Monday, 17 October 2016

Armenian News... A Topalian... Armenia welcomes French Senate bill penalising Genocide denial 14 Oct 2016

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Armenia has welcomed the French bill making it a crime to deny the 
Armenian genocide.
“We welcome the adoption by the French Senate of a bill criminalizing 
the denial of the Armenian Genocide, which had been approved by the 
National Assembly in summer,” Armenian Foreign Minister Edward 
Nalbandian said in a statement.
“With this step France once again reiterates its valuable role in the 
condemnation of genocides committed in the past, the fight against 
denial and the prevention of new crimes against humanity,” Minister 
Nalbandian said.
The French Senate  voted 156 to 146 today to pass a bill criminalizing 
the denial of the Armenian Genocide of 1915.
French Armenians hail adoption of bill criminalizing denialism by 
15 October, 2016 
The Co-ordination Council of Armenian organizations of France hails the 
adoption of the bill criminalizing the denial of genocides by the French 
Senate. “Armenpress” reports the statement issued by the Council notes, 
“Genocide is the top demonstration of racism, hatred and violence, 
while denialism, as Bernard-Henri Lévy (French philosopher-edit) says, 
is the top demonstration of genocide. The first genocide of the 20th 
century, the extermination of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire, is part 
of demonstration of hatred, racism and violence. 
By adopting the second document against denialism in a period of less 
than 5 years, the Frech parliament explicitly denies Turkish position on 
this issue”. 
The statement adds that the adoption of the bill is a message to 
totalitarian ideologies, which seeing the impunity for the Armenian 
Genocide, continue to spread death even in Europe and France.
Ankara welcomes Sergey Lavrov`s statement on Turkey`s possible  
positive role in Karabakh settlement 
ArmInfo. Ankara appreciates the statement of Russian Foreign Minister 
Sergey Lavrov on the possibility for Turkey to play a positive role in 
the Nagorno-  Karabakh conflict's settlement, Turkey's Foreign Ministry 
told Trend in an exclusive interview.
"First and foremost, Turkey wishes peace and stability in the South  
Caucasus. Respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty of all  
countries in the region will contribute to peace and stability in the  
region. The unconstructive position of Armenia in the  Nagorno-Karabakh 
conflict poses a risk for a long-term peace and  stability in the 
region," said the ministry.  At the same time, the  Turkish minister 
said Turkey supports Azerbaijan in the issue and the  settlement of the 
conflict on the basis of 'territorial integrity and  sovereignty of 
"Undoubtedly, Turkey will support Azerbaijan's position in this  issue. 
In this regard, Turkey as a member of the OSCE Minsk Group is  closely 
monitoring the settlement process and is trying to promote  negotiations 
by means of close contacts with Azerbaijan," said  Turkey's Foreign 
Earlier on Friday Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told  
journalists in Yerevan Turkey may play a positive role in Nagorno-  
Karabakh settlement.
"The fact that Turkey can play a positive role lifting blockade from  
Nagorno Karabakh, ensuring normal economic cooperation in the region  is 
an important factor, which we always consider. And we would be  glad if 
Armenia and Turkey return to fulfillment of agreements  without relating 
them to Karabakh conflict.  But we feel that  progress in Karabakh 
settlement would be key factor in normalization  of Armenian- Turkish 
relations", Lavrov said. 
In the meantime, Yerevan does insist that Turkey must not involve in  
the Karabakh peace process.  Deputy Foreign Minister of Armenia  
Shavarsh Kocharyan has told Public TV that first and foremost, the  
settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh problem is aimed at determining the  
final status of Nagorno- Karabakh through the legally binding  
_expression_ of will of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. "Another  
attempt of the Foreign Minister of Turkey to distort the  
Nagorno-Karabakh negotiation process proves once again what we have  
been emphasized on numerous occasions that Turkey should be kept away  
from the settlement process as far as possible," he says.  Regarding  
the Turkish Foreign Minister's statement on the normalization of the  
Armenian-Turkish relations, Kocharyan says that if Ankara really  wanted 
to normalize relations with Armenia, it would have ratified  and 
implemented the Armenian-Turkish protocols signed back in 2009 in  
To recall, On October 12 Mevlut Cavusoglu, Minister of Foreign  Affairs 
of the Republic of Turkey, stated at the autumn plenary  session of the 
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE)  that Turkey has 
exerted sincere efforts for peaceful settlement of  Nagorno-Karabakh 
conflict. "The Minsk Group and Russia are making  efforts for the 
settlement of the conflict. The issue of withdrawing  Armenian Armed 
Forces' troops from the occupied Azerbaijani  territories, particularly 
from the 5 districts has been on the agenda  recently. Russia has shared 
these efforts with us, and so did we.   It's because we support any 
solution that is in Azerbaijan's  interests", the Turkish minister 
noted. At the same time, the Turkish  Minister touched upon the 
Armenian-Turkish relations and stressed  that Ankara seeks to mend the 
relations with Armenia. The FM added  that Turkey has also tried to 
normalize bilateral ties with Armenia,  signing an agreement in 
Switzerland (Zurich protocols in 2009 -  editor's note), however the 
process failed.
Tamar and Vatche Manoukian Donate $30 Million to UCLA Health Sciences
Tamar and Vatche Manoukian have made a landmark gift to the Division of 
Digestive Diseases at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA that 
will provide unrestricted funds to accelerate research, innovative 
clinical care and educational priorities. This generous effort has 
inspired additional anonymous pledged support, bringing the total of the 
gift on behalf of the Manoukians to $30 million to benefit the division 
and support crucial initiatives in the Geffen School of Medicine.
In recognition of the Manoukians’ leadership philanthropy, the 
university will name the division in their honor — making this the 
medical school’s first division to be named following a philanthropic 
gift. In addition to the UCLA Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of 
Digestive Diseases, the university has named 100 UCLA Medical Plaza the 
Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Medical Building.
“The science that will emerge from the Manoukians’ extraordinary 
contribution will lead to the discovery of new drugs and therapies that 
will improve health and save lives,” said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. 
“Their generosity is an inspiration
to our talented physicians and to other members of the philanthropic 
The UCLA Division of Digestive Diseases is renowned for its 
comprehensive research. Ranked No. 5 in the nation by the U.S. News & 
World Report 2016–17 survey, the division has become a model for 
coordinated care.
“Visionary philanthropy can alter the course of science,” said Dr. John 
Mazziotta, vice chancellor for UCLA Health Sciences and CEO of UCLA 
Health. “The remarkable generosity of Tamar and Vatche Manoukian will be 
instrumental in positioning the division for the future.”
Building on an interdisciplinary and collaborative clinical approach 
and bolstered by pioneering laboratory science, division physicians 
provide the tools for patients to manage chronic disease, the 
technologies to save lives and the therapies to ensure cures for some of 
the most challenging conditions.
“Innovation requires both leadership and investment,” said Dr. Eric 
Esrailian, Co-Chief of the Division of Digestive Diseases and Lincy 
Foundation Chair in Clinical Gastroenterology in the Geffen School of 
Medicine. “Tamar and Vatche’s exceptional philanthropy will help ensure 
that UCLA can continue unraveling the mysteries of digestive diseases, 
make transformative scientific discoveries, and develop the physician 
leaders of the future. Their unrestricted gift gives the division 
flexibility that is essential as we advance our highest educational, 
research and patient care priorities.”
A leader in the global Armenian community, Vatche Manoukian has been 
involved in a wide range of businesses, including property investment, 
retail, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, entertainment and renewable 
energy. He and his wife, who have four children, have continued his 
family’s tradition of charitable work throughout the world, with a 
particular emphasis on education, medicine, culture, the environment and 
Armenian causes.
The Manoukians’ scholarship funds have enabled several thousand 
students who lack financial resources to further their education, and 
postgraduate programs established by the Manoukians at universities in 
the United States, the United Kingdom and Lebanon have helped provide 
essential skills for tomorrow’s community leaders.
The couple support many children’s charities around the world, such as 
the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children; the U.S. 
Fund for UNICEF, on whose board Manoukian serves; and the Prince Albert 
II of Monaco Foundation. They also support the Royal Opera House in 
London. The Manoukians have been the sole financial supporters of major 
cultural exhibitions, such as the “Treasures of the Ark” exhibition held 
at the British Library to commemorate 1,700 years of Armenian 
“Tamar and I believe that philanthropy can shape the future,” Manoukian 
said. “It is our hope that our gift will not only change medical 
science, but also be a model for others. We hope that young people will 
be inspired to give and will become engaged with causes that matter.”
This significant investment in the division of digestive diseases will 
provide vital funding for pioneering investigations that will lead to 
novel therapies, more comprehensive patient care, faculty support to 
attract top scientists and clinicians, and the education of aspiring 
doctors and researchers.
“This gift is especially meaningful to us as a public university,” 
Esrailian said. “This investment will help fuel additional discoveries 
of the kind that have already earned UCLA the reputation as a world 
leader in research, patient care and medical education.”
The gift is part of the $4.2 billion UCLA Centennial Campaign, which is 
scheduled to conclude in December 2019 during UCLA’s 100th anniversary 
The Armenian Cathedral-turned-Turkish mosque:
The Independent
October 15
In a feature published in The Independent, author Robert Fisk unveils 
the story of the Armenian Cathedral of the Holy Mother of God in 
Gaziantep (then called Antep) which has been turned into a Turkish 
The article reads:
The ‘Liberation’ Mosque is a fine, neo-classical, almost Gothic 
construction with striped black-and-white stone banding, unusual for a 
Muslim holy place but a jewel in the Tepebasi district of the old town 
of Gaziantep. Its stone carvings and mock Grecian columns beside the 
window frames are a credit to another, gentler age. The minarets perch 
delicately – and I had never seen this before – on square towers that 
might have been church towers had there been Christians in this ancient 
But of course, there were. What no-one will tell you in Gaziantep, what 
no guidebook mentions, what no tourist guide will refer to, is that this 
very building – whose 19th century builders were none other than the 
nephews of the official architect of Sultan Abdulhamid II – was the Holy 
Mother of God cathedral for at least 20,000 Christian Armenians who were 
victims of the greatest war crime of the 1914-18 war: the Armenian 
genocide. They were deported by the Ottoman Turks from this lovely city, 
which had been their families’ home for hundreds of years, to be 
executed into common graves. The murderers were both Turks and Kurds.
Altogether, up to 32,000 Armenians – almost the entire Christian 
population of 36,000 of what was then called Antep – were deported 
towards the Syrian cities of Hama, Homs, Selimiyeh, to the Hauran and to 
Deir Ezzor in 1915. The Muslim citizens of Aintep then apparently 
plundered the empty homes of those they had dispossessed, seizing not 
only their property but the treasures of the cathedral church itself. 
Indeed, the church, ‘Surp Asdvazdadzin Kilisesi’ in Armenian, was turned 
into a warehouse – as were many Jewish synagogues in Nazi Germany and in 
Nazi-occupied eastern Europe during the Second World War – and then into 
a prison.
Prowling around the church-mosque enclosure, I found some of the prison 
bars still attached to the window frames, although the building has been 
functioning as a mosque since 1986. The main gate was closed but I 
pushed it open and found not only that the structure of the magnificent 
building is still intact but that scaffolding has been placed against 
the walls for a renovation. Behind the church – and separate from the 
building – was an ancient stone cave whose interior was blackened with 
what must have been the smoke of candle flames from another era, perhaps 
a worshipping place because the cave appears to have been a tomb in 
antiquity. The caretaker came fussing up to us to tell us that the 
mosque was shut, that we must leave, that this was a closed place. But 
he was a friendly soul and let us take pictures of the great façade of 
the church and of the minarets.
The only sign of its origin is the date “1892” carved in stone on the 
east façade of the original church, marking the final completion of the 
work of the great Armenian architect Sarkis Balian – he was the official 
architect of the 19th century Sultan Abdulhamid II, a terrible irony 
since Abdulhamid himself began the first round of Armenian massacres of 
80,000 Christians (the figure might be 300,000) in Ottoman Turkey just 
two years after the Armenian stonemason Sarkis Tascian carved the date 
on the façade. In the later 1915 Armenian Holocaust – even Israelis use 
this word for the Armenian genocide – a million and a half Armenians 
were slaughtered by the Turks. It is a shock to realize that Aintep’s 
vast toll of dead were only a small fraction of this terrifying war 
Outside the church, I found an elderly Syrian refugee sitting on the 
pavement by the closed gate. He greeted us in Arabic and said that, yes, 
he knew this was once a church. Just over a century ago, the Arabs of 
northern Syria – the land now occupied by Isis – were among the only 
friends the Armenians found in the vast deserts into which they were 
sent to die. Some took Armenian children into their homes. Others 
married Armenian women – the degree of coercion involved in this 
‘charitable’ act depends on the teller — although more than twenty years 
ago I met a Syrian man and his ‘converted’ Armenian wife near Deir 
Ezzor, both around a hundred years old and both of whom has lost count 
of their great-great-grandchildren.
A Turkish man in a shop below the cathedral was less generous. Yes, it 
had been a church, he said. But when I asked him if it had been an 
Armenian church, he chuckled – dare I call it a smirk? — and looked at 
me, and said nothing. I suppose a kind of guilt hangs over a place like 
this. So it is a happy thought that some Armenian families have in 
recent years – as tourists, of course – visited the city that was once 
Antep and have spoken with warmth to members of Turkey’s leftist parties 
and celebrated the work of American missionaries who cared for both the 
Armenian and Turkish Muslim population here before 1915. One Armenian 
identified his old family home and the Turkish family who lived there 
invited him in and insisted that he should stay with them and not in a 
hotel. For this was also his home, they said.
But tears of compassion do not dry up the truth. For when the First 
World War ended, Allied troops marched into Antep. First came the 
British, led by the execrable Sir Mark Sykes – of Sykes-Picot infamy – 
and then the French in October 1919, who brought with them, alas, 
elements of the Armenian volunteers who had joined their ‘Legion 
d’Orient’ in Port Said. The Muslim elites who had taken over the town – 
and the Armenian homes and properties – feared the newcomers would 
demand restitution. Fighting broke out between Muslims and the French 
and their Armenian allies and the Muslims discovered a new-found 
enthusiasm for the independence struggle of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Thus 
began the false history of the city.
Perhaps the greatest font of knowledge on this period is a young 
Harvard scholar, Umit Kurt, of Kurdish-Arab origin, who was born in 
modern-day Gaziantep. Mr Kurt is now an academic at Harvard’s Center for 
Middle East Studies and wrote his doctoral dissertation on the Armenians 
of Antep from the 1890s with a special focus – this is the important bit 
for readers – on property transfers, confiscation, deportation and 
massacres. Mr Kurt’s conclusion is bleak.
“The famous battle of Aintab [sic] against the French,” he says, 
“…seems to have been as much the organised struggle of a group of 
genocide profiteers seeking to hold onto their loot as it was a fight 
against an occupying force. The resistance…sought to make it impossible 
for the Armenian repatriates to remain in their native towns, 
terrorising them [again] in order to make them flee. In short, not only 
did the local…landowners, industrialists and civil-military bureaucratic 
elites lead to the resistance movement, but they also financed it in 
order to cleanse Aintab of Armenians.”
They were successful. The French abandoned Antep in December 1919 and 
the Armenian volunteers fled with them. The new Turkish state awarded 
the Muslim fighters of the city with the honourific Turkish prefix 
‘Gazi’ – “veterans” – and thus Antep became Gaziantep and the great 
church of old Sarkis Balian would eventually be renamed the ‘Liberation 
Mosque’ – “Kurtulus Cami” – to mark the same dubious victory over the 
French and Armenians, the latter being defamed as killers by those who 
had sent the Armenians of the city to their doom in 1915.
Not much justice there. Nor in the official Turkish version of that 
terrible history of the Armenian Holocaust in which – this is the least 
the Turkish government will concede – Armenians died ‘tragically’ in the 
chaos of the First World War, as did Muslims themselves. German military 
advisers witnessed the genocide. Hitler was later to ask his generals, 
before the invasion of Poland and the destruction of its Jews, who now, 
in 1939, remembered the Armenians. The official Turkish account of the 
fate of Gaziantep’s original Armenians refers to their “relocation” – a 
word used by the Nazis when they sent the Jews to their extermination in 
eastern Europe.
No, we shouldn’t contaminate the Turks of modern Turkey with the crimes 
of their grandfathers. Umir Kurt wrote his dissertation for the 
brilliant and brave Turkish historian Taner Akcam, whose work on the 
Armenian genocide has revolutionised historical scholarship in Turkey. 
Last year, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan deliberately moved the date of 
the 1915 Gallipoli commemorations to the very day of the anniversary of 
the start of the Armenian genocide in an attempt to smother any memory 
of the crime – but the government allowed Armenians to parade through 
Istanbul in honour of their 1915 dead. Yet if the historical narrative 
from the 20th century’s first holocaust to its second holocaust is 
valid, then the path upon which the first doomed Armenians of Antep set 
out in their convoy of deportation on 1st August 1915 led all the way to 
Auschwitz. The ‘Liberation’ Mosque is a milestone on the journey.

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