Issue 10, Spring 2012
G P N S T O R Y
Reports from Yerevan, Paris, Jerusalem, and Los Angeles
Carrying carnations, daffodils, and lilies, hundreds of thousands made the journey to the Armenian Genocide Memorial at Dzidzernagapert on April 24. President Serge Sarkisian, Prime Minister Tigran Sarfsyan, Catholicos Karekin II, and government officials paid their respects in the morning. Around noontime, people slowly inched forward-until they reached the monument at the summit-a walk that lasted roughly two hours. Police periodically blocked off the path to prevent congestion at the top. Many shaded themselves with umbrellas and hats from the scorching afternoon sun.
Setrak Mandoyan, 59, said he has been partaking in the April 24 commemoration events for as far back as he can remember. "I used to go with my father, now I bring my grandson," he said. Mandoyan's paternal grandfather, also named Setrak, lost all six of his brothers during the Genocide. His grandparents, who hailed from Ardahan and Artvin, escaped to Batum and made their way to Yerevan.
Sixteen-year old Tamara ("Tamig") Tatevossian walked alongside her grandfather, brother, and 6-year-old sister. It was a walk all too familiar for Tatevossian who came every year since she was a little girl, her family too had been affected by the Genocide. Originally from Hamshen, her grandfather's family fled from the Genocide and settled in Abkhazia until 1970, when they moved to Yerevan.
The pile of flowers from the night before encircling the eternal flame turned into an almost four-foot tall wall. Dozens of wreaths rested against the outer walls of the monument representing the Armenian provinces lost during the Genocide.
Source: Excerpted from the California Courier (May 3, 2012). Hundreds of thousands march to genocide memorial in Yerevan
Jerusalem 1: Armenian Patriarchate and St. James Cathedral
A remembrance service was held in the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem in the capital's Old City on April 23, 2012, and a requiem service and holy mass were conducted in the St. James Cathedral of the Armenian Church, also in the Old City.
On Monday evening, ahead of the commemoration services, Archbishop Aris Shirvanian of the Armenian Patriarchate addressed members of the Yedidya Synagogue in Jerusalem to speak about the events surrounding the genocide and its repercussions on the Armenian people. "All Armenians stand together and claim justice and reparations," he said. "The Armenian people and the descendents of those killed have pursued recognition of the genocide since 1965. Until then, the generation of survivors who had suffered as children and seen with their own eyes the killings and kidnappings, starvation and tortures were in a period of mourning, but the new generation has sought justice for what was done to the Armenian people during this great crime, the first genocide of the twentieth century."
In 2011 Israel Knesset Speaker, Reuven Rivlin said that he intended to establish an annual parliamentary session to mark the Armenian Genocide. A hearing was held by the Knesset Education Committee in December 2011 on a bill to recognize the Armenian Genocide and most recently in June 2012 a session was held in the full Knesset. [See the GPN Special Bulletin reporting this session in Issue 9, and in this issue the Special Bulletin on the most recent session].
The Jerusalem Post reported that MK Arye Eldad (National Union), a co-sponsor of the resolution to officially recognize the genocide, said Israeli recognition "is getting closer," especially following the "breaking of the taboo of even discussing it in the Knesset Education Committee in December. "The issue is extremely important," Eldad said. "There are those who try to deny the Holocaust and so we demand that people are ethical and recognize that this really happened. So we need to do the same thing for the Armenians who were killed in their hundreds of thousands, at the very least we can do something symbolic and mark the day."
Eldad commented that any hopes that the Turkish government will become more amenable to Israel in the near future are futile, but more important the issue is a "moral and ethical necessity."
Source: Excerpted with some GPN editing from Sharon, Jeremy (April 25, 2010). Armenians mark genocide remembrance day. Jerusalem Post. http://www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?id=267440
Jerusalem 2: Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Although the State of Israel does not officially acknowledge the
Armenian Genocide, an annual event to commemorate the victims and honor
the local Armenian community is customarily held by the Armenian Studies
Program of the Hebrew University. This year's Memorial Program took
place on April 22 in cooperation with the Jerusalem Centre for the
Prevention of Genocide.
The event opened with the Prophet Ezekiel's message of hope, the vision
of the Dry Bones, read in Hebrew by Naira Manoogian and in Armenian by
Yoav Loeff, MA graduate of the Armenian Studies program. A minute's
silence ensued in memory of the martyrs. Archbishop Aris Shirvanian
brought the message of Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem Archbishop Torkom
Manoogian. He emphasized the need for Israel's recognition of the
Armenian Genocide and for recognition of other genocides, which have not
yet been recognized universally.
Member of Knesset Zevulon Orlev too stressed the moral imperative to
recognize the Genocide. Addressing the Israelis in the audience he said
it was their particular duty to realize, as Jews that no political
interests can outweigh the moral necessity to acknowledge the Genocide.
He expressed his regret that this and previous Israeli governments have
not done more and acted more decisively to formalize Israel's
recognition of the Genocide.
The honorary Consul of Armenia in Jerusalem, Tsolag Momjian brought
greetings for the occasion and told the story of a carpet woven by
Armenian orphan girls after the Genocide. The carpet was presented to
President Woodrow Wilson of the US. On a recent visit to Armenia,
Momjian was shown a photo album, which had become an heirloom in a
family of his friends. It was of the same orphanage and there were
pictures of the orphan girls doing the actual weaving. The carpet was
hand-knotted and made of about 4,000,000 knots. Negotiations are
underway for its proper display in Washington.
The founder of the Armenian Studies Program at the Hebrew University and
its promoter for many years, Professor Michael Stone, stressed that
beyond the victims of a genocide, a whole culture, the West Armenian
culture, barely survived those tragic events. This resembles the fate
of the culture of European Jewry, which scarcely survived the Shoah.
Prof. Stone also read a greeting from the Dean of the Faculty of
Humanities, Prof. Reuven Amitai and from Rector of Yerevan State
University, Professor Aram Simonyan.
Dr. Mordechai Zaken from the Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern
Studies is an expert on minorities in the Middle East. His interest
started with a study of the Kurds, and with Kurdish Jews, but developed
into much wider channels. Referring to the Armenian Genocide, he too
stressed the imperitive of recognition.
He read a report, prepared by Professor Israel Charny, on the progress
made in the Israeli Parliamentary Education Committee to recognize the
A representative of the youth group "Combat Genocide" talked about the
importance of acknowledging genocides past and present as a first step
to preventing further atrocities aimed to annihilate entire populations.
Father Kousan Aljalian, choirmaster and dragoman of the Armenian
Patriarchate, presented to songs from the liturgy. The event closed
with Prof. Stone's recitiation of his own poems pertaining to genocides
Source: Reprinted with permission of the California Courier (May 10, 2012). Jerusalem's Hebrew University Program Commemorates 1915 Armenian Genocide.
On April 24, 2012, the then presidential candidate of France, Francois Hollande and President Nicolas Sarkozy participated in the Armenian Genocide commemorative ceremony at the Paris Memorial to Komitas and victims of Armenian Genocide. Hollande reiterated his pledge to adopt a bill criminalizing the Armenian genocide denial in case he comes to power. "Despite any pressure, I will take all necessary steps for passage of the bill. The Armenian history will never be forgotten as it will never be disputed," he said.
Source: Excerpted from California Courier (May 3, 2012). French President and Leading Candidate Attend Paris Genocide Commemoration
Five thousand Los Angeles community members visited the Armenian Genocide Martyrs Monument in Montebello, California on April 24 to commemorate the 97th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. The official commemoration program was organized by the United Armenian Council of Los Angeles, a grouping of all political parties, all denominations of Armenian churches, cultural and political organizations, as well as other associations.
The monument, at 901 Via San Clemente, was approved by the Montebello
City Council in 1965. It symbolizes the first genocide of the 20th
century and is in memory of the those who were systematically massacred.
It was unveiled in April 1968 to honor the Armenians and all victims of
crimes against humanity.
Speakers, including elected officials, scholars
and professionals, gave voice to the frustration of the continued denial
of the slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman
Empire from 1915 to 1923.
"The continued failure of the U.S. government to recognize the Armenia
genocide is deeply disturbing and from a human rights point of view,
terribly counterproductive," said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Pasadena. "If we
are to lead the fight against genocide in Darfur or elsewhere, we must
be willing to recognize genocide wherever and whenever it has occurred.
"We cannot pick and choose among genocides."
"Armenian genocide recognition demands for the formal acceptance that
the massacre and forced deportation of Armenians committed by the
Ottoman Empire constitutes genocide," said Tom Alexanian, a board member
of the United Armenian Council of Los Angeles, the event's sponsor.
"As of 2009, 21 countries, including France, Canada, Argentina and
Sweden, and 43 states of the United States of America, have followed
suit," he added.
Armenia's Consul General to Los Angeles, Grigor Hovannisyan, spoke of
Turkey's attempts to create schism within the Armenian community. He
expressed that he was confident that those efforts will fail.
United Armenian Fund President Harut Sassounian strongly criticized elected
officials, including President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden
and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for not acknowledging the
genocide. Sassounian was especially critical of Obama for failing to honor his pre-election pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide. "They act as politicians versus those elected officials here today," Sassounian said.
This year, the UACLA invited Dr. Israel Charny, a foremost genocide scholar, and the executive director of the Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide in Jerusalem, to
discuss the impact of Turkey's continued denial of the Genocide, as
well as Israel's refusal to officially recognize the crime. "This is a holy day," Charny said. "It's to
remember and honor the memories of victims, communities and Armenian
nation. We have to fight for full acknowledgment and apologies,
reparation and redress."
Charny acknowledged the tension he receives from the Jewish community
when he speaks about the Holocaust and the Armenian genocide.
But he implored those in attendance, "We need to join together in recognizing victims of all genocides."
The event also included a religious service led by all denominations of
the Armenian community, a flag ceremony performed by the Homenetmen and
the Armenian General Benevolent Union scouts and the placement of
wreaths by various organizations.
Public Radio of Armenia (April 25, 2012). Israel Charny: We need to
join together in recognizing victims of all genocides
Excerpted from the California Courier (May 3, 2012). 97th Anniversary Marked at Montebello Monument