BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
Winner of a Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, U.N. Correspondents Gold Medal, the National Magazine Award, the Overseas Press Club Award, and two from the ANCA (Eastern and Western Regions) – do you know who this describes? Here’s another hint “A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide”. In case it’s not yet obvious, she was also President Barack Obama’s Ambassador to the U.N.
Samantha Power is now a winner of the coveted SpitRain award, too, granted (by yours truly) to individuals who behave so shamelessly that the Armenian saying, “He’s so shameless, if you spit in his face, s/he’d think it’s raining” becomes applicable to her/him.
But she is not alone in earning this SpitRain. Rather, she was enabled by a host of others, to be named shortly.
No doubt you saw the news that she joined the Aurora Prize selection committee. This prize was founded by Noubar Afeyan (Harvard professor), Vartan Gregorian (extensive resume of distinguished academic and foundation positions), and Ruben Vardanyan (billionaire in Russia) to recognize, annually, the efforts and achievements of “an individual whose actions have had an exceptional impact on preserving human life and advancing humanitarian causes” – this is a great thing especially since it’s named after Arshalooys Mardiganian (Aurora Mardigian) who starred in the movie made portraying her own story of surviving the Genocide.
But Samantha Power is also the person who did nothing to act on her “convictions” during her time in office. She was silent about the Armenian Genocide until some months before the end of her tenure, and even that was just a passing reference. Simply, she was no better than Obama or any other promise-and-renege official we’ve encountered countless times over the decades.
Imagine if soon after Ambassador John Evans’ unceremonious dumping (2006) for speaking honestly about the Genocide (2005), she had done the same as Obama’s Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights on the National Security Council (January 2009 – February 2013), as chair of a newly formed Atrocities Prevention Board (April 2012), or U.S. Ambassador to the U.N (until 2017).
How did she get appointed to the Aurora Prize Selection Committee (APSC)? It’s not spelled out in the press release, nor could I find a description of the selection process on the Aurora website. I have to assume that Afeyan, Gregorian, and Vardanyan did it, hence their complicity and sharing the shame required to earn a SitRain.
What of the other members of the APSC? Were they involved in her joining Aurora? It’s been more than a week, and I’ve seen no indication that any of them have voiced disapproval or dissatisfaction with Power’s being brought in their midst. Unfortunately, this leads me to include these august individuals as SpitRain recipients. In case you have any doubt as to their credentials, or simply do not know who they are, please read on or see the list with more detail on the Aurora website.
The APSC is comprised George Clooney (humanitarian, performer and filmmaker), Ernesto Zedillo (Former President of Mexico), Gareth Evans (Former Australian Foreign Minister), Hina Jilani (Former UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Human Rights Defenders), Leymah Gbowee (Nobel Laureate), Mary Robinson – Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and )President of Ireland, Oscar Arias (Former President of Costa Rica andNobel Laureate), Shirin Ebadi (Human Rights Lawyer, Iran’s first female judge, and Nobel Laureate), Lord Ara Darzi (Director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London), and Vartan Gregorian.
Shame on these otherwise exemplary people!
And, even more shame on all of us, as Armenians, if we don’t raise a huge fuss over the poor judgment that led to Samantha Power being added to the APSC. She had her chance, she blew it. Unless she finds some way to make up for her eight year silence, she has no place in the Armenian circuit. Otherwise, many more like her will take advantage of us and dump us when it doesn’t suit their needs.
The Aurora Prize started, and should continue, as a proudly Armenian “thing” that is serving all of humanity in gratitude for the help we received when we most needed it Armenian rules and norms must apply. No back-door collusion, crafty compromising politics, or gamesmanship ought to be tolerated.
Fortunately, there’s already a bit of a stink being raised on Facebook about this as well as at least one other op-ed, published in Armenian, penned by Apo Boghigian. May there be many more. Write the Aurora folks at email@example.com or 2/2, Melik-Adamyan Street, 0010 Yerevan, Republic of Armenia. Heck, maybe there office should even be picketed!
Samantha’s appointment to the Aurora prize committee is an insult to each and every Armenian and to the memory of the victims of genocide.
She behaved despicably , discredited and dishonored herself.
It doesn’t matter how many new prizes she wins, she is worse than a genocide denier….
people like her , Obama and Hillary Clinton should be barred from visiting Armenia and genocide memorial … as they don’t deserve that honor ….
One good thing came out of this , and that is that I finally agree on a subject with Mr. Yegparian … I guess it’s one of those , never say never things … in any case , better late than ever …))))
Finally, Garen gets it right and puts his Armenian roots ahead of his DNC card.. Congrats and welcome aboard, Garen!!! I always will give credit where credit is due. This woman has no more business being honored in such a way than our favorite Louisville “professor” Justin McCarthy. She is a fake, fraud and a charlatan. She claims she devoted her life to exposing the horrors of genocide, then suddenly lost her moral compass when she had a golden opportunity to make a real difference. How can Armenians forget how she implored us to support her phony pal Obama, then, when she got what she wanted, she turned her back on the truth. Phony! Fraud! Charlatan!!! Go and don’t let the door hit you on the backside, evil woman!!!
Rather harsh don’t you think. Sure, I agree with you about the right thing to do.
But I’m sure that she paid for the book “A Problem from hell”. To bring up the “genocide” issue would have cost her her job. She is, in my opinion, far more valuable to us, as a friend, and would add a lot of prestige to the “Aurora Prize committee”
Not everyone can be a Human as John Marshall Evans
United States Ambassador to Armenia (2004-2006)
To Honest Ambassador John Evans
In the seventeenth century
Sir Henry Wotton (1568-1639) announced,
“Ambassador is an honest man sent
to lie for the good of his motherland.”
America is a symbol of freedom,
A country based on human rights.
The nations’ doors are open to every race.
Country’s pride in its fairness shines’s.
No-one could believe how the Congress treated
The well-known soul called Evans,
They tried to punish a fair man
For recognizing Armenia’s Genocide:
Equalization is centurial truth
Hence no superiority shall vanquish Armenia’s reign.
Evans’ name proves his carried crane.
He acts evenly, relieving scorns and ethnic pains.
Nobody can ever engulf or try to change his astrocytes,
Even the scimitars, which are still dangling
Besides the fathers and sons of new Ottomans!
Evans is an ambassador and genius human.
He could not shelter known slain
By clouding his dignified fan … could never think
To betray genocided, horrifically bleeding rains.
He believes in eternity, truth and equality . . .
Humanity should never replace his ambassadorial bravery.
He has been fired by hurricane winds.
To our sincere, welcoming trustful hearts ––
Remembered by the holy ancestries of Gomidas**
By carving Evans’ name with Mashtotian Alphabets***
On faithful Armenian shrines.
June 6, 2006
Modified from my poetry collection, “A Poetic Soul Shined of Genocides”(2008) and will be in my new collection, “BRING-OUT our Genocided Skulls & Artful Hands” April 2018, Ceremony in Komitas Museum.
Sylva Portoian, MD
* John Marshall Evans: American ambassador to Armenia (2004-2006),
dismissed from the diplomatic circle because he used the word genocide and not massacre.
** Gomidas/Komitas (1869-1935): Founder of Armenian classical music.
*** Saint Mesrop Mashtots: Inventor of the Armenian alphabet (AD 405).
In my opinion as a medically trained human, I cannot see any difference between nations as far as lives are concerned. I think the geneticist will say the same; however, the justice court system should stamp their honest humans’ names.
I like to repeat my stanza,
Killing a person is to kill genes,
Hundreds, thousands, millions, or more.
Does the killing make incongruity?
Aren’t all beating tissues, souls, …
That can breathe, create, and
Help humanity to lore galore?
“During her time in office”.
Fortunately or unfortunately it is the President who sets policy, not his advisers. Nobody really knows what they said to each other on the topic of the Armenian Genocide, but in the end she had to sing his tune, not the other way around; she served at his whim. Out of office, or on the way out, one is less constrained by diplomacy and its contortions (as in the way President Obama tried a high wire act of using ‘yeghern’ for the Genocide) and to her credit she was contrite about it in April 2017. I don’t think she’s disqualified to serve on the Aurora selection committee, on the other hand I don’t condemn the ones protesting her appointment; though I think the Spitrain article is a bit too strident, aggressive & disrespectful compared to the All-ASA statement.
I agree. Amb. Evans is a hero that paid dearly for his humanity. I still feel guilty for what hapened to him. It is too much ro expect mere mortals to sacrifice so much. Samantha Powerswrote a powerful book that gave the genocyde a podium. That was a lot. I am thankful for that. On the Aurorra prize committee she may amaze us.
Thank you Garen for this well-written column against two-faced careerist Samantha Power.
“The Aurora Prize” should be renamed “The Arshalouys Prize”.
The Arshalouys Prize should within a three-year period go to an accomplished Armenian individual or entity whose human rights work has brought tremendous welfare and security to Armenians and others and not to just globalist stars from far away places doing feel-good things.
Prize recipients should be required to publicly speak or write about the unrequited Armenian Genocide in at least three separate instances within the first year.
Prize organizers must completely separate business interests from their humanitarian work or close up shop.
She had no choice but follow the administration’s line while she served on the government. She did apologize for not doing anything for the Armenian genocide, after she got out. Armenian so called political organizations and so called commentators should be able to think in nuanced ways and be able to see beyond the tip of their nose. We are not stupid and we are not condemned to thinking in black and white terms forever. We don’t have to think in terms of received thoughts only but can actually use our reason, education, experience and imagination to think in new ways and come up with the sort of thoughts that will move us forward and not keep us in the same place we have been (as far as political thinking that is) for the last at least twenty years.