Haunted by visions of massacre, an Armenian trolls cafes of Beirut

SFGate.com
Sunday, April 11, 2004
Books

Haunted by visions of massacre, an Armenian trolls cafes of Beirut

Reviewed by Allison Block

The Daydreaming Boy
By Micheline Aharonian Marcom
RIVERHEAD; 212 PAGES; $23.95

On April 24, 1915, the Ottoman government ordered the systematic
massacre of the Armenian population. Within a year, roughly 90 percent
of Armenians were beaten, stabbed, burned or starved to death. Despite
overwhelming evidence that the Turkish government killed nearly 2
million Armenians, there are still those who claim that the first
genocide of the 20th century never occurred. In “The Daydreaming Boy,”
the follow-up to the critically acclaimed “Three Apples Fell From
Heaven” (2001), Micheline Aharonian Marcom powerfully rebuts deniers
with a piece of historical fiction that is beautiful, brutal and
unsettling until the end.

In recent years, several authors, including the late Samuel Weems, a
disbarred Arkansas judge and district attorney and zealous defender of
Turkish causes, have written books dismissing the Armenian genocide as
just another horrible consequence of war. The Turkish government has
used the cover of World War I to justify its actions, while, in
reality, the genocide was committed in front of the eyes of officers
of the German military, war allies of Turkey. (Hitler would later
imitate some of the Turkish techniques.)

The Turkish government tried to destroy all evidence of the genocide.
Soldiers burned Armenian churches, destroyed records and buried bodies
in mass graves with no markings. Acknowledgement of the historical
truths, however, is everywhere in evidence. In 2002, the European
Union voted to forbid entry to Turkey until it recognizes the Armenian
genocide. This year, the U.S. government reportedly plans to send
Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage to Yerevan, Armenia, to
help normalize Turkish-Armenian relations.

In her breathtaking first novel, “Three Apples Fell From Heaven,”
Marcom, a Saudi Arabia-born Armenian raised in Los Angeles, crafted a
complex tapestry of characters and stories set in the time of the
genocide. Her follow-up effort focuses on the aftermath and revolves
around the experiences of one man: Vahé Tcheubjian, a middle-class
Armenian businessman in 1960s Beirut. Tcheubjian and his wife,
Juliana, appear to have an idyllic life, soaking up the sophisticated
culture that marked the pre-civil war city as a cosmopolitan capital
on the Mediterranean, the “Paris of the Middle East.” But inside,
Tcheubjian is an emotional train wreck — racked by memories of escape
from the campaign of genocide that killed his family and years endured
in a brutal Armenian orphanage. In the wake of a cold, loveless
childhood utterly devoid of human touch, Vahé seeks refuge in an
outrageous and graphic imaginary life that brings him to the verge of
a nervous breakdown, just as Beirut, the city he has come to adopt as
his home, edges toward destruction.

VahĂ© doesn’t just embrace fantasy; he fastens onto hallucinations
with a white-knuckle grip. His days are spent in a state of suspended
reality; smoking cigarettes while he lies on the cool linoleum floor
of his kitchen, Vahé harbors lustful thoughts about Béatrice,
the adolescent servant girl downstairs, and whores like sweaty
Rita. His erotic visions are inevitably oedipal; the “her” to whom he
refers could be either his late mother or a lover: “And I was there,
on her belly. Me as a babe, but not a babe … my chin hairs,
sideburns, but in miniature, and I was lying on her belly, stretched
out on top of her, breast to pubis, suckling. My hands holding her
breasts, pulling the nipple into my mouth.”

Forever haunted by the specter of Vostanig, a fellow orphan who
endured unconscionable abuse, Vahé walks the streets of Beirut,
lingers at street cafes and makes regular visits to the zoological
garden, where he smokes cigarettes with a monkey named Jumba, whose
caged world reminds Vahé of his own. Deep down, Vahé knows that
neither he nor Juliana can ever escape the harsh truths of their
history: “You erased the past from your voice, you smoothed your skin
with expensive creams, you removed the hairs from your limbs, the high
heels, the tight jacket, tight coiffure, and it was never enough, my
darling, was it, to make us different, better than who we were?”

Marcom’s seamless, ethereal prose is suffused with raw emotion; there
is heartbreak on every page, but also hope. Vahé, is, above all, a
survivor, who has seen the worst the world can offer and still manages
to go on with his life. The opening scene of “The Daydreaming Boy”
replays VahĂ©’s memory of the day he and his fellow orphans were
treated to a rare visit to the Mediterranean Sea. “Clothes stripped
and bodies for the sun and sea and we run like the djinn,” he
remembers. “We learn to swim and our bodies float in the salty air and
the sun shines on this skin; we wait for the fleshy sores to heal in
the briny warmth.” As the novel reaches its devastating conclusion,
the physical wounds of the young orphan Vahé have long mended, but
the grown man’s psyche remains ravaged beyond repair. His is a past
too devastating to transcend or escape. –

Allison Block is a writer in Solana Beach, in San Diego County.

Turkey keeps running from genocide truth

timesunion.com

Turkey keeps running from genocide truth

By LUCILLE G. SARKISSIAN
First published: Sunday, April 11, 2004

When is a lie not a lie? Are there codes and colors to lies that can be
measured, that separate small lies from big lies?

Does it make a difference if the lie is told in a court of law, or in polite
society, or in religions, or in politics, or just among friends or
businesses? Doesn’t conscience mean anything anymore? Must the truth be
covered up?

There is an Armenian proverb that says: “If you tell a lie, it will
eventually confront you.” There is also a Turkish proverb that says: “If you
tell the truth, you better keep running.”

The Turkish government has chosen to deny the truth about the Armenian
genocide and consequently it has been running from the truth for 89 years.
But it cannot hide from the truth forever because the truth will eventually
catch up to it.

When Germany acknowledged its guilt in the Holocaust, its people were able
to take their government forward based on good conscience and actions that
finally gave justice to Holocaust victims and their families.

Turkey does not want to do that and so will not be able to move forward and
become a real democracy until it faces its past history and gives justice to
the victims of the genocide and their families.

It is well past time for Turkey to do what Germany did in the case of the
Holocaust. Only then will Turkey be able to stop running from the truth and
be at peace with itself, its neighbors and the world. But most important of
all, there will be peace and closure for the victims and their families.

Without acknowledgment, without acceptance of its historical responsibility,
Turkey undermines efforts at reconciliation in the Caucasus and sets up the
possibility for repetition of such crimes against humanity.

The world recognizes the scope and horror of the Armenian genocide, and
history has long settled the question of how and why the Turkish government
sought to rid itself of an industrious Christian minority.

This month, Armenians all over the world will commemorate the first genocide
of the last century with prayers, vigils, proclamations and speakers to
remember the 1.2 million people who were annihilated by the Ottoman Turkish
government in 1915.

Lucy Derderian, the oldest genocide survivor living in New York state, died
in 2003. She was 103 and lived in Queens. She will be missed this year at
the commemoration, but her spirit and memory will always be with us.

Apostles met grisly ends

Apostles met grisly ends
Bucks County Courier Times
April 11, 2004
by J. D. Mullane

After the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, what happened to the 12
apostles?

We know they hid in an upper room, fearing they would be crucified, too.

Scripture states Jesus appeared to them, that Thomas doubted, and that they
went out into the world to preach.

Then what?

It’s hard to say for sure. History is sketchy when it comes to the 12, and
it’s tough to separate fact from the thick cloud of Bible lore, tradition
and faithful belief.

John, for example, is believed to have written the Book of Revelation, with
its frightening images of the apocalypse. Also, his preachings were so
effective he supposedly was tossed into a vat of boiling oil by Roman
authorities, but miraculously emerged unharmed.

Andrew is said to have parted an ocean with a cup of water.

Philip allegedly killed a black fiery dragon, and was accompanied on his
journeys by his sister, Miriam, who was martyred.

Whatever really happened, this much is clear: Most apostles were put to
death because they refused to deny Jesus.

Here’s a list of what happened to the 12 men Jesus picked to spread his
message, according to books and scholarly articles:

Peter married Perpetua and they had two children, a boy and girl. After
Jesus’ death and resurrection, Peter was perhaps the most aggressive
disciple and most visible face of the early Christian church. King Herod
tossed him in prison. Christian lore states an angel freed him. He preached
throughout Asia Minor, where Mark joined him and gathered material for his
gospel. He became the first bishop of the Church of Rome, where he was
crucified by the Roman Emperor Nero in 64 A.D.

Andrew, a fisherman and the first apostle, preached throughout Scythia,
today in the area of Ukraine. He was crucified on an x-shaped cross on
orders of the Roman governor Aegeas. He was tied to the cross rather than
nailed to prolong suffering.

James the Elder was a fiery speaker and personality who probably traveled
throughout Spain after the resurrection. He is considered the patron saint
of Spain. He was beheaded with a sword about 44 A.D. by Herod Agrippa.

Matthew spent 15 years evangelizing Egypt and Ethiopia, but there are
conflicting stories regarding the place and manner of his death, and if he
was martyred at all. Some accounts have King Hircanus ordering his death by
sword; others that Matthew was stoned, burned or beheaded.

Philip was a coach maker by trade who became a disciple after Jesus told
him, “Follow me.” He preached for 20 years in Asia, joined by his three
daughters. He was stoned and crucified head downward on a cross.

Bartholomew preached throughout Armenia. Details of his death in Albanopolis
conflict. He was either skinned alive and then crucified with head downward,
or beheaded by Astyages for having converted his brother, Polymius, the King
of Armenia.

Thaddeus preached throughout Judea and Samaria, but was clubbed and his head
severed with an ax by nonbelievers.

Simon was crucified after preaching the gospel in Samaria.

James the Lesser had sworn off food and drink until he saw the resurrected
Jesus. He was murdered about 62 A.D. in Jerusalem, tossed from the top of a
temple, stoned and clubbed. Some accounts have him praying for his attackers
as he died.

Thomas, the doubter, took his ministry to India, where he converted the wife
and son of King Misdai. For this he was sentenced to death, led from the
city to a hill and executed by four soldiers with swords.

Matthias, who replaced Judas Iscariot, was a wealthy tax collector who gave
away his money and embarked on a ministry to spread the message of Jesus,
perhaps in Ethiopia. Some accounts place his death in Ethiopia, others have
him being stoned to death and beheaded in Jerusalem.

John, the apostle “best loved” by Jesus, was among the first four apostles
and shared the nickname “Son of Thunder” with his brother, James the Elder.

Jesus gave the brothers the name because of their fiery preaching. John was
the only apostle not to abandon Jesus at his trial and crucifixion. He
traveled extensively and died at an old age, the only apostle believed to
have died of natural causes.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Armenian FM criticizes Azerbaijan’s stance on Turkish border opening

Armenian minister criticizes Azerbaijan’s stance on Turkish border opening

Arminfo
9 Apr 04

YEREVAN

“The Azerbaijani side looks at the issue of opening the
Armenian-Turkish border not from the point of view of prospects, but
exclusively from the point of view of the internal political
situation,” Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanyan has told an
Arminfo correspondent commenting on statements by Azerbaijani
politicians on the inadmissibility of opening the border.

“We are confident that the opening of the Armenian-Turkish border will
help develop regional cooperation and settle the Nagornyy Karabakh
conflict. I think that Azerbaijan approaches the issue incorrectly,”
Oskanyan said.

Opposition held sit-in Armenian capital ahead of another rally

Opposition held sit-in Armenian capital ahead of another rally

Mediamax news agency
10 Apr 04

YEREVAN

The Armenian opposition does not see any more opportunities to realize
the change of power in the country by means of holding a referendum on
confidence in the president, one of the leaders of the opposition
Justice block, Albert Bazeyan, said in Yerevan today.

The opposition leaders met today their adherents, who are staging a
sit-in on Freedom Square in Yerevan, Mediamax’s correspondent
reports. About 150 opposition activists are on Freedom Square at
present.

Albert Bazeyan said that the opposition had practically refused the
idea of holding a referendum on confidence in the authorities and
demanded the unconditional resignation of Armenian President Robert
Kocharyan. According to him, this decision was made after the ruling
coalition, which has a majority in the Armenian National Assembly,
rejected yesterday the opposition’s proposal to put the issue of
holding a referendum on confidence in the authorities on the agenda.

The regular meeting of the Armenian opposition will be staged on
Freedom Square at 1800 today. The leaders of the Justice block and the
National Unity party stated that mass protest actions will continue
unless the president resigns.

CIS security chief, Armenian official discuss cooperation

CIS security chief, Armenian official discuss cooperation

Arminfo
9 Apr 04

YEREVAN

The head of the Armenian National Security Service, Karlos Petrosyan,
the secretary- general of the Collective Security Treaty Organization
(CSTO), Nikolay Bordyuzha, and the CSTO deputy secretary-general,
Valeriy Semerikov, discussed regional security today.

The press service of the Armenian National Security Service told
Arminfo news agency that the meeting had discussed military and
political issues, changes in the operational situation and the
development and intensification of military cooperation within the
framework of the CSTO.

BAKU: Turkey not to open border without Azerbaijan consent – Min.

Turkey not to open Armenian border without Azerbaijan’s consent – minister

ANS TV, Baku
10 Apr 04

[Presenter] [Visiting] Turkish State Minister Besir Atalay has said
that without Azerbaijan’s consent, Turkey will not open its borders
with Armenia.

[Atalay in Turkish] In relations with Armenia, Turkey never forgets
Azerbaijan’s interests. Our foreign minister proposed that meetings be
held between the Azerbaijani, Armenian foreign ministers and Turkey to
discuss these issues.

We will never discuss any issues with Armenia without Azerbaijan’s
involvement. Our government wants to build peaceful relations with all
our neighbours and to discuss the existing problems.

[An unspecified correspondent] Do you want to say that Turkey can take
a decision only after Azerbaijan gives consent.

[Atalay] Yes, Azerbaijan’s interests will be taken into account in
taking decisions.

As you know, esteemed President Ilham Aliyev is coming to Ankara on 13
April. These issues will be discussed there. I cannot add anything
else to that.

Armenia opposition leader says dozens detained after Friday rally

Armenia opposition leader says dozens detained after Friday rally

Interfax news agency, Moscow
10 Apr 04

Yerevan, 10 April: The Armenian law-enforcement agencies detained
several dozen opposition activists following an opposition rally in
Yerevan on Friday evening [9 April], the leader of the opposition
Justice bloc and member of parliament, Albert Bazeyan, told Interfax.

The detainees have been indicted for the violation of public order, he
said.

Interfax has so far been unable to receive confirmation of this
information from the Armenian police.

At the present time, opposition members are continuing a
round-the-clock sit-in demonstration on Freedom Square in downtown
Yerevan. The organizers of the demonstration said they would not stop
their action until the authorities resign.

The number of the people taking part in the demonstration varied from
several dozens to several hundreds depending on the time of day.

In addition, two opposition parties Justice and National Unity, which
have temporarily joined for political purposes, plan to hold another
major rally on Freedom Square on Saturday evening.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress