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 www.djulfa.com 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?