Justice For Genocide

BY HARRY KOUNDAKJIAN

While some criminals guilty of committing genocide (such as those in Serbia or Germany) are brought to trial, the majority go free, never penalized for their horrific crimes. In particular, the Armenians live with the unacknowledged Genocide of 1.5 million Armenians, and the perpetrators have never been charged. Among the victims was my great-grandfather, the Reverend Hagop Koundakjian, who was burned alive near his town church with 28 of his parishioners. My great-grandmother, Yeretzgin Maryam, reported this in a letter in which she explains how she had to walk behind the Turkish officers’ horses to collect their manure and try to cook the undigested seeds for her children and grandchildren.

Great-grandmother Yeretzgin Maryam (Mary) Koundakjian writes:

“I wish I had not been compelled to write about the terrible and frightening tragedies that took place.

“The catastrophe struck like lightning. With tears in my eyes, I write to you. Your father (Rev.) Hagop Koundakjian was luckier than we were, because at the beginning of the catastrophe, on the road to Adana, he was killed, and did not see the sudden destruction and premeditated attacks on our city.

“He did not witness the burning of his city, did not hear the shocking and frightening shooting by the cruel and heartless enemy.

“He did not see his sisters, brothers and relatives shot to death indiscriminately.

Statistical Report

“On April 11, 1909, we had our communion (at church, during the worship service). It was a rather heartfelt ceremony. Nobody knew or imagined that this would be his last sermon.

“On the next day father journeyed for the annual Armenian Evangelical Church conference.

“As you might have heard already, all in the group of 28 from Osmaniah were burned alive with your father. I want to assure you, my children, that all these difficulties, threats of persecutions and doomsday announcements have strengthened us in our faith–Christianity–and belief in God.

“On April 16th, a gang of wild Turks, Kurds and Circassians attacked Hassanbeyli. Our youth, with their limited arms, protected us heroically but the enemy fighters advanced like locusts, obliging us to take cover in the nearby hills. We prayed to the Lord to protect us.

“We were driven and took refuge at Bahche, where we still are today. They (the Ottoman Turks) threatened us with death if we did not convert to and accept Islam. We are very tired. We are near half-dead.

“Everything was destroyed. The Church, in which your father served for over 30 years, disappeared.”

This is a fraction of the letter written by our Great Grandmother found so far. All our efforts to locate the rest have been in vain. But we continue the search.

Attached is a ‘Statistical Report’ and a list of ‘Armenian Evangelical Martyrs’ (Ministers and Professors) which is worth looking into for general information.

Having been born into an Evangelical family, I only have this portion of our people’s story, but I understand from very reliable sources that Bishop Papken Charian of the Apostolic Brotherhood wrote his dissertation on this same issue. He had collected all the martyrs from the three denominations (Apostolic, Catholic and Evangelical) and published it in a single book. This is also translated into English. You all can get this book under the title “Nahadag Hay Hokevoraganner” (Martyred Armenian Clergy).

Last December, during a two-day forum attended by genocide scholars from about 20 countries, Armenia’s President Serzh Sarkisian said broader international recognition of the Armenian Genocide is essential for preventing more crimes against humanity:

“The bitter lessons of the Armenian Genocide did not go down in the history and memory of humankind as mere memories of the past. They came to be replaced by the horrors of the Holocaust and the tragedies in Rwanda, Darfur and many other places.”

Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian of Armenia made the same point: “Genocide denial and impunity pave the way for new crimes against humanity. Regardless of geopolitical or other interests, the international community must be united in condemning and preventing genocide.”

A comment made around the world was, “I want to hear the words, ‘Armenians across the world, along with the Republic of Armenia, demand reparations for the crime of genocide and the rightful return of our confiscated lands.”

My anger is because of this: What are our political leaders around the world doing to compel the great powers–the U.S.A., Great Britain, France, Russia and Germany to make clear to successive Turkish governments that either they accept these facts as truly Genocide, and if not, that they would break off relations with Turkey. Turkey is acting like a superpower now around the world in order to get into the European Union. This should not happen. Yes, I know they are 80 million now, but surely we can prove that some of them — or perhaps many, many of them — have Armenian blood in their veins. Many of their earlier leaders were not Turks anyway; they were known as ‘Deunmeh’ or converts.

I am taking the liberty of repeating some of the important world actions in connection with our Genocide.

Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel said, “I have been fighting for the right of the Armenian people to remember for years and years. How could I, who has fought all my life for Jewish remembrance, tell the Armenians they have no right to remember? But I understand the (Bush) administration’s view. Fortunately, as a private citizen I don’t have to worry about Turkey’s response. But I do feel that there had there been the word ‘genocide’ in those days, what happened to the Armenians would have been called genocide. Everyone agrees there was mass murder, but the word came later. I believe the Armenians are the victims and, as a Jew, I should be on their side.” Mr. Wiesel, in 1986, described the brutalities committed by the Ottoman Empire against the Armenian minority as “mass murders aimed at the extermination of a people in its entirety,” and called the brutal killings “the first genocide of the 20th century.”

In a resolution adopted in March 12, 2010, the Swedish parliament (the Riksdagen) referred to the World War I-era killings of 2.75 million Armenians, Assyrians (also known as Chaldeans and Syriacs) and Pontic Greeks by the Ottomans as genocide. Turkey is regarded legally and politically as the successor state of the Ottoman Empire but vehemently rejects calling the killing genocide according to the U.N. definition adopted in 1948, insisting that those killed were victims of war and uprising.

On August 21, 2007, Abraham Foxman, the National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, said he consulted Elie Wiesel before issuing a statement acknowledging for the first time that “the consequences” of the Armenian atrocities were “indeed tantamount to genocide. If the word genocide had existed then, they would have called it genocide.”

Famous actress Vanessa Redgrave offered this message to British Armenians in January 2001: “I send my warmest and sorrowful thoughts to you in commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day and the many Turkish massacres of your people, especially the Genocide of 1915/1916 committed by the Turkish government against the Armenian people.”

Ms. Redgrave continues, “We know that the Turkish government carried out a military operation designed to deport the whole Armenian population of nearly millions to Syria and Mesopotamia. We know that at least 1,000,000 Armenians were massacred or died as a consequence.”

The correspondent of The Independent Robert Fisk wrote in August 5, 2000, “I   had been looking for the evidence of a mass murder–the world’s first genocide—for the previous two days but it took a 101-year-old Armenian woman to locate the river bed where her family were murdered in the First World War. The more I dug into the hillside next to the Habur river, the more skulls slid from the earth, bright white at first then, gradually, collapsing into paste as the cold, wet air reached the calcium for the first time since their mass murder. The teeth were unblemished—these were mostly young people—and the bones later found stretched behind them were strong.
“In 1915, the world reacted with equal horror as news emerged from the dying Ottoman Empire of the deliberate destruction of at least a million and half Christian Armenians. Their fate – the ethnic cleansing of their ancient race from the lands of Turkey, the razing of their towns and churches, the mass slaughter of their menfolk, the massacre of their women and children – was denounced in Paris, London and Washington as a war crime. Tens of thousands  of Armenian women — often after mass rape by their Turkish guards – were left to die of starvation with their children along the banks of the Habur river near Deir ez-Zour in what is today northern Syria. The few men who survived were tied together and thrown into the river.  Turkish gendarmes would fire a bullet into one of them – and his body would drag the rest to their deaths.”

Not many people know about our Tricolor flag. It is known as Yerak’oouyn and consists of three horizontal bands of equal width, red on top, blue in the middle and orange on the bottom. The meaning of the colors have been interpreted in different ways. Red stood for the blood shed by Armenian soldiers in war, blue for the Armenian sky and the orange represents for fertile lands of Armenia and workers who work there. The official definition of the colors, as stated in the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia, is: The Red emblematizes people’s continued struggle for survival, and for the blood our brave ancestors shed, fighting the enemy and sacrificing their lives to save the Armenian nation from annihilation, ensure their freedom to practice the Christian faith, Armenia’s independence and freedom. The Blue for the people of Armenia to live beneath peaceful skies and the Orange emblematizes the creative talent and hard-working nature of the people of Armenia and the industrious nature of the Armenian people. We say “Garmer Gabouit Narenchakouin, Getze getza Troshagen Hahyoun”, simply meaning Red Blue Orange, long live the flag of Armenia. History of the Armenian flag says it was created after the First World War between 1918 and 1921, after Armenian gained independence and was readopted on Aug. 24 1990, just before gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

It is a must for all Armenian families to read about and remember our Martyrs. They should not and cannot be forgotten.

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10 Comments

  1. Gasim said:

    This was a great tragedy. Any innocent civilian killed in a war deserves our condolences and sympathy, regardless of nationality. However, if this is the definition of a genoice (innocent peopl killed in the fog of war, especially hundreds of year ago), then the history would be home to millions of Genoncide. The fact remains that Armenian were at war with Turkey: they were fighting for their independence (which is perfectly understandable and even admirable). If if you wage a war, you need to be able to deal with the consequences too, among which are usually counted, unfortunately, civilian deaths.

    • Avery said:

      Gasim:
      Armenians were not at war with Turkey. 2011-1915=96 is not ‘hundredS of year ago’.
      Armenians were serving loyally and bravely @ Gallipoli in the Ottoman Army. As thanks, Turks disarmed all Armenian troops in the Ottoman Military so they could safely massacre them.

      Turks were losing their Ottoman Empire and were being thrown out by those they had subjugated and oppressed (e.g. Bulgaria, Serbia,….). Turks were being forced back to their homeland – Altai Mountains, Mongolian steppes. They didn’t want to go that far, so had to exterminate Armenians of Western Armenia – in order to steal their land and stay: that’s all there is to it.

      And whether its 96 years, 196, 296, 396 – we will never forget.

  2. Sylva-MD-Poetry said:

    Genocide Victims in My Family
    The story of our family. My grandfather, Mihran Dabbaghian (head of the customs department), left for work and was never to be seen again. His uncle, Garabed Dabbaghian, famous lawyer/judge, given the short name Natick Effendi (“Mr. Speaker” in Turkish)—he and all his extended family where slaughtered in Diyarbakir. We still have the official papers that state we are owners of many lands in Diyarbakir.
    Other related families are the Abrahamian (changed their surname to Sabri to save their life—we recently discovered that their real surname name was Abrahamian before the massacres of 1915), Chilingirian, Kazandjian, Ouzounian, Misakian, and Simsarian (owners of silk factory in Diyarbakir).
    My granduncle’s wife, Katrina, the only survivor from Yousif Karagulla’s family (feudal lord in Mardin), had a brother, Numan Karagulla, who was graduated from the medical school of Harvard (1905?), and married to an American woman named Stella. They raped his wife in front of him then slaughtered him, his wife, and their son Philip. The genocide survivors are American citizens. There are endless stories, so which one to tell?
    My father’s family in Baghdad never experienced the same situation. However, in Turkey, his two cousins (from the Ohanessian family) who were medical students in Vienna (Austria) vanished when they came home in April to Diyarbakir for the Easter holiday.

    • Lucy Karaguezian said:

      My name is Lucy Semsarian married to Krekor Karaguezian, I live in Granada Hills CA. My dad’s name is Diran (survived massacre), my uncle Khosroff(killed by turks) and my aunt Satenig(massacred)
      My sister Seta that lives in Beirut Lebanon where I was born, prepared a family tree of my father side all from Diyarbakir.
      My dad’s father’s name is Thomas (his brothers Abraham Hagop Hannoush Hatoum(I think female).
      My dad always inquired about his uncles that came to CA Abraham Abrahamian and sons Dikran Khoren and Karnig.
      I think you are the decendants of Hagop Abrahamian and Sousan kavazantchounts (Nevart Nassif Gadar Zora (married to dabaghian) and Aziz Sabri.
      Please write to me.
      Sincerely
      Lucy Semsarian Karaguezian

  3. Sylva-MD-Poetry said:

    Arabs of Armenian Heritage from Armenian Genocide

    The stories from my clinic on Armenian genocide
    The Al Shammari tribe in north of Iraq saved many dying children. One of them was found in river Khabour, so they named him Khabour.* They describe him as a blonde-haired person with blue eyes. His grandchildren say he looked different from our granduncles. He married from the tribe.

    There are many stories that people are still narrating from the Al Anazi and the Al Dhufayri tribes. They saved Armenian children in the Middle East, the Gulf, and Arabia, brought them up to become part of their families. They say they are proud to have Armenian origin. To understand the culture of Arabs and their dignity, they called the girls Merriam, which means Mary, as they were Christian and they believe in Merriam being mentioned in Qur’an; mother of Essa (Jesus). It was easier for them than Armenian names, which is difficult to pronounce and write. The name Merriam is heartily and holy in use among Muslim Arabs and Iranians, as frequent as Mary among Christians.

    The story achieved after natural personal observation:
    In spring of 1992, a Bedouin old woman brought her grandson to me, her face was covered as usual. Her petite white hands were holding her grandson in a delicate and artistic way that I was interested to see her face. She became friendly with me and, after detailed conversation, said my father was an Armenian orphan from the genocide, brought up by a Syrian family, and later married their daughter, who was my mother. She said at the end, “I am short like my father and have the same personality. He was a kind and intelligent man.” I do regret I did not collect more information; I never thought one day that I would be able write a book on genocide. I knew so much that I thought everyone knows about our untreatable pain.
    If I can say, almost all people living in the Middle East, Iran, Egypt, and Arabia know about the genocide, even the recent generation, but in Europe and USA, only among some groups.
    ______________________________________________________________
    * Khabour River (Habur River) A tributary of the Euphrates River. Rising from the mountains of Anatolia, it flows southeastward into Syrian territories to Al-Hasakah, then southward to join the Euphrates near Der Zor.
    _______________

    A genuine story from my patients:
    In the summer of 1988, a well dressed unveiled young woman entered to my clinic with her baby. After a short conversation, she became interested to know my origin. I said, I am Armenian, she said her granny was Armenian. At first, I could not believe it, but she started rhyming in Armenian. Then I felt the certainty. She was a princess from Saudi Arabia and gave the story of how her granny journeyed to reach Syria; later, she was taken to Arabia to become one of the wives of the prince. Unfortunately, at that time, I was young and busy, did not have time to take more details, which I enormously regret. Seem a great possibility that she was grand-daughter of the king Abdul-Aziz Al Saud.

  4. Sylva-MD-Poetry said:

    Just recently I heard a story from Egyptian Lady…She is a history teacher…Her grandfather was Sheik Al-Azhar…She heard that next week Erdugan is coming to Egypt…and she gave so many stories about Ottomans’ rule in Egypt…
Many Egyptian they tell me that their grandmothers are Turkish…This lady told me …they were not Turkish they use to snatch beautiful christian girls in Turkey and bring them to Egypt and sell them to rich people…They use to call them they are pasha’s daughters…I wander which Pasha will give his daughter to Egyptians…or Arabs…
I have very close Egyptian friend (M.G), she always says my grandmother was Turkish…I always tell her you look Armenian…If she allows me to send her photo any Armenian will see her… she will tell she looks Armenian.
I am going to send this letter to her and see her response…!


    I know a minister of Health in an Arab state has very beautiful, nice wife…everyone tells she is the daughter of a Pasha…now I wonder…!!!
 
More stories to come…


    • manooshag said:

      The inhumanity of humans by the Turks… the vile and evil methods of elimination of a people… the stealing of all that was of the Armenians… lands. properties, culture… all belongings of the Armenians ancient and advanced Christian peoples – stolen by Turks since the hordes from the Asian mountains had not any culture of their own – thus needing to steal all that was of the Armenians… and still today, bullying and abusing Armenians – ongoing/endlessly… Turkish style.

      • Edward Demian said:

        Recent DNA studies, place the Turks as Genetically local. Very little genetic difference between Turks and Armenians. What does that mean? That the Armenians are Turcs? I don’t think so and no one else thinks so either. The conclusion is the same as what our grandparents knew all along; That the Turks preferred Armenian women for many reasons. In a society where men could marry many times, wealthy men and poor men allike had to have at least one. That custom is alive and well today in parts of Turkey. The high demand for Armenian women caused many families to hide their young girls or hide their sexual identity. In some areas, the local Pashas, Beys etc. enforced the “royal perogative” more often than symbolic. Christian monogamy laws also produced excess women. So todays Turkish mix is mostly Armenian, Greek, East European. Different areas in Turkey have various ethnic makeups. Obviously there are pockets in Turkey of “genetic isolates”. A true ethnographic study in Turkey would have to include Historians and Geneticists. The present Turkish Government is so invested in the One Turkey, One People, One Religion,(reminicent of Nazy Germany), Homogeneous Theory, that any meaningful study or debate on the subject would probably not be allowed. So far, the Turkish gene is less than 10% in most studies. That knowledge alone has the powerful potential of dismembering Turkey. The Turks are not Turks. They are a Native people, captive to a Nationalist slogan that civilized society ‘buried on the ash heap of history “, last century. And thats why Turkey is dangerous in its present state of mind. An Islamic Turkey allied with an Islamic Iran, would probably not be in the best interests of the civilized world. That is why information is really the next best thing to Military Power. The next battleground is in Cyberspace.

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