Get Adobe Flash player

Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Senators Robert Menendez and Mark Kirk to Introduce Armenian Genocide Resolution

WASHINGTON, DC — Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), a long-time champion of Armenian issues and powerful voice for justice, along with Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), who previously served as Co-Chair of the Armenian Caucus during his tenure in the House of Representatives (House), urged their colleagues to cosponsor a new Armenian Genocide Resolution today.
The Senate Armenian Genocide Resolution, which will be officially introduced later this month, is similar to the House version, and adds a key finding from the 1951 U.S. filing before the International Court of Justice concerning the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Specifically, the document highlighted the fact that “the Roman persecution of the Christians, the Turkish massacre of Armenians, the extermination of millions of Jews and Poles by the Nazis are outstanding examples of the crime of genocide.”
The Senate action comes as Senators Scott Brown, Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Mark Kirk introduced legislation, S.Res.392, on the protection of religious property and minorities in Turkey. Their effort builds on last year’s successful House passage of similar legislation.

Article source:

Khloe Kardashian struggles with husband Lamar Odom’s offer to play ball in Turkey

Lamar Odom was so bored during the NBA lockout that he had resorted to playing Hangman and baking, so when he received an offer to play basketball in Turkey, wife Khloe Kardashian couldn’t have been happier for him.

But after some serious criticism from her family members, the 27-year-old reality star quickly changed her tune.

As a supportive wife, she wanted to make her husband happy.

Though she says she’d miss her family immensely if she and Lamar were to move overseas, she notes: ‘Finding out that Turkey is the country is so much worse to me because of my family history.

‘The Armenian Genocide is such a controversial and very sensitive issue because the Turkish and Armenian people disagree about the facts of what actually happened.’

She hastens to add that she’s taken a progressive stance on the struggles between both countries.

‘I know how strongly Armenians feel about the Genocide, and how it’s never been recognised. At the same time, I do not hold today’s generation of people accountable.’

While chatting about the possibility with younger brother Rob, he expresses his doubts.

‘Imagine what it’s going to be like,’ the 24-year-old urges.

Offscreen, he elaborates on his opinion, saying: ‘It would just be a very uncomfortable situation for our family.’

A conflicted Khloe says, also offscreen: ‘I feel like my dad would tell me to support my husband.’

Because her father died of cancer years before, she only has the next best option, her father’s brother, Tom. 

She and Rob call their uncle, who ultimately has this piece of advice: I would probably stay away from it.’

Stepfather Bruce Jenner, the closest thing she has to a dad, also agrees that is isn’t the best decision.

While chatting with older sister Kim during a ladies trip to Las Vegas, her sister adds more fuel to Khloe’s worried fire.

The 31-year-old says: ‘Just be careful. I don’t think you understand.’

Kim, of course, turns everything back to herself. She notes: ‘When I did the cover of Cosmo International, Turkey picked it up and I got a lot of backlash for it .

‘Obviously, you’d be there to support your husband. You need to make a choice here.’

Finally, a hesitant Khloe broaches the subject with her husband while taking a windy, cold winter walk.

She tells him: ‘I’ve been having a lot of thoughts about Turkey. I mean, because I’m Armenian.’

Lamar is confused. ‘What does that mean?’

Apparently, he hasn’t heard of the Genocide, so Khloe educates him.

She reiterates: ‘You know about the Genocide. I didn’t want to bother you with this and stress you out more. I know how much you’ve missed playing.’

She’s right: he’s even sniffed his jersey and spoken to it in self-pity and spoken about how basketball – and his teammates – are his sanctuaries.

It looks like Lamar might love Khloe more than he loves basketball though, because the two have a truly tender and heartfelt moment.

He tells her: ‘You know, these decisions, we’ll make them together, as a team. One-two punch. Just be honest with me, all the time.’

A radiant and relieved Khloe whines: ‘That’s what I was trying to do, but it’s hard!’

She’s clearly pleased that her husband isn’t expecting her to move to Turkey, and that he values their relationship enough to make decisions as ‘a team’.

He adds: ‘Maybe you can be a spokeswoman for peace. If it’s right, it’s right. If it’s nay, it’s nay.’

Offscreen, the youngest Kardashian gushes: ‘He is so supportive. That’s why I love him.’

In other, non-moving news, Khloe is still desperate to have a baby and jokes around that Kim should be their surrogate.

‘Will you be my surrogate?’ Khloe jokes with her big sister, adding, ‘Lamar wants to get artificially inseminated.’

Kim’s response: ‘If you lost your vagina and you wanted a surrogate, then I’ll do it when I’m 35. I think I have a couple more years when I just want my body to myself.

‘You’re going to have to wait for more years [if you want me].’

The couple also learns that the lockout is finally over.


Noted Scholar Joyce Apsel Appointed Course Director of Zoryan’s Genocide and Human Rights University Program

TORONTO, CANADA — Prof. Joyce Apsel has been appointed Course Director of the Genocide and Human Rights University Program (“GHRUP”) by the Program Development Committee. The program is held annually in partnership by the International Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (“IIGHRS”) (A Division of the Zoryan Institute) and the University of Toronto. Greg Sarkissian, President of the Academic Board of the IIGHRS and Director of the Program made the announcement, explaining, “Dr. Apsel is a distinguished scholar, a Master Teacher, and brings tremendous experience to overseeing the implementation of the course in the classroom. Students have described her with such comments as, ‘Prof. Apsel was wonderful,’ and ‘Apsel was an excellent professor.’ I heartily agree.”
Joyce Apsel teaches Humanities in the Liberal Studies Program of the College of Arts Sciences at New York University, where she has taught a series of seminars on Genocide and Human Rights over the last decade. She is a recipient of the NYU Distinguished Teaching Award (2008-2009). She is currently President of the Institute for the Study of Genocide and a past president of the International Association of Genocide Scholars. She is also director of RightsWorks International, established in 1999 to promote peace, human rights and genocide education around the world.
In reflecting on her new role, Prof. Apsel said, “For the past ten years, Roger Smith has served as a model teacher, Director of the GHRUP and on-site summer course director. Hence, with my appointment as Course Director of the 2012 GHRUP, I plan to build on his example and foundation by continuing his engaged pedagogy, weaving together disparate themes and case studies, as well as integrating guest lecturers and students to create a meaningful dialogue and learning environment. For the last eight years, I have participated in the GHRUP summer program as a specialist teaching sections about the history and complexity of human rights and humanitarianism and links with genocide, as well as an earlier module on teaching about genocide.
“The program provides a unique curriculum opportunity for students and reflects the continuing need to write into the curriculum events that have all too long been ignored or diminished and still may be denied. In this respect, study of the Armenian Genocide and its denial provides a powerful example. As new archives open up world-wide and new research is carried out, careful examination of issues of genocide and human rights provides a crucial lens to understand mass atrocities and to develop strategies toward prevention and rebuilding communities in the aftermath of severe human rights violations. I am pleased to have the opportunity to be on-site course director of the 2012 GHRUP summer program and welcome students of different backgrounds, training and voices to apply and become part of this unique learning experience.
The Genocide and Human Rights University Program reflects my own commitment to the importance of education and research on these important themes.”
The GHRUP combines theory with a look at specific case studies and explores major themes, allowing students to not only learn about the intricacies of genocide studies, but also to begin recognizing patterns as preventable stages of genocide. The comparative nature of the program encourages students to draw their own parallels between the various cases and fosters stimulating classroom discussion.

Article source:

BBC to Air New Film on Arshile Gorky

LONDON — In a personal journey into a family tragedy, filmmaker-director Cosima Spender explores how she and her relatives have been shaped by her grandfather – the pioneering Abstract Expressionist painter, Arshile Gorky. Following a series of tragedies, he committed suicide in 1948, leaving a young wife and two daughters behind.
Through conversations with her grandmother, Gorky’s widow, Spender tries to make sense of his creativity, the reasons for his death and the shadow it subsequently cast. The film takes the viewer through the pain and courage of the family, coming to an emotional climax in Gorky’s Armenian birthplace.
The film titled “Who Is Gorky? An Abstract Life” was screened at New York’s Museum of Modern Art last month.

Article source:

Bernard-Henri Levy: The French Constitutional Council’s Mistake

French philosopher and writer Bernard-Henri Levi has published an article in The Huffington Post titled “French Constitutional Council’s Mistake“. The article refers to the French Constitutional Council’s recent decision on banning the bill, which criminalized denial of the genocides, included the Armenian Genocide.
“The power belongs to the law and to the institutions of the Republic.
Thus the Constitutional Council’s rejection of the law voted by the two Houses aiming to criminalize the denial of genocides is, in the eyes of the law, and until the same two Houses reconsider it, the last word.
Nonetheless, respect for the constitutional state and its rules should not blind its citizens to a certain number of facts, which are rather disturbing in the given case”.
Levy concludes by stating. “We should struggle for a law for humanity, a law for the respect of these very rare truths, the transgression of which is a threat to each of us, because they aim at the heart of the human race. For a just and eminently universal law we count on the next president, whoever he may be, to include back on the agenda.”

Link to article in Huffington Post

Article source:

President Sarkozy Vows to Introduce New French Bill Against Armenian Genocide Denial

PARIS — French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday met with representatives of French-Armenian organizations in an event dedicated to pay to Arsene Tchakarian, 95, the last survivor of the Manouchian resistance group, who fought against occupying Nazi German forces during World War II. Tchakarian was awarded with the medal of Officer of the Legion of Honor by President Sarkozy at the Elysee Palace gathering (see photo). The event brought together Armenia’s Ambassador to France, Vigen Chitechyan; Hauts-de-Seine Department Council Chairman, Patrick Devedjian; film producer Alain Terzian; world-renowned singer Charles Aznavour’s impresario, Levon Sayan; and others. .
Prior to the ceremony while meeting with representatives of the Coordination Council of Armenian Organizations of France, Sarkozy reconfirmed his commitment to introduce a new bill that criminalizes the denial of genocides, including the Armenian Genocide. He stressed that he will introduce this law proposal once he is reelected president.
“Despite the decision of the Constitutional Council, I am not resigned. The Armenian community, like others, has the right to be protected against [genocide] denialism by the law,” Sarkozy told about 100 prominent members of France’s Armenian community during an award ceremony late on Wednesday.
“So I have asked the government to prepare a new text. I can assure you of my desire to push it through, and I renew this solemn pledge in front of you,” he said in a speech at the presidential Elysee Palace in Paris.
“To all you whose families were decimated by an absolutely planned extermination, to all you who regard today as a threat the obstinate [Turkish] denialism turned into state policy, I want to tell that France is on your side to refuse, to fight and to suppress the unacceptable,” Sarkozy added.
Sarkozy first pledged to again try to criminalize Armenian Genocide denial just hours after the French court ruled on February 28 that the controversial bill infringes on the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression.
Sarkozy’s UMP party cautioned afterwards that a new bill will not be put forward before June because of France’s upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections. The French National Assembly has already completed its tenure for that reason.

Article source:

Raffi’s “Madman”

By Odette Bazil

joined the Ararat Theatrical Club in Tehran when I was 12 years old and for the following 6 years, I participated in the plays which were produced in the Armenian Language to address and satisfy the Cultural and National interest of the Armenian population in Iran. The plays – always containing a historic and patriotic message – were aiming mainly to preserve the Armenian Language, Traditions and Culture.
One day, it was decided that the Club would produce -as a play – the book “the Madman” written by the famous Armenian author Raffi: a tragedy happening in 1915, during the Armenian genocide in Western Armenia where Vartan ( the man who looses his mind and becomes Raffi’s “Madman”) lives happily with his young daughter Lala and his family.
As part of the Armenian genocide planned by the Turkish government of the day and by order of the Turkish governor of the district, the Turks rampage Vartan’s village, kidnap his daughter, eventually kill her and kill also his entire family. In the final scene, Vartan returns and laments at his daughter’s grave sobbing with shrieking screams and crazy loud laughters, totally and desperately overwhelmed by the pain which turns him to the “Madman “ described by the author.
I was – originally – playing the role of Lala, but often , I had to become also Stepanik , Vartan’s imaginary son for which my face would be covered with dust and coal, my clothes tattied, wearing a short and dirty wig , barefeet and looking haggard like an orphan. Being only 12, I could not understand the reasons for that transformation and dual identity and when I insisted to know, I was told that Lala’s identity as a little girl had to be hidden and, during the day, she had to become a little boy so that “the Turks would not take her away”
The argument convinced me and I did ask no more… until two years ago, in 2010, when watching a programme on Armenian TV, I heard the historian who was analysing the Armenian genocide, revealing a story so horrid, so repellent and detestable that I had to switch off the TV, struggling to hold back my tears and trying to overcome my aversion and my anger. In a flash of memory, the play “Madman” came to my mind! And after so many long years, at last, I understood what Mr Vahan Aghamalian, the director of the play had meant by saying: “the Turks would not take her away”!!!!!!

The historian was saying : “for the Turks, taking away the little Armenian girls from their families was not a crime committed at random by one or two individuals: the Ottoman government had created a law by which the governor of every city and village had the right to take his young sons to Armenian households where they would choose and take away many little Armenian girls- even as young as eight years old- to furnish their harems“
The presenter had tears in his eyes and pain in his voice while showing the unbielevable document. But there, on the television screen, in black and white, was the proof of the barbarism, the inhumane crimes and the bestial violation of every human being’s rights which were legalised – with inpunity – by Turkish law.
Which parent could tolerate such violation? Which father could live with such degradation, shame and dishonour? Which mother could ever have peace or joy in her heart and whitstand such agony: knowing of the crime committed against her daughter, day after day, night after night?
No wonder that Vartan became “mad” with pain! No wonder that the wounds created by such crimes – specially against their honour – remain in the hearts of all Armenians forever and are buried so deep that they will never forgive or forget.
Each one of us, Armenians, has in its ancestry a mother who has lost a child in this horrific way, a relative whose entire family has been butchered, a brother, a son or a father who has been hanged or shot, friends who have been set to fire and hundreds of thousands fellow Armenians whose properties, identities and lives have been taken away by the Turks , cruelly and systematically, because they were Armenians and because the Turkish government had a sinister genocidal agenda and was wholeheartedly committed to execute that genocidal agenda.
We must remember these victims. Not only once every year on 24th April; but everyday of our lives. Everyday. We must remember them. We must tell our children, our friends, our neighbours, anyone and everyone we meet, every day, about our people and their sad faith . The world must know and we must remember. It is our sacred duty.
In Britain Remembrance Day is marked by the people wearing a red poppy on their lapels. Maybe we Armenians – ALL OF US TOGETHER – should adopt the wearing of a WHITE POPPY in Remembrance of the Victims of the Armenian genocide. White: the colour of mourning. Six years ago, at the 90th Anniversary of Remembrance, many of us in the UK wore such White Poppies to which we also stuck a small label saying: “Remember 24th April 1915“.
Now, as time is of essence, there is the urgent – very urgent- need for one of our Armenian composers to create a “Genocide Remembrance Anthem“; a short, poignant and in the same time, strong and powerful music, the notes of which can be sung without difficulty by everyone and which can be easily and immediately recognised and adopted as such; and by wearing the White Poppy by each and every Armenian during the whole month of April of every year and by adopting the Remembrance Anthem to inaugurate each and every event or function – even at Church, after Mass, during Hogehankist – we can and must become the doers, the presenters and the implementors of the fortcoming “Genocide Remembrance Projects“ and include them in the everyday actions and lives of every Armenian National be it in the Diaspora or in our Motherland.

Email :

Article source:

Armenian Research Center at the University of Michigan-Dearborn Publishes English Translation of the Bois de Vincennes

DEARBORN, MICHIGAN — The Armenian Research Center at the University of Michigan-Dearborn has announce the publication of the English translation of the short novel of exile, The Bois de Vincennes, by one of the prominent Armenian-French authors, Nigoghos Sarafian. Originally published in Armenian in 1947, the work is best known by its French-language title, which has been retained in this English translation. Ably translated by Christopher Atamian, this novel introduces to the English-speaking world, the mind of one of the Armenian Diaspora’s most complex writers. The book also features an introduction by Prof. Marc Nichanian, who discusses Sarafian’s intellectual world.
In this book readers see the effect of exile caused by the Armenian Genocide on Sarafian. He lived in Paris from 1923 to his death in 1972 and was a member of the Menk (“We”) group of Armenian-French writers who attempted to renew and redefine (in part through their eponymous journal) Armenian identity in its new Diaspora setting. This book is in some measure a way for Sarafian to come to terms with his own exile and the exile of the Armenian people in general. It is also an extended meditation in and on the Vincennes Woods, a park just outside Paris, where he spent time in solitary contemplation.
Christopher Atamian, the translator of this work, is a New York-based writer, filmmaker, and producer. The Bois de Vincennes is his first published, book-length translation.
The book’s publication was subvented through a generous grant from the Ajemian Foundation, in memory of Robert Ajemian. The Ajemian Foundation is a Michigan-based organization with an interest in promoting Armenian-American cultural activity.

The Bois de Vincennes (ISBN 978-1934548-02-8 or 1-934548-02-2) is distributed by Wayne State University Press and can be purchased from national chain booksellers, special ordered from smaller bookstores, or ordered from major online retailers like or Barnes Noble. The retail price is $20.

Article source:

Family Celebrates 102nd Birthday of Armenian Genocide Survivor

By Sue Scheible
The Patriot Ledger

WEYMOUTH, MA — The photo card that Asdghig “Starrie” Alemian’s children gave family and friends for her 102nd birthday celebration this weekend shows a bold-looking young woman sitting in a tree in 1931 in Detroit.
“She has a wonderfully spirited look,” her son Alan noted Sunday.
At age 21, Alemian had already experienced far more heartache and challenges than most ever imagine. She was a survivor of the 1915 Armenian genocide, after losing both parents. She made a new start in this country when an uncle in Weymouth brought her here from a Syrian orphanage.
Alemian turned 102 on Thursday and as 70 people gathered to honor her long life and her courage, she was in her element.
“She’s in party mode and enjoying every minute of it,” her daughter Claire Alemian said at the home they share.
With a radiant smile and finely chiseled features, “Starrie” Alemian proclaimed, “I have no secret!” and burst into a laugh, when asked “the longevity question” for possibly the 102nd time in the past two days. Then she added, “I never wore makeup, not even at my wedding!”
On Saturday, she celebrated for five hours at The Red Parrot in Hull with five generations, good food, Armenian music and dancing. Although she doesn’t get up and dance anymore, she clapped up a storm.
Sunday morning brought more than 40 family members to her son’s house for breakfast.
“Our mother has always been a very courageous person who had a real spirit of determination,” Alan Alemian said.

In Armenian, her name is a term of endearment meaning “Little Star.”
Alemian still votes in every election and will be interviewed by the Weymouth Historical Society. She has been active in the Armenian community in Watertown, and in 2007 she was honored at a State House ceremony recognizing victims of the 1915 Armenian genocide.
Her memory remains sharp for the details of those tragic early years, and once she starts talking, the recollections pour forth. But for Alemian and her family, it is the other aspects of her life that she now likes to focus on.
That includes her seven children, five still living, that she and her late husband, Sarkis, raised while running Alemian’s Delicatessen in Jackson Square and then Alemian’s Package Store. Her immense pride in 12 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren and three great-great- grandchildren. A lifetime of hard work and skills, including the needlepoint she learned to do in the Syrian orphanage. You can see the delicate handiwork in the family home nearby.
While she no longer lives there, decades of family photos fill the rooms, along with the family piano her daughter Sylvia played. Alemian lives across the street with her daughter Claire and she has constant company. She remains strong and well in the neighborhood where she created her new life in this country.
In 1922, an uncle, Garabed, brought her to Weymouth and she has lived there ever since, except for two years with cousins in Worcester.
At age 16, four years after arriving, she married an Armenian from her hometown, Sarkis Alemian, and they set their sights on building their new life together, working long hours at a factory and then at their family businesses.
Within 10 years, they bought their first house and as the years went by, they invested in real estate, kept the family close by and welcomed other Armenians.
“My mother raised so many children other than her own,” Claire Alemian said.
Her husband died in 1982 at age 82, and her two oldest sons, Edward Jr. and Haig, died in their late 30s. Her other five – Sylvia, Alan, Susan, Stephan and Claire – remain nearby.
“My mother has a strong sense of Armenia identity,” Alan Alemian said, “but she loves this country and thinks of it as her home. It gave her safe haven.”

Article source:

“Introductory Books on the Armenian Genocide”: Politics, Prose and Poetry

By Alan Whitehorn

As we approach the 100th memorial year of the 1915 state-sponsored mass slaughter of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, Armenians all over the world will be reflecting in an ever more somber fashion about the deadly fate of so many ancestors. As Armenians continue to seek to fully understand the causes for the horrific crime of genocide, non-Armenians will also become more aware of the Genocide. With far less background on the history and the region, many will inevitably ask their Armenian friends and colleagues: ‘Which are the most helpful introductory books on the Armenian Genocide?’. This is not always an easy question to answer, but as we approach 2015, it becomes an increasingly pressing and germane question. This is not only so for non-Armenians, but even for a younger generation of diaspora Armenians. Five quite different books come to mind as suggestions:

Facing History, Crimes Against Humanity and Civilization: The Genocide of the Armenians (Brookline, Massachusetts, 2004, ISBN: 0-9754125-0-7; 198 pages) (Also available in electronic format from
Facing History, based in Brookline Massachusetts, is the pre-eminent educational organization preparing high school instructors on how to teach about difficult topics such as the Holocaust, genocide, racism and intolerance and how to foster human rights and democracy.
The book’s title reminds us of the birth in May 1915 of the international legal concept of “crimes against humanity”. The important new term was used to describe the Young Turk deportations and massacres of Armenians. This book is used extensively in both Facing History teacher workshops and by high school classes on genocide in Canada and the United States. The book explores the psychological and historical factors that gave rise to genocide and its devastating consequences. The book is quite effective and well tested in the classroom. It is broken up into 47 smaller manageable sections, with good use of pictures, maps, posters, background information boxes and, at the end of each chapter, thoughtful discussion questions.
The topic of genocide is an extremely difficult emotional and intellectual journey to travel in a single volume; hence the attraction of breaking down the complex subject matter into more manageable steps. While intended for a senior high school audience, this is a well-crafted and balanced volume that would be an excellent introduction for any adult. I continue to use the book with high school classes. Particularly useful for teachers, an electronic version can also be downloaded from the Facing History website:

Peter Balakian, The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response (New York, Harper Collins, 2003, ISBN: 0-06-019840-0; 475 pages).
Peter Balakian is a well-known Armenian-American poet, academic and political history author. Known primarily for three books on the Armenian Genocide (Black Dog of Fate (1997), The Burning Tigris (2003) and Armenian Golgotha (2009), the latter by his great uncle Grigoris Balakian), Peter is a high-profile public figure who speaks eloquently on the Genocide.
Reflecting his literary training, the writing in The Burning Tigris is poignant and profoundly moving. Many American readers have been influenced by this volume. Balakian divides the book into four major sections, commencing with the 1890s Hamidian Massacres and subsequent American humanitarian relief efforts. The next section describes the Young Turks violent revolutionary seizure of power and the impact of World War I which hastened the draconian sense of urgency, growing state secrecy and centralized coercive planning for genocide. The heroic efforts of international witnesses such as American Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, other diplomatic staff and missionaries are described in the next section. The final portion notes the seemingly doomed efforts of Woodrow Wilson for a more just post-war world and the precedent-setting, but largely ineffective Ottoman Courts-Martial in Constantinople. The epilogue deals with the problem of continued Turkish government genocide denial and American complicity in this. The book is accompanied by a substantial collection of heart-wrenching black and white photographs.
While other more detailed scholarly works by Vahakn Dadrian, Richard Hovannisian and Taner Akcam are available on the Armenian Genocide, The Burning Tigris offers a very readable narrative and can serve as an effective introductory volume for non-Armenian readers. It is readily available at many bookstores.

Taner Akcam, A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility (New York, Metropolitan Books, 2006; ISBN: 13:978-09050-7932-6; 483 pages)
Taner Akcam is the leading Turkish scholar writing on the Armenian Genocide. He is a remarkably brave academic who has pioneered in the use of extensive Ottoman and German archival sources and offered innovative themes. As a professor of History, he currently occupies the Kaloosdian/Mugar Chair in Armenian Genocide Studies at Clark University. Most recently, he has co-authored with Vahakn Dadrian the pioneering volume Judgment at Istanbul: The Armenian Genocide Trials.
The title A Shameful Act is taken from a critical comment by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk about the treatment of the Armenians during WW I. Akcam’s book commences with the challenges facing the crumbling Ottoman Empire and the bleak and bloody fate of its non-Muslim population as the multinational Empire is radically transformed into a nationalist Turkish Republic. The Empire’s loss of its Balkan lands was a traumatic shock that unleashed a wave of desperate and angry Muslim refugees. Under the conditions of war, the Armenian question took on an urgent and dramatic turn.
Akcam’s focus is on the centralized decision-making of the revolutionary Young Turk ruling elite and their draconian decision to commit genocide. The documentary evidence offered is impressive, with a great amount from Turkish primary sources. It is meticulous scholarship updated from a book Akcam originally published in Turkish in Ankara in 1999. Despite the enormous number of footnotes, this English translation is well-written and is an important volume on the Armenian Genocide. The Turkish language version has already had a major impact in Turkey.
Given the focus on the Turkish political-military decision-making elite and its genocidal decisions, there is at times less descriptive account about the enormous suffering of the Armenians. That was not the primary purpose of this volume. The goal was to document Turkish malevolent intent, planning and responsibility. This volume achieves that educational goal resoundingly.
That said, it does raise a question that often arises in books on genocide. To understand why such terrible events occur, we must look at the causes. Hence we need to analyze the perceptions, motives, plans and deeds of the people who commit genocide. However, above all we need to understand what the victims experienced and the enormous impact of genocide, both in the past and ongoing. To understand the cause of genocide we must study the perpetrators, but to really comprehend what genocide involves, we must first and foremost listen to the voices and words of the victims. As brave and pioneering as Akcam is as a scholar, his volume seems more suited as a second, more advanced book to read, not as an introductory account of the Armenian Genocide. That said, this is probably the best book for a Turkish audience to read.

Robert Melson, Revolution and Genocide: On the Origins of the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust (Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1992; ISBN: 0-226-51990-2; 363 pages)
Robert Melson, a survivor of the Holocaust, is an illustrious, pioneering genocide scholar. He was a distinguished professor of political science and co-director of Jewish Studies Program at Purdue University.
His book was an early major contribution to the literature on the Armenian Genocide and is still highly cited in academic circles. It is an impressive comparative volume which looks in depth at both the Holocaust of World War II and the Armenian Genocide of World War I. This is a remarkable volume with extensive documentation, a powerful analytical framework, and a wonderfully effective writing style, that is no doubt enhanced by his personal experiences as a child having fled genocide.
The book is divided into three major historical sections. The first explores the background and conditions in the pre-revolutionary ancien regime of the Ottoman Empire and Imperial Germany. The second section documents the violent revolutionary goals and ideology of the Young Turk and Nazi parties. The concluding section compares the similarities and differences between the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust and explores the ruthlessly ambitious and violent nature of revolutionary genocidal regimes. Chapter #8 is often reprinted justifiably in edited genocide collections. It is one of the best comparative summaries in existence of the two genocides.
While the book is analytically comparative, the format proceeds with one chapter on the desperate plight of Armenians, followed by one on the deadly fate of so many Jews. Due to the strong analytical framework employed, the reader is successfully pulled along in the twinning of the case studies. The Holocaust is the most known genocide and the comparison, both of similarities and differences, with the Armenian Genocide is quite instructive, even for an advanced reader.
This is a book that I have often used as one of the core texts in my university classes on genocide. Melson’s book was praised by my students. If I were to strongly recommend only one book for Armenians to read on the 1915 genocide, this would probably be the volume I would select. Part of the reason for this is that I have found that too often Armenians lack a sufficient theoretical understanding of the common features and dynamics of genocide in general. And too frequently they also display a woeful lack of sufficient knowledge of other genocides. This is the book that can address such gaps and deficiencies. It is also a powerfully effective volume for non-Armenians to learn about the terrible sequence of events of 1915.

Peter Balakian, Black Dog of Fate: A Memoir (New York, Broadway, 1997, ISBN: 0-7679-0254-8; 292 pages) (New York, Basic Books, 2009, 13: 978-0-465-91019-6; 357 pages)
Balakian’s Black Dog of Fate is an earlier and quite different volume than his political history The Burning Tigris. Instead Black Dog of Fate is more a personal odyssey in which he discovers insights into his family history. It begins with Peter growing up seemingly as a typical sports-devoted American teenager, but gradually layers of the extended family history are pealed back to reveal the horrific suffering of the Armenian people and the need of the survivors to bear witness. The family autobiography increasingly travels back in time to his family’s roots in the Ottoman Empire and the terrible turmoil of 1915. This personal memoir probes beneath the surface of a peaceful ordinary life in New Jersey suburbia to reveal the almost hidden, but powerful memories of genocide.
Vast numbers like one and a half million are exceedingly difficult to comprehend and can be numbing for the outsider. But personal family accounts can be profoundly moving and extremely effective in communicating to the reader the emotional magnitude of the losses involved in genocide. Black Dog of Fate had a major impact on many non-Armenians and young Diaspora Armenians. It received a glowing New York Times recommendation and was reprinted in an expanded anniversary edition just over a decade later. It remains a classic introductory paperback on the 1915 Genocide. For a young teenage reader, it is an ideal book. For others, it can be a nostalgic and quite moving account about an adolescent coming of age and acquiring adult insight into one of the major genocides of the 20th century. It is a memoir about a land of immigrants, with so many heart-wrenching stories of what their ancestors have endured. We should learn and remember.

We all need to better learn and understand. These five books can provide a helpful introduction to this profoundly painful, but crucial topic. If on April 24, each Armenian family would give a copy of one of these books to a colleague, friend, public or school library, more people would have a better chance to know and begin to understand how 1915 has defined so much of the Armenian nation.

Alan Whitehorn is author of a number of books on the Armenian Genocide, including Just Poems: Reflections on the Armenian Genocide.

Article source:

Return top

'Genocide Monument'

Using the unrecognized Genocides of the past as a reason to keep vigilance on all current ones around the world. The iPhone app is now available free on the Apple App Store. The Android and Blackberry versions of 'Genocide Monument' are currently being funded for production.