Tag Archives: Armenians

From Soviet Rule to Present Days: Struggle of Artsakh People for the Right of Peaceful Existence in Their Homeland (By Liana Hovhannisyan)

10 Jul

From Soviet Rule to Present Days: Struggle of Artsakh People for the Right of Peaceful Existence in Their Homeland

The Armenians, one of the ancient nations in the world, throughout the years of their existence were and continue   struggling for their right of peaceful existence in their historical homeland. The fact that in the 21st century Armenians managed not only to survive but have two independent republics, the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Artsakh (otherwise known as Nagorno-Karabakh Republic) is a vivid proof of the success of the centuries long struggle that the Armenians were forced to fight to preserve their religion, culture and language.

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“My father was bleeding from his heart” – the 14-year-old Aram Tomasyan’s tragic story

2 Jul

“My father was bleeding from his heart” – the 14-year-old Aram Tomasyan’s tragic story

Agop Tomasyon, an Armenian from Kobane close to the Turkish border, who fled his hometown for Turkey around nine months ago when the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) launched an attack, said the last eight Armenian families had left Syria for good and would not return.

“There were only eight families left before the ISIL attack [in October 2014]. All of these families left Kobane after the attack,” said Tomasyon.

Syrian Kurdish forces expelled ISIL fighters from Kobane on June 27 and retook full control after three days under siege, after a group of ISIL militants stormed into the border town. ISIL had also failed to capture Kobane at the start of 2015 after four months of deadly clashes.

Three Armenian families are currently living at the Turkish Prime Ministry Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) refugee camp in the Suruç district of Sanliurfa province.

Tomasyan, who belongs to one of the three families in the Suruç refugee camp, said they had to leave their hometown after ISIL’s attack because they knew that the jihadists would kill them once they learned that they were Christians.

“We understood that it was time for us to go. We decided to come to Turkey after a discussion between the last Armenians left. Eventually we came to Suruç,” he said. From Suruç, the eight families had spread to various other places.

“One family settled in Sanliurfa, another in Hatay, and another in Aleppo. Two of the families who had passports went to Armenia. The remaining three families were placed in refugee camps in Suruç,” Tomasyan said.

He added that they had at one point decided to return to Kobane but changed their minds after his brother was killed by jihadists in front of his son’s eyes during ISIL’s latest attack.

“Before the recent ISIL assault, my brother wanted to return to Kobane to see how his house and store was. He took his 14-year-old son with him, but later he was killed by ISIL in front of his son,” Tomasyan said.

“Kobane is not our homeland anymore.”

The 14-year-old Aram Tomasyan, who is Agop Tomasyan’s nephew, said four ISIL members wearing uniforms of the Kurdish People’s Defense Units (YPG) had shot his father on the morning of June 24.

“My father was bleeding from his heart when he fell on the ground. Despite this he still raised his hand and said, ‘Son, run, they are ISIL.’ I ran. If I hadn’t run, I would have been shot too,” the boy said.

The elder Tomasyon said the ancestral roots of Kobane’s Armenians could be traced back to Southern and Central Anatolia, but his ancestors were exiled during the massacre and deportation of Ottoman Armenians in 1915-16. They fled to Kobane and settled there to start a new life.

“We had said that we would never leave Kobane, no matter what,” said Tomasyan, adding that they had two churches in the town and lived in harmony with everyone around them.

During the YPG’s battles against ISIL last year over Kobane, tens of people died in street unrest launched in a number of Turkish cities on Oct. 6 and 7, 2014, amid calls from Turkish Kurds for Ankara to do more to prevent the town from falling to ISIL.

1/7/2015

Original source: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/last-armenian-families-from-kobane-fleeing-syria-do-not-intend-to-return-.aspx?PageID=238&NID=84776&NewsCatID=341

Lebanon’s dark days of hunger: The Great Famine of 1915-18 (By Rym Ghazal)

16 Apr

Lebanon’s dark days of hunger: The Great Famine of 1915-18

The harrowing images from Mount Lebanon as death stalked the streets in 1915. Courtesy Archives and Special Collections, Jafet Library, AUB

The harrowing images from Mount Lebanon as death stalked the streets in 1915. Courtesy Archives and Special Collections, Jafet Library, AUB

“My people and your people, my Syrian

Brother, are dead … What can be

Done for those who are dying? Our

Lamentations will not satisfy their

Hunger, and our tears will not quench

Their thirst; what can we do to save

Them between the iron paws of

Hunger?”

– From Dead Are My People by Gibran Khalil Gibran (1883-1931)

Almost 100 years ago this month, as the First World War raged across Europe and beyond, a dark chapter unfolded in what was then known as Greater Syria.

The first culprit: the relentless locust. Following a bad harvest caused by a drought, in April 1915 dark clouds heralded the arrival of swarms of locusts, descending to feed on plants, whether green or dry.

For over three months, the tiny but insatiable creatures devoured whatever had been left behind by the Ottoman authorities, who had prioritised food and grain reserves to feed their soldiers as part of the imperial war effort.

This marked the beginning of a period that is now often just a footnote in the history books: the Great Famine of 1915-18, which left an estimated 500,000 people dead. With a lack of accurate data, estimates range from 100,000 to 200,000 deaths in Mount Lebanon alone.

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Lebanese-Armenian Protesters Trap Turkish Ambassador in Beirut Theater (by Joey Ayoub)

19 Mar

Lebanese-Armenian Protesters Trap Turkish Ambassador in Beirut Theater

Lebanese-Armenian Protesters outside the movie theater. As the Daily Star reported, they were shouting slogans such as “Truth will triumph” and “We remember”. Image from AztagDaily

Lebanese-Armenian Protesters outside the movie theater. As the Daily Star reported, they were shouting slogans such as “Truth will triumph” and “We remember”. Image from AztagDaily

Around 60 members of Lebanon’s Armenian Tashnag Party trapped the Turkish ambassador to Lebanon inside a movie theater on Wednesday, protesting the Turkish Government’s official stance on the 1915 Armenian Genocide by the Ottoman Empire. Ambassador Suleiman Inan Oz Yildiz was attending the premiere of “Son Mektup,” a Turkish movie set during the Battle of Gallipoli (1915-1916). The incident was also reported on the Official Centennial’s Commemoration’s Website.

The time chosen to promote a movie set during the same year as the Armenian Genocide isn’t being interpreted as a coincidence. Indeed, in a statement released online on Lebanese Armenian Daily “Aztag”, the Turkish government was accused of trying to distract the world’s attention from the Armenian Genocide Centennial, which will be commemorated worldwide on April 24th of this year.

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New Revelations on the Armenian Genocide: The French College in Aintoura, Lebanon or Jemal Pasha’s Orphanage where Armenian Children were to be Turkified (Nora Parsekhian)

21 Feb

The Armenian nation lived the most horrible phase of its history in 1915. The Ottoman authorities executed the Genocide which resulted in the killing of over 1 million Armenians, while most of the Armenians remaining on the western parts of historic Armenia were compelled to leave there cities and villages and deported, marched towards the deserts of Iraq and Syria. Parts of the deported Armenians reached Lebanon where they believed that they were left in peace without realizing that in one of the not-so-far villages of Lebanon, namely Aintoura, near Zouk, Keserwan, which is about half an hour drive from the capital city Beirut, a plan of Turkification of Armenian orphans had been put in motion in 1915. Such a new page in the history of the Armenian Genocide was recently discovered by Missak Keleshian, who is an avid collector of all kinds of photos of the Armenian Genocide.
The monument is erected in In ‪‎Antaura‬, ‪‎Lebanon‬, in the memory of 300 ‪‎Armenian‬ children who were placed in this orphanage in 1915 for the purpose of converting them to Muslim ‪‎Turks‬. The remains were discovered in 1993.

The monument is erected in In ‪‎Antaura‬, ‪‎Lebanon‬, in the memory of 300 ‪‎Armenian‬ children who were placed in this orphanage in 1915 for the purpose of converting them to Muslim ‪‎Turks‬.
The remains were discovered in 1993.

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The (Turkish) Human Rights Association & the Center for Truth Justice Memory to becomeIntervening party in the Perincek Case

25 Jan

THE (Turkish) HUMAN RIGHTS ASSOCIATION AND THE CENTER FOR TRUTH JUSTICE MEMORY TO BECOME INTERVENING PARTY IN THE  PERİNÇEK CASE

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On January 28, 2015, the lawsuit Doğu Perinçek v. Switzerland will begin retrial in the Grand Chamber, which acts in the capacity of court of appeals for the European Court of Human Rights.
It is now common knowledge that in 2005, Doğu Perinçek traveled to Switzerland, which has officially recognized the Armenian Genocide and passed a law criminalizing its denial, in order to issue declarations in Bern and Lausanne where he impugned the Armenian Genocide as a fabrication. In 2007, Perinçek was found guilty of deliberately violating national law and convicted by the court of Lausanne. Upon Perinçek’s appeal, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in his favor in 2008 and found that the court of Lausanne had violated the freedom of expression principle enshrined in the European Convention of Human Rights, article 10.
The Human Rights Association sent a letter to the Swiss Federal Office of Justice in 2014, demonstrating in detail how the denial of the Armenian Genocide incites hostility toward Armenians and imploring Switzerland to appeal the ECHR decision. Switzerland’s subsequent appeal and request for retrial were accepted in June 2014.

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Why we remember, 99 years after the Armenian Genocide (By Yeghig Tashjian)

25 Apr

Why we remember, 99 years after the Armenian Genocide

Image courtesy of www.photoraffi.me

“For your freedom we have lived and for your independence we are dying.” —Abdul-Karim el-Khalil, with a rope around his neck, May 6, 1916.
Every year, Armenians all over the world — in Armenia and the diaspora — commemorate the anniversary of the genocide on April 24. On this day in 1915, around 400 Armenian intellectuals were arrested by the Turkish gendarmes and were all executed. The plan of the Central Committee of the Young Turks Party was simply to annihilate the Armenian nation and to create a Pan-Turkic Empire, which would extend from Istanbul to Central Asia. During this Genocidal campaign, around 1,500,000 Armenians perished and hundreds of thousands of Assyrians, Syriacs and Greeks were slaughtered. Henry Morgenthau, the US ambassador to Turkey who witnessed the massacre, quoted Ottoman ruler Talaat Pasha as saying, “What Sultan Abdul Hamid failed in 30 years, I have accomplished it in just 3 months.” The genocide was done.
This year, the Lebanese-Armenian committee of the 100th anniversary of the genocide organized a candle-lit march on the eve of the genocide’s Remembrance Day. It started from the Bourj Hammoud Municipality Square and headed towards Martyrs’ Square in Downtown Beirut. Thousands of people, young and old, lit the streets with their candles and shouted “Justice!” as they marched. By 9 pm, Martyrs’ Square was filled with both Lebanese-Armenians and non-Armenians, with Lebanese and Armenian flags, and guest speakers gave their speeches.
In his speech, former Interior Minister Ziad Baroud insisted that no matter what, the truth must be recognized, because denial can’t erase or heal the wounded memories of the Armenians. He added, “Today I see the tears of pride in the eyes of the young generation, the tears that you inherited from your grandparents.” The next guest speaker was Haigazian University President Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian, who stated that although 99 years ago, Armenians were deported from their land, leaving behind their homes, properties, memories, history and were marched to the desert towards an ambiguous future, our ancestors didn’t lose hope. They founded and built new homes around the world. He ended his speech with the following: “Before 99 years, Armenians were scattered like ashes right and left in dark, but today, today my fellow people and youth, you have overcome on the dark, with the candles in your hands, you have lightened the Martyrs’ square, this square which was also covered with dark when the same criminals executed the (Lebanese) intellectuals.”

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Armenians Seek Justice from the Arab Nation and Leaders (By Madeleine Mezagopian)

25 Apr

Armenians Seek Justice from the Arab Nation and Leaders

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The Armenian Genocide, the first genocide of the 20th Century, occurred when two million Armenians living in Turkey were eliminated from their historic homeland through forced deportations and massacres during 1915-1918 (United Human Rights Council).*

This week on April 24, Armenians together with advocates of truth and justice world-wide commemorate this horrendous crime.

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Armenian genocide: Turkey has lost the battle of truth (By Cengiz Aktar)

24 Apr

“In actuality, how Turks and Armenians, as the owners of this common history, can together, through dialogue and empathy, reach a just memory of the tragic events of 1915, which occurred during the great human sufferings of World War I, is already being examined thoroughly and in all its dimensions. In this context, our proposal to establish a Joint Historical Commission, also reflected in the Turkish-Armenian Protocols, remains on the agenda.”

The quotation is from the Turkish Foreign Ministry’s press release regarding the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s recent resolution on the Armenian genocide. In the wake of its centenary, this is the uttermost point reached by the Turkish state in the perception of the annihilation of the Ottoman Empire’s Armenian citizens: A “just memory” and a “joint historical commission”. The just memory is a euphemism to recall revenge killings of Muslims in some areas by Armenian avengers once their people were decimated by the state and their neighbours. And the commission is a sort of face-saver to equate the pains.

The ruins of an Armenian church in the eastern village of Hozat in Tunceli province, Turkey [AFP]

The ruins of an Armenian church in the eastern village of Hozat in Tunceli province, Turkey [AFP]

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My Great Uncle and the Legacy of Hrant Dink (By Garen Chiloyan)

12 Feb

My Great Uncle and the Legacy of Hrant Dink

On Jan. 19, 2014, a coffee hour commemoration was held in St. James Armenian Church by the Friends of Hrant Dink organization to commemorate the 7th anniversary of the assassination of the journalist and human rights activist, Hrant Dink. A group of Turkish students and activists—expatriate supporters of last year’s anti-government protests in Gezi Park—were also present; the majority of the crowd greeted them with “hoşgeldiniz,” meaning “welcome” in Turkish. With such a resounding echo, I must have been the only one in the room to have not known that word. A stirring speech was read by Armenian Weekly Assistant Editor Nanore Barsoumian. Then, Gonca Sonmez-Poole, who leads the Turkish Armenian Women’s Alliance shared her reflections.

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I then went to the Watertown library to participate in the second portion of the commemoration. There, the crowd watched two documentaries. The first outlined a timeline of Dink’s assassination and the court proceedings. The second was an interview with Fethiye Çetin, the lawyer for the Dink family, reflecting on the assassination, the trial and its shortcomings, in particular how the upper echelons of the police and gendarmerie were able to evade justice even after the revelation of evidence exposing cooperation between the state and the suspects.

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