Archive for May, 2008

France: Base of Genocide Monument Vandalized with Graffiti

Image received from Jean Eckian in an e-mail


The Memorial to the Armenians Genocide victims was desecrated in Valence, France, on May 15 [2008] night. The vandals painted an illegible inscription on the monument base, independent French journalist Jean Eckian told PanARMENIAN.Net.

The Coordination Council of the French Armenian Organizations from Drome-Ardeche area’s (COADA) deposited a complaint to the Police office of Valence.

7 Armenian memorials – in Saint-Chamond, Creteil, Lyon, Valence (France), Cardiff (UK), Budapest (Hungary) and Lviv (Ukraine) – have been desecrated since January 2008.

Canada: Genocide Book Pulled, Replaced by Denialist Literature

Globe and Mail from Canada reports that a nationalist Turkish group has succeeded in banning a recommended High School book on Genocide. The banned book, which included a chapter on the WWI extermination of Ottoman Armenians, has been replaced by works of two genocide deniers.

A book about genocide has been pulled from the recommended reading list of a new Toronto public school course because of objections from the Turkish-Canadian community, the author says.

Barbara Coloroso’s Extraordinary Evil: A Brief History of Genocide was originally part of a resource list for the Grade 11 history course, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity, set to launch across the Toronto District School Board this fall.

The book examines the Holocaust, which exterminated six million Jews in the Second World War; the Rwandan slaughter of nearly one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 1994, and the massacres of more than a million Armenians in 1895, 1909 and 1915.


Ms. Coloroso, a best-selling author of parenting books, said she wasn’t surprised her work was removed, given that “ever since the book came out, the Turks have mounted a worldwide campaign objecting to it, which is not surprising because of the denial of the genocide.”

She said what upset her was not so much that her book had been pulled, but that it was replaced by works by Bernard Lewis and Guenter Lewy, whom she refers to as deniers of the Armenian genocide.

“I knew when I wrote Extraordinary Evil that I would anger some genocide deniers,” she wrote to Ms. Connelly. “I am disappointed that a small group of people can bully an entire committee. …”


My Cousin Arman

My cousin Arman from Souterhn California is visiting me and I am giving him a tour of Blogian at this minute. We’ve been exploring the secret pockets of Denver and still are not too drunk. My graduation is on Saturday!

Azerbaijan: Another Indigenous Movement?

Map: Compared to Nagorno-Karabakh (left), the breakaway indigenous Armenian region, areas where Lezgins reside (right) in Azerbaijan is pretty small. Yet indigenous Lezgins’ growing movement doesn’t only seek self-determination but indirectly challenges Azerbaijan’s official identity that links the predominantly Turkic country to an extinct culture in the South Caucasus.

While Azerbaijan, an ex-Soviet country with a Turkic majority, hopes to restore its ‘territorial integrity’ by getting the indigenous Armenian region of Nagorno-Karabakh back, another native population is voicing desires for self-determination.


Some leaders of ethnic Lezgins – Islamized descendants of the now extinct Caucasian Albanian nation (that was the first country, along with its stronger ally Armenia, to officially adopt Christianity in 301 A.D.) – are quoted as saying that their only dream is “to unite the entire Lezgin people in one state.”


Spread predominantly in the Dagestan region of Southern Russia and in northern Azerbaijan, Lezgins are a nation of about a million people.


While Lezgins are not the only ethnic group in Azerbaijan to consider themselves descendants of the ancient Albanians, this new indigenous movement is a blow to Azerbaijan’s official claim that Azeris are native to the South Caucasus.


Although Azerbaijan’s is ethnically heterogeneous, the Turkic culture is dominant (and originates in Central Asia). Yet Azerbaijan has countered Armenians’ indigenous claim, which Armenians consider a boost for legitimacy for Nagorno-Karabakh’s independence, claiming that Azerbaijan is a direct heir of Caucasian Albania and, thus, native to the region. So indigenous Lezgins’ claim of ethnocide in Azerbaijan is not only a long-term territorial claim to the Turkic country, but also disqualifies Azerbaijan’s official myth of Caucasian Albanian origins.

US: Borat’s “Good Friend” Running for White House

Libertarian politician Bob Barr, who is featured in the mockumentary Borat as eating cheese made of the Kazakhstani journalist’s wife’s breast milk, is running for president.

Although Borat has long endorsed “Basketball player Barack Obamas,” it is interesting how he will react to his “good friend” Barr’s bid for the White House.

Interestingly, Barr was asked about his appearance in Borat which the former Republican apparently finds funny.


Armenians and Progressive Politics

As one of our readers has noticed, I will be on a panel discussing the recent post-election unrest in Armenia at the City University of New York later this month.  It is organized by Armenians and Progressive Politics symposium (formerly known as Armenians and the Left).

So if anyone will be in New York on Saturday, May 31, I hope to see you there.

Although I knew a year ago that I’d be asked to participate in the symposium (perhaps discussing environment or human trafficking or even the destruction of Djulfa), my (I guess non-partisan) blogging on the unrest was the main reason I was asked to talk about the political developments in Armenia. And since I will graduate with my BA in Political Science next week, this is a panel I am really interested in.

Armenia: Blog Boom Analysis

Onnik Krikorian has an excellent analysis of the rise of blogs amid the March post-election clashes in Armenia.

Turkey: Sole Turkish-Armenian NGO Banned

Turkey has apparently banned an 11-year-old organization that has been promoting Turkish-Armenian reconciliation through business. 

The Turkish-Armenian Business Development Council (TABDC), according to its website, “is the first and only official link between the public and private sectors in each of the two countries’ communities.”

A TABDC press release, received in e-mail, states:


Brussels, Belgium

May 9, 2008

TABDC-EU calls for Turkish government to reconsider ban On February 26, 2008, the Turkish-Armenian Business Development Council – EU was ordered by the Turkish Ministry of Interior to cease its activities in Turkey.

The TABDC is a unique organization seeking to establish links between Turkey and Armenia. As one of the rare links between the two countries and one working for the common good, TABDC-EU asks the Turkish government to reconsider its unfortunate decision.

Some media organizations have begun to cover this story and expressed an interest which the TABDC welcomes. In apparent contradiction to the recent diplomatic overture by Foreign Minister Babacan to his Armenian colleague, the banning of TABDC-EU is sending mixed signals regarding the Turkish government’s intentions. This is particularly unfortunate at this stage of Turkey’s accession process and on the eve of another European Parliament report on Turkey’s accession.

“The rejection letter by the Ministry of the Interior in Ankara is all the more surprising as this same [AKP] government had sought help from the TABDC a few years ago to establish contact with Armenians in Armenia and the Diaspora”, said TABDC Co-President Kaan Soyak.

The ability of civil society organizations such as TABDC to build contacts and confidence over time and to promote a common understanding in Armenia, in Turkey and in the EU is beyond question. Particularly in such tense relationships as that between the Turkish and Armenian governments, civil society initiatives are indispensible and must be allowed to operate freely.

Kaan Soyak wishes to correct some press misstatements however. TABDC, since its foundation, has never lobbied one way or the other on the genocide issue. Although the organization recognizes the significance of the issue, it has not included it within its remit. This decision came after careful consideration, and we continue to believe that that it is the most appropriate. We call upon all involved to respect this decision.

While TABDC-EU asks the Turkish Government to re-consider its decision, it will continue to act at its level to promote understanding between the two societies and to help reestablish relations between the two countries.

As the press release alludes, the ban might have to do with the group’s de facto recognition of the Armenian genocide, a crime official Turkish and many nationalists vehemently deny. Soyak himself, for instance, refers to the Armenian genocide as such. TABDC, nonetheless, repeatedly makes clear that their work does not deal with the issue of the genocide.

Armenia: Nameless Feminism

My sister, who lives in Armenia, has ripped her husband’s passoport into many pieces in front of him. Her action has nothing to do with patriotism or anarchy. She just prevented her husband from traveling to northern Europe for five days at a time when she is getting closer to having her second baby.

She had apparently overheard her husband’s friend convincing him to definitely make the trip because they could have fun with women. While my sister had been reluctant about the this business trip, hearing the conversation she knew it was not going to happen. Her husband’s response? He laughed and, well, he is not going.

Although my sister never uses words like feminism or women’s rights, she resembles a not-so-much discussed traditional feminism that exists in some, but not most, Armenian families.

This story reminded me of what I once read in Armenian-American expressionist Arshile Gorky’s biography. Here is an excerpt as posted at 16Beaver:

“Arshile Gorky’s grandmother, the widow Hamaspiur, had brought the family together to hold a vigil for her youngest son, sixteen-year-old Nishan, who had vanished several days earlier. She suspected that he had been abducted by Kurds, for he had fallen in love with a Kurdish girl whose brother took offense. . . .

Only five years earlier, her husband, Sarkis Der Marderosian, the last of a long line of Armenian apostolic priests, had been nailed to the door of the church where he served in Van

As the family prayed, there was a thud at the door. Outside, they found Nishan’s blood-drenched  body. Months of wild grief later, “to revenge herself against God,” Hamaspiur set the monastery church on fire.

Vatican: Armenian Patriarch Visits Pope

Pope Benedict XVI (L) greets Supreme Patriarch Catholicos Karekin ...

Pope Benedict XVI greets Supreme Patriarch Catholicos Karekin ...

Pope Benedict XVI (R) greets Supreme Patriarch Catholicos Karekin ...

Pope Benedict XVI greets Supreme Patriarch Catholicos Karekin ...

Images: Pope Benedict XVI (L) greets Supreme Patriarch Catholicos Karekin II of the Holy Armenian Apostolic Church during a weekly general audience at the Vatican May 7, 2008. REUTERS/Osservatore Romano (VATICAN)

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