ASBAREZ Online [04-21-2006]


1) Canada’s PM Affirms Canadian Position on Armenian Genocide
2) Professor Gocek’s Statement on April 24
3) PBS Documentary Makes Its Case for The Armenian Genocide, With Or Without A
4) Argentina Reiterates Recognition of Armenian Genocide
5) Governor Schwarzenegger Proclaims April 23 to April 29, 2006 “Days of
Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide”
6) Armenians Mark 40th Anniversary of Genocide Commemoration in Yerevan
7) Footage of Aharonian’s Funeral Procession Available on Hairenik’s Website
8) LA City Attorney Teams up with Genocide Education Project
9) Black Angel: The Double Life of Arshile Gorky
10) Armenian Genocide Monument Council of Glendale Hosts Exhibit
11) ANC-OC Commemorates Genocide with Evening of Music And Poetry
12) The Opening of The Armenia-Turkey Border in Light of Armenia-Iran
Relations: By Khajag Mgrdichian
13) Critics’ Forum: Film and Music: By Tamar Salibian
14) Honkin’ Flags: By Garen Yegparian

OUR NEXT ISSUE: In observance of the 91th Anniversary of the Armenian
Asbarez offices will be closed on Monday, April 24; our next issue will be
posted on Tuesday, April 25.

1) Canada’s PM Affirms Canadian Position on Armenian Genocide

MANITOBA (Global National)–Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper affirmed
Wednesday his belief that 1.5 million Armenians were killed in the Armenian
genocide nearly a century ago during the First World War.
For decades, previous Canadian governments refused to call it a genocide for
fear of upsetting Turkey.
The killings took place between 1915 and 1920 when one and a half million
Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire were systematically deported at the
start of the war. Scholars refer to the events as the “Armenian genocide.”
However, the Genocide, and the way it is described, has been a matter of
ongoing dispute between the international community and modern-day Turkey.
Turkish authorities have refused to acknowledge the killings as a genocide,
citing the turmoil of life during the First World War as the reason behind the
deaths–not state-sponsored mass exterminations.
It is a sensitive issue that, when raised by Canada’s Tory Opposition during
the previous minority government, was quickly defeated by reigning Liberals
feared angering the Turkish government by labeling the events as a genocide or
condemning it as a crime against humanity.
However, during a news conference Wednesday in southern Manitoba, Prime
Minister Harper affirmed his belief that the Armenians who died during those
years were in fact, subjects of a genocide.
Turkey’s ambassador to Canada thinks the decision goes too far.
“Your own citizens of Turkish origin, they are proud Canadians as much as you
are,” said Aydemir Erman. “So your own House is branding them as the
grandchildren of killers.”
To date, 23 countries in the international community officially recognize the
Genocide, including Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, France, Germany,
Greece, Italy, Lebanon, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Slovakia,
Sweden, Switzerland, Uruguay, Vatican City, and Venezuela.
Thirty-nine of 50 US states also recognize the Genocide, although there is no
official federal recognition.

2) Professor Gocek’s Statement on April 24

Even though I cannot be there with you on this very significant day, I want
to know that as an ethnic Turk I am not guilty, but I am responsible for the
wounds that have been inflicted upon you, Armenians, for the last century
and a
half. I am responsible for the wounds that were first delivered upon you
through an unjust deportation from your ancestral lands and through massacres
in the hands of a government that should have been there to protect you. I am
also responsible for the wounds caused by the Turkish state denial to this day
of what happened to you back then. I am responsible because all of this
occurred and still occurs in the country of which I am a citizen. Yet I
want to
tell you that I personally travel every year to your ancestral lands to
envision what was once there and what is not now. When I am there, I realize
again and again how much your departure has broken the human spirit and warped
the land and the people. I become more and more aware of the darkness that has
set in since the disappearance of so many lives, minds, hopes, and dreams. It
is for all these reasons that I think it is time for the Turks too to
that vast loss, to start to uplift that darkness and begin the process of
healing. I therefore firmly believe that soon in the future you will find
you many Turks who too will recount the names of all those brilliant Armenian
intellectuals of Istanbul forcefully deported on this very significant day
to be massacred, Turks who will mourn with you this vast loss of ours, Turks
who will work alongside you on your ancestral lands to help recreate what was
once there.

Associate Professor Fatma Muge Gocek
University of Michigan
Sociology Department
1225 S. University Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

3) PBS Documentary Makes Its Case for The Armenian Genocide, With Or Without A

NEW YORK (New York Times)–It is impossible to debate a subject like genocide
without giving offense. PBS is supposed to give offense responsibly.
And that was the idea behind a panel discussion that PBS planned to show
its broadcast of “The Armenian Genocide,” a documentary about the Genocide of
more than one million Armenians by the Turkish Ottoman Empire during World War
The powerful hour-long film was shown on most of the 348 PBS affiliate
stations. But nearly a third of those stations decided to cancel the follow-up
discussion after pressure from Armenian groups and some members of Congress.
The protesters complained that the panel of four experts, moderated by Scott
Simon, host of “Weekend Edition Saturday” on NPR, included two scholars who
defend the Turkish government’s claim that a genocide never took place.
The camera lends legitimacy, but as Senator Joseph R. McCarthy’s performance
on Edward R. Murrow’s “See It Now” famously showed, it also can undermine
credibility. Panel discussions in particular give people with outlandish views
a hearing–and also an opportunity to expose the flaws in their arguments.
That is certainly the case with the discussion program “Armenian Genocide:
Exploring the Issues.” It turns out that there is only one articulate voice
arguing that Armenians died not in a genocide but in a civil war between
Christians and Muslims–that of Justin A. McCarthy, a history professor at the
University of Louisville. His Turkish counterpart, Omer Turan, an associate
professor at the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, tries ardently to
back him up, but his English is not good enough to make a dent. And the two
other experts, Peter Balakian, a humanities professor at Colgate University,
and Taner Akcam, a visiting professor of history at the University of
and a well-known defender of human rights in Turkey, lucidly pick McCarthy’s
points apart.
Balakian, who is one of the experts cited in the documentary, gets the last
word. “If we are going to pretend that a stateless Christian minority
population, unarmed, is somehow in a capacity to kill people in an aggressive
way that is tantamount to war, or civil war,” Balakian says, “we’re living in
the realm of the absurd.”
Tone and appearance on television can be as persuasive as talk. McCarthy
mostly sounds condescending and defensive, while Balakian is smooth and keeps
his cool.
“The Armenian Genocide,” which was made by Andrew Goldberg in association
Oregon Public Broadcasting, does not ignore the Turkish government’s
denial, or
its repression of dissidents in Turkey who try to expound another point of
view. One of the film’s merits is that it tries to explain both the
circumstances that led to the Genocide of 1915 and the reasons why Turkish
officials are still so determined to keep that period unexplored.
“There is a feeling that Turkey would be putting itself permanently in the
company of Adolf Hitler,” Samantha Power, the author of “A Problem From Hell:
America and the Age of Genocide,” says. “That same stain would envelop Turkey
as it seeks, of course, to be a major player on the international stage.”
Several of the experts in the film, including Turkish scholars, argue that
because Turkey is seeking admission to the European Union, its leaders will
eventually have to bend to international will and acknowledge responsibility.
But official Turkish denial remains fierce, and intellectuals and even
well-known writers like Orhan Pamuk can still be brought to trial for
mentioning the treatment of Armenians and Kurds.
The documentary, which is partly narrated by Julianna Margulies, Ed Harris,
and others, includes rare clips of Turkish scholars acknowledging the
anti-Armenian campaign as genocide as well as Turkish villagers recounting
their ancestors’ stories about participating in the killings. “They caught
Armenians and put them in a barn and burned them,” a man in a town in eastern
Turkey says to an interviewer. There are also shots of ordinary Turks who
insist their ancestors were incapable of that level of barbarity.
Mostly, however, the film painstakingly makes the case that a genocide did
take place, relying on archival photographs, victims’ memoirs, and the
horrified first-hand accounts of diplomats, missionaries, and reporters. The
forced deportations and killings did not take place unnoticed–public figures
like Theodore Roosevelt and H. L. Mencken spoke out about the horrors. In
The New York Times published 145 stories about the systematic slaughter of
Even after World War II, the fate of Turkey’s Armenian population was high on
the list of crimes against humanity. The film includes a clip from a 1949 CBS
interview with Raphael Lemkin, a law professor who in 1943 coined the term
genocide. “I became interested in genocide because it happened so many times,”
he tells the CBS commentator Quincy Howe. “First to the Armenians, then after
the Armenians, Hitler took action.”
The documentary honors the victims of the Armenian genocide and also pays
tribute to dissidents in Turkey who are brave enough to speak out despite
government censorship.

4) Argentina Reiterates Recognition of Armenian Genocide

The Argentine Senate passed a resolution Wednesday acknowledging the Armenian
genocide and expressing their support for the Armenian people, reported the
Armenian National Committee of South America.
The Argentine Parliament and Senate passed resolutions in 1985 formally
recognizing the Genocide and urging the United Nations to work toward the
international recognition of the Armenian genocide.

5) Governor Schwarzenegger Proclaims April 23 to April 29, 2006 “Days of
Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide”

April 24, 1915, marked the beginning of the Armenian genocide–a crime against
humanity that led to the death of 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1923.
The 500,000 Armenians who survived the horrors of this extermination by the
Ottoman Empire were expelled from their homes and forced to settle in various
countries throughout the world.
Stripped of their possessions, these refugees carried with them little more
than the memories of loved ones, a hope for a better life and the courage to
start anew. Armed with this determination, they flourished in many of their
adopted homelands, including California–home to the largest Armenian
population outside of the Republic of Armenia.
Today, these Armenian survivors and their descendants continue to provide
tremendous leadership and invaluable contributions to our state’s businesses,
art community, and academic, governmental and cultural institutions. Their
spirit of hard work and perseverance, coupled with their dedication to
tradition, is a great example to all Californians and adds to the luster of
Golden State.
As we commemorate the ninety-first anniversary of the Armenian genocide, we
must study and learn history’s lessons, fight to end bigotry and hate in all
their forms, and live lives of tolerance towards all people. Silence only
serves to perpetuate the denial of the past, while open acknowledgement lays
the foundation for a more hopeful tomorrow. In that spirit of hope, I stand
alongside our friends in the Armenian community in recognizing the Armenian
genocide, and urge all freedom-loving people in America and around the
world to
do the same.
do hereby proclaim the week of April 23rd through April 29th, 2006, as
“Days of
Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide.”
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have here unto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of
the State of California to be affixed this, the nineteenth day of April 2006.

Arnold Schwarzenegger,
Governor of California

6) Armenians Mark 40th Anniversary of Genocide Commemoration in Yerevan

On April 24, 1966 a group of young Armenians gathered near the Gomidas
in Yerevan to commemorate the Armenian genocide. The then-Soviet government
arrested and imprisoned the participants.
Forty years later, the same group of Armenians will come together at the same
place and time to mark the forthieth anniversary of that day.

7) Footage of Aharonian’s Funeral Procession Available on Hairenik’s Website

Avedis Aharonian, known in Armenian literature as the “Singer of Armenian
pain,” was a political activist and represented the First Republic of Armenia
in the Peace Talks following World War I. He signed the Treaty of Sevres on
behalf of the Republic of Armenia.
Aharonian suffered a stroke in 1934 while delivering a speech to the Armenian
community in Marseilles, France. The stroke caused the loss of most of his
abilities, including the ability to speak and write. The famous writer
lived in
that state for 14 years and passed away on April 20, 1948. Avedis Aharonian’s
funeral procession was filmed.
On the 58th anniversary of Aharonian’s death, the Hairenik Association
converted the film into digital format. The 10 minute film is available on
Hairenik Online TV’s website. To watch the clip, visit

8) LA City Attorney Teams up with Genocide Education Project

SAN FRANCISCO–Education, art, and politics came together April 3 for the
opening of the “iwitness” photo exhibit and The Genocide Education Project’s
teacher training workshop, co-hosted by Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky
The “iwitness” exhibit by Ara Oshagan and Levon Parian, which runs through
month of April, is a series of photographs of survivors of the Armenian
genocide taken over the past ten years and accompanied by testimony from
survivors and testimonials from American and other officials stationed in the
Ottoman Empire during the Genocide.
“Iwitness brings together not only the photos of the survivors and their
eyewitness stories but also historical photos of the actual events and
by foreigners–American, British, Austrian officials–who saw what was
happening and attempted to prevent it,” said photographer Levon Parian. “The
viewer of the exhibit will not only get a glimpse into the individual personal
tragedies of survivors but also an idea of the historical context in which it
all took place.”
Coinciding with the opening of the exhibit, The Genocide Education Project
held its second teacher-training workshop for Los Angeles Unified School
District teachers. At the workshop, over 300 Participants were exposed to the
dramatic and educational exhibit as well as the new lesson plan created by The
Genocide Education Project, which is based on the exhibit. The lessons are
available online at
In an article in the Los Angeles Daily News, James DeLarme, a 10th-grade
teacher participating in the workshop was quoted as saying: “We have a world
history bookand it’s an excellent onebut it only has two or three paragraphs
devoted to this time. This [workshop] really opens
your eyes and makes it real as to what happened…”
After the workshop, participants and City Hall employees had the opportunity
to ask the artists questions about the exhibit. Armenian students from St.
Gregory Hovsepian School in Pasadena were also able to attend the Q and A
with members of the Armenian community in Southern California.
A post-workshop reception was held for City Hall employees, LAUSD
representatives, artists, and exhibit guests, to reflect together on the
lessons of the day, and the importance of preserving the history of the
Armenian genocide, and the honor of its survivors.
Workshops such as this one are part of an effort to uphold the California
education framework requiring public schools to teach about the Armenian
genocide. They are tailored to meet the teaching needs of high school Social
Studies and World History teachers. The Genocide Education Project conducts
coordinates lectures and provides all necessary teaching resources, including
access to lesson plans, so that teachers are well-prepared to fulfill the
educational standard concerning the Armenian genocide. Dr. Nicole Vartanian,
who has a doctoral degree in Education, gave a compelling lecture at the March
23 event about the history of the Armenians and Genocide denial. Facing
and Ourselves, another educational organization, also participated in both the
March 23 and April 3 workshops.
The Genocide Education Project also conducted another teacher-training
workshop on April 5 for Glendale Unified School District teachers. Renowned
Armenian History scholar Dr. Richard Hovannisian provided a compelling
about the Armenian genocide, and Greg Krikorian, Glendale School Board member,
shared his family’s experiences during the Genocide.

The Genocide Education Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that
assists educators in teaching about human rights and genocide, particularly
Armenian genocide, by developing and distributing instructional materials,
providing access to teaching resources and organizing educational workshops.

9) Black Angel: The Double Life of Arshile Gorky

HOLLYWOOD–Nouritza Matossian, author of “Black Angel,” performs her one-woman
show at the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre in Hollywood on Sunday, April 30,
the four beloved women in Arshile Gorky’s life with images and music. Two
non-profits, The Land and Culture Organization and the Hamazkayin Heritage
Committee, have joined forces to bring this benefit performance to Los
Both organizations work to promote and preserve Armenian art, culture, and
architecture in both the United States and Armenia.
Arshile Gorky was one of the great painters of the 20th century. Born in
western Armenia under the Ottoman Empire in 1902, he fled the aftermath of the
1915 Armenian genocide at the age of 16. Upon his arrival in New York, as a
destitute refugee, he refused to be identified as one of the “starving
Armenians” and subsequently changed his name from Manoug Adoian to Arshile
Gorky and became the first Abstract Expressionist painter, launching the
movement in the United States.
Ignited by her fascination with his work, which she saw as a teenager in
London, Nouritza Matossian wrote the definitive biography Black Angel: A Life
of Arshile Gorky (Overlook Press, 2000). Her family’s similar experiences
during 1915 and her ability to speak Armenian gave Matossian unique access to
the people and influences in Gorky’s life during the 20 years she spent
researching the book in Armenia, Turkey, France, England, Spain, and the
States, thus giving the book a unique depth and perspective.
Her quest for Gorky’s lost history attracted director Atom Egoyan’s attention
and gave him a vehicle on which to base his film “Ararat.” He also modeled his
female lead, Ani, the author of the Arshile Gorky biography portrayed in the
movie, on Matossian’s own experiences.
The performance examines Gorky’s life from the perspective of the four women
who influenced his life. As the lights dim, images appear and Gorky’s favorite
Armenian song echoes through the room. Matossian reincarnates the artist’s
mother, sister, first love, and wife, sharing their intimate recollections of
the man they loved. With warmth and humor, she engages and moves her
bringing the spirit of New York’s most mysterious artist to life.


Barnsdall Gallery Theater and Art Park
4800 Hollywood Boulevard
Hollywood, CA, 90027

April 30, 2006

3:00 PM $20
7:00 PM $30 (Followed by a Q&A with the author)

For Tickets (888) 913-7484

Book Signing & Appearance

Sardarabad Bookstore
1111 S. Glendale Blvd.
Glendale, Ca. 91205
April 27, 2006
5:00-7:00 PM

10) Armenian Genocide Monument Council of Glendale Hosts Exhibit

GLENDALE–In Commemoration of the 91st Anniversary of the Armenian genocide,
the Armenian Genocide Monument Council of Glendale (AGMCG) will host an
of all designs entered in last year’s Genocide Monument Design Competition.
The exhibit will be held on Sunday, April 23, 2006 at the Alex Theater
at 216 North Brand Boulevard in Glendale. A private reception will be held at
11:00 AM for contest participants, panel judges and the media. The exhibit
will then open to the public at 12:30 PM immediately prior to the City of
Glendale’s Armenian Genocide Commemoration event which will begin at 1:30
The AGMCG hopes the exhibit will be an opportunity for all parties
involved in
the process to meet and become familiar with the selection process. Although
the winner was announced last year, the groups have not had an opportunity
far to review the designs and learn how the judges came to their final
decision. Furthermore, the exhibit will introduce the winning design to the
general public, as well as the contest participants who did not have an
opportunity to see each design.
Last year, the AGMCG accepted 29 proposals from throughout the world
Canada, Lebanon, Japan, and the United States. The entries were judged by a
panel of artists, architects, professors, community leaders, and city
representatives. In April 2005, the winner, along with the 1st and 2nd
up, were announced at the City Council meeting. The grand prize was $10,000.
The Armenian Genocide Monument Council of Glendale is an organization
dedicated to enhancing cross cultural understanding among the different
cultural and ethnic groups in the City of Glendale by promoting respect for
past historical events and the recognition thereof through continuous
education, specifically that of the Armenian genocide.
Building a commemorative memorial in the City of Glendale dedicated to the
victims of the Armenian genocide will serve as a befitting venue to begin the
educational process of honoring the memory of those who perished and
acknowledging the memories of the heroic deeds and acts of the Americans whose
actions helped save thousands of helpless Armenian men, women, and children
from the Genocide.

11) ANC-OC Commemorates Genocide with Evening of Music And Poetry

The Armenian National Committee of Orange County (ANC-OC) held an event April
2, featuring an evening of music and poetry dedicated to the 91st
of the Armenian genocide. The event was about more than remembering the tragic
events of 1915, it was also a celebration of the survival of the Armenian
people and the nation of Armenia. Over 500 attended the event, called “The
Nation That Would not Die.”
The program began with a moment of silence for the victims of the Genocide
a video presentation of a modern version of “Hayr Mer” (Lord’s Prayer),
followed immediately by tenor Andranik Movsisyan’s rendition of “Tsayn Mu
Hunchets,” a traditional Armenian patriotic song.
ANC-OC member Lucy Der-Yeghiaian welcomed the guests by giving a brief
synopsis of the Ottoman Empire’s plan to erase the collective existence of the
Armenian Nation from its homeland and that the evening’s event was to remember
by celebrating survival. She went on to say that, “Tonight you will experience
the descendants of those survivors, as they express through the venue of their
art the genocide that lies within each of them; their expression of
Next on stage was Gor Mkhitarian, a rising star in Armenian folk music.
Gor is
the embodiment of the modern Armenian folk artist who creates a compelling and
distinct sound by mixing of rock, folk, and traditional Armenian music.
Accompanied by his acoustic guitar he dazzled the audience with his melodic
voice and beautiful lyrics. The substance and texture of his work revealed
spirituality, nationalism, and social commentary.
Aram Kouyoumdjian then performed an excerpt from his original monologue
“Protest.” This moving performance has been shown in most major cities
throughout California and at the Finborough Theatre in London. The monologue
begins with a group protesting the Turkish denial of the Armenian genocide in
front of the Turkish Consulate. As the story evolves, the narrator begins to
drift away from the scenes and events at the consulate and finds himself in
Syrian deserts face to face with the Armenian Goddess Anahid. As the vision
unfolds we are reminded of not only the suffering of those hundreds of
thousands and what the survivors had to endure, but also of the responsibility
we all bear in seeing that the lives of those lost are not forgotten.
The video presentation that followed highlighted the atrocities committed by
the Turks against the Armenians. Image after image of tortured souls was
into the minds of the audience. And then the pictures changed. No longer were
the faces on the screen those of the victims of the Genocide, but the Armenian
generals and fedayees that fought off the invading Ottoman Army in 1918 to
secure Armenia’s independence. The crowd roared and applauded as each image of
the leaders and fedayees played on the screen.
Levon Bedrossian, took the stage next and dedicated his performance to the
memory of his grandfather, Stepan Haitayan. Levon explained how his
was forced to hide under the bodies of the dead in order to survive. The
emotion of that tragic event was not lost on Levon, as he recited his poem,
“Echoes of Genocide” with a great deal of passion. Levon’s poem had won first
prize at UCLA and was published in the Daily Bruin.
Narek Pogosyan and Rafik Oganyan of the contemporary rock band Slow Motion
Reign performed next, each playing acoustic guitar with Narek on vocals. Their
musical compositions were complex and multifaceted, their songs beautifully
filled with texture and depth. They will be releasing a highly anticipated CD
this June.
The next video presentation was dedicated to the brave men and women, also
known as the Armenian fedayees, who defended the provinces against the Turkish
plan of extermination. The images from the video showed those who fought to
defend the Armenian population and eventually created the first Republic, and
those who struggled to lead the devastated country that had suffered so
much at
the hands of the Turks.
The video was followed by members of the Orange County Aghpur Serop Badanees
and students of the Ari Guiragos Minassian School. The group performed
“Verkerov Li” in what was one of the most moving performances of the evening.
The song they had selected to perform was difficult and the students did an
excellent job in their rendition.
Next up was Yeva Adalyan, originally from Yerevan and a graduate of the
and theatre arts department of Pasadena City College. A graphic designer by
who also has her own line of hand-made jewelry, Yeva is also an amazing poet.
Inspired by those around her, she writes about people and their beautiful
idiosyncrasies. Yeva selected three of her original poems to perform, which
were innovative and thought provoking.
The final video presentation of the evening was dedicated to the historic
Armenian homeland known as Western Armenia, which is comprised of six Vilayets
that were lost after the Genocide; Erzerum, Van, Bitlis, Kharpert, Sepastia,
and Diyarbekir. The images from each of the six provinces were both beautiful
and heart-breaking, because they provided tangible proof of the lives lost in
the Genocide and the beautiful lands of historic Armenia.
The video was followed by a few words from Ara Malazian, on behalf of the
ANC-OC. In his speech, Ara briefly outlined the Turkish goal of creating a
Pan-Turkic state and how the Armenians stood in the way of that goal. The
remainder of his speech focused instead on the progress that has been made
the past several years on many fronts thanks to the efforts of Armenians
worldwide and the efforts of the Armenian National Committee; the Independent
Republic of Armenia, the formation of the autonomous region of Karabagh, the
recognition of the Armenian genocide in Europe and several US States. Ara also
focused on how we need to build on the Anti-American stance of Turkey to
persuade the United States that Turkey is not its true ally, and continue the
campaign to gain recognition of the Armenian genocide, as a step to creating a
free, independent, and truly united Armenia.
Knowledge, originally from the United Kingdom, documented as England’s first
rapper in Black Echoes magazine in 1980 and one of the top slam poets in Los
Angeles, performed two poems that he had written about the Armenian genocide.
The first poem began with Adolf Hitler’s famous quote “Who today remembers the
Genocide of the Armenians” and was a moving description of the suffering of
those who lived through and died in the Genocide. The second poem was powerful
and intense as it described the journey of Soghomon Tehlirian from innocent
child to victim of the Genocide to avenger against Talaat Pasha as one of the
chief organizers of the Armenian genocide. Knowledge was accompanied on guitar
by his friend, Robert.
Viken Yakoubian took the stage next. For the first time in over 15 years,
guests had an opportunity to be inspired by his unique artistic sound and his
mastery of the piano. He opened with his infamous rendition of “Blowing in the
Wind.” His collection of songs were a composition of music and lyric, inspired
by nationalistic themes with an underlying tone of self-exploration and
The final musical performer of the evening was the famed Armenian singer
Karnig Sarkissian. Karnig dedicated his first song to the lives and lands lost
in Western Armenia. He commented on how we may sometimes forget the beauty of
that which was lost and why it is important that we not give up on our
goals of
returning once again. Karnig dedicated another one of his songs to the younger
members of the audience. In a very moving scene during that performance the
youth in the audience rose to their feet, standing on their chairs and joined
The evening ended with Karnig Sarkissian and Viken Yakoubian joining together
to sing the popular “Prison Song” which was a huge hit in the Armenian
community in the 1980s, as well as in Orange County on April 2, 2006.

12) The Opening of The Armenia-Turkey Border in Light of Armenia-Iran

By Khajag Mgrdichian

For most Armenian political and intellectual circles, the blockade forced on
Armenia by Turkey–and the fact, that the Armenian-Turkish border still
closed–are proof of Turkey’s antagonistic attitude, if not outright animosity
towards Armenia and the Armenian people. This much is undeniable. Aside from
the economic consequences of the blockade, in the realm of international
relations, the lack of formal diplomatic ties along with the decision to
implement a blockade can easily be construed as an act of war, a casus belli.
Therefore, to ask Turkey to normalize relations with Armenia by opening the
borders may be received as an attempt to end the present belligerent
policy. It
is not by chance, that the speech delivered at an Armenian Assembly gathering
by the Assistant to the Secretary of State, Daniel Fried was received with
applause, when he stated: “Now we hope, but also anticipate, that a
solution on
Nagorno-Karabagh will result in an open border with Turkey, which is a
consistent goal on our agenda with Ankara. From Yerevan, I went to Ankara
and I
made this point with the Turkish government that we want the border open, and
we want it open as soon as possible.”
So far, high-ranking American officials, succeeding ambassadors–the last of
whom, John Evans–have declared, that in the light of the existing blockade,
they approach with understanding Armenia’s special relationship with Iran.
In regards to the importance of relations with Iran, a similar opinion is
expressed in a document titled “Strategic Defense Guidelines of the
Republic of
Armenia,” which reads: “In conditions of an economic-transportation blockade,
from the point-of-view of neutralizing Armenia’s isolation, Iran’s
becomes more salient as a country securing an essential strategic road to Asia
and the Middle East for Armenia.”
However, it is clear, that intent on the encirclement of Iran, the United
States has partially completed that aim with its military presence in Iraq and
Afghanistan, the mistrust of the Gulf’s Arab states towards Iran and the
in Azerbaijan-Iran relations. Daniel Fried has said in Baku, that the
danger to
the security of Azerbaijan does not come from Armenia, it comes from other
countries (referring to Iran). Fried justifies American aid to Azerbaijan,
saying, “Our security cooperation with and assistance to Azerbaijan is
meant to
improve Azerbaijan’s posture against those threats, not against Armenia.”
Iran’s encirclement could be completed by reversing the progress of her
relationship with Armenia. However, that progress cannot be justifiably slowed
down, as long as the Turkish-Azeri blockade of Armenia continues. It is by
lifting that blockade, that Armenia’s special relationship with Iran may
not only unjustifiable, as far as the United States is concerned, but
objectionable, as well.
According to Fried, the United States follows with considerable apprehension
Armenia’s energy ties with Iran. According to him, America–as in the case of
other Caucasus countries–tries to find alternate sources of fuel for Armenia.
Therefore, it is clear, that the increasing interest, shown recently by the
United States on the matter of the opening of the Armenia-Turkey border, is
motivated by a desire to end the State Department’s present tolerance of the
Armenia-Iran special relationship, by securing other accessible sources of
energy for Armenia’s needs.
In political terms, US efforts to encircle Iran are understandable. However,
US attempts to replace the present Armenia-Iran relations with those of
Armenia-Turkey, denotes a failure to grasp the historical context of existing
Armenian-Turkish relations. For Armenia, what is being dealt with here is
not a
simple act of shutting the back door and opening the front one. More than just
political, both relationships have strategic ramifications. Opening the
does not nullify the Turkish threats to the security of the Armenian people
state. Furthermore, it jeopardizes the Armenian quest for justice and
reparations for the genocide committed by Turkey. In sum, the issue is not one
of replacing the 10 cubic meters of natural gas being pumped from Iran with an
equal amount from Turkey or Azerbaijan; those relationships are not as simple
as the spokesmen of the US State Department’s foreign policy would make us
Most worrisome of all, however, is the danger of having Armenian circles,
may be lured and end up swallowing–hook, line, and sinker–these simplistic
notions concerning the complex relationships discussed above.
Translated by Tatul Sonentz

13) Critics’ Forum: Film and Music

The Genocide in Who?

By Tamar Salibian

In “The Genocide in Me” (2005), Araz Artinian tells the story of being a
Canadian-Armenian dealing with her father’s national obsession and struggling
with her own identity, while also recounting the atrocities of the Armenian
genocide and its repercussions. Part historical document, part travelogue, and
part family portrait, the film presents the Armenian genocide not only as a
horrific tragedy but as an eternal burden that the filmmaker carries in her
personal life. Artinian begins the film with an important and very difficult
question: how can she learn to understand her father’s national obsession when
her own perspective is so different from his? The film takes important
steps to
try to answer this and other questions.
The film begins with Artinian visiting a memorial site while, in a voiceover,
she presents her main argument. Artinian states that, for her, being Armenian
was always “much more than being myself,” and that now, because of the
genocide, everything to do with her life, her happiness and her future, “goes
back to 1915.” Family footage shows the filmmaker as a young child playing on
the beach, and with a close-up still frame resembling one from Francois
Truffaut’s “400 Blows,” the film begins its journey.
Artinian’s parents were immigrants from Egypt who settled in Canada. Araz’s
father, Vrej Armen (which stands for “the revenge of the Armenians”) is an
activist in Montreal who was one of the founding members of the local Sourp
Hagop School. Artinian explains how her grandmother’s intense patriotism and
pressure on her father led him to his activism and his political cause. Vrej
Armen’s cause is that of Genocide recognition, and he has influenced many
with his community work. His influence on his own daughter, however, is more
complex. “I’ve been carrying the weight of Turkey’s denial in my schoolbag
since my childhood,” Araz recounts as she worries about visiting her parents.
“‘Asdvadz hedus,’ which means ‘may God be with me'” she tells the camera
entering her parents’ home to have dinner and talk.
The film presents a splendidly interwoven mix of archival and recent footage
showing Artinian as a child, a young woman, and an adult. In the dinner scene,
the editing masterfully combines old footage of the family at their dining
table with newer footage of Artinian asking her parents questions. The young
Araz is a playful girl who sings and dances while the older, present-day Araz
searches for answers from her family. The old footage shows the family
affirming their Armenian language and customs so that Araz and her sister will
learn them as well. The filmmaker presents these affirmations as pressure
passed on from generation to generation resulting in resentment towards her
culture. “I always had a love-hate relationship with my language,” Araz notes;
yet she strives to understand the layers of her culture.
Artinian wishes to understand her father’s national obsession, his connection
to the past, and the repercussions that the Genocide had on the Armenian
people. She wonders, “How can I connect with something I had never seen
before?” and soon embarks on a trip to Turkey to visit historic Armenian
On the trip, she encounters a Turkish tour guide who denies the major
events of
the Genocide. She meets an American traveler who questions such denials. And
she spends time with a young Turkish man of Armenian descent who recounts his
grandmother’s stories of being rescued from the Genocide by a Turkish man who
later became her husband. This trip proves to be fruitful to the viewer, as we
are able to notice what has happened in Turkey over decades after the
Yet the viewer also feels that Artinian often skims the surface of her
questions of identity. She asks, “Where do I belong? Do I belong in
Armenia, in
Canada, or in Turkey?” but does not answer the question.
While Artinian states, “I set aside my personal life” to understand her
father’s national obsession, the study of this obsession becomes sideswiped
during the film by Artinian’s own personal obsession with intermarriage, a
question which is never fully explored. The loose connection between the study
of Armenian history and the question of love and intermarriage becomes no more
than melodrama, as the film is unable to suggest, ultimately, how one affects
the other. Artinian argues at her parents’ dinner table that intermarriage
not always have a negative effect on the continuation of Armenian culture, and
her mother responds, “That’s not the problem right now. The problem is that we
have a huge cause ahead of us, and that is the recognition of the Genocide.”
Araz refuses to hear or understand her mother’s important statement and
reminds her family that the intermarriage question is the important one for
her. Herein, unfortunately, lies the film’s biggest problem. Artinian attempts
to present a complex study of her father, of Armenian history, and of the
effects of genocide. Yet in the final moments of the film, she returns to her
question of intermarriage, telling the viewer, “In spite of the Genocide, I
want to be Armenian and free.” It is an unfortunate ending for a film that
so many important questions, ones that perhaps cannot be answered in one

Tamar Salibian is a filmmaker and writer living in Los Angeles. She has
written for AIM magazine. Her latest film, “Beautiful Armenians,” recently
screened at the Armenian Film Festival in San Francisco. You can reach her or
any of the other contributors to Critics’ Forum at [email protected]
This and all other articles published in this series are available online at
<;www.critics To sign up for a weekly
electronic version of new articles, go to
<;www.cri Critics’ Forum
is a
group created to discuss issues relating to Armenian art and culture in the

14) Honkin’ Flags

By Garen Yegparian

Originally written last year, this piece remained unpublished. It sprang up
in response to incidents during our 90th Genocide anniversary commemorations.
Let it serve as a precaution for this year and an inspiration for the future.
Let’s put this massive fountain of untapped enthusiasm to use in the
service of
our struggle.
What’s up with the honking cars wrapped and festooned with the yerakooyn?
Every April 24, the streets of our ghettos and areas near our gatherings and
marches witness this phenomenon.
This year I personally witnessed a number of cases of truly unnecessary and
reckless driving by the loud flagmobiles. Armenians, and not just the
are the most likely to be hurt, so how do we benefit?
Last year, the Burbank Police Department had initiated a meeting with the
Burbank Armenian National Committee to discuss this matter. They were
concerned not just about safety, but also negative reactions from other
citizens to this behavior. No doubt other police departments share the same
Most Armenians who have commented to me about this action find it somehow
inappropriate to the solemn nature of the day.
So where is this coming from? I suspect that deep down, it stems from a
impulse. The mostly young drivers want to display their pride and make a
statement on April 24. Of course this is likely coupled with the “need” to
show off their wheels. That this particular manifestation is largely
counterproductive probably escapes them. It could be harmless, but
unfortunately, it has all the markings of a disaster-in-the-making, at least
from a public relations perspective.
Fundamentally though, I blame our institutions, especially our youth oriented
ones, for not engaging the positive initiative that leads to this behavior.
These energies, harnessed to the service of our cause year-round would be a
tremendous boon.
So hear this AYF, Homenetmen, AGBU Scouts, and yes even the church. Get busy
and recruit these guys. Perhaps next year you might couple their energies with
those of older car enthusiasts and a proper, safe, and dignified car parade
could become an integral par of our Genocide commemorative activities.



I was driving to work earlier today and noticed that gas has gone up to
over 3
dollars a gallon. What’s up with that? Didn’t we just invade an oil rich
country? This is like buying a 300 acre ranch or farm only to wake up in the
morning and find out you don’t have any eggs or milk in the refrigerator.
is going on here? Someone is making money off of this war and at the rate gas
prices are going up, I know it’s not me! I remember a time when I was in
college and 3 dollars not only bought me enough gas to get to school and back
but still left me enough change in my pocket to buy a sandwich (not a great
sandwich but still a sandwich) and that was only 7 years ago! I can’t speak
for everyone but I just want to say from those of us who didn’t vote for Bush
to all of those who did… “THANKS FOR NOTHING, JERKS!” I hope you’re happy
gays can’t get married. Now thanks to high gas prices no one else can afford
to get married either! At this rate, my wedding reception will be at lovely
the Taco Bell Drive Thru on scenic Colorado Blvd. Think about it–3 dollars a
My only comfort in this moment of utter rage is the fact that every time I
drive by one of these gas stations I see some idiot pumping gallons on gallons
of gas into their Sports Utility Vehicle or their Humvee four-wheeled tank
an utter look of dejection on their faces like someone just held them up at
gunpoint. Some of them even shake their heads while exchanging glances from
their monster on wheels and the gas pump ticker! This is classic comedy at
best and I’m tempted to just sit outside gas stations watching these poor
and taunting them with a loudspeaker with comments like “Where’s your
now?” or “Hey, I think Iran has some oil, we can invade them next!” I’m
convinced now more than ever that the timing is right to start a new
organization–“Armenians for Electric Cars.”
Moving on to other issues of more importance, April 24 is on a Monday this
year. That means that if all goes as planned, there will be a lot of money
being put on the blackjack tables in Las Vegas by unscrupulous Armenians who
think that the best way to acknowledge a massive loss of human life is by
acting like degenerates in the casinos of Sin City. But hopefully, (one can
never stop hoping) this year will be somewhat different. Maybe this year,
parents will actually tell their children not to act like soccer hoodlums in
the streets of Hollywood. Maybe this year, our President will decide that the
right decision is to actually us e the term Genocide in his annual statement.
And maybe the Republic of Turkey will pull their head out of the sand and
realize that the land and property that they acquired by the blood of the
innocent should be returned to the descendents of those who were murdered.
Like I said before, one can never stop hoping.
If I was one of those betting men that will no doubt be at the Commerce
or in Las Vegas on the 24th, I would bet that these things will not occur.
in spite of the inevitable, we are still closer to our goals and to seeing
justice done on numerous fronts. We just all need to do our part to help it
Here’s a simple to do list for this April 24th that will ensure that you’re
participating in the advancement of justice and promoting a greater
understanding of the Armenian genocide. Take this list with you this week and
see if you can do at least three of the items on this list and you’ll be well
on your way to becoming an honorary activist in training.
1. Go through your entire wardrobe and pick out all the items that are
made in
the Republic of Turkey. Separate them from your other items and then burn
them! Just kidding. Just donate it to the Salvation Army or Goodwill and
a note not to go shopping for new clothing when you’ve forgotten your reading
glasses at home. Seriously, if there’s any day when you should be
sensitive to
this issue, April 24th is the day. Put the damn jar of pickled red peppers
down, take two steps to your left, and pick up the jar of the same pickled
peppers made in Armenia. I guarantee that you won’t throw up or break out in
hives. It’s just peppers.
2. Attend one of the events in either Montebello or Glendale. Make sure you
head over to the Turkish Consulate and take a few laps around the block. Not
finding parking that’s close enough is not an excuse. Just remember that
you’re walking a few blocks to honor the memory of those who walked
hundreds of
miles and didn’t survive. Remember that comfortable and sensible shoes are a
3. Call your local TV station and ask if they are planning on covering the
commemoration of the Armenian genocide. TV stations want to please their
viewers and if enough people call, they’ll realize that they’re missing out on
a pretty important story. Please do this one because it drives me nuts when I
turn on my TV on April 24 and have to watch a special report on “the good kind
of cholesterol.” One day is all we ask.
4. If you live in an area that doesn’t have a large Armenian population like
Tulsa, Oklahoma or basically, anywhere outside of Glendale, Hollywood, or
Burbank, then visit your local library to see what books they have on Armenian
culture and on the Genocide. If they don’t have any books or if you can
add to
their collection, find out about the process, order some books and then donate
5. Call the White House switchboard and ask to speak to the President. If
he’s not there, ask if the Vice President is around. If he’s not there, ask
for the Joint Chiefs of Staff and keep asking to speak to someone until they
patch you through to a live human being. I’m serious on this one. It’s your
right as a citizen to be able to call White House and sound off on whatever
issue you want. Call them up and let them know that you expect nothing less
than the use of the word genocide and a forceful statement urging Turkey to
acknowledge the Genocide as well. Mention that we want Mount Ararat back.
Here’s the number: (202) 456-1111.
6. Right after you’re done calling the White House, call the State Department
and ask to speak to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and give her a
piece of
your mind for firing Ambassador Evans. Evans was the guy she booted for using
the term genocide when describing what happened to the Armenians in 1915.
a real American hero and if you don’t believe me, just think of all the
spineless and gutless guys that preceded him who could have done the exact
thing he did but chose not to in order to keep their jobs and pension! Demand
an apology from Condi Rice on April 24! Here’s her number: (202) 647-5291.
7. Make a small contribution to the Armenian National Committee of America.
There are a lot of groups out there that are researching or writing books
the Genocide. There is even one that claims to be working on opening an
Armenian Genocide Museum in Washington, DC (I’ll believe that one when I see
it). But the ANCA (<;) is the only group
message on this issue has been consistent and forceful. They can use your
support and you can rest assured that every dime you donate goes to a great
8. Buy a wrist band from the local Armenian Students Associations that says
“Never Again.” This group is working on raising awareness through a Live
type wrist band campaign. Just visit
<;www.never to find out how you can buy a
pin, a t-shirt, or a wrist band. These young kids raised over 10,000 dollars
last year and donated every penny to organizations working to raise awareness
about the Armenian genocide.
9. Write a letter to your local newspaper talking about the importance of
remembering past genocides so others will not occur in the future. It’s
important for people reading the newspaper to be reminded of man’s brutality
and April 24 is the most appropriate time to do it.
10. Collect money from friends and relatives and donate it to an organization
working in Artsakh. Let’s not forget that the poor people of Artsakh were the
victims of genocide-like attacks during the collapse of the Soviet Union.
These poor folks were attacked for no other reason than for being Christian,
Armenian, and wanting to have basic human rights! We need to support Artsakh
and areas like Javakhk where Armenians live in harsh conditions on their
historic lands.

Remember that you only have to do 3 things off this list. That’s a 30
rate or if you’re a baseball fan, it means you’re batting .300. That’s a
number good enough to guarantee you admission into the Hall of Fame!
There’s a
lot more you can do to be active, but just remember that the important
thing is
that you do something, anything that will contribute to the greater good. And
blasting loud Rabiz music out of the window of your tinted Escalade SUV is not
an option. On Second thought, maybe we should raise the price of a gallon of
gas to 12 dollars–just on April 24!

Skeptik Sinikian is shooting to go 10 for 10 on his April 24th To Do List and
would like to hear about any unique ways that you observe this day. If you
have an idea or a suggestion, email him at [email protected] and excuse
the dilapidated state of his blog at

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