Touring the home of the Western Armenian Heroes burial Site in Fresno, California, with Help of Varoujan Der Simonian, President of the Board of Trustees of the Armenian Museum of Fresno, and Edward Saliba, Heroes like Soghomon Tehlirian Gagrule
Turkish historian Taner Akçam, a professor of Armenian Genocide studies at Clark University in Massachusetts, has launched a digital archive of evidence collected by an Armenian Genocide survivor which documents the atrocities of 1915, Ahval reports.
Akçam, the Robert Aram and Marianne Kaloosdian and Stephen and Marian Mugar Professor in Armenian Genocide Studies at Clark University’s Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, worked with Turkish experts and graduate students on a digital repository comprised of 1915 Armenian Genocide survivor and Krikor Guerguerian’s collection, for which he travelled the world to collect evidence.
Turkey has never officially acknowledged that events leading to the death of hundreds of thousands of Armenians starting in 1915 constitute a genocide, though many other countries do.
The Krikor Guerguerian Archive contains thousands of original Ottoman documents and Guerguerian’s unpublished writings, including the handwritten memoirs of Naim Bey, an Ottoman bureaucrat stationed in Aleppo who actively participated in the deportation and massacres of Armenians and documents from the Jerusalem Armenian Patriarchate containing first-hand information about the Armenian Genocide.
Ciphered telegrams sent by the Ottoman Interior Minister Talat Pasha, seen by many as the principal architect of the Armenian Genocide, as well as army commanders, and the chief of the government’s paramilitary to governors throughout the Empire are among the most noteworthy materials of the archive.
“Access to these materials has the potential to change scholarly and political discourse as well as to destroy Turkish denial,” wrote Professor Akçam stressing that he sees it as his duty to make the ‘’evidence accessible for the world to see.’’
Sixty-five year old Akçam is widely regarded and criticised as one of the first Turkish academics to openly acknowledge and discuss the events of 1915 as genocide committed by the Turkish Ottoman government.
The Turks keep asking why Armenian not taking Armenian Genocide to the world human rights court as the Jews did? watch Wally Sarkeesian rebukes the Turks. Sunday, November 27th 7:00 AM California Time, sorry for the audio cut off at the end.
Here is the missing Taner Akçam
German-Turkish historian when Wally Sarkeesian ask when did you become familiar with Armenian Genocide.
Here is the missing part Taner Akçam
German-Turkish historian when Wally Sarkeesian ask when did you become familiar with Armenian Genocide
A tweet from MK Svetlova showing the vote
MK Svetlova: Israel was created from the ashes of the Holocaust, we are obligated to acknowledge the suffering of others
In a preliminary vote in the Knesset a bill to recognize the Yazidi genocide was voted down 58-38 on Wednesday. Ksenia Svetlova of Zionist Union, who introduced the bill said she was disappointed the recognition would not move forward. “As Jewish people who suffered persecution and sought a safe haven, we are obligated to acknowledge the suffering of others.”
In 2014 the Islamic State attacked the Yazidi minority in Iraq, systematically murdering thousands of men and elderly women and selling younger women and children into slavery. Around 3,000 Yazidis are still missing and more than 30 mass graves have been found in Iraq. The attack on the Yazidis mobilized international support in the fight against ISIS and led to US President Barack Obama ordering airstrikes against ISIS and food drops for stranded Yazidis. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe accused ISIS of genocide in 2016. A UN commission of inquiry in 2016 also said that ISIS had committed genocide. Nadia Murad, a Yazidi survivor who recently won the Nobel Prize, visited the Knesset in 2017 and urged recognition of the crimes.
Opposition parties such as Meretz and Zionist Union supported the bill, while the government opposed it. It comes at a sensitive time for the government which enjoys only a 61 seat coalition in the Knesset. Svetlova said that when she had initially introduced the bill it had received more support from across the political spectrum, but that there were concerns it might create a precedent in which pressure would be brought to support a bill recognizing the Armenian genocide and other persecutions.
Svetlova wrote on Twitter that the bill had been opposed by MK Tzipi Hotovely among others and that bizarrely the government gave as one reason, the fact that the UN had not recognized the genocide and assigned a day of commemoration. Usually Israel condemns the UN for its positions on Israel, but suddenly, Svetlova wondered, why does Israel care so much about the UN? The MK said that she initially received support from politicians across the political spectrum, including Yehuda Glick
“The government parties opposed it because the ministerial commission for legislation decided that on Sunday. When I submitted the bill Ayalet Shaked had been sympathetic. There is no reason not to support it, we are not stepping on anyone’s feet,” said Svetlova.
She also says she spoke to the foreign ministry about it and got the sense the ministry is worried about moving to fast on this issue. She said that while some states are moving towards recognition, Israel has a unique responsibility due to the Holocaust and Jewish history.
But the Knesset’s government majority decided it would be best to bury the bill. “They don’t want to make any precedent, which is an immoral position,” she said. If the bill had proceeded, Israel would have become the first country to recognize the genocide. “Israel was created from the ashes of the Holocaust, we should be pioneers in this regard.” Svetlova says she will reintroduce the bill next year depending on when elections are held.
Garo Paylan, an Armenian member of the Turkish parliament representing the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) reflected on the Armenian cultural heritage in Turkey during the budgetary debates of the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
Addressing the parliament session, the lawmaker stressed that the appropriated heritage is misrepresented in the country, noting that those in Turkey fail to admit the fact that the architect of Dolmabahçe Palace in the Beşiktaş district of Istanbul was an Armenian, Ermenihaber reports.
“Why don’t you say that Dolmabahçe Palace belongs to us, Akhtamar belongs to us … During the college years, when we visited Dolmabahçe, the guide said that the palace was built by Italian architect Baliani. I believed, but when I returned to college I found out that Dolmabahçe was built by Armenian architect Garabed Balyan,” Paylan was quoted as saying.
“Can you imagine? There is a perception that an Italian architect is preferable to an Armenian one. Many sites in Istanbul bear the marks of the famous Balyan family. Why do you deny this? Why don’t you say that Sultanahmet, Dolmabahçe Palace and Akhtamar are ours?” he asked.
The Balyan family was a prominent Ottoman Armenian family of court architects in the service of Ottoman sultans and other members of the Ottoman dynasty during the 18th and 19th centuries. For five generations, they designed and constructed numerous major buildings in the Ottoman Empire, including palaces, mansions, konaks, kiosks, yalis, mosques, churches, and various public buildings, mostly in Constantinople (present-day Istanbul).
The nine well-known members of the family served six sultans in the course of almost a century and played an important role in the westernization of Ottoman architecture during the Tanzimat period.
In large part because of the Syrian civil war that began in 2011, today there are 3,585,738 Syrians in Turkey, according to official numbers.
As a result of the war, Kurds and Turkmens sought refuge in neighboring countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. All Syrian ethnic groups flowed into Turkey save for Syrian Armenians. This attracted the attention of journalist Serdar Korucu, who has been doing research into refugee communities along the border. Korucu told Al-Monitor last week that when he saw there were practically no Armenians among the refugees, he told himself, “This can’t just be because of the low ratio of Armenians to the overall Syrian population. There has to be another reason.”
While looking into the issue, he met a Syrian Armenian in Turkey and asked her, “When Turkey is so close, why are Syrian Armenians not coming there?” She told him, “Yes, Turkey’s border is very close, but in real life it is too remote from us.”
Korucu attributes the distance separating the two peoples as “1915 incidents.”
“Syrian Armenians were the ones who fled to Aleppo from Anatolia about 100 years ago. Their massacre memories are so fresh they decided not to come to Turkey,’’ Korucu said. The memories of massacres caused Armenians to opt for more difficult and dangerous travels instead of going to Turkey, he said, adding that some went to Lebanon, some to Armenia and those who could traveled to Western countries.
Korucu spoke with 22 Syrian Armenians, 21 of whom had settled in Armenia. Korucu published the interviews in a book, whose title could be translated as “Those Absent from Aleppo.”
Manuel Khesisyan of Aleppo told him, “I was born in Aleppo. My father was born while escaping the massacres. My mother was also born in Aleppo. We constantly listened to their sagas of the massacres. We know what our father and grandfather told us. One and a half million Armenians were killed. There is our Maras [in southeast Turkey]. Our grandchildren should know that we had our homeland and we were expelled from it.”
All those who spoke with him had memories similar to Khesisyan’s. They all had listened to the memories and testimonies of their grandparents who were deported from Anatolia in 1915, about the life-risking travel they underwent to arrive in Syria, how they lost so many people during their escape and how they then established their lives in Aleppo. Referring to the raging war in Syria, Korucu said that 100 years after “the massacres, this community received another hard blow.”
Saghik Rastgelenian, now in Yerevan, Armenia, spoke of the chain of disasters he had to cope with. He told Korucu, “As Armenians our lives are full of adventures and tragedies as if this is our destiny. I used to participate in April 24 observances [Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day]. They were very painful. But that pain reminds us that we are also strong.”
Lena Shamliyanise Serdar spoke with Korucu in Yerevan and told him, “This ongoing Syrian war is our second genocide. My grandfather lived through the first genocide when they escaped to Syria from Urfa in 1915.”
Shamliyanise tried to explain to Korucu why she spoke of a second genocide: “The debate on genocide in Syria was not the massacres targeting Armenians but Yazidis. Until they were saved by the Kurdish YPG [People’s Protection Units] what Yazidis suffered under the IS [Islamic State] was labeled as genocide by the research commission set up by UN Human Rights Council. Why do some Aleppo Armenians call their experiences genocide after they
have become families settled in Aleppo? That is the trauma of the original genocide. Armenians had the same experience during the Sept. 6-7, 1955, Istanbul pogrom. Istanbul Armenians lived through this pogrom, which actually targeted the Istanbul Greeks, but they believed they were facing a new genocide.”
Could the possible life-or-death choice of avoiding Turkey while trying to escape death in Syria be just the product of memory? Korucu said other factors are also involved, saying, “Syrian Armenians think that if they come to Turkey they will be mistreated because they are Armenians. One of them I spoke with in Yerevan said, ‘When they ask my identity in Turkey, I give different answers. Instead of saying I am a Syrian or an Armenian, I respond, depending on my mood, I am Lebanese or I am Bulgarian. There is no resentment of Lebanese in Turkey because they are not coming to stay. But Syrians have bad image. I was trying to avoid that.”
There is only one unnamed interviewee in the book, a Syrian Catholic Armenian who chose to stay in Turkey; Korucu said she represents the mindset and prevailing mood of Syrian Armenians. “I have been working with refugees since 2013. I interviewed hundreds of them in Turkey but never encountered the hesitation, the tension I saw in this Armenian woman I spoke with at Antakya,” Korucu said.
A number of intellectuals and democrats, famous for their pro-Armenian activities, have been detained by the Police in Turkey today early in the morning, Istanbul-Armenian journalist Raffi Hermon Araks told Armenpress.
“The Armenian people are interested in those who were detained as they have always participated in any pro-Armenian activities in Turkey, be it linked with the Armenian Genocide or meetings, protests on other issues”, the journalist said.
There are professors, lecturer, human rights specialist, as well as 4 members of the staff of jailed Osman Kavala’s Anadolu Kultur association.
“Osman Kavala is jailed for more than a year, and till now the prosecutor didn’t clarify what he is jailed for”, Raffi Hermon Araks said.
Pashinyan lamented that although the crimes against Armenians were condemned and later those crimes will be called the first genocide of the 20th century, lessons from the Armenian Genocide were not taken by the international community, thus resulting in the Holocaust, the Cambodian and Rwandan genocides.
“It was during World War One that the Allied powers, for the first time ever, used the definition ‘crimes against humanity and civilization,’ thus condemning the Ottoman rulers for the extermination of 1.5 million Armenians. Later, this horrendous crime was to be termed the first genocide of the 20th century,” said Pashinyan.
“Nevertheless, only few decades later mankind went through the Holocaust, the genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, the genocides of the Christians and Yezidis in the Middle East, the violence against the Rohingya people,” added Pashinyan.
Armenia’s acting prime minister also pointed to Wilson’s 14 Points to draw attention to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the Artsakh people’s right to self-determination—a concept highlighted by the U.S. president as an inalienable right of all people.
“The decades-long struggle of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh to determine their destiny has not received its proper legal solution. In the 21th century it is absolutely unacceptable that people’s mere desire to exercise its right to self-determination may turn into an existential menace,” said Pashinyan.
Pashinyan had joined leaders from around the world to commemorate the end of World War I when on November 11, 1918 an agreement was signed putting an end to all combat operations in the War. This document served as a precursor for the Versailles Treaty and the Paris Peace Conference, both of which took place in 1919, with representatives of the then newly-independent Republic of Armenia taking part.
Among the leaders at the commemoration and the conference were President Donald Trump, President Vladimir Putin of Russia and Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Turkey.
The Conference was opened by introductory remarks made by Paris Peace Conference Executive Committee Vice President Trisha Shetty and French President Emmanuel Macron, followed by speeches delivered by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
After the speech Pashinyan presented an illustrated book by historian Hayk Demoyan entitled “The Armenian Genocide: Front Page Coverage in the World Media” to be included in the Peace Library as Armenia’s contribution.
Pashinyan and his wife, Anna Hakopyan arrived in Paris on Sunday and were greeted by Macron and the French first lady, Brigitte. They then participated in the Armistice Centennial Ceremony joining other world leaders.
Distinguished Heads of State and Government,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We have gathered here to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One. This is an event of exceptional significance called to pay tribute to collective memory and to articulate our common message of peace.
Today, we, as the leaders of the nations, which participated in that war, should first of all speak about the lessons learnt from the tragedy of World War One.
When a state wages a war or is tempted to solve problems by military means, it believes in its own strength and victory. Yet, World War One became a global tragedy for all the peoples engaged and resulted in the destruction of its mastermind states.
There is a belief, that from the geopolitical and military perspective there are always winners and losers in wars. However, from the human perspective, no one ever wins. Wars bring only loss, misery and devastation.
And regardless of our common efforts and appeals to learn from the previous mistakes, these lessons are easily forgotten.
Even though one hundred years ago, the humanity realized the need to ban weapon of mass destruction, regrettably it has not prevented the creation of new generations of arms.
It was during World War One that the Allied powers, for the first time ever, used the definition “crimes against humanity and civilization,” thus condemning the Ottoman rulers for the extermination of 1,5 million Armenians. Later, this horrendous crime was to be termed the first genocide of the 20th century.
Nevertheless, only few decades later mankind went through the Holocaust, the genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, the genocides of the Christians and Yezidis in the Middle East, the violence against the Rohingya people.
As part of the lessons, learnt from the war the right of the peoples to self-determination was set out in Wilson’s 14 points. Later on it was included in the UN Charter, Helsinki Final Act, and became a basis for the independence of around half of the modern states.
As a result of World War One, the people of the world legally established the right to master their own destiny through the expression of free will. Here, in France I cannot but stress that just days ago, France has clearly reiterated its principled position on this issue: the people of New Caledonia were given the opportunity to conduct a referendum. Painfully, this right is being exercised selectively.
This is why, the decades-long struggle of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh to determine their destiny has not received its proper legal solution. In the 21th century it is absolutely unacceptable that people’s mere desire to exercise its right to self-determination may turn into an existential menace.
As a result of World War One the world established the League of Nations, the prototype for the United Nations, with the ultimate goal of achieving peace.
Nonetheless, the manifestations of extremism in the contemporary world are on the rise. We established those institutions first and foremost to protect human rights. Yet, today we are witnessing daily abuse of the most fundamental human right – the right to life.
After the end of the First World War, many believed that it would be the last ever war fought. However, the Second World War was not long in coming. The humankind entered into a new phase of war and arms race. Unfortunately, up to now we have been unable to put an end to it. Moreover, we get further involved in it every day.
This is why I attach high importance to such meetings. They provide us an opportunity to reflect on our past, on our common history of the humankind. Indeed, we are unable to change that history, and we do not need to. But the history is well able to change us to make our future better.
To this end, we need to learn the most important lesson of World War One. No state can build its success at the cost of others’ misery, no one can gain freedom at the cost of others’ slavery. We put an end to the First World War hundred years ago. And this is a perfect occasion to think of entering a century without wars – a century of peace.
I do believe, that the leaders that have gathered here, in Paris, are well able to achieve it. And this will be the best ever tribute to the innocent victims of the previous century.
By David Boyajian,
Assyrians and Armenians have lived near each other for thousands of years and shared similar trials and tribulations.
So as an Armenian American in an audience of about sixteen Assyrian Americans, I knew I was among compatriots.
The occasion was a talk by Prof. Hannibal Travis, titled “The Plight of Refugees and the Law of Genocide: Assyrians, Armenians, Greeks, and Yezidis,” on a rainy, blustery Saturday afternoon on October 27, 2018 at the Watertown Public Library in Watertown, MA.
The event was sponsored by the Assyrian American Association of Massachusetts (AAAM; Facebook.com/AssyrianAmericanAssociationOfMassachusetts).
The talk’s primary topic was the World War I era genocides — and previous massacres — of Christian Assyrians/Armenians/Greeks, as well as Yezidis, committed by Ottoman Turkey and allied Kurds.
Prof. Travis also discussed the ongoing victimization of Assyrians, Armenians, and Yezidis by Islamist jihadists and others in the current wars in Iraq and Syria.
The Assyrian Genocide
The 14th century Turko-Mongol invasions of Timur/Tamerlane, said the speaker, had forced many Assyrians into the mountains of northern Mesopotamia (today’s southeastern Turkey) from their cities in the southern plains.
In 1843 in Hakkari (now in southeastern Turkey), perhaps 10,000 Assyrians were massacred and sold into slavery by Kurdish tribes and Ottoman forces.
The “Hamidian Massacres” of the mid-1890s — so named after Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II — are usually thought to have had only Armenian victims.
Prof. Travis pointed out, however, that perhaps 25,000 Assyrians also fell victim to these massacres.
In the World War I era, an estimated 250,000 Assyrians were murdered by Ottoman Turkey and Kurdish irregulars in the Assyrian Genocide or “Seyfo,” which means “sword” in the Assyrian language.
In the same period, invading Ottoman forces also murdered many Assyrians in northwest Persia (now Iran).
In 1915, explained Travis, Assyrians made resistance stands, such as in Ayn-Wardo (in today’s southeastern Turkey), against Turkish troops and Kurdish brigands — similar to that period’s Armenian defense stands in Van and at Musa Dagh.
About 2,500 Assyrians presently call Armenia their home.
The Yezidi Genocide
The Yezidis (or Yazidis) were also swept up in the 20th century genocides that engulfed Christians in the Turkish Empire.
In Iraq/Syria today, Yezidis often find themselves under siege by ISIS jihadists.
Most Yezidis regard themselves as a distinct ethno-religious group. They often speak the Indo-European language known as Kurmanji Kurdish. Their unique religion, Yazidism, combines some aspects of other major monotheistic religions.
Yezidis presently live mainly in Iraq and Syria, though approximately 30,000 also reside in Armenia.
Hannibal Travis is an Associate Professor of Law at Florida International University College of Law in Miami. A magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School in 1999, he has authored scores of articles on genocide and international law as well as Internet, business, copyright, and antitrust law.
He is the editor of the recently published The Assyrian Genocide: Cultural and Political Legacies.
His mother’s family was from the traditionally Assyrian regions of Hakkari and Urmia.
He explains that the name Hannibal is of Semitic origin and attested in Phoenician/Carthaginian history. It means “Mercy of Baal” where Baal is usually translated as “the Lord”.
Travis has previously spoken at events sponsored by such Armenian organizations as AGBU, Armenian Assembly of America, Centennial Project Foundation, and USC Institute of Armenian Studies.
I spoke to Ninos Hanna and Prof. Sargon George Donabed at this event.
Hanna is AAAM’s President and a communications and marketing professional.
His mother’s family was from Kharpert province (in Western Armenia/Turkey), a major Armenian center prior to the 1915 Genocide. His father’s family came from Diyarbekir and Mardin in present-day southeastern Turkey.
Sargon Donabed is an Associate Professor of History at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island. He is the author of Reforging a Forgotten History: Iraq and the Assyrians in the Twentieth Century and The Assyrians of Eastern Massachusetts. His father’s family hails from Kharpert.
I suggested to both men some ways to better inform the Armenian community of Assyrian events and news.
Hopefully this can be the start of much greater cooperation between the two communities.
David Boyajian is a freelance journalist. Many of his articles are archived at Armeniapedia.org/wiki/David_Boyajian.
By Cynthia Fernandez,
From 1915 through 1918, more than a million Armenians living under Ottoman rule were massacred. Many who survived the genocide fled their homeland, some secretly harboring sacred objects as they passed through border stations on their journey to the United States.
At first, the objects were honored quietly in bedroom shrines. But eventually many were donated to a group of Armenians in the Boston area who wanted to protect them for future generations.
The founders of the Armenian Museum of America in Watertown rented the basement of a Belmont church, which served as the museum from 1986 to 1990, when it moved to its current quarters at 65 Main St.
As if by reflex, some of the objects were boxed again. That is, until this past January, when Jennifer Liston Munson joined the museum as its new executive director.