Wednesday, July 29, 2009

From Diocese of the Armenian Church of Iraq

The Primate of the Armenian Diocese of Iraq, Archbishop Avak Asadourian paid a pastoral visit to the Armenian Church and Community in Basra for four days on July 22-25, 2009. On this visitation Serpazan Hayr was accompanied by Mr. Baruir Hagopian and Mr. Ishkhan Amirkhanian, chairman and member of the Diocesan Council respectively. In Basra they were welcome by Fr. Torkom Torkomian, parish priest of St. Asdvadzadzin Church of Basra, as well as parish council members.
On Wednesday evening His Eminence met with the Armenian Youth of Basra and lectured on topics of interest to the youth such as making the message of the Gospel relative and meaningful in their every-day lives as Armenian young men with a rich tradition. Serpazan's lecture was followed by question and answer period.
On Thursday morning His Eminence and Diocesan Council members held an extensive meeting with the parish priest and parish council members discussing a host of issues facing our Armenian Community in Basra during these difficult times in Iraq. It must be reported that security and every-day life in Basra is better than Baghdad and Mosul, and there is a relative calm in this southern Iraqi city. The Armenian Community in Basra counts some 800 faithful.
On Thursday afternoon Serpazan visited the sick and elderly of the Armenians of Basra. Later, on Thursday night, His Eminence visited the Armenian Youth Association of Basra where the Community was gathered to welcome their stewards from Baghdad. Here, cultural activities were presented such as group and solo patriotic and popular songs. After-wards Serpazan addressed the Armenian public encouraging them to adhere to their faith and become devoted sons and daughters of their Mother Church, holding fast to the Armenian language and culture. After an absence of 4 years this cultural center re-organized itself and started its activities with a new committee comprised of youth who are working hard in maintaining and upholding our Cultural heritage.
On Friday, July 24, His Eminence celebrated Divine Liturgy and delivered the Sermon. Clergymen from sister Churches attended our Badarak. Most of those attending Church services received Holy Communion.
On Saturday morning His Eminence together with the accompanying delegation returned to Baghdad.
PS/ Some photos are attached by Vahe Avedisian
Divan of the Diocese

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Eilian Williams- The Welsh Shepherd

I would like to add to the previous post that Mr. had also had an urgent appeal to help the Armenians of Iraq. This followed his visit to the Armenian community of Havrez (an Armenian village located 40 miles north of Mosul city in Northern Iraq) and Zakho and the Chaldean Church in Duhok.


On January 23, 2009, I received an e-mail from Mr.

Dear Ara,

I notice you put an appeal which I made on behalf of the villagers of Hay Vrej (Havrest-Howrisk) near Simel, on your blog. Unfortunately very little was contributed. This week I went to see a trustee of an Armenian Charity in London, and he said they may be able to help".

In a following e-mail January 31, 2009, Mr.

"Dear Ara,

I wonder if there is anything that you can do to help the children in the village?.

One of them has two holes in her heart and needs heart surgery. Two need eye treatments…Part of the problem is that there is no direct diplomatic relations between Armenia and Iraqi Kurdistan I did contact the Ministry of Diaspora without reply. Are you able to contact the Ministry of Diaspora to see if they can help? It would be possible to arrange an invitation to the Armenian Diaspora Minister to visit the village if necessary".

I made my contacts with the Ministry of Diaspora which properly reacted and contacted the Iraqi Armenian Community leaders to solve this matter.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Welsh Shepherd Does More for Armenian Cause than Most Armenians

By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier

Incredible, but true! Eilian Williams, a shepherd in Wales, has done more in support of the Armenian Cause than most Armenians, despite the fact that he is not related to Armenians by heritage or marriage. For all his good work, he has received no recognition and no appreciation. Most Armenians, except for a small circle in London, are neither aware of his existence nor his selfless efforts.
His first involvement with Armenians began in 1998 when an Armenian acquaintance asked him to arrange for the Armenian Church Choir to perform in Eisteddfod, a Welsh Cultural Festival. This prompted him to form the "Wales Armenia Solidarity" group.
On April 24, 2001, Mr. Williams organized the first Armenian Genocide commemoration in the Temple of Peace, located in Cardiff, Wales. He then succeeded in getting the National Assembly for Wales in October 2002 to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide and organized a special commemorative event in the National Assembly building, which was attended by Armenia’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom.
Through his persistent efforts, the Gwynedd County Council in March 2004 became the first municipality in the UK to recognize the Armenian Genocide.
In October 2004, Mr. Williams arranged for the Prime Minister of the Republic of Nagorno Karabagh (Artsakh) to be received by the Presiding Officer (Speaker) of the National Assembly for Wales, thus boosting the legitimacy of Artsakh’s statehood.
Two years later, Mr. Williams was able to persuade the majority of the members of the National Assembly for Wales to support the Assyrian/Armenian Genocide Early Day Motion (EDM).
In January 2007, he organized the Hrant Dink Commemoration in the British Parliament. He also lobbied for the Armenian Genocide Motion in the House of Commons which garnered the signatures of 182 Members of Parliament.
On November 3, 2007, at the inauguration of the Armenian Genocide Monument in Cardiff, which Mr. Williams and John Torosyan helped organize, the Speaker of the National Assembly for Wales made scathing remarks about Turkey. Turkish hooligans tried to disrupt the solemn proceedings; several months later, they desecrated the Genocide Memorial.
Over the years, I had followed with great admiration the unpublicized activities of this "odar" shepherd of Wales. However, I had no direct contact with him until last month, when I received from him the text of a new Early Day Motion that he had submitted to the British House of Commons. The Motion demands that Turkey return the more than 2,000 Armenian, Assyrian and Syriac churches and religious monuments confiscated by the Turkish government after the 1915 Genocide to the jurisdiction of their respective Patriarchates as "a measure of restitution."
The Motion further asks that the British government recognize the fact that these minorities were ethnically cleansed in the years following 1915, as was recently acknowledged by Turkish Prime Minister Rejeb Erdogan. The Motion has so far gained the support of 23 Members of the British Parliament.
This Motion attracted my attention because in recent months, I have been advocating such an initiative through my columns and lectures. I was pleasantly surprised when the Welsh shepherd sent me an e-mail last month informing that he had decided to take this action after reading my columns and particularly the remarks I had delivered at the House of Commons on May 7.
Armenian-Americans should follow the good example set by Mr. Williams and submit a similar resolution to the U.S. Congress. It would be practically impossible for any Member of Congress to oppose a motion that calls for the return of Armenian houses of worship to their rightful owner, the Armenian Patriarchate of Istanbul. Such a resolution would go beyond the mere acknowledgment of the Genocide, by seeking to restore some of the massive losses suffered by the Armenians.
European Armenians should go even further by filing a lawsuit in the European Court of Human Rights, seeking a judgment for the immediate return of the churches and religious monuments to the Armenian Patriarchate. It is unconscionable that these Armenian churches -- the ones not yet destroyed -- have been converted to mosques, warehouses and living quarters, and no one is contesting this shameful state of affairs! One can imagine the worldwide outcry if today’s German government were still holding on to a single synagogue that was confiscated by the Nazis during the Holocaust!
My hat off to Eilian Williams! I only wish that Armenians would emulate the righteous activism of this good shepherd whose efforts deserve proper recognition by the Republic of Armenia, the Church, and Armenians worldwide!

المسيحيون العراقيون يفزعون الي النزوح الجماعي الثاني\07\07-13\999.htm&storytitle=

الحريات الدينية تتطور في الخليج

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Narine, a song on a lost Iraqi Armenian girl

This is a song on a lost Iraqi Armenian girl.
Below is the story behind the song. I think you will be interested to know about this song:

As for Narine, here is the story as written by Mariam Matossian Setian, the singer of the song:

Our dear friend, was over at our house one day visiting us and you could tell that there was a burden on his heart. He began to tell us this heart breaking story. He was born in Iraq and his sister and husband and their children still lived there. Anyway, he told us how he has received work from his sister that their young daughter had gone missing. He was miserable about this, and his sister was always crying out in agony, praying for her daughter - a little Armenian girl - to be found again. They did not know exactly what had happened.

When I heard him tell this story, my heart broke for this family. And after he left that evening, I still could not get this story, this mother crying out, this little girl, out of my mind... and that night, I began to write this song for them. I decided to name the little girl Narineh (I did not know her real name), and I imagined her mother crying out for her, repeating her name, longing to see her again... that is how the song came to be... and now, when I sing it, I sing it for this family that I have never met, and also for all children everywhere who are suffering somehow...

~ mariam

Mariam Matossian Setian
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