ASBAREZ Online [11-05-2004]


1) Armenian American Issues Supporters Win Big in Congressional Elections
2) ANCA-WR Annual Banquet
3) Leading Community Organizations Congratulate President Bush
4) Prelate Mardirossian Congratulates Bush
5) NATO Head Praises Armenia Ties, Promotes OSCE for Karabagh Resolution
6) Arafat in Coma
7) ARS Summer Studies Institute at The University of Connecticut
8) MKR Prime Minister Danielyan Visits Pilibos
9) ‘A Hair’s Breadth from Death’
11) Lies, Disinformation, Misdirection, and Their Echoes
12) San Francisco Armenian Community Dedicates New Center

1) Armenian American Issues Supporters Win Big in Congressional Elections

–Majority Senate and House endorsements win reelection; 138 of 142 Armenian
Caucus members return to House

WASHINGTON, DC–The Armenian American community scored bipartisan
Congressional victories across the political landscape yesterday, with 199 of
202 Senate and House candidates endorsed by the Armenian National Committee of
America (ANCA) winning their elections.
“We are extremely pleased that such an overwhelming majority of our
won, including over 98% of those we endorsed in the House of Representatives
and 97% of the Congressional Armenian Caucus,” said ANCA Executive Director
Aram Hamparian. “We look forward to working with these friends and the many
members of the 109th Congress on issues ranging from affirming the Armenian
genocide to strengthening Armenia and defending Karabagh’s right to
self-determination within secure borders.”
“More than ever, we were gratified by the dramatically increased involvement
of Armenian Americans in the electoral process, in particular, by the positive
response to our voter education campaign on the ground in local communities
on our
their%20candidates%20for%20office%20st> In the weeks prior to the
election, we registered over 50,000 unique visits from Armenian American
activists interested in learning more about where their candidates for office
stood on the issues of importance to our community,” added Hamparian.
In a separate statement, ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian congratulated President
Bush on his election victory, thanked Senator Kerry for a hard fought election
campaign, and praised the Armenian American community for an unprecedented
level of activism in this season’s electoral contests
US Senate.
All ten ANCA endorsed Senate incumbent candidates were re-elected, including
Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Christopher Dodd (D-CT), Evan Bayh (D-IN), Barbara
Mikulski (D-MD), Judd Gregg (R-NH), Harry Reid (D-NV), Charles Schumer (D-NY),
Ron Wyden (D-OR), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Russell Feingold (D-WI).
In a stunning upset, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) lost his seat
to former South Dakota Congressman John Thune. Daschle, who had received a “C”
grade on the ANCA report card, had been largely unresponsive to Armenian
American concerns, withholding his support for the Genocide Resolution
(S.Res.164) in the 108th Congress.
Of the eight members of the Senate retiring, two–Illinois Republican Peter
Fitzgerald and Oklahoma Republican Don Nickles–had received an “F” grade from
the ANCA. The others, including Senators Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO), Bob
Graham (D-FL), Zell Miller (D-GA), John Breaux (D-LA), and Fritz Hollings
(D-SC) generally failed to take a stand on Armenian American concerns. Of the
incoming Senators, the ANCA had endorsed Barack Obama (D-IL), who had reached
out to the Armenian American community in the months leading up to the
elections and Rep. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), who, as a House Member, had
Armenian Genocide recognition initiatives. Rep. David Vitter (R-LA), who will
be replacing Sen. Breaux (D-LA), had received an “F” rating in the House from
the ANCA for his opposition to Armenian American concerns.
A consistent supporter of Armenian American issues, Democratic
Vice-Presidential candidate John Edwards, will be replaced by Rep. Richard
(R-NC), who has received a “C” rating from the ANCA.
US House of Representatives:
Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairmen Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Joe
Knollenberg (R-MI) both will return to the 109th Congress, along with 138 of
the 142 Caucus members from the 108th Congress. Also returning are Armenian
American Representatives Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and John Sweeney (R-NY) each
re-election by large margins.
Caucus member Rep. Martin Frost (D-TX) lost, in what emerged as one of the
most expensive House races, to Rep. Jeff Sessions, who has received an “F”
rating from the ANCA. Rep. Joe Hoeffel (D-PA) lost his bid for the
Senate to Republican Senator Arlen Specter. Other Caucus members retiring are
Gerald Kleczka (D-WI) and Jim Greenwood (R-PA).
ANCA endorsed non-incumbents Jim Costa (D-CA-20), Kenny Marchant (R-TX-24),
Joe Schwarz (R-MI-7), Dan Lungren (R-CA-3), and Cynthia McKinney (D-GA-4),
of whom won their election bids. Central California ANC members worked closely
with the Costa campaign in the months leading up to the vote. McKinney, who
served in the House of Representatives until 2002, was an outspoken
advocate of
Armenian genocide reaffirmation efforts, serving on the House International
Relations Subcommittee on Europe. Michigan area Armenian American activists
worked with and fundraised extensively for Joe Schwarz, who is replacing
outgoing House member Nick Smith–who received an “F” rating from the ANCA.
Other House Members with “F” ratings leaving Congress include New York
Republican Amo Houghton and Florida Republican Porter Goss.
For a full listing of ANCA endorsements visit

2) ANCA-WR Annual Banquet

PASADENA–Billed as the Armenian American community’s largest gathering of
political activists, public officials, academics, and ANCA-WR supporters, the
Armenian National Committee of AmericaWestern Region 2004 Annual Banquet
attracted more than 600 people, including an unprecedented gathering of
The event was held at the Ritz CarltonHuntington Hotel in Pasadena,
on Sunday, October 24. The distinguished guest list included Los Angeles Mayor
James Hahn, Los Angeles City Coucilmembers Dennis Zine, Wendy Greuel, and
Antonio Villaraigosa, Congressman Adam Schiff, County Supervisor Mike
Antonovich, State Senators Jack Scott and Jackie Speier, and Assemblymembers
Ron Calderon, Dario Frommer, and Carol Liu, as well as a number of other local
public officials including the Mayors of Glendale, Pasadena, and Montebello
the President of the Studio City Town Council. Consul General of the Republic
of Armenia Gagik Kirakossian, Federal Judge Dikran Tevrizian, Los Angeles
Superior Court Judges Zaven Sinanian and Greg Keosian were also present.
The evening’s Master of Ceremonies, Councilmember Frank Zerunyan of the City
of Rolling Hills Estates, kicked off the program with a special “Tribute to
Troops,” which included a special color guard comprised of Armenian-Americans
members of the United States Army and Marine Corps. Three of the participants
in the Color Guard were veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and included
Specialist John Muerguerian, United States Army Reserve, 308 Civil Affairs
Brigade, who served 14 months in Baghdad, Iraq; Sergeant Shant Minas, United
States Army Reserve 1997-2003, 376 AG Batalion, who served in Korea, Colorado,
Washington; Sergeant Baleny Minas, United States Marine Corps Reserve, 775
Helicopter Marine Light Attack Squadron, who served in Fallujah for 6 months;
and Raffi Bahadourian of the United States Marine Corps, who served in Iraq
6 months. The presentation of the colors was preceded by a moment of silence
for those brave men and women who serve their country when called on.
Attendees were given an inside look at the ANCA Capital Gateway Program
with a
video presentation that gave an inside look at this unique program which
invites college graduates to move to Washington, DC, and live in a dormitory
for up to three months while ANCA staff helps them find jobs on Capitol Hill
and elsewhere in Washington. The “2004 ANCA-WR Legacy Award,” which
acknowledges Armenian-Americans who have made an indelible mark in their
respective field while mentoring the next generation of Armenian-American
leaders, was presented to Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA) by last year’s
recipient, Judge Dikran Tevrizian. Congresswoman Eshoo was touched by the
and praised the ANCA Capital Gateway Program in her remarks.
The “2004 ANCA-WR Freedom Award” was presented to Near East Foundation. The
Near East Foundation was started over 85 years ago by intellectuals,
philanthropists, activists, and politicians in the United States who wanted to
respond to the humanitarian crisis which was occurring in the Ottoman Empire
during the Armenian genocide. The group raised an unprecedented amount of
in excess of 30 million dollars to help the orphans of the Armenian genocide
and set the tone for subsequent international relief efforts. Their work
save an entire generation of Armenians and gave them hope. The Near East
Foundation continues to help people in the Middle East and North Africa today
and raise awareness about the Armenian genocide by educating people about the
roots and foundation of their organization
(<;). For all these efforts, they were
presented the “2004 ANCA-WR Freedom Award.”
The final honoree of the evening was California State Senator Charles
Poochigian, who was presented the “2004 ANCA-WR Man of the Year Award.”
Poochigian, who represents the city of Fresno in the California State Senate,
has been a strong voice for Armenian Americans in the State legislature for
nearly a decade. In the current legislative session, Senator Poochigian
authored a number of bills that affect California’s Armenian residents,
including a bill that exempted any Genocide Era Insurance Claims settlements
from California State taxation. Senator Poochigian had been instrumental in
initiating laws that allowed for cases to be brought against Insurance
companies who still held insurance policies of individuals who had died during
the genocide era.
The evening concluded with remarks from both ANCA-WR Chair Raffi Hamparian
ANCA Chair Ken Hachikian.
The ANCA-WR Annual Banquet is the organization’s main fundraiser to help
educate Armenian-Americans about the voting process, as well as help fund
outreach efforts to public officials in a various offices. Through these
the ANCA is able to educate the general public about the Armenian genocide,
Republic of Armenia, Karabagh, and other vital issues of concern to the
Armenian American community.

3) Leading Community Organizations Congratulate President Bush

November 4, 2004

President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Bush:

On behalf of the Armenian National Committee of America–Western Region
(ANCA-WR) and our family of community based organizations, please accept our
congratulations on your re-election as President of the United States of

Your victory represents a wonderful opportunity to bring America together.
Your second term can bridge the issues that divide us as a nation and move us
forward to a better America. We welcomed your remarks this past week in which
you eloquently spoke of the trust the American people have again placed in you
and your duty to serve all Americans.

Mr. President, the past four years have been an era of lost opportunities
respect to building ties between the White House and the Armenian American
community. Too many issues have divided the one and a half million Americans
of Armenian descent from many of the policies of your Administration. By
working together on issues ranging from strengthening bi-lateral US-Armenia
economic ties, honestly dealing with the Armenian genocide, and promoting the
freedom and right to self-determination of the people of Karabagh, we look
forward to creating a new and positive dialogue with your Administration.

We are confident, Mr. President, that you share our pride that Armenian
Americans joined the rest of the country in casting their votes this
Tuesday in
unprecedented numbers. Armenian Americans are an integral part of our
collective effort to build a stronger America. The ANCA-WR will continue to
encourage the Armenian American community to be active in making America, in
the words of the Founding Fathers, a more perfect union.

Again, congratulations to you Mr. President. May God bless your second term
as the leader of our great nation.

Armenian National Committee of America Western Region
Armenian Relief Society of Western USA
Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society of Western USA
Homenetmen Armenian General Athletic Union and Scouts of Western USA

4) Prelate Mardirossian Congratulates Bush

Dear Mr. President,

As the Prelate of the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of
America, I have the distinct pleasure to congratulate you on behalf of our
entire faithful community on your re-election to serve the people of this
nation for four more years.
Mr. President, I wish you success on your second term in office to lead the
United States of America in these turbulent times. I am confident that during
your term as president, you will guide your administration on the path towards
peace and pursuit of justice for all those deprived of their inalienable human
I pray to Almighty God to guide you towards the realization of your goals and
pledges to lead this great nation and its faithful people.

Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate
Western United States of America

5) NATO Head Praises Armenia Ties, Promotes OSCE for Karabagh Resolution

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–NATO’s Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer welcomed on
Friday Armenia’s growing cooperation with the Western alliance, during a brief
visit to Yerevan that wrapped up his tour of the three South Caucasus states.
“I think that the relationship between Armenia and NATO is developing very
well indeed,” de Hoop Scheffer told a news conference after talks with
President Robert Kocharian and Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian.
“Armenia has taken an important decision to develop the so-called Individual
Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) with NATO,” he said, referring to a cooperation
framework that will raise Yerevan’s participation in NATO’s Partnership for
Peace (PfP) program to a higher level.
Meeting with Scheffer, Kocharian reaffirmed his government’s intention to
forge closer links with NATO while maintaining its military alliance with
Russia. “We want to have more active participation in a number of
programs,” he
said in apparent reference to the IPAP.
Also on the agenda of the NATO chief’s talks was the unresolved Mountainous
Karabagh conflict. Scheffer again ruled out a NATO mediation of the
Armenian-Azeri dispute.
“NATO has no intention and ambition to play an active role in finding a
solution to the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict,” he said. “That’s up to the [OSCE]
Minsk Group co-chairs.”

6) Arafat in Coma

PARIS (Reuters)–Yasser Arafat lies in a coma “between life and death” as a
dispute brews between Israelis and Palestinians over a likely burial site.
Palestinian envoy to France Leila Shahid denied on Friday the 75-year-old
Palestinian president, in a French military hospital, was brain dead and said
he was in a reversible coma.
But back home, 14 Palestinian factions met in a show of unity meant to avoid
strife in a possible power vacuum.
Arafat has not named a successor and his illness has raised fears of chaos
among Palestinians waging a 4-year-old uprising against Israel.
Some of Arafat’s powers, for security and financing, have already been handed
over to Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie, a leading moderate.
Palestinian officials refused to discuss funeral preparations openly. But
Arafat has said he wanted to be buried in Jerusalem. Israel wants Arafat,
admired by Palestinians but reviled by many Israelis–to be buried in the Gaza
“Jerusalem is a city where Jews bury their kings. It’s not a city where we
want to bury an Arab terrorist, a mass murderer,” Israeli Justice Minister
Yosef Lapid told Channel 10 television.
Arafat, who has spent the past week in France being treated for an
illness, slipped into a coma on Thursday.
“Today we can say that Yasser Arafat in his state of health and at his age is
at a critical juncture between life and death,” Shahid, the permanent
Palestinian envoy to Paris, told French radio station RTL.
“I assure you that he is not brain dead,” she said. “He is in a coma. We are
not sure what type. But it is a reversible coma.”
The 14 Islamic and secular Palestinian groups, which have waged the uprising
against Israel, put up a united front at a meeting in the Gaza Strip.
“We are people looking for freedom, not fighting tribes,” said senior Islamic
Jihad official Mohammed al-Hindi, who emerged from hiding for the meeting. “We
have demanded the formation of a unified national leadership.”
In the West Bank and Gaza, Palestinians were glued to radio and television
broadcasts. Security has been boosted at Jewish settlements, Israeli
Ordinary Palestinians made clear they wanted a successor even less willing to
compromise with Israel.
“Unless a successor is more determined and steadfast on the fundamental
Palestinian rights, he will never be trusted by the people,” said 30-year-old
Khaled Ammar at a Gaza mosque.
But the European Union, whose leaders were meeting in Brussels, underlined
need to press on with peace moves with or without Arafat.
“The people of Palestine…can be sure that Europe will continue to make
possible effort to ensure that the Palestinian state becomes a reality,” EU
foreign policy chief Javier Solana told a news conference.

7) ARS Summer Studies Institute at The University of Connecticut

WATERTOWN–The 2004 Armenian Relief Society (ARS) Summer Studies Institute, a
three-week program with intensive lessons in Armenian language, history, and
literature, will be held from June 5-June 25, 2005, at the University of
Connecticut campus in Storrs.
The program features a three-credit Survey of Armenian History course through
the University of Connecticut. Additional classes will also be offered in
Armenian Language, Literature, Music, Art, Film, among others. Graduate level
credits are available.
Subjects are taught by University or College faculty who are experts in their
field of study and research. In addition to supplementary lectures, workshops,
and performances, weekend excursions to New York City and Boston are
where students can visit historic Armenian institutions.
The ARS Eastern USA provides free room and board, meals, books, and includes
the weekend field trips to New York City and Boston. Students who register
after December 31 pay a higher registration fee. Applications will be accepted
on a rolling basis. All students pay UConn tuition fees associated with the
three-credit Survey of Armenian History course. Scholarships are available
the ARS Eastern USA and local ARS chapters. For an application, visit the ARS
Eastern USA website at
ARS 2004 Summer Studies participant Ani Saryan said, “The ARS Summer Studies
program is a rewarding experience that all college-age students should
experience. It is a wonderful experience for anyone who attends and they will
learn a lot about their culture and history.”

8) MKR Prime Minister Danielyan Visits Pilibos

LOS ANGELES–The Rose & Alex Pilibos Armenian School elementary students
welcomed Mountainous Karabagh Republic’s (MKR) Prime Minister Anoushavan
Danielyan and his delegation on October 15, as they proudly waved the MKR
they had prepared for the occasion.
Accompanying the Prime Minister was the Consul General of the Republic of
Armenia Gagik Kirakossian, MKR Representative Vardan Barseghian, Armenia Fund
Inc. Vice-Chair Ara Aghishian, Armenia Fund Executive Director Khatchatur
Khudikyan, and Public Relations Executive Sarkis Kotanjian. Also present were
His Eminence Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian and Reverend Father Viken
The Prime Minister addressed the high school students at the new,
state-of-the-art gymnasium, which he was visibly impressed by. Speaking about
the Republic and the ongoing developments in the fledgling nation, Prime
Minister Danielyan called on all students to, once again, collectively
participate in the activities of the Armenia Fund, especially during the
upcoming Telethon. The Prime Minister stressed that collective participation
forms the basis of a stronger nation.
After speaking to the students, Student Council President Ara Thomassian,
presented Danielyan a copy of the school’s yearbook and an athletic
Principal Yacoubian, addressing the delegation and the students, assured that
Pilibos students would once more be fully committed to the efforts of Armenia
Fund. He reiterated the importance of the next generation of young adults who
will play an integral role in the rebuilding of their homeland.
Archbishop Mardirossian stressed the importance of how activism of all
students plays a vital role in cultural and ethnic identity and development.
With that in mind, the Archbishop also praised the efforts of Armenia Fund,
Inc.–an organization which has continuously supported the developmental
efforts of the Karabagh Republic.
The delegation was given a brief tour of the campus, with the new library
being the point of interest. They were able to take a close look at the
library’s automated catalog and checkout system, as well as its fully
Armenian collection. After completing his tour of the library, Prime Minister
Danielyan signed a copy of the Pilibos 2004 Yearbook which will be housed in
the library.

9) ‘A Hair’s Breadth from Death’

Memoirs of Hampartzoum Chitjian

Genocide eyewitness Hampartzoum Chitjian’s first-person accounts of the
Armenian genocide and its aftermath tell of his life of suffering, survival by
living as a slave in Turkish and Kurdish households, his escape–via Persia to
Mexico–and subsequently Los Angeles, where a sense of loss and injustice
pervade his being. His raison d’etre becomes to ensure the Genocide is not
forgotten. A very familiar face to the old-time LA community, Chitjian
each and every April 24 demonstration held in the in the 1960s, 70s, 80s and
even through part of the 90s.

He died last year before his memoirs were ready for publication. His faithful
daughter finished them, however; the two editions that compilation–one in
English and one in Armenian– be released next month.

LOS ANGELES–On November 15, the Armenian Film Foundation will host a
reception and book signing for A Hair’s Breadth from Death, the memoirs of
Hampartzoum Chitjian.
Speakers include scholar Hilmar Kaiser, a German historian who has authored
two publications on the Armenian genocide, Publisher Ara Sarafian of Taderon
Press in London, and Chitjian’s daughter, Sara.
“Chitjian’s memoirs are a unique contribution to the field of genocide
studies, immigration studies, and the social-economic history of the Ottoman
Empire and Armenia,” says Kaiser. “His encounters with other shattered
survivors offer a panorama of Armenian survival strategies and the appalling
conditions and choices these few had to make. Students of immigration to the
United States will find the account of the author’s journey to the US most
interesting.” J. Michael Hagopian, founder and chairman of the Armenian Film
Foundation, will present a short film on Chitjian, who appears in the AFF’s
“Witnesses” trilogy of documentary films, and will offer some personal
reflections. Chitjian, who was born in Perri, Kharpert, was J. Michael
Hagopian’s babysitter. His daughter will speak about helping her father with
his memoirs, which Seda Maronyan transcribed in Armenian over the course of
several years. Sara translated the memoirs to English, finishing the work
her father passed away last year at the age of 102. Sarafian says,
life story is remarkable for the amount of detail that is included, and
that is
why these memoirs are one of the most important first-person accounts of the
genocide and survival.”
The book signing is at 7 p.m. at the United Armenian Congregational Church
hall, 3480 Cahuenga Boulevard West. Admission is free and light refreshments
will be served. For further information, please contact 805-495-0717.

About the Book:

A Hair’s Breadth from Death represents one of the key memoirs of the Armenian
genocide to date. Hampartzoum Chitjian (1901-2003) fleshes out, in great
detail, the fate of Armenian women and children who were not “deported” in
1915, but separated from their parents for assimilation into Turkish and
Kurdish households. According to some estimates, close to 200,000 Armenians
were targeted for such assimilation during the genocide process, and only a
fraction of them managed to revert back to their Armenian identity after the
defeat of Ottoman Turkey in 1918. Chitjian survived the genocide in the
Kharpert plain, until 1921, when he escaped to Mexico, and later moved to Los
On the eve of the 1915 Armenian deportations, Chitjian’s father took his four
sons to a Turkish orphanage in Perri, with the hope that they would somehow
survive. The remaining Armenian population of Perri was soon deported and
killed. Those fateful days became a turning point in Chitjian’s life, as the
world he knew collapsed around him, and he embarked on an Odyssey of
survival–picking up the pieces of his lost world wherever possible. The bulk
of his memoirs are a detailed, blow-by-blow account of his survival in Turkish
and Kurdish families, and his escape to the new world. During this period he
found surviving relatives, got married, set up his own family, and become a
contributing member of Armenian communities in Mexico City and Los Angeles.
Yet the Armenian genocide remained an ever-present element in his life, as he
observed new generations of Armenians who were denied knowledge of their
their ancestral homeland (their yergeer), and who assimilated as a matter of
course. His experience of the genocide never ended; it just entered new phases
over the decades, until his own death in 2003. Perhaps it is for this reason
that, like many other survivors of the genocide, he felt compelled to write
down his thoughts and memories as a debt to his family, the people of Perri,
and the quest for justice he felt compelled to champion.
His memoirs are accordingly written in a passionate, forthright, and
style. With his unconventional style, use of vernacular Armenian, Turkish, and
Kurdish terms, Chitjian expresses his fury as a survivor of the Armenian
genocide in the modern world. How could the world forget the crime that was
committed against the Armenian people? How can Turkish governments today
continue to deny the genocide of Armenians? And how can Armenian communty
leaders and political parties fail to unite against this injustice.
Chitjian’s work makes compelling reading, and can often be extremely
disturbing. It is over 400 pages long and includes over 150 maps, diagrams and
photographs, as well as a glossary of terms. It is a true landmark of a
account of the Armenian genocide.
Written as an autobiography in Armenian and translated into English, the book
is available in both languages through Garod Books: [email protected]
and at
the Abril bookstore in Glendale.


Left at the Turkish Orphanage by his father …Without hesitating a moment my
father took his four sons and walked towards the small [m]agtab (Turkish
school), leaving the women behind in the house. As we walked, my father did
utter a word. He was completely speechless. I thought he was mute from the
cruel beatings and torture he suffered in jail.
No one uttered a word–not a sound was made. We all walked with fear and
dismay in our hearts, not knowing what was going to happen to us or what was
going to happen to the rest of our family–my sisters, my aunts, and
stepmother. Why were we separating? In times of crisis the family should stay
together. Instead we were splitting up and going in different directions. I
not want to part from my father. Why was he taking us to that school? I was so
afraid. Custom prevailed, then as always. We were taught not to question my
father’s command. We obediently obliged.
My father walked in front, clasping tightly onto Kaspar’s hand. It was in our
later years when I found out from Kaspar that my father had spoken as we were
walking. My father’s last words were that the Turks were going to send him and
the women to America to unite with our brothers. At that point Kaspar asked
the boys were going to the Turkish school and not to America with the family.
His final reply was, “America for us is the river.” Kaspar confessed that he
didn’t understand his father’s last response, and at that point he was more
confused than ever. Unfortunately, we were to find out the true meaning of
statement when we heard it repeated so many times in the subsequent months…
We were all too young to fully comprehend what was transpiring. Splitting up
the family when all of the Armenians in Perri were picked up, imprisoned and
tortured without cause or explanation was more than we could comprehend or
We continued to walk silently. My father’s tortured posture showed no emotion
or tears. Had his blood turned into stone? I could tell from his eyes he was
smoldering from within. His mind and soul were completely devastated. I am
he didn’t know what to tell us. He feared if he said anything unknowingly it
might jeopardize what we might later say or do, and thereby be harmful for us.
He was a devout believer in God. He did what he thought was best and left
us in
the hands of God.”

Separating the Older Armenian Boys in the Orphanage for Execution

Three weeks later without warning, about ten o’clock in the morning, three
gendarmes entered the Protestant Church before we were taken out to pillage
the day. Without a word they promptly started to separate boys according to
their physical size and age. They grouped me with the older and larger boys
aged fourteen to seventeen and kept Kaspar, my twin, with the younger boys.
knowing why we were being separated, I immediately yelled out, protesting that
I did not want to be separated from my younger brothers or my twin. “I’m his
twin, we are the same age!” I felt I had to protect them, and I was desperate.
Suddenly, I felt a strong grasp on my arm. Immediately, I recognized the
of Mihran Mirakian, my older brother’s classmate. Mihran was also older and
larger than I was. He quietly whispered into my ear, “Let him go, he might
survive. . .”

Witnessing the Kurdish Rebellion of Dersim, 1916

The following spring, the Kurds, another subjugated minority under Ottoman
rule, rebelled against the Turks. They were advancing towards Medzgerd from
mountains of the Derseem, looting and burning the houses as they headed
Perri. The Turkish soldiers weren’t able to stop them.
There were a number of Armenian fedayees fighting with the Kurds. Together
they had become a strong force.
As the Kurds got closer to Perri, Turkish soldiers were sent to help the
Turkish civilians escapemany of them used their kaylahgs (river rafts) to
the Perri River over to Hoshay.
One morning I had gone to the Gahmarr Fountain to fetch water. Suddenly
Doodaughsooz (cut-lipped) Khehder, Ehmeenehm’s brother, approached me. He had
acquired that nickname when his upper lip was cut away as punishment for a
crime he had committed. The prosecuting lawyer who found him guilty was an
Armenian. Thereafter, he despised all Armenians. He knew me as Korr-Mamoe’s
slave and was unaware that I was Armenian. He rushed up to me and told me to
forget the water, to run home quickly and tell Korr-Mamoe to get on his horse
and rush down to the river.
I hurried home without the water and told Korr-Mamoe the news. “The avenging
Kurds have advanced as far as Bahsue. The Gavours (infidels) were among them.
They are burning and looting everything along the way!” Alarmed and without
further questioning, he grabbed his horse and we rushed towards the river.
Winters usually began in early October in Perri and lasted through the middle
of March. There were always heavy, bitter snowstorms. The rivers froze
three to
four feet deep. Anyone traveling with a horse or donkey with a heavy load
safely walk across the river with relative ease during the peak of the coldest
In no time we reached the bank of the Perri River. Because it was early
spring, thick blocks of ice were still breaking loose and floating in the
water. The large chunks of ice made it difficult for the fleeing people to
cross over to Hoshay with their small kaylahgs. Many were thrown off as their
kaylahgs collided with a boulder of ice. Once thrown into the frigid water, it
was very difficult for them to swim ashore or to get back on their kaylahg.
Many people drowned in their desperate attempt to escape.
Suddenly, I saw my twin brother, Kaspar. Almost a year had passed since our
last encounter. I desperately wanted to embrace him. At best, it was a relief
just to know he was still alive and well. He was also escaping with his
master, Meudayee Oomoomee, and his family. As they were getting on their
kaylahg, I quickly approached Kaspar and whispered to him to ask his
Effendi if
he would take me too. I felt it would be safer going with them. At the same
time, there might have been a chance we would be reunited again.

Saving Armenian Women in the Kharpert Plain at the End of WWI

While I was still living at the Armenian orphanage, we began to feel less
intimidated because the Americans were still there–a false sense of calm
prevailed. Both the American missionaries and soldiers encouraged Armenian
to assist Kude Archbishop Mekhitarian to carry out his mission to rescue
Armenians still held in bondage by Turks and Kurds.
Many Armenian women who had been forced to become Turkish and Kurdish wives
left their children fathered by Turks or Kurds and fled to the Armenian
Protestant orphanage. Others refused to give up their children and made the
choice to remain, just as my Aunt Aghavni refused to give up her children and
remained in Perri. I tried to convince her many times but to no avail. While I
realized what a difficult decision that must have been, I greatly admired the
women who left their children and fled when they found the opportunity.
With this opportunity in mind, I remembered the slave who worked in the
gendarme’s house in Parchanj. She always treated me well, while her Khanum,
Fahtmah, always taunted me by calling me Gavour Boghee. One day when I had the
opportunity, I decided to go to Parchanj and rescue the slave. I knew I was
risking my life if the gendarme caught me. Nevertheless, I went. First, I
dropped by to say hello to Khanum, the kind, elderly woman who had always
treated me well. It felt good to know she was very happy to see me. She
inquired about my problem with the ghosts. After a short pleasant visit, I
her I had come just to see her. Then I left.
I quickly went across the street and went up to the second level of their
three-story house where the slave had her living quarters, above the stable.
The Armenian slave came out as soon as she saw me. Quickly and quietly, I told
her why I had come. I was surprised by her response. Apparently, she and
had anticipated my intentions when they saw me in the area and had made their
own arrangements. The slave assured me that she could escape whenever she saw
fit, and that it would be better for me to take Fahtmah Khanum herself. For
some time, she was preparing to escape. Khanum had previously sent her
away to safety. Now, she was waiting for the opportunity to escape herself and
was willing to part from her sons. So now she was relying on me to take her
away–that day!
I was struck by the sudden realization that the person who had been so cruel
and hostile towards me, shouting Gavour Boghee at me every chance she had, now
wanted me to risk my life to help her escape from her Turkish gendarme husband
who terrified everyone just with his barbaric presence.
I knew the gendarme or his mother could enter that room at any moment. So, we
had to escape immediately. Without giving her suggestion a second thought, I
agreed and quietly followed the Armenian slave up to the third floor. Fahtmah
Khanum was ready and waiting for me to take her away. Silently, without a
she motioned for us to go down the back stairs. She was dressed in her white
charshaff (sheet). Her body and face were concealed. I had never seen her face
before, nor did I see it then. Only her eyes were visible.
“Gee dehk” she said in Turkish. “Let’s go!” Bidding us farewell, the slave
whispered, “Be careful–don’t get caught!”
When we got downstairs, I peered from behind the house to make sure no one
in sight. The coast was clear, so we fled, walking as fast as we could, making
sure we did not attract anyone’s attention. Fahtmah Khanum walked briskly
by my
side and never uttered a word.
The walk from Parchanj to Kharpert was about two hours. After walking for
time on the road through Kehsereeg, I decided it would be safer to change our
route, even though it would be much longer. By taking the new route, I avoided
passing by the police station that usually had at least sixty policemen
I was greatly relieved when we finally arrived in Mezreh. I took Fahtmah
Khanum directly to the Armenian Protestant orphanage. Without a word, I
left. All the Armenian women and girls were housed there. Reverend Yeghoyan
converted his zhoghovahran, meeting hall, into an orphanage.

Discovering the Fate of His Beloved Family Members

One day while I was walking alone towards the Hokey Doon, a woman recognized
me. Waving her hand, she called out my name, “Hampartzoum! Hampartzoum!” A
feeling went up and down my spine. It was a nostalgic sound to hear my
name called out by a familiar voice from Perri. As she got closer, I
her. It was a pleasant surprise and realization to know there were other
survivors from Perri!
After a few words, her mood changed and her eyes filled up with tears. She
proceeded to tell me she had seen my sister, Zaruhy, in the Hokey Doon on one
occasion several years earlier and hadn’t seen her since. Nor had she heard
what happened to her. That encounter took place when Zaruhy reached Haleb. She
was very exhausted and weak when she began to tell the woman what had happened
to her father and family. As Zaruhy began to relate her story to the woman, it
was obvious she was unable to endure the agony of recalling the painful ordeal
before completing her story. Zaruhy felt faint and collapsed to the ground.
Medical attendants from the Hokey Doon rushed to her assistance and carried
away. Thus, the woman was able to tell me only what little Zaruhy managed to
convey to her and no more:
“After returning home from the Turkish orphanage where my father had taken my
three brothers and me, he went home to pick up my stepmother, his sister
Marinos, and my three sisters Zaruhy, Sultahn and Yeranuhi. They joined the
other neighbors from Perri who were being forcibly deported, leaving behind
their personal belongings and their homes. They were not given time to make
preparations for the ordeals of deportation. As soon as they reached the banks
of the Perri River, my father advised my sister Sultahn, who was only sixteen
at the time, to throw herself into the river for a more peaceful death.
of her crippled arm, he felt the Turks would only abuse and torture her, then
inevitably they would kill her. Even though she was a pretty girl, no one
take her as a wife. Aware of what they had already done to my father, as
evidenced by the dry bloodstains on his coat, Sultahn promptly threw herself
into the rushing waters of the Perri River.
“After a mournful prayer, the family resumed walking with the others. As they
drew nearer Hoshay, a Turk attempted to grab my stepmother. At that point, my
father tried to stop him, but the Turk reacted swiftly by slicing off my
father’s ears…
“As much as we know, those were Zaruhy’s last words, and with tears streaming
down her face, she collapsed. Apparently her exhausted body and devastated
couldn’t endure any more. We will never know how she managed to escape from
demise of the others or how she managed to trudge across the horrible Der Zor
Desert on her own.”

Hampartzoum Mardiros Chitjian, A Hair’s Breadth from Death: The Memoirs of
Hampartzoum Mardiros Chitjian, (London and Reading: Taderon Press, 2004), xx +
434 pp., ISBN 1903656303, maps, photos., illust., gloss., hb., US$35.00. To
order contact [email protected]



I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my chest. I feel as though I
finally breathe. I know most people were expecting me to spontaneously combust
into a ball of flames if President Bush was reelected, but I’m not upset. I
watched both Senator Kerry’s concession speech and President Bush’s victory
speech and it made me realize that regardless of who’s in office, the world
will continue to go about its everyday business. The sun will rise and the sun
will set. Bombs will be manufactured on an assembly line with the same
precision and attention to detail as tiny jars of baby food and no one will
take notice. Another four years and there will be more casualties in Iraq and
more ready-to-eat headlines will be thrown at us by the “news media” and the
band will keep on playing its tune.
Has Skeptik lost his mind? I think he’s finally snapped! No, No, No. Nothing
can be further from the truth. I’m just preparing myself for four more
years of
the same. After the election results were finalized, I realized that I’m not
like many Americans. In fact, I’m not like 59,459,765 Americans (that’s how
many folks voted for more of the same). The number still boggles my mind. I
understand 459,765 people somewhere in American wanting to vote for the
President. In fact I think that’s the entire population of North Dakota, if
not mistaken (give or take a few hundred). But where did the other 59 million
come from? Time will tell. As for me, I’ve already ordered my “Don’t Blame Me,
I Never Voted For Him To Begin With” T-shirt. I figure they’ll be really
popular in about two years.
It occurred to me that this was a historic election. It was one of those
elections that Government students in high school will be studying years from
now. It’s one of those elections which will affect the way we, as Americans,
think and act for years to come. I can just picture asking someone ten or
fifteen years from now if they vote or not and the response being “Nope, I
never vote! Well, I voted once, back in 2004, but my guy lost and I haven’t
voted since!” This is an all too familiar line for some folks, particularly
Mondale and McGovern supporters.
By the way, the greatest story that no one even cared to write about or pick
up on in this election ordeal was run by the Drudge Report a few nights before
the election. Apparently Walter Cronkite–America’s News Anchor–made a
on Larry King Live about how Karl Rove (The Bush Victory Architect) was behind
the Bin Laden tape which was released just days before the election. I don’t
know if that’s true or not but it seems interesting that even someone as well
respected at Walter Cronkite would have the same suspicions that I did. After
all, haven’t we been after this guy (Bin Laden) for nearly 3 years? Yet he’s
released more videos to the public than Paris Hilton. We have the
technology to
drop bombs from tens of thousands of feet in the sky into a hole the size of a
small doorway. We can track mouse or rat from outer space with spy satellites,
but we can’t find a seven foot tall Arab on dialysis in the mountains of Tora
Bora or wherever he is.
And finally, my Armenian American analysis of this whole outcome. The ink on
my “inka vote” ballot was not even dry and the polls were still open in Hawaii
when my friend (Mr. self-proclaimed Republican) called me up to gloat over the
fiasco unfolding in Ohio. (My mother told me to never trust states that end in
the same letter that they begin with!) My friend was so proud of the fact that
he had voted for Bush. He was glowing with the pride that a gambler has after
betting on the winning horse. He assured me that nothing would have been
different for Armenians had Kerry been elected and that Bush would pursue a
policy that would, by default, benefit Armenians. Here’s a part of the logic
and see if you can follow: Bush lowers taxes for Americans. Armenian Americans
benefit from those lower taxes. With more money in their pockets because of
Bush, more Armenian Americans will be able to support charities that help
Armenia or send money directly to Armenia. THUD! (sound of my head hitting the
I asked him why he voted for Bush and he went on to explain that Bush was
going to win anyway, and if all Armenians supported Kerry, it would mean that
we would have no cards left to play with Bush. Ok, I can see that. In fact, I
agree with that. But that argument loses merit when you spend all your time
gloating and rubbing your victory in the faces of other Armenians who didn’t
support your decision rather than trying to actually cash in those chips with
the Bush-Cheney Team. And my final point before I put this election nightmare
to rest…You can’t live your whole life bowing down to whoever is in power
simply because you’re afraid to rock the boat to make a difference.
Armenians are, as I mentioned in my last column, the hacky sack at a hippie
commune of world politics. We’re kicked around and thrown in the dirt. So
what’s our response? Kissing the foot that just kicked us, because that’s what
2000 years of living as a subject of foreign powers will do to you. We may be
too small to win every battle, but you have to act with a winner’s mindset;
otherwise, you’ll always be a loser. There are many ways to win in
politics, as
well as in life, but the one sure-fire, never proven otherwise way to lose is
to never even play the game.

Skeptik Sinikian is nobody’s hacky sack. His opinions are his own and are not
for sale. He can be reached for comment at [email protected] or visit
blog at <;

11) Lies, Disinformation, Misdirection, and Their Echoes

By Garen Yegparian

It’s all over except for the certifications various state authorities must
make. George W. Bush actually got elected this time. And that’s what boggles
the mind. Somewhere in the vicinity of four million more voters chose to vote
for a consistent liar than his somewhat bland, but at least decent, opponent.
This man and his regime and the so-called neo-conservative movement’s minions
lied to pave the way for invading Iraq. They continue to at least obfuscate to
keep the true picture of events in that country from gelling in the American
public’s mind. They lied about the true cost and resulting price points of
medication for seniors with Medicare ‘reform.’ They refuse to reveal the
participation in Dick Cheney’s energy task force meetings, clearly masking
nefarious machinations. They promulgated a Healthy Forests program that chops
the trees down to save them. Despite a term marked by a NET LOSS of jobs for
the first time since the Great Depression, they assert that jobs have been
created, relying on the partial truth that jobs have been created in the LAST
FEW MONTHS. They boast about a No Child Left Behind Policy while funding it
insufficiently and forcing teachers to prepare students for standardized exams
as if they were robots. A so-called Clear Skies initiative lets polluters off
the hook so they won’t have to reduce emissions. They claim to have made
the US
safer but animosity towards the country is rising all around the world and
issue unfunded mandates to local and state authorities who, as a result,
hire and train the requisite first responders–police, firefighters,
paramedics, nurses, etc. They reject the Kyoto Protocol designed to reduce
greenhouse gases that cause global warming by contending this phenomenon
doesn’t exist–despite massive scientific evidence to the contrary. They
promulgated hundreds of anti-environmental regulations, usually announced on
late Friday afternoons so no one, particularly the media, would notice.
But how can people not see this? They’re not stupid, right?
That’s the beauty of the con job. Because a solid bloc of people backs these
“crazies” (as they were called by other government officials during Papa
presidency), duplicity is channeled through these supporters. So, when
Chief of
Staff Andy Card says “President Bush received the most popular votes of any
president in our history” (quote is approximate), the dittoheads made
famous by
Rush Limbaugh and others like them start echoing it. Wow, what a surprise,
someone in 2004 got more votes than someone else got in 1904, who in turn got
more than someone in 1804. Gee, I wonder if the country’s steadily growing
population has anything to do with it?
But now this “fact” will be used to aggrandize Bush. It will be repeated so
many times that its echoes will drown out all else and it will become relevant
reality. Reminds me of the Nazis’ approach to propaganda. Then, if someone
dares point out salient facts, people will have become so used to the original
‘fact’ that this poor Johnny-come-lately will be vilified as a partisan,
liberal hack.
This explains how so many otherwise decent people could stoop to voting for a
mass-murderer (see GOVERNOR George W. Bush’s executions record).
A number of the California propositions were drowned similarly. In this case,
the echo-chamber effect was initiated by that ‘paragon’ of moderate
Republicanness, Arnold Schwarzenegger. I’ll focus on two of them through which
people cut their own throats then precluded the prospect of treatment.
Prop 64 passed. As a result, people and public interests groups can no longer
pursue legal action against, let’s say a company dumping toxic materials
illegally, unless they have themselves been directly harmed. What was the
selling point the governator and other advocates of this measure used? They
claimed people were initiating frivolous lawsuits as a means of extorting
from innocent, small businesses. While a miniscule number of such cases do
occur, is it worth eliminating something that’s been on the books for decades
and protecting the PEOPLE, instead of cracking down on abusers? Here’s the
pattern again. Use a partial truth or outright falsehood (abuses), get an echo
chamber (Arnold), confuse concerned citizens, and let them vote against their
own best interest.
Prop 71 did not pass. Here, the contention was that small business owners
would be saddled with onerous employee health insurance bills. A false
advertisement, complete with an actress pretending to be the owner of a
restaurant that WOULD NOT have been impacted by this measure, claimed the
establishment might go under or have to fire employees. Then Arnold got into
the act. Walmart, McDonalds, and other big abusers of employees funded the
opposition. Despite the fact that well over 90% of businesses in California
already provide health benefits to their employees, people were duped into
voting against this measure. The VERY FEW, but very large, businesses who
opposed this proposition got their way and now ALL OF US will pay for their
employees who have no alternative but to resort to emergency, county
where they can get treated for free. See that pattern again?
Be alert.

12) San Francisco Armenian Community Dedicates New Center

The San Francisco Armenian community gathered for a ceremony on October 24 to
name its community center after national patron Henry Khachaturian. Mr. and
Mrs. Henry and Rita Khachaturian recently donated $1 million to establish the
Krouzian-Zekarian-Vasbouragan Armenian School Endowment Fund. The event was
held under the auspices of Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian.


To the Editor:

The 2004 election has come and gone. Despite the pundits’ predictions that
this would be the “closest election in American history,” in the end, it
really that close after all. President George W. Bush bested Senator John
by over 3.7 million popular votes, and picked up two states that Vice
Albert Gore won in 2000–Iowa and New Mexico. When the sun rose on November 3,
President Bush became the first candidate in 16 years to receive more than 50
percent of the vote, and received the most popular votes of any candidate in
our history.
This begs the question: So how does this impact the Armenian-American
community and where do we stand, now? As we all know, most of our grass roots
organizations whole-heartedly endorsed Senator Kerry. I believe that the
reasoning behind this was the notion that a sitting Senator who had the luxury
of pandering to various causes and interest groups throughout his 19 years in
Washington would somehow translate into his actions as President. Wrong,
wrong. How many elections will it take before our lobbying organizations
recognize that candidate promises of genocide recognition rarely translate
April 24 proclamations from our Chief Executive?
Or perhaps they do recognize this fact. It’s almost as if most, if not
all, of
the major Armenian-American organizations march in lock step with the
Democratic Party. While purporting to represent the interests of
Armenian-Americans, these organizations craft a very narrow, unrepresentative
set of issues that ignore the pressing domestic issues that impact the life of
our community. The issue du jour is always the Armenian genocide. Most
historians, as well as our friends in Congress recognize the historic fact of
what took place–the brutal destruction of more than 1.5 million Armenians in
what is today Eastern Turkey. Many were angered when President Bush did not
properly recognize the Armenian genocide, but where was that same anger when
President Clinton broke the very same campaign pledge throughout his eight
years in the Oval Office? The best friend our community ever had, Senator Bob
Dole, did not receive our community’s endorsement in 1996. In fact, the very
organizations that have lambasted President Bush threw their support behind
President Clinton in 1996.
These groups look at other issues, as well, but rarely do they examine
domestic matters that directly impact the economic and social livelihood of
Armenian-American voters.
The time has come for these organizations to start paying attention to a
variety of issues that matter to Armenian-American voters. Armenian-Americans,
like most Americans, vote on a variety of issues that impact their families,
their businesses, and their futures. Sadly, there was little meaningful debate
inside our community organizations on topics such as a simplified tax code;
future of social security; the security of our nation; the ongoing war on
terror; and the frightening assault on our shared culture and values from
Hollywood elitists who flocked to the Kerry campaign like groupies at a Bon
Jovi concert. These issues matter to our community, and the fact that there
scant discussion of them from our “representative” organizations borders on
So, to answer the question I posed earlier: How does President Bush’s
re-election impact Armenian-Americans?, I think that our community will not
only survive, but also thrive. Our organizations, on the other hand, need to
look deep inside and figure out whether or not they really do represent the
sophisticated Armenian-American electorate of 2004.

Aram B. Zamgochian
Washington, DC


In last week’s special election issue, we inadvertently ran endorsements under
the name of “ANCA-Western Region endorsements.” Those endorsements were rather
ANCA endorsements for US president, and Senate and House of Representative
candidates running in the western region of the United States.

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