AWOL (Armenian Weekly On-Line), March 17-24, 2007

The Armenian Weekly On-Line: AWOL
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AWOL (Armenian Weekly On-Line), Volume 73, Number 12, March 17-24, 2007

1. U.S. Soldiers in Iraq Told to Lobby Against Genocide Resolution
By Khatchig Mouradian

2. Grassroots Campaign to End Genocide Cycle

3. Compensation for U.S. Cypriots
Legislation to Allow for Redress of Turkish-Occupied Property in N. Cyprus


4. An Interview with Arsinee Khanjian
By Khatchig Mouradian


5. ‘Spiurkasdan’
By Garen Yegparian

6. Show Me the Funny
The Lost Quest for the Armenian Comedian
By Andy Turpin


7. Novelist Kay Mouradian on ‘A Gift in the Sunlight’

8. Four Poems by Varand
Translated by Tatul-Sonentz


9. Lecture on ‘Armenian Immigration in Watertown’
By Andy Turpin

10. Memorial Service and Commemoration for Dink in Watertown

11. Merrimack Valley Memorializes Hrant Dink
By Tom Vartabedian

12. Taner Akcam Speaks at Harvard
By Andy Turpin

13. Lewy Denies Genocide at Kennedy School

14. Hamasdegh Remembered
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1. U.S. Soldiers in Iraq Told to Lobby Against Genocide Resolution
By Khatchig Mouradian

WASHINGTON (A.W.)-Emboldened by the support of the Bush Administration,
Turkey’s campaign against the recognition of the Armenian Genocide continues
to expand and has even reached Iraq.

As pressure by the Turkish government, U.S. State Department and Department
of Defense mounts against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congress, U.S.
soldiers in Iraq are now being recruited to advance the policy of genocide

In the past weeks, some U.S. soldiers in Iraq have been told to call their
Congressmen and demand that they cease sponsoring the Armenian Genocide
resolution, citing the problems they might face in Iraq as a consequence if
the resolution is passed.

Congressman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) addressed this issue during an
interview I conducted with him in his Washington office on March 23.
Elaborating on the pressures applied by Turkey and the Bush Administration,
Pallone said, "Every time Congressmen go to Ankara or Istanbul, they are
lectured for hours about how the genocide didn’t occur, and they receive
threats about how the soldiers in Iraq are not going to be safe [if the
Genocide resolution is passed]," Pallone said.

"They are doing the same thing here. They go around to the members [of
Congress] and lobby them. In some cases, they have even had soldiers in Iraq
call members of Congress and say ‘I’m afraid the Turks are going to punish
us in some way if you pass the Genocide resolution’ …and the
administration goes along with it and does the same things," he added.

Using U.S. soldiers risking their lives abroad to advance the interests of a
foreign country, while insulting the memory of Armenian-American Genocide
survivors and their descendents is, well .

Let me know when you find a word for it.
———————————————- ——————

2. Grassroots Campaign to End Genocide Cycle

WASHINGTON (A.W.) -From March 22-23, the ANCA and the Genocide Intervention
Network (GI-Net) organized a grassroots campaign on Capitol Hill to
encourage U.S. Representatives to end the cycle of genocide worldwide.

ANCA and GI-Net activists from throughout the U.S. visited the offices of
every Congressman and Senator, and asked them to support the Armenian
Genocide resolution, provide more funding for the African Union peacekeeping
mission in Darfur, and co-sponsor the Sudan Divestment Authorization Act.
The latter authorizes U.S. states to divest from foreign companies-mainly in
the oil export and mineral extraction sectors-that are funding the genocide
in Darfur.

The campaign began early on March 22 with a breakfast for the activists on
Capitol Hill. The ANCA and GI-Net then provided briefings about the Armenian
Genocide resolution and the situation in Darfur, with information on how to
conduct a grassroots campaign and help end the genocide there.

At 5:30 p.m., the ANCA and GI-Net organized a Capitol Hill Observance at the
Rayburn House Office Building, with a large number of supporters and
activists present.

The Observance began with opening prayers by Der Sarkis from the Church of
the Holy Cross. ANCA executive director Aram Hamparian, GI-Net executive
director Mark Hennes and ANCA chairman Ken Hachikian offered remarks, along
with Congressmen John Sarbanes (D-Md.), Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), Adam Schiff
(D-Calif.), Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), Donald Payne (D-N.J.), Jim Costa
(D-Calif.), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), David Dreier (R-Calif.) and Rush
Holt (D-N.J.).

The Weekly will publish a special insert on the Capitol Hill campaign in the
coming weeks.

-Weekly Correspondent
———————————— ———————————–

3. Compensation for U.S. Cypriots
Legislation to Allow for Redress of Turkish-Occupied Property in N. Cyprus

WASHINGTON (A.W.)-On March 9, Congressman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and 16
colleagues introduced a bipartisan legislation that would allow U.S.
citizens who own property in the Turkish occupied portion of the Republic of
Cyprus to seek financial remedies with either the current inhabitants of
their land or the Turkish government.

In an interview with Weekly editor Khatchig Mouradian, conducted on March 23
in Washington, Pallone spoke about the importance of this legislation. "We
don’t recognize the Turkish occupation of Northern Cyprus. Those who
occupied Northern Cyprus took the property of Greek Cypriots without
permission and appropriated it for their own purposes," Pallone said. "The
people who own the land should either be able to go back, or get
compensation. The Turkish government has done nothing to provide

Since Turkey invaded the Republic of Cyprus in 1974, U.S. citizens who own
property in the Turkish-occupied portion of Cyprus have been prohibited from
using their property. Pallone said it is unconscionable that Turkey, a U.S.
ally who is the beneficiary of significant U.S. aid and support, excludes
American citizens from their lawful property under the laws of the Republic
of Cyprus.

—————————————– ———————————

4. An Interview with Arsinee Khanjian
By Khatchig Mouradian

Arsinee Khanjian was born in Lebanon in 1958. Her family moved to Montreal
when the Lebanese civil war broke out in 1975. While a graduate student at
Concordia University, she met her future husband, Atom Egoyan, when
auditioning for his debut film, "Next of Kin" (1984). Khanjian has appeared
in most of Egoyan’s films, and has gradually made a name for herself as an
accomplished actress. She has also appeared on the Canadian stage and
television shows. In 2002, Khanjian won the Genie Award for best actress in
"Ararat" and was nominated for the same award in 2005 for her role in

Her most recent role is in "Lark Farm," the ambitious project of the Taviani
brothers, the titans of Italian cinema, which brings the Armenian Genocide
to the big screen. "Lark Farm" premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in Feb.
2007 and was highly acclaimed in the German media.

In this interview with Khanjian, conducted by phone on March 7, we discuss
her experiences with "Lark Farm," with flashbacks to "Ararat."

Armenian Weekly-How did you become involved in "Lark Farm"?

Arsinee Khanjian-A friend of the casting agent for the Taviani brothers was
on the jury of the second Golden Apricot Festival in Yerevan. I met her and
she told me that the agent was looking for my contact information because
the Taviani brothers wanted me to be a part of their next project, which is
about an Armenian family during WWI.
To hear that the Taviani brothers were searching for me was quite strange,
because I am quite easy to find through my agent. Then I figured out this
was the Italian way of having things done: Everything has to be complicated
so that it is simplified afterwards! I said I would be more than thrilled to
have a look at the project. The Tavianis, of course, are inescapable masters
of Italian cinema along with [Michelangelo] Antonioni, [Federico] Fellini,
[Bernado] Bertolucci. They are part of the foundation of Italian cinema.
A month later, I received a phone call from the agent saying that they would
send me the English translation of the script. And that’s what I read. I
haven’t read Antonia Arslan’s book Skylark Farm, which was published in
Italian and recently translated to English. I suppose the script is a loose
adaptation of the book. I have no idea what the differences are between the
novel and the script of the movie.

A.W.-Talk about the script and how you felt about it on your first reading.

A.K.-Reading the script, I asked myself why the Tavianis would be interested
in this particular story of this particular history. How can people who have
not been part of this history understand with so much astuteness and
sensitivity the predicament of this culture, and also the individual lives
and experiences of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire during that period?

In the actual script, they never locate the town or the city. But we can
deduce from the family’s social status that this is a bourgeois family,
quite well off, educated, involved in business. They do not live in a
village. However, there are also interesting encounters in the film with
other Armenian families who are not necessarily of the same social status.
Reading the script was a very powerful, explosive experience for me, similar
to reading [Franz Werfel’s] The Forty Days of Musa Dagh. As a culture, we
have been ignored for so long that when we see someone who is really
attentive to us, we are really taken aback. And I really was.

I had to deal with my own demons in the love story issue [in the story, an
Armenian girl and a Turkish officer fall in love]. However, this does give a
perspective of not demonizing every Turkish person in the history of the
Armenian Genocide. I was initially reticent towards the love story, but in
the end I must say that it was masterfully contextualized.

I was surprised that I was the only Armenian in the project apart from
Antonia Arslan. In a way, I was very curious to know how this would work. I
wasn’t sure how all these actors would approach the historic background. Not
that it is always necessary for the artists to come from a certain culture
to be able to act; not only the British can play Shakespeare. But again
there was a hidden suspicion of mine, probably a cultural suspicion.

As the shooting of the film began, I realized that I had not been in a
multicultural project like this in my entire acting career. Young Spanish
star Paz Vega plays the role of Nounik. French actor Tcheky Karyo, who was
born in Istanbul and is of Jewish background, plays the role of my (Armine’s)
husband. French actor Andre Dussollier plays the Turkish general. The
officer is an Italian star Alessandro Preziosi. Palestinian actor Mohammed
Bakri [who plays the role of a heroic beggar] is in it as well. The young
zabtiyye is played by German actor Moritz Bleibtreu. And then we had all the
Bulgarian actors with smaller parts. [The movie was a co-production of
France, Spain, Bulgaria and Italy, and was shot in Bulgaria].

There was a scene where one actor was speaking in English, others in
Spanish, French, Italian and Bulgarian. And the marvel is that when I
watched the film, I did not see even the slightest sign of disarray. It was
very harmonious and makes complete sense in terms of performances.

I guess the multicultural aspect of the project itself was a very
interesting backdrop to the interest of the Tavianis in this subject, which
is now of universal curiosity. The film has a very strong statement to make,
beyond its artistic quality, and it is done in a very tactful, considerate
and committed way. The music is also beautiful and evocative to the story.

A.W.-In an interview with Berliner Zeitung, Vittorio Taviani said, "As we
read Arslan’s book, it became clear to us that we could tie the past with
the present together. As we were shooting the film, the entire team had the
impression that this was the most newsworthy and up-to-date film that anyone
could ever make" (Armenian Weekly, March 3). What do you have to say about
the "newsworthiness" of this film?

A.K.-It was great that the movie premiered [at the Berlin Festival] in
Germany. The country has a great Turkish population, but beyond that, it has
a lot of relationship with this history, because Germany was Turkey’s ally
during WWI. There are a lot of things of interest for today’s Germans,
because this is also their history. I am not sure how much the German press
pushed the debate in that direction and asked those questions looking at the
film. I think the general attitude was more in relation of where Turkey
stands today and what the possibility is of facing its past as a country
with European aspirations.
Yes, it is a timely subject because we aren’t finished with this kind of
behavior in our societies. The history of the Armenian Genocide is very much
alive partly because it is a very archetypical example of what is currently

A.W.-Some German reviewers noted that there was too much violence in the
movie. What’s your take on that?

A.K.-What am I supposed to say when critics make that kind of comment? Don’t
we see a lot of violence in "Pulp Fiction" and in all the video games our
children play? Didn’t we see on TV what has happened in Darfur, Rwanda,
Sarajevo? Didn’t we see the hanging of Saddam Hussein? Why are they talking
about violence? Are they insinuating that the topic is being manipulated? Is
this why they are raising this question? As far as I am concerned, there
wasn’t particularly shocking violence and the violence was absolutely
minimal compared to what the historical record on the Armenian Genocide
tells us.

I want to add that I think the violence is minimal but what the scenes with
violence suggest is very powerful indeed.

A.W.-What was the general reaction of the public in Berlin to "Lark Farm"?

A.K.-The press and theatre screenings of the film were packed, and people
were taken by this experience. A lot of people were very surprised and
undignified because they didn’t know about the history. The film has not
opened anywhere else yet.

A.W.-It will open in France next.

A.K.-In France, it will open in June. I am in close contact with the French
producer and he really wants this to work. The French Armenian community
didn’t go and see "Ararat." It is unacceptable and shameful. When there are
films made about these stories, it is our responsibility to be curious and
engage ourselves. It doesn’t mean that we have to like it or defend it, but
we really have to know about it by going and seeing. I am hoping that the
Armenian community will do that this time around. The rest is going to be in
the hands of French critics and the French audience. We can only provide
curiosity through our own excitement.

I certainly hope that our intelligentsia will stop having ambivalent
commitment to the subject matter, because a lot of us still haven’t sorted
out the impact of our identity. Our writers and social commentators should
put themselves outside of these experiences whether these are films or other
forms of artistic expression, and they should try to contextualize, in a
generous way, the meaning of a work of art on this history. This film or any
other film is the individual’s connection with the subject matter and
therefore it will always be presented through the individual’s perspective.
The job of any writer, especially an Armenian one, is to understand that
there is more than one perspective around the question of Armenian identity,
and that there is no right one.

A.W.-I can’t help but think that you are referring to the critics of

A.K.-Yes, you are absolutely right in saying that a lot of my comments are
based on my experience with "Ararat." Honestly it’s not that it affected in
any way the success of "Ararat" in terms of where its sits in the history of
international cinema, but it was a great disappointment to me to see how
limited our community was in terms of its ability to open up to the reality
of what our identities are today.

The regressive kind of attention was not an issue for the filmmaker or
myself, but when generations to come decide to read about how the Armenian
intelligentsia dealt with these issues, it is unfortunate that we don’t have
anything more intelligently and less subjectively vested. I would have liked
the coming generation to see how much multiplicity there is in our seeing
and understanding almost 100 years later the trauma of this identity. That
is what’s going identity survival for the young generation. They ought to
see an exchange of ideas and experiences, and not just defensive criticism.

A.W.-Compare your experience with "Ararat" to that of "Lark Farm."

A.K.-[Laughs] Thank you for these questions. I would never have thought of
making a parallel between the two and I certainly did not make that parallel
when I read the script because the sensibilities of filmmakers as well as
the stories that they are choosing to tell are very different. But when I
saw the film, I said to myself: This is unbelievable. What "Lark Farm"
happens to be is what people expected "Ararat" to be.

In a way "Ararat" did deal with the history but not as a whole; the onus of
the film was not in the past, because "Ararat" wanted to be a film in today’s
reality. It asked questions like: What does the Genocide do to us, the
children of the survivors? "Ararat" wanted to be a contemporary story about
our dilemma and trauma with this history. However, the film within the film
was where we saw flashbacks connecting us with the history. In some ways,
"Lark Farm" is the film within the film that Edward Saroyan was making in

I didn’t realize it until I saw the film, its texture, its story. I thought,
yes, many Armenians often need this kind of story, because so little of the
Genocide story has been told on the big screen. In a way, "Ararat" was ahead
of its time and "Lark Farm" should have been made 30 years ago.

A.W.-Many Armenians were expecting "Ararat" to be an epic movie telling the
history of the Armenian Genocide.

A.K.-We have to ask ourselves why weren’t these epic films made? Why should
it have been Atom who made it when he goes way beyond this style of
We keep saying that there are so many films about the Holocaust. Who made
those films? The Jews themselves made them. And did we not have that much
presence in the film community? Did we not have the money? Why didn’t we do

We didn’t make these films because we don’t invest enough-financially,
intellectually and artistically-in this issue. Isn’t it unbelievable that
ultimately "Ararat" was made by a Canadian Jewish producer? Not even one
penny was provided by Armenians. We have to ask the right question before we
jump to criticism.
————————————— ——————————

5. ‘Spiurkasdan’
By Garen Yegparian

Isn’t that a great word? Diasporaland! I wish I’d come up with it!
Those who did are a new band in Argentina, Los Armenios. It does the heart
good to see this sort of progress. I like what I heard so much that I’m
venturing into uncharted waters-I’m actually going to pretend to be a music

The 11-song album bearing this title, translated as "Republica Diaspora"
with a bright orange CD case contains a few old standards, including
"Giligia" (with a an energetic beat), "Yeraz" (that haunting song of longing
for a lost mother), and "Yerevan, Yerepoonee." Even with these seemingly
antiquated songs, things are interesting. Then they start one song off with
a novel rendition of the sharagan "Ee Vereenn Yeroosaghem" in the spirit of
what the France-based band Zartonk did with "Der Voghormia" in the late 70’s.

The rest of the songs are the band’s own creations, as far as I know. They
are proud paeans to Armenianness. Some lyrics might seem a bit too bellicose
for those of us with hyper-tender or self-hating sensibilities, but they
serve a purpose. They get the blood flowing and the brain thinking.

Two aspects set this music apart from much of what passes for "new" Armenian
music. The positive, culture affirming reality is that these songs are in
Western Armenian, except one. Precious little is done with this half of our
linguistic heritage, a dismaying sign of Turkish genocidal success. To have
Armenian 20-somethings expressing their national pride and cultural energies
thus is nothing short of inspiring, uplifting and hopeful. I’m thrilled.

The other differentiating factor is the genre of this music. It is not the
poorly imitated hip-hop or Persian/Arabic/Turkish-sounding and frenzied
rhythms that are the largest part of what’s being produced now. Sure we have
the Roupen Hakhverdians of the world and those who continue and add to the
tradition of patriotic/revolutionary songs, but these constitute a small
proportion of what’s being played these days.

But, oh the content, the lyrics, are wonderfully substantial. Not some
dimwit wannabe gangsta rapper’s oration of a pathetic wet dream, associated
with an equally titillating video of busty females. The references to
Navasart and our pre-Christian heritage are strong. The focus on liberation
of Western Armenia is long overdue. The Diaspora finally gets its place of
due honor in the Armenian universe. All this happens in the span of less
than 10 songs!

On a side note, how I learned of this CD is a prime example of doing the
right thing paying of. Many of you have heard of Kotayknights, three guys
who decided to help Armenia by promoting its beers. What they’ve done is
organize their own events or publicize those of others where Armenian beers
will be served. They’ve got a website, and one of the band members found it
and contacted the knights. A knight visited Argentina this past New Year’s
—————————————– ——————————

6. Show Me the Funny
The Lost Quest for the Armenian Comedian
By Andy Turpin

WATERTOWN, Mass. (A.W.)-I pose to you a rhetorical question: Why is finding
an Armenian comedian in mainstream popular culture like searching for a
I believe it is a valid question in its own parlor way though, because a
culture is most readily accepted and understood through its sense of
literature and humor, with the most memorable works often being those
satires that blend the two together.

My question is not to insinuate that Armenians can’t be funny or that they
lack a sense of humor, far from it. It is because I have laughed with so
many Armenians round "ye old tub-o-keftir" many a time, to the point of near
fluid expulsion, that makes the question so vexing.

Nor can it ever be said that Armenians don’t write things down or keep
records, or have ever been behind the times when it came to print technology
and publicity. So the answer can’t be shirked off to being a solely oral
culture that forgets to write down and improve its jokes.
Of course, the all-encompassing answer "genocide" may cross your mind since
hope, let alone humor, is often in short supply among genocide and trauma
survivors. However, humor, like hope, springs eternal, and multitudes have
used it to heal their wounds for centuries.

There have been plenty of Armenian jokes cracked throughout history. But the
fact remains that if you asked someone on the street about the words
"Armenian" and "funny" for a word association, even in a literate city like
Boston, most would be at a loss for an answer.

This may be because those few Armenian comedians that do exist cater almost
exclusively to an Armenian audience-comics like Dottie Bengoian, the Hokis
Variety troupe, or the hayastantsi comedians "Hayko and Mgo." The genre of
Armenian comedy is due for a mass-market leg stretch into the hearts and
minds of the rest of America.
Case in point, or rather, comps in point. Being a historian along with a
scribbler, I’ll take you up to the present in stride.

The Jewish community has almost always been the color-bearers when it comes
to American humor, at least. From Irving Berlin entertaining troops during
the Second World War, to Mel Brooks and Woody Allen, right up to the
National Lampoon demagogues likes Harold Ramis, Lorne Michaels and Albert
Brooks. This is to say nothing of the pop-cultural phenomenon that has
already defined this decade: Jon Stewart and the Daily Show.

The Lebanese, too, gave America and the world Danny Thomas, the noir
song-and-dance man of the 1940s and 50s, who founded the St. Jude Children’s
Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. According to the Museum of Broadcast
Communications, "Thomas began his career as the stand-up comic Amos Jacobs,
developing his story-telling shtick into a familiar routine of lengthy
narratives peppered with a blend of Irish, Yiddish, Lebanese and Italian
witticisms. Quite often these routines tended toward sentimentality, only to
be rescued in the end by what Thomas called the ‘treacle cutter’, a
one-liner designed to elevate the maudlin bathos into irony."

By the mid-1970s, Armenians did finally find a comic personality on
mainstream television with "Second City T.V." actress Andrea Martin.

Martin, born in 1947, emerged from the Portland, Maine, Armenian community.
Her family’s last name was Papazian. Her grandfather had immigrated to
America in the early 1900s from Ottoman Turkey, and when he settled his
family in Maine, changed the last name from Papazian to Martin. Those not
old enough to remember "SCTV" probably know Martin as Aunt Voula from 2002’s
"My Big Fat Greek Wedding."

Beyond Martin, indie film buffs may have seen actor Eric Bogosian’s great
comic deadpan eulogy scene in 2004’s "King of the Corner" as the brutally
honest Rabbi Evelyn Fink.

But this, too, says something about both Armenian film and comedy roles
together. An Armenian can play a Jew, a Greek, or an Italian, and be either
exceptionally funny or tragic, but they are almost never recognized in their
roles as Armenians.

Following the unforeseen success of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" there was an
ill-gotten attempt by Russian-Armenians to ride the wave with a low-budget
rip-off titled "My Big Armenian Wedding," but few noticed it.

To those young up-and-coming Armenian comedians hoping to take on the world,
visit for possible employment and Vaya Con Dios
in your struggle for recognition.

Oddly enough, Sacha Baron Cohen’s controversial hit "Borat," with its
ethnically ambiguous stereotyping of Central Asia and rotund sidekick played
by Armenian-American actor Ken Davitian, may be the closest to mainstream
comic publicity Armenians have at the moment.

But all that really means is that the ideological frontier is wide open for
the taking. Armenian reflective filmmaking may be the domain of Atom
Ergoyan, but to all those rabiz, class clowns, and Armenian impudent youth
out there (of which I personally know a few), you have your mission: Be
impudent and funny with a purpose, for Armenia.
—————————————– ————————–

7. Novelist Kay Mouradian on ‘A Gift in the Sunlight’

WATERTOWN, Mass. (A.W.)-Author Kay Mouradian spoke to the Armenian Weekly
about her first novel, A Gift in the Sunlight. It is set during the Armenian
Genocide and revolves around the story of a young Armenian girl named Flora
and her family, as they walk among the death march caravans of Armenians
deported to Aleppo.

The story of Flora is inspired by the Genocide survival experience of
Mouradian’s mother. "I wanted to write it as a novel to have my mother
represent the point of view of every Armenian deportee at the time," she

Mouradian related that the research process had been ongoing since 1989,
when her mother’s declining health sparked a renewed interest in her to
learn about the Genocide. "My mother was a survivor and I really didn’t know
what happened."

After several near-death experiences, Mouradian said of her mother, "She
came back more alert and more loving." This period spurred Mouradian to
research history and Genocide accounts voraciously. "It consumed my life
really from 1992 to the book’s coming out in 2006," she said.

At that time, she was also a professor of health in L.A.’s Community
Colleges. "I spent years reading," she recalled. Scouring used bookshops for
information, "If I saw the word Constantinople in the table of contents of a
book, I bought it."

She particularly sought out Victorian and Edwardian-era historical accounts
of travel and history, because "People [of that time] were quite astute
about writing their memoirs with extreme detail."

Mouradian also researched the 1913-1916 U.S. State Department archives
(available on microfilm) from the American Embassy in Constantinople from
the Library of Congress and spent a week at the FDR Library in Hyde Park,
N.Y., researching Ambassador Morgenthau’s personal papers.

Mouradian has talked about A Gift in the Sunlight and her writing process
with groups in California, including the Hastings branch of the Pasadena
Library and the American Association of University Women, all have which
have given her first novel enthusiastic receptions. "It has really surprised
and stunned me, the reactions from non-Armenians," she said.

Mouradian now wants to update and re-release the text of her health-related
dissertation on yoga, which she spent several months researching in India as
a physical education professional. The new revised version of an earlier
published edition of the work will be titled, Meditation the Yoga Way:A
Spiritual Journey.

When asked about any future novels, Mouradian said, "The writing will be
more non-fiction. I think I’ve told the story I needed to tell."

For more information about A Gift In the Sunlight, visit

——————— ————————————————– –

8. Four Poems by Varand


My city of desire,
city of dreams,
there was a time
when I mused
at each and every
of your corners of light.
There was a time,
I daydreamed of
the virgin I loved,
at a time, when
all were gathered
here together.
Whatever happened
to your big shindig?
What shadow fell
on your shining face?
Which scam was it
of your spiteful luck,
that left you thus,
on your own.
my city of desire,
city of dreams.?

Can there be a more
fascinating game?
Is there a fortune
more false and frigid,
to beckon me
for a last encounter?
To show up as a stranger,
just passing by?
To appear as an alien.?
Heartfelt yearning
will draw me there.
but don’t let anyone
be there, no one
to open a gate,
not even my virgin –
let’s walk alone.
Who thinks of you now,
city of desires,
city of my dreams?
It seems they walked out
on both the quick
and the dead.

.No matter, let all go well
at your new festival
(feast or circus?
Who can tell!)
I stand here
guarding your dreams,
your possessions,
but in particular, that
which you don’t have.
I stand guard
till sleep vanishes
and untainted memory
drops in as visitor.

My city of desire,
my city of dreams.



Now, darkness
has veiled the magic city
of my yearning.
Sinful eyes glisten
in the gloom
above groping hands.
Caught in there,
a love-sick woman
goes insane waiting
for a blood red
dusky dawn.

Now, darkness
has settled on the wet
sidewalks of my longing.
Blood-red eyes
come alive in the dark,
as hands weave a nasty plot.
Blood drips down
the plucked cheeks
of my virgin of hope,
gripping my lone dream coin
in her icy fist.

Love seeks hope
in a frenzy,
and finds nothing.
Hope seeks love
to find warmth without fear,
while I seek them both,
with no faith at all.
Because darkness has
descended on the
city of my dreams.



Half-perceived cat
in the creek,
I believe it is
tainted water.
Either my eyes
are no longer keen,
or your cats are
far from clean.



An ant strolls on a drum,
it sees itself as a large army.
Echoes reaching from the rim
sound to it like a solemn hymn.

They ogle each other from skyscrapers
(the drum already a taught square),
a man, a god, in mirrored reflection,
flash thin smiles at the sculpted ant.

By Varand
Translated by Tatul Sonentz

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9. Lecture on ‘Armenian Immigration in Watertown’
By Andy Turpin

WATERTOWN, Mass. (A.W.)-On March 8, a lecture titled "Armenian Immigration
in Watertown" was presented at the Watertown Free Public Library and
co-sponsored by the Historical Society of Watertown.

The lecture was the first in a four-part series on immigration to Boston and
Watertown in the 19th and 20th centuries. The remaining will focus on
immigrants who came from Italy, Greece and Ireland.

The first presenter was documentary filmmaker Roger Hagopian, a longtime
resident of Watertown. His latest film is "A Community is Born: Armenians of
the Hood Rubber Company," and he spoke of the circumstances that facilitated
the influx of Armenian immigrants, including his father, to Massachusetts,
who flocked to the Hood Brothers Rubber Factory at the turn of the 20th

"The first and largest settlement was in Worcester," he said. (That influx
of Armenians first came to America as a merchant class connected with
British trade concerns such as the East India Company. Many supplemented the
British navy with shipments of imported apricots and produce that prevented
outbreaks of scurvy at sea.)

Hagopian explaining that prior to the 1915 Genocide, many Armenians came to
America following the Hamidian Massacres that came to a close around 1896.
"Five thousand settled in Watertown following the 1896 massacres," Hagopian
said. That same year, the Hood Brothers or Hood Rubber Company founded its
factory on Nichols Avenue in Watertown. The factory chose the location due
to its proximity to the port of Boston, which made it easier to ship the
rubber products created for military defense contracts of boots, life rafts
and other products.

"Rumors of work in Hood factories had hit Turkey by the time of the Adana
massacre in 1908," Hagopian noted.

The Watertown Hood factory hired then-unknown Armenian artist Vostanik
Manoog Adoyan (better known as Arshile Gorky) for a brief period before he
continued on to artistic fame in New York. Hagopian quipped, "Gorky lost his
job from Hood for practicing his art on the roof."

He then waxed reminiscent of his boyhood memories having been a "Hood
Sneaker Test" kid-as did several members of the audience. The "Hood Sneaker
Test" was an initiative that gave many workers and local children free Hood
shoes on a year long basis to test the durability of their product. At the
end of each year, those presented with shoes would report the effectiveness
of the product in return for another pair of shoes to test. This form of
corporate altruism was practiced by the Hood Rubber Company until its
factory closed in 1969.

Hagopian inserted, "The Hood Company also founded the Abraham Lincoln House
in Watertown, where immigrants came to learn English and Americanization.
They learned from the 1912 ‘Bread and Roses Strike.’"

But factory workers led a harsh life in the days before unionization and
workmen’s benefits when injuries and layoffs were commonplace. "Many women
arrived early to get treated by the company nurse-then started work,"
Hagopian related.

Featured in Hagopian’s film is prominent Watertown Armenian community
member, John Baronian, who worked as a supervisor at Hood following
graduation from college in the 1950’s. "I think I was a pioneer in having
blackboards over the belts of the previous day’s work," says Baronian in the
film. "It was an indicator of how good the quality of production was."

Baronian also recalled, "I made a point to talk and get friendly with
everyone. I’d say about 75 percent of our workforce were foreigners."
Empathizing with the factory’s Armenian, Italian and Polish workers through
his parent’s own recent immigration experience to America at the time, he
said, "I had a feeling for these people."
As one interviewee stated of her girlhood factory experience at Hood Rubber,
"They were very nice to me. Who else would give me a job without being able
to speak English?"

Following the film, Dr. Joan Bamberger, Associate Professor of Anthropology
at Wellesley, brought the audience up to date on the history of the Armenian
businesses that have become landmarks within the Watertown community,
including Arax Market, Star Market and the Sevan and Euphrates Bakeries.
—————————————- ——————————-

10. Memorial Service and Commemoration for Dink in Watertown

WATERTOWN, Mass. (A.W.)-On March 4, a 40th day Memorial Service and
Commemoration was held for Hrant Dink. Istanbul Armenians and the St. James
Church organized the event, attended by a crowd of over 500. The event at
St. James Hall was opened by Reverend Arakel Aljalian, and filmmaker Apo
Torosyan served as MC. The first speaker was Khajag Mgrdichian, editor of
the Hairenik Weekly newspaper. Honorary guests and speakers included
Massachusetts State Representatives Peter J. Koutoujian and Rachel
Kaprielian. Timothy Toomey, the vice mayor of Cambridge, the sister city of
Yerevan, was also a guest speaker.
Human rights activist and close friend of Dink, Ragip Zarakolu, was
scheduled to speak in eulogy at the service, but could not attend due to
Zarakolu’s prepared remarks were emailed to Torosyan prior to the event and
read to the crowd.
——————————————- ——————————-

11. Merrimack Valley Memorializes Hrant Dink
By Tom Vartabedian

CHELMSFORD, Mass.-Hrant Dink was looked upon as a man whose pen was mightier
than the sword.

In the end, it was a bullet from a cold-blooded Turkish assassin that
brought him down.
His death 40 days ago has sparked off an inferno. Mr. Dink died in a blaze
of glory doing what he loved best-a sincere advocate for truth and
understanding for the written word.
"To die for a cause is the greatest legacy we can leave," said Stephen A.
Kurkjian, a three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the Boston Globe.

"He could be compared very favorably to an Albert Camus as a writer who
reflected humanity. Hrant Dink wrote from the heart for whom the greatest
tribute was shown at his funeral with 200,000 mourners paying their respect
in Turkey."

Approximately 100 guests turned out for a 40-day memorial (hokehankisd) to
show their respect for the noble journalist. The event took place at Sts.
Vartanantz Church, sponsored by the Armenian National Committee of Merrimack
Valley, joined by the ARS Lowell "Lousintak" Chapter and parish members.

Dinner expenses were absorbed by Muriel "Mimi" Parseghian in memory of her
mother Nouritza, a prominent Lowell ARS member.

Dr. Ara Jeknavorian, ANC activist, opened the presentation with a brief
slide show on Mr. Dink’s funeral with a captivating message:

"Let us bless and honor the memory of Hrant Dink by being witness to his
heroic sacrifice . and by letting us and the generations that follow forever
remember all those who have suffered from the Turkish Genocide of the
Armenian people, and demand a just solution to the Armenian Genocide."

Kurkjian was passionate over getting stark details surrounding the murder.
He made two trips to Istanbul with the Globe’s blessing and met with Dink’s
family. Any risk he may have faced was not mentioned by the writer.

"Hrant’s death galvanized entire populations throughout the world," said
Kurkjian. "Turkey will not enter the age of a civilized country until it
recognizes minority groups."
Of the 700,000 population in Turkey, 70,000 are Armenians. The fact 200,000
mourners showed up for his funeral, he said, was "monumental."

"It was for an Armenian," Kurkjian reaffirmed. "There are no Armenian
political figures or monuments in Turkey, much less an Armenian postal
carrier. To live a life as a minority in Turkey, you change your name, don’t
open yourself up, and live with a built-in paranoia."

Kurkjian saw the demonstrations and experienced what was easily the most
stirring funeral of any Armenian hero. He met with members of Dink’s family
as young children hovered about the room.

"Three hours into the interview, I ran out of ink and paper," he confessed.
"They were so alive with his memory and presence, they wanted to share
everything. I was looking to learn more about Hrant the man. He was a good
husband and father whose family remained so noble during the tragedy."

Because his parents were separated at a tender age, Mr. Dink spent his
childhood in orphanages where he later met and married his wife.

As the years wore into adulthood, he yearned to open a summer camp by the
beach so youngsters could enjoy a recreational outlet.

After the project was completed in 1976, Turkish officials quickly shut it
"This stuck like a dagger into Dink," said Kurkjian. "Though he was an
Armenian journalist, Hrant was also proud to be a Turkish citizen."

Mr. Dink wound up relinquishing what could have been a formidable soccer
career for an academic environment. He started a bilingual weekly paper
which not only survived but thrived with his provocative columns.

Kurkjian was also quick to learn that the Agos newspaper which Mr. Dink
edited will continue to operate.

"As someone who spent a lifetime (40 years) as a journalist, I’ve all the
sentiments for a free press," added Kurkjian, who subsidized his own expense
money for the trips. "It pressed home to me how proud we are of a brother
who died far too soon."
Most of those attending sat entranced as they heard Kurkjian’s message,
particularly events surrounding the final moments of Mr. Dink’s life which
proved a typical day in the life of any journalist.

A 17-year-old was among three suspects that have been apprehended.
"Whether the assassin’s role was part of a Turkish conspiracy will never be
known," said Kurkjian. "There is no advocate in the Turkish legal system
that will strike toward justice."

What was also revealed was Mr. Dink’s appetite for public speaking and his
love for horseracing, neither of which took precedence over his wife and
children-not even his commitment toward a free press.

"Hrant knew in October that life was getting risky for him," Kurkjian
revealed. "He was a courageous man who wrote from the heart. That odyssey
was cut short."
————————————- —————————

12. Taner Akcam Speaks at Harvard
By Andy Turpin

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (A.W.)-On March 14, Taner Akcam, visiting associate
professor of history at the University of Minnesota, spoke at the Harvard
University Center for Government and International Studies about his recent
book A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish
Responsibility (Metropolitan Press, 2006).

The Harvard Armenian Society presented the event and a statement of thanks
by James R. Russell, Harvard Mashtots professor of Armenian studies, was
also read. NAASR’s director of programs and publications Mark Mamigonian
introduced Akcam.

In the first part of his speech, Akcam relayed the historical details of the
Armenian Genocide. He noted that "all studies of large-scale atrocities
teach us a core principle: To prevent the recurrence of similar events,
people must first consider their own responsibility, discuss it and debate
it. Without such honest concentration, there remains the high probability
that such acts will be repeated since every group is inherently capable of
violence, and when the conditions arise, this potential can easily become
reality on the slightest of pretexts. There are no exceptions."

Akcam then discussed how genocide denial is a national security problem in
modern Turkey. He talked about the placards and protest signs he has often
seen that read, "It is not Genocide, it is defense of the fatherland." He
added, "It is my advice is to take this [notion] very seriously and try to
analyze what is behind it. This kind of self defensiveness has root in the
breakup of the Ottoman Empire."

"Until recently, the dominant narrative has been the story of the partition
of the Empire among the Great Powers, which ended with the Empire’s total
collapse and disintegration. The fear of obliteration [on the part of Turks]
loomed large during this period," Akcam explained. Placing the Turkish
ideological framework and groundwork for Genocide denial is this context,
Akcam said, "The Christian minorities are painted as the seditious agents of
the great Imperial powers, constantly working against the state."

Discussing the trials of the perpetrators of the Genocide, Akcam noted that
the Allies did not separate the issues of punishment of perpetrators from
the territorial issue. "If the Allies had treated the issue of punishment
and territories as separate, the history would have been different," he

Akcam noted that Turkey’s constant denial prevented further discussions or
forward movement to negotiations regarding issues such as the opening of
borders between Armenia and Turkey. "History is still an important stumbling
block," he added.
He closed by stressing the importance of empathy in discussions of the
Genocide, on the part of not just of governments but also among Turks and
Armenians. "The most important thing is a readiness to listen and try to
understand the pain of the other," he said "However, if you meet a person
who regards territory as more important than the lives of the people who
live in that territory, you can’t go forward with that conversation."
A question and answer session and book signings by Akcam followed.
—————————————- ———————————-

13. Lewy Denies Genocide at Kennedy School

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (A.W.)-Professor Emeritus Guenter Lewy of the University of
Massachusetts spoke at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government concerning his
assertions that the Armenian Genocide was not a genocide. Lewy supports this
stance in his work, The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed
Genocide (Utah Press, 2005).

Lewy’s presentation of his opinions was sponsored courtesy of The Turkish
Caucus of the Kennedy School of Government. The audience were primarily of
Turkish and Armenian descent, though sprinkled throughout were seemingly
curious individuals and a few of Greek descent.

Lewy’s tone and demeanor throughout his were demure but abrupt. He stated at
his opening, "I prefer to deal in historical facts, rather than political
Speaking of the atrocities against Armenians by the Turks beginning on April
24, 1915, Lewy declared, "The Armenians call it genocide, and the issue
shows no sign of coming resolution."

He provided a basic historical context to those unaware of the issue,
expressing his belief that "knowledge of many events is inadequate or
incomplete, though no one disputes the extent of Armenian suffering."

He maintained that "intent is a necessary condition of genocide," and that
there is not enough evidence to implicate the Ottoman government in a
genocide against the Armenians.

Lewy referred to the events at Van in 1915 as an uprising, "designed to
facilitate the advance of the Russian army. . Armenians had thrown in with
the Allies, and so the Turks considered them belligerents."

Citing the 1919 Versailles Peace Conference and Le Legion Orientale, the
French Foreign Legion battalion, Lewy expounded, "Armenians talked with
pride about their Allied contributions to the war. They served with the
French Foreign Legion on the Western front, where only about 40 of them
survived. They can hardly claim they suffered for no reason at all."

Speaking to the accounts of the forced starvation of the deportees, Lewy
said, "Armenians were hardly alone in suffering from such conditions." He
then cited that the Turkish army at the time was functioning on only a third
of their required rations and that in places such as Palestine, many were
under attack by locusts. He said of the Ottoman hospitals, "Soldiers shared
beds or slept on the floor. . The Young Turks were callous of their own

Crucial to his argument was a discussion of the organizational incompetence
of the Ottoman government and army, along with the loss of many supply lines
due to the war. Summing up his analysis of the death marches to Aleppo, he
stated, "Such mass deportations were beyond the competency of the Turkish

Lewy ended his formal remarks by regarding the current state of row between
Turks and Armenians, describing it as "foolish to expect general
reconciliation any time soon."

The question and answer session that followed entailed a number of
passionate remarks by both Armenians and Turks in the audience. However,
most remarkable was when a rather diminutive looking woman enquired if Lewy
had read U.S. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau’s memoirs concerning the Genocide.
Lewy said that he had, but that there was a lack of substanial evidence to
coraborate the events written.

The woman responded, "Well I’m [Morgenthau’s] granddaughter, and you never
mentioned that the reason he resigned his post was because he was so in
despair about not getting the CUP [Committee of Union and Progress] to
change their opinions about the Armenians."

-Weekly Correspondent
———————————— —————————————

14. Hamasdegh Remembered

ARLINGTON, Mass. (A.W.)-On March 18, a remembrance ceremony was held for
Armenian-American writer Hamasdegh (Hampartsoom Gelenian), held at the
Armenian Cultural Foundation and organized by the Boston chapter of the
Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society.

Armenian Library and Museum of America (ALMA) executive director Berj
Chekijian shared a commemorative poem for Hamasdegh followed by a memorial
song sung by Karoun Demirjian.

Ara Nazarian exhibited an audiovisual slideshow of Hamasdegh’s life,
including pictures from his 1932 world travels with playwright Eghia
Kasparian and his 1940s period as editor of the Hairenik. Played throughout
was the song, "Yar Nazani."

Dr. Margarit Khachatryan, invited to speak from Yerevan, is an authority on
Hamasdegh’s work and delivered the keynote speech of the evening. She spoke
emotionally for over an hour about the impact of his works on Armenian
Following her remarks, several volumes of Hamasdegh’s works were presented
to Khachatryan on behalf of Hamazkayin for her contribution.

Editor’s note: The Armenian Weekly will provide in depth coverage of
Hamasdegh’s legacy in the coming weeks.