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Craig Kalpakjian: challenging reality

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The Molokans add ethnic color to Armenia

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Armenians build a new Armenia in Naples, Florida

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Eastern U.S. Edition Number 108

April 4, 2009

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Kim: My greatest pride is my Armenian genes and my Armenian vor

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The Armenian Reporter | April 4, 2009

Number 108

April 4, 2009

Armenia The Molokans add ethnic color to Armenia

Ivan Makshanov, a Russian Molokan was born and has always lived in the village of Lermondova. His ancestors, exiled from the Saradova province of Russia have also lived in this village. "Our homeland was Russia. We were exiled from there. If they exiled us here, and we have lived in Armenia for more than 150 years, then Armenia is our homeland," he says. Tatul Hakobyan reports about the Russian Molokans living in Armenia. See story on page 15m

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Speculations mount about a possible Armenia-Turkey deal

Anonymous sources cited on timing, substance minister to attend conference

News analysis by Emil Sanamyan


In 1997 Catholicos Karekin I appointed Father Vertanes Abrahamian as the first chaplain of the Armenian Army. Since that time, the program has grown to 30 chaplains, both priests and deacons, serving Armenia's armed forces. At the helm of this critical ministry is the since elevated Bishop Vertanes Abrahamian, himself as veteran of the Karabakh war. This year, His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, elevated the chaplaincy program as well, and has since been granted diocesan status. See story on page 18m

Armenian Church's expanding role in the military Armenia's foreign

WASHINGTON ­ With President Barack Obama on his way to Turkey just weeks before Armenian Genocide commemoration day, and Armenians of Colorado host AUA guests unprecedented high-level meetings between Armenia and Turkey, exThe Armenians of Colorado wel- designing a state-of-the-art edu- pectations for progress in relations comed Ronald Altoon and Edward cational building for the American between Armenia and Turkey are Avedisian to Louisville on March University of Armenia once again being fueled. 24. The group gathered to hear Mr. Armenian officials contacted by Altoon describe his experiences in See story on page 12m the Armenian Reporter would not comment on whether an agreement with Turkey was imminent, but Community did confirm that Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian will attend the Istanbul conference, which Mr. Obama will address. Writing on April 1, the Wall Street Journal cited anonymous diplomatic sources as claiming that Armenia and Turkey "could soon announce a deal aimed at reopening their border and restoring relations" and that "the timing of the deal is being choreographed" with Mr. Obama's trip, the paper's Brussels and Istanbul correspondents reported. One of the Journal correspon-


President Abdullah Gül of Turkey, on right with mustache, is received by President Serge Sargsian of Armenia at the presidential palace in Yerevan as protestors invoke Armenian grievances against Turkey, Sept.6, 2008. Photolure.

dents contacted by the Reporter would not reveal if any of the officials he spoke with were from Armenia. The outlines of the deal, as described by these anonymous sourc-

es would include "opening and fixing borders, restoring diplomatic relations and setting up commissions to look at disputes, including Continued on page 3

House Armenia Caucus co-chairs request support for Armenia funding

by Maria Titizian

YEREVAN ­ House Armenian Caucus co-chairs Reps. Frank Pallone, The Hamazkayin Armenian Edu- by presenting the U.S. premiere of Jr. (D.-N.J.) and Mark Kirk (R.-Ill.) cational and Cultural Society of a dramatic love story, "On the Road" sent a letter requesting support for New York will be celebrating the ("Champoon Vra"). funding programs for Armenia to 140th anniversary of the birth of the leaders of the Appropriations renowned playwright Levon Shant See story on page 6m Subcommittee on State-Foreign Operations, chairperson Rep. Nita Lowey and ranking member Kay Community Granger. The letter was signed by 32 other Knights of Vartan "Ani" Lodge announces winner members of Congress (see chart). In their letter, Mr. Pallone and of student essay contest Mr. Kirk ask for tighter restrictions on Section 907 of the FreeWith his "Letter to President The winning essay urges the presi- dom Support Act, which limits U.S. Obama," 14-year-old Aram Balian dent to follow up on his affirmation military aid to Azerbaijan as long of Chevy Chase, Md., has won the to recognize and to persuade the as Azerbaijan threatens stability in second annual Armenian Student Republic of Turkey to recognize the the region. The letter reads, "The Essay Contest, the Knights of Var- Armenian Genocide. Armenian Caucus for years has tan "Ani" Lodge has announced. See story on page 8m supported parity between Armenia and Azerbaijan, but Azerbaijan's continual threats of war with Community Armenia, a U.S. ally in the South Caucasus, threaten stability in the Celebrating Zabel Varadian's life region. Due to these threats, we are requesting tighter restrictions on In 1956, Zabel Shiranian and her ployment for dozens of young men Section 907 of the Freedom Suphusband Mal Varadian purchased who grew to be family friends and port Act." the Public Street Market in South successful members of the Rhode The signers asked for $70 milProvidence, R.I., which they oper- Island Armenian-American com- lion in economic assistance and $5 ated for 40 years until their retire- munity. million in military assistance to ment. They provided the first emSee story on page 7m Armenia. "The people of Armenia

On the road: Hamazkayin N.Y. Theatre Group celebrates Levon Shant

continue to face the devastating impact of Turkey and Azerbaijan's dual blockades, illegal actions that, according to World Bank estimates from several years ago, cost Armenia roughly $720 million annually. Compounding the impact of these blockades is the approximately $680 million loss to Armenia's economy, in the form of increased transportation costs, higher prices, and lost investment, that resulted from the recent Russia-Georgia conflict. During this conflict, Armenia pro-

vided humanitarian, diplomatic and economic assistance to Georgia, facilitated the safe transit for U.S. and international officials, and helped rebuild damaged Georgian infrastructure," the letter states. They also request $10 million in aid for Nagorno-Karabakh, urging a shift in that aid from humanitarian to developmental programs. Finally, they asked for an end to any remaining restrictions on United States and Nagorno-Karabakh govf ernment official contacts.

Members of Congress who have signed the Appropriations letter

James Langevin Anna Eshoo Stephen Lynch Candice Miller John Sarbanes Dennis Cardoza James McGovern Rush Holt Louis Capps Loretta Sanchez Anthony Weiner Gary Peters Jim Costa Scott Garrett Raul Grijalva Timothy Walz Grace Napolitano Chris Van Hollen Ed Markey Eliot Engel Henry Waxman Collin Peterson Howard Berman Mark Souder Brad Sherman Joseph Baca Barney Frank Chaka Fattah Elton Gallegly Carolyn Maloney Joseph Crowley Frank LoBiondo


The Armenian Reporter | April 4, 2009


Washington briefing

Congressional aides declined to Mr. Gordon, the State Department's new manager for Europe discuss the briefing, citing governand Eurasia, also promised to ment secrecy, but a source familiar "promote democracy, encourage with the issue told the Armenian economic reform, protect national Reporter that the U.S. and Armesovereignty and territorial integ- nian governments were working rity, and resolve the enduring con- cooperatively on the issue that was flicts that cause needless suffering the briefing's focus. The committee is chaired by on a daily basis and ­ as we saw last summer in Georgia ­ risk erupting Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D.-Tex.) and includes as a member Rep. violently at any time." Possibly reflecting the Obama Adam Schiff (D.-Calif.). Rep. administration's interest in engag- Schiff and two other committee ing Russia, and while referring to members visited Armenia dur"the Russian invasion of Georgia ing a May 2008 trip that included and unjustifiable recognition of stops in Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, President Obama standing between Turkey's Prime Minister Erdogan and two breakaway regions," the testi- and Pakistan. Russia's President Medvedev at the G20 summit in London. Photo: White House. mony did not as in the past offer outright support for Georgia's po- Turkey's friends in While U.S. officials refuse to adAnd on the final day of the trip, sition on those regions. Congress write to Committee member Sen. Bob mit it, rhetorically there has been Mr. Obama will meet with Turkey's markedly less enthusiasm for the religious leaders, visit Sultanahmet Menendez (D.-N.J.) raised con- Obama, Gül, and two countries' membership since Mosque and Hagia Sophia, and cerns with Mr. Gordon's past oppo- Sargsian the brief war between Russia and participate in a roundtable with a sition Armenian Genocide affirmaGeorgia last August. group of Turkish students joined tion and tilt in favor of Turkey on Congressional supporters of U.S.Turkey ties who have also opposed After a stop in Prague for a sum- by others in Europe and Middle the Cyprus conflict. past resolutions affirming the U.S. mit between the United States East via video conference. record on the Armenian Genocide and the European Union on April have written to Presidents Barack 5, Mr. Obama will continue to Administration official Obama, Abdullah Gül, and Serge Ankara (April 5­6) and Istanbul promises "energetic Sargsian to "support Armenian(April 6­7). Turkish rapprochement." According to a White House engagement" on Reps. Robert Wexler (D.-Fla.), national security affairs spokes- Karabakh Ike Skelton (D.-Mo.), Alcee Hastperson, Denis McDonough, ings (D.-Fla.) and John Murtha who spoke with Turkish media "We must engage energetically on (D.-Penn.) were the main signatoon March 28, the Ankara itiner- enduring conflicts in Moldova ries to the Gül-Sargsian letter. ary includes a visit to the Ataturk and Nagorno-Karabakh," newly Mr. Wexler co-chairs the conMausoleum; a meeting with the appointed Assistant Secretary of gressional Turkey caucus. In 2007 Turkish president, followed by State Philip Gordon told memhe was joined by Reps. Skelton, lunch and a joint press confer- bers of the Senate Foreign Affairs Hastings, Murtha, and other seence; an address to the Turkish Committee during his March 27 nior democratic members in opparliament; and a meeting with confirmation hearings. In his prepared testimony, posing passage of the Armenian the prime minister. Genocide resolution, which was In Istanbul later on April 6, Mr. Mr. Gordon also promised to supported by the House DemoObama will participate in the meet- "support the negotiations on a cratic leadership. ing of the Alliance of Civilizations settlement in Cyprus; promote Philip Gordon. Photo: The March 30 letter addressed to ­ a United Nations program co-ini- Turkey's EU aspirations while In his response, Mr. Gordon re- Presidents Gül and Sargsian said tiated by Turkey and Spain. The al- encouraging it to improve relaliance brings together 78 countries tions with Armenia, Cyprus and ferred to the Genocide as "a terrible its authors "care deeply about Arworldwide, including Azerbaijan, Greece; and vigorously promote tragedy" and used other language menia and Turkey" and supported Iran, and Russia, but not Armenia, the diversification of European that was also employed by former "ongoing efforts . . . to heal open President George W. Bush and his wounds, mend broken hearts and energy supplies." Georgia, or Israel. officials when discussing the issue. create a better future for both naHe also declined to term Turkish tions and peoples." military presence in Cyprus an ocIn an April 1 letter to Mr. Obama, cupation. Mr. Wexler was joined by other Turkey caucus co-chairs and 27 House Intelligence other members to tout Turkey's importance and call on the presiCommittee holds dent to step up U.S.-Turkey coopArmenia briefing Rep. Robert eration. Among other issues in the Wexler with A key congressional panel that long agenda, they called on the Barack Obama oversees the U.S. intelligence com- Obama "Administration [to] lend at a pre-election munity this week held a rare brief- its unequivocal support to Turkey rally. Last year ing dedicated to Armenia. Accord- and its rapprochement efforts with Mr. Wexler ing to a public notice on its website, its neighbor Armenia." predicted U.S.the House Select Intelligence ComThe letter makes no mention of Turkey ties would mittee met on March 31 to receive a Mr. Obama's pledge to recognize "blossom" under closed "Briefing on Armenia," pre- the Armenian Genocide or the conMr. Obama. AP sumably given by administration gressional resolution on the issue photo f officials. introduced last month.

by Emil Sanamyan

Obama begins tour of Europe and Turkey

President Barack Obama began a weeklong five-city tour that focuses on the European allies of the United States, relations with Russia and Turkey, and the economic crisis. The trip is the president's first major foray abroad since taking office. In London on April 1­2, Mr. Obama was joined by leaders of world's largest economies, including those of Russia and Turkey, for the G20 economic summit. Talks with the Russian president were followed by a joint statement pledging a fresh nuclear disarmament initiative, and cooperation on missile defense, nonproliferation, counterterrorism, and talks with Iran. The president's next stop, Strasbourg (April 3­4), is hosting the 60th anniversary summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which just expanded to 28 members after formally adopting Albania and Croatia. Another former Yugoslav republic, Macedonia, has been blocked from joining due to Greece's longstanding objections to that country's name. A spokesperson for the State Department said on April 1 that NATO is open to additional members and "that both Georgia and Ukraine, should they choose to become NATO members and meet NATO's membership criteria, will someday become members of the alliance."

Rep. Mark Kirk is waiting for Speaker's decision on Genocide resolution

Denies media report that he claimed it "will not pass"

"My hope is that [Speaker Pelosi] puts the resolution on the floor," he said. "President [Barack] Obama said that he is for this resolution and campaign promises should matter." Together with Reps. Adam by Emil Sanamyan Schiff (D.-Calif.), George Radanovich (R.-Calif.) and Frank Pallone, Jr. (D.-N.J.), WASHINGTON ­ Rep. Mark Kirk Mr. Kirk is an original co-spon(R.-Ill.), co-chair of the congressio- sor of House Resolution 252 afnal Armenian caucus, says that he firming the U.S. record on the remains hopeful about the prog- Armenian Genocide, which is ress of the Armenian Genocide currently co-sponsored by 85 adresolution and was misquoted by ditional members of the House the Turkish media about it. of Representatives. "My hope is that we get this resoOn April 2, the English verlution to [a vote on] on the floor and sion of Hurriyet daily published that we adopt it," Mr. Kirk told the a translated excerpt of an interArmenian Reporter on April 2. But, he view with Rep. Kirk published added, "I don't know when Speaker the same day in the daily Aksam [Nancy] Pelosi is going to put this in Turkish. resolution on the floor. We are all The excerpt quoted Rep. Kirk waiting for the Speaker to tell us." as saying, "Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi will not dare pass the bill. She will not place Obama in a difficult position. The bill will not pass, don't worry." When asked about this line, Mr. Kirk said that it was "quite an addition to what I said." While confirming that he spoke with Aksam newspaper correspondent Nagehan Alci, Mr. Kirk said the quote was inaccurate. "When my words were translated from English to Turkish and then back to English, I did not recognize them anymore," Mr. Kirk said. "The interview made it sound like I was not a supporter of the resolution. Not only I am supporter, but I am a lead Republican supporter." The Armenian Reporter's request for Ms. Alci to comment made shortly before press time has not f yet been answered.

Rep. Mark Kirk (R.-Ill.), co-chair of the House Armenian caucus, says he has been misquoted by Turkish media.

The Armenian Reporter | April 4, 2009



Yale Club ballroom filled to capacity, over 200 guests, for the Armenian Relief Society Centennial Banquet.

Rep. Anna Eshoo speaks at ars centennial banquet

Rep. Eshoo said she would raise Armenian Genocide issue with Obama on March 30. at a scheduled meeting

NEW YORK ­ The Armenian Relief Society, founded in New York in 1910, celebrated its 100th anniversary at New York's Yale Club on March 28. Keynote speaker Rep. Anna Eshoo (D.-Calif.) said "The time for passing the Genocide resolution has never been more right," according to a report by Armenian Weekly editor Khatchig Mouradian. "I will be meeting with the president on Monday [March 30] evening, and I am going to again raise this is- Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo, speaker at the ars Centennial Gala Banquet on sue [of Armenian Genocide recogni- March 28, 2009, receives a plaque of appreciation from the ARS Eastern Region, presented by Angele Manoogian from Florida, chairperson of the Centennial. tion] with him," she noted.

Armenian Relief Society members with 50 or more years of service were honored with corsages and certificates given by the Eastern Region. Ten out of 12 honorees are in the photo with Abp. Oshagan Choloyan, Prelate.

Speculations mount about possible TurkeyArmenia deal

ers wonder whether the speculations are just intended to provide one on the tense history between an excuse for President Obama to the two nations." go back on his pledge to recognize The latter issue ­ of a commis- the Armenian Genocide. sion ­ has been one of the more Already, when asked about the controversial matters. In 2005, the issue, spokespersons for the White Turkish government first proposed House have responded repeatedly establishing a "commission of that the administration's "focus is historians" allegedly to study the on how, moving forward, the Unitgenocide. Seeing it as a ploy against ed States can help Armenia and genocide affirmation, President Turkey work together to come to Robert Kocharian made a coun- terms with the past." teroffer suggesting a bilateral comTurkish media has speculated mission to look into all issues. for months about an imminent President Serge Sargsian has breakthrough in relations between taken a similar position. Armenia and Turkey, and Western Another sticking point has been media too have started speculating Turkey's preconditions related to on the topic. Much of the fodder the Karabakh conflict, but those for such speculation has been proappear to have been set aside for vided by officials involved. the moment. Both Armenian and Turkish officials have said a breakthrough is Long-held suspicions close. Foreign Minister Nalbandian said and mounting last November in Istanbul that Arspeculations menia-Turkey normalization "could With Turkish officials saying that a be done in a quick way, because I do Congressional resolution about the not see any major obstacles." Armenian Genocide would underAccording to Turkey's Sabah mine progress in the normalization newspaper, senior members of the of relations between Turkey and Turkish parliament for the ruling Armenia, many longtime observ- party, visiting Washington last Continued from page 1 vos, Switzerland, shortly before Mr. Erdogan's stormy departure from a panel on which he appeared with the Israeli president. More talks have taken place between the two countries' foreign ministers and other officials. Expectations for a breakthrough had been raised before, perhaps artificially so. But the talks do appear to be reaching a kind of an End-game, kind of end-game. Ten months ago, when the ArmeTurkish leaders' overriding connian Reporter asked experts if they cern seems to be to get President expected such a breakthrough, Obama to continue the previous most were not optimistic. administrations' policies on the It was in the editorial pages of the Armenian Genocide issue. The first Wall Street Journal on July 9, 2008, crucial test of that will be President that President Sargsian first sought Obama's comments on the subject to convey his determination to nor- in Turkey and in the anticipated malize relations with Turkey. The April 24 commemorative stateinitiative since then seems to have ment. been boosted by the aftermath of From the Turkish perspective, the war in Georgia ­ which drew success in getting President Obama Russia and Turkey closer together to sidestep the issue should be a ­ and the election of Barack Obama good enough catalyst for a posias U.S. president. tive change in Turkey's policy toPresident Abdullah Gül made ward Armenia. But this is true only his unprecedented half-day visit to if, as a senior Turkish official told Yerevan in September. this newspaper, it is in fact their And two months ago President intention "to have best relations Sargsian and Prime Minister Re- with Armenia," and "good relations" cep Tayyip Erdogan met at Da- with Armenians in the diaspora. month, told their congressional counterparts not to move on the Armenian Genocide resolution, as an Armenia-Turkey deal was imminent. Other officials told the Armenian Reporter they believe some kind of a deal is likely, although one key Armenian official discounted newspaper reports.

You share the same community. Discover what happens when you share the same experience.

For more information about Relay For Life or to join an event near you, visit or call 1.800.ACS.2345.

Paint the Town Purple in celebration of Relay For Life on May 1, May Day For Relay.



The Armenian Reporter | April 4, 2009


Armenians build a new Armenia in Naples, Florida

When two of them meet, what else would you expect?

by Paul Chaderjian

raising a family, succeeding in business, and realizing their American Dream in big metropolitan, concrete jungles, many others come to Southwest Florida to enjoy every moment of a vacation or their retirement years. It's a place to enjoy the good life, a wonderfully temperate climate, nice people, great shopping, and good food. More than two hundreds Armenian families are known to have residences in Naples and interact with other Armenians through two local organizations. The first, established more than a decade ago, Jerry Alajajian. Photos: Arsen Serobian. is the Armenian American Cultural Society of South West Florida (aacs). The second organization is the Armenian Church of Southwest Florida, whose parish mission in Naples organizes monthly celebrations of the Divine Liturgy and hosts its visiting mission priest, Fr. Nerses Jebejian.

NAPLES, Fla. ­ Florida in the American lexicon equates to recreation, retirement, rest, and relaxation. Among the top dozen destinations that are known around the world is a small city of an estimated 22,000 residents on the western coast of the Sunshine State. This city, in Collier County, earned its name thanks to its reputation for overshadowing the original Bay of Naples, Italy. The accolades Naples, Florida, has earned include consistently being named as one of the top five places to live in the U.S. Its ten-mile beach on the Gulf of Mexico has been named the best beach Mark from Marco in the U.S. The city is also known as Island the Golf Capital of the World and boasts more than 80 championship This weekend, the first character in this story of Southwest Floridians, golf courses. Naples is where people who value 84-year-old Mark Nahabedian, serenity, beauty, cleanliness ­ para- will be among American soldiers dise - come to vacation or spend being honored by the French Emtheir retirement years. Among bassy with a Chevalier Award for those who have a residence here being part of the forces that liberare Bill Gates, Donald Trump, ated France toward the end of the Steven Spielberg, and Armenian- Second World War. Mr. NahabediAmerican philanthropist Gerard an served in the American army in L. Cafesjian, a former executive of France from 1944 to 1945. In 1970, Mark decided to buy a West Law Publishing, who created the Cafesjian Family Foundation vacation place in the Naples-Marco and owns and operates the Arme- Island area. He and his wife, Helen, and their three daughters lived in nian Reporter. Like Gerard and Cleo Cafesjian, Morton Grove, outside Chicago, at who spent decades working hard, the time. Mark operated a flooring

Maida Domenie.

business and owned a carpet-tile habedian, is a world-famous chef supply company. He would eventu- who has held executive-chef posts ally occupy himself full-time invest- at the Four Seasons and Ritz Carling and managing properties. ton hotels. Carrie now runs her When the family still lived out- own restaurant, Naha, in Chicago, side Chicago, Mark and his family and has garnered a number of would vacation in Miami but found prestigious accolades ­ including the east coast of Florida too crowd- the 2008 James Beard Foundation ed. Award for best chef in the Great Flash forward a few decades, and Lakes region ­ as well as rave reMark has become a central figure views from national and internain the local community while his tional publications, among them youngest daughter, Carrie Na- her hometown's Chicago Tribune.

Mark Nahabedian.

Pamela Torosian.

While the family had discussed looking for a vacation home in Florida, Mark surprised his wife and daughters one Sunday in 1970 by buying an apartment site unseen. "Normally, I'm the one who goes to church, but I stayed home that Sunday while they went to church and was looking through the travel and properties sections of the paContinued on page 5

The Armenian Reporter | April 4, 2009



Armenians build a new Armenia in Naples, Florida

Continued from page 4 per," he says. "I saw an ad for a place in Marco Island, and I said, `Gee, that sounds great.'" After seeing photos of the apartment, Mark signed on the dotted line, and the family took up residence in their new vacation home in 1971. "We spent Christmas and Easter here, and then I got my brother down here, and I got my sister down here, and I got my niece down here," he says. "There are about ten Armenian families that came here because of me, and then I've got two other cousins that live here. So, next thing you know, they're coming in from all over, most of them from New England, and two from the Michigan area. Maida and her husband, John Domenie, moved to Naples from New Jersey in 1987, and launched the aacs in 1998. Maida grew up in Beirut and left for Europe in 1963 at the age of 25. At the time she was employed by an Armenian who manufactured household products and asked her to work for him in Switzerland. Her father had passed away, so Maida, her brother, and mother moved to Switzerland but didn't like life in Europe. "I said, `Let's go back to Beirut and see what we can do about going to America," she remembers. "We waited for two years to be cleared to come to the United States, and we finally did. Then my husband hired me when we came to Washington, DC, where I had two cousins." John Domenie was working for a start-up bank called Wells Fargo, and he interviewed Maida for a position at the company. Maida says they developed a very deep friendship and then decided to get married. "After my husband took early retirement, he said, `We shouldn't live in the New Jersey-New York area anymore," says Maida. "I'm asthmatic, and the cold affects me very much. So we got into our car, and we were driving along the coast, because we wanted to be by the water." Maida and John had not heard about Naples until they were visiting a cousin in Boca Raton, on the east coast of Florida. "We saw this little town that said Naples on the map," she remembers. "It's a good drive across the state, so we said, `Let's go and see it.' And that was love at first sight." After about ten years in Naples, Maida realized that she and John were running into other Armenians now and again. "My husband said, `Why don't you look further into this, because there must be quite a few Armenians if we are seeing and meeting them so often,'" says Maida. "Eleven years ago, we came across some other Armenians, and I was very impressed by their Armenianness. One person said, `When do you think we'll have a club or a church?' That really triggered my interest, and I sat down for days and days, went over the telephone book, found all the ians, and I wrote maybe 150 letters." Maida received 35 prompt responses from fellow Neapolitan Armenians who said they would be interested in an Armenian club. She said the response was very encouraging, and the organization she and her husband started, the aacs, has mushroomed to about 200 members. "We have an activity every month, but the winter months are more active, because a good percentage of our members have two homes ­ North and here," says Maida. "So we do more activities during the season, the winter months." Members of the aacs pay annual dues, which are then used to host dinners, invite speakers on cultural issues and history, and produce a monthly newsletter that Maida writes and sends by postal mail. "We do not have any political or religious activities," she says, "because those are two issues with Armenians that create controversy." Maida says the best part of being involved in the AACS is the enthusiasm of members for being involved in the organization and getting to socialize with other Armenians. "You know, Naples is a very generic society," she says. "Armenians have no notion that they could sit down and have a dinner with another Armenian. The idea that they [actually] can, I think, creates the enthusiasm." In the pages of her newsletter, Hye Times, Maida writes about Armenian history, literature, and tidbits she culls from other sources. "I have a lot of things from the Armenian Reporter," she says. "When I Maida wrote about poet Daniel see something ­ for example, your Varoujan and reprinted an essay story about the Mexican Ambassa- about Lent written by 13th-cendor in Washington being an Arme- tury catholicos Levon Yervantsi. nian ­ I write about it." The newsletter also keeps members In the current issue of Hye Times, updated about each other. Maida says the aacs doesn't have ambitions to become bigger or join a bigger institution, because Naples is a small town with limited means. "We don't have our own place," says Maida, "so we are at the mercy of clubs and places like that when we meet. We have to organize the food, the drinks, the music. We're very limited as far as things that we want to do, but when we do something, they all love it."

The annual picnic

Enter Maida's touch

Jim Derderian at the aacs picnic on March 7, 2009. Photo: John Domenie.

"Of course, we have a lot of deaths," she says, "because, you see, our average age is 65-70, and we have quite a few, sad to say, deaths. But, in compensation, new members come in all the time."

In addition to the annual celebration of Armenian Christmas on January 6, the aacs hosts an annual picnic, which this year took place on March 8 and drew at least 150 members and non-members. "Usually we do it on Marco Island," says Maida. "That's where Mark Nahabedian comes into the equation. He's the picnic man. He does it all, and we have another gentleman, Jim Derderian. He's from Massachusetts, and he brings the kebab, and everybody brings an Armenian dish. I think we go home two pounds more than we came in." The picnic tradition in NaplesMarco Island is credited to the Continued on page 10


The Armenian Reporter | April 4, 2009



The lingering love notes of life

i.e., I adore you, Lean on me or I'm here for you can nourish me on a day that I wake up hungry. The notes inscribed on the inside of many of the cards also chronicle my life's journey, only they tell the story from the vantage point of someone else ­ usually a significant other. In rereading their messages, I am able to relive a day, a moment or renew a friendship that in many cases, has shaped the person whose name is Armen. A former boss of mine used to keep his collection of cherished notes in the desk drawer at his office where he could retrieve them at a moment's notice. He called them his justifiable existence. He said that they gave him purpose, reminded him why he was getting up in the morning, putting in 12 hour days and sacrificing both his health and sanity. If he was having a bad day, all he ever had to do was pluck out one of these notes, read a few lines, and instantly he would feel better. My personal collection stems back more than three decades. There are engagement and wedding cards, followed by the baby cards ­ you know, the ones with the ducks and teddy bears, cradles and storks on the cover. I have two huge stacks of these, well, actually they have moved into beautiful memory boxes, since they also include all of the birthday invitations and cards my children received at the time of their birthdays. I had intended to give these to them when they turned 18 or 21, but for sentimental reasons, I still cannot seem to part with them. Maybe someday. They remind me of the magical age of innocence, when life was simple and beautiful. Is there anything more divine than a child's birthday party, the sound of laughter, frosting smeared across a smiling face, tissue paper and ribbon dancing across the floor? I seriously doubt it. In more recent years, my collection reveals a different side of life. It represents fewer special occasions and instead, marks minute morsels of time, moments between friends that to the masses may easily go unnoticed. This series of notes, written mostly by the women I fondly reference as my band of angels, celebrates a unique sisterhood and friendship bond that has been forged in response to life's trials and tribulations. The messages contained in the cards celebrate courage, resilience and our collective determination to live life passionately and with no regrets. Recently, a dear friend of mine who is of Irish descent, sent me a lovely card with the following message: Happy St. Patrick's Day, Armen. The proud Irish woman in me salutes the strong Armenian woman in you. Let us raise a glass of green beer or fine champagne to our grandparents ­ whose sacrifices and hard work shaped much of who we are today. Lamb and pilaf or corned beef and cabbage ­ it matters not as long as we remember and celebrate. Love, Anne. I rest my case. This stack of notes stays. I will happily discard the magazines, newspapers and catalogs but these cards, each representing a treasured lifeline, will find a permanent place in both my heart and my home. After all, one must always make room for love.

On the road: Hamazkayin N.Y. Theatre Group celebrates Levon Shant

WOODSIDE ­ The Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society of New York will be celebrating the 140th anniversary of the birth of renowned playwright Levon Shant by presenting the U.S. premiere of a dramatic love story, "On the Road" ("Jampoon Vra"). This will be the 41st annual theatrical presentation by the Hamazkayin Theatre Group of New York, under the direction of Herand Markarian, recipient of numerous awards, including "Best Playwright of Diaspora" bestowed by the Writers' Union of Armenia. Poet, novelist, and playwright Levon Shant is regarded by many as the greatest Armenian playwright. Born Levon Seghpossian on April 6, 1869, in Constantinople, he was orphaned at the age of six. He debuted as a writer in 1891, adopting Shant (lightning bolt) as his pen name. The success of his play "Ancient Gods" allowed him to move to Europe and escape the fate of his colleagues who were killed in the Armenian Genocide. For years, he was a teacher and educator, as well as a public and political figure and political activist in Armenia and the Armenian communities in the diaspora. He served as a member of the parliament of the first Republic of Armenia, and was imprisoned after the Communist takeover of Armenia. After being freed, he continued to write plays and became one of the founders of Hamazkayin, and the primary founder of Hamazkayin Djemaran Academy in Beirut, where he was the school principal for 20 years until his death in 1951. A couple in love...the girl is devoted to the man she loves...the man is committed to the struggle of the homeland. How can this conflict be resolved? Shant offers a solution. Set in 1904 Bolis (Constantinople), this heart-rending story of love, devotion, and commitment takes place before the Armenian Genocide. Yet it presents a very current conflict. The presentation features Toros Tervizian, Sossi Essajanian, Karnig Nercessian, Zaven Vartanian, Avo Hajian, Mardig Boyadjian, Berjouhi Yessaian, Ani Nercessian, Ani Boyadjian, and Mr. Markarian. The N.Y. Hamazkayin Theatre Group has been home to over 400 members, who during the 41 years have given their precious time and talent to preserve the Armenian cultural arts. Much credit should be given to Mr. Markarian for introducing new faces and encouraging young Armenians to preserve their heritage. The Hamazkayin Theatre Group holds the record for the longest continuously running Armenian theater group in the United States, the only Armenian theater group that has performed off-Broadway, the largest number of world premiere Armenian plays in the diaspora, the first theater group of the Hamazkayin family to have been invited to participate in the first Diasporan Theatre Festival in Yerevan and Vanadzor, Armenia, as well as the first Armenian theater group to perform on a cruise line. The play will take place at 8:05pm on Sunday, April 19, 2009, at the Armenian Center, located at 69-23 47th Avenue, Woodside, N.Y.

connect: Marriet Gabrelian at (718) 205-2688 (evening), Berjouhi Yessaian at (718) 639-2666, or Sonia Bezdikian at (718) 961-9550 (daytime).

by Armen Bacon

As the weather begins to change and flowers beg to bloom, it's that time of year when I yearn to do a bit of spring-cleaning in an effort to un-clutter my life and prepare for the acquisitions of a new season. As an aspiring minimalist, I look forward to this time of year ­ a perfect and opportune time to sort, toss and discard the unnecessary possessions that sometimes force me to navigate life carrying too much baggage. I like to travel light, so this ritualistic downsizing of life is a must during this time of the year. Paper, in our house, has a tendency to accumulate and grow exponentially. Don't ask me why or how, it just does. There are stacks of newspapers, magazines, and mail in almost every corner of the house. Reading material is my security blanket ­ I thrive on unfinished sentences, dangling participles, word salads and anything that is hand-written, jotted down, published or unpublished. But today I am determined to rid myself of the excess paper. I am systematically sifting and sorting through mail, magazines, catalogs and correspondence. Forgive me for prying, but what do you do with them? I'm referring to the cards and love notes that people send you throughout the year(s), you know, to acknowledge a birthday, anniversary, job promotion or maybe the arrival of a new little one? If you are anything like me, you treasure these as if they are gold, holding on to them forever until one day, they fill an entire room. At my house, cardstock keepsakes have a tendency to stack up and multiply, moving from counter top to desk drawer, eventually forcing me to find them a permanent home in a special, undisclosed hiding place somewhere in my house. God forbid they should be thrown in the trash. The thought of it makes me cringe. You might be wondering why I hang on to them? After all, they are simply words on paper. The answer is simple: over the years, these personal mementoes have become an appendage to my heart. Each serves as a reminder that someone, somewhere, is holding a good thought for me somewhere out in the universe. In this day and age of anonymity, the intimate nature of these love notes quite simply, intoxicates my soul. The union of three or four handpicked words,

Armenian Reporter columnist Armen D. Bacon is senior director for communications and public relations for the Fresno County Office. Ms. Bacon lives in Fresno, California, and is a wife, mother, professional woman, and writer. Since 2004, her thoughts and reflections about life have been published in the "Valley Voices" section of The Fresno Bee as well as the Armenian Reporter. She also writes, produces, and hosts a radio series titled "Live, Laugh, Love" on Fresno's K-jewel 99.3 radio. She can be reached at [email protected]

Toros Tervizian and Sossi Essajanian star in Levon Shant's play "Jampoon Vra.".

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The Armenian Reporter | April 4, 2009



Norair K. Deirmengian (Norman K. Miller), 94, inventor

PHILADELPHIA ­ After a short period of illness, Norair Karekin Deirmengian, also known as Norman K. Miller, went to meet his maker on January 19 after a brief period of illness. He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Virginia, their five children, two daughters-in-law, one son-in-law and ten grandchildren. He was a loving and inspirational husband, father, grandfather and mentor. Always smiling, always offering a helping hand, he touched the lives of everyone he met.Norair was born in 1914 in Kasken Maden, near Bolis, while his mother was fleeing the Armenian Genocide along with her two young sons. His father had been killed prior to his birth. His mother found refuge for the family in Romania, where Norair was placed in an orphanage. Norair excelled academically and was sent to Murat Rafael Armenian College Preparatory School in Venice, Italy. After graduating in 1935, for motorized doors, gates and he emigrated to the United States automated machinery markets. where he was reunited with his fam- Under his leadership, Miller Edge ily and enrolled at the University of was issued over 100 patents in Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. the U.S. and abroad. He was recNorman was thankful for the ognized multiple times for his freedoms found in his new country. professional achievements. In Not yet a citizen, in 1941, he enlist- 1991, Norman received the Dised in the U.S. Army. He was sent to tinguished Service Award from the South Pacific where he played the Door & Operator Dealers Asinstrumental roles in the Battle of sociation honoring his personal Layte and the Guadalcanal Cam- achievements. In 1998, Miller paign. During his service, he showed Edge received the International his inventive talents by developing a Door Association Industry Sermethod of cushioning military tank vice Award. In 2007, he received Norair K. Deirmengian, 1914­2009. interiors to prevent injuries and was the International Door Associaissued a commendation for creating tion Humanitarian Award. of used copier and fax machines. a method to repair and improveNorman was always thankful The machines were refurbished at ment the Reisling gun. for the freedoms and successes he the Miller Edge warehouse, packed He returned to Philadelphia to found in the United States. He also with clothing for cushioning and start a manufacturing business kept a special place in his heart for sent to Armenia to help businesses with his two brothers. Origi- those suffering in his Armenian rebuild. In 2004, he donated the nally known as Miller Brothers, homeland. Following the devastat- funds required for the construction Miller Edge grew to become an ing Armenian earthquake of 1998, of a water treatment plant in the industry leader in safeguarding Norman organized the collection Armenian Village of Nor Gatashen. Prior to his donation, the people of this village had no clean running water. In 2007, he donated a classroom to the Armenian Relief Society Daily School at St. Mary's in Toronto, Ontario. Norman was a lifetime active member of St. Gregory's Church in Philadelphia. He was a member of Armenian Bowling League, St. Gregory's Men's Club, Knights of Vartan, Masonic Brothers. He also was a supporter of anca, ayf, Armenia Fund, and other organizations too numerous to note. Norair Deirmengian (Miller) was laid to rest on January 24, 2009 at Arlington Cemetery in Upper Darby, Pa., following funeral services held at St. Gregory The Illuminator Armenian Apostolic Church. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to: St. Gregory Armenian Apostolic Church, 8701 Ridge Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19128.

Celebrating Zabel Varadian's life

"Torch of Liberty" billboard to urge Genocide recognition

by Rosario Teixeira

NORWOOD ­ Isabelle Shira- neighborhood youths. They provided nian was born on November 14, the first employment for dozens of WATERTOWN ­ The Armenian 1925, in New York City, to Abra- young men who grew to be family Genocide commemorative billboard ham and Vartig Shiranian. She ex- friends and successful members of is scheduled to go up on Watertown's celled academically at Central High the Rhode Island Armenian-Ameri- Arsenal Street April 6. In the middle School and was a member of the can community. Holding court at the of the billboard, the torch of liberty is National Honor Society. She was a Public Street Market, Zabel and Mal urging the United States to officially proud member of the Providence offered guidance in the business, ath- recognize the Armenian Genocide. The commemorative billboard is Varantian Chapter of the Armenian letic, and personal lives of many. Their Youth Federation and participated service and generosity benefited indi- sponsored by Peace of Art, Inc., a in the Sts. Vartanantz Church Choir viduals and families, and made a last- non-profit organization which uses art as an educational tool to bring and Ladies Guild for many years. ing impression on the community. To support her family after her Family was an important part of awareness to the universal human father's death, Zabel worked for a Zabel's life. Having lost her father condition, and promote peaceful jewelry manufacturer during her at an early age, she gave constant solutions to conflict. Around the same time that the high-school years. After graduation, attention to her mother and uncle, she became an executive secretary Sarkis Keri Marderosian, both of Armenian Genocide commemoat U.S. Life Insurance Co. whom lived near the market. She rative billboard will be installed, During World War II, the female was very proud and fond of her President Obama will visit Turkey members of the Providence ayf many nephews, nieces, cousins, as part of his international tour. It wrote to the Armenian soldiers and other extended family mem- has been speculated that he may who were in the battlefield. Zabel bers, speaking of them affectionpulled out of a hat the name of Mel- ately and often, and was a loving kon ("Mal") Varadian, who was sta- sister to Dickran (Marie Rose) and tioned in North Africa with Gener- Charlie Shiranian, deceased. al Patton's 7th Army. When Melkon Despite her many illnesses and returned to the States, they met at surgeries, Zabel kept people happy an ayf meeting, and their 61-year with her kind demeanor and beaujourney together began. tiful smile. She took great joy in the Two years after their meeting, accomplishments of her children, Melkon and Zabel were married, grandchildren, and great-grandand shortly afterward, they started a children, relishing their celebraconnect: family. The couple would be blessed tions and graduations. She also enElo Tanashian 1-301-740-2751 with three children, Michael (Arme- joyed the constant company of her or Garbis Muradian 1-703-836-0827 nie), Sandra (Megerdich), and Mal- "grandpuppy," Mollie. (10 a.m. to 7 p.m.) colm (Kristen); grandchildren Nick, She will be remembered for her Siran, Antranig, Armen, Melkon, wonderful sense of humor. Zabel Sarah, and Ani; and great-grandchil- laughed heartily when, at one event, dren Emily, Nicholas, and Carl. All she and Mal were accidentally left were to join the Providence ayf. behind in an empty school parking In 1956, Mal and Zabel purchased lot. The family caravan drove off, the Public Street Market in South everyone thinking the others had 208-17 Northern Blvd. Bayside, NY 11361 Providence, which they operated Mal and Zabel with them! for 40 years until their retirement. The Varadian family appreciates Tel. 718-224-2390 Arthur ("Jake") Butler came on the kind devotion of Zabel's many Website: board as a young man, devoting friends and family in the Provimany years to Zabel and Mal in the dence community who were so operation of the store. Jake, his supportive throughout the years. wife Sandy, and their family remain In lieu of flowers, memorial donaServing the Armenian Community Since 1969 cherished friends to this day. tions may be made to Sts. VartanThe couple hired and mentored antz Church Endowment Fund and Edward D. Jamie, Jr.-NY&NJ Licensed Funeral Director countless family members and ayf Camp Haiastan.

influence the opening of the borders between Turkey and Armenia. Everyone has been following President Obama as he engages in carrying the torch of liberty and attempts to open dialogue for peace and cooperation with all nations. The Armenia diaspora has been following President WASHINGTON ­ Following the Obama as well, and waiting for the Armenian Genocide of 1915, thouofficial recognition of the Armenian sands of children were orphaned. From these, 109 were brought to Genocide by the United States. "Political compromise is not a so- Georgetown, Canada, to be trained lution to this problem," said Daniel as farmers. "Canada's noble experiVaroujan Hejinian, the founder ment" has been called the country's of Peace of Art, Inc. He added that first humanitarian act on an interrecognition of the Armenian geno- national scale, yet the young refucide will contribute to discouraging gees were to face culture shock and future use of genocide as a socio- discrimination in their adopted political solution. "In addition, it home. On April 25, the Hamazkayin Arwill contribute to the political stabilization in the region, and it will menian Educational and Cultural improve and normalize relations Society New Jersey Chapter­Youth between Armenia and Turkey." Theater Group will bring their story to life in a production organized by the Armenian Genocide Commemorative Committee of Greater Washington. "The Georgetown Boys," a musical by Herand Markarian, will be onstage at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Family Theater, 2700 F St. NW. Washing ton, D.C., at 7:30 p.m.

Onstage at the Kennedy Center Family Theater: "The Georgetown Boys"

Edward D. Jamie, Jr. Funeral Chapel, LLC


The Armenian Reporter | April 4, 2009


Aram Balian, 14, wins "Ani" Lodge student essay contest

Chase, Md., has won the second annual Armenian Student Essay Contest, the Knights of Vartan "Ani" Lodge has announced. The winning essay urges the president to follow up on his affirmation to recognize and to persuade the Republic of Turkey to recognize the WASHINGTON ­ With his Armenian Genocide. "Letter to President Obama," 14Aram wrote of his support for Presiyear-old Aram Balian of Chevy dent Obama, his personal connection

14-year-old urges President Obama to recognize the Armenian Genocide

to the Armenian Genocide though his elder relatives, well-documented citations of previous affirmations by the U.S. govemment of the Arrnenian Genocide, a description and summary of recent events, and the relationship of the Armenian Genocide to other genocides of the 20m century, including the Holocaust. "I was very impressed with the well-thought-out and articulate

letter that Aram wote, as were the judges," said "Ani" Lodge Commander Ed Ketchoyian. "We were so impressed with the essay that we are now working to get the letter to President Obama before April 24th." The essay contest, launched on December 31, 2008, was open to students under the age of 19. Mr. Balian will receive a $500.00 U.S. Savings Bond.

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Knights of Vartan Essay Contest winner writes to President Obama

This open letter by 14-year-old Aram Balian of Chevy Chase, Md., was the winning entry in the second annual Armenian Student Essay Contest sponsored by the Knights of Vartan "Ani" Lodge of Washington, D.C. March 2, 2009 Dear President Obama, I enjoyed watching your presidential address to the Congress when you highlighted the young student from South Carolina who had written to you about the need for repairs at her school. I had never thought that a President of the United States would respond to letters from young students; however, when you mentioned that letter, and I saw the student sitting next to the First Lady, I was inspired to write to you. I am writing to ask for your support in recognizing the systematic killings and forced deportations of the Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire at the turn of the twentieth century as genocide. My entire family supported your election. Your candidacy represented strong moral values, a willingness to try to make things right in our country, and a real hope for our future. I am extremely proud of our country and its citizens and grateful to be lucky enough to be an American, under the leadership of President Barack Obama. Several years ago, my parents took my brother and me to Armenia to connect to our Armenian heritage. The trip was an amazing opportunity to pray in churches that were built in the 4th century, to visit monasteries located in the mountains, and to view Mount Ararat, the ancient symbol of Armenia where Noah's ark landed, from our hotel room in Yerevan. I left Armenia as an American happy and proud of my Armenian heritage. During our trip, we said a prayer at the Armenian Genocide memorial for the Armenians who were massacred by the Ottoman Turks from 1915 to 1922. My great-grandmother, who died a few years ago, used to tell me stories of her childhood escaping from her village of Dort Yol, Turkey, to avoid the Genocide. She lost her mother during the marches to the Middle East. On the other side of my family, my mother's great-grandmother was forced to march through the desert. She walked from the city of Gesaria (Caesarea) in western Turkey to Aleppo, Syria. The trip took her three years and along the way she saw each of her family members die-one by one. She survived by eating any lizards and snakes she caught on the way. The story is much the same for thousands of Armenians who were forced to march through the desert with no food. In addition to the marching, many people lost their loved ones to outright execution. Although the Armenian Genocide has been an afterthought to some presidents in the past, it has been in the forefront of many great minds, including Raphael Lemkin. Lemkin, who coined the term "genocide," campaigned for Genocide. Prominent countries ment for the United States, and the ban of mass murder, after see- that have recognized the Genocide should not be a choice. For what ing the Armenian Genocide. The include France, Germany, and Ar- other reason than realpolitik has 1948 United Nations Convention gentina. In addition, a coalition of the Genocide not been acknowlon the Prevention and Punish- countries, the European Union, has edged? I have read many news arment of the Crime of Genocide ad- recognized the Armenian Geno- ticles on the fact that the US needs opted Lemkin's term and defined cide. Finally, many Turkish scholars to maintain a strong military presgenocide as and historians have recognized the ence in the Middle East. Turkey "any of the following acts commit- Genocide, even in the face of the has become the location of choice, ted with intent to destroy, in whole punitive Turkish legal codes. These because it is considered a "secular" or in part, a national, ethnical, ra- figures include Hrant Dink, who Muslim state, or even a "moderate" cial or religious group, as such: kill- was later killed by a radical Turkish Muslim state. However, given the ing members of the group; causing nationalist for his views. recent series of speeches by Abdulserious bodily or mental harm to In the United States, 42 states lah Gul, the President of Turkey, members of the group; deliberately have recognized the Genocide in- who has railed against Israel, does inflicting on the group conditions dependently of the Federal Govern- Turkey really seem all that "moderof life, calculated to bring about its ment. During the 2007 visit of the ate"? The fact that a huge number physical destruction in whole or in Catholicos, the leader of the Arme- of Turkish citizens hate Israel and part; imposing measures intended nian Apostolic Church, to Washing- by extension America, might make to prevent births within the group; ton DC, there was a push in con- Turkey less than "moderate." The [and] forcibly transferring children gress to pass a bill recognizing the Middle East is a "hot spot," in the of the group to another group." Armenian Genocide. Unfortunately, world; however, the US may want The Armenian Genocide is not an the bill did not pass. However, there to consider that Turkey is not imimagined event; it is a well docu- is now a renewed drive to pass the mune to the passions and prejumented and photographed his- bill, implying that the majority of dices of the past. Our attempt at torical event. As you yourself once the US populace considers the mas- realpolitik, then, may be misguided. said, "Joe Biden and I believe that sacres of Armenians, during and af- In fact, would it not be appropriate the Armenian Genocide is not an ter World War I, a genocide. for America ­ a country founded allegation, personal opinion, or a Even in the face of this conclu- on the ideals of Truth ­ to step point of view, but rather a widely sive evidence, some countries still away from realpolitik and simply documented fact supported by an deny calling the killings of Arme- recognize the Truth of the Armeoverwhelming body of historical nians a genocide. They have been nian Genocide? Does the US want evidence." There are many coun- threatened by Turkey with nega- to give up on Truth-the fact that tries, unions, states, individuals, tive financial or military repercus- that there was a systematic Genoand others who have recognized sions. In short, they have been cide of one and a half million Arthe historical truth of the Arme- bullied, and they have capitulated. menians-for military base locanian Genocide. Henry Morgenthau, The US should not be one of the tions? It is always the right thing the US ambassador to the Ottoman countries in this category. The to do to speak the Truth, and in Empire from 1913-1916, recognized United States of America is the the end it will not compromise our the Genocide and warned the US moral leader of the world. Ameri- military presence in Turkey. For government about the "whole- cans pride themselves on helping all their bluster, it would not be in sale slaughter" of the Armenians, countries in need and doing the Turkey's interest to force the US to Greeks and Assyrians. Ambassador right thing. However, how can the close our bases. Both in terms of Morgenthau's Story, a book written US justify helping other countries Turkey's safety and economic gain, by Morgenthau, has been used as establish sound democracies or a US military presence in Turkey is a primary source concerning what governments, or even make cor- advantageous. Thus, we really do occurred in the Ottoman Empire rect and morally sound choices in not need to respond to Turkey's during World War I. In 1915 alone, deploying our troops, when inex- posturing and bullying. To do so over forty articles were written by plicably, the US has not recognized will open the United States up to the New York Times about the Geno- the first documented and photo- more bullying. I do appreciate the cide. BBC News has also reported graphed Genocide at the beginning importance of a military presence on the Armenian Genocide. Pope of the 20th century? in the Middle East. However, I John Paul II issued a statement in Recognizing the Armenian cannot understand or condone a 2000 condemning the Armenian Genocide is a strong moral state- military base's location taking precedence over recognizing the true reason for the death of one and a half million fellow humans. I ask you to please recognize the Armenian massacres as Genocide, not only to end an ongoing injustice to the worldwide Armenian community, but also to prevent further genocides from occurring. As you once said "America deserves a leader who speaks truthfully about the Armenian Genocide and responds forcefully to all genocides." My parents tell me that other presidents and presidential nominees have promised to recognize the Genocide when in office. My family and I are looking forward to seeing the Genocide recognized by the United States, under the leadership of President Obama, this year. Once the United States recognizes the Armenian Genocide, we will have truly fulfilled our role as the moral and ethical leaders of the world. The philosopher and poet George Santayana once said: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Sadly, this has been true when it comes to genocide. Rather than stopping with the Armenians, genocides-ridding a country of certain ethnic groups-have occurred in China (Nanking), Germany (Hitler himself said, "Who, after all, speaks to-day of the annihilation of the Armenians?"), Cambodia (Pol Pot), Rwanda, Bosnia, and today in Darfur. Simply put, the more prolonged the recognition of the Armenian Genocide becomes, the less chance for future acceptance of the historical fact of genocide, and the more chance for future genocides. I respectfully ask that you support the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. Sincerely, Aram Balian, age 14 Chevy Chase, Md.

N. Lael Telfeyan, Ph.D., LCSW

Counseling and Psychotherapy with Individuals, Families and Couples Adults and Adolescents

140 West 97th St. New York, NY 10025 By appointment 917-975-3109 24 Windsor Road Great Neck, NY 11021 e-mail: [email protected]

The Armenian Reporter | April 4, 2009




Looking for bright, mature, multi-lingual (Armenian/French/English) individual who is well organized and pays attention to detail. Must be computer savvy and have strong planning and problem solving skills. Potential for advancement to FT Administrative Assistant.

Contact the Armenian American Health Professional Organization (AAHPO) at 201-546-6166 or [email protected]

Professor Simon Payaslian.

Quick, someone interview this man!

LOS ANGELES ­ A panel of chairholders in Armenian studies and directors of Armenian studies programs convened at ucla on March 28 discussed the state of the field. Asked about interest in the field among Armenian-Americans, panelists noted that scarce job opportunities scare students away. Simon Payaslian, who heads a new program at Boston University, put the blame squarely on the shoulders of Armenian-American media. He said Armenian newspapers write about Armenian studies only if they receive a press release. He noted that no Armenian paper has interviewed him. The Armenian Reporter has recently interviewed other professors of Armenian studies, including R.H. Dekmejian and Richard Hovannisian, and it is true that enrollment in their programs is higher than that in the Boston University program. The correlation is not entirely obvious, how ever. --V.L.

Visit us at the new


The Armenian Reporter | April 4, 2009


Armenians build a new Armenia in Naples, Florida

summer, but Mark says the Naples community will always remember late Gus Barber of Barber Foods, him as a great guy, and a very bewhich began its chicken and beef nevolent guy. business in the 1950s. "I introduced him to a friend from "Jim Derderian, who is from Bet- Watertown," says Mark, "and Gus hune, Massachusetts, and Gus Bar- donated $100,000 to the Armenian ber, from Cape Elizabeth, Maine, Tree Project. Two years ago, we would have a little picnic at the park, happened to be in Armenia, and I and there would be about 20 people," went into the tree project orchard, remembers Mark Nahabedian. and I was very impressed." "One day they decided to invite me, because I knew about half of Mission parish them. So from then on, that went Ahead of the start of the Lent seaon for about ten years. Then, when son, the local Armenian commuMaida started this organization, a nity celebrated Poon Paregentan, couple of times we had parties at the service that takes place the last the beach. Then we got involved Sunday before the start of Lent. with Jim and Gus, and that's how Officiating the service was visiting parish priest Fr. Nerses Jebejian. it worked out." "Up until this time, we had never Gus Barber passed away last Continued from page 5 had a service on the Sunday before Lent," says Pamela Torosian of the Naples Parish. "So we're very happy to have had the service this year. Afterwards we went to a restaurant and actually had an Italian dinner and had a party. We had about 67 people ­ which during the season is a fair number for us." Pamela says an average of 60 people participate in their monthly liturgical services, which are held at different churches throughout the year. "During the season, we have all the snowbirds come down from the north," says Pamela, "and we feel strongly that it's important to try to provide badarak services for them once a month, when they're so used to having it once a week up north."

Fr. Nerses Jebejian.

Pamela and her late husband moved to Naples 17 years ago. She says her husband's main concern with living in Naples was that there was no local Armenian church. "My husband, along with myself, and another couple, Sylvia and Bob Raubolt, started the mission parish down here in Southwest Florida," she says. "It takes about an hour and a half to go to the church services on the east coast, and about two and a half hours to go north of here, so we thought it was important to provide that service for the people of Southwest Florida." Pamela and other members of the Parish Council hope that in the next few years the local community will be able to buy or build its own Armenian church. "We have a unique situation down here with the number of retirees that we have," she says. "A lot of our members have been very active in their church parishes, so we have a lot of experience." After her husband passed away, Pamela, who is not Armenian, decided she wanted to play an active role in the Parish Council, as she had done when her husband was alive. "It was his passion, and I'd always been very active with the Armenian church, because it was a very warm family that was very welcoming when I married my husband up in the Greenfield area, up in Wisconsin," says Pamela. "When I came down here, I had that same kind of reception. So I was very supportive with his ethnic and religious background. I feel it's important to carry it on, not only because of him, but also because I have Armenian stepchildren and Armenian grandchildren. You have to lead by example, you know."

Fr. Jebejian is one of several mission priests who serve communities under the auspices of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church. "I started coming to Naples once a month around 1999-2000," says Fr. Nerses, who resides in Pompano Beach, on the east coast of Florida. "I divide my time, mostly weekends, and I go wherever I have to." This former director of the Mission Parish Program of the Diocese oversaw 22 mission parishes at one time. Under his direction, Armenian priests celebrated the liturgy across the Eastern U.S. in communities that did not have a permanent parish priest. Since his retirement from that post, he provides spiritual council to communities including Naples, Baton Rouge, Kansas City, and Atlanta. "Here in Naples, there's a large community of Armenians," he says. "In the wintertime, there are about 300 families that come from around the country. In the summertime, we have 200-225 families." Fr. Nerses' hope for the community is that the new five-member Parish Council will secure a permanent location for the church and hold weekly services. "It's very easy to go to a Catholic church, a Greek church, an Episcopal church, do a service, and get out," he says. "But in order for something to survive, it has to have continuity, and for [community members] to have continuity they need a place, a building. They need a residence. They need a house where they can continue their tradition, their religious life, their faith, and their spiritual nourishment and growth, Continued on page 11

The visiting Der Hayr

The Armenian Reporter | April 4, 2009



Armenians build a new Armenia in Naples, Florida

Continued from page 10 and in order to do that, you need a place." The Aleppo-native knows firsthand how a permanent structure can change the life of an Armenian community. He has helped communities in Louisiana, Kansas, and Georgia acquire locations, raise funds, and build churches. "I had been going to Baton Rouge since 1983, for instance," he says. "I used to go once a month. In 2002, I told them, `I've been coming here since 1983, and nothing has been happening.' It's a very small community. All they have in Louisiana is something like 40 families. I said that there's no sense in me coming here, if you people are not going to have something here, a community center, a church. And I said, `Do something else.'" A week after Fr. Nerses' talk with Louisiana Armenians, he received a call from the chairman of the local parish, who told him the community was ready to take the next step. Fr. Nerses returned to Baton Rouge and helped the local Armenians find a suitable site, a former piano store and storage facility, do the bidding, and buy the building, which soon was consecrated as an Armenian church (Community, March 21, 2009). "In the Louisiana area, we don't have families or individuals who have that kind of money," Fr. Nerses says. "The chairman of the Parish Council gave a large amount of money, and that excited other people in the community. It excited young people, and they gave some money. One gave a thousand. One gave three thousand. One gave a hundred. Two kids came and said, `We'll give you ten dollars,' and we built a church over there." Fr. Nerses pushed a similar initiative in Kansas City, where the community purchased a former Catholic church and is expecting a visit from Primate Khajag Barsamian after the completion of construction projects. Before being assigned to multiple parishes and the Parish Priest Program, Fr. Nerses worked for the World Council of Churches and represented the Armenian Church at international conferences all around the world. "I was ordained a deacon in 1964 and went to St. Nersess Armenian Seminary in Evanston," says Fr. Nerses. "I went to Geneva, Switzerland, and I studied at the Ecumenical Institute. Then I worked at the World Council of Churches, and it was quite an interesting experience." At the World Council of Churches, Fr. Nerses was assigned to work on youth affairs, which led to his assignments as a mission priest within the Diocese of the Armenian Church. Now his personal mission is to see that communities like the one in Naples find their own corner of their small cities to build an Ar menian church.

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The Armenian Reporter | April 4, 2009


Armenians of Colorado Host American University of Armenia Guests

LOUISVILLE The Armenians of Colorado welcomed Ronald Altoon and Edward Avedisian to Louisville on March 24 with a festive reception and a full table of delicious Armenian delicacies prepared by the AOC board members. The group gathered at the home of Betty and John Ohannessian to hear Mr. Altoon describe his experiences in designing a state-of-the-art educational building for the American University of Armenia. (See stories in the Armenian Reporter for Nov. 8 and 15, 2008.) Dr. Kenell Touryan, an aoc member and aua's vice president for research and development, welcomed the 35 guests, including Bruce Janigian, aua's vice president for development and government relations, and Dan Maljanian, aua's director of development. aua's founding chairperson of the Board of Trustees and former University of California official William Frazer is an Aspen, Colorado, resident and had hoped to attend, but weather prevented him from traveling. Mr. Altoon, founding design partner of Altoon + Porter Architects in Los Angeles, presented slides of the $16 million Paramaz Avedisian Building project and described the numerous challenges he faced in bringing new building techniques and environmentally sensitive solutions to the country of Armenia. The 100,000-square-foot building, which doubles the size of the aua campus in Yerevan, added a new lecture hall, classrooms, laboratories, research centers, faculty offices, conference rooms, a café, and an art gallery. The project was established with a lead gift from the family of Khoren and Shooshanig Avedisian. Mr. Altoon and Mr. Avedisian, of Lexington, Massachusetts, were in town to make a presentation to the Society for College and University Planning (scup) conference in Boulder on March 25. Quoting William Saroyan, Mr. Altoon remarked that aoc had indeed created a "New Armenia" by joining together in the state of Colorado and providing Armenians with the opportunity to gather and enjoy fellowship. He also invited the ArAt the Louisville, Colo., home of Betty and John Ohannessian, Armenians of Colorado gather to hear architect Ronald Altoon speak about his experiences in designing a stateof-the-art educational building for the American University of Armenia. Edward Avedisian, chair of the building committee, is second from right.

menians of Colorado to join aua in its efforts to support the future of Armenia by ensuring the availability of high-quality graduate education. Mara Gevorgian, an aoc member and a graduate of aua's business school who now works for Standard & Poors, closed the program by telling of the impact her mba has had on her career and the fond memories she has of her time at aua. Armenians of Colorado, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit cultural organization established in June of 1980. Its purpose is to create a cohesive Armenian community and to further the understanding of Armenian history, culture, language, customs, and heritage. aoc actively supports issues and concerns of the Armenian-American community in Colorado as well as those identified within the Armenian diaspora communities throughout the world. The group facilitates Armenian scholars and artists to share their work with the Colorado community. aoc also works with the Denver Starz Encore Film Festival, the Denver Symphony Orchestra, and Opera Colorado in supporting Armenian talent from many parts of the world. It is through programs such as these that aoc provides inspiring events and enhances cul-

tural diversity within the Colorado community. In addition to offering stimulating cultural and educational programs,

aoc is working toward establishing an Armenian Cultural Center. aoc recently purchased a property in the Denver area and hopes to raise


sufficient funds to build the center in the near future.

Calendar of Events

New York

APRIL 4 - "A Passion and a Purpose: A Tribute to Berc Araz" gala banquet will take place on Saturday, April 4 at the St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral Complex located at 630 Second Avenue (at 35th Street) in New York City. Reception is at 7:00 pm and the Tribute Banquet and Program will begin at 8:00 pm. For more information, contact Adrine Abdo at (973) 761-1544, Arto Khrimian at (718) 937-7660, or Zakar Dikme at (646) 387-6512. APRIL 16 - QUARTERLY FORUM SERIES - Remembering the Forgotten: The Untold Story of Clergymen Lost to the Genocide. The second forum features Yeretzgeen Joanna Baghsarian's remarkable story of how a group of her students took a proactive role in remembering these forgotten martyrs. There is no charge for the evening, but RSVP is requested by email to [email protected] or by telephone at 212-689-7810. APRIL 16 - Symposium on Preventing Genocide Through Dialogue Thursday, 7:00 P.M. Fordham Law School, Amphitheater, 140 W. 62nd St, NYC. Admission: $12. AASSSG 2009 Honoree, Andrew H. Tarsy, Awards given to Krieger Essay Contest winners. visit www., e-mail [email protected] call 201 941-2266. APRIL 18 - "Hello Ellis Island" Musical entertainment by "The Way We Were" about Armenians coming to USA in 1920. 8PM in the Auditorium of Armenian Church of the Holy Martyrs 209-15 Horace Harding Expwy in Bayside. Adults $20 ­ Children $10 under age 12. Refreshments following the performance. For tickets call the church office at 718225-0235 or Lolita Babikian at 347-742-4015. APRIL 30 - The Zohrab Center Film Series will view the comedy/drama "Big Story in a Small City," on Thursday, at 7:00 pm. Wine and cheese will be served following the film. Suggested donation is $5. For more information, please email [email protected] or call 212.686.0710. The Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center is located at 630 Second Avenue (at 34th street) New York, New York. MAY 3 - 32nd Annual Gala Dinner-Dance. St. Illuminator's Armenian Day School, Friday, 7:30 p.m. at the Armenian Center 6923 47th Ave. Woodside, NY. For information call 718-478-4073. MAY 15 - 1st Annual Cocktail Reception at the Pratt House, NYC. Hosted by the Armenian Medical Fund. $125. For information call Nancy Zoraian, 908233-7279 MAY 16- HMADS GALA DINNER DANCE hosted by the "Friends" at Russo's on the Bay, featuring Addis Harmandian and his Band. Cocktails 7:30 pm. Dinner 9:00 pm. Donation: $ 150. For Reservations please call, school office: (718) 225 4826, Negdar Arukian: (718) 423 4813. MAY 16 - SAVE THE DATE! 60TH ANNIVERSARY DINNER DANCE OF THE NEW YORK ARMENIAN HOME, Flushing, NY. Celebration to be held at Harbor Links Golf Course, Port Washington, NY. Featuring Varoujan Vartanian and Antranig Armenian Dance Ensemble. Details to follow or call NYAH, (718) 461-1504

The Armenian Reporter | April 4, 2009



Columbia U to hold conference on Armenian Genocide April 9

NEW YORK ­ Andrea Kannapell of the New York Times will moderate a Columbia University panel on "The Armenian Genocide and its Relevance Today," sponsored by the Armenian Club, on April 9. Prof. Taner Akçam, attorney Mark Geragos, and Dr. David Hamburg are the featured panelists at the 6 p.m. event in Davis Hall. Turkish-born historian and sociologist Taner Akçam holds the chair in Armenian Genocide studies at Clark University; he is the author of A Shameful Act and one of the first Turkish academics to openly discuss the Armenian Genocide. Renowned criminal-defense attorney Mark Geragos led successful federal class-action lawsuits against both New York Life Insurance and AXA for unpaid insurance benefits from the time of the Armenian Genocide. David Hamburg, Ph.D., president emeritus at Carnegie Corporation of New York, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1996; he is the author of Preventing Genocide: Practical Steps toward Early Detection and Effective Action. The panelists will highlight why it is still important to remember and actively discuss the first genocide of the 20th century; how its denial has hindered subsequent attempts at genocide prevention; and how lessons learned from the Armenian Genocide can help to prevent future war crimes and crimes against humanity. A reception will follow the presentations and audience discus sion.

Classified listings now available Please call 818-955-8407 or email us at [email protected]

Calendar of Events

New Jersey

NOVEMBER 15 - "ONE NATION, ONE CULTURE" A Cultural Festival organized by Hamazkayin Eastern USA Regional Executive, Featuring Alla Levonian from Armenia and Babin Boghosian & Ensemble from Los Angeles, With the participation of Antranig Dance Ensemble of AGBU, Akh'tamar Dance Ensemble of St. Thomas Armenian Church, Yeraz Dance Ensemble of St. Sarkis Church, NJ Hamazkayin Nayiri Dance Group & Arekag Children's Choir & Dhol Group. SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2009. 4pm. Felician College Lodi, New Jersey. Donation: $75, $50, $35, $25. For more information or tickets please contact: Hamazkayin @ 201-9458992 or [email protected] com

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APRIL 26 - ARMENIAN MARTYRS' DAY OBSERVANCE BY ARMENIAN GENOCIDE COMMEMORATIVE COMMITTEE OF MERRIMACK VALLEY. 3PM, North Andover High School, Route 125, North Andover, MA. Concert by Arlina Ensemble of Armenia. Complimentary admission. Reception to follow.

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The Armenian Reporter | April 4, 2009


Kim Kardashian is proudest of her Armenian genes and her Armenian vor, she says in exclusive US-Armenia TV appearance

BURBANK, Calif. ­ Celebrity and fourth generation ArmenianAmerican Kim Kardashian gave an exclusive interview to US-Armenia TV on April 1, telling her Armenian and non-Armenian fans that she was proudest of her Armenian genes and her Armenian vor. Noting that her late father, O.J. Simpson attorney Robert Kardashian, had dreamed of visiting Armenia, she announced that she plans to fulfill her father's dream. Casual, gracious, funny, flirtatious, and always mesmerizing, the drop-dead gorgeous 20-something reached out to some 7 million USArmenia TV viewers over-the-air on digital channel 18.5 in Southern California, via cable and the Globecast satellite to the United States and North America, to Europe, the Middle East and Africa on the global Hotbird satellite, and via terrestrial antennas all over the Republic of Armenia and the Armenian Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh. Kim spoke to Armenia TV personalities Hovo and Rafo, telling them that she wanted to learn to speak Armenian. For now, she said, she can say "inchbes es?" (how are you) and "vor" (ass). Kim began the interview by talking about her hit series on the E! network, Keeping Up with the Kardashians. The reality show is also licensed by CS Media, which owns US-Armenia TV and with which this newspaper is affiliated. The Kardashian family, to most fans, has an addictive appeal, luring people to Kim's personal website, to the weekly airings and repeats of the series, and to magazines, print and TV reports about this Armenian family. Keeping Up with the Kardashians began its third season with a bang and with a promise to show even the most personal conversations between family members and their love interests. In addition to her reality series, Kim talked about her new online

Kim Kardashian.

enterprise called, language newscaster and talk-show where she and her team of style host on Armenia TV's satellite experts can help find the perfect services, said one of his colleagues shoes for any woman. "And you would gladly teach Kim how to know how much woman love their make Armenian food. "I would love shoes," said the fashion guru. that," said Kim, "but I'd like to bring Kim also shared her beauty se- my brother and sisters." crets and teased her new exercise Hovo and Rafo said they would dvd series called Fit in Your Jeans gladly be the superstar's tour by Friday, now available at the Kar- guides in Armenia, and Kim quickdashian's clothing stores in Calaba- ly accepted their offer, telling the sas and via the Internet. comedy duo that she loved them. US-Armenia TV talk show host Hovo, in his quick-witted, comePaul Chaderjian ­ who sat next dic voice, asked Kim if she would to Kim on the Armenia TV set in marry him, and Kim's comeback Burbank ­ shared Hovo and Rafo's was "only if we can have a big, lavquestions and comments with Kim. ish, Armenian wedding." Rafo then Kim said one of her dreams is to broke the news that Hovo was allearn how to make Armenian food. ready married. She said she often goes to a resSpeaking of her father, Kim said, taurant in Glendale to celebrate her "He always regretted not sending us love for Armenian cuisine and to to Armenian school. My mom alhonor her father's memory. ways says, `I wish I knew Armenian Chaderjian, a seven-year English- so I could teach you.'"

This need to learn about her ethnic heritage and to be able to communicate with her own grandfather, whom she said she visits every week, are two of the reasons Kim Kardashian may soon be landing at Zvartnots Airport,

with Hovo and Rafo and thousands of fans ready to greet her.


Armenian spirit celebrated in N.J. photography exhibit

PARAMUS ­ Bergen Community College will celebrate the Armenian people's triumph over tragedy with the New Jersey premiere of "The Armenians: Spirit of Survival," a photography exhibit sponsored by the College's Center for the Study of Intercultural Understanding, the Bergen Community College Peace, Justice and Reconciliation Center and the Bergen Community College Foundation. Gallery Bergen, the College's 2,250-square-foot art exhibition space, will house the display from Saturday, April 25, to Friday, May 22. The gallery is located on the third floor of the College's high-technology and arts building, West Hall, at 400 Paramus Road, Paramus. The gallery's hours of operation are Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public. The exhibit, provided by Project save Armenian Photograph Archives, Inc., chronicles the struggle of the Armenian people in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as their culture, religion, language and people in 1915. The Armenians pervery existence were threatened by severed - in spite of great loss - and the Ottoman, Russian and Persian found the spirit needed to thrive. empires, and then later by the SoRuth Thomasian, executive viet Union. The Armenian people director of Project save, will conwere the targets of the 20th-cen- duct a presentation on Tuesday, tury's first genocide, which led to April 28, at 2 p.m. in Gallery Berthe deaths of as many as 1.5 million gen on the origins of the Armetion and subsequent diaspora from Asia Minor. Project SAVE's 25,000 photographs, which date from 1860, feature families living during the Ottoman, Russian and Persian empires, the Soviet Socialist Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Armenia. Members of Project SAVE work closely with photo donors to obtain the images, which have appeared at Ellis Island Museum in New York, the Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C., and in many books Photographs and television programs. such as this one, Bergen County has at least 8,500 by Soursourian Armenian Americans, most of and courtesy of whom reside in the southeastern Edna Bogosian, part of the county. depicting an Bergen Community College is a unknown public two-year coeducational colArmenian family lege, enrolling more than 15,000 c. 1900, will students in Associate in Arts, Asbe on display sociate in Science, and Associate in at Bergen Applied Science degree programs Community and certificate programs. More College's than 10,000 students are enrolled Armenians: in non-credit, professional courses Spirit of through the Division of ContinuSurvival exhibit. ing Education, the Institute for Soursourianþ. Learning in Retirement, the Philip J. Ciarco Jr. Learning Center, locatnian photograph archives and on Thomasian maintains the world's ed at 355 Main Street, Hackensack, the development of the exhibition. only photographic archive chroni- and Bergen at the Meadowlands, Project save, founded in 1975, is a cling the journey of the Armenian located at 1280 Wall Street West, Watertown, Mass.-based nonprofit people. Lyndhurst. whose mission is to collect, docuThe Gallery Bergen display will ment and preserve the historic feature 40 large photographs and connect: and modern photographic record include text documenting the Ar- of Armenians and their heritage. menians' internment, mass execu- 1-201-447-7200

The Armenian Reporter | April 4, 2009



The Molokans add ethnic color to Armenia

Exiled from Russia, they found tolerance in Armenia

by Tatul Hakobyan

LERMONTOVO and FIOLETOVO, Lori Province, Armenia ­ Ivan Makshanov, a Russian Molokan, was born and has always lived in the village of Lermontovo. His ancestors, exiled from the Saradova province of Russia, have also lived in this village. "Our homeland was Russia. We were exiled from there. If they exiled us here, and we have lived in Armenia for more than 150 years, then Armenia is our homeland," he says as he places buckets of water on the floor. Aside from Lermontovo and Fioletovo, the Molokans also live in Yerevan and Dilijan and they number about 5,000 in Armenia. If you've ever been to one of the closed markets in Yerevan, you will A typical Molokan home in the village of Lermontovo. have no doubt come across young Ania and Tania. women and girls with pale skin, red cheeks, and white head scarves, selling pickled cabbage. They are the Molokans, Russians who were exiled to eastern Armenia from the Russian countryside because of their faith, in the early 19th century. Czar Nikolas I exiled to the Caucasus those Russians who did not accept the Russian Church. The Molokans are pure Russians who rejected church icons, the Trinity, the Orthodox fasts, military service, and the eating of foods they Left: Molokan consider unclean, among other children in church rituals. Fioletovo. Right: The village head of Lermontovo, Ivan Makshanov. Edik Chakhalyan was born and Photos: Tatul raised among Molokans. He is Hakobyan for amazed at the work ethic of Molothe Armenian kans. "If an Armenian gets 1.5 tons Reporter. of cabbage from 1,000 square meters of land, then a Molokan is able from Russia. [Presbyters in Russian not large nor lavish, but certainly to get 4 tons. They are extraordiThe people of Fioletovo were ex- said Mr. Novikov. The village head went on to say terminology means those people clean and tidy. Their numbers in narily hard-working and know how iled here in 1840 from the village of to work the land," says the village Algasovo, in the Dambovi province that they have never felt discrimi- who follow the Molokan religious Armenia are only about 5,000, but head. Lermontovo, which is 13 of Russia. At the time, 57 families nated against as an ethnic or reli- rituals on Sundays.] without them, Armenia would Molokans live a humble life; certainly become even more monokilometers away from the city of were exiled. Today, almost 170 years gious minority in Armenia. "We consider our homeland to be they are honest and hardworking. ethnic. It is a good thing that they Vanadzor, has 800 Russian Molo- later, they number 1,500. Fioletovo kans, 150 Armenians, and 60 Yezidi is the first village you come upon Armenia. Russia is not our home- They do not pursue riches, but they no longer leave the country and Kurds. when driving from Dilijan and land, where they call us presbyters most definitely help their neigh- that they consider it their homef The religion of the Molokans Vanadzor. There are only eight Ar- because we were at one time exiled bors and friends. Their houses are land. took shape during the second half menians in this village; two brothof the 18th century in the Dam- ers with their families. bovi province of Russia. The name The Russian-language teacher "Molokan" is connected to the "spir- at the school in Fioletovo, Alla itual milk" in the Bible (moloka in Rudiamodkina, said that very Russian means milk). Molokanism few Molokans go on to seek postwas the religious expression of a secondary education, because social protest against slavery and just as in their school years, the children stay to help their parents. the Russian Orthodox Church. I was in Lermontovo and Fiole- Alla explained that drinking altovo at the end of March, when the cohol is forbidden for Molokans entire region was covered in snow. and they are not encouraged to It occurs to you that you are in the watch television. In the evenings, Russian countryside. People were Molokans like to read, primarily speaking Russian, their homes the Bible. Molokans are primarily occuwere identical to those found in Russian villages ­ one-story struc- pied in cattle breeding and farmtures constructed of wood and ing. During the Soviet years, when trains from Armenia would travel painted blue. Olga Zatorkinan, the librarian to the very remote corners of the at the Russian school in Fioletovo, union, the Molokans would sell requested not to be photographed their famous pickled cabbage in the but agreed to speak to me. Molo- markets of different cities. Alexei Novikov, the village kans as a rule do not like to be photographed. "We were born and head of Fioletovo, said that they raised here. This is our homeland. live off the land. "The land is not Sometimes, when some of our peo- fertile. The only way we can reple go to Russia to work, they meet ceive a good harvest is through exArmenians whom they consider tremely hard work. During Soviet their compatriots. We are very hos- times we were primarily planting pitable, just like the Armenians. We cabbage, making pickles out of it, gather together every Sunday, just and then selling it throughout the as God said to dedicate every Sun- country to Moscow, Ukraine, the day to him. Every gathering has its Urals, and many other places. Toleader. Our Holy Bible is the Asd- day we make it only for the marvatsashunch (the Armenian Bible). ket in Armenia. Armenians come, We don't believe in the cross, or in we agree on a price, and then they take the pickled cabbage and sell it," icons," said Ms. Zatorkina.


The Armenian Reporter | April 4, 2009


Coup charges against jailed opposition dropped

by Karine Kalantarian

YEREVAN (RFE/RL) ­ An Armenian judge on Wednesday ended the controversial collective trial of seven opposition figures arrested following last year's post-election clashes in Yerevan after prosecutors dropped coup charges leveled against them. The new twist in the so-called "Case of the Seven" resulted from the newly enacted amendments to Articles 225 and 300 of the Armenian Criminal Code used against the prominent supporters of opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian. The articles deal with provocation of street violence and "usurpation of state authority by force" respectively. One of the amendments passed by the Armenian parliament on March 18 divided Article 300 into three sections detailing various forms of power usurpation and toughening punishment for some of them. Citing the amendments, the chief trial prosecutor, Koryun Piloyan, said during a chaotic court session on Wednesday that the defendants, among them three parliament deputies and a former foreign minister, will now face no accusations stemming from Article 300 but must continue to be tried for organizing the March 1, 2008 "mass disturbances" in Yerevan. Two of them, Miasnik Malkhasian and Sadealt a serious blow to government sun Mikaelian, also remain accused claims that the deadly unrest in of resisting police and illegally posYerevan was the result of an opsessing weapons respectively, said position conspiracy to seize power Piloyan. The prosecutor's speech by violent means. He said the imwas drowned out by furious shouts plication is that there was never from defendants. a concerted opposition effort to Sasun Mikaelian's case will be trigger the worst street violence in sent to Kotayk regional court, Armenia's history. "The court has while the others will be heard at proved that ... the whole thing is a Yerevan's Central and Nork Marash fabrication," claimed Arsenian. district courts, presided over by As a result of the judge's decidifferent judges. Judge Mnatsakan sion, the relatives of the 10 victims Martirosian will be presiding over of the March 1 clashes have been Alexander Arzumanian's and Suren excluded from the criminal court Sirunyan's case. proceedings. "We don't know what Presently, it is not clear, which will happen. Who should we apply courts will be examining the reto? Where shall we go? Will there maining cases. This means that their be a new investigation? This is not trials will be prolonged because the Journalists following the court proceedings. Photo: Photolure. clear to us," Sarkis Kloyan, the fapresiding judges will have to become ther of Gor Kloyan, one of the 10 acquainted with their cases. 225, Martirosian declined to free the pledge as an indication that the victims told RFE/RL. "But we have The judge in the case, Mnatsakan the defendants pending further authorities will finally free all op- our own initiative and we will apMartirosian, responded by rul- trial. It is therefore unlikely that positionists jailed on "seemingly ply to the courts to hold responing that the seven oppositionists any of them will be set free before artificial or politically motivated sible four police officers for applyshould stand fresh and separate this month's session of the Council charges." ing special methods of the Chertrials for orchestrating the vicious of Europe Parliamentary AssemMeanwhile, the defense lawyers mukha-7." clashes between Ter-Petrosian sup- bly (PACE) which is due to discuss in the trial criticized Martirosian's During the events of March 1, porters and security forces that left Yerevan's compliance with its Janu- decision and said they will likely three people were killed because ten people dead and more than 200 ary resolution on Armenia. appeal against it. "The court made of the Chermukha-7 (tear gas gun), others injured. Justifying the surThe resolution deplored the con- a decision that took both the de- they were Tigran Khachatryan, 23; prise decision, Martirosian cited tinuing imprisonment of dozens fense lawyers and prosecutors by Gor Kloyan, 29; Armen Farmanf the complexity of the case involv- of Armenian opposition members. surprise," one of them, Melanya yan, 35. ing about 400 witnesses and "vic- Still, the Strasbourg-based assem- Arustamian, told RFE/RL. tims" as well as the need to speed bly backed down on its threats to "They have split up the case be- Copyright (c) 2009 RFE/RL, Inc. up judicial proceedings. suspend the voting rights of its Ar- cause it was having too much public Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 With the riot charge punishable menian members, citing the Arme- resonance," said Vartuhi Elbakian. by between four to ten years in nian authorities' pledge to amend According to another attor- Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC prison under the amended Article the Criminal Code. It interpreted ney, Hovik Abrahamian, the judge 20036.

Turkey signals that it might open the border

Ankara's blockade of Armenia officially began 16 years ago

News analysis by Tatul Hakobyan

YEREVAN ­ One of the most talked about issues in Yerevan today is Armenian-Turkish relations. More specifically the two components of that relationship: (1) Will Turkey finally lift the blockade of Armenia? In other words will it open the border? (2) Will Barack Obama in his message to the Armenian people on April 24 use the word "genocide" as he had promised during his election campaign. Mr. Obama, along with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Abdullah Gül and Serge Sargsian in Yerevan. Photo: Photolure. Hillary Clinton, have in the past supported Armenian Genocide An anniversary necessarily mean, however, that Exactly 16 years earlier, on April 4, the Turkish authorities adopted a resolutions. It is expected that the president 1993, in solidarity with Baku, the hostile policy against Armenia in of the United States will be vis- Turkish government decided to the name of or for the sake of Azeriting Ankara and Istanbul April close the border with Armenia and baijan. We should not discount that 5-7. Mr. Obama's visit to Turkey announced that as long as Kara- Turkey was looking for an excuse to will be his first European visit. bakh forces had not left the region close its border with Armenia, and (He will also visit Great Britain, of Kelbajar, the borders would re- it would have been hard pressed France, and the Czech Repub- main closed. to find a better opportunity than By December 1991 Ankara had the Karabakh conflict. By placing lic.) The visit will be his first to a Moslem-majority country. Mr. recognized the independence Armenia in a blockade, Turkey satObama has decided to go to Tur- of the three Caucasus countries. isfied the wishes of Azerbaijan, its key, which illustrates the impor- However, while it established dip- ally, on the one hand, and on the tance of the U.S.-Turkey relation- lomatic relations with Georgia and other hand, it found new ways to ship and the role Turkey plays for Azerbaijan, Ankara refused to es- place pressure on Armenia, citing the United States in the Black Sea, tablish diplomatic relations with the unresolved issue of Karabakh. Armenia, stating that Armenia had the Middle East, and Europe. The leaders of the newly indeThe overriding opinion of poli- territorial claims on Turkey. Turk- pendent Armenia, especially those ticians and analysts in Armenia ish authorities referred to Arme- who were negotiating with Turkey, is that if Turkey doesn't open the nia's declaration of independence insist that until in the spring of border with Armenia ­ or at least in 1990 ­ where there are no direct 1993, the two countries were very one of the check points ­ before territorial claims, however. close to establishing diplomatic reUntil April 1993, the two Ar- lations; there was even a draft reApril 24, then Mr. Obama will honor his pledge and be the first U.S. menia-Turkey check-points, the port based upon which diplomatic president since 1981 to say the word Kars-Gyumri railroad, and the land relations would be established. crossing at Alijan-Markara were "genocide." Two months before the events Statements have been pub- open, even though there were no at Kelbajar, on January 31, 1993, lished in the Turkish press which diplomatic relations between the Prime Minister Süleyman Demirel say that there is a possibility that two countries. met with Gerard Libaridian, adviAfter the events at Kelbajar, Tur- sor to the Armenian president, and Turkey will open the border bekey closed the border. That does not special negotiator Davit Shahnfore April 24. azarian. During that meeting, Mr. cide. Neither President Serge Demirel promised that Armenia Sargsian nor Foreign Minister would continue to receive Turkish Edward Nalbandian ­ in contrast wheat. to their predecessors Robert KoArmenia, blockaded by its neigh- charian and Vartan Oskanian, bors, was receiving Turkish wheat are touching upon or stressing the during those very difficult years, a theme of the Armenian Genocide reality that was causing Azerbaijan in international forums. And Turdiscomfort. Mr. Demirel assured key, in turn, is no longer stressMr. Libaridian and Mr. Shahnazar- ing or placing the Karabakh conian that Armenia would receive the flict on its agenda of normalizing promised 100,000 tons of wheat Armenian-Turkish relations as it and recommended continuing bi- once did. lateral talks for the establishment Is no longer stressing the recogof diplomatic relations until they nition of the Armenian Genocide a saw if a cease fire could really be put satisfactory concession for Turkey into place in Karabakh. to put an end to its blockade? It When Karabakh forces entered is difficult to say because the deKelbajar in the end of March, Tur- tails of the Armenian-Turkish nekey's reaction was swift. On April 2, gotiations are being kept secret. It Turkey closed the border and two is even difficult to say whether or days later passed a government not there is even a proposal that decision about the blockade of Ar- the two sides are working on, or menia. Instead of 100,000 tons of if Armenia and Turkey are simply wheat, Armenia received 52,000 negotiating for the sake of negotitons. ating. There is a sentiment in Yerevan, which is not so far-fetched, that the final result of the negotiaSome in Armenia tions is is believe that if Turkey Ankara, not what theimportant for but only negotiations themselves. In other words, Turdoesn't open the key simply wants to overcome Mr. border with Armenia Obama's and April 24th's danger. Turkey today is using threatening before April 24, then and blackmail, Mr. Obama will honor words "Genocide" wordsaying that if the is uttered, his pledge and say the then that will strike a heavy blow against Armenian-Turkish bilateral word "genocide." talks and the registered successes. The Armenian side is not responding to all of this. It is simply remaining silent, perhaps thinking that a breakthrough in ArmenianTurkish relations is imminent, and every indiscreet statement could If Turkey puts an end to its strike a bitter blow to Armenianblockade of Armenia, this will be Turkish bilateral talks. seen as the success of the ArmeCertainly, by opening the borders nian authorities. However, what Turkey is not doing us a great favor. is important is what Turkey is de- It is simply putting an end to 16 manding in return for opening the years of a continual hostile policy. border. If that price is expensive, Internationally, placing a neighbor then the opening of the border in a blockade is considered to be could be meaningless. It appears aggression, in other words, Turkey, that the authorities are no longer for the last 16 years has realized focusing on the international rec- a policy of "peaceful" aggression f ognition of the Armenian Geno- against Armenia.

The Armenian Reporter | April 4, 2009



From Armenia, in brief

Germany's Minister of State in Armenia

Minister of State at the German Federal Foreign Office Gernot Erler and the head of the GermanSouth Caucasian parliamentary group of the German Bundestag Steffen Reiche were in Armenia for a working visit March 29-30. During their visit to the country, they met with President Serge Sargsian, Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian, Foreign Affairs Minister Edward Nalbandian, Speaker of the National Assembly Hovik Abrahamian and other high ranking officials. Armenpress reports that President Sargsian told the German officials that Armenia is grateful for the assistance Germany has pro- Gernot Erler (l.) and Edward Nalbandian. Photos: Photolure. vided since independence, as it is the second donor country as well continue to be under the limelight Byurakan Observatory as one of the biggest trade partners. of the monitoring commission." at the center of The law will be implemented by The president went on to say that Armenia is very interested in deep- the April session of PACE, when the scientific tourism? ening and strengthening ties with monitoring commission will once Hayk Harutyunyan, director of the Byurakan Observatory told repagain refer to the issue. Germany. resentatives of big tourism agenThe sides discussed the domescies operating in Armenia gathered tic political situation, the peaceful Berdashen village in in Byurakan that the observatory resolution of the Karabakh conflict, Karabakh to have new should be at the center of scientific emerging Armenian-Turkish relatourism to Armenia. tions, bilateral trade, the EU's East- water-supply system The director said that the region ern Partnership Initiative, as well Financed by the Hayastan All-Armenia Fund's Argentinean affili- which includes Oshakan, the as other issues of importance. ate and the government of Kara- churches of the Ashtarak region, PACE Monitoring bakh, the village of Berdashen in the summer residence of the Catholicos, the Fortress of Commission welcomes the region of Martuni will have a Karahunj (Armenia's stoneAmberd, new water-supply system, worth henge), amendments in 210 million AMD (about $555,000 Metsamor, and Aghdz would be an ideal center for tourism. country's criminal code US). Berdashen's water-supply sysUNESCO has declared 2009 as The Monitoring Commission of tem was built in the 1960s and was the year of International Astrology the Parliamentary Assembly of the for a very long time in a state of with the goal to present astrology Council of Europe (PACE), during disrepair. The pump station was to all spheres of society. its session in Valencia welcomed renovated, cancer-causing asbesThe goal here is to promote and amendments to articles 225 and tos pipes were replaced with plastic encourage tourists interested in 300 to Armenia's Criminal Code, ones, and a 3.6-kilometer pipeline astrology to visit the Byurakan Armenpress reports. was built, already supplying Ber- Observatory, which thanks dashen with water. to renowned scientist Viktor The next phase of the initiative, Hambardzumian became one of the building of the internal water- the centers devoted to the study of distribution network, is underway. astrology. When this leg of the project is completed by autumn 2009, all 1,500 World Autism Day residents of Berdashen will receive marked in Yerevan for a regular supply of water, Armethe first time press reports. The number of people suffering Armenian-Swedish from autism is growing in Armenia and statistics do not reflect business forum held in theirofficialnumbers since children real Yerevan afflicted with this syndrome are ofInfrastructure, energy, information technologies, environmental protection are some of the topics discussed at the Armenian-Swedish business forum held in Yerevan on April 2. Participants also discussed programs by the IMF, the investment climate in the country, David Harutyunyan. relations between Armenia and the European Union. David Harutyunyan, head of Armenia's minister of economy, the Armenian delegation to PACE Swiss deputy minister of trade, said that taking into consideration deputy foreign minister of Armethat the changes in the articles nia, deputy minister of energy and are in force but have yet to be natural resources of Armenia and implemented said, "The further other officials took part in the foimplementation of the law will rum, Arminfo reported. ten times living completed isolated from the public. A conference dedicated to shedding light on this issue and raising awareness was held at the UN Yerevan office on April 2. Russia. Gagik Yeganian, head of Armenia's Migration Agency said that even longterm migrants may possible return, primarily from Russia for the same reasons. With less people traveling to Russia to work and more migrants returning, the pressure on the system in Armenia will deepen. According to Mr. Yeganian it will not be possible to reintegrate these returning workers into the economy however their agency is taking certain steps to help smooth the situation. For example, they are considering providing seeds or dairy cattle to migrants from the villages so that they can at the very least, manage to have some form of income.

Nani Oskanian.

Nani Oskanian, chair of Children Health Care was on hand and said, "We are concerned about the future of children with this syndrome. We need to look for ways of identifying children with autism and help integrate them in society." According to Arminfo, Ms. Okanian went on to say that they are working in three directions to deal with autism. First it is important to have in place tools for early diagnosis and treatment; secondly raise awareness and thirdly to initiate research in this sphere. "I should say with regret, that our society is not ready to discuss such problems," she said. Deputy Health Minister Tatul Hakobyan said that the health ministry is paying special attention to the rising cases of autism in the country.

Children's book cover.

A week of celebrating children's books kicks off

Nearly 60,000 Armenians annually leave for Russia as seasonal workers

Armenpress reports that due to the global financial crisis, the number of Armenians going to Russia as seasonal workers will most likely decrease. The reason being the reduction of available employment in

Under the auspices of the Armenian Writers' Union, a week celebrating children's and young adult novels kicked off in the city of Gyumri, Armenia's second largest city. Levon Ananian, head of the Writers' Union told reporters that a prize for the year's best children's book will be awarded. Children's book writers will visit schools throughout the country, where they will have an opportunity to meet with students and present their books. Mr. Ananian notes that today there are many good children's writers who have written high quality books. "We should be able to deliver the book from the publisher to the reader," he told Armenpress. f

Byurakan Observatory.


The Armenian Reporter | April 4, 2009



the armenian reporter

Moving Turkish-Armenian relations to a new level

U.S., Turkish, and Armenian diplomats have been spreading word that an agreement between some credibility as a regional leader. Turkey and Armenia is imminent. The agreement would likely have the following elements: Furthermore, if Turkey actually opens the border, it will signal that it no longer allows · Turkey would agree to open the border with Armenia, which it closed 16 years ago today, Azerbaijan-Armenia relations to determine the nature of Turkey-Armenia relations. Such a and to establish diplomatic relations with Armenia. change would be a welcome step toward regional stability and integration. · Armenia would agree to an intergovernmental commission to examine all issues that Armenia's challenge is to secure normal relations with Turkey while refusing to fudge on constitute the Armenia-Turkey agenda. the truth and ongoing relevance of the Armenian Genocide. Turkey's challenge is that it needs to go beyond its annual pre-April 24 charm offensive · The United States would refrain from dealing publicly with any of the most contentious historical and contemporary issues on the Armenia-Turkey agenda while the commis- and actually do something with Armenia. The challenge for the United States is to secure results for the new foreign-affairs approach sion was in play. (Alternatively, the sides will formally agree to discuss these matters further. In other words, put forth by the Obama administration. Since President Obama has made repeated and una process rather than an outcome will be announced. Such a process could and likely would be equivocal promises to recognize the Armenian Genocide, ignoring it is not an option. In fulfilling his commitment, Mr. Obama would help move the relationship between Ardragged out indefinitely and thus, would have the effect of reinforcing the status quo.) If Turkey actually opens the border and agrees to establish diplomatic relations, it would menia and Turkey to a new level. At that level, Turkey's primary concern would no longer be be taking steps in the right direction. The border closure has been illegal. Both Armenia and to find a way to avoid settled history. Rather, the shared concern would be to find ways to f Turkey's eastern provinces will see some benefits from open borders. And Turkey will gain move forward to a brighter future.

This April, read Balakian and Odian

In this first week of April, two memoirs on the Armenian Genocide appear for the first time of the Genocide. He was among the 250-odd intellectuals and community leaders in the English language. Both are well worth reading, and they are best read in conjunction famously rounded up on April 24, 1915. He came across decimated "deportation" carawith one another. vans along his own deportation route, which allowed him to form a broader picture. Armenian Golgotha, by the high-ranking cleric Grigoris Balakian, has been translated by He spoke to Armenian deportees, Turkish officials, German engineers, bystanders Peter Balakian with Aris Sevag, and published by Knopf. Accursed Years by the satirist Yer- and participants alike. Ultimately he was able to attest to the Der Zor massacre of vant Odian, has been translated by Ara Stepan Melkonian, and published by the Gomidas 1916, when tens of thousands of those who survived the deportation all the way to the Institute. desert were killed off. Accounts by foreign observers in the Ottoman Empire in 1915­17 make up an important Odian's story shows that there were many variations on the classical story of the Armepart of the literature on the Armenian Genocide. The testimony of U.S. officials ­ like Con- nian Genocide. The subtitle is telling: "My Exile and Return from Der Zor, 1914­1919." Zor sul Jesse B. Jackson in Aleppo or Consul Oscar Heizer in Trabizon, and of missionaries like was not a place Armenians typically returned from. Odian arrived there in 1917, after the Zor Henry Riggs, Maria Jacobsen, and Tacy Atkinson in Harput, and Bertha B. Morley in Mar- massacre had run its course. His survival in a different part of Syria, which was under the sovan ­ give invaluable information. The testimony of Turkish and German observers adds rule of Cemal Pasha, a member of the empire's ruling triumvirate, suggests that the Young an important perspective. Turk leadership was not unanimous in its approach to Armenians. In an effort to prove that the Armenian Genocide is not a figment of the Armenian imagiComing to Zor after the massacre, Odian was able to see Armenian survivors who had connation, some people dismiss Armenian testimony, focusing exclusively on foreign testimony verted to Islam ­ and to note that the population did not expect them to actually participate that may be seen as more "neutral." But that is a serious mistake. The testimony of Armenian in religious rituals, suggesting that there was an effort to hide and protect Armenians. survivors is an irreplaceable source of information and insight into the genocidal experiThis April, as we prepare to mark the 94th anniversary of the Genocide and as we take ence. active steps to encourage our elected officials to acknowledge the events as genocide, we The publication of these two important memoirs in English is thus an important step. would do well also to increase our own store of knowledge. These two memoirs by prominent f Grigoris Balakian's account, long available in Armenian, gives the classic story Armenians are an excellent place to start.

The Armenian Church's expanding role in the military

by Father Simeon Odabashian

VAGHARSHAPAT, Armenia ­ Some time ago through Catholic television in the United States, I became aware of a high level ministry known as the Archdiocese of the Military. This archdiocese has no geographical boundaries, yet it has a diocesan structure with an archbishop based in Washington and priest chaplains stationed at every U.S. military installation, base, warship, etc. in the world. How pleased and proud I was to learn that Armenia has a quickly developing Armed Forces Chaplaincy program. In 1997 Catholicos Karekin I appointed Father Vertanes Abrahamian as the first chaplain of the Armenian Army. Since that time, the program has grown to 30 chaplains, both priests and deacons, serving Armenia's armed forces. At the helm of this critical ministry is the since elevated Bishop Vertanes Abrahamian, himself as veteran of the Karabakh war. This year, His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, elevated the chaplaincy program as well, and has since been granted diocesan status. With Bishop Vertanes as its first primate, the new Diocese of the Armenian Armed Forces has been born. Last week I walked into a meeting of the Vertanes has been given an office within pels built on all of the military bases, where a chaplains and observed Bishop Vertanes at the Department of Human Resources. His soldier will go to pray, receive a blessing and work strategically ordering the young clergy office will eventually be equipped with mod- words of encouragement from the chaplain in his charge. My immediate thought was ern telecommunications capabilities, so that prior to his shift of duty. After completing that here is a spiritual general at work. In the Primate can be in frequent contact with his shift he will go again to the chapel to offer some nations chaplains are granted military chaplains, via voice and video conferencing. a prayer of thanks. This will help in relieving rank. In the words of Colonel Rafael Tatevo- danger-related stress." Like its American counterpart, the Dio- sian, "Bishop Vertanes and the chaplaincy While the Armenian border with Turkey cese of the Armenian Armed Forces has a program's work are closely related to the is well guarded by Russian Federation forces, unique arrangement by which its religious work of our department. That is why his of- the critical eastern boarder with Azerbaijan jurisdiction encompasses all army bases and fice is located in our section. In our military, is defended solely by Armenian troops. One military institutes in Armenia and Nagorno- it is not enough to be physically fit and in- of Bishop Vertanes' serious challenges is to Karabakh. formed about tactical strategies, it is even find qualified chaplains who can serve in According to a recent agreement between more important to have a solid ideological, these most critical border areas. the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin and the cultural, patriotic, and religious background. So why is this religious presence so imMinister of Defense Seyran Ohanian, chap- Since we are in Khorenatsi's words, a `Pokr portant? Chaplains offer prayer and enlains are to be a permanent presence with- Adzoo-Small Nation' and are easily outnum- couragement to the soldiers. They also proin the life of our armed forces. In addition, bered, our strength is in our ideological con- vide education on the Christian faith and plans have been approved for the erection of victions. Part and parcel of this is the faith of Armenian Church sacred traditions. Ada church for the military located close to the the Apostolic Church, which is taught by the ditionally, they offer Christian education Ministry, where all official church/military chaplains. Our soldiers need to be informed at seven military schools. Bishop Vertanes events will be held. This church will also meet about historical events like the Battle of Ava- is proud of the fact that as of this year a the spiritual needs of over 50,000 residents rayr, for example." new uniform curriculum was adopted for in the Avan section of Yerevan. While the Armenian Apostolic Church is use by all chaplains, which covers the baThe Ministry of Defense headquarters the only religious presence allowed by law sic teachings and history of the Armenian complex, Armenia's version of the Pentagon, in military areas, to further strengthen the Church, as well as questions of morality is a sprawling, impressive structure, which church's presence, plans are in the works to and spirituality. Next year, the curriculum was opened less than a year ago. With the build small chapels on every base and miliContinued on page 19 m approval of the Defense Minister, Bishop tary school. Bishop Vertanes envisions "chaThe Armenian Reporter is your newspaper. We urge you to send us your news and your views. News. Please send your news to <[email protected]>. Letters. Please send your letters to <[email protected]> Letters should be no more than 250 words long and may be edited for clarity. Please include your mailing address and daytime telephone number. Commentary. Please send your essays to <[email protected]> Essays and articles normally should be no longer than 900 words. Photos and artwork. We require high-resolution originals. All photos and artwork must include a credit to the photographer and a signed statement granting us permission to publish. Advertising and subscriptions. Please direct questions to <[email protected]> or call us. 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The Armenian Reporter | April 4, 2009



Living in ArmeniA

The stories we have yet to tell

Canada following the outbreak of civil war in domestic political scene in the country, we Lebanon, she was only 58 years old but you report on the events which shape our lives. wouldn't know it from looking at her. She And we have so much to learn. We have inwore black clothes, had long white hair tied vestigated and reported on ethnic minorities in a tight bun at the nape of her neck and that live in peace and harmony in Armenia. was blissfully plump. She died before her 61st Whether they are Assyrians, Yazidis, Greeks, birthday, and although surrounded by her or Molokans, they have the ability to educhildren she died a sad and haunted woman. cate their children in their native tongue and I can't remember her ever laughing. practice their traditions unhindered. We alWe have the ability, through the printed low this as a nation and as a state because word to relay stories that have significance we know what it means to be discriminated and substance. That give a voice to the suffer- against. ing of that generation. Stories which will in We learn from those who repatriated their turn explain, impart, and record some to Armenia, whether that was during the of our collective history. The content, depth Great Repatriation of 1946-48 or the modand humanity of what we write will affect ern repatriates. We report about the work our society and our communities dispersed they do in the country, about their dedicathroughout the world. tion and commitment, and sometimes simWhat we write serves as living history. ply about their everyday lives in an emergWhat we write from Armenia allows our ing democracy, in a country struggling to compatriots in the United States and other define itself. parts of the world to get a glimpse, capture But whether we write about serious issues, an image of life in the homeland. It allows or the lighter side of life, we do so in order them to be carried along with the political to share and impart issues of substance and and economic currents that flow through the significance, of our shared values. veins of this organism we call the motherWhat we must do is continue to write the land. stories about us, about our families, our comIt gives you the reader, insight and empow- patriots, our people, our nation. We must erment. From energy projects in the region continue to slowly weave the threads of our like the Nabucco pipeline, to Armenian-Turk- individual experiences to create a living and ish relations, to the prospects of a peaceful breathing testament to what it means to be f settlement of the Karabakh conflict, to the an Armenian today or a century ago.

phanage he makes his way to Beirut. Years later (the details of which continue to elude me) his older sister, who had also somehow Every Armenian family has a story to tell. I survived, finds him through ads placed in know that in my own particular family there Armenian newspapers of the day. They are are many fascinating stories, treasures that miraculously reunited only to be separated have been once told or perhaps tucked away once again in 1946 when his sister repatrito be told for a later time, that are now fading ates to Soviet Armenia. They parted in pain into the foggy memories of the elders of the and disagreement, and never spoke to one family. Some stories have forever been wiped another again. out, some have died with our grandparents. I met my maternal grandfather's nephew, How many times have I heard from a friend his sister's son, in Yerevan in 2001. He was or acquaintance that they never got around an old, broken and bitter man. Exceedingly to asking their parents or grandparents handsome, even at an advanced age, there about particular episodes in their lives that was a constant and enduring rage that emacoincided with sweeping historical events; nated from him that was at once frightenthe stories of their lives. ing and at once familiar. That generation, I have made some weak attempts at writ- whether in the diaspora or in the homeland, ing about my paternal grandfather whom had seen so much pain and suffering. They I never met, based upon a bond we shared had lived through abject poverty, sometimes through letters, now long lost. About my illiterate, with very little tools to protect maternal grandparents, I have written themselves against the harsh realities of nothing because even while acknowledg- life and against the memories that tortured ing the significance of their lives in the them. They were survivors or children of surnational mosaic of our people's history, I vivors. Their suffering did not have a voice, know very little. I know that my maternal rather it became a tangled knot trapped in grandfather was born in Urfa, sent on to their bodies and often times perished along the deportations with his family and ended with them. up in an orphanage in Aleppo. He was told My maternal grandmother, from Marash and believed that the rest of his family had also survived the Genocide but spent the been killed. rest of her life battling the demons locked At the age of 14, escaping from the or- up in her memories. When she arrived in

by Maria Titizian

The Armenian Church's expanding role in the military

n Continued from page 18 will be further refined and modified for use in various settings. The primate of the military regularly inquires regarding the chaplains' effectiveness. He enjoys the utmost respect of the Minister of Defense and thanks to this, generals are from time to time giving talks at the seminaries to familiarize future clergy with the spiritual needs of those serving in the military and to be enabled to minister to their families as well. The chaplaincy program is not taking place in a vacuum. There is on-going contact with chaplaincy organizations in other countries. For example, Bishop Vertanes will be attending a meeting in the United Kingdom next month, and in the near future groups will be visiting from Greece and Russia. Though he is quick to point out that the Armenian Church has her own unique spiritual and cultural traditions that must be carefully adhered to. Historically, the Armenian Church has been the spiritual backbone of the nation's defense. The role of clergy led by St. Ghevont Yerets at the battle of Avarayr in 451 is the most familiar. In the days of the first Armenian Republic, priests eagerly volunteered to join the laity in arms. In October 1918, Archbishop Khoren Muratbekian (later Catholicos Khoren I) proposed a pastoral guideline for "priest soldiers." Priests were to serve side by side with the soldiers, wearing their clerical attire, but never taking up arms. Like the chaplains of today, they were called to be a spiritual presence among their flock and were "required with the colonel's arrangement to lecture soldiers during free time regarding the Bible and national-church history, keeping alive the knowledge of their responsibility and love toward the nation and national sacred treasures." They were also charged with teaching prayer, conducting worship and providing opportunities for soldiers to attend the Divine Liturgy. Duties of today's chaplains are not so different. They have a significant presence on the base, engaging the soldiers and officers in conversation of a spiritual nature, teaching classes, visiting and praying for those in the infirmary and solitary confinement. Soldiers are personally invited to attend the Divine Liturgy in a local church. In terms of vision, the primate would like to see the Armenian Church be represented on the highest level in the military and that the clergy chaplains truly make a difference in the military by assisting in the moral and religious formation of every soldier. To assist in this mission, the primate has published a small prayer book, which will be distributed to every soldier. Bishop Vertanes also pointed out that cults and other religious movements are ongoing challenges, however, the Armenian Church is the only religious presence, which enjoys official recognition. No other group is permitted to proselytize in military facilities and Jehovah's Witnesses refuse to serve their country. Members of other faiths are certainly free to follow their religious convictions and chaplains do not discriminate against members of other churches. After getting an overall picture of this program from Bishop Vertanes, I wanted to see with my own eyes our chaplains in action. Deep down I wanted to see if their presence made a difference or not and what sort of reception they received. So I visited a military base located next to the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, where the chaplain is Deacon Sahak Sahakian. Regarding Deacon Sahak's presence, Major Karen Beglarian said, "It is of great help and there is much need among the soldiers. The chaplain offers classes regarding the Apostolic Faith. Each successive generation needs to be informed regarding our culture and faith so they won't be led astray. It's very bad when our people have no moral compass. Thus it's very good to have Deacon Sahak here. On the occasion of what would have th been Sparapet Vazgen Sargsyan's 50 birthday, the deacon led a group of our soldiers to the Mother See to pray in the cathedral and tour the museums. The army is improving day by day. Being close to the cathedral keeps the religion alive among the soldiers. Psychologically this has been of benefit." Deacon Sahak pointed out that soldiers also went to the Mother See for the annual observance of Military Day on January 28. They attended the Divine Liturgy with high-ranking clergy, members of the Brotherhood and the Minister of Defense. Soldiers are taught to pray before meals and at the beginning of classes. There are also prayerful observances on special holidays. Deacon Sahak was also proud of the fact that because of the proximity of the Mother See, his soldiers have the highest attendance rate at Divine Liturgy. It was clear that Deacon Sahak is greatly respected on the base. His routine includes daily classes on the faith and traditions of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Examples of topics are the practices of Great Lent and Easter, how to fight against sin and profanity and the practice of forgiveness. During Holy Week he will escort a group of soldiers to the Mother See to take part in the Washing of Feet Service. The soldiers in his class had many questions about the faith and the essential difference between the Armenian Church and other religious movements. There is great concern about cults whose followers refuse to serve in the army and in the defense of the

Bishop Vertanes Abrahamian with soldiers from Armenian Armed Forces.

nation. Some felt that these movements are prayer requests and questions about the set on infiltrating the nation and may have faith." He also feels that this work is very certain connections with foreign powers. rewarding and will help him to be a more To the question does having a chaplain effective priest in the future. make a difference, one soldier, Razmik AsThe assistant to the Commander of the tryan, responded, "His presence changes a institute, Colonel Zaven Hakobjanyan soldier's life. Attending church is very posi- shared that "in the past religion was absent tive. We are helped to sin less." here, but now we are very happy that Deacon My interest also led me to the Marshal Ar- Michael is here. We feel his spiritual presence menak Ghamparyantz Air Force Institute and we observe him to be passionate about with Deacon Michael Barsaeghyan, who was his work. He is truly concerned about the recently appointed as its first chaplain. Simi- fruit of his labors. The Mother See has truly lar to chaplains serving on bases, his role is blessed us with this program. The cooperafirst and foremost to impart the Christian tion between the Mother See and the milifaith to the cadets both through classes as tary is very healthy." well as via personal encounters. His presence Without any hesitation, it can be said the in the institute has been warmly received by Armenian Apostolic Church is making great not only the commander, but by staff and strides in meeting the spiritual and pastoral cadets alike. needs of those serving in the military forces In Deacon Michael's words, "I keep all in the Armenian Republic. The following ilmy encounters on a strictly official level. I lustrates how this presence is truly moving have an excellent relationship with the com- the souls of servicemen. mander and officers and can say that I have During my visit to Bishop Vertanes' office, in a very short time earned their respect. a young soldier entered inquiring about beI try to do my best. I bring in interesting ing baptized. The primate warmly welcomed movies and am working with AR TV station him, gave him a New Testament and a small to prepare programs on the Armenian army wood cross and encouraged him to return and Marshal Baghramian. I am also plan- when they could further discuss the meaning ning a group baptism for cadets, who have of baptism and arrange for the sacrament. not yet been baptized. My dream is to have When I asked the primate if this was a coma chapel on the grounds of the institute, mon occurrence, he responded that the more where we can celebrate the Divine Liturgy, our Church's presence grows, the more we light candles, pray and meditate. Some- see this phenomenon of people (especially thing that we have introduced is prayer be- the young) reaching out for the saving sacraf fore meals. Soldiers often approach me with ments of God.


The Armenian Reporter | April 4, 2009

The Armenian Reporter | April 4, 2009

The Armenian Reporter | April 4, 2009


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