Armenian lights star to honor slain family

El Paso Times, TX
April 24 2004

Armenian lights star to honor slain family

Darren Meritz
El Paso Times

Linda Stelter / El Paso Times

Photo: Greg Yakoobian has extensively studied the history of Armenia
and the killings in 1915 of some of his mother’s family. He has
lighted the Star on the Franklin Mountains in their memory and the
others killed. The family picture shows his mother Rose, right, with
her mother and father and her sisters.

A century-old dispute between the Turks and the Armenians is bringing
some attention to El Paso’s Star on the Franklin Mountains.

Though only small populations of either ethnicity live here, El
Pasoan Gregory Yakoobian has sponsored lighting the Star on the
Franklin Mountain today in remembrance of the Armenians who were
killed at the hand of the Ottoman Empire during World War I.

Yakoobian, who spent 20 years in the U.S. military, contends that the
Turks killed as many as 1.5 million Armenians during ethnic cleansing
in what some have called the first Holocaust.

Though questions abound about the accuracy of describing the deaths
of Armenians in the then Ottoman Empire as a genocide, Yakoobian
stands firm.

“My parents were there, and their parents and other relatives were
killed,” he said. “My father did not like to talk about the subject
at all. It was almost like post-traumatic stress disorder.”

He recounted the oral history that has been passed down through his
family. He said that Armenian women during that time were often given
three choices — convert to Islam, be sold into slavery or be killed
— and that men were summarily executed during a march of the

Other perspectives on treatment of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire
are also widely believed.

Emriye Ormanci, vice consul at the Consulate General of Turkey in
Houston, said that while few clues point toward ethnic cleansing or
genocide of the Armenians during World War I, the Turks made the
decision to displace the Armenians because of their allegiance to the

“Feelings are on the one hand, but the truth is something really
different,” she said. “Yes, the Ottoman Empire had to make some
regulations to change the place of the Armenian population because
they were sided with the Russians, but of course you should also take
into consideration that it was a time of war.”

She also said, “We admit that there was loss on the Armenian side and
we are really sorry, but they should also understand that there was
loss on the Turkish side. This is something that should be left to
the historians.”

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS