What’s the Point?

Garen Yegparian


BY GAREN YEGPARIAN

In just over a month, it will crescendo. It has already begun. Weeks and weeks worth of commemorations, conferences, demonstrations, marches, memorials, museum and monument dedications, pilgrimages, rides, etc. will culminate in… what? Actually, they will even continue beyond April 24, 2015.

But what’s really the point of all this? A good feeling of having done right by our soon-to-be-formally-sainted martyrs? Working on getting Turkey to recognize the Genocide, but at a more fevered pitch? Informing the rest of the world of our fate? Celebrating our survival? Putting it all behind us with one big, blow-out week/month/year of activity? No, no, no, no, no, and no to any other such pathetic, ultimately insubstantial motive.

It’s all about making things right. It means, as succinctly put by the name of the recently completed conference in New York, “Responsibility 2015,” responsibility to make Armenians whole by returning lands, property, wealth, and dignity. It means reconnection with our stolen homes and orchards, shops and factories. It means the wealthy of Turkey must be compelled to disgorge the massive ill-gotten gains of their murderous grandparents. It means us walking and living in safety wherever our original homes were, whenever we choose to go. It’s not just about recognition. In fact, recognition is a small part of the picture. It’s everything else. After all, are not those lands and properties ours REGARDLESS OF GENOCIDE?

It’s time to come out of our fearful shells, for all Armenians to get with the program and not just plead for recognition. We deserve and have earned FAR more than just that.

And there’s another coming out, that of the crypto-Armenians who, through incredible perseverance, have endured for a century under different guises – as Moslems, Kurds, Alevis, and amazingly, in this age of ISIS-like nut-jobs, even as Christians. These compatriots already have associations in Sasoon, Moosh, Dersim, and Diarbekir. It’s time for Diasporan compatriotic unions to reconnect with those of us who remained on ground zero – Western Armenia. And, in some places it is even more overt than that. On the Mediterranean coast, on Musa Dagh, the village of Vakef has persisted. On the Black Sea’s shores, we have the Hamshentzees.

All this is necessary for us to elementally, fundamentally, viscerally, reconnect with our stolen… everything. In this context, the rapidly increasing number of Mt. Ararat climbs is very important, as are trips such as those organized by Armen Aroyan to Turkish occupied Armenian lands. We have to resolve, among ourselves, the dilemma of not supporting the Turkish economy with our tourism dollars vs. remaining distant from our lands.

And there is progress, especially now, in Turkey. The Dersim Armenian and Alevi Union plans to commemorate the Genocide in the gorge in Kharpert where Armenians were thrown in. A human rights group has set out to document the sites of Armenian (and others’) mass graves. In Sasoon, a soft echo of an ancient Armenian pilgrimage to Maroota Mountain can be heard. Traditionally held on the last Thursday of July, it is scheduled this year for July 31. Locals expect other Sasoontzees to return home and join this re-birthing event. Stanford University is sponsoring three students to go to Constantinople for Genocide commemoration activities. And in this same city, where 100 years ago, our community’s leaders were rounded up in the dead of night to be butchered, a conference titled “The Armenian Genocide: Concepts and Comparative Perspectives” is being organized.

Yet, as always and unsurprisingly, we have the “traditional” Turkish policies on display as well. And, it is not only the higher level stuff – the fiasco/farce of scheduling the Gallipoli centennial remembrance on April 24th or Turkish government “academic” hacks boasting that they will deflect Armenians Genocide-related efforts – which offends any human’s sensibilities. Smaller scale, yet perhaps more brutal episodes, also abound. In the village of Ksert (Kurdish name), an Armenian cemetery adjoining a ruined church was dug up and bones strewn about, all to build a new road. I suppose it would have been “impossible” to redirect the road by a few dozen yard/meters… Then there is the hue-and-cry over the Armenian roots of Alevis and Kurds, and now Arabs and Assyrians, too! But that’s not all. The argument seems to be since these groups have (partially) Armenian roots, therefore there is no Alevi or Kurdish issue in Turkey. It’s all about the Armenian issue! Maybe we should be thanking those Turks making such ridiculous assertions for doing some of our public relations work for us.

Keep on punching. We are on a journey of a million steps, and have taken very few of them. Constant engagement, effort, and activism will lead to full restitution of Armenian rights.

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8 Comments

  1. Robert said:

    So many important points mentioned in this article, especially that of the hidden Armenians. I’ve heard different estimates on the number of hidden Armenians ranging from the thousands to the millions. Regardless of the actual number though, this is a golden opportunity for the Armenian Cause, i.e. actual Armenians alive and on the ground in Western Armenia. So much possibility here for the Armenian Cause.

  2. Hagopian hagopian said:

    Thank you Garen for explaining to the masses what is the purpose of our struggle, now if only they will attend at least one function they will come to understand that there is a faint light at the end of the tunnel, we just need to pursue it in order to achieve it.

  3. amb said:

    This is not the right way of thinking about the recognition of the genocide: That once it is recognized and the lands returned the Armenian nation will be “whole” and gain its dignity. We are already those. We already poses all those qualities. We can not put the control for the ‘whole’- ness of our nation in the hands of Turkey. We are making ourselves slave to Turkey’s moves, manipulation and whims. We are putting them in control of our destination. We can not do this. It is stupid.

      • amb said:

        To elaborate my point a bit more: We don’t need Turkey’s “seal of approval”, “their ok”, their confirmation or affirmation in order to gain and have our “whole”-ness and dignity. We already poses those. By saying that once Turkey recognizes the genocide we become “whole” is to put ourselves at the mercy of their actions. We give them the control and lose our own.

        Genocide was one event, albeit a major one, among a lot of other events in the long history of Armenian people on this earth. It touches us more because it is close to a lot of us namely the beginning of the 20th century. But remember we have formed and lost several kingdoms and republics during this history.

        Genocide commemoration and recognition is important and needs to be done but it can not serve as the moral compass for our nation. The preservation and advancement of present day Armenia must be that compass.

        • State-Of-Emergency said:

          To add to it, we must forgo our victim mentality. Instead of begging this or that country for validation, let’s together build our current holdings. We must build our homeland as a shining beacon in that corner of the world. We must set the example of how a democratic and progressive nation is built. Never mind what is and what could be, the fact of the matter is that we having something tangible right now and can shape it the way we want. We have forgotten the expression that says, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”. Once we are strong enough to command our own ship, we can then pursue bigger and better projects.

  4. Peter Musurlian said:

    If “amb” and “State-Of-Emergency” are really Armenians, which I doubt, I am gravely disappointed. This either/or way of thinking is lazy and specious.

    Why can’t justice-seeking Armenians (around the world) fight for recognition, money, land, and property, while still building Armenia? It is possible to do more than one thing at a time.

    You play right into the hands of Turkish propagandists, who continue to lie and confuse, so that the world will throw up its hands and say, “Enough already. We need to move on. The ‘genocide’ is ancient history and has two sides to it.”

    What an incredible job Armenian individuals and organizations have done bringing us to where we are today: 20 countries and 43 U.S. states standing with 1.5 million victims. That is a good thing. Why cast it aside?

    BTW, I do not feel like a victim. Like many in the West, I have a good life. But, my grandparents suffered greatly and those who victimized THEM must not get away with it (scot-free) because people like you are bored with the victories, failures, and objectives the Armenian Cause has brought us over the past 40 years. And, it there are those TODAY, who are benefiting-from and denying what happened, it is our duty to expose them with a fervor and tenacity that will rattle the 100-year-old bones, in shallow graves, in the Syrian desert.

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