Archive for June, 2008

Turkish President Participates in Theatrical Killing of French-Armenians

It turns out that Armenian killings continue all over Turkey in patriotic celebrations, and new photographs reveal that Turkey’s president Abdullah Gül participated in a February 12, 2008 ceremony where French soldiers of Armenian descent were killed by the Turkish army in a theatrical play.

Image: Turkish president Abdullah Gül (right) cheers after a Muslim Turk, portrayed by one of the locals in Marash during a February 12, 2008 celebration, kills French-uniformed Armenians for forcing Muslim women to remove their veils. Gül seems to invest on hatred against Armenians in his goal to lift headscarf ban in Turkish schools.

Set to commemorate Turkish nationalists’ “liberation” of Marash, an Ottoman Armenian city under French occupation following the Genocide, the February 12 event recalls Turkish interpretation of the 1919 Marash events in Cilicia, the region of Armenia’s last kingdom currently part of Turkey. In the words of Turkish nationalist historian Ahmet Eyicil:


Among the French troops that came to Maraş were 40 Muslims from Alegeria and 4000 Armenians. The Armenians patrolling the city in French uniforms began to harass the women and suppress the people . They told to women “will you wander around under veil?” and forced them to “open your veils.” A retired Gendarme Çakmakcı Sait who was trying to prevent the Armenians harassing the women was shot and wounded. He later became a martyer. The Armenians, which came to the city in groups of 500 in French uniforms, asked the people where the whorehouse was. They later chanted the slogans “long live the Clichia Armenia. Down with the people against it.” Furthermore, they trampled on brade they bought from a store.The Armenians started to disturb the people on the streets from 31 October 1919, the second day of the French occupation. The indigenous Armenians gave alcoholic beverages to the newcomers. Some of the Armenian drunken soldiers molested the Muslim women coming out of historical Uzun Oluk baths. They force them to open their veils shouting “this is not a Turkish city any more . You can not walk around with veils. You must open your faces.” The women screamed for help. Upon all these a Turk named Imam who was selling milk in the neighboring shop came out shouting “you infidels! That is enough!” He pulled his gun and killed one and wounded two of them. This incident known as “Sütcü Imam or Uzunoluk incident” in the history spark off a great fight between the Armenians and the Turks . Two more Armenians were killed and fourteen people from both sides got wounded . This increased the Armenian oppression and the atrocities. The Armenians supported by the French started to shot each Muslim they met on the spot saying “this must be from Kuvay-I- milliye.” They started to kill the men and rape the women.



Interestingly, this celebration not only testifies to the omnipresent and seen-as-normal hatred against Armenians in Turkey, but also President Gül’s attempt to manipulate hatred against Armenians for his Islamic party’s cause to lift headscarf ban in universities.

The Marash celebration where Armenian men are killed after attacking Muslim civilians is only one in a series of theatrical plays in Turkey that have apparently been going on since the Armenian population was exterminated in what is today Turkey during and after WWI. Some Turkish newspapers criticized earlier this year the theatrical killing of Armenians in Van and in Erzurum, both former Armenian cities in modern Turkey. While this is the first year when some Turks are expressing outrage against the theatrical killings – perhaps in the light of Hrant Dink’s assassination – the celebrations, many say, have been going on for 90 years.

Azerbaijan: New Exclusions in “The Most Tolerant Country”

In a step closer to totalitarianism, the government in ex-soviet Azerbaijan has imprisoned another journalist not in line with official views of the establishment that praises the oil-rich country as “an example of tolerance.”

According to the Associated Press, editor of the minority Talysh Sado Novruzali Mammadov was sentenced to10-years in prison for “treason.” The agency reports that “[p]rosecutors accused [Mammadov and the administrator of the newspaper, Elman Guliyev] of Talysh nationalism and undermining Azerbaijan’s statehood. The Talysh live in the south of the former Soviet republic and have close cultural ties to neighboring Iran. Guliyev acknowledged in court that the paper had received $1,000 per month from Talysh organizations in Iran.”

The conviction of indigenous Talysh activists comes a week after a Christian priest was arrested in Azerbaijan. According to Baptist Standard, “Hamid Shabanov, a Baptist pastor in Aliabad, Azerbaijan, was arrested June 20 [2008].”

Azerbaijan’s ironic self-image of “heaven of tolerance” is dimming day by day, especially that oppression in the Muslim country has shifted from being exclusively anti-Armenian. Editor of the now-banned Real Azerbaijan Eynulla Fatullayev, who had indirectly challenged Azerbaijan’s anti-Armenian rhetoric, is serving an eleven-year sentence for charges of defamation, terrorism, incitement of ethnic hatred and tax evasion. Emin Husseinov, director of the Institute for Reporter Freedom and Safety, was badly beaten last week in Azerbaijan. The Institute for Reporter Freedom and Safety was founded by Idrak Abassov, the independent Azeri journalist who confirmed for a British publication a few years ago that the medieval Armenian cemetery of Djulfa had disappeared in Azerbaijan’s Nakhichevan exclave.

While arrests in Azerbaijan in the name of anti-Armenianism have received little coverage in the West due to the sensitive conflict of Nagorno-Karabakh, the ongoing oppression in Azerbaijan against the Talysh and other minorities suggests that the fascist nationalism is not simply a reaction to losing the 1990s’ war to Armenia.

But as Azerbaijan pumps a lot of oil in the face of a $4/gallon gas crisis in the United States, democracy may be the last thing America would care about in Baku.

“G” Factor: Did Genocide or Gay Trouble U.S. Envoy?


In a few hours, the U.S. Senate will vote on Bush’s Ambassadorial nominee to Armenia. We predict that Marie Yovanovitch will be confirmed. And the question is whether the previous nominee was denied because of not using the word genocide or because of being gay.

Making clear that she can’t use the word ‘genocide’ in referring to the Armenian extermination of WWI due to Bush’s foreign policy not to use the term, ambassadorial nominee Marie Yovanovitch’s Senate hearing became quite stressful last week.

She will most likely get the Senate confirmation given her honest hint that ANY Bush nominee would follow the order not to use the term genocide. Yet it wasn’t easy to deliver this message.

A photo posted (surprisingly) by the State Department sponsored Voice of America’s Armenian page, shows Marie Yovanovitch cleaning her nose during the hearing. More interestingly, the Armenian report refers to the Armenian genocide without quotation marks – something that U.S. State Department officials are not allowed to do themselves.

While it seems like Yovanovitch will be confirmed as the Ambassador despite that she follows her employer’s orders, one wonders whether the Genocide issue was the decisive factor in previous nominee Richard Hoagland’s failure to get the confirmation.

On January 12, 2007, the Armenian-language Hayastani Hanareptutyun (Republic of Armenia) wrote of some concerns in Armenia about Hoagland’s open homosexuality. According to the newspaper, the editor of Armenia’s Azg Daily, Hakob Avetiqyan (Hagop Avedikian), said during a press talk seating along with an ARF (Dashnaktustyun leader):

«Շատ անխոհեմ նշանակում էր սա՝ անկախ ցեղասպանության հարցից։ Անխոհեմ, քանզի Հայաստան, որտեղ ավանդապաշտությունը բավական կարեւոր գործոն է, ուղարկել մեկին, որը ոչ ավանդական սեռական կողմնորոշում ունի, չի բխում նաեւ Միացյալ Նահանգների շահերից»։(This was a very inconsiderate appointment [nomination] despite the question of the genocide. Inconsiderate, because sending somone who doesn’t have traditional sexual orientation to Armenia – a country where tradition-worshiping is a quite important factor – is not in the interests of the United States.)

As unzipped reported last year, Armenia’s anti-Semite and homophobic leader of “Armenian-Aryans” Armen Ayvazyan thanked those who ““freed the Armenian nation from the sad perspective of having a sick Ambassador, who was also denying the reality of the Armenian Genocide.” While Ayvazyan is not, to say the least, a popular figure in Armenia, Azg Daily editor’s open announcement that it is not a good decision to send a homosexual ambassador to Armenia seems worrysome.

Indeed, the editor was seating next to one of the leaders of the ARF (known as ANCA in the U.S.), the organization which heavily campaigned against the Hoagland nomination in 2007. This year, interestingly, ANCA hasn’t been actively campaigning against the new nomination. One reason might perhaps be the recent image-damaging violent post-election protest in Armenia. The new ambassador might be a compromise for continuous U.S. assistance to Armenia despite the recent poor democratic record.

Hoagland’s G-factor still seems important. Was it his refusal (without another choice) to say “genocide” or him being gay that cost him his job? Or maybe because tensions were high given the firing of Ambassador Evans – the only U.S. official in the Bush administration who openly recognized the Armenian Genocide?

SOAD in Eurovision?

Via oikotimes:

After Armenia received its best result ever  this year with Sirusho, the world-famous rock band System of a Down shown a keen interest in representing the country in Russia next year. However, the soloist of the American band, Serj Tankian, has openly stated in a recent visit in Finland that this will be under one condition: if they will be able to use Eurovision as a way to make the much-debated Armenian Genocide issue known. “Esc would be an excellent way to make this theme known. We must seriously think of this.” said Tankian in response to a question posed by Finnish News Agency.


With previous song titles such as Violent Pornography, This Cocaine Makes Me Feel Like I’m On This Song, Peephole and Fuck the System, System of a Down would perhaps be censored by the EBU rule about bad language that previously forced Silvia Night to officially change the lyrics of her song, while the EBU would probably choose to believe the political message was a reference to ancient Armenian bedtime stories or an ending relationship.

Enough of the Racism, Mr. Petrosyan!

Former Armenian president and opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosyan ...

Image: Former Armenian president and opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosyan greets supporters during a rally in central Yerevan, June 20, 2008. This is the first mass opposition rally since March 1 violent clashes with government forces when several people were killed. REUTERS/Photolure/Hayk Badalyan


While they are not the only one, Armenia’s opposition in its new protests continues to polarize the society in the smallest ex-Soviet republic by making racist statements about the current government.


According to a transcript posted on an opposition website , former president and opposition Levon-Ter Petrosyan called Armenia’s current administration a “Tatar-Mongolian” regime, a euphemism for “invading Turks,” just seconds into his speech on Friday, June 20, 2008.


By calling Armenia’s leaders “Tatar-Mongols,” Petrosyan is not only insulting his own nation, the fight for Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia’s society, but also millions of people around the world who have Turkic origin. The worst thing is that this kind of racism doesn’t turn the thousand protesters off. So is Levon just a racist himself or is he catering a racist audience?


Bitter, oppressed and poor people often find scapegoats. But how long are we going to tolerate this kind of racism? What right do we have to mock Azerbaijan – where the word Armenian is purposely spelled with a lower-case “a” and condemn its institutionalized racism – when our own “leaders” accuse each other of being a Turk?


I have finally opened a personal facebook account. Please send me an e-mail to [email protected], then I will send you an invitation from my personal account. This is one of the few instances that I will discriminate against people.  I know a lot of friends read my blog – so I hope to connect especially with those who I haven’t had enough chance to talk to. Perhaps I will open a Blogian group in facebook in the future.

U.S. Report on the Caucasus

Asst. U.S. Secretary of State Daniel Fried has testified in front of the House Foreign Relations Committee on the South Caucasus countries.

In the introduction, Fried set the tone of the discussion. Talking about the South Caucasus countries’ relationship with NATO (which means alienation from Russia), he said:


Georgia has made a choice to join NATO. The United States and the nations of NATO welcome this choice, and Georgia’s neighbors should respect it.  Azerbaijan has chosen to develop its relations with NATO at a slower pace, and we respect its choice. Armenia’s situation is different, due to its history and currently complicated relations with Azerbaijan and Turkey, and we respect its choice as well.


Speaking about Azerbaijan, Fried said that “Azerbaijan has had the world’s fastest growing economy for three consecutive years.” Talking about Nagorno-Karabakh, he said “While we support Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, Nagorno-Karabakh’s final status must be determined through negotiations and a spirit of compromise that respects international legal and political principles.” By “legal [principle] Fried means “territorial integrity,” by “political principles” he means “self-determination.” In other words, he hopes there is a golden mean to the conflict of the two. Fried finished the presentation on Azerbaijan by referencing the recent anti-Armenian rhetoric. “We hope that the Azerbaijani government will avoid the temptation of thinking that renewed fighting is a viable option. In our view, it is not. We have noted our concern with persistent bellicose rhetoric by some Azerbaijani officials.” Mr. Friend, again and again, failed to mention the 2005 destruction of the Djulfa cemetery by Azerbaijan. I will send him an e-mail shortly.

Talking about Armenia, Fried referenced the genocide by saying that Turkey needs to recognize it while Armenia needs to guarantee that it will not territorial claims against Turkey (ironically, official Armenia has always done the latter.

In Fried’s words:


Reconciliation between Armenia and Turkey, however, will require dealing with sensitive, painful issues. Turkey needs to come to terms with a dark chapter in its history: the mass killings and forced exile of up to 1.5 million Armenians at the end of the Ottoman Empire. That will not be easy, just as it has not been easy for the United States to come to terms with dark periods of our own past. For its part, Armenia must be ready to acknowledge the existing border and disavow any claim on the territory of modern Turkey, and respond constructively to any efforts Turkey may make.


The report went into great detail describing Armenia’s post election unrest. It said in part:


When peaceful mass protests followed the disputed vote, the United States and others pressed continuously for the government of Armenia to refrain from responding with force. However, on March 1, within hours of formal assurances by the Armenian government that they would avoid a confrontation, police entered the square. Ensuing clashes later in the day between demonstrators and security personnel led to at least 10 deaths and hundreds of injuries. Mr. Ter-Petrossian was taken to his residence by security forces, where he appeared to remain under de facto house arrest for weeks. A State of Emergency (SOE) was declared in Yerevan. Freedom of assembly and basic media freedoms were revoked. Opposition newspapers were forced to stop publishing and news websites were blocked, including Radio Liberty. The government then filled the information void with articles and broadcasts disseminating the government version of events and attacking the opposition. While it was alleged that some protesters were armed before the March 1 crackdown, there have been no convictions to date on such charges.


Ironically, Fried finished his remarks on Armenia by connecting the recent unrest (and the need to resolve it) to the absence of a US ambassador to Armenia (the Democratic-controlled U.S. senate has refused to appoint an Ambassador who refuses to refer to the Armenian Genocide as such).

Summarizing Georgia’s political situation, Fried said “Georgia’s young democracy has made progress, but Georgia needs to make more progress if it is to live up to the high standards that it has set for itself. The United States will help as it can to support democratic reform, urging the Georgian authorities to take seriously their ambition to reach European standards of democracy.”

The rest of the talk on Georgia was a detailed condemnation of Russia’s pressure on the ex-Soviet republic:


Moscow has in recent years put economic and political pressure on Georgia: closing their common border; suspending air and ground transport links; and imposing embargoes against exports of Georgian wine, mineral water, and agricultural goods. This year, despite recently lifting some of the economic and transport embargoes, Moscow has intensified political pressure by taking a number of concrete steps toward a de facto official relationship with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, where Russian peacekeeping forces have been deployed since the early 1990s – up to 3,000 in Abkhazia, and 500 Russians plus 500 North Ossetians in South Ossetia. In March, Russia announced its unilateral withdrawal from Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) sanctions on Abkhazia, which would allow Russia potentially to provide direct military assistance (though the Russian government has offered assurances that it will continue to adhere to military sanctions). On April 16, then-President Putin issued instructions calling for closer ties between Russian ministries and their Abkhaz and South Ossetian counterparts. Russian investors are known to be buying property in Abkhazia in disregard of Georgian law. Some of these properties may have belonged to displaced persons, making their eventual return even more difficult. Russian banks maintain correspondent relationships with unlicensed and virtually unregulated Abkhaz banks, an open invitation to money launderers. 


Interestingly, if you take Fried’s words for real there is no discrimination against minorities in Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia. While the U.S. State Department official repeatedly refers to “separatists,” there are no talk about discrimination against minorities and destruction of minority culture in either of the South Caucasus republics.

The report also lacks mentioning human trafficking, which is very prevalent in Armenia and Azerbaijan. Fighting and preventing human trafficking is a major step of building democracy.

The Q&A transcript hasn’t been posted as of June 18, 2008.

Famous Genocide Deniers Visit Armenia?

Threatening to damage its uniquely objective reputation in the smallest of the former Soviet states, has published a partisan commentary on a recent Jewish-American visit to Armenia written by a member of a Diaspora organization often criticized as “soft” for its cooperation with some not-so-pro-Armenian groups.  The same Armenian organization, some say, is now criticizing others for the same thing it has been doing for many years.

The commentary, provided by the Armenian Assembly of America (AAA) to its sponsored publication, reads:

A two man delegation representing the American Jewish Committee (AJC), has just finished a visit to Armenia accompanied by two employees of Gerard Cafesjian (founder of the Cafesjian Foundation and long-time philanthropist/investor in Armenia), where they met with the new president, defense minister and others. Their visit to Armenia in itself is not surprising, since the AJC had sought such a trip in conjunction with the Armenian Assembly of America for the past five years, but the Assembly has repeatedly said “no.”

The Assembly told the AJC that its opposition to the passage of the Armenian Genocide resolution made such a visit under Assembly auspices inappropriate. I was involved in the first rejection, as was the former Executive Director of the Assembly, Ross Vartian. Now, however, Vartian, is the Executive Director of Cafesjian’s private Washington, D.C. operation named USAPAC.

He arranged for Peter Rosenblatt, a prominent leader of the AJC and Barry Jacobs, who has the title of Strategic Studies Director, to meet with Armenia’s top leadership.

Jacobs circulates articles from various sources supporting not only Israeli positions but pro Turkish and pro Azerbaijani policies as well. Jacobs’s bias against Armenia is palpable. A New York Times photograph taken at the session of the House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee showed Jacobs seated among a group of Turkish protesters wearing badges saying “NO” to the pending Genocide resolution.


According to David Boyajian, an outspoken Armenian activist who sparked the recent fight against the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for its refusal to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide, the controversy at stake is not as much the obvious anti-Armenian Jewish leaders’ visit to Armenia (which needs to be condemned), but that the Armenian Assembly of America – the organization that now criticizes its breakaway wing – has a long history of cooperating with deniers of the Armenian Genocide itself.

In Boyajian’s words:

It takes chutzpah AAA – long-time apologists for the very Jewish denialists that it is now criticizing – to criticize USAPAC, not that USAPAC does not fully deserve it (and I have been emailing many people the past few days and getting them to call/write USAPAC).
And where does Armenia stand on this?  It’s president gave an audience to a genocide denier.  Maybe Armenia deserves some criticism too.
Fact is, AAA has done next to nothing to help on ADL/NPFH issue, and we all know it.
Suddenly, AAA is now some sort of hardliner?
The main reason AAA is criticizing USAPAC now is that the latter is run by Cafesjian and Vartian, who quit AAA.  Whom is the AAA kidding? 
AAA would be (very) well-advised to look to its own record.
This article is also full of outright falsehoods, and I will be proving it.

Jewcy, a website by young Jewish-American bloggers, has condemned Barry Jacobs, the gentleman who was given a free ride to Armenia by USAPAC, for denying the Armenian Genocide. As a supporter of open dialogue, I myself am not outright against USAPAC’s sponsorship of Jacobs’ trip to Armenia pending on the results. If Jacobs gives up his anti-Armenian campaign, which is highly unlikely to happen, then USAPAC will be proven right in its judgment. 

U.S. Recognized Armenian Genocide in 1951

It has become a major political controversy, and Barack Obama is a favorite among many Armenians for supporting the cause of recognizing the Armenian Genocide. And Ronald Reagan is often mentioned as having used the word “genocide” in describing the WWI annihilation of western Armenians in the Ottoman Empire.

And despite all the controversy around formally condemning the Armenian genocide as such, no one knew until now that U.S. is on record recognizing the Armenian genocide as early as 1951 – that is three years after the Genocide Convention was adopted.

In its written statement to the International Criminal Court right after WWII, the United States mentioned the Roman persecution of Christians, the Turkish killings of Armenians, and the Nazi murders of Jews and Poles as “outstanding examples” of genocide.  












4. – Written statement of the Government of the United States of America . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23




1. The Genocide Convention

The Genocide Convention resulted from the inhuman and barbarous practices which prevailed in certain countries prior to and during World War II, when entire religious, racial and national minority groups were threatened with and subjected to deliberate extermination. The practice of genocide has occurred throughout human history. The Roman persecution of the Christians, the Turkish massacres of Armenians, the extermination of millions of Jews and Poles by the Nazis are outstanding examples of the crime of genocide. This was the background when the General Assembly of the United Nations considered the problem of genocide. Not once, but twice, that body declared unanimously that the practice of genocide is criminal under international law and that States ought to take steps to prevent and punish genocide.

[Source: ]

The document was pointed out to in a blog operated by an Irish professor. The Armenian Assembly of America informed about the document in a mass e-mail.

This new “discovery” will perhaps make the work of Barack Obama easier in recognizing the Armenian Genocide if he is elected as president. The bottom line is that the U.S. has never denied the Genocide. They know politically they can’t mention it given Turkey’s hysteria. Historically, even scholars on Turkish payroll are now backing up from denial.

And so if Armenians could spend 5% of the efforts they spend on genocide recognition on fighting human trafficking, maybe Armenian girls and women won’t have to be sexual slaves in the UAE and Turkey. Am I changing the topic? Yes I am. Isn’t it time to fight our own problems?

Armenia: Growing Repatriation?

The International Herald Tribute has an interesting article on diaspora Armenians immigrating to Armenia.

What would prompt a young family to abandon a comfortable life and move to a poor country where running water is still a luxury for many, politics are messy and the threat of war looms large?

For Aline Masrlian, 41, her husband, Gevork Sarian, and their two children, it was their motherland calling.

“It is something special when you live in your own land,” said Masrlian, who moved here after her family had lived for generations in Syria.

Lured by the economic opportunities in a fast changing country and the lure of home, some people from Armenia’s vast diaspora are moving to the land that their ancestors had long kept alive as little more than an idea. Longtime residents, meanwhile, are no longer fleeing the country in large numbers.

While 3.2 million people live in this landlocked Caucasus mountain nation — the smallest of the ex-Soviet republics — an estimated 5.7 million Armenians reside abroad. The largest disappears are in Russia (2 million), the United States (1.4 million), Georgia (460,000) and France (450,000), according to government data.


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