted the parameters of debate on the question of the Armenian genocide; this is the fact.
With this speech, those in Turkey calling for an open discussion of the events of 1915 will no longer be subjected to attacks and accused of being “traitors who have stabbed the nation from the back” (as did the then-Interior Minister/current Speaker of the Assembly) or “dirty Armenians.” Nor will the memory of the events be insulted or disparaged by terming them “alleged” or “so-called.” We can state with confidence that the era of Yusuf Halaçoğlu, Şükrü Elekdağ and Gündüz Aktan has now officially come to an end.
In fact, the ‘reign’ of these persons had already begun to crumble after the murder of Hrant Dink, although it is significant that it still retains a certain ‘official’ status.
For me, the meaning of Erdoğan’s pronouncements is this: the Turkish government will now tolerate opinions that run counter to the “official version” of events, although that does not mean that it will entertain them. Its official stance remains unchanged and fully defended. With the notion that “we should understand everybody’s sufferings and share the sorrow” the government is simply attempting to bury the Turkish war casualties in the same mass grave as the Armenian victims of the deportations. And that has already been said for years now.
If you are inclined to see the government’s different language on the issue as a momentous change, I won’t argue with you; I would simply state that I do not see anything new in the substance of government’s approach to the events of 1915.
In the final analysis, what is necessary now is not more fine talk, but for the government to take the necessary steps, and only time will tell.
For me, the real question is not merely what the prime minister says, but who pushes him to say these things and what they push him to say. As we approach the year 2015, the 100th anniversary of the events in question, the Turkish government is certain to feel pressure from various quarters within the international community and to wish to extract itself from the tight spot in which it finds itself. The American Jewish Committee, which until recently was one of Turkey’s important defender in Washington, has now officially used the term “genocide” to refer to the Armenian massacres and has called on Turkey to do the same.
Consider for a moment what will happen if the Prime Minister, who has managed during his tenure to lose a great deal of international support, continues in such conditions of greater diplomatic isolation to repeat his other, oft-repeated statements to the effect that “Muslims don’t perpetrate genocides” and that “No one can claim that my ancestors committed genocide”…
Erdoğan was forced to change his attitude. If he continued along his old–known path, he was facing the prospect of missing this fast-approaching train. His new stance does not reflect the dynamic of any process; rather, it merely indicates that he correctly perceived the ground below his feet to be shifting and adjusted his stance accordingly. As it enters 2015, the Turkish regime cannot be said to be changing so much as simply performing ‘damage control.’
In any case, I do not believe that this “miraculous change” originated from the Office of the Prime Minister. It is we who brought it about. It is those thousands of persons who took to the streets in protest after Hrant Dink’s death… Other pressures were also brought to bear from abroad… The resistance efforts of those within Turkey have gradually begun to merge with those of the Armenian diaspora. Such a unity of effort will most likely not change the prime minister’s views…but it has certainly changed his speech.

And We, Too, Have Changed…
There is one thing that those preparing the prime minister’s speeches have yet to understand, and that is that we, the people, who have struggled against a century of mendacity regarding the Armenian genocide, have changed. And we have changed greatly.
If the Turkish prime minister had uttered these same words some 10 years earlier, we might indeed have viewed them as historical, even revolutionary. But a whole lot of water has passed under the bridge since then. Our skin has grown thicker, our beating hearts have gradually been filled with more pain, more bitterness, and we have chosen to learn from our accumulated experience. What a decade before might have been seen as a great transformation today barely stirs us. Indeed, we cannot but greet these statements with a bitter smirk, an empty laugh; even as we welcome it, it leaves a bitter taste in our mouths.
After this point, anyone who wishes to speak of the genocide of 1915—the prime minister included, if they truly desire us to find their utterances meaningful and to be inspired by their words, they will have to first understand that the bar has been set higher—much higher—than in previous years. Those who greet this speech with the approach of “those matters pertaining to history have been resolved. Let’s move on” would do well to know this. I and persons like myself will no longer be satisfied with mere talk. Serious, deliberate, concrete steps are what is now expected. And many eyes will be closely following events to see whether or not these steps are taken.
  1. There has been a conscious ‘politics of denial’ in this country for more than 90 years, and it has continued into the AKP period (2002-present). If those from the ruling elite—people like Erdoğan himself—truly wish to alter Turkey’s long-held ‘politics of denial,’ they must start by acknowledging their own role in its creation and continuation, to apologize for it and then to correct it. Anything less will simply not be convincing at this point.
  2. There is no longer a place for those who would deny the crimes of 1915, or who would attempt to spread the blame with claims that “everyone suffered” and with calls to “understand everyone’s pain.” Nothing will be resolved without first recognizing the difference between war casualties and victims of crimes such as genocide. We must call a crime a crime. It is not possible to lower the bar or dance around the issue any longer. Without first acknowledging that what happened to Armenians in 1915 was a crime, any efforts attempted will be non-starters.
  3. The most meaningful and significant beginning step to be taken is for Turkey to open its borders with Armenia and to establish diplomatic relations. We are well aware that we are speaking about a government that, only two years before, sent its Interior Minister to an Istanbul rally protesting the Hocalı massacre (it is claimed committed by Armenian army against Azerbaijanis in 1992) and hanged signs throughout Istanbul reading “Don’t believe the Armenian lies!”
And I won’t even mention the discovery and exposure of Hrant Dink’s real assailants…
No, I do not believe that the dynamic and impetus for change on the events of 1915 lies in the hands of the government. They know full well that “the train is leaving the station,” but they hope to delay for as long as possible before hopping on the very last car. But as we rapidly approach the hundredth anniversary of the Armenian genocide they will have no other choice than to acknowledge the historical crime that has been committed, to Express their apologies for this crime and to begin to engage in serious discussions with both the Armenian Republic and the Armenian diaspora in order to attempt to atone for the damage that has been done. Any initiative in this direction is welcome, but only for the sake of opening the way to discussion, not ending it. This must be perceived and understood. Haven’t we already waited long enough for this to be done? We have, but will continue to wait; we’re not going anywhere.
The Turkish version of this article appeared in the Aptil 25 issue of Taraf.