sent by A Topalian
A GREAT TIME FOR A FRESH LOOK AT THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE
May 29 2012
This week, a Turkish court approved a criminal indictment against
four former Israeli military commanders for their alleged role in the
deaths of nine Turkish activists who were trying to break Israel's
blockade of Hamas-run Gaza in 2010. The indictment calls for between
8,000 and 18,000 life sentences for each of the Israeli men.
That's a lot of life sentences - especially given last year's UN report
concluding that, while Israel had used excessive force against the
knife- and club-wielding Turkish jihadis, the blockade itself was
As an arithmetic experiment, imagine if the Israeli military had done
something truly monstrous - comparable, for instance, to what the
Ottoman Turks did to the Armenians during World War I and the years
that followed. How many life sentences do you hand out to the killers
of over a million innocent people? (Extrapolating from the flotilla
indictments above, the figure I come up with is over a billion.)
Alas, those WWI-era Ottoman killers have long since given up this
earthly vale of tears. Many died in their beds - unlike the Armenian
men and women who perished from exposure or starvation, clutching
their children's bodies, during their forced marches through the
As it happens, a new book on this historical episode - The Young Turks'
Crime Against Humanity: The Armenian Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing
in the Ottoman Empire, by Clark University professor Taner Akcam -
landed in my mailbox a few months back. According to the publishers,
Princeton University Press, Akcam is the first scholar of Turkish
origin to publicly acknowledge the Armenian Genocide.
Till now, Akcam's work has been taboo in Turkey. But given the recent
flotilla indictments, it would seem the Turks are exhibiting a newfound
zeal for litigating the crimes of the past. What better time to crack
open Akcam's book?
The first theme that jumps out from The Young Turks' Crime Against
Humanity is the obsessive zeal with which the Turks of the early
20th-century sorted the Anatolian population by religion and
ethnicity. Christians - Greek and Armenian alike - were singled out
for special scrutiny. But even non-Turk Muslims were seen as suspect.
Millions of Kurds, for instance, were ethnically cleansed from
certain regions in a bid to weaken their political claims - a legacy
of persecution that continues to this day.
"In order to reform the Kurdish element and transform it into a
constructive entity, it is necessary to immediately displace and send
[Kurds] to the assigned places in Anatolia," reads one 1916 telegram
cited by Akcam. "In the place of resettlement, the sheikhs, leaders
and mullahs will be separated from the rest of the tribe and sent
to different districts ... to places where they will be unable to
maintain relations with other members."
The overarching demographic goal of the Ottoman Turks prior to WWI
was what Akcam calls "the 5% to 10% rule": Officials sought to cleanse
each region of the country such that resettled non-Turk groups would
constitute not more than one-in-20 or one-in-10 within the larger
population. One way to meet this mathematical threshold was through
massive, long-range population transfers.
Another strategy, implemented as World War I unfolded, was outright
extermination: Cadavers didn't count toward the 5-to-10 quota.
The process by which Ottoman officials and generals used military
exigencies as a pretext for annihilating large swathes of the Armenian
population was complex. Readers looking for the details will find
them in chapters five through eight of Akcam's book, along with the
names of the men responsible. But it is the anecdotes that stand out
in a reader's memory, such as this one, quoted from a 1918 debate in
the Ottoman Chamber of Deputies:
"There was a county head in the military district. He loaded the
Armenians onto a caïque on the pretext of sending them off to Samsun
[by boat] and then dumping them into the sea. I heard that the governor
[of the province of Trebizond] Cemal Azmi performed this act personally
... As soon as I arrived [in Istanbul], I told the interior minister
those things that I had seen and heard ... But I was unable to persuade
him to take any action ... I tried over a period of perhaps three
years, but it was not to be. They would claim it [had happened in]
the war zone, [and] say things like this."
Almost a century later, Turkish officials still "say things like
this" when confronted with evidence of the Armenian Genocide. The
country's formal position is that the Armenians endured a mere
"relocation" exercise during a period when they were suspected
of comprising a pro-Russian fifth-column threat. Five years ago,
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan asked his government officials
to use the phrase "1915 Events" to describe the Armenian Genocide -
which is kind of like referring to the Jewish Holocaust as "that
thing that happened in the early 1940s."
Many nations and ethnic groups whitewash their own history. Russian
school textbooks underplay the crimes of Stalin. And Chinese officials
are scandalized whenever someone mentions the atrocities against
Falun Gong practitioners. But unlike Turkey, these nations generally
do not posture as guardians of human rights and international law.
If Turkey presumes to lecture Israel or anyone else on these subjects,
it could start with a frank admission of the horrors that Turks
themselves perpetrated against Armenians and other minorities. Even
then, the Turkish case against Israel would have little merit. But
at least, it wouldn't stink of hypocrisy.
COVERED MARKET WILL BE UP TO 4 STORIES HIGH?!
Tuesday, May 29, 13:52
The scandal over the covered market in Yerevan is gathering pace.
Late in the evening on May 27 the arch roof of the Yerevan covered
market was demolished. Green activists were the first to alarm
about the situation. Activists sent a letter to the Yerevan Police
demanding punishment of those guilty for demolition of the arc roof
of the covered market.
Yerevan Municipality responded to the situation late in the evening
on May 28 i.e. Mayor Taron Margaryan posted a statement on his
Facebook page saying that the Municipality has not provided any
permit for construction on the covered market. "To fortify the
building constructions and to avoid accidents and breakdowns the
economic entity initiated relevant measures. A group of specialists
of the Culture Ministry and the Municipality worked in the area of
the market within the day and further steps will be made on the basis
of their resolutions," the mayor wrote.
Margaryan's statement arouses questions: why did fortification of the
building construction end in demolition and why do experts of the
municipality and the ministry care for the security instead of the
economic entity? Haykakan Zhamank Daily comments on the situation:
"By our data, the building will be up by 4 stories. And the roof was
to be 'neutralized' for that purpose."
YEREVAN'S COVERED MARKET WILL MAINTAIN EXTERIOR AFTER
RENOVATION - BUSINESSMAN MP
May 31, 2012 | 11:54
YEREVAN. - Armenian capital city Yerevan's Covered Market will preserve
its external appearance after the renovations, ruling Republican Party
of Armenia MP and businessman Samvel Aleksanyan-who owns the Market -
told Armenian News-NEWS.am.
He stated that the Market's rooftop had collapsed on its own.
"The [National] Seismic [Protection Service] gave the papers that
[show that] the [Market's] rear was not in good condition, [and] it
collapsed on its own. [But] We will restore it completely," Aleksanyan
said, and promised to preserve the building's architectural appearance.
"We will restore the [Market's] arches, too. There will be a market
there, and we are digging several floors to [also] build a parking
lot," the MP noted.
To the query as to whether building an underground parking could
affect the Market's seismic resistance, Aleksanyan responded with a no.
And to the question as to whether all this could have been informed
earlier so as not to raise uproar, Samvel Aleksanyan responded:
"Now, a commission is formed which will give its conclusion."
WORLD NO TOBACCO DAY: 54.7% OF ARMENIAN MEN SMOKE
Members of World Health Organization mark No tobacco day on May 31.
WHO marks this day since 1988 with Armenia having joined the initiative
On World No Tobacco Day, World Health Organization (WHO) is calling
on national leaders to be extra vigilant against the increasingly
aggressive attacks by the industry which undermine policies that
protect people from the harms of tobacco.
Ministry of Health said 54.7% of Armenian men aged 20-65 use tobacco.
It is estimated that tobacco kills almost 6 million people every year
and is one of the leading preventable causes of illness and death
around the world.
"In recent years, multinational tobacco companies have been shamelessly
fueling a series of legal actions against governments that have been at
the forefront of the war against tobacco. The industry is now stepping
out of the shadows and into court rooms," says WHO Director-General Dr
Margaret Chan. "We must now stand together with these governments that
have had the courage to do the right thing to protect their citizens,"
she said in a message marking World No Tobacco Day on Thursday.
DEVALUATION OF ARMENIAN CURRENCY NOT ALARMING, EXPERT
Devaluation of Armenian dram must not cause panic among the people,
being the result of factors from outside, economist Tatul Manaseryan
said, adding that it has no connection with Armenia's policy.
The specialist said he believes the impact of foreign and domestic
signals are more of economic nature. Among the foreign impulses
Manaseryan noted the activation of US economy, its rise connected with
the economic bailout measures implemented by Obama's administration.
"Agreed with economic competition, the euros' positions are weakening.
It is taking place agreed with the financial crisis as well. Armenian
economy has been influenced by political processes and some seasonal
factors," Tatul Manaseryan said.
However, Manaseryan was optimistic, saying though devaluation of
dram is being noticed, instead, the export tempos have reached 32%
in the first quarter of the year.
"Processes counter-balancing the devaluation of dram may be registered
in July. If no big blows are registered and the stable course and
the efficiency continue we will have less concerns connected with
dollar-dram exchange," the speaker said.
Sarkisian Lauds Pan-Armenian Charity
President Serzh Sarkisian on Wednesday lavished praise on a
Diaspora-funded pan-Armenian charity that has spent over $235 million
on development projects in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh since its
establishment 20 years ago.
Sarkisian stressed the importance of those projects as he presided
over a regular meeting in Yerevan of the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund's
Board of Trustees comprising top Armenian state officials, Catholicos
Garegin II and prominent representatives of Armenian communities
around the world.
`They have been so many and so diverse that we are only left to
conclude that without the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund it is no longer
possible to imagine the Republic of Armenia and Artsakh (Karabakh),'
he said. `This is a jubilee that instills joy and confidence in us.'
The funds raised by Hayastan in the last two decades have been mainly
used for building about 500 kilometers of roads, hundreds of
apartments and houses and dozens of schools, kindergartens and
healthcare centers. Karabakh has absorbed most of that money largely
collected in annual telethons broadcast from Los Angeles.
Ara Vartanian, who was reappointed by the board as Hayastan's
executive director, said the charity will spend about $20 million this
year. He singled out the planned construction of `community centers'
in an unspecified number of Armenian and Karabakh villages. `We will
build centers in villages that will house village administrations,
medical rooms, auditoriums, libraries and computer rooms,' Vartanian
Wealthy Diaspora Armenians have long financed a significant proportion
of Hayastan's activities. Kirk Kerkorian, a reclusive U.S. billionaire
of Armenian descent, was a key donor in the 1990s. The fund has also
received millions of dollars from Moscow-based Armenian tycoons in
recent years. One of them, Samvel Karapetian, donated $15 million in
`It's always hard to raise funds because there are many benevolent
organizations [in the Diaspora] implementing various programs,'
Vartanian said, adding that Hayastan has been trying to earn Diaspora
trust by operating with `utmost transparency.'
`Another problem is that a large part of Armenians living in other
countries unfortunately remain Armenian only by name and do not want
to be connected with their homeland in any way,' he complained.
BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
May 25, 2012
Bathroom, boys’/girls’/men’s/women’s room, can, crapper, head, john,
latrine, lavatory, loo, outhouse, potty, powder room, washroom, WC,
ardaknotz, bedkaran, cordzaran, lvatzaran, zookaran… with so many
words for it, you’d think these places would be ubiquitous, easily available.
It turns out, they’re not. At least not in the Republic of Armenia, and not
where they’re most needed.
This stinky situation came up last night at a program with Edik Baghdasaryan,
of Hetq.am— the investigative journalism publication in Armenia.
An expert in tourism, a man who has been in the travel industry for decades,
broached this subject. He noted that he’d raised this issue with the relevant
authorities, and his entreaties and proposals had gone unheeded.
Tellingly, Edik cringed as he described dreading “the question” when he had
visiting friends with him at touristic sites in Armenia. He noted that neither
our greatest churches nor other touristic attractions have conveniently located
facilities for when his guests needed to go. He also said they’d addressed this
issue at Hetq. Finally, he suggested starting a campaign for toilets in Armenia.
So here it is… the first odoriferous salvo in the great toilet war. Please, start
telling the Armenia Fund, church leaders, enemies, friends, government officials,
hosts, hotels, organizations, parliamentarians, political parties, relatives, and
basically anybody else that will listen “we want toilets”.
For a country that is betting on tourism as one of the drivers of its economic
growth, the absence of toilets is inconceivable. It’s high time the Front for
Armenia’s Respectable Toilets (FART) was established!
Of course we all know that every joke has its kernel of seriousness, so despite
the humorous way this piece is written in (hopefully you agree), I am very
serious that we must act on this issue and bring it to a positive, beneficial,
Let’s do this folks, let’s embarrass the Armenia’s leaders into doing the right
thing for the country, its tourist industry’s visitors, and all our bowels and