Archive for February, 2006

Thousands of Armenians Rallied

Several hours ago I informed about a protest to be organized in Yerevan. In the entry, I suspected that there would be many people participating this year. As Associated Press reports, several thousands have participated.

Attached Image
(from http://www.armeniadiaspora.com/ADC/news.asp?id=769)

Attached Image
Photo by Onnik Krikorian. More at http://www.oneworld.am/blog/

AP reports on 28 February 2006, "Thousands of Armenians rallied in downtown Yerevan to mark the anniversary of the 1988 deaths of ethnic Armenians in rioting in the Azerbaijani city of Sumgait. The violence that tore through Sumgait 18 years ago came as tensions between Armenians and Azerbaijanis soared over the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan that was agitating to become part of Armenia."

Armenian is the official language of Armenia!?!

Those, who read Armenian, I highly recommend a Hetq article about Armenian-language posters.
The article both makes one cry and laugh, since it reveals the illiteracy of business owners in Armenia.

Attached Image

What is the funniest thing about Armenia? The fact that you can find a “reminder” from the Department (Ministry) of Education posted across downtown Yerevan (the capital) saying “Armenian is the official language of the Republic of Armenia.” laugh.gif

Political Order on Armenian Public Television

Lately I had several conversations with my friend Mariam, who was one of the four students to win a national leadership achievement scholarship in 2005. The topic was a “Haylur” (the news program of Armenia’s public television) program that accused repatriated Armenian diasporan and political activist Raffi Hovhanissian’s wife in misspending the funds of Armenian benefactors.

Attached Image

Hetq.am published an interesting article about the issue on 27 February 2006, revealing that the program was simply a political order to avenge Raffi Hovhanissian and his family.

Speaking of Hetq.am, I also want to bring your attention to a very sad article about political and social injustice.

See also Onnik's coverage.

Swiss Flag Burnt during Anti-Armenian Rally

The online version of Real Azerbaijan, the Russian-language Azerbaijani publication, informs on 27 February 2006 that the flags of Switzerland and Armenia were burnt in Azerbaijan’s capital during an anti-Armenian “peaceful protest.” (It is an illegal activity to deny the Armenian genocide in Switzerland.)

Attached Image
Safarov's cartoon from a Hungarian website.

The protest, organized by Azerbaijani and Turkish international students, was attended by about 100 people who carried the flags of Turkey and Azerbaijan. Slogans included “Freedom to Ramil Safarov,” who hacked his sleeping Armenian classmate in 2004.

A friend from Yerevan (Armenia), on the other hand, informs in a personal e-mail that on 28 February 2006 they will be commemorating the Azerbaijani pogrom against the Armenian residents of Sumgait in 1988. I think Azerbaijan’s recent vandalism against Old Julfa’s cemetery will make a lot of people to attend tomorrow’s gathering.

Witnessing Cultural Cleansing

In William Dalrymple’s “From the Holy Mountain” (Owl Books, 1999), I encountered his dialogue with two Turks converting an Armenian cathedral to a mosque.

During his trip to the Middle East, Dalrymple visited Urfa (now Sanliurfa, Republic of Turkey), a heavily Armenian populated city before the Armenian genocide, where my ancestral family is from. Below is an excerpt from page 78:

Attached Image
This ancient cathedral, where 3000 Armenians were burnt in 1915, functioned as fire station until 1994, when it was converted to a mosque. One of the many photos of Urfa’s Armenian cathedral that my Dutch pen pal Dick Osseman took for me in the fall of 2005.

One my way back to the hotel I passed the old Armenian cathedral. Between 1915 and last year it was a fire station; now, as I discovered, it is being converted into a mosque. The altar has been dismantled, leaving the apse empty. A mihrab has been punched into the south wall/ A new carpet covers the floor; outside lies a pile of old ecclesiastical woodwork destined for firewood. Two labourers in baggy pantaloons were at work on the façade, balanced on a rickety lattice of scaffolding, plastering the decorative stonework over the principal arch. I wondered if they knew the history of the building, so I asked them if it was an old mosque.
‘No,’ one of the workmen shouted down. ‘It’s a church.’
‘Greek?’
‘No,’ he said. ‘Armenian.’
‘Are there any Armenians left in Urfa?’
‘No,’ he said, smiling broadly and laughing. His friend made a throat-cutting gesture with his trowel.
‘They’ve all gone,’ said the first man, smiling.
‘Where to?’
The two looked at each other: ‘Israel,’ said the first man, after a pause. He was grinning from ear to ear.
‘I thought Israel was for Jews,’ I said.
‘Jews, Armenians,’ he replied, shrugging his shoulders. ‘Same thing.’
The two men went back to work, cackling with laughter as they did so.

Call from NY Congressman

Attached Image
New York Rep. Anthony Weiner speaks during a news conference Saturday Feb. 25, 2006 in New York. Weiner called on Public Broadcasting Service to cancel a discussion program that will feature Armenian genocide deniers. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II/ AP – Sat Feb 25, 12:56 PM ET )

More from Buffalo News

"Denial is not a reason for arrest"

The famous Israeli periodical Haaretz has published a brave column by Gideon Levy, who condemns the three-year imprisonment of Holocaust denier David Irving.

Attached Image

In “Denial is not a reason for arrest,” Levy writes:

Words do not kill. So there is no statement for which it is permissible to send a person to prison. Freedom of speech is absolute, even when that which is spoken is as despicable and ridiculous as Holocaust denial. Those who start to doubt that principle will not know where to stop. Is denial of the Jewish Holocaust deserving of punishment while denial of the Armenian Holocaust, perpetrated by the Turks, is not? And why not? Because "only" a million and a half people were destroyed there?

And what about the world's racist indifference to the destruction of a million Tutsi in Rwanda or the mass murder of 4 million people in the Congo? After all, the world ignores those holocausts even if it does not deny their existence explicitly, and nobody thinks about punishing someone for that outrageous apathy and indifference. The Danish cartoons, which also hurt millions of people, are not deserving of punishment and neither is the denial of the criminal activities of Israel in the territories, even if they are incomparable, of course, to any holocaust. The Jews had a Holocaust, it was the most horrifying crime in the history of mankind, there is nothing similar to it in its evil, and those who dare deny this deserve to be made pariahs, excommunicated and boycotted, even expelled, but not and never jailed.

[…]

Instead of fighting Holocaust deniers, we should focus on learning the proper lessons from them. One of the important lessons is that racism is racism whether it is directed against Jews and expressed in their systematic destruction or whether it is directed against Palestinians and expressed in their ruthless imprisonment in their own villages behind fences and walls. Ignoring this lesson is also a form of Holocaust denial, with far graver and ruthless consequences than another lecture by Irving.

That Rich Armenian Diaspora

The Russian version of Forbes magazine (February 2006), according to 168 Hours Weekly, has published an article on the “economics of the Armenian Diaspora” stating that “The money made in the Armenian Diaspora amounts to 100 billion dollars, which is a hundred times more than the state budget of Armenia.”

By no means I argue that 100 billion dollars are not being made by expatriated Armenians. But the article is a reflection of the myth of the “powerful Armenian Diaspora” that in the eyes of many people (mostly Turks and Azerbaijanis) is responsible for everything in the world.

Attached Image

The Armenian Diaspora is not a structure; it is as diverse as the world itself and it has a lot of inter conflicts; and every single person of the “group” who makes 100 billion dollars has his/her own self-interests. By saying that Armenian Diaspora makes 100 billion, there is a presumption that some portion of the money is spent on a particular “pan-Armenian” activity. What is ignored is that the money is made in other countries; therefore at least 20 billion in taxes (if the article means that 100 billion is made annually) is paid to other countries every year.

How does the Armenian nation or the Republic of Armenia benefit from that 100 billion?
Most of Armenia’s population lives in poverty and those who are above the poverty level are generally supported by family members who live abroad. But this is less than 1 billion dollars (the money that is wired to families in Armenia), and what this does is to keep some part of the population out of poverty. Yes, there are also funds provided for construction of highways (or hyeways) and other activities; and Kerkorian alone has given generous donations of about 100-200 millions over several years. But Kerkorian himself has 10% of the “income of the Armenian Diaspora” and what he has donated (thanks him very much!) is only 1% of what he has. So even if “Armenian Diaspora” has 100 billions, no more than 1 billion goes to Armenia.

And the one billion is equivalent to Armenia’s state budget.

Turkish Party Aims Expatriation of Armenians

The platform of the new Pan-Turanist “Grand Turan Party” includes “expatriation” of Armenian citizens of Turkey.

Attached Image

Pan-Turanism (not too different from Pan-Turkism) is the Turkish nationalist ideology of “uniting” Turkic people around the world, thus establishing an Islamic empire from the Balkans to China. Many believe that the Armenian genocide and the massacres of thousands of other non-Turks were due to these ideologies.

Jews, Armenians and Kurds who became Turkish citizens within the last 25 years will be expatriated and their movable and immovable properties appropriated.

According to the Turkish daily The New Anatolian (25 Feb 2006), “Current political leaders and executive board members, civil servants, former military officers, professors, assistant professors, lecturers, columnists, artists, deputies and bureaucrats are all banned from becoming founding members.” Basically, mostly brainwashed fascists of Bozkurt (Grey Wolves terrorist organization) qualify for membership.

The official website (in Turkish) of the new fascist party is http://www.buyukturanpartisi.com/, and the English translation of the platform is available at http://www.thenewanatolian.com/tna-1541.html.

Armenian Protest in Canada

Western Standard informs on 24 February 2006, “This morning dozens of Armenians, accompanied by many police, were on Albert St. in Ottawa [Canada] with a big float with a figure on top, protesting the destruction of their historic cultural sites by the Azerbaijanis. They were protesting outside of the building housing Ottawa's UNESCO office, and then began to move their protest off to the Azerbaijani embassy.”

Attached Image
Ottawa's protest (from http://www.horizonweekly.ca)

Attached Image
From the 4 January 2006 protest in Germany (source: www.aga-online.org/)

Rupen, an Armenian blogger from Canada, had written about the preparations of the protest earlier; “Tomorrow’s rally in Ottawa is in protest against Azerbaijan's Anti-Armenian Actions, and is (coincidentally) happening exactly 2 months before April 24th, where we will also protest in the capital.”

Similar demonstrations were held in Germany by the Armenian community earlier this year.

Attached Image
From the 4 January 2006 protest in Germany (source: www.aga-online.org/)

It really makes me angry that Armenians have to protest against the vandalism in order to get UNESCO’s attention. I have e-mailed UNESCO officials multiple times requesting a response, but the only person who has answered is my senior Turkish friend Ali, who, nevertheless, does not deal with cultural monuments.

Next Page »