California Courier Online, June 3, 2004

California Courier Online, June 3, 2004

1 – Commentary
Turks Attempt to Use Armenians
In Anti-Genocide Propaganda

By Harut Sassounian
California Courier Publisher
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2 – San Diego Conference on Genocide and Denial
Features Scholars, Activists and Educators
3 – Glendale’s Deukmejian Wilderness
Park Re-opened at Ceremonies
4 – Dr. Karamanoukian Donates
$250,000 to Armenian Center
5 – Armenian Education in North America
To be Reviewed at June 4-5 Conference
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1 – Commentary

Turks Attempt to Use Armenians
In Anti-Genocide Propaganda

By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier

After publishing viciously anti-Armenian articles for many years, some
Turkish newspapers have changed their tactics. They have adopted a more
subtle approach in attempting to scuttle the just demands of the Armenian
people. Instead of denying the Genocide outright, the Turkish press now
publishes articles that urge Armenians to “let bygones be bygones, and to
look to the future, not the past!” In other words, the Turks are advocating
reconciliation without truth or justice.
To make matters worse, the Turkish media from time to time publishes
interviews with some Armenians who reportedly make conciliatory statements
which are presented as evidence that not all Armenians are “hung up” on the
recognition of the Genocide.
For example, in the May 25th issue of the Turkish Daily News, Burak Bekdil,
after a recent visit to Armenia, published a lengthy commentary titled,
“Why Turks and Armenians must eventually shake hands.” Using deceptively
accommodating language, Bekdil distorts the facts of the Armenian Genocide
and tries to undermine the Armenian demands.
He starts his article by calling the Genocide Memorial Monument in Yerevan
“the only symbol in the world that deeply divides two nations that lived
together in peace for centuries.” By feigning to be indignant, Bekdil asks:
“how many more centuries the Turks and Armenians will be living under the
huge symbolic shadow of one monument?”
In one of the most outrageous lies in his column and in a blatant attempt
to pit Armenians and Kurds against each other, Bekdil shamelessly writes:
“The Armenians claim that the Ottoman Kurds, under orders from the empire
in 1915-18, systematically massacred 1.5 million of their ethnic kin living
in eastern Anatolia.” While it is a fact that some Kurds collaborated with
the Turks and carried out deadly raids on Armenian caravans, no
knowledgeable person would claim that the Kurds committed the Armenian
Genocide, while the Turks acted as innocent bystanders. If that were the
case, the Turkish government would have eagerly recognized “the genocide
committed by the Kurds against the Armenians.”
After repeating the standard Turkish lies on the Armenian Genocide, and
accusing Armenians of “systematically killing hundreds of thousands of
Turks,” while only “thousands of Armenians died from cold weather,
starvation and disease,” Bekdil sheds crocodile tears over the fact that
“in 2004, there are two nations, once friends, accusing each other of a
genocide that is said to have taken place 90 years ago and are locked over
the dispute, perhaps forever.”
Bekdil seems quite ignorant about the most basic facts of not only the
Armenian Genocide, but of Turkish history. Otherwise, he would not have
asked the following very foolish question: “Has any Armenian ever been
curious enough to know how many Turks actually lived in eastern Anatolia in
1915-18 and, if by any chance there were a few, could those few physically
have been capable of massacring 700,000-1.5 million others?”
Bekdil espouses the baseless notion that the Diaspora is dictating to the
Armenian government its hard-line position on the Armenian Genocide.
Armenia “must maintain an extremely delicate balance between what reality
dictates and what its Diaspora sponsors impose,” Bekdil falsely asserts. He
then makes several nonsense statements, such as: “The Armenian mindset is
deeply fractured. Diaspora Armenians think the genocide issue is their
‘raison d’etre.’ As for a possible deal with the Turks, they believe they
should represent the entire Armenian population. Are they not, after all,
the ones who financially keep the Armenian state alive?” Bekdil
conveniently forgets that Pres. Kocharian, at his own initiative, has
included the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide on the
foreign policy agenda of the Republic of Armenia. The Turkish officials are
the ones who reject Armenia’s unconditional offer to establish diplomatic
relations, and they keep the border closed in order to force Armenia’s
population into abandoning their historic claims.
Bekdil then introduces Nishan Atinizian of Boston — one of the major
investors in the new Armenia Marriott Hotel — as someone who “thinks it
would be grossly stupid if Turks and Armenians lived in hostility forever.”
The Turkish commentator then claims that Atinizian thinks, “it is the
historians’ job to find out what really happened 90 years ago.” It is
highly doubtful that Atinizian would make such a statement. Armenians know
first-hand what happened to them. They need no historians to tell them what
happened in 1915! Such a statement would also run counter to the fact that
Atinizian generously contributes large sums of money to a major
Armenian-American activist organization that has, as one of its goals, the
recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
Bekdil claims that Atinizian is “fed up” with American politicians who
benefit from “the genocide industry” by getting campaign contributions from
Armenians, “promising to pay [us] back in genocide memorials.” He is quoted
as saying, “I don’t care if the Americans or the French recognize the
genocide. This is an issue between Armenians and Turks. What more should I
ask from the Turks if they opened their archives so that Turkish Armenians
could trace their family roots?”
Nishan Atinizian told me this week that most of the statements attributed
to him by Bekdil are false. Atinizian angrily said he would write to Bekdil
demanding a retraction and an apology. He had a conversation with the
Turkish commentator at the sidewalk cafe in front of Marriott hotel in
Yerevan and discussed mostly the potential benefits of opening the
Turkish-Armenian border.
Bekdil then continues his column and introduces another Atinizian, David,
of Yerevan – no relation to Nishan. The Turkish commentator presents the
following outrageous views as being those of David’s which are supposedly
sensible like those of most “homeland Armenians”: “a) injecting hatred into
the minds of generations of Turks and Armenians reflects an archaic
thinking that should have no place in the 21st century; b) the genocide was
masterminded by the Ottomans and carried our by the Kurds; c) it happened
because the Russians had engineered an Armenian uprising against the
Ottoman Empire; d) some 350,000 Turks died as well, as a result of Armenian
atrocities in 1915-18; e) the Turkey of today cannot be held responsible
for the genocide; and f) it is totally pointless, against international law
and unrealistic if some Armenians dream of any part of eastern Anatolia as
part of Armenia.” Bekdil commends Nishan and David Atinizian for being
“realists.” Nishan Atinizian, who was present during David’s conversation
with Bekdil, told me this week that David did not make any of these
statements.
We hope that Nishan and David Atinizian and all other Armenians learn a
very valuable lesson – never agree to talk to a Turkish journalist, even
off the record! Otherwise, when the article comes out, and distorted
statements are published in your name, you have to do a lot of back
peddling to prove that you did not make the statements attributed to you.
The two Atinizians should take all necessary steps to set the record
straight so that the Armenian community worldwide would not believe that
they said the things the Turkish Daily News claims they did. The timing of
this Turkish commentary is most unfortunate, as the Atinizians and their
business partners are getting ready to celebrate the grand opening of the
Armenia Marriott Hotel in Yerevan next week. The last thing they need is a
controversial article in the Turkish press claiming that one of their
partners has made such disparaging remarks about the recognition of the
Armenian Genocide.

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2 – San Diego Conference on Genocide and Denial
Features Scholars, Activists and Educators
SAN DIEGO, CA – Armenian-Americans from all over San Diego County gathered
on the campus of the University of California, San Diego on May 8 for an
academic conference entitled “The Western Response to Genocide and Genocide
Denial.” The event was organized by the Armenian National Committee of San
Diego and the Armenian Student Association of UC San Diego.
The two-part conference featured scholars and experts from various
organizations covering issues from implementing genocide education in
public school curricula to combating Genocide denial in the political and
academic arenas. ANC San Diego activist Dr. Raffi Nazikian moderated the
question and answer sessions at the end of each speaker’s presentation.
Following the last presentation, the guest speakers participated in a panel
discussion where they answered questions raised by the diverse audience of
Armenian and non-Armenian students, educators, community members and
activists.
The first session included Dr. Laurence Baron, Director of the Lipinsky
Institute for Judaic Studies, who discussed the crime of genocide providing
a sequential breakdown of historical landmark events, treaties and trials
marking the criminalization of genocide. UCLA lecturer Dr. Rubina
Peroomian delved into the vast array of literary works that have been
produced in the wake of the post-Genocide era. She cited their significance
to the cultural development of Armenians and their effect on the cultural
identity of future generations.
Dan Alba, Los Angeles Regional Director of Facing History and Ourselves,
led the second half of the conference with his talk on the importance of
implementing the already mandated teaching of genocides in the California
public school curriculum. Dr. Levon Marashlian, Professor of History at
Glendale Community College, continued with his insightful lecture on the
history of legislation and denial of the Armenian Genocide which was
accompanied by a montage of archival video footage. He also dissected the
issues of reparations and reconciliation with the Republic of Turkey and
between Armenians and Turks. Ardashes Kassakhian, Executive Director of
ANCA-WR, ended the conference with an in depth analysis of the political
fight in Congress to secure official U.S. acknowledgment of the Armenian
Genocide and to pressure Turkey to recognize its past crimes against
humanity.
Garo Artinian, ANC San Diego Chair, said the conference was the first of a
series of Genocide conferences that are to follow in the future.
“We were quite pleased with the turnout of the first conference and
lookforward to having it annually. Our goal is to educate the new
generation who would become the future leaders. And with great anticipation
that one day the world conscious would not permit of such violent acts
against humanity,” commented Artinian.
“I’m very proud of the Armenian students at UC San Diego for working with
us in order to bring together such an interesting panel of speakers to
address these important issues and hope that such events continue to
flourish in this great community in San Diego,” he added.
In addition to the Conference, the UC San Diego Armenian Student
Association has organized several events during the past two years
commemorating the Genocide and educating and raising public awareness
amongst the campus community about its denial by Turkey. UC San Diego was
the first campus in the Western United States to have the award winning
film “Ararat” screened on its campus free of charge to the public.
“We plan to have many more cultural and educational events through our
growing organization of dedicated young activists and future leaders,” said
ASA President Mike Gedjeyan. “We look forward to continuing to work with
the ANC on the next academic conference for 2005.”
The San Diego ANC already has plans for a similar conference next year
according to Program Chair Dr. Robert Deranian. Earlier this year, the
ANCA-WR Board honored Deranian with a San Diego Grassroots Activist of the
Year award.
The San Diego Genocide Conference Program Committee included Dr. Deranian,
Artinian (Organizing Committee Co-Chair), Professor James Ajemian, Dr.
Serop Karoglanian, Aykanush Galadzhyan, Gedjeyan (Organizing Committee
Co-Chair), Sanaheen Kodjayian, Dr. Mark Nazarian, Dr. Nazikian, Hasmig
Sillano and Professor Araxy Tatoulian.
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3 – Glendale’s Deukmejian Wilderness
Park Re-opened at Ceremonies
GLENDALE – The ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the re-opening of the
Deukmejian Wilderness Park by the Glendale Parks, Recreation & Community
Services Division was held recently at the park.
The event included a ribbon-cutting ceremony, an open house, a children’s
crafts and light refreshments. Former Governor George Deukmejian was the
special guest of honor.
“I am highly honored and genuinely pleased that the City of Glendale has
completed major improvements in the Deukmejian Wilderness Park, which will
provide recreational and educational benefits to a countless number of
people for decades to come,” Deukmejian said.
This site will serve as an educational facility for the Glendale park
system, featuring programs and information focusing on the area’s history,
ecosystems, geology, hydrology and other natural systems. Welcoming remarks
and introductions were made by President Charlie Carluccio, of the Glendale
Commission of Parks, Recreation and Services. He was followed by comments
from Glendale Mayor Robert Yousefian, former Mayor Larry Zarian, and
Director of the Glendale Parks, Recreation & Community Services George
Chapjian. Also addressing the audience, were Ranger Russ Hauck and Joe
Edmiston, executive director, Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.
The new park facilities will provide a staging area for recreation trails
within the 700-acre park and beyond to the Angeles National Forest trail
system. It will also serve as home to the Glendale Park Rangers.
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4 – Dr. Karamanoukian Donates
$250,000 to Armenian Center
GLENDALE – Dr. Albert Karamanoukian of Glendale, Calif., donated $250,000
for the building of an Armenian Center in Glendale.
The announcement of the donation was made at a May 15 banquet sponsored by
the ARF Aharonian Gomideh of Glendale, attended by more 400 guests at the
Glendale Ararat Homenetmen Hall.
The proposed Center will be built on property adjoining Glendale’s St. Mary
Church, on Central Avenue.
The donation was in honor of Dr. Karamanoukian’s parents Krikor and Mariam
Karamanoukian.
Addressing the audience, the benefactor expressed gratitude toward his
nation and homeland for educating him and making his success possible, as
well his contribution to the Armenian Center.
Speakers and dignitaries at the banquet included Cong. Adam Schiff,
Glendale Mayor Bob Yousefian, City Councilmember Raffi Manoukian, Glendale
United School Board President Gregory Krinorian, College Trustee members
Dr. Armine Hacopian and Ara Najarian, and others.
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5 – Armenian Education in North America
To be Reviewed at June 4-5 Conference
GLENDALE – The Board of Regents of the Prelacy Armenian School are
organizing a two-day conference to reassess Armenian education in Northern
America in the context of the changing “Armenian-American Identity.”
Open to the public, the conference will be held June 4-5 at Woodbury
University in Burbank, Calif.
“The 21st century has placed new challenges before us,” making “imperative
for us to reassess the mission of Armenian education and the
Armenian-American cultural identity issues in our schools,” the Regents
said in a statement release on May 20.
All Armenian daily schools and their leaders have been invited to
participate and bring their expertise to this dialogue, the Regents said,
with the participation of well-known professionals and experts on the issue
as presenters or panelists.
While the Armenian day schools in North America have a history that dates
back to more than 40 years, recent years have shown that some, if not all,
the schools are having difficulties in coping with the financial, academic,
and socialization issues that follows some of the explosive growth of the
Armenian community in Southern California. Some of the schools suffer from
aging facilities, others from cramped quarters, and yet others from the
lack of finances that prevent the hiring and retention of qualified
instructors required by a challenging academic environment.
Sessions of the conference will be open to the public.
For more information, contact the Board of Regents at (818) 500-0822, or
e-mail [email protected]
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