Archive for the 'Europe' Category

Bloggers Commemorate Djulfa’s Third Anniversary

Three years after a cemetery dating back to the 9th Century was deliberately destroyed in the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhichevan, bloggers recall an ancient culture annihilated and condemn the world for closing its eyes to what many consider to be an official attempt to rewrite history.

NoThingfjord, a Turkish blog, writes:

Today is the commemoration of the 3rd anniversary of Djulfa’s destruction. …This [is] not only a crime against Armenian culture, but against our collective cultural heritage as humankind. Don’t let it go unnoticed.

Between 10-16 December 2005 over a hundred uniformed men were videotaped destroying the Djulfa cemetery using sledgehammers, cranes, and trucks. The video was taken from across the border in Iran.

More than just a loss to global culture, Ivan Kondratiev [RU] says that Djulfa’s destruction was meant to change the story of Nakhichevan’s indigenous heritage.

Азербайджанские власти на протяжении всего советского периода старались уничтожить этот некрополь, поскольку для них он был всего лишь свидетельством о том, что именно армяне были хозяевами этой территории на протяжении веков, вопреки тому, что говорилось в азербайджанских советских мифах о собственной “древности”… Это кладбище, вполне достойное названия чуда, было даже не внесено в реестр архитектурных памятников Азербайджана… После распада СССР, во время карабахского конфликта, продолжалось разорение кладбища, и, наконец, оно было окончательно уничтожено….

The Azeri authorities throughout all Soviet period tried to destroy this necropolis as for them it was only a testament that Armenians were owners of this territory throughout centuries in spite of Azerbaijan’s Soviet myths about own “antiquity”… This cemetery, quite worthy to be called a wonder, was not even placed on the register of architectural monuments of Azerbaijan… After USSR’s collapse, during the Karabakh conflict, the cemetery’s demolition continued, and, at last, definitively destroyed….

An Iranian blogger also argues that Djulfa was undesirable evidence of an inconvenient past.

آنان از سنگ قبر ارامنه هم نگذشته اند و با تخریب دوازده هزار قبر با سنگ قبر هایی منحصر به فرد که متعلق به چند قرن پیش بوده و جزئی از میراث فرهنگی ارامنه به حساب می آمد، هیچ اثری از ارمنی نشین بودن آنجا، بجا نگذاشته اند.

[After acquiring Nakhichevan, Azeris] did not even tolerate Armenian gravestones. They destroyed twelve thousand Armenian graves. These unique gravestones with several centuries’ history were part of Armenian cultural heritage. However, through destruction of these gravestones, [Azeris] destroyed all signs indicating the existence of Armenians in that land. [translated by Loosineh M.]

iArarat, remembers Djulfa by discussing Robert Bevan’s The Destruction of Memory: Architecture at War, a book that was “part of a class I teach at a Texas university on nationalism and ethno-political conflicts.”


While reading Bevan’s book I was inevitably reminded of the destruction of the medieval Armenian cemetery in Jugha, presently in Azerbaijan. Azeri soldiers at the command of their superiors without as much as blinking an eye would embark at destroying and erasing the last vestige of the Armenian civilization in that territory as if the Armenians had never as much as existed there, as if Armenians had never as much as created anything, something to celebrate their faith and commemorate their dead…

The Stiletto, an award-winning blog posts a well-researched account of Djulfa’s destruction and attempts by Azerbaijan to deny it ever existed.

Adding insult to injury, earlier this month Baku, Azerbaijan hosted a little-noticed two-day conference of Council of Europe culture ministers to discuss “Intercultural dialogue as the basis for peace and sustainable development in Europe and its neighboring regions.” In his opening remarks to the attendees Azeri president Ilham Aliyev, astonishingly claimed:

“Azerbaijan has rich history and the cultural monuments here are duly preserved, and a lot is being done in this direction…”

Meanwhile, nrbakert_tashuk [Ru] asks whether one should laugh or cry at attempts to represent other indigenous Armenian monuments as Turkish or Azerbaijani. However, Kornelij [RU] says Armenia is also to blame for not participating in a conference held early this month in the Azerbaijan capital, Baku.

Unzipped agrees.

[T]he Armenian Ministry of Culture failed to deliver a message by boycotting the conference. They either should have properly boycotted the conference by making an appropriate statement explaining the reasons for non-participation, or they should have participated there to raise the all important issues of destruction of Armenian cultural heritage in Azerbaijan, as well as protecting and restoring the multinational cultural heritage in all three South Caucasus countries [Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan].

old-dilettante [RU], says that Djulfa’s destruction was the last stage of Azerbaijan’s attempt to eradicate Nakhichevan’s Armenian heritage. Commenting on a post about churches in Georgia, she writes:

Теперь там не найдется ни одной армянской церкви, несмотря на фотографии и книги, изданные всего ничего – лет 20 тому назад. Все церкви уничтожены. Все могилы. Все хачкары.

И кто через 20 лет скажет, что там вообще жили армяне? … А ведь мой дед был “местным жителем”.

…Now, not a single Armenian church will be found [in Nakhichevan] despite of photographs, some as recent as 20-years-old. All churches are annihilated. All cemeteries. All khatchkars.

And who will say in 20 years that Armenians ever lived there? … It wasn’t that long ago that my own grandfather was a “local” there.

Also recalling family history, Washington-based Armenian journalist Emil Sanamyan, a native of Azerbaijan’s capital Baku, commemorates the destruction of Djulfa.

In Baku Armenian cemeteries with less historical but more immediate sentimental value to many (including my family whose three generations made their home in Baku for nearly a century) were paved over for roads or new construction. That does not justify the disrespect they were afforded but makes some remote sense.

In the case of Jugha khachkars stood in the middle of nowhere and were simply crushed, dismembered, thrown into the river. They were targeted and wiped out as the last remaining Armenian outpost.

Sarcastically, the journalist-blogger considers how other Armenian monuments on Azerbaijani territory could be protected.

Now I am thinking, perhaps Armenians should disassemble the remaining Azeri mosques and gravestones on their territory and exchange them for the khachkars and other Armenian heritage items of value?

Certainly some of the Azeri items have cultural value for Armenia and I would rather not see them go. But what other options are there?

Reacting to a comment on his above-mentioned post, Ivan Kondratiev [RU] also says that if Azerbaijanis wanted to cleanse their territory of Armenian heritage, they could have at least given the monuments to Armenia even if such a transfer would amount to acknowledging Djulfa’s Armenian history.

Is the world willing to confront deliberate destruction of historic monuments? In her long post on Djulfa’s destruction, The Stiletto sees hope in an Obama administration.

[T]here is reason to be optimistic that [Barack Obama’s] foreign policy team will… have a very different response to the ongoing stonewalling by the Azeris than [current US Secretary of State] Rice’s utter disinterest [about Djulfa’s destruction], which is rooted in the Bush administration’s pro-Azerbaijani, pro-Turkey foreign policy.

In addition to secretary of state nominee Hillary Clinton […] prospective U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice has a particular interest in genocide and is an advocate of military action to stop mass killings, rather than ineffective “dialogue” as slaughters continue apace. And Harvard professor Samantha Power, author of “A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide” (2002), has been quietly advising Obama behind the scenes […].

Given that past is prologue, with these women’s combined emphasis on championing human rights and genocide prevention, it will not be easy for the Obama administration to ignore or overlook the genocide that preceeded – and encouraged – all others in the 20th and 21st centuries, or the ongoing “cultural genocides” in Azerbaijan and Turkey against the archeological remains of a once-thriving, centuries-old Armenian population that is no more.

More photographs of the cemetery, before and after its destruction, are available at

Originally published at Global Voices Online.

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.

Hungary: Armenian Monument Desecrated

A beautiful monument to the Armenian Genocide in downtown Budapest, Hungary, was desecrated by suspected Turkish nationalists on April 24, 2008, the day of the commemoration of the 93rd anniversary of the Genocide.

A video shows devastating and disgusting imagery of the vandalism while refrains from reporting the worst of the desecration.

A penis was painted across the cross on the monument, a 2000 replica of an ancient Armenian cross-stone (khachkar). The word “fuck” was written twice at the bottom of the cross-stone, while the writing on the back of the monument was painted over. The word “Lie” and “Fuck” were also written on the back of the cross-stone. only reported the “lie.”

I have also received an e-mail from Jean Eckian with four vandalism photographs, taken by Hungarian journalist Ingrid Hutterer.   


European Parliament Resolution on Armenia Unrest

From the European Parliament website:

Human rights: Armenia, Russia, Afghan journalist and Iranian homosexual

Human rights – 13-03-2008 – 17:11

In four human rights resolutions adopted at the end of this week’s Strasbourg session, MEPs deplored the violence used by the authorities against opposition demonstrators following presidential elections in both Armenia and Russia, and demanded reprieves for a journalist condemned to death in Afghanistan and for a gay Iranian who could be in grave danger if forced to return to his home country.

Violence following the elections in Armenia
In the wake of the presidential elections in Armenia on 19 February, a police crackdown against opposition supporters who were peacefully contesting the results left eight dead and dozens injured. A state of emergency was declared on 1 March and media freedom has been restricted.  Parliament’s resolution, adopted by 60 votes to 1 with 2 abstentions, deplores the loss of life, urges all parties to act responsibly and calls on the authorities to investigate the violence and take other measures.
The International Election Observation Mission stated that the elections were “administered mostly in line with OSCE and Council of Europe commitments and standards” but also identified a number of concerns, in particular concerning the media’s commitment to providing impartial information.
In the resolution, Parliament “expresses its concern at recent developments in Armenia” and “calls on all parties to show openness and restraint, to tone down statements and to engage in a constructive and fruitful dialogue aimed at supporting and consolidating the country’s democratic institutions”.
Call for inquiry, with punishment for perpetrators of violence
It also calls “for a prompt, thorough, transparent, independent and impartial investigation of the events of 1 March” and “for all those responsible to be brought to justice and punished for misconduct and criminal acts of violence”.  The Council and Commission should offer EU assistance to help with the investigation.
The Armenian authorities are asked to lift the state of emergency, restore media freedom and take all measures necessary to ensure a return to normalcy. In addition, they are urged “to release citizens detained for exercising their right of peaceful assembly”.
EU support for Armenia to improve democracy and rule of law
Parliament points out that the EU’s Action Plan with Armenia under the European Neighbourhood Policy covers the strengthening of democratic structures and the rule of law. In this context, it urges the Commission “to focus its assistance to Armenia on the independence of the judiciary and the training of police and security forces” and calls on the Armenian authorities “to implement swiftly all the remaining recommendations made by the International Election Observation Mission”.
MEPs urge the Armenian authorities “to cooperate fully with the international community on finding an agreed solution” and they express support for the EU Special Representative to the South Caucasus and the OSCE’s Special Envoy.
Turning to Armenia’s conflict with neighbouring Azerbaijan over the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, the resolution “deplores the recent loss of life on the ‘line of control’ during fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces” and “calls on all sides to refrain from further violence and to return to the negotiating table”.
Lastly, MEPs reiterate “the clear EU commitment to building closer ties with Armenia and the South Caucasus countries” but emphasise that “closer cooperation with the European Union must be based on real and tangible progress and reforms and a full commitment to democracy and the rule of law”.


Turkish PM Denies Genocide in Germany

During a visit to Germany Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyid Erdogan has denied the deliberate annihilation of late Ottoman Turkey’s Armenian population stating that it is not in Turkish culture to commit genocide.

According to the TurkishPress:

Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan said [in Munich] on Saturday there was no such thing like genocide in Turkish culture and civilization.

Erdogan replied to questions on several matters after his speech at the 44th Munich Conference on Security Policy in Germany.

In regard to Armenian allegations regarding the incidents of 1915, Erdogan said, “there is no such thing like genocide in our culture. We cannot accept it. We are ready to discuss the matter by the means of documents.”


Erdogan’s racist explanation for his government’s denial of the Armenian genocide must have raised eyebrows in Germany since the statement suggests that committing genocide is in the perpetrator’s group culture and civilization.

Bloomberg also reports Erdogan’s denial of the Armenian genocide but doesn’t reference the Turkish PM’s reference to culture.

Asked about the massacre of Armenians in Turkey in 1915, Erdogan said Armenia should open its archives on the period.

”There was no genocide and there is no way we can accept this,” Erdogan said, adding that declarations of some western parliaments that the killing of Armenians had been a genocide ”is not acceptable.” The parliaments of France and a number of other countries have passed resolutions declaring the Armenian massacres were genocide.

Ironically, the automated Google ad on the page on Erdogan’s nationalist comments links to the DNA Ancestry Project. Perhaps Mr. Erdogan should form an international commission to prove that it is not in Turkish DNA to commit genocide.

Interestingly, the topic of being capable of committing genocide was in the Armenian press last week. A columnist askes (in Armenian) whether Armenians are capable of genocide and argues that Armenia’s poor democratic record, the government’s treatment of its people and the people’s treatment of each other (especially on regional basis) suggests that Armenians are, indeed, capable of genocide.  In terms of Armenia’s largest minorities, especially the Yezidis, the author says that they have been denied opportunity to be part of Armenia’s socio-economic culture and are, thus, not “important” enough to be considered for elimination. (I must add that Armenians have committed cultural genocide against the Roma (“Gypsies”) who are known in Armenian as “Bosha” – but almost every Armenian thinks Bosha is an insult and not an ethnic group.)  

So, Mr. Erdogan, if you consider Turks human (and you should) then they are, too, capable of genocide.

Real Da Vinci Code Found

TIME magazine has posted an entry on February 2, 2007, telling of a five-century-old fresco by Giorgio Vasari that some Italian researchers believe is the code to the location of a long-lost Leonardo da Vinci painting.

Vasari’s fresco has a famous phrase – Cerca Trova, that means seek and you shall find it, or փնտրիր եվ կգտնես:

Writes TIME:

Maurizio Seracini is a serious man, with a seriously square jaw and dark tweed jacket. And he is being taken more seriously than ever now that Italy’s Culture Ministry has committed the nation to a full-fledged pursuit of the so-called Lost Leonardo. Seracini, a forensic expert in Renaissance art and architecture, is trying to prove that The Battle of Anghiari–the mural once considered the greatest of all of Leonardo’s masterpieces–lies buried in the Sala del Gran Consiglio in Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio, behind a wall covered by a mural–a vision of the Battle of Marciano–that was painted in the 16th century. LINK

The article made me laugh, not because I find these researchers’ quest unwise or something, but because it reminded me of an incident that happened at the Colorado State Capitol earlier this week. As I pointed to the “picture” of George Washington in rose onyx (the Capitol wainscoting material that is not found anywhere else in the world) done by nature during a tour for a 4th grade class, one of the kids shouted, “The Da Vinci Code!”

He was making a reference to my question in which I had asked which U.S. president would not brash his teeth when he was a kid. It leads to the discussion of Washington’s fake teeth and big chin, which is clearly seen in the Capitol rose onyx stone. There was another reason that the kid thought Mr. Simon had just solved the Da Vinci Code. Right next to George Washington’s “picture,” there is a picture of a turkey (the bird), which is “running” after George Washington because the latter did not select turkey as the national bird of America.

Since I cannot locate a photograph of Da Vinci’s coloradode, aka the running turkey after big-chin George Washington, I decided to post a photo of another code (*caugh*) found in the State Capitol. Pictured is Amanda and cerca trova.

Time, Old Time

Time Magazine’s European edition has made a surprising move by spending its own dollars to distribute a free documentary on the Armenian Genocide. This was, perhaps, done to avoid anti-racist and genocide/holocaust denialist laws in Europe and also, as Artyom of iArarat has mentioned, to correct their mistake.

In June of 2005, the European edition of Time magazine distributed thousands of free copies of a supposed Turkish advertisement that included a documentary denying the Armenian genocide. Outrage around the world seemed to bring nothing at first.

Time simply published a response to a letter by saying, “TIME is an independent newsmagazine and does not endorse the views of any organization or government. We regret any offense caused by the advertisements.”

On August 1, 2005, California Courier published an article titled “TIME’s Chief Editor Claims Magazine Was Duped by Turks,” basing the story on a private communcation between TIME Inc.’s chief (now retired) Norman Pearlstine and myself, in which Mr. Pearlstine had answered me that TIME had apologized “for accepting a DVD whose contents were different from what we had been led to believe they would be.”

So what was the letter that had cought the attention? – According to the Courier, my reference to making Nazi flags.

Here is the full letter that I had received response to by Pearlstine:

I hope you have recieved the numerous complaints and
concerns regarding Time magazine's recent cooperation
with the Turkish deniers of the Armenian Genocide.

Are you ever going to respond to my letters?
Are you ever going to apologize for cooperating with
the Turkish deniers?
Are you ever going to publish an article that states
that Time has not intended to deny the Armenian
Are you ever going to admit your magazine's wrong

Oh, you are too busy to apologize, aren't you? Let me
guess! You are making Nazi flags to distribute in
Europe as a free speech, correct?


Simon Maghakyan

Pearlstine, with whom I later continued to keep private communication for at least another year, had answered me back saying,

Dear Sir,
	Your letters have been referred to the advertising department,
where they should have been sent in the first place. Editors are
responsible for stories and pictures. In addition, we have, of course,
apologized in the magazine for accepting a DVD whose contents were
different from what we had to been led to believe they would be.
	Norman Pearlstine

Interestingly, some Armenian pen pals, whom I had forwarded my letter, told me I was too harsh and yelling would not bring any good.I cannot find my very first letter to Mr. Pearlstine, but I remember mentioning the fact that Time had published a report back in June of 1960 calling Ottoman Turkey’s Talaat Pasha the inventor of genocide – “who introduced genocide to the 20th century by ordering the massacre of500,000 Armenians.”

Talaat introduced genocide by killing Armenians, you are introducing genocidel denial by spreading Turkish propaganda, I wrote.

Later Time (European edition) published full-page statements that condemned the sponsorship of the denialist campaign.

In April of 2006, Time named Orhan Pamuk (who later won the Nobel Prize) one of the top 100 influential in the world who had become “a global cause celebre” for having made a reference to “the genocide of Armenians in 1915 by the Turkish military.”

Orhan Pamuk was actually nominated for the top 100 for solely speaking on the Armenian genocide (and I think the same case could have been for his Nobel Prize award).  Harvard professor Samantha Power had nominated him by saying,

I nominate Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk. He has acknowledged his homeland’s genocide against the Armenians and nearly got himself arrested before the Turks decided their commitment to and pride in their greatest writer exceeded a commitment to killers who died almost a century ago. It could bring a cultural change. Also George Clooney, for the obvious reasons, and the students who led the divestment movement on campuses for Darfur.

Time did the right thing, and it is time for Google to do the same. As of February 2, 2007, Google lists (a website denying the Armenian genocide) as a Google sponsor when “Armenian genocide” is Googled.