e-Tsayn e-Voice is a publication of
The Diocese of the Armenian Church (Eastern) Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate Department of Mission Parishes Rev. Fr. Tateos R. Abdalian, Director www.armenianchurch.net Diocesan Office: 212.686.0710
Email: dertateos@ armeniandiocese.org
a few words from der tateos on the subject of the Armenian Genocide . . . In 1979, I was asked by the Armenian Assembly of Washington, D.C. to interview survivors of the 1915 Genocide for their Oral History Project. As my father was a survivor, I approached him on the subject. At first, he was unwilling to tell his story, but with a little coaxing and an expressed desire on my part for his grandchildren to learn about his life story, he consented. During the interview process, my father sat in his chair and began to relive those years, going as far back as he could remember: the family house in Gamis, a village of the Province of Sepastia; his grandfather, Taniel Chavoush, a revolutionary hero and his exploits; the forced exile from his home and the death of 23 members of the family; of arriving in Aleppo, Greece, and finally America. It was as if the whole scenario was replaying before his very eyes as on a theater screen. The horrors that he experienced as a seven-year-old child were relived once again, for him, and for the countless number of survivors with whom I was privileged in knowing and interviewing in "our village" of Watertown, Massachusetts. I then began to understand the reason for the nightmares my father would experience in the middle of the night, sounds that would awaken my brother and I, especially of him seeing the men in the village being taken and hung in the village square. I began to understand a little clearer of how the Armenian Church, the Armenian Nation, and his Armenian family were the three most important aspects of his life. Jesus said, "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies it produces many grains." Those that survived became the new stalks of wheat that gave fruit, and from them, other fruit to nourish our Armenian Church, Armenian Nation and Armenian families. For my father, my father and mother-inlaw, and for the countless others who survived, I stand in humble indebtedness.
THE TURKISH GENOCIDE OF THE ARMENIAN PEOPLE APRIL 24…WHY ARMENIANS COMMEMORATE THIS DAY
INTRODUCTION April 24th has been designated as Memorial Day by the Armenian People, whereby, Armenians throughout the world observe the Anniversary of the Turkish crime of genocide that shocked the civilized world. Talaat Pasha, as Minister of the Turkish Interior, signed the orders for the massacre of Turkey’s entire Armenian minority, and made it clear that his government’s objective was purely a political one. The noted historian, Arnold Toynbee, in his book, Armenian Atrocities: The Murder of a Nation, quotes Talaat Pasha as boasting, “After this, there will be no Armenian Question for fifty years”. What was the Armenian Question? What led Turkey to decide that the only way to solve the Armenian Question was by eliminating the Armenians? To find the answers, let us go back some 500 years.
FIVE CENTURIES OF TURKISH RULE Following the conquest of Constantinople by Sultan Mohammed II in 1453, the Ottoman Empire became firmly established in Asia Minor. Countless Christian and non-Christian nations in the Near East, the Balkans, and North Africa eventually found themselves under the rule of the Ottoman Turks, an alien nomad army which had swept into Asia Minor from the East and counted Armenia among her earliest conquests. Asia Minor became the “homeland” of the Turks, the center from which they ruled their vast empire. The Armenians, Greeks and other non-Turks were the “Rayah”, the “cattle” – second-class citizens without equal protection under the laws and subject to continuous mistreatment.
POWER POLITICS The Nineteenth Century, marked by the rise of nationalism, the “shrinking” of the world and “power politics”, brought chaos to the Ottoman Empire. The Sultan’s incessant wars with Russia and others brought about a continuing decline of power, social and economic decay, and European demands for “reforms” in Turkish-held territories. The Turks reacted with unprecedented massacres of Bosnians, Serbians, Greeks, Macedonians, Bulgarians, Rumanians, Arabs and Armenians. Power politics and internal wrangling prevented the five Great European Powers – France, Great Britain, Austria, Italy and Russia from presenting a united front in their demands for “reforms” for humane treatment of the sultan’s subjects. Their own territorial ambitions and concern over “control of the Dardanelles Straits” (a strategic waterway connecting the Black and Mediterranean seas) overshadowed the face of the millions in the captive nations. The Turks minorities, including the Armenians, had become pawns in the game of power politics… a game, which eventually cost the minorities a total of over three million lives.
THE ARMENIAN QUESTION The Armenian Question, the issue of equal and just rights for Armenians living in turkey, was a term used to describe the international political situation of Armenia and the Armenian People, and can be considered as starting with the Russian-Turkish War (18771878). The two treaties responsible for bringing the Armenian Question before the international conference table were the treaties of San Stefano and Berlin. Both documents provided reforms in Turkish Armenia with Russia and England acting as guardians for the safety and rights of the Armenian People. But as was the case in the late 19th Century and through World War I, material gain and self-interests were the major concerns of Russia and the European powers. Turkey, not wanting external influence on how to handle her internal affairs, gave away certain geographical concessions to the Western Powers in return for the watering down of crucial reforms into meaningless nothings.
MASSACRES OF 1894-1896 Realizing that the European Powers cared little for the Armenians and their fate, and merely used them as a political tool, the Turkish Sultan decided that he would solve the Armenian Question once and for all, and thereby deprive Europe of its wedge. The Armenians, living in the midst of their conquerors, but generally better educated and more successful economically, were a helpless and convenient scapegoat for the Turks whose empire had been carved up by wars, revolutions and European “diplomacy”. There began a policy of systematic reprisals, culminating in 1894-1896 with the first of the great “Armenian Massacres”, in which over 300,000 Armenians were killed. Abdul Hamid, “the Bloody Sultan”, had taken a giant step toward the annihilation of the Armenians, knowing that the often-threatened intervention by Europe would never come. Thus, although countless diplomatic exchanges, agreements, promises, threats and counter-threats marked the period from 1878 to 1896, the question of reforms in Turkish Armenia remained a dead issue at the close of the Century.
THE YOUNG TURKS In 1908 came the “Young Turks” and their revolution. Sultan Hamid was overthrown, a constitution was established, and the equality of “all Ottoman peoples” was declared. The Armenians saw the promise of a new day. Revolutionary aspirations, born of the frustration of European abandonment and in reaction to Turkish persecution, were set aside and Armenians joined with Turks in creating a new nation in which parliamentary processes were to replace the scimitar. The Armenians had sought and were now promised equal rights as Turkish citizens. However, in less than a year – in April of 1909 – there occurred the massacre of 30,000.00 Armenians in Adana, which the Turks explained as insurrection by reactionaries still loyal to Sultan Hamid. But it was only a preview of things to come and in fact, the very continuation of Sultan Hamid’s policy of liquidating the Armenian Question.
World War I provided just the conditions Turkey needed to rid Asia Minor of the Armenian People. With most of the world focused on the War in Europe, Turkey now had a free hand to deal with her Christian minorities. Three events occurred in 1915 that were to create Armeniaâ€™s Blackest Hour in her magnificent 2500-year history. 1.
All Armenian men in Turkey, from the ages of 14-68 were drafted into the army where they were forced into labor battalions â€“ ill-fed, ill-clothed, beaten, savagely tortured, driven mercilessly, and killed on convenience and whim.
Next came the arrest and murder of 300 Armenian leaders, doctors, writers, scientists, university professors, and intellectuals in Constantinople.
Finally, the orders were issued by Talaat Pasha, Minister of the Turkish Interior, for the deportation and extermination of the Armenian population of Turkey, without discrimination as to age or sex.
In 1915, during the fateful year for the Armenians, one and a half million Armenians perished. Since the Armenian population of the areas affected by the massacres in 1915 has been set at more than two million, the massacres took almost three-fourths of all Armenians living in turkey and one-half of all Armenians living at that time. This awful toll in human lives was matched by the enormous destruction of Armenian property estimated at 35 billion dollars; the Turkish occupation of historic Armenian lands; and the dispersion of the Armenian Nation to the four winds. There is hardly an Armenian family today that has not lost one or more of its members in this Turkish act of genocide. Perhaps the one thing that shocked the Western World and that sticks in the throat of every Armenian is the sheer brutality and perverted ness of the Turkish mass murders. Numerous accounts can be offered from such American and European observers as: Arnold Toynbee-English Historian; Henry MorganthauUnited States Ambassador to Turkey; Sir Austin Henry Layard-English Archaeologist and Diplomat; C.R. Norman-London Times Correspondent; Eugene Schuyler-American Diplomat Corps, and many others. Words cannot attempt to describe the brutality suffered by the Armenians, especially the women and children. One account of their suffering: One could see long caravans of Armenian peasants being marched into the desert where they were brutally put to the sword or shot. Women were forced to march completely naked and subjected to the perverted whims of the soldiers and native Turkish villagers. Pregnant women were sliced in two. Girls as young as 8 and 9 years old were raped, and if they were unable to continue, they were shot on the spot.
CONCLUSION In trying to find an explanation for these tragic happenings, it will not suffice to say that the misfortunes of the Armenian People rest with normal internal disorders of a country. But, more exactly, the Turkish crime of genocide is clearly seen as a product of a brand of fanatic Turkish Nationalism that engulfed the Ottoman Empire at the turn of the 20th Century, where any non-Moslem was an enemy of Allah (God). Also, the Turk had an insane passion to conquer and savagely plunder his victims. One can only attempt to
understand the minds of such Turkish leaders as Talaat Pasha, Enver Pasha, and Mustafa Kemal – authors of the first genocide in modern history. The Turkish Government has failed to destroy the Armenian People or the Armenian Question. On April 24th, the Armenian People reassert that a people with 2500 years of history, culture and nationhood have a legal and moral right to live as free men on their historic lands. The Armenian People will continue to remind the world of its horrible tragedy that befell their nation, and remain hopeful that the principles of justice will yet triumph…
From the Armenian Church of Nashville The Nashville Scene
Commemoration of the 95th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide at Scarritt-Bennett (Nashville TN) When: Sat., April 24, 5-6:30 p.m. While the scars of the Jewish Holocaust run deep, much of the hostility between Germans and Jews has subsided. Yet the repercussions of the Armenian genocide, which transpired 20 years before World War II, are still reverberating today, so much so that the mere mention of the “G” word is a hot-button political topic — even in the United States, where politicians fearful of upsetting U.S. ally Turkey do a semantical dance around the term. While diplomats engage in etymological gymnastics akin to Bill Clinton explaining what “is” is, there’s little doubt that 1.5 million Armenians were systematically slaughtered by the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1923. To commemorate the 95th anniversary, the Armenian Church of Nashville presents a program featuring Kim Theriault, author of Rethinking Arshile Gorky — an examination of how painter Gorky, one of the seminal figures of abstract expressionism, was affected by his experiences as an Armenian genocide survivor. An associate professor of art history, theory and criticism at Dominican University, Theriault will give a talk titled “The Impact of the Armenian Genocide on the Survivor: Arshile Gorky and the Legacy of Trauma.” Sara Cohan, education director of The Genocide Education Project (and a recent Nashville transplant), will give a brief history of the Armenian genocide prior to Theriault’s talk, and Father Tateos Abdalian will close with a memorial service honoring both the victims and survivors. For further information, email firstname.lastname@example.org. — Jack Silverman
— Just as a matter of information –
— You can get the latest videos on the Armenian Church from Armenia and as well as our Diocese. Simply go to — www.youtube.com/easterndiocese — Especially for our faithful who are far removed from Armenian parishes or communities, this site can provide a sense of connection to what is happening in the Armenian Church around the world. Spread the word, get and stay connected. And finally . . . A little girl, dressed in her Sunday best, was running as fast as she could, trying not to be late for Bible class. As she ran she prayed, "Dear Lord, please don't let me be late! Dear Lord, please don't let me be late!" While she was running and praying, she tripped on a curb and fell, getting her clothes dirty and tearing her dress. She got up, brushed herself off, and started running again. As she ran she once again began to pray, "Dear Lord, please don't let me be late...But please don't shove me either!"
**** Three boys are in the school-yard bragging about their fathers. The first boy says, "My Dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a poem, they give him $50." The second boy says, "That's nothing. My Dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a song, they give him $100." The third boy says, "I got you both beat. My Dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a sermon, and it takes eight people to collect all the money!"
eTsayn April 25, 2010