- Officially designate Holy Cross as a Church, not a museum, opening it for year-round worship services, rather than for one day only.
- Place the Church under the jurisdiction of the Armenian Patriarchate of Turkey, not the Ministry of Tourism.
- Allow Divine Liturgy to be celebrated regularly, after Holy Cross Church is properly consecrated in accordance with Armenian religious rites.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Monday, June 28, 2010
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
Having been victimized by many conquerors throughout history, Armenians have developed a strong instinct for survival. To stay out of trouble, they have learned to be loyal and even subservient to the states that ruled over them.
While Armenians gained plenty of “moral victories,” their actual battlefield successes have been few and far between. One has to go back to two thousand years to find a rare example of a conquering Armenian ruler, King Tigran the Great (140-55 BC) whose vast empire extended from the Caspian to the Mediterranean Sea. In the modern era, prior to the Armenian Genocide, Armenian Freedom Fighters (Fedayees) fought back against the murderous Turks and Kurdish mercenaries. During the Genocide, the Armenians of Aintab, Hajin, Musa Dagh, Sassoun, Van, and Zeitoun bravely defended themselves, while 1.5 million of their kinsmen were slaughtered like sheep. The heroic Battle of Sardarabad saved the remnants of the Armenian people in Eastern Armenia, culminating in the establishment of the first Armenian Republic in 1918. Finally, beginning in 1988, brave young men and women battled the much larger and better armed forces of Azerbaijan to liberate Artsakh (Karabagh).
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many western missionaries, tradesmen, writers and adventurers, often described the Armenians they encountered in the Ottoman Empire as “cringing.” Canadian-Armenian website Keghart.com, in an editorial posted last week, quoted Dr. William Goodell’s depiction of the Armenians of Constantinople in 1871: “Four centuries of torture, of oppression, and of suspense have stamped its impress upon an entire community… constant fear, constant agony, constant humiliation have so crushed out every trace of manhood, that they are still cringing, fawning, an abject race. Several generations of happier descendants can alone efface the mental taints acquired in those long years of vassalage.”
Regrettably, many Armenians have yet to overcome the “slave mentality” -- deeply ingrained in their psyche -- inherited from ancestors who lived for centuries under foreign yoke. One comes across countless examples of self-effacing behavior in Armenian communities throughout the Diaspora and in Armenia itself. All too often Armenians meekly accept injustices and insults heaped on them by others.
It is high time that Armenians throw off their shackles and defend their inalienable rights. They must not remain silent in the face of abuse or physical attack, but respond appropriately without resorting to reckless actions that may endanger their communities or the homeland.
In the United States, for example, when elected officials, journalists or writers distort the facts of the Armenian Genocide, they must be severely criticized and discredited, so others would be warned to refrain from Genocide denial.
The most recent example of Armenian inaction is the feeble Armenian response to last week’s night-time attack by Azeri forces on Artsakh, causing the deaths of four Armenian soldiers and the wounding of four others. Beyond expressions of sympathy for the victims and condemning the attack, no concrete action was taken by Armenian officials.
In the aftermath of this vicious and unprovoked attack, Armenia should have announced the cancellation of the next round of negotiations with Azerbaijan over Artsakh. It is completely unacceptable to conduct peace talks, while Azerbaijan is engaged in warfare. Under these circumstances, Armenians have the right to take all possible actions to defend themselves from future attacks. Rather than merely issuing a condemnation, the Armenian side at a time of its choosing should carry out punishing pre-emptive strikes so that Azeris would think long and hard before mounting another attack. Azerbaijan should clearly understand that any further aggression on their part would:
1. Cause the suspension of the peace talks, thus delaying the resolution of the conflict rather than expediting the negotiating process.
2. Lead Armenia to eventually abandon all peace talks, since it has little to gain from these negotiations. Azerbaijan is the one that desperately needs to negotiate in order to secure concessions from Armenia.
3. Signal to the world that the government of Azerbaijan is not interested in finding a negotiated settlement to the conflict and is responsible for its collapse.
4. Discredit the good faith effort of the mediating countries – France, Russia and the United States.
5. Force Armenia to initiate military action, causing a disproportionate amount of destruction, even damaging the oil pipelines, in order to discourage Azerbaijan from further attacks.
Armenians must realize that they no longer live in the Ottoman Empire and are no one’s slave. They should shake off their psychological shackles and take all necessary measures to defend their national interest!
Monday, June 21, 2010
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Friday, June 18, 2010
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The Courier
Turkey's growing influence in the Middle East, even before the naval confrontation with Israel over Gaza , had prompted some Arab countries to restrict the political rights of local Armenian communities.
It is feared that the latest Gaza conflict, which catapulted to a heroic stature throughout the Islamic world, would result in further limitations on Armenian activities deemed to be "anti-Turkish."
In recent months, Jordan , Syria have taken specific actions to place some restrictions on the activities of their Armenian citizens either out of concern for a backlash from Turkey or under direct pressure from Turkish authorities. and
A case in point was the Jordanian government's cancellation of AGBU's Middle East Young Professionals Forum that was to take place in Amman , June 3-6. Talin Suciyan, reported in The Armenian Weekly that Jordanian authorities had expressed reservations for the gathering of 150 young Armenians from various parts of the world. Suciyan, who was invited to speak on the "Legacy of Hrant Dink" and the Armenian community in Turkey , stated that the organizers were informed the night before that the forum was canceled by orders "from above." Some observers attributed the cancellation of the AGBU forum to the agreement to set up a Free Trade Zone, which was to be signed between Jordan , Lebanon , Syria , and Turkey , on June 10. A commentator pointed out the irony of Armenian conferences being allowed to take place in Turkey , but not in Jordan !
Earlier this year, when a Lebanese TV crew was about to enter Syria to record footage on "the Armenian killing fields" in Der Zor, border guards refused to admit them, even though they had secured the necessary filming permits from the Syrian authorities in advance. This incident took place shortly after CBS aired in its "60 Minutes" program a segment on the . The program depicted the protruding bones of Armenian Genocide victims from the desert sands of Der Zor. Turkish officials lodged a complaint with the Syrian government for allowing CBS to film an "anti-Turkish" program in their country.
The third incident, unexpectedly, took place in Lebanon , home to one of the most influential Armenian communities in the Diaspora. In a surprise move, government officials banned the airing of Eileen Khatchadourian's music video, "Zartir Vortyag," a genocide era song calling for resistance against oppression. Even though the song makes no reference to Turkey , Lebanese authorities were concerned that it would negatively affect Lebanese-Turkish relations.
These are troubling examples of blatant interference with Armenian citizens' right to free expression. In all three countries, Armenians have long enjoyed the most cordial relations with their respective governments and are viewed by them as loyal citizens. Local Armenian community leaders must strongly protest such arbitrary violations of their basic rights as citizens of these countries. They should consider carrying out a campaign to educate their fellow citizens about the extensive damage Turkey has caused to Arab interests for decades, as a close military ally of Israel .
Armenians should point out that, despite Erdogan's blistering anti-Israeli rhetoric, he has not canceled any of the 16 agreements with Israel , including the exchange of intelligence, according to Middle East magazine, the intelligence agencies of Israel and Turkey have cooperated "since the 1950's in the fight against radical Islamist groups and Iranian clandestine operations in the region." Furthermore, Turkey was reported to have allowed Israel "to monitor Syrian military maneuvers from Turkish soil." In addition, Turkey awarded $1.8 billion in military contracts to Israeli companies. The total trade turnover between the two countries reached $2.5 billion in 2009. More than 900 large Israeli corporations have been operating in Turkey and over 1,000 small Israeli exporters have established commercial ties with it. newspaper. Sedat Laciner, head of Ankara-based , told Hurriyet that the military leaders of the two countries had also signed several secret agreements. According to the
Erdogan has cleverly capitalized on the political vacuum created by the inaction of Arab leaders regarding the plight of the Palestinian people, thus raising his own as well as his party's political rating in advance of the referendum on constitutional amendments, and next year's crucial . It is a pity that Arab leaders have totally abdicated their own responsibility, allowing an outsider to claim the mantle of Arab leadership!
Prior to Prime Minister Erdogan's scheduled visit to Lebanon next month, where he might receive an undeserved hero's welcome by some Lebanese, Armenians must expose his hypocritical show of solidarity with Palestinians, and convince their fellow citizens that he is acting in his own, rather than Lebanon's, best interest.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Friday, June 11, 2010
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Tuesday, June 08, 2010
Publisher, The California Courier
By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
In the past week the world witnessed an amazing performance by a government leader that even the most accomplished Hollywood actor could not match!
Turkey’s Prime Minister deserves an Oscar for presenting himself as a great humanitarian and protector of Palestinians. The people of Gaza are certainly oppressed and deprived, but Erdogan is not their knight in shining armor! One cannot champion human rights with unclean hands! This is the height of hypocrisy!
-- How could Turkey blockade Armenia for 17 years and credibly call on Israel to lift its blockade of Gaza?
-- How could Erdogan condemn Israeli attacks on Palestinians, when Turkish jets regularly bomb Northern Iraq (), killing and maiming innocent men, women and children?
-- How could the Prime Minister of Turkey condemn Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians, when his own country deprives Alevis, Armenians, , Greeks, Jews and Kurds of their most basic rights?
-- How could Turkey oppose the occupation of Palestine and Karabagh (Artsakh), while occupying Western Armenia? and
-- How could Turkish leaders accuse Israel and China of committing "genocide," when they deny the reality of Turkey’s own genocide of 1.5 million Armenians?
-- How could Turkey claim to be champion of the Palestinian cause and leader of the Islamic world, while being Israel’s closest military ally in the Middle East for over a half century, and allowing Israeli jets to carry out practice bombing runs in Turkish airspace against Arab countries and Iran?
-- How could Iraq and Iran trust Turkey, when it jeopardizes their national security by permitting Israeli listening posts along the border to collect intelligence on their countries.,
-- How could Erdogan be a guardian of human rights while journalists, attorneys, clergymen and human rights activists are persecuted and even assassinated in his own country?
-- How could Turkish leaders claim that Israel is a "terrorist state," while continuing to maintain a military alliance and multi-billion dollar trade with the Jewish state? Turkey pretended to side with Arab states, all the while conspiring with Israel to damage their national security!
Israel and the United States share responsibility for Turkey’s hypocritical behavior -- they joined in supporting, defending and covering up numerous Turkish violations of human rights, denial of the , and suppression and ethnic cleansing of the Kurdish minority. In the past 60 years, the United States and other NATO members gave billions of dollars in foreign aid and military assistance to Turkey, vainly expecting to win its loyalty. This was a massive waste of U.S. resources, as Turkey did not even allow American troops to go across its border at the start of the !
Turkey cleverly exploited Israel’s ill-advised attack on the Gaza aid flotilla, and sought to fill the vacuum created by the irresponsible inaction of Arab states. Erdogan is just as guilty as Israel’s leaders for causing the killing and wounding of the aid activists. He tacitly encouraged them to set sail to Gaza, knowing full well that there would be a bloody confrontation which would boost his own standing at home and abroad. Turkey’s junior brother, Azerbaijan, also gets a medal for hypocrisy as it issued a timid condemnation of Israel, so it could continue to buy arms and sell oil to that country. So much for Turkish-Azeri solidarity!
Of course, over the years, the Israeli government has acted just as hypocritically as Turkey’s leaders. While countering any and all manifestations of revisionism, Israeli officials have shown no reluctance in supporting Turkey’s denials of the Armenian Genocide. But now that Erdogan has raised his voice against Israel to a fever pitch, Israelis have jumped at the opportunity of using the possibility of recognizing the Armenian Genocide as a weapon against Turkey. Armenians must reject such dishonesty. The Israeli government was not sincere when it denied the Armenian Genocide, and it is not sincere now in supporting its recognition! It is shameful to play cheap political games with an issue as horrendous and devastating as genocide. Israel and others should recognize the Armenian Genocide for only one reason: It is the absolute truth!
So far, Turkey has been all talk and no action on the Palestinian issue. Erdogan has not gone beyond giving fiery speeches against Israel. If he is honest about defending the Palestinians, he might consider:
1. Canceling all military contacts and contracts with Israel;
2. Abrogating all public and secret military and strategic agreements with Israel, including intelligence-sharing; and
3. Closing down the Turkish Embassy in Tel Aviv and Israel’s Embassy in Ankara.
In the aftermath of last week’s bloody confrontation, a major domestic controversy erupted in Turkey, when Erdogan accused Israel of breaking one of the Ten Commandments. After saying "You Shall not Kill" in Turkish, he repeated it in English and Hebrew, to make sure that Jews “could understand” his words! In response, Kemal Kılıcdaroglu, leader of CHPopposition Party, told the Turkish public that Erdogan himself had broken two other Commandments: “You Shall not Steal” and “You Shall not Lie!”