ASBAREZ Online [06-06-2005]

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06/06/2005
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1) Pontifical Visit of Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians to Western
Diocese Continues
2) ANC-GW Urges US Corporate Leaders to End Complicity in Genocide Denial
Efforts
3) Opposition Rally Calls for Regime Change in Azerbaijan
4) Equatorial Guinea Leader Pardons Armenians
5) DO THE RIGHT THING!

1) Pontifical Visit of Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians to Western
Diocese Continues

BEVERLY HILLS–A banquet honoring the Pontifical visit of His Holiness Karekin
II, Catholicos of All Armenians, to the Western Diocese, was held on June 4 at
the Beverly Hills Century Plaza Hotel–where the faithful, along with
government officials, benefactors, official delegates, and clergy gathered to
greet the spiritual leader.
Following dinner, LA Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich welcomed and
congratulated the Catholicos for his diligent efforts.
A video presentation about the Holy See of Etchmiadzin outlined the recent
increase in the number of ordained clergy, the numerous construction projects
throughout Armenia spearheaded by the Catholicos, as well as the assistance
provided to the people of Armenia through the sponsorship of the Mother See.
Primate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America, His
Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamian officially welcomed the Catholicos of All
Armenians.
His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese
extended heartfelt greetings to His Holiness Karekin II on behalf of the
Diocesan Council, the clergy and the faithful. He conveyed to the Catholicos
his filial love and appreciation for his vigor and enthusiasm, which have been
responsible for the revitalization and strengthening of the Mother See of Holy
Etchmiadzin during the past several years. His Eminence stressed the extent of
expansion of the Mother See and affirmed his full support to Vehapar, for the
prosperity of the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Mother See of Holy
Etchmiadzin
and the Western Diocese.
His Eminence then invited to the podium His Holiness Karekin II to address
the
guests. His Holiness began by expressing his sincere love towards the faithful
of the Western Diocese. He continued by conveying his appreciation for the
capable leadership, devotion and service of His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan
Derderian in the Western Diocese. Catholicos Karekin II urged the faithful to
stay firm in their commitment to the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, the
Armenian Apostolic Church and Motherland Armenia. The Pontiff also expressed
his joy in being present in the Western Diocese and extended his gratitude for
the work and dedication put forth by the Diocese.
The following morning, His Holiness celebrated Pontifical Divine Liturgy in
the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. Led by a vast procession of
Archbishops, Bishops, diocesan clergy, deacons and ecumenical guests, His
Holiness made his official entry into the Cathedral under the “Amphovani,” the
traditional umbrella of the Catholicos. As he proceeded to the Altar, His
Holiness blessed the faithful who had filled the Cathedral to capacity.
Assisting His Holiness during the Divine Liturgy, were His Eminences
Archbishop Hovnan Derderian and Archbishop Khajag Barsamian. Archpriest Fr.
Manoug Markarian, Pastor of St. John Garabed Armenian Church in Hollywood. The
United Armenian Central Choir of the Western Diocese sang the Liturgy,
directed
by Deacon Stepan Gozumian and accompanied by Dr. Ronald Sinanian on the organ.
His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian welcomed the Catholicos. “His
Holiness Karekin II is the spiritual leader of the Armenian Apostolic Church
and the nation. Since his election to the throne of St. Gregory the
illuminator
in 1999 the Armenian Church has become a dominant presence in the life of the
Armenians both in Armenia and the Diaspora. It is time for the Church of
Armenia to recuperate from the loss of the dark era of the Soviet Union and to
radiate the Light of God from the hearts of Armenians in Armenian and in our
communities,” he said during the liturgy.
Some of the guests in attendance were Cardinal Roger Mahony, Archbishop of
the
Archdiocese of Los Angeles; Fr. Alexei Smith, Director of the Ecumenical &
Interreligious Office, Archdiocese of LA; Rt. Rev. Bishop Oscar Solis,
representing the Cardinal; Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, Episcopal Diocese of Los
Angeles; Fr. John Bakas, Dean of St. Sophia Cathedral; Rabbi Mark Diamond,
Board of Rabbis; Rev. Paul Lance and Dr. Rod Parrott, Southern California
Ecumenical Council; Rev. Dr. Lloyd Saatjian, Representing Bishop Swenson of
the
United Methodist Church; Fr. Sabu Thomas, St. Mary’s Syrian Orthodox Church;
Rev. Sally Welch, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); Rev. Protopresbyter
Efstathios V. Mylonas, Ph.D., Saint Anthony Greek Orthodox Church; Minister
Joe
Matossian; Fr. Andon Noradoungian, representing the Armenian Catholic
community; Rev. Dagmar Grefe, Chaplain of the Children’s Hospital LA; Fr.
Athanasius, Coptic Orthodox Church, Governor George Deukmejian, Supervisor
Michael Antonovich, Glendale City Mayor Rafi Manoukian, and Consul General of
Armenia Gagik Kirakossian.
In his Pontifical Sermon the Catholicos urged the faithful to renew and
reawaken within them the Christian faith and the love towards the Armenian
Apostolic Church, as Armenians celebrate together the 1600th anniversary of
the
creation of the Armenian alphabet. He continued, “The ills and difficulties of
Armenia and the Armenian Apostolic Church will disappear when we are connected
in Christ.”
On this auspicious occasion, in appreciation of the hard work, unrelenting
devotion, and dedication of His Eminence Archbishop Derderian, His Holiness
presented him a “Banagia,” the official symbol of the rank of Archbishop. In
celebration of the 1600th anniversary of the alphabet, the “Banagia” is
adorned
with the original 36 Armenian letters.
His Holiness also gave a cross to Cardinal Roger Mahony expressing his
gratitude for allowing the Western Diocese the use of the Cathedral.
Following the Sermon His Holiness Karekin II, as well as the high-raking
clergy participating in the Liturgy and over 25 clergy, administered Holy
Communion to the faithful.

2) ANC-GW Urges US Corporate Leaders to End Complicity in Genocide Denial
Efforts

Protest vigil at Turkish embassy coincides with welcoming reception for
leaders
of American Turkish Council

WASHINGTON, DC (ANC-GW)–Armenian Americans held a protest vigil in front of
the Turkish Embassy on Monday calling attention to that government’s ongoing
denial of the Armenian genocide, as Turkish and American government officials
and industry leaders attended a kick-off reception for the American Turkish
Council (ATC) annual conference.
Organized by the Armenian National Committee of Greater Washington (ANC-GW),
over 50 Armenian Americans held signs calling for recognition and a just
resolution of the Armenian genocide, as well as the end of Turkey’s
twelve-year
blockade of Armenia and the implementation of human rights reforms. ANC-GW
representatives passed out flyers to reception attendees informing them that
the ATC “has used your good name to deny genocide–a misguided act that
embarrasses you, disgraces the Council, and calls into question the core
values
of the company you represent.” The flyer called on ATC members to “perform a
true service for US-Turkey relations: Urge the ATC and Turkey to stop denying
the Armenian Genocide.”
“It is morally reprehensible that Turkey continues to coerce US companies to
become complicit in the Armenian Genocide through their misguided
participation
in anti-genocide recognition efforts,” stated ANC-Greater Washington
representative Arsineh Khachikian. “Our protest vigil today was aimed to urge
our US corporate leaders to disassociate themselves from this destructive
campaign and create a US-Turkey relationship based on truth and justice.”
Reaction from the attendees was mixed, with most accepting and reading the
flyers as they entered or left the function. One Turkish attendee refused the
flyer, proudly stating “my father had killed many of your families.” Embassy
staff and organizers were clearly disturbed with the protest, which garnered
extensive media coverage from Turkish television and print journalists
representing a broad range of news agencies.
The protest coincided with the opening reception of the American Turkish
Council three day annual conference bringing together top US and Turkish
government and industry leaders, focusing on expanding US Turkey relations and
commercial ties. Speakers at the conference include Prime Minister Erdogan,
Foreign Minister Gul and other top Turkish Ministers.
US officials slated to speak include the Honorable Stephen Hadley,
Assistant to
the President on National Security; Matt Bryza, NSC director for the Aegean,
Caucasus and Central Asia; Eric Edelman, US Ambassador to Turkey; and
Elizabeth
Jones, former Assistant Secretary of State.
The Council has consistently lobbied against successive Genocide resolutions,
using the names of top US companies including Raytheon, Boeing,
Lockheed-Martin, and others in their advocacy efforts. For more information
about the ATC and their member companies, visit:
<;

3) Opposition Rally Calls for Regime Change in Azerbaijan

BAKU (AFP)–Some 10,000 anti-government protestors rallied in the capital of
Azerbaijan calling for regime change in the former Soviet republic on
Saturday.

In the first opposition rally not to have been crushed by police since 2003
presidential polls ended in violence, protestors carried signs with the phrase
“we want freedom” superimposed onto portraits of President George W.
Bush.
Police officials, who mobilized hundreds of riot police to encircle the
rally,
told state-owned media that less than 3,000 people attended the protest,
but an
AFP correspondent estimated the turnout at 10,000.
In a flashback to the peaceful revolt that ousted an entrenched regime in
Ukraine last year, members of the Yeni Fikir youth movement wore orange shirts
and headbands and directed shouts of “step down” at the country’s leadership.
“We want a normal government, we want this regime to give up power,” said
Ruslan Bashirli, the leader of Yeni Fikir, one of the youth protest groups
that
have mushroomed in Azerbaijan ahead of a parliamentary election scheduled
for November.
Bashirli said the group would push for a “peaceful, velvet revolution” during
the elections.
The government of President Ilham Aliyev, who inherited the top post from his
father Heydar Aliyev in contested 2003 elections, has cracked down on the
opposition with police routinely beating and imprisoning protestors.
“If the elections are not free, prepare to see every village and every street
demand Aliyev’s ouster,” Ali Kerimli, leader of the opposition Popular
Front of
Azerbaijan party, told the rally.
A block of opposition parties participating in the protest issued a
resolution
demanding fair treatment for their candidates in the coming elections and
called for the authorities to release the relative of a prominent exiled
politician allegedly taken into custody on Friday.
The opposition said Almaz Guliyeva, a British citizen and the niece of
Azerbaijan’s ex-parliamentary speaker Rasul Guliyev, had to be hospitalized
with heart trouble after a pistol was planted on her when she arrived in Baku
on a flight from London.
No official comment regarding Guliyeva was available on Saturday.
In May, the government launched a sweeping crackdown ahead of the opening
of a
major US-backed oil pipeline, arresting some 75 people and beating scores at a
banned anti government rally, including one journalist.
The crackdown continued into this week when two activists from the youth
protest movement Yokh were arrested and allegedly dragged by their hair to a
police station after handing out leaflets to high school graduates.
The authorities allowed Saturday’s rally to take place after last month’s
crackdown provoked Western outcry with the United States and the European
Union
saying it violated citizens’ rights to freely assemble.
Hundreds of people were arrested in protests that turned into riots during
the
presidential elections in 2003 in which two people died.
Many were only amnestied after Europe’s top human rights body, the Council of
Europe, stepped up pressure on the government.
The organization has described the coming elections as a crossroads where “we
may become witnesses either to fair and free elections or a bloody
confrontation between thousands.”

4) Equatorial Guinea Leader Pardons Armenians

MALABO (Combined Sources)–Equatorial Guinea’s president has issued an amnesty
to six Armenians convicted of taking part in a coup. The six flight crew was
found guilty last year of trying to topple President Teodoro Obiang Nguema
Mbasogo.
Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamlet Gasparian confirmed the news
reports on Monday about the release of six Armenian pilots jailed on the
controversial coup charges.
The news reported from the western African country by Agence France-Presse
was
met with celebration at the office of Armenian aviation veteran Dmitri
Atbashian.
`This news was a great joy for us,’ Atbashian said, adding that the Armenian
pilots should abstain from dubious job offers abroad in the future.
`One day there will be work for them in Armenia,’ he added.
The families of the pilots do not yet know whether their loved ones have
actually been freed and when they will arrive in Yerevan.
They have not seen them for over a year after the six-member aircrew of an
Armenian transport plane hired by a German airfreight company were arrested in
Equatorial Guinea last March and later sentenced to between 14 and 24 years’
imprisonment on charges of involvement in a reported plot to topple the local
autocratic president.
Captain Ashot Karapetian’s wife, Naira Harutyunyan, has not yet decided what
her first words will be to greet her husband. `My daughter asked me not to
faint when I see him,’ she said.
Asked whether she wanted to say anything to the president of Equatorial
Guinea, Harutyunyan said: `Our president wrote to him twice and there was no
response. I don’t think there will be any response this time. God be with
him.’

A Foreign Ministry official has left for the Equatorial Guinean capital of
Malabo to organize the return of Armenian pilots on the spot.
All the six Armenian pilots pleaded not guilty to the accusations throughout
their trial.
Seven South Africans remain in a Malabo prison after being convicted for
their
role in the coup. Three more alleged mercenaries are in prison in Zimbabwe.
Obiang, who has ruled oil-rich Equatorial Guinea for 25 years, cited
“humanitarian reasons” for the pardon.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry has thanked the authorities of Equatorial
Guinea
and personally President Teodoro Obiang Nguema for “showing humanity and
understanding.”
In April, the human rights group Amnesty International condemned
conditions at
the Black Beach prison in Malabo and said inmates could starve to death
there.
South African Nick du Toit–the alleged leader of the mercenaries–remains in
Black Beach, after being sentenced to 34 years in prison.

5) DO THE RIGHT THING!

BY SKEPTIK SINIKIAN

I know that amidst all the absurd news or non-news that is circulating within
the Armenian community, there haven’t been many people who have ventured
outside the confines of our intellectual Armenian ghetto to see what’s
going on
in the outside world. How CAN someone even if they wanted to? Who cares about
the war in Iraq when over 180,000 Armenians in Armenia are trying to enter the
Guinness Book of World Records for performing the world’s longest line-dance.
That’s right–a line dance. Last week, hundreds of thousands of Armenians
stood
in line in Armenia and for once, it wasn’t outside the US embassy to apply for
visas to leave the country. Instead, they attempted to dance in a line and set
a world record. What is even more amazing is that over 100,000 Armenians
actually coordinated and organized a synchronized event–a first for our
community! The last time this many Armenians were seen in any type of
coordinated activity, was in Las Vegas when over 1000 Armenians
(unbeknownst to
one another) were all playing black jack on April 24. The runner up was the
other similar sized group of Armenians who were actually commemorating the
Genocide in Montebello. Do I sound bitter or cynical? No. Not me.
I admit that I was fascinated by the Guinness record line dance for about
three seconds and then another article on CNN’s financial news caught my eye.
The headline read something like `Wachovia Apologized for Ties to Slavery.’ At
first I thought Wachovia was a former Soviet Eastern Bloc nation or maybe
another German company that was being sued victims of slave labor during World
War II. But this was something even better. Apparently, Wachovia Corp is the
largest bank in Philadelphia`the city of brotherly love.’ The bank recently
issued a report revealing that five local predecessor companies profited
indirectly from slavery. A formal apology was issues and the bank vowed to
help
increase awareness of African-American history. I read the article and kept
thinking the same thing over and over again! Why have we let New York Life and
other companies off the hook so easily?
Ok, so I’m not a lawyer and I didn’t understand the nuances of the New York
Life Case. And I guess a 20 million dollar settlement is better than nothing.
But still, so many times when I’d bring the case up to my lawyer
friends–mostly Armenians–I’d hear similar defeatist statements. I’d hear
comments about how hard it is to bring a case to court that’s nearly a century
old. I’d hear about how authentic documents of the period were hard to come
by.
Well, at the end of the day, New York Life settled. And you know why? Because
they were afraid of the bad publicity they’d receive if people knew how a life
insurance company profiteered from the deaths of thousands of innocent
Christian Armenians.
Here’s how the whole thing went down. Apparently Walchovia filed a disclosure
document while applying for a city loan or contract. The disclosure
document is
required for city contractors under a 2003 ordinance by Alderman Dorothy
Tillman. Legislation passed by politicians (mostly democrats and mostly
African-American) requires companies who have profited from slavery to
disclose
the fact that they have in their documents filed with cities. Companies found
lying about their past end up losing their contracts.
That’s the basic story. Imagine being held accountable for a crime that was
widely accepted by most Americans and occurred 200 years ago. Just imagine!
And
here we are as a community, doing back flips in the air like trained dolphins
at Sea World any time KCET runs a documentary that mentions Armenia or shish
kebab.
Almost six years ago (if my memory serves me correctly), California State
Treasurer Phil Angelides reprimanded a company doing research for the
California Employees Retirement funds for downplaying what happened to the
Armenians and Greeks by the Turkish Government during the last century.
Angelides, my big fat Greek Treasurer, was the one who took notice of this.
Not
the Armenian-American elected officials who we entrust to look into these
types
of issues but an American of Greek background. It makes me wonder what our
elected officials are up to the whole time in Sacramento.
My question is the following. Are we supposed to support folks for simply
being Armenian? Here’s another one. Are we supposed to support elected
officials for simply coming to a Genocide commemoration event or for shaking
hands with the members of the Armenian Jedi Council (Archbishops, Prelates,
Primates) for a simple photo-op? My answer is no! The bar has been raised. I,
for one, am no longer satisfied with simple resolutions and speeches that
futilely call on Turkey to acknowledge the Genocide. We need real leaders with
guts who will take Turkey to the bank and hurt them where it counts. We need a
real Armenian Bar Association that is able to fund attorneys to do research
into these topics and then take the New York Lifes of this world to court. We
need Armenians who have a vision of where to take the Genocide recognition
issue. Because, believe me, if we don’t take the fight to them, they will
bring
it to us.
Organizations like the Armenian Assembly of America, AGBU, even our own
churches are slowly moving away from demanding any real reparations,
restitution, or compensation for lost property from the Republic of Turkey.
This is evidenced in the ongoing clandestine activities of the AAA in the
affairs of the Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Committee (TARC), the silent
cooperation by association of the latter two bodies.
I’m writing this article and I’m still amazed. An apology for owning
slaves at
a time when it wasn’t even illegal to own slaves. Wow. Wow–an apology and a
pledge to raise awareness about African-American history. And while
Wachovia is
apologizing for something that happened over 200 years ago and which was
sanctioned by US law, we will run back home with our pitiful 20 million
dollars, without an apology, without any significant step bringing us
closer to
official recognition of the Genocide. Makes one wonder what an apology is
worth
nowadays.
Here’s a math equation that might help.
Life Insurance policies sold to Armenians in the Ottoman Empire: Thousands of
dollars.
Profit from unclaimed policies after the Armenian genocide: Millions of
dollars.
Same profits adjusted by inflation: Billions of dollars.
Attorneys’ fees by both New York Life and plaintiffs in the 20 million dollar
settlement: Millions of dollars.
Donations made to `community organizations’ through settlement: A little over
a million dollars.
Never having to say you’re sorry to the people you screwed over, and still
retaining your stock value: PRICELESS!
There are some things money can’t buy: a decent, heartfelt apology isn’t one
of them.

Skeptik Sinikian is a professional solo line dancer. He was trained in Paris
at the Academy of Mimes and Jugglers. His solo-line-dances will soon be world
famous when he enters the Guinness Book of World Records for world’s smallest
line dance. He can be reached at [email protected] or visit his blog at

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