California Courier Online, January 27, 2005

California Courier Online, January 27, 2005

1 – Commentary
Armenia Fires the First Shot on
90th Anniversary of Genocide

By Harut Sassounian
California Courier Publisher
2 – Sen. Chuck Poochigian Honored at California
Attorney-General Campaign Dinner in L.A.
3 – Armenian American Nurses
Association Holds Flu Clinics
4 – Keyan Donation Raises Prelacy
Scholarship Fund to $100,000
5 – Prof. Levon Chookazsian to Teach
At UCLA During Winter Quarter
6 – Paul Krekorian Named President
Of Education Policy Coalition
7 – AAMSC’s Honors Dr. Autian with
2005 Lifetime Achievement Award
8 – Director Oliver Stone Apologizes to
Turks for ‘Midnight Express’ Film
1 – Commentary
Armenia Fires the First Shot on
90th Anniversary of Genocide

By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier

The Armenian government fired the first shot this week to begin the
yearlong commemorative activities planned for the 90th anniversary of the
Armenian Genocide.
Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian spoke on January 24 during the Special
Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations to mark the 60th
anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camps. Mr. Oskanian’s
remarkable statement, along with several others, was broadcast live in
Israel. Here are excerpts from his remarks that were delivered
extemporaneously with a heavy heart and profound passion:
“On behalf of the people and government of Armenia, and as a descendant of
genocide survivors, I feel compelled to be here today, to join other
survivors and descendants of both victims and perpetrators, to take part in
this commemoration….
“In the 20th century alone, with its 15 genocides, the victims have their
own names for places of infamy. What the French call ‘les lieux infames de
memoire’ are everywhere. Places of horror, slaughter, of massacre, of the
indiscriminate killing of all those who have belonged to a segment, a
category, an ethnic group, a race or a religion. For Armenians, it is the
desert of Deir-El-Zor, for Cambodians they are the killing fields, for the
children of the 21st century, it is Darfur. For the Jews and Poles and for
a whole generation of us growing up after The War, it is Auschwitz….
“After Auschwitz one would expect that no one any longer has a right to
turn a blind eye or a deaf ear. As an Armenian, I know that a blind eye, a
deaf ear, and a muted tongue perpetuate the wounds. It is a memory of
suffering unrelieved by strong condemnation and unequivocal recognition.
The catharsis that the victims deserve, which societies require in order to
heal and move forward together, obligates us here at the UN, and in the
international community, to be witness, to call things by their name, to
remove the veil of obfuscation, of double standards, of political
“Recognizing the victims and acknowledging them is also to recognize that
there are perpetrators. But this is absolutely not the same as actually
naming them, shaming them, dissuading or warning them, isolating or
punishing them….
“The Spanish-American philosopher George Santayana admonished us to
remember the past, or be condemned to repeat it. This admonition has
significance for me personally, because the destruction of my people, whose
fate in some way impinged upon the fate of the Jews of Europe, should have
been more widely seen as a warning of things to come.
“Jews and Armenians are linked forever by Hitler. ‘Who, after all, speaks
today of the annihilation of the Armenians?’ said Adolf Hitler, days before
he entered Poland.
“Hitler’s cynical remembrance of Armenians is prominently displayed in the
Holocaust Memorial in Washington because it is a profound commentary about
the crucial role of third parties in genocide prevention and remembrance.
Genocide is the manifestation of the break in the covenant that governments
have with their peoples. Therefore, it is third parties who become crucial
actors in genocide prevention, humanitarian assistance and genocide
“We are commemorating today, because the Soviet troops marched into
Auschwitz 60 years ago. I am here today because the Arabs provided
sanctuary to Armenian deportees 90 years ago.
“Third parties, indeed, can make the difference between life and death.
Their rejection of the behaviors and policies which are neither in anyone’s
national interest nor in humanity’s international interest, is of immense
moral and political value.
“What neighbors, well-wishers, the international community can’t
accomplish, is the transcending and reconciling which the parties must do
for themselves. The victims, first, must exhibit the dignity, capacity and
willingness to move on, and the perpetrators, first and last, must summon
the deep force of humanity and goodness and must overcome the memory of the
inner evil which had already prevailed, and must renounce the deed, its
intent, its consequences, its architects and executors.”
Mr. Oskanian’s UN remarks are significant for several reasons:
1) They were delivered by the Foreign Minister, and not by the Ambassador
at the UN;
2) They exposed once again the Turkish lie that Armenians in Armenia do not
care about the Genocide. Several years ago, Pres. Kocharian himself spoke
about the Armenian Genocide from the UN podium. Furthermore, the
international recognition of the Armenian Genocide is one of the foreign
policy objectives of the Republic of Armenia;
3) They sent a message to the Turkish leaders that Armenians would keep
raising this issue at every opportunity, and in every forum, until the
Turks acknowledge the skeletons in their closet;
4) By speaking about this issue at the UN, the Armenian Genocide was
brought to the attention of the whole world.
As I reported in this column last December, the U.S. Ambassador to the UN
had asked for a Special Session of the UN General Assembly to mark the 60th
anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps. Since the US
government would not make a similar request to have the UN observe the 90th
anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, it was very commendable that Foreign
Minister Oskanian made a personal appearance at the UN to deliver a major
statement marking the anniversaries of both the Jewish Holocaust and the
Armenian Genocide.
It is noteworthy that during a press conference last week, when the
Secretary General of the UN, Kofi Annan, was asked if holding a Special
Session of the General Assembly for the Holocaust “may open the gate for
other groups such as the Armenians… to demand a similar treatment,” he
appeared to leave the door open for a UN commemoration of the Armenian
Genocide by saying: “It is possible that, in the future, Member States
would want to commemorate other events.”
On this occasion, it is important to compare and contrast the attitude of
the representatives of Germany and Turkey. While the German Foreign
Minister very strongly condemned the atrocities committed by the Nazi
regime, the Turkish Ambassador shamelessly lied about the abysmal human
rights record of his country, stating that Turkey has always been a
tolerant state that combated hatred and prejudice! While Germans offer
profuse apologies and make amends for the crimes committed by their
predecessor regime, Turks continue to defend their genocidal ancestors.
Turkish commentators had expressed the fear that an “Armenian Tsunami” was
fast approaching Turkey on the 90th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.
Despite these warnings, the first wave of the “Armenian Tsunami” caught
Turkish officials by surprise. Their Ambassador was unprepared to respond
to Mr. Oskanian’s statement. He simply read his prepared speech that
contained no answer to the Armenian Foreign Minister’s call for the
acknowledgment of the Genocide.
The Turks should expect more such bad weather in the next 12 months, as
long as they continue to deny the first genocide of the 20th century.

2 – Sen. Chuck Poochigian Honored at California
Attorney-General Campaign Dinner in L.A.
LOS ANGELES – California State Senator Chuck Poochigian (R-Fresno) was
honored at a dinner in support of his campaign for Attorney General held at
Sheraton Universal Hotel in Universal City on Jan.13.
The dinner program featured California’s 35th Governor, George Deukmejian,
who also served as Attorney General. Dr. Joan Otomo-Corgel, a longtime
Poochigian family friend was the emcee for the event. Gov. Deukmejian was
introduced by former California Congressman and Assemblyman Steve
Kuykendall. Deukmejian offered remarks on the history and importance of the
office of Attorney General and praised Poochigian and his wife, Debbie, for
their work in government and politics. He warmly introduced Senator
Poochigian to approximately 500 enthusiastic dinner guests.
Sen. Poochigian spoke about his preparation for the office beginning with
his work as a member of the senior staff to governors Deukmejian and Pete
Wilson. His responsibilities included considerable work in assisting in the
selection of members of the judiciary and seeking men and women for
appointment who were highly respected, hard-working, and committed to the
rule of law. He spoke of the importance of similar qualities in the state’s
chief law officer who, in the ideal, should judiciously carry out the
duties of the office.
Poochigian spoke about the challenges of conducting a statewide race and
the necessity of having strong involvement of committed supporters
throughout California. He encouraged guests to actively participate in the
campaign and to encourage others to join in the effort.
Entertainment was provided by Fred Travalena, a renowned singer,
impressionist, comedian and song writer who has performed internationally
on stage and screen. Jill Simonian, who is a television host of World
Entertainment Connections, sang the National Anthem and closed the evening
with a wonderful rendition of America the Beautiful.
First elected to the Legislature in 1994, Chuck Poochigian has in the
course of two Assembly and Senate terms, represented Central California
from Bakersfield to the Sacramento county line. He has been in the
leadership of the Republican Caucus for his entire time in the Legislature
– beginning in his first term when he chaired the Appropriations Committee
and was named “Republican Rookie of the Year” (in a class of 22). He has
had a distinguished legislative career with many important legislative
accomplishments in the fields of education, business and law enforcement.
Most recently, he was the author of comprehensive legislation sponsored by
Governor Schwarzenegger to reform California’s workers’ compensation
The mailing address for the Poochigian for Attorney General campaign is
P.O. Box 8446, Fresno, California 93747. ID#1265332; Phone 559-255-1699;
Fax 559-255-3123; E-mail [email protected]
3 – Armenian American Nurses
Association Holds Flu Clinics
By Adlina Minassi
GLENDALE – The Armenian American Nurses Association joined forces with the
Glendale Adventist Medical Center to hold a “free” flu clinic recently
with the assistance of volunteers from Glendale High School.
The flu clinics were held in Glendale, at St. Mary’s Armenian Church and
Daylight Adult Health Day Care Center.
The volunteer nurses that helped at St. Mary’s Armenian Church were, Mary
Konyalian (coordinator), Magy Chorbajian, Rosig Der-Tavitian, Sossi
Mikaelian, Marina Manukyan, Siran Balian, and Anjel Matevossian. The
nurses who helped at Daylight Adult Health Day Care Center were, Siran
Balian (coordinator), Knarig Massih, and Marina Manukian. The volunteers
and nurses were able to help 253 people all together.
“Once again, Glendale can take deep pride in having the excellent caliber
of youth that helped fill our forms, translations and other logistic work
that was needed to accomplish our mission in serving the Glendale
community. They gave up their leisure time as did the Armenian American
Nurses Association on a sunny Saturday morning to serve the community,”
noted John Krikorian, of Krikorian Marketing Group.
4 – Keyan Donation Raises Prelacy
Scholarship Fund to $100,000
LOS ANGELES – Longtime Western Prelacy benefactor, Charles Keyan, has made
a donation of $50,000 to the special scholarship fund he established a year
ago, raising the total amount since last year to $100,000.
Keyan had made a similar donation last year, thus establishing a
scholarship fund for students at the Armenian Mesrobian High School in
Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, the Religious and the Executive
Councils of the Western Prelacy and the Education Network functioning under
their auspices thanked Keyan for his donation and dedication to the Prelacy
“We consider this a true expression of confidence to the mission of the
Western Prelacy and the school system functioning under its auspices,” the
Prelacy said.
5 – Prof. Levon Chookaszian to Teach
At UCLA During Winter Quarter
LOS ANGELES – The Friends of UCLA Armenian Language and Culture Studies,
announced the arrival of art historian Levon Chookaszian UNESCO Professor
of Armenian art at Yerevan State University. During the current Winter
Quarter 2004/5, Prof. Chookaszian will teach two courses in Armenian art
history under the auspices of the UCLA Narekatsi Chair for Armenian Studies
held by Prof. S. Peter Cowe. The two courses are Modern Armenian Painting
(Tue.,Thurs. 10-11:20, Rolfe Hall 3123) and Medieval Armenian Manuscript
Illumination (Tue., Thurs., 12:30-1:50, Rolfe 3131)
These courses were made possible through funds raised by the Friends
organization within the Armenian community. It is intended that these and
other courses to be offered in the future in other armenological fields
will help promote the establishment of an Armenian Major (B.A.) at UCLA.
Profiting by Prof. Chookaszian’s presence in Los Angeles, the Friends have
organized a series of three illustrated public lectures, in Armenian – all
to be presented at the Glendale Public Library. The first two will be
dedicated to the 90th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, while the third
celebrates the 1600th anniversary of the invention of the Armenian
The first lecture, Armenian Art Treasures Rescued from the Genocide, will
be held Jan. 30 at 4 p.m.; the second, The Armenian Liberation Movement,
the Genocide and Armenian Painters, will be presented Feb. 27 at 4 p.m.;
the third topic will be Decorated Letters of Armenian Manuscripts and will
be presented on March 20 at 4 p.m.
Prof. Chookaszian did his undergraduate work in Armenian language and
literature and his graduate work in Armenian art at the Erevan State
University. He furthered his graduate studies at Moscow State University
with special emphasis on Byzantine art and European art of the Middle Ages.
His first doctoral degree in art history was defended at the Art Institute
of the Georgian Academy of Sciences, Tbilisi (1981), while he received his
second doctorate in the field from the Institute of Art of the Ministry of
Culture of Russia, Moscow (2001).
Prof. Chookaszian is multilingual, is a member of many professional
organizations, has given more than 200 lectures and published numerous
articles on medieval Armenian art, manuscript illumination, architecture,
and sculpture. He has participated in dozens of international conferences
and has an important monograph on Grigor Tsaghkogh (1986) and has published
a 60-page summary of his dissertation on Toros Roslin in Russian (2001).
Further, he has published book reviews, has acted as consultant on matters
of Medieval Armenian art including the Matenadaran series on medieval
Armenian art and artists produced by Armenfilm, and for one year (1991) he
was advisor on culture to the Prime Minister of Armenia. He is also the
recipient of several prestigious grants that have helped him pursue his
research in Armenian art history.
It is possible to audit the professor’s classes, with special permission
from him and the public lectures (in Armenian) at the Glendale Public
Library (222 E. Harvard) are open to the public.
6 – Paul Krekorian Named President
Of Education Policy Coalition
BURBANK, Calif. – Paul Krekorian, the Vice President of the Burbank Board
of Education, has been chosen to lead the Five Star Coalition of local
school boards as its President for the coming year. Krekorian will assume
the Presidency at the Coalition’s February 25 meeting.
The Five Star Coalition is the combined legislative advocacy effort of the
Burbank, Glendale, Pasadena, South Pasadena and La Canada school districts.

The Coalition represents the interests of over 75,000 students and 89
schools in the five school districts. By working closely with state and
federal legislators, as well as community and business leaders, the
Coalition helps to shape education policy and otherwise to improve the
quality of education for the districts’ students.
“I feel privileged to be able to lead the combined legislative efforts of
these five great school districts,” Krekorian said. “Public education is
facing unprecedented challenges right now, and the Coalition gives local
education leaders the opportunity to make an impact on the actions of the
state and federal governments in meeting those challenges.”
As the only Armenian-American member of the Coalition, Krekorian has a
special role in ensuring that the needs of Armenian students and their
families are met in dealing with the state and federal governments. For
example, state and federal law impose strict requirements upon school
districts dealing with students who are not yet fully fluent in English.
“In complying with state and federal mandates, we need to ensure that all
of our students are treated fairly and have every opportunity to
participate fully in all school programs. No student should ever be
stigmatized by limited English abilities,” Krekorian said. “At the same
time, we must do everything possible to help our students become fluent in
English and to reclassify them as fluent as quickly as possible.”
Krekorian is a lawyer specializing in business disputes, copyright,
trademark and entertainment matters. Krekorian was elected to the Burbank
Board of Education in 2003, and he is believed to be the only
Armenian-American ever elected to any public office in Burbank.
7 – AAMSC’s Honors Dr. Autian with
2005 Lifetime Achievement Award
LOS ANGELES – In recognition for his numerous national and international
contributions to science, the Armenian American Medical Society of
California will present the 2005 Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. John
Autian at the AAMSC’s 19th Annual Dinner, Feb. 26 at the Glendale Hilton.
Known internationally for his contribution to science, humanity, business,
academia and government, Dr. Autian is an environmental consultant for A.
Zaker Associates of which he is the founder and president. He travels all
over the world as a speaker, advisor and consultant for UNESCO and other
relief organizations.
Dr. Autian has visited Armenia every year since 1990. Through Medical
Outreach he has visited schools, pharmaceutical colleges and has helped
them financially.
Dr. Autian has worked in academia for over 35 years. At the University of
Texas he established and directed the Drug-Plastic Research Laboratory, the
first of its type in the country. He served as Dean of the College of
Pharmacy at the University of Tennessee and later Dean of the Graduate
School of Medical Sciences and Vice Chancellor for Research. He was the
Senior Science Advisor to a Joint U.S. and Saudi Arabian project
establishing the first environmental toxicology laboratory in the Kingdom.
He has authored or coauthored 220 scientific, technical and professional
articles and has contributed to 18 textbooks in the field of pharmacy,
toxicology and biomedical materials.
A contributing columnist to various Memphis newspapers, Dr. Autian has made
generous contributions to several universities, colleges and high schools
in developing environmental programs. He has set up endowments at the
University of Tennessee, University of Memphis, LeMoyne Owen College, and
South West Tennessee Community College. He has supported inner city Dropout
Prevention programs.
Dr. Autian is the recipient of several National and International Awards,
including The Clemson Award, Temple University’s The Most Distinguished
Graduate Award, South American and Biochemical Industries Award, US
Environmental Protection Agency Award and was recognized by the Indian
Parliament for establishing endowments with several Indian scientific
societies. In September of 2004, Dr. Autian received the Kabakjian Award,
given to an Armenian American for the advancement of sciences.
A veteran of World War II, Dr. Autian served in the Pacific theater and was
a member of one of the first units to land in Japan. He has one son, John
Zaker and grandson Tyler Christian Autian.
8 – Director Oliver Stone Apologizes to
Turks for ‘Midnight Express’ Film
LOS ANGELES – Only days before the European Union’s decision whether to
launch membership talks with Turkey, Hollywood filmmaker Oliver Stone has
apologized for offending the Turks for his 1978 film, “Midnight Express,”
an article in the Jan. 7-13, 2005 L.A. Weekly by Paul Krassner revealed.
“It’s true I overdramatized the script,” Stone told reporters in Istanbul.
“But the reality of Turkish prisons at the time was also referred to…by
various human rights associations.” Stone had been afraid of visiting
Turkey since the release of Midnight Express, he said, because of the
effect it had on the country.
“For years, I heard that Turkish people were angry with me, and I didn’t
feel safe there. The culture ministry gave me a guarantee that I would be
safe, so I feel comfortable now.”
Midnight Express was adapted from the book by Billy Hayes, an American who
was sentenced to 30 years in prison for attempting to smuggle hashish out
of Turkey, and eventually escaped. Stone also did a week’s worth of
interviews with Hayes in a hotel room after he’d read the book.
Krassner contacted Hayes to get his reaction to Stone’s recent statement.
“How was the script overdramatized?”
“My biggest problem with the screenplay and the film was that you didn’t
see a single good Turk,” Hayes told Krassner, “so the overall impression
was that all Turks are like those depicted in the film. And, of course,
this is not true. It doesn’t take away from the fact that the prison was
brutal and the legal system hypocritical, but that can be said of almost
any country, particularly, and unfortunately, ours. Prison guards are not
necessarily the cream of any society.”
“What would you say was the most offensive to the Turks?” Krassner asked
“The most offensive scene for the Turks was Billy’s speech in the courtroom
calling them all ‘a nation of pigs,’ etc. In fact, when I spoke to the
court, knowing I was having my sentence changed to life, I was trying to
hold on to my shredding sanity and wanted to affect these people who were
taking my life away, but really knew nothing about me as a person. I said
something like, ‘I’ve been in your jail four years now and if you sentence
me to more prison I can’t agree with you, all I can do is forgive you…’
It affected them. The judge told me his hands were tied. They all looked
upset. Then they sentenced me to life, which the kindly judge reduced to 30
years. Thanks. I think. Anyway, Oliver wanted to know how I could forgive
people who had just taken my life away. I told him about trying to maintain
my balance. He asked how I felt the next morning after sentencing. I told
him I was furious. So he wrote that courtroom speech.”
The California Courier On-Line is a service provided by the California
Courier. Subscriptions or changes of address should not be transmitted
through this service. Information in that regard should be telephoned
to (818) 409-0949; faxed to: (818) 409-9207, or e-mailed to:
[email protected] Letters to the editor concerning issues
addressed in the Courier may be e-mailed, provided it is signed by
the author. Phone and/or E-mail address is also required to verify

You may also like