One Watertown family remembers the Armenian Genocide

One Watertown family remembers the Armenian Genocide
Photo by David Gordon
As an Armenian family living in Watertown, Tatoul Badalian, his wife, Varteni, and daughter Narini, are actively involved in speaking out and supporting their community in recognizing the Armenian Genocide.

By Jillian Fennimore, Staff Writer
GateHouse News Service
Thu Aug 23, 2007, 12:29 PM EDT

Narini Badalian, 25, represents the next generation of Armenians and
local residents who stand proud to speak out about their history and
the reality of what they know as the Armenian Genocide.

Her parents, Tatoul and Varteni, are sure to stand by her side, their
own lives representing a long history of pain and emotion.

Born and raised in Watertown, Narini said her community is in the
middle of a historical moment as they break away from a `No Place for
Hate’ controversy.

Just one week ago, she took the podium moments before the town
dissolved its `No Place for Hate’ committee and severed ties with the
program’s sponsor, the Anti-Defamation League, for the ADL stance on
the mass deaths of Armenians from 1915-1923. Many historians agree it
was a campaign of extermination waged against ethnic Armenians by the
Ottoman government. As many as 1.5 million Armenians died.

The attention on the ADL’s stance was first sparked from a letter
published in the TAB & Press. And now, ever since Watertown took a
stand and claimed independence from the organization, many other
communities are looking to follow.

Over the past week, the ADL fired Regional Director Andrew Tarsey
after he publicly acknowledged the Armenian Genocide. Then the ADL’s
national director, Abraham Foxman, issued a statement that the tragic
events of more than 90 years ago were `tantamount to genocide.’

Narini said her community is heading in the right direction.

`I’m very proud with what has been happening in Watertown,’ she
said. `At a certain point, people have to say enough is enough.’

As residents of the East End, Narini and her parents, along with
brother, Shirvan, live among close to 8,000 other Armenians in
town. After leaving her home in Istanbul, Turkey, her mother, Varteni,
came to the United States to `escape racism’ and focus energies on her
art as a painter.

Just on her maternal side, Varteni said more than 200 people perished
in the Armenian Genocide. Her grandparents where exiled and `lucky to
survive,’ but their brothers were not so fortunate.

`[They died] only because they called themselves Armenians,’ she
said. `What pains me is that we were silenced in Turkey. I came to
this country to breathe.’

Inside their Walnut Street home, photographs, books and artwork cover
the walls and fill the shelves. Stirring a pot of strong,
Armenian-style coffee, Varteni pours it into cups and waits for the
last sip to read fortunes and predict people’s futures from the

Tatoul said the future is in their hands now. He came to this country
from Iran `in search of liberty.’

`Here I am, in the strongest country in the world, a part of the world
where we can do something about it,’ he said about taking a stand
against the ADL. `I’m the energy that makes it move.’

When the word `controversy’ comes up, he says what’s happening now
shouldn’t be classified as such.

`It’s been part of our struggle … a dialogue going on for years,’ he
said. `I’m now discovering why I’m here. You can actually feel it in
this country … I can still feel it.’

In January, Varteni said she felt like she lost a relative when
Armenian journalist and activist Hrant Dink was assassinated. Dink,
52, was shot outside his office on a busy Istanbul street, simply
because he spoke out about the freedom of expression regarding the
Armenian Genocide.

Now Varteni feels the need to fight and seek justice for human rights
in his honor.

`This is something that is touching our life chord,’ she said.

Narini said both tolerance and activism should continue in
town. Regardless of the ADL coming out in apparent recognition of the
genocide, the key is whether the ADL will support the Congressional
resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide. Foxman has come out with
a statement saying that the legislation is a `counterproductive
diversion’ that may `put at risk the Turkish Jewish community and the
important multilateral relationship between Turkey, Israel and the
United States.’

`It’s not going to end here,’ said Narini. `The denial is very
real. It’s now.’

Hitler’s infamous invocation

Narini Badalian read the following infamous quote from Adolph Hitler
during her presentation to Town Council on Aug. 14. Hitler was
speaking to his generals on the eve of the invasion of Poland in 1939:

`I have issued the command – and I’ll have anybody who utters but one
word of criticism executed by a firing squad – that our war aim does
not consist in reaching certain lines, but in the physical destruction
of the enemy. Accordingly, I have placed my death-head formation in
readiness – for the present only in the East – with orders to them to
send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women and
children of Polish derivation and language.

Only thus shall we gain the living space [Lebensraum] which we
need. Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS