Archive for January, 2008

“Don’t Vote Black – Vote Obama”

My mother’s first contribution to this blog, endorsing Barack Obama for presidency, comes the same day as the Armenian National Committee of America officially backs the Illinois senator. Here is what she has written:

Don’t Vote Black – Vote Obama!  

By Susanna Maghakyan 

New York Timescolumnist Nicholas Kristof sarcastically wrote last week that if we are looking for the most experienced candidate, we should vote Dick Cheney as America’s next president. The Onion, too, wrote a satire story suggesting that from all the candidates Clinton is best qualified – that is Bill and not his wife.

Women are, indeed, underrepresented in state and national governments. The average percentage of women lawmakers in state governments is less than 25% – only half the percent of female citizens across the country. It is natural that there is no “best-experienced” woman candidate although Hillary Clinton has been in politics for a long time. Mrs. Clinton is charming, well-spoken and well-educated. She knows how things happen in the White House and she’d most likely do a good job.

It is not comfort, nonetheless, that people should look for. If we are going to look for experience, we might as well establish a monarchy and develop a professional aristocracy. What is being ignored and devalued is the federal system itself – an entity that, while dependant on the vision of the president, carries a democratic tradition and an experienced history of statecraft. A president is not going to tell a federal employee how to audit a tax payment. The president isn’t going to tell the post office how to deliver mail.

Presidency, I believe, is vision for the country: a vision for improvement, sustainable progress and mutually-respectful unity. The president is also an image to the world – the symbol of American democracy to billions of others on our planet. We can’t and shouldn’t vote for a president who is trained to micro-manage a nation of 300 million. We need a president that can become a symbol for unity at home and an image of rightness abroad.

Voting for a black candidate is wrong. Voting for Barack Obama is right. Because it is not Obama’s color that makes him the most charismatic, educated and well-intentioned candidate. It is Obama’s fearless challenge to the democracy of the dead that can make Americalive longer and freer. It is his courage to put moralpolitik on the same page with realpolitik – as demonstrated in his 2005 visit to authoritarian and oil-rich Azerbaijan where Obama, while acknowledging Azerbaijan’s geopolitical importance, made clear – in an unprecedented action – that he would not deny the World War I Armenian Genocide just because Azerbaijan and Turkey wanted so.

Obama won’t sacrifice democratic values for American interests, but he will do a better job of advancing these interests at the same time.

Second Update on Vandalism in Wales

The website of the Armenian community of Great Britain has posted before and after photographs of the recently vandalized Armenian Genocide monument in Cardiff, Wales, stating that the “South Wales Police are investigating the damage.”

 Image courtesy Asbarez

The century-old Asbarez Armenian-American daily has also posted an Armenpress article on the destruction and a new photograph that shows the vandalized monument.

And although few would doubt that the hate crime was committed by Turkish nationalist(s), a blogger from Cardiff expresses hope that nationalist Turks are not behind the vandalism:

It’s hard not to feel hatred when something like this happens. In my home town of Cardiff, last November, from generous donations from a local Armenian, a memorial to the Genocide was erected in a public park. During the inauguration we had to listen to disturbing calls of hatred from about 50 Turkish protestors who did everything during the prayers, speeches, and songs, to disturb the ceremony.

It seems they have now stooped to a new low and in line with the UK’s memorial day for holocaust, have decided to hack the cross off from the memorial. I must admit I didn’t think they would do this. Maybe it wasn’t commited by Turks. I hope it wasn’t. The police are searching for information.

Update on Vandalism in Wales

The BBC has posted a photograph of the recently vandalized Armenian Genocide monument in the Welsh city of Cardiff that shows the cross on the memorial entirely wiped out.

 Image: Vandalized Armenian Genocide Monument in Cardiff, Wales, courtesy BBC

According to a report by ic Welsh, reposted by Hyelog:

A MONUMENT set up in Cardiff to remember 1.5 million Armenians who were massacred in 1915 was vandalised ahead of a service for all the victims of genocide.

The memorial in the Temple of Peace, Cathays, Cardiff, made of sandstone and Welsh slate, was struck with a sledgehammer on Saturday night, smashing the cross off it.

Yesterday was Holocaust Memorial Day and a service was held to remember all those who have died at the hands of ethnic cleansing.

Members of the Turkish community have condemned the damage.

Caerphilly Councillor Ray Davies, who campaigned for the Armenian monument to be erected, said many people at the service yesterday were close to tears when they saw what had happened.

“The desecration of the monument reminds us that we must always be vigilant against racism and hatred which is never far from the surface,” he said.

The pillar of pink stone was unveiled in November to remember all those Armenians who were murdered by Ottoman Turks in 1915.


But the service still went ahead as planned, despite protests from a small number of people who shouted through loud hailers.

Director of the Welsh Centre for International Affairs Stephen Thomas said: “It was particularly saddening for the Armenians present that this happened on the day of the Holocaust Memorial Day. This service wasn’t specific to the Armenians. We were trying to be all-inclusive about all those historical events where people have been massacred. It wasn’t very helpful in terms of trying to create a bridge and links between Turkey and Armenia that this was carried out. People were upset when they turned up and saw what had happened.”

Hal Savas, a member of the five-man delegation from the Committee for the Protection of Turkish Rights, was present at the service.

“Whoever has done it should be ashamed of themselves,” he said. “We would condemn any damage done to any religious monument.”

Wales: Nationalist Turks Vandalize Genocide Monument

Hours before a January 27, 2008 commemoration for the Holocaust and murdered Armenian-Turkish Hrant Dink, members of the Armenian community in Wales discovered the site for the event – a traditional Armenian khachkar (literally, cross-stone) opened in November of 2007 – had been vandalized by a hammar left at the scene. 

Image: A photograph from the November 3, 2007 opening ceremony of the Armenian Genocide commemorative memorial in Cardiff, Wales (United Kingdom) shows the khachkar (cross-stone) that was vandalized by a hammer in the morning of a scheduled event to commemorate the Holocaust and remember Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink. Photo courtesy ACCC.

A press-release by the Wales-Armenia Solidarity, posted by Unzipped, reads:  

The tiny Welsh Armenian community were targeted with a despicable racist attack on Holocaust Memorial Day. The new Armenian Genocide Monument (which was erected by the community under the leadership of John Torosyan in November) was desecrated in the early hours of the morning before important ceremonies were held today to Commemorate the Holocaust, and to remember Hrant Dink.

The ornate Armenian Cross on the monument was smashed to bits by persons unknown using a hammer, which was left at the scene of the crime.

Mark Grigorian, a journalist and a blogger at LiveJournal, wrote earlier on the morning of January 27 that a text message had just informed him that “[t]he Armenian Khachkar monument in Cardiff commemorating the Armenian Genocide, which had been consecrated only in November in the face of vehement opposition by official Turkey and UM Turkish nationalist groups has been badly vandalised abd desecrated last night.”

Eilian Williams, talking on the vandalism, has blamed the “Committee for the Protection of Turkish Rights”  under the leadership of Hal Savas – a member of The Muslim Council of Britain – for the hate crime.

Indeed, the announcement for the commemoration ceremony, posted at Seta’s Armenian Blog and apparently written before the news of the vandalism, expressed fears for violent Turkish protests quoting Hal Savas as saying, “[w]e will be out in force this time.” Savas’ group had protested the unveiling of the memorial in November of 2007, as reported by the BBC.

Image: Soldiers of Azerbaijan filmed using sladghammers to reduce sacred Armenian gravestones to dust in December of 2005. Visit for more information

It is not clear why the hammer – that was used to smash the cross on the genocide monument to pieces –  was left at the scene. Perhaps a symbolic gesture to the December of 2005 destruction of the largest medieval Armenian cemetery in the world where Azerbaijani soldiers used sladghammers to reduce the sacred stones to dust?

Hrant Dink Speech by Arundhati Roy

Counter Currents has posted a shortened version of Indian novelist Arundhati Roy’s commemorative lecture on Hrant Dink’s assassination presented at a Turkish university last Friday:

I never met Hrant Dink, a misfortune that will be mine for time to come. From what I know of him, of what he wrote, what he said and did, how he lived his life, I know that had I been here in Istanbul a year ago I would have been among the one hundred thousand people who walked with his coffin in dead silence through the wintry streets of this city, with banners saying, “We are all Armenians”, “We are all Hrant Dink”. Perhaps I’d have carried the one that said, “One and a half million plus one”.* [*One-and-a-half million is the number of Armenians who were systematically murdered by the Ottoman Empire in the genocide in Anatolia in the spring of 1915. The Armenians, the largest Christian minority living under Islamic Turkic rule in the area, had lived in Anatolia for more than 2,500 years.]

In a way, my battle is like yours. But while in Turkey there’s silence, in India, there is celebration.

I wonder what thoughts would have gone through my head as I walked beside his coffin. Maybe I would have heard a reprise of the voice of Araxie Barsamian, mother of my friend David Barsamian, telling the story of what happened to her and her family. She was ten years old in 1915. She remembered the swarms of grasshoppers that arrived in her village, Dubne, which was north of the historic city Dikranagert, now Diyarbakir. The village elders were alarmed, she said, because they knew in their bones that the grasshoppers were a bad omen. They were right;
the end came in a few months, when the wheat in the fields was ready for harvesting.

“When we left…(we were) 25 in the family,” Araxie Barsamian says. “They took all the men folks. They asked my father, ‘Where is your ammunition?’ He says, ‘I sold it.’ So they says, ‘Go get it.’ So he went to the Kurd town to get it, they beat him and took all his clothes. When he came back there-this my mother tells me story-when he came back there, naked body, he went in the jail, they cut his arms…so he die in jail.

And they took all the mens in the field, they tied their hands, and they shooted, killed every one of them.”

Araxie and the other women in her family were deported. All of them perished except Araxie. She was the lone survivor.

This is, of course, a single testimony that comes from a history that is denied by the Turkish government, and many Turks as well.

I am not here to play the global intellectual, to lecture you, or to fill the silence in this country that surrounds the memory (or the forgetting) of the events that took place in Anatolia in 1915. That is what Hrant Dink tried to do, and paid for with his life.

Most genocidal killing from the 15th century onwards has been part of Europe’s search for lebensraum.

The day I arrived in Istanbul, I walked the streets for many hours, and as I looked around, envying the people of Istanbul their beautiful, mysterious, thrilling city, a friend pointed out to me young boys in white caps who seemed to have suddenly appeared like a rash in the city. He explained that they were expressing their solidarity with the child-assassin who was wearing a white cap when he killed Hrant.

The battle with the cap-wearers of Istanbul, of Turkey, is not my battle, it’s yours. I have my own battles to fight against other kinds of cap-wearers and torchbearers in my country. In a way, the battles are not all that different. There is one crucial difference, though. While in Turkey there is silence, in India there’s celebration, and I really don’t know which is worse.

In the state of Gujarat, there was a genocide against the Muslim community in 2002.

I use the word Genocide advisedly, and in keeping with its definition contained in Article 2 of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The genocide began as collective punishment for an unsolved crime-the burning of a railway coach in which 53 Hindu pilgrims were burned to death. In a carefully planned orgy of supposed retaliation, 2,000 Muslims were slaughtered in broad daylight by squads of armed killers, organised by fascist militias, and backed by the Gujarat government and the administration of the day. Muslim women were gang-raped and burned alive.

Muslim shops, Muslim businesses and Muslim shrines and mosques were systematically destroyed. Some 1,50,000 people were driven from their homes.

Even today, many of them live in ghettos-some built on garbage heaps-with no water supply, no drainage, no streetlights, no healthcare. They live as second-class citizens, boycotted socially and economically. Meanwhile, the killers, police as well as civilian, have been embraced, rewarded, promoted. This state of affairs is now considered ‘normal’. To seal the ‘normality’, in 2004, both Ratan Tata and Mukesh Ambani, India’s leading industrialists, publicly pronounced Gujarat a dream destination for finance capital.


It’s not a coincidence that the political party that carried out the Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire, was called the Committee for Union & Progress.

‘Union’ (racial/ethnic/religious/national) and ‘Progress’ (economic determinism) have long been the twin coordinates of genocide.

Armed with this reading of history, is it reasonable to worry about whether a country that is poised on the threshold of “progress” is also poised on the threshold of genocide? Could the India being celebrated all over the world as a miracle of progress and democracy, possibly be poised on the verge of committing genocide? The mere suggestion might sound outlandish and, at this point of time, the use of the word genocide surely unwarranted. However, if we look to the future, and if the Tsars of Development believe in their own publicity, if they believe that There Is No Alternative to their chosen model for Progress, then they will inevitably have to kill, and kill in large numbers, in order to get their way.


“Within an ongoing counterfeit universe,” Robert Jay Lifton says, “genocide becomes easy, almost natural.”

The poor, the so-called poor, have only one choice: to resist or to succumb. Bachchan is right: they are crossing over, quietly, while the world’s not looking. Not to where he thinks, but across another ravine, to another side. The side of armed struggle. From there they look back at the Tsars of Development and mimic their regretful slogan: ‘There Is No Alternative.’

They have watched the great Gandhian people’s movements being reduced and humiliated, floundering in the quagmire of court cases, hunger strikes and counter-hunger strikes. Perhaps these many million Constraining Ghosts of the Past wonder what advice Gandhi would have given the Indians of the Americas, the slaves of Africa, the Tasmanians, the Herero, the Hottentots, the Armenians, the Jews of Germany, the Muslims of Gujarat. Perhaps they wonder how they can go on hunger strike when they’re already starving. How they can boycott foreign goods when they have no money to buy any goods. How they can refuse to pay taxes when they have no earnings.

Stamp out the Naxals: They have no place in Shining India

People who have taken to arms have done so with full knowledge of what the consequences of that decision will be. They have done so knowing that they are on their own. They know that the new laws of the land criminalise the poor and conflate resistance with terrorism. (Peaceful activists are ogws-overground workers.) They know that appeals to conscience, liberal morality and sympathetic press coverage will not help them now. They know no international marches, no globalised dissent, no famous writers will be around when the bullets fly.

Hundreds of thousands have broken faith with the institutions of India’s democracy. Large swathes of the country have fallen out of the government’s control. (At last count, it was supposed to be 25 per cent). The battle stinks of death, it’s by no means pretty. How can it be when the helmsman of the army of Constraining Ghosts is the ghost of Chairman Mao himself? (The ray of hope is that many of the footsoldiers don’t know who he is. Or what he did. More Genocide Denial? Maybe). Are they Idealists fighting for a Better World? Well… anything is better than annihilation.

The Prime Minister has declared that the Maoist resistance is the “single largest internal security threat”. There have even been appeals to call out the army. The media is agog with breathless condemnation.

Here’s a typical newspaper report. Nothing out of the ordinary. Stamp out the Naxals, it is called.

This government is at last showing some sense in tackling Naxalism. Less than a month ago, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asked state governments to “choke” Naxal infrastructure and “cripple” their activities through a dedicated force to eliminate the “virus”. It signalled a realisation that Naxalism must be stamped out through enforcement of law, rather than wasteful expense on development.

“Choke”. “Cripple”. “Virus”. “Infested”. “Eliminate”. “Stamp Out”.

Yes. The idea of extermination is in the air. And people believe that faced with extermination, they have the right to fight back. By any means necessary.

Perhaps they’ve been listening to the grasshoppers.

Hillary Clinton on U.S.-Armenia Relations

Received in e-mail from ANCA and AAA:

Statement of Senator Hillary Clinton on the U.S.-Armenia Relationship

Alone among the Presidential candidates, I have been a longstanding supporter of the Armenian Genocide Resolution. I have been a co-sponsor of the Resolution since 2002, and I support adoption of this legislation by both Houses of Congress.

I believe the horrible events perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire against Armenians constitute a clear case of genocide. I have twice written to President Bush calling on him to refer to the Armenian Genocide in his annual commemorative statement and, as President, I will recognize the Armenian Genocide. Our common morality and our nation’s credibility as a voice for human rights challenge us to ensure that the Armenian Genocide be recognized and remembered by the Congress and the President of the United States.

If the mass atrocities of the 20th Century have taught us anything it is that we must honestly look the facts of history in the face in order to learn their lessons, and ensure they will not happen again. It is not just about the past, but about our future. We must close the gap between words and deeds to prevent mass atrocities. That is why I am a supporter of the Responsibility to Protect. As President, I will work to build and enhance U.S. and international capacity to act early and effectively to prevent mass atrocities. The Bush administration’s words of condemnation have not been backed with leadership to stop the genocide in Darfur. I support a no-fly-zone over Darfur. I have championed strong international action to ensure that the government of Sudan can no longer act with impunity, or interfere with the international peacekeeping force, which is essential for the protection of the people of Darfur.

I value my friendship with our nation’s vibrant Armenian-American community. This is in keeping with my dedication to the causes of the Armenian-American community over many years. I was privileged as First Lady to speak at the first-ever White House gathering in 1994 for leaders from Armenia and the Armenian-American community to celebrate the historic occasion of Armenia’s reborn independence. I said at the time that America will stand with you as you realize what the great Armenian poet, Puzant Granian, called the Armenian’s dream “to be left in peace in his mountains, to build, to dream, to create.”

I will, as President, work to expand and improve U.S.-Armenia relations in addressing the common issues facing our two nations: increasing trade, fostering closer economic ties, fighting terrorism, strengthening democratic institutions, pursuing our military partnership and deepening cooperation with NATO, and cooperating on regional concerns, among them a fair and democratic resolution of the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict. As President, I will expand U.S. assistance programs to Armenia and to the people of Nagorno-Karabagh.

I look forward, as President, to continuing to work with the Armenian-American community on the many domestic and international challenges we face together, and to build on the strong foundations of shared values that have long brought together the American and Armenian peoples.

Ultra-Nationalist Plot Thwarted in Turkey

The newly-arrested group of dangerous ultra-nationalists in Turkey has apparently not only planned to assassinate Orhan Pamuk but also overthrow the government and establish a fascist regime in the Republic of Turkey.

Bianet from Turkey informs:

Retired Major General Veli Kücük, nationalist lawyer Kemal Kerincsiz, lawyer Fuat Turgut, who is the defense lawyer of Yasin Hayal, a murder suspect in the Hrant Dink case, Aksam newspaper journalist Güler Kömürcü, retired Colonel Fikri Karadag, who is the leader of the ultra-nationalist Kuvayi Milliye Association, and Turkish Orthodox Patriarchy spokesperson Sevgi Erenerol, are under police custody. 

All 33 taken from their homes on Tuesday (22 January) are charged with forming a clandestine group to plot against the governmnet, and attempts at the lives of Kurdish politicians, a well as storing weapons in a secret arsenal.

The ultra-nationalist group is known as Ergenekon and includes Turkey’s infamous lawyer Kemal Kerincsiz – the key person in persecuting Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink and Nobel Prize winning author Orhan Pamuk under Amendment 301 for talking on the Armenian Genocide – and the Azerbaijani-trained Yasin Hayal (the suspected mastermind of Dink’s assassination).

Surprisingly, Turkey’s nationalist Sabah newspaper now refers to the fascist group as a “terrorist organization” and a “gang.”

Turkey: Ultra-nationalist Lawyer Arrested in Plot to Kill Nobel Prize Author

If I read the news correctly, Turkey’s top ultra-nationalist lawyer Kemal Kerincsiz has been detained among others for a plot to kill Turkey’s Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk who has angered fascist circles for bringing up the topic of the Armenian Genocide.  The ultra-nationalist detainees are also being investigated for a possible role in the assassination of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink.

Image: Kemal Kerincsiz

Kemal Kerincsiz has been the key person in bringing charges against both Pamuk and Dink under Article 301.

Turkish nationalists plotted to kill Nobel winner
(AFP)23 January 2008 ISTANBUL – Police believe Nobel laureate novelist Orhan Pamuk and Kurdish politicians were on the hit list of an ultranationalist group whose alleged members were detained this week, newspapers reported Wednesday.

Thirty-three people, including retired soldiers, journalists, nationalist lawyers and underworld figures, are being interrogated in Istanbul, prosecutors said in a statement.They were detained Tuesday as part of a probe into the discovery of hand grenades and bomb detonators in a house in Istanbul in June, the statement said, without giving other details.Police believe the suspects were planning to assassinate Pamuk, who won the 2006 Nobel literature prize, prominent journalist Fehmi Koru and Kurdish politicians Leyla Zana, Osman Baydemir and Ahmet Turk, the daily Milliyet reported.Police are also investigating whether the suspects were involved in several politically motivated attacks that shocked Turkey over the past two years, the daily Sabah said.They include the murders of ethnic Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, Italian Catholic priest Andrea Santoro and a senior judge killed by a gunman who stormed into the country’s top administrative court, the daily said.Officials said the suspects include Kemal Kerincsiz, a lawyer notorious for initiating legal action against Pamuk, Dink and other intellectuals for disputing the official line on the World War I Ottoman era massacres of Armenians.Turkey fiercely rejects Armenian claims, backed by several Western countries, that the killings were genocide.Another prominent detainee is retired general Veli Kucuk, who has been accused of organising extra-judicial killings of Kurds in the 1990s.The suspects also include a retired colonel, a newspaper columnist, the spokeswoman of the Turkish Orthodox Church and two prominent underworld figures.Sabah termed the detentions a blow against the ‘deep state’-a term used here to describe members of the security forces acting outside the law to preserve what they consider Turkey’s best interests, often employing the services of the underworld.Dink’s family claims that the journalist’s self-confessed teenage assassin was incited by people who remain at large and enjoy the protection of some members of the security forces.

Turkish Children Use Their Blood to Paint Turkey’s Flag

Image: The flag of Turkey painted by the blood of high  school students

About 20 high school students from a central city in Turkey have cut themselves in order to use their blood to paint a flag of the Turkish Republic that was presented to the chief of the armed forces. According to Today’s Zaman:

Late last week, a group of Kırşehir students who made a blood-painted flag sent it to Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt, who expressed his approval, saying, “Such a nation is ours.” Gen. Büyükanıt’s words praising the students’ work caused great controversy.

 Image: Turkish students who used own blood to paint Turkey’s national flag (Source)

This sick act of fascism, thought to be provoked by ultra-nationalist Turks, has been criticized as “dangerous” by Turkish psychiatrist Nevzat Tarhan who draws particular attention to “the recent attacks by young people directed at Christian priests.”


This news reminds of the abuse of Turkish children by their fascist parents as seen in photos where babies make ultra-nationalist signs and hold real guns.

Turkish Court: Citizens Can Sue Those Who Admit Genocide

As Turkey is considering to amend Article 301 of its penal code – that has been used to prosecute those who bring up the subject of the Armenian Genocide – Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals has ruled that individual citizens can bring civil actions against their countrymen who bring up the topic of the Genocide.

Today’s Zaman, a relatively moderate newspaper from Turkey, reports that Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals has “opened the way” for Turkish individuals to bring civil actions against their country’s best-known novelist and Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk for having talked about the Armenian Genocide.

The Supreme Court of Appeals yesterday nullified a local court ruling that dropped a civil suit against Nobel Prize-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk for his controversial remarks about Armenian allegations of genocide that were published in a Swiss magazine in 2005.

A civil suit had been filed by a group of five people, including relatives of martyrs who claimed that Pamuk put the blame for atrocities committed against Armenians during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire on the entire Turkish nation with his remarks. During an interview to Swiss Das magazine Pamuk had said: “We killed 30,000 Kurds and 1 million Armenians in these lands. Nobody but me dares to say this in Turkey,” in remarks that drew ire from the Turkish public — particularly from nationalist circles.

İstanbul’s Şişli Third Civil Court of First Instance dropped the case in a 2006 ruling on the grounds that there had been no violation of the individual rights of the plaintiffs in Pamuk’s remarks. The plaintiffs appealed the court decision.


The court ruling has opened the way for thousands of families of martyrs to file cases against Pamuk. The lawyer of the plaintiffs, Kemal Kerinçsiz, who is a well-known ultranationalist, said earlier that all the families of martyrs would file cases against Pamuk and take away his Nobel Prize money if the Supreme Court of Appeals nullified the local court ruling.

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