Astrid Aghajanian survived the Armenian Genocide

June 14, 2012

When we focus on the number, 1,500,000 massacred in the Armenian Genocide, it is easy to lose sight of the individual lives touched by this man-made tragedy. Learning the stories of individuals is a meaningful way to come to know history.

The UK’s Independent published this powerful obituary which honors the life of Helen Astrid ‘Astghig’ Aghajanian, nee Gaidzakian:

Astrid Aghajanian: Survivor of the Armenian genocide who narrowly escaped death
June 14, 2012 | Independent.co.uk

Helen (Astghig/Astrid) Gaidzakian was born in Albistan, Turkey, March 28, 1913. She survived the deportation and massacre of the Armenians during the Armenian Genocide in Turkey. In 1942, she married Gaspar Aghajanian. The Aghajanians had two daughters. Widowed in 2007, Mrs. Aghajanian died in Gloucester May 11, 2012. Read about her life.

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Armenian Patriarchate sues Turkey for land

March 20, 2012

Most people think the Armenian Genocide was purely about Turks killing Armenians. However, a prime motivator for the killing of 1.5 million Armenians living in Turkey was greed and the redistribution of wealth. The Ottoman Turkish rulers wanted to take possession of the property belonging to  its wealthy Armenian minority. They succeeded.

Throughout the deportation, eyewitness testimonies repeat stories of Turkish officials seeking bribes in the form of gold coins, rugs, jewelry, and so on.

Talaat Pasha (one of the architects of the Armenian Genocide) had the audacity to ask the American Ambassador Henry Morgenthau for the life insurance policies of his victims, because he reasoned the Turkish Government had become the beneficiary of the policies since his victims left no heirs. 

Contrary to common belief, not all killings were perpetrated by chetes (criminal gangs) and Turkish soldiers. Townsfolk throughout Anatolia were promised the homes and belongings of their Armenian neighbors. After they were taught to hate the Armenians for being giavurs or gavoors, which means ‘infidels’ or ‘non-believers’, it was frighteningly easy to whip the people into frenzied kitchen-knife welding mobs capable of murdering their neighbors.

The Turkish government enabled and encouraged the mass looting that took place everywhere the Armenians had once lived. In many instances, Turkey’s governing leaders relocated Kurds and Muslim peoples from the Balkans and other areas to depopulated Armenian communities (immediately following their mass killing and deportation). The Ottoman Turks’ destruction of its Armenian Christian minority created an ‘instant’ Muslim middle class.

Ottoman government archives containing records of land deeds are not accessible to descendants of the Armenian Turkish citizens who were either killed or expelled from their land. One of the obstacles to Turkey’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide is its fear of reparations.

Many of the Armenian churches not destroyed by the Turks were converted to Mosques. Some Armenian churches (including the sacred Aktamar site) are profitable enterprises employed by Turkey as part of its thriving tourism industry.

Even Mount Ararat, the ancestral homeland and pride of the Armenian people, now lies within Turkey’s borders. A few weeks ago, I saw a Turkish tourism advertisement prominently featuring Mount Ararat with a depiction of Noah’s Ark. Of course, there was no mention of the Armenians, believed to be the descendants of Noah’s son, Japheth.

Related News:

Armenian Patriarchate files suit in Turkey for return of property
March 20, 2012 | Public Radio of Armenia (armradio.com)

Ervin Staub to deliver lecture at Armenian Genocide Commemoration
March 20, 2012 | Wickedlocal.com

Mr. Staub is the author of “Overcoming Evil”, a book which describes the origins or influences leading to genocide, violent conflict and terrorism. It identifies principles and practices of prevention, and of reconciliation between groups after violence, or before violence thereby to prevent violence. 

 


Armenian Genocide denial doesn’t make it go away

April 19, 2011

As Turkey is finding out, denying genocide does not succeed in making the issue disappear. Ironically, the government of Turkey continues to indirectly finance awareness of the Armenian Genocide by spending millions of dollars annually to fight Armenian Genocide recognition.

In contrast, Germany, Turkey’s former war ally, is an example of a country that meets its responsibility to educate the world about its role perpetrating the Holocaust, with the hope that education will prevent future genocides.

I recently attended a lecture and exhibit at a Sephardic Jewish center in New York City, and was privileged to see an exhibit of Sephardic Jews in the diaspora commissioned by the government of Spain (which expelled the Jewish people in 1492).

And, in March, on a visit to see the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall in Philadelphia—where the founders of the United States of America gathered to write the Declaration of Independence—I was happily surprised to see the U.S. government’s displays acknowledging slavery in America at this prominent national historic site.

Many of the people of Turkey know what happened in April 1915 in their country. Most of the world also knows that 1.5 million Armenians lost their lives at the hands of the Ottoman Turkish Government. The game of not officially ‘recognizing’ the systematic killings as genocide by certain governments is not a reflection of historical truth, but rather ugly and amoral present-day politics.

German, Spain, and the United States are just three examples of countries who tell the truth about their past crimes and injustices. Although they cannot undo the past, these countries make a serious effort to remember history, so history (of that kind) does not repeat itself.

As long as Turkey denies its genocide of the Armenian people, it will sadly remain stained by its fathers’ sins.  When the day finally arrives that Turkey accepts and apologizes for its past crimes, I believe the world community will welcome the opportunity to view Turkey with greater respect and friendship.


The Questions of Armenian Genocide Denial and Insulting Turkishness

April 12, 2011

I consider myself a reasonable and intelligent person. Yet, I fail to understand how Turkey has succeeded at bullying the world’s most powerful governments and leaders when it comes to Armenian Genocide recognition. 

  • Is it because there is a multimillion dollar industry built upon the lobbying for genocide denial? 
  • If Britain, the US, and Israel actually went on the record using the G-word, would Turkey actually stop all trade and military cooperation?
  • How is genocide denial in any country’s or peoples’ best interests?
  • Who benefits from genocide denial?
  • What greater good does such a policy serve?
  • Are the citizens of Turkey really better off because their government refuses to apologize for the past and thereby keeps its heinous deeds very much in the present?

Today, it is a crime in Turkey to insult Turkishness. At one time, my relatives were proud Turkish citizens. They spoke Turkish, listened to Turkish music, drank Turkish coffee, and loved the soil on which they were born. Is that Turkishness? 

When Sultan Hamid massacred the Armenians and the Ottoman Turks systematically decimating the Armenian Turks, many members of my family were killed because they were Christian and Armenian. Were the Turkish leaders’ acts  Turkishness’? 

My grandfather wrote a letter to his children telling of the Turkish family who risked their own lives to give him and his father refuge until they could escape from the Turkish soldiers hunting them down with the sole intent to kill them. Who was displaying Turkishness: the Turkish family or the Turkish soldiers? 

Who represents Turkishness today: the Turkish people who wish to make peace with their Armenian brethern or the Turkish Government who promotes and perpetuates genocide denial? 

P.S. As an American I am sad to see my government insulting Americanness.


Tell New York Times: Armenian Genocide committed by Ottoman Turks in Turkey not in Armenia

March 29, 2011

In the 21st Century, the United States and western allies are finally working to prevent genocide:

An Aide’s Clout Shows in Obama’s Address
New York Times | March 29, 2011

TAKE ACTION

Please call the New York Times to thank them for this article and thank reporter Sheryl Gay Stolsberg for including the reference to the Armenian Genocide. Be sure to ask them to correct an important mistake: The Armenian Genocide was carried out in Turkey, not in Armenia. Call the New York Times, toll-free: 1-888-698-6397. Or email reporter, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, by clicking her name at the top of the article.


The April 24, 1915 Ottoman Turkish document ordering the Armenian Genocide

March 16, 2011

The first genocide of the 20th Century was perpetrated by the Ottoman Turks. In March 2011, despite all the evidence, the Turkish Government continues its active campaign denying the genocide of 1.5 million Armenian Christians which climaxed in 1915 (see a photo of the original Instruction of the Ministry of the Interior, April 24, 1915). 

The Ottoman Turks’ heinous atrocities were committed to achieve its objectives of ethnic cleansing and the simultaneous creation of a new Muslim middleclass. The elimination of the minority Armenian peoples that exceeded 10 percent of the country’s population in key interior regions (the historic Armenian homeland) was imperative to the Ottoman Turks. This last point was critical when the US and European powers sought to divide the spoils of their victory following World War I. (For a full explanation, read Turkish scholar Taner Akcam’s brilliant book, A Shameful Act). Also, refer to the March 15, 2011 blog post on this site for links to the award-winning 2010 German documentary, Aghet – A Genocide)

See a photo of the original Instruction of the Ministry of the Interior on April 24 document:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Instruction_of_the_Ministery_of_the_Interior_on_april_24.png

The list of Armenian notables deported from Constantinople in 1915 (this event is comparable to Kristallnacht):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armenian_notables_deported_from_Constantinople_in_1915

(Dear Readers, If you have more information please let us know. Send an email or comment. Thank you.)


What do you know about the Georgetown Boys who survived the Armenian Genocide?

June 22, 2010

Here is some history about the orphaned boys, and some girls, who were fortunate enough to be brought to Canada when Canadians read the news about the massacres being committed by the Ottoman Turks 95 years ago in Turkey:

Georgetown Boys Farmhouse: Latest Addition to Halton Hills Historic Landscape
Marketwire | June 22, 2010

More about The Georgetown Boys in Armeniapedia

Aram’s Choice
by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch
(A highly acclaimed book about the Georgetown Boys and the Armenian Genocide suitable for children.)


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