Archive for June, 2007

“I wish I could live here”

A letter from Canadian Doctor Berge Minassian who is visiting his ancestral Armenia:

Yerevan is ALIVE.  The traffic of cars and people is
unbelievable.  And everyone is Armenian!  Tonight I
sat on the steps of the hotel in the main square and
watched the flag across the circle on the other
building.  A slight breeze was making it fly about
tricolored and such a source of pride.  The moon rose
above, the smiling happy people strolled about, the
beautiful young girls and couples with smiles that we
simply do not see in Toronto…  We had a bite, walked
on Abovian.  Spoke for half an hour with a T-shirt
salesman on the street.  Of course he knew someone we
knew from the old country, and we almost went to his
place to carry on the conversation, a perfect
stranger, yet a feeling as if he is an uncle.

Saturday, we will see Gayaneh Ballet at the Opera
house, and each night this week we could have attended
a different play, had we had time from all the
meetings and kef.

I wish I could live here.

Amnesty International: Azerbaijan Discriminates Against Refugees

Amnesty International has finally taken note of discriminatory treatment of Azeri refugees from Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh by the Azerbaijani government.

In a press release and a study released today, Amnesty International summarizes the state of Azeri refugees as followed:

  • Internally displaced people are restricted by the internal residence registration system to a fixed address in order to receive aid and social services, despite the de jure abolition of this system in the Azerbaijani Constitution. Residence permits in prosperous urban centres are difficult to obtain without the payment of bribes.
  • New settlements for the internally displaced have been constructed in geographically remote, economically unviable and otherwise unsuitable locations, leading to isolation and segregation.
  • The internally displaced have not been consulted on decision-making processes with direct impact on their lives, for example, the location of new settlements built to house them.
  • The internally displaced are consistently encouraged to see their situation as temporary, discouraging them to seek integration or permanent resettlement in another part of the country.

Interestingly, Armenia has long accused Azerbaijan for deliberating worsening the lives of Azeri refugees in order to receive international support and sympathy in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.

An Azeri refugee is quoted by Amnesty International as saying, “We are ready to live with the Armenians of Karabakh and we have not forgotten our historical home there. But we won’t see peace for at least ten years, that’s why we want decent living conditions now.”

Karabakh More Free Than Azerbaijan

Artsakh, the unrecognized Armenian Republic of Nagorno Karabakh and de jure part of Azerbaijan, is more free than Azerbaijan.  The newly released 2007 Freedom House report says the Armenian enclave is partly free while Azerbaijan is not free.

The Republic of Armenia has also been rated as partly free. Particular attention is paid to the troubling state of women and human trafficking in Armenia:  

Domestic violence and trafficking in women and girls for the purpose of prostitution are believed to be serious problems. Representation of women in the current Parliament is low: at year’s end, only 7 out of 131 seats in the National Assembly were held by women. According to the election code, women shall now comprise 15 percent of a party’s list for the proportional election and hold every tenth position on party lists, marking an improvement from the 2003 parliamentary elections.

The Freedom House report failes to take a note of the growing institutionalized anti-Armenianism in Azerbaijan such as the government sponsored destruction of Armenian monuments.

Al-Jazeera Supporting or Stopping Terrorism?

I am writing my final for my Middle Eastern Politics class and the following question has come to my mind – does the “Arab CNN” al-Jazeera (indirectly) support or stop terrorism?

The western answer is that it, of course, al-Jazeera indirectly supports the spread of Islamic fundamentalists’ and al-Qaeda’s rhetoric by providing much air time to their releases.

I think it could be argued, nonetheless, that al-Jazeera’s work may have just been doing (again, indirectly) the opposite.

If you look at the history of ideological Islamic fundamentalism, you may find out that their empowerment came about from western-supported persecution of thought.  The BBC has a shocking documentary called “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” that deals with this exact phenomenon.

Sayyid Qutb, “the man whose ideas would shape al-Qaeda,” was nothing but a conservative critique of western materialism.  He was an Egyptian writer who studied in Colorado.  Of course the guy was crazy in the way he disagreed with American values (such as calling Jazz music a tool for sex). But he was treated even crazier (just for his crazy thoughts) by American-supported Egyptian government.  Placed in jail, tortured and executed.

I think giving voices to all parties should not be required, but forcefully silencing voices can bring about unanticipated fanaticism. So perhaps al-Jazeera has not been given the credit for actually toning down Islamic terrorism?  Just a random thought.

Roots of Chauvinism

Two things you don’t want to be in Azerbaijan are a journalist or an Armenian.  While I am still trying to find out why the government hates independent journalists so much, I may be closer to finding out where there is so much hate for Armenians. THE TEXTBOOKS, of course!

From MehrNews via WikiPedia

A 5th grade history book from Azerbaijan entitled “Fatherland” shows most of northern Iran and significant portions of Armenia (including all of Lake Sevan) and Georgia (Kvemo Kartli and southern Kakheti) under Azerbaijani control.

Iranian Parliament Photos

 Received from Iran in a group e-mail: 


The Denial of Racism

A Turkish Daily News Column by Orhan Kemal Cengiz (“Kunta Kinte, ‘Armenian Seed,’ the Denial of Racism,” June 22, 2007) resonates with the recent revealing of racist denier “Holdwater” (the ghostmaster of hatesite) as cartoonist Murad Gumen.

Cengiz writes:

I have never come across any Turkish person who considers himself a racist. However, racist remarks are just flying in the air in the daily conversations in this country. Our language is full of racist remarks. For example, Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, is called an “Armenian seed” (Ermeni Dölü). If you consider how much Öcalan is hated in this country then you can imagine how “flattering” being an “Armenian seed” may be. “Jews are cowards!” “Arabs are back stabbing people”! Not to mention very offensive vocabulary about the Roma people!

What Cengiz says is true, but not only for Turks. I don’t think any person in this world would admit they are racist, not even a single member of the Ku Klux Klan. Yet Cengiz is particularly upset with the denial of racism in Turkey for the simple fact that Ottoman Empire’s desendant Turkey sees itself a victim and hence doesn’t see its minorities as vulnerable to hate in Turkey:

I believe this feeling of ‘being a victim’ serves as a kind of block in our collective unconscious. It is a way of turning upside down some historical facts in this country. It is a way of not confronting what had happened to non-Muslim citizens of this country. “I am the victim, not the Armenian, or Greek, or Jew!” Today we still have this feeling and it is getting stronger. We are again the victims of the Western powers’ conspiracies against us! We are the Kunta Kintes of the modern times, surrounded by enemies and about to be victimized again by the white man! Are we really!?

Interestingly, racist Murad Gumen has been doing exactly whatCengiz writes about.  Shamelessly comparing Armenians to rodents (“Armeni-lemmings identify with this [photographed] rodent”) and hatefully denying the Armenian Genocide (“I have 100% hatred of the deception of Armenians’ age-old propaganda”), Murad Gumen is fast to proclaim he is not a racist (“I have zero hatred of Armenians”).  You are what you do, would respond the French philosopher.

Nationalist Turkish Newspaper Reports on Racist Cartoonist

Today’s Hürriyet, a nationalist Turkish newspaper, reports on the “outing” of Mr. Murad “Holdwater” Gümen, the son of cartoonist Sururi Gümen. “Holdwater” is the webmaster of, a website that hatefully denies the Armenian Genocide by the Ottoman Turks.

Self-portrait of “Holdwater’s” cartoonist father

The story doesn’t mention, however, that Sururi Gümen was Hürriyet’s own editorial cartoonist before emigrating to the United States. “For fifty years, Sururi was undoubtedly the leading cartoonist in Turkey,” says Serüven, the Turkish magazine of comic-book art. [Sururi, Ellili yıların başında Türkiye’nin tartışmasız en iyi çizeriydi.]

Nationalist Hürriyet’s USA edition has devoted its front page article to “Holdwater” and the revealing of his identity. The full story inside features a screen shot from this blog.

One doesn’t really need to know Turkish to understand these articles.

Murad Gumen Public Letters

Remember the United States Holocaust Memorial Council letter Historian Taner Akcam used to bust the identity of racist “Holdwater”?  As Akcam said, these are public records.  Now on, these are virtual too.

This was the letter “Holdwater” used to have at his hate website some time ago (he has removed it now).  His name is censored out from this copy.

Here is the uncensored version from the United States Holocaust Memorial Council archives revealing “Mr. Gumen” as the correspondent.

And here is the response of “Mr. Gumen,” also from the United States Holocaust Memorial Council archives, where we find out the first name of Gumen (Murad) and the signature of the genocide denialist cartoonist.

New Blog About a Kurdish Village and Its Mass Grave

British archaeology Sam Hardy, who visited Turkey’s Mardin mass grave last month, has set up a blog about Kuru (Xirabeba) where a possible mass grave from the Armenian Genocide was discovered by local Kurds and later destroyed by the Turkish military.

Hardy posts many photographs from the village – including those of a ruined (Armenian or Assyrian?) church – and reflects on his visit to the possible Armenian mass grave.

Kuru building 2a: this photograph shows the empty rock-cut graves of the original Roman tomb; I’m not displaying its entrance.

This tomb was reused as a mass grave, where Armenians killed in 1915 were dumped: before, I collated the most relevant and informative English and Turkish-language sources on the planned forensic excavation of the mass grave and its destruction by the Turkish military; and after, I visited the site, photographed it and examined the indefensible excuses offered by the Turkish Historical Society in their attempt to cover up the Turkish military’s destruction of the site.

comment by an ultranationalist Turk (Ferit) on our previous post has this to say about the covered-up mass grave:

This site was just confirmed by European scholars as definitely being Roman. Your site looses credibility when it references PKK/terror funded Ozgur Gundem and makes phobic comments that the “Turkish Military”, “Historical Society” covered up. Why is it that everytime the Armenian Genocide lie hits a wall, Armenians cry Foul?

You freely call all who do not believe your depiction of events as “genocide” as being “denialist”, but you fall into the same category without being objective, fair and balanced. I wonder what the Armenian heart thinks of after they are fed all the hate filled stories, most of which are really fiction stories(40 days at Musa, Morgenthau,etc.) and do not have the courage to come out and say, IF THE TURKS KILLED US, WHY DID THEY KILL US AFTER 1,000 YEARS? Or HOW MANY DID WE KILL? Or how many Ottoman troops were used to kill any Armenians? The question should be, HOW MANY ARMENIANS WERE INVOLVED IN THE BURNING OF ANATOLIAN and CAUCASIAN Villages? What was their courage and objective. If they were seeking land, then perhaps you should watch Braveheart, to understand how the Turks might have reacted.

Now you get to see both sides of the story, just like in Shrek III.  I can understand people who avoid using the word “genocide,” but I can’t understand absolute idiots like Ferit who don’t even want to admit that there could be an Armenian mass grave in Turkey.  Swiss courts have the answer – Ferit and deniers like him are racists.

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