Archive for February, 2007

A Survivor from Geneve

A thread I started in the Virtual Ani forum, that deals with the survived Jugha (Djulfa) khachkars, will have a  new addition now.  The idea of gathering the survived khachkars doesn’t belong to me, but to Steven Sim, a Scot architect and the last person to see Djulfa before its December 2005 annihilation.

I have just received a photo of one of the few (between 9 and 15) surviving khachkars from Jugha.  This particular one is in Geneva (Geneve):

The St Hagop church in Geneva has been inaugurated in 1969 and I reckon the khatchkar monument has been erected on this occasion. I settled down in Geneva on 1972 and the khatchkar already existed at that time. If I am not mistaken, it had been brought from Nor Jugha/Djulfa, Iran (and not from [Old] Jugha)… You will find attached a scanned picture of the khatchkar taken in 1994.

‘My Turkishness in Revolt’

Taner Akcam’s latest essay has been translated from Turkish and published by the Armenian Reporter. The online version omits the paragraphing and the Turkish accent marks, which makes it difficult to read as it should be read. Below is the corrected version:

Armenian Reporter, Feb. 10, 2006

© 2006 Armenian Reporter

“My Turkishness in Revolt”

By Taner Akçam

EDITOR’S NOTE: Taner Akçam – Turkish intellectual, professor at the University of Minnesota, and the author of A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility – recently became the subject of a formal complaint under Turkey’s Penal Code Article 301: the same “crime” of “insulting Turkishness” for which Hrant Dink was tried and found guilty by the Turkish judiciary. The essay below – originally published as Türklüğümün İsyanı (“The Revolt of My Turkishness”) in the January 24, 2007 edition of the Turkish newspaper, Radikal – is Mr. Akçam’s approved English translation of his original Turkish-language article. It is being reprinted in the Reporter with the author’s permission.

I am a Turk. Hrant was an Armenian. I write for Agos. He was Agos. Hrant, Agos‘s Turkish writers, and Agos itself risked everything for a cause: to cease the hostility between Turks and Armenians; to bring the resentment and hatred to an end. We wanted each group, each nationality, to live together on the common ground of mutual respect.

Hrant and Agos were a single flower blooming on the barren plains of Turkey. That flower was destroyed, torn from the ground. Everyone says, “The bullet fired at Hrant hit Turkey.” That’s true, but we need to ask ourselves in complete and transparent honesty: Who made the target for that bullet? Who targeted Hrant so the bullet would find its mark? Who held him fast so the shot wasn’t wasted?

Hrant wasn’t killed by a lone 17-year-old. He was murdered by those who made him a target and held him in place.

Nor was he killed by a single bullet. It was the targeting, month by month, that murdered him.

“I’m afraid,” he said on January 5. “I’m very afraid, Taner. The attacks on me and on Agos are very systematic. They called me to the Governor’s office, where they started making threats. They said, ‘We’ll make you pay for everything you’ve been doing.’ All the attacks began after I was threatened.”

“2007 is going to be a bad year, Taner,” he continued. “They’re not going to ease off. We’ve been made into a horrible target. Between the press, the politicians, and the lawyers, they’ve created this atmosphere that’s so poisonous, they’ve made us such an obscenity, that we’ve become sitting ducks.

“They’ve opened up hunting season, Taner, and they’ve got us right where they want us.”

Hrant wasn’t killed by a 17-year-old. He was murdered by those who portrayed him as an enemy of Turkey, every single day in the press, to that 17-year-old. He was murdered by those who dragged him to the doors of the courthouse under Article 301. He was murdered by those who aimed Article 301 during their open season on intellectuals, and by those who didn’t have the courage to change Article 301. Hrant was murdered by those who called him to the Governor’s office and then threatened him instead of protecting him.

There’s no point in shedding crocodile tears. Let us bow our heads and look at our hands. Let us ponder how we will clean off the blood. You organs of the press who have expressed shock over Hrant’s death, go read your back issues, look at what you wrote about Hrant. You will see the murderer there. You who used 301 as a weapon to hunt intellectuals, see what you wrote about 301, look at the court decisions. You will see the murderer there.

Dear government officials, spare us your crocodile tears. Tell us what you plan to do to the Lieutenant Governor who called Hrant into his office and, together with an official from the National Intelligence Bureau, proceeded to threaten him. What do you intend to do to them?

Hrant was portrayed as “the Armenian who insulted Turkishness.” For this he was murdered. He was murdered because he said, “Turkey must confront its history.” The hands that pulled the trigger – or caused it to be pulled – in 2007 are the same hands that shot all the Hrants in 1915, the same hands that left all those Armenians to choke in the desert.

Hrant’s killers are sending us a message. They’re saying “Yes! We were behind 1915 and we’ll do it again in 2007!” Hrant’s murderers believe they killed in the name of Turkishness, just like those who killed all the Hrants in 1915.

For them, Turkishness is about committing murder. It means setting someone up as the enemy and then targeting that person for destruction.

Quite the contrary, the murderers are a black stain upon the brow of Turkishness. It is they who have demeaned Turkish identity.

For this reason, we have stood up and we have decided to take Turkishness out of the assassins’ hands and we have shouted out, “We are all Hrant! We are all Armenian!” We are the resounding cry of Turkishness and Turkey. All of us – Turks, Kurds, Alevites, secularists, and Muslims alike – shout out on behalf of everyone who wants to take Turkishness away from these murderers.

Turkishness is a beautiful thing that should be respected instead of left in the hands of murderers; so is Armenianness.

We can feel proud to be Turkish only if we can acknowledge the murderer for who he is. That is what we are doing today. By declaring, “We are all Armenians,” we know that we honor Turkishness; by identifying the true murderer, we create a Turkishness worth claiming.

Today we declare to the world that murder has nothing to do with Turkishness or Turkey. We are not going to leave Turkishness in the hands of murderers. We will not allow Turkishness to be stained by hate crimes towards Armenians. Either Turkishness belongs to the murderers, or it belongs to us.

Turks cry out that the person who killed Hrant is a murderer. In the wake of his death, Turkishness affirms that we are all Armenians.

This, I say, is what we also need to do for 1915.

If we can affirm that a real Turk is someone who can distance Turkishness from the murder of Hrant Dink, then we ought to be able to do the same thing for the events around 1915. Those who gather in a protective circle around Hrant’s murderer are the same people who protected the murderers of 1915. Those who honored Talaat, Bahaettin Sakir and Dr. Nazim yesterday are doing the same for Hrant’s murderer today.

If we can come out and declare Hrant’s murder a “shameful act,” then we should be able to state the same, as Mustafa Kemal Atatürk did, about the acts that occurred in 1915. Today, hundreds of thousands of us condemn this murder by declaring “We are all Armenian.” In 1915, Turks, Kurds, Moslems and Alevites did the same. We have to choose, not only for today but for yesterday as well.

Whose side are we on? Which “Turkishness” are we defending, the one that defends the murderers or the one that condemns the murderous acts? Do we stand with Kemal, the Mayor of Boğazlıyan, who annihilated Armenians in 1915, or with Abdullahzade Mehmet Efendi, the Mufti of Boğazlıyan, who bore witness against that mayor at the trial that lead to his execution, stating, “I fear the wrath of God”?

Are we going to represent the “Turkishness” that defended the crimes of Talat, Enver, Bahaettin Şakir, Doctor Nâzım, and Governor Resit of Diyarbakır? Or will we oppose them in the name of a Turkishness that condemns such horror?

We need to know that in 1915 we had Mazhar, the governor of Ankara; Celal, the governor of Aleppo; Reşit, the governor of Kastamonu; Cemal, the lieutenant governor of Yozgat; Ali Faik, the mayor of Kütahya; and Ali Fuat, the mayor of Der-Zor. And we had soldiers and army commanders in 1915, men we can embrace with respect, for opposing what happened: Vehip Pasha, Commander of the Third Army; Avni Pasha, Commander of the Trabzon garrison; Colonel Vasfi; and Salim, Major Commandant of the Yozgat post.

Trabzon has its share of murderers like Ogün Samast in 2007 and Governor Cemal Azmi and Unionist “Yenibahçeli” Nail in 1915. But those who opposed the crimes of 1915 and didn’t hesitate to identify the murderers in court included many citizens of Trabzon: Nuri, Chief of Police; businessman, Ahmet Ali Bey; Customs Inspector Nesim Bey, and parliamentarian Hafiz Mehmet Emin Bey, who testified, “I saw with my own eyes that the Armenians were loaded onto boats and taken out and drowned, but I couldn’t do anything to stop it.”

These are just a few of the dozens, hundreds, even thousands of people who opposed the horrible acts committed.

We, Turks and Turkey, have a choice to make. We will affirm either the Turkishness of murderers past and present, or the Turkishness of those who cry out today, “We are all Armenian!” and who yesterday declared, “We will not let our hands be stained with blood.”

The whole world looks upon us with respect because they see us draw a line between Turkishness and barbarism. Today we are building a wall between murderers and Turkishness; we are Turks who know how to point the finger at a murderer.

We must show the same courage in regard to the events of 1915. Hrant wanted us to. When he said, “I love Turks and Turkey, and I consider it a privilege to be living amongst Turks,” that’s what he was asking for. We need to acknowledge the murderers of the Hrants of 1915, and we need to draw a line between them and Turkishness. If we are going to own up to this murder in 2007 then we need to do the same for those of 1915.

That’s what confronting one’s history is about. Today, by saying to Hrant’s murderer, “You don’t represent me as a Turk: you are simply a murderer,” we have begun the process of confronting and acknowledging our history. We must do the same with the murderers of 1915 by drawing a line between their acts and our Turkishness. We must condemn these murderers as having smeared our brows with the dark stain of their crimes. Then, and only then, can we Turks go about the world with our heads held high.

I cry out in the name of Turkishness. I cry out as a Turk, as a friend who lost Hrant, my beloved Armenian brother. Let’s take back Turkishness from the murderous hands of those who wish to smear us with their dark deeds. Let’s shout in one voice, “WE ARE ALL HRANT! WE ARE ALL ARMENIANS!”

Radikal (Turkey)

January 24, 2007

American Politics and the Question of Recognizing the Genocide

Let’s for a minute think about the American administration and the issue of officially recognizing the Armenian Genocide. America is in a tough position. It has never denied the Armenian Genocide, and has lately insisted that Turkey should be the first to recognize the Armenian Genocide as such, not America.

This policy was first revealed in an unnamed interview to the Los Angeles Times that I reported a month ago. An official U.S. press release from February 8, 2007, now quotes Asst. Secretary of State Daniel Fried stating the same idea:

I’ve always been of the view that democratic countries need to take a hard look at the dark spots in their own history. And by the way, I start with my own country. We do have dark spots in the United States. Our past includes a past in which slavery was an institution that existed in this country for centuries. We fought a civil war to end it and still its affects linger to the present day. That is a dark spot and we had to confront it honestly.

Our treatment in the 20th Century of Japanese-Americans in World War II; our treatment of American Indians were dark spots in our history. We had to deal with this honestly and painfully.

Our view is that Turkey is going through a process of looking at its own history with Armenians. The killings in 1915 were horrific. They need to be looked at honestly and without taboos, but not because Americans say Turkey should look at this. It should be looked at because Turks in the process of building a democracy and deepening a democracy are looking at these issues for their own reasons.

I think this process is going on in Turkey. It is painful, it is emotional. There are nationalist forces and it was an extreme nationalist, it seems, who murdered Hrant Dink and there are millions of Turks who reject this dark legacy of nationalism including the hundreds of thousands of Turks who marched in the streets of Istanbul at the Hrant Dink funeral saying things like we are all Armenians, we are all Hrant Dink, which I interpret as Turkey’s rejection of nationalism.

So my argument to the Congress will be that this natural, painful process in Turkey needs to be allowed to unfold with encouragement and support, but not pressure from the outside. That will be my argument.

Now I don’t expect that everyone will accept it, but I will make the case as best I can. And it won’t be just me. There will be more senior people than I making the case and pointing out that Turkish-U.S. relations should not be damaged for no good purpose.

But this is obviously a very emotional issue and I believe it is in Turkey’s interest for its own reasons to take steps to examine its past and to reach out to Armenians worldwide and to Armenia despite the fact that Turks don’t like all of the things that Armenian communities say.

What Fried is saying is actually rational, if you insist on the idea of “Turkey reaching out to Armenia.” The 1919 court martials in Turkey to punish the perpetrators of the Armenian massacres were pushed by Britain, which occupied what would be Istanbul at that time. When the first criminal, Kemal Bey, was hanged in the Bayazkirt square as a result of the trial, many Muslims marched in the streets calling the executed murderer a Turk victim of foreign occupation. They would not accept punishment of their compatriot criminals when the British were the ones who pushe. (this is from Taner Akcam’s A SHAMEFUL ACT book that I am almost finished reading) .

What the U.S. administration is saying is that look, if we pass a resolutin acknowledging the Armenian Genocide we will end up promoting Turkish nationalism and maybe lose the hope for Turkey ever recognizing the Genocide. The claims is basically that they want the best for Armenians (as always).

This new argumentation seems very reasonable and even compelling, although Mr. Fried would not be qualified as the most honest politician (you figure out why).

If we agree with Mr. Fried’s compelling argumentation, the theory still lacks in answering how and if ever Turkey will come to acknowledge its crime against the Armenian nation. If the American adminisration finds that Turks need to recognize the genocide before America does so, why is America ignoring the growth of denialist institutions established by the Republic of Turkey in major American universities? Freedom of Speech? Perhaps. But these are institutions established by foreign governments to spread a particular agenda and fabricate history. The same rhetoric was not used by America not to to fire its ambassador John Evans when he acknowledged the Genocide saying though his statement did not reflect the American foreign policy. On the other hand, it is also true that the Bush administration did not prevent Andew Goldberg’s “The Armenian Genocide” from airing on PBS last year.

Can’t the administration still tolerate the passage of the resolution in Congress and tell Turkey that it doesn’t reflect the administration’s position? Congress represents the people of America, and if the people want to have an official proclamation acknowledging the Armenian Genocide as such, the administration can disagree and tell Turkey they are still cool.

The other question is whether the people of Turkey will ever recognize the Genocide. There are few, if any, countries that have voluntarily addmitted of being guilty of genocide. Germany was not the organizer of the Nuremberg trials. Cambodia’s perpetrators are still unpunished and say they still do not see a reason” why they would “have killed our own people.” Rwandan history is not told in Rwanda. The Sudanese president denies the ongoing genocide in Darfur, and even “open minded” America, in the words of Asst. Secretary State Daniel Fried himself, finds the genocide against the Native Americans a “treatment” that was a “dark spot.”

Again, I still find Mr. Fried’s arguments reasonable. But as the case of Hastert turned out to have been, there are things that we may not know at this point. After all, Fried said he would be lobbying the Congress not to pass the resolution:

Later today I am going up to meet with key figures in the Congress about this bill and I expect our efforts will continue.

It is not clear who the “key figures” are, especially when Mr. Fried said in the official interview transcript that a meeting between the Turkish foreign minister with the House Speaker Pelosi did not take place (apparently she refused to mee with Gul), because

The Speaker, let me put it this way, does not always listen to all the advice from the administration.

Being asked about the resolution again, Mr. Fried finally gets to the point as close as he can get. He says he wants more people – like the only Turk who has won the Nobel Prize and been tried for “insulting Turkishness” after referring to one-million Armenian deaths – in Turkey to approach the subject themselves and be honest about history by taking America’s example:

The debate in Turkey about its history, the position of writers such as Orhan Pamuk, the position of intellectuals, the participation of Turkish scholars in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission some six years ago is all the result not of any outside pressure. Orhan Pamuk doesn’t care at all what the Americans think. It’s the result of internal Turkish processes. I applaud these, and I hope that Turkey for its own reasons will do everything it can to reach out to Armenia and Armenians.

Great nations are not afraid to confront the dark spots of their past. The United States had to do so and we were not our best selves, we were not true to our best traditions until we had done so.

Borat Did Fooled?

Ken Davitian, aka Azamat for Borat, has told andPOP his original audition tape for Borat is supposed to be included in the DVD bonus (coming out in a month!). Why? Ken Davitian had apparently acted during entering the room and fooled the real producer of Borat and Sasha Cohen, aka Borat, himself. Wow, wow, wiyaaaaaaaa.

From the time he entered the room, Davitian was Azamat. He knew they were looking for someone to play a frumpy, fish-out-of-water, Eastern European, and they didn’t realize he was acting. He handed them a wrinkled 8×10 photo of himself that he had folded in his pocket. Davitian realized that he had the room fooled and had to reveal his true identity.

Funnily enough, Davitian has fooled the interviewer of andPOP too.

However, Davitian reveals, that [nude fighting] scene had one deception in the form of a strategically placed black bar.

“I can tell you,” he says, “that the black bar that you saw while he [Borat] was running was an exaggeration and not necessary.”

Message from Hell


See the full size by clicking here.

Mehmet Demirkol (this professor?) has sent the above map to foreign correspondents in Turkey saying,

Do not try to play with the borders of this country! If you do this then we would also start to play with the borders of our neighbors. Do not force us to use power against you.

The map says the “Armenian problem” will be eliminated by “taking control” of the Armenian Republic. It also calles for the “conquer” of Syria and other territories.

The message was sent on February 7, 2007 to the press and forwarded to an Armenian-Turkish workshop by one of the journalists who got it.

Nationalism Comes to Soccer Match

AP via Yahoo. Turkish youths hold a banner that reads: ‘We are from Trabzon. We are Turkish. We are all Mustafa Kemal’ as a reaction of the killing of the ethnic Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in Trabzon, Turkey, Sunday, Jan. 28, 2007, during a Turkish Super League soccer match between Trabzonspor and Kayserispor.

First, the youths fantasized about killing. Then they carried out the crimes, emboldened by their violent imaginations. Eight suspects from Trabzon, including the alleged teenage triggerman, are under arrest in the Jan. 19 killing of ethnic Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in Istanbul.

The slaying prompted international condemnation as well as debate within Turkey about free speech, and whether state institutions were tolerant of militant nationalists.

Mustafa Kemal, Ataturk, is the founder of modern Turkey. (AP Photo/Tekin Atay)

Bushy Plans for the ‘Powerful Armenian lobby’

America’s so-called president George aBush has introduced his glorious budget, that like last year’s, gives reduced economic and military aid to Armenia and much more aid to Armenia’s friendly neighbor and the most tolerant country in the world – Oilzerbaijan. Moreover, the Bushdickcandy administration is apparently cutting humanitarian aid to Nagorno-Karabakh.

Here is why and how, according to Blogian (this is also what exactly happened last year).

1. Bush hates the “Armenian lobby,” which even being not so-powerful (to say the least), can have Congress to keep the aid parity for Armenia and Oilzerbaijan (because it is retarded otherwise).

2. The Turkish foreign minister is in America gulling candy to convince bush to stop the Congress from passing the Armenian genocide resolution. They need something to entertain the loshtak.
3. Bush will swap his own daughter with Borat before recognizing the Armenian genocide.

Bush wants both Armenians and Turks be happy. So he will make Armenians angry as Gull in Bulling in America, but will later let the glorious Armenian lobby convince the Congress to give more aid to Armenia and some aid to Nagorno-Karabakh (by making Turks and Azeris angry). As Armenians will celebrate their unbelievable glory of conquering the Congress (and the Turkish media will condemn The Protocols of Ararat) and convincing them that it is wrong to give more economic and military aid to the most tolerant country in the world than to democratic Armenia, they will find out that the genocide recognition resolution was killed. But hey, they still changed the budget!

In the words of George W. Bush himself, “More and more of our [oil] imports come from overseas.” He was referring to Canada and Mexico.

I have sex with Palestinian women



I always thought that the “Jerusalem Pride Parade” was for advocating for gay rights in Israel, but apparently it has another message too.

I came across to the above photograph through a Colorado blog, Fire Witch Rising.  It depicts women from the Parade with Palestianian-style scarfs and nude breasts.  Actually, most of them are not Palestinian but are in fact Israeli women.

The Hebrew writing on their nude bodies reads, “I have sex with Palestinian women.”

Although controversial and provocative, the photograph seems to have a message for reconciliation and reminds of the American “make love, no war” slogan.

Interestingly, I never read/listened in the mainstream media that the pride parade had a reconciliation theme.  I remember a 2005 New York Times frontpage photograph that depicted Jerusalem’s Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Armenian spiritual leaders condemning the parade.

Maybe it does take taking some prejudice off for establishing peace between Israelis and Palestinians?

‘Even on the Titanic?’

Reading Katia Peltekian’s research about the six Armenians of the ship Titanic, most of whom died, I remembered now-gone TV show Hamaynkapatker (Hamainqapatker) from Armenia that once asked how many Armenians were on Titanic. The “right” answer was two, but as it turns out from Peltekian’s entry, Hamaynkapatker’s conspiracy theory that Armenians always find their way around was, unfortunately, wrong.

The photograph of the survived Armenian who did not have a ticket to Titanic. From Encylopedia Titanica

All of the Armenians were third-class passengers, and one of them, who actually survived, did not even have a ticket. That survivor, according to one newspaper headline, “Dressed in Women’s Clothes to Get off Titanic.” But witnesses said “he actually used a rope to leap into lifeboat #10 and save himself.”

Lifeboat #10: the boat with the Armenian. Although most sources say Krekorian, the unticket Armenian was saved by this boat, Euronet says the other Armenian survivor, David Vartunian was on it. Either way, this boat saved an Armenian passenget of Titanic. Photo from Euronet.

One could also add that the first movie to be shown in a movie theater in eastern Armenia was the few-minute-long old Titanic movie from 1910s. That is why there is an engraving of that movie either on Armenia’s history museum (in Yerevan) or the Moscow theatre also in Yerevan (both are on the Abovian street within a 5 minute walking distance from each other- I can’t recall which exact building it was) .

The Armenians who died on Titanic, had left wives and children in Turkish Armenia… in 1912.

FEB 4, 2007: Nationalist Demo in Istanbul

UPDATE: What Reuters reports as a nationalist demonstration, was actually an anti-Armenian gathering in the Armenian populated district of Istanbul, where Turkish nationalists chanted things like “Armenians should know their limits.” According to a group e-mail I received from a Turk in Istanbul, “Yesterday a crowd of people gathered in the center of Samatya (an area, mostly inhabited by Armenians) and shouted anti-Armenian slogans like ‘Armenians should know their limits.’ Police came and dispersed them.”
Photographs distributed by Reuters via YahooNews show a group of nationalist Turk “protesters carrying a banner that reads, ‘We all are Mustafa Kemal. We all are Turks’ during a demonstration in Istanbul February 4, 2007. A group of nationalist protesters on Sunday demonstrated in reaction to banners that read ‘We all are Armenians’ carried by those who attended the funeral ceremony of Turkish-Armenian editor Hrant Dink last month.”

Several Turkish children were wrapped in Turkish flags and placed in the front of the demonstration. As always, Reuters “forgot” to mention that there was also, at least, one Azerbaijani flag during the apparent anti-Armenian protest.

Why are nationalists using Turkish children again and again? Wasn’t the 17-year-old kid enough?

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