Archive for the ‘News’ Category

By David Luhrssen

The persecution of Armenians and Jews has a long history, but in the 20th century, special milestones mark the road to tragedy. Much as the Armenian Genocide began with the April 24, 1915 arrest of community leaders and intellectuals, the Jewish Holocaust’s starting point is often said to have occurred on Nov. 9, 1938 with Kristallnacht (Crystal Night), so called because the smashing of windows in Jewish shops, synagogues and homes featured prominently in the pogrom.

 Milwaukee’s Jewish community will remember Kristallnacht with “An Afternoon of Remembrance and Hope,” 3:30-5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 4. It will begin with an outdoor ceremony at the Memorial to the Holocaust, 1360 N. Prospect Ave., and continue with an interfaith commemoration and program at the Rubenstein Pavilion of the Jewish Home and Care Center, 1414 N. Prospect Ave. Holocaust survivors Werner Richheimer and Betsy Maier Reilly will speak at the event.

Leaders of the Armenian communities of Milwaukee and Racine will be in attendance. We encourage our members to come and show solidarity with a people whose history parallels our own.

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RIGHTS – Controversial text book about Armenians sparks stir in Turkey.

Controversial text book about Armenians sparks stir in Turkey

ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News

A Turkish minister defends a school book labeling Armenians ‘treacherous.’ DHA photo

The Ministry of Education has defended a school text book that includes slurs about Armenians as well as a number of Turkish writers, saying the book was “written with the sense of national reflex and humorous criticism.”

Penned by Yunus Zeyrek, the book, titled “Bu Dosyayı Kaldırıyorum: Ermeni Meselesi” (“Closing this File: The Armenian Issue”) defines Armenians as “dishonorable and treacherous” and vilifies novelists such as Nobel Prize Laureate Orhan Pamuk and writer Elif Şafak. History and literature teachers distributed the books to students of their own volition after receiving them.

Humorous criticismu

Education Minister Ömer Dinçer responded a parliamentary question proposed by Kadir Gökmen Öğüt of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) about the book, saying “the examples in the book were written with the sense of national reflex and humorous criticism,” according to a report by daily Taraf.
Öğüt asked whether the ministry had approved the handing out of the book and also whether the content of the book could be considered as being a form of hate crime. In his response, Dinçer said the Ministry of Education had never recommended the book. “The Governorship of Istanbul stated that some of the books were presented to students by the District Governor of Kartal and that nobody was targeted in any chapter of the book.”

Dinçer had earlier announced that the ministry had launched a probe against a controversial book distributed by the education directorate among high schools in Istanbul’s Kartal district


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Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee
Death of Karekin I, Catholicos of All Armenians
(June 29, 1999)

Thirteen years ago, the untimely death of Karekin I, Catholicos of All Armenians (formerly Karekin II, Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia) was a hard blow to the Armenian Church worldwide. Much has been said and written about the life and deeds of the Catholicos, but it is never too late to recall his memory one more time.

Born in Kessab, a piece of Armenian Cilicia which miraculously remained in Syria after the sanjak of Alexandretta (Hatay) was transferred to Turkey by the French mandate in 1939, Nishan Sarkissian entered the Theological Seminary of Antelias in 1946 and graduated six years later. In 1952, he was ordained a celibate priest and renamed Karekin, after the recently deceased Catholicos Karekin I Hovsepiants. He joined the brotherhood of the Armenian Catholicate of Cilicia.

After he defended his doctoral thesis in 1955, he received the degree of “vartabed” (doctor of the Church). He was a faculty member and then served as dean of the seminary. He studied theology for two years at Oxford University. In 1963 he became an aide to Catholicos Khoren I. The same year he was elevated to senior archimandrite and in 1964, consecrated bishop.

In the 1970s, he served in important administrative positions. From 1971-1973 he was Prelate of the Diocese of New Julfa (Iran) and in 1973 he received the rank of archbishop. He was appointed Pontifical Legate of the Eastern Prelacy from 1973-1975 and Prelate from 1975-1977. He left his position in 1977 when he was elected Catholicos Coadjutor of the Catholicate of Cilicia. He served in this position until the death of Catholicos Khoren in 1983, when he became Catholicos Karekin II of the Holy See of Cilicia.

His ecclesiastical, administrative, and intellectual activities, including his ecumenical contacts and his frequent and valuable publications in Armenian, English, and French on theological, Armenological, philosophical, ethical and other subjects, had already earned him a position of importance in the hierarchy of the Armenian Church. He bolstered his activities during his twelve-year tenure as Catholicos (1983-1995). He developed a close relationship with Catholicos of All Armenians, Vazken I (1955-1994).

Upon the death of Catholicos Vazken, Catholicos Karekin II was elected Catholicos of All Armenians in April 1995 and thereafter became known as Karekin I. These were the first years of the second independence of Armenia. The newly elected Catholicos was called to have a central role in the resurgence of the Armenian Church after the collapse of the Soviet Union. However, his health failed him and his pontificate was extremely brief. After a painful battle with cancer, he passed away on June 29, 1999.

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Rabbi Shapiro a…

Rabbi Shapiro at Milwaukee Martyrs Day
Jewish Leader Speaks on the Genocide and the Holocaust

By David Luhrssen

Milwaukee, WI- As part of its remembrance of the Armenian Genocide, St. John the Baptist Armenian Church has long hosted a madagh dinner followed by a speaker on the Sunday closest to Martyrs Day. This year, on April 22, the suburban Milwaukee parish invited a prominent local rabbi, Ronald Shapiro, to give a presentation after dinner. Aside from his work at Milwaukee’s Congregation Shalom, Rabbi Shapiro teaches contemporary Jewish studies at Cardinal Stritch University and is active in the city’s interfaith movement.

In his remarks, Shapiro spoke of the great similarity between the cultures and traditions of the Armenian and Jewish peoples. He surprised even the most knowledgeable in attendance by referencing a 4th century Persian persecution of both groups, living as neighbors, involving the sort of deportations common to both the Genocide and the Holocaust in the 20th century. He also spoke of the coincidence between the late 19th century pogroms of Eastern Europe and the massacres in the Ottoman Empire that drove significant populations of Jews and Armenians to refuge in other lands, including the U.S. During many dark centuries both groups looked forward to the reestablishment of homelands where their cultures could be nurtured. “We have been victims of others who believed they had the absolute view of what every human being must be,” he said. “Armenians and Jews have often been at the receiving end of that hatred.”

Shapiro also spoke of Mount Ararat as a common symbol of rebirth for both nations. “Noah was not Jewish,” he began, “and Adam was not Jewish,” he continued. “Adam in Hebrew simply means human being—not just man or woman but human being. No one can say we are better than anyone else by virtue of lineage. We have so much in common as humans created in God’s image.”

The rabbi praised the St. John congregation for its many young members and extolled the value of passing traditions on from one generation to the next. An example was the talk given by St. John’s Nicole Kashian, 18, as a preface to Shapiro’s presentation. She reiterated the facts of the Armenian Genocide and focused on its denial, pointing out that the Genocide was better known in World War I than in the 21st century. As evidence, she cited the New York Times, which published no less than 145 articles during the Genocide and called the murder “systematic” and “authorized.” Yet, unctuous U.S. and European Union officials continue to waffle and the Turkish government continues to encourage Genocide denial. “We cannot forget,” she concluded. “We will always remember.”

St. John was also host of a joint Martyrs Day commemoration on the evening of April 24, with a vespers and requiem service, with clergy from St John Armenian Church of Greenfield, Holy Resurrection Armenian Church in South Milwaukee and St. Mesrob and St. Hagop Armenian Churches in Racine, WI, participating. During the service, Greenfield Alderwoman Shirley Saryan presented the Martyrs’ Day Proclamation from the Mayor of the City of Greenfield to Der Nareg.

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By David Luhrssen


One hundred and twenty people crowded the Culture Hall at St. John the Baptist Armenian Church for this year’s Milwaukee-area Poon Paregentan celebration. The featured attraction at the big party before the beginning of Great Lent was MidEast Beat, a band from Racine, WI. Although its members are all Armenian American, the group drew from a traditional repertoire common to Anatolia and the Eastern Mediterranean. “Sometimes the lines get blurred in this part of the world and you will find songs recorded in Greek, Armenian,

Arabic, and not know where the origin is,” explained guitarist and singer Kai Kazarian. “Think about an Armenian writing a song in English in this country. Is it Armenian? We have these questions all the time.”

The band, whose core members include Jim Hardy on clarinet, Vahan Kamalian on oud and Michael Kamalian on dumbeg, picked up the music by hearing it performed at Armenian picnics and by rummaging through old 78 rpm recordings at their grandparents’ homes. There was no sheet music and no study guides when MidEast Beat first organized in the early 1980s. Discovering and learning the old music was hard work that has paid off for the band, whose Feb. 18 performance at St. John’s Poon Paregentan event filled the dance floor and entertained an appreciative audience of listeners.

A catered buffet dinner was including in the event along with desserts prepared by the members of St. John’s.

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PARIS, France (A.W.)—On Dec. 22, the French Parliament approved a bill criminalizing the denial of the Armenian Genocide and rendering it punishable with a year in jail and a fine of 45,000 euros ($58,000).

1111111 300x199 French Parliament Passes Bill Criminalizing Armenian Genocide Denial (Update)

The French Parliament approved a bill criminalizing the denial of the Armenian Genocide.

“I will vote thinking of Hrant Dink,” said one Member of Parliament as he concluded his remarks.

“We are not punishing any country, but we are fighting against genocide denial in our country,” said another.

“We are taking part in the mass destruction of Armenians when we allow its denial… We are voting in the name of Armenians who sought refuge here. How can we look in the eyes of our fellow citizens of Armenian heritage, while we know that there are those among us who deny the suffering of their grandparents?” said yet another Member of Parliament.

“Racism is not an opinion, it’s a crime,” said another.

The MPs who spoke highlighted the stories of the survivors who arrived in France after the genocide, and talked about the significance of honoring the memory of the victims, the survivors, and their descendants, as well as safeguarding historical truth.

Several proposed amendments that aimed at diluting the bill were voted down.

More than 2,000 Turks demonstrated against the bill outside the French Parliament building.

The French Senate is expected to vote on the bill in March 2012.

Turkey recalls ambassador, announces sanctions on France

Official Ankara announced it has recalled its ambassador to France. According to Turkish State Television (TRT),  Ambassador Tahsin Burcuoglu will promptly return to Ankara.

Ankara also announced sanctions on France. “As of now, we are canceling bilateral level political, economic, and military activities,” said Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to Zaman. “We are suspending all kinds of political consultations with France” and “bilateral military cooperation, joint maneuvers are canceled as of now.”

A special delegation of Turkish officials had arrived in Paris on Dec. 19 to prevent the bill from passing.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had likened the move as one from the Middle Ages. “If this proposal is legislated, France will pioneer the return of the Middle Ages mindset to Europe,” Anatolia News Agency quoted him as saying. The law would “create a new dogma about understanding history, to forbid alternative thoughts. This is the mentality of the Middle Ages. The adoption of this mindset in France is the greatest danger to Europe.”

Addressing his government officials, Davutoglu said it would be “out of the question to leave unanswered an attempt by any country leader, government, or parliament to dishonor our country and nation.”

“There will be irreparable consequences in all bilateral relations,” the undersecretary of the Turkish ambassador to Paris, Engin Solakoglu, told AFP. He said the proposed law was a “hostile act” and that “all cooperation with the French government, all joint projects, will be frozen.”

In contrast, Turkey’s Human Rights Association’s Committee Against Racism and Discrimination had issued a press release and had initiated a signature campaign calling on Turkey to unite against genocide denial, not against the French Parliament.

In 2001, France adopted a bill officially recognizing the 1915 events as genocide.

ANCA welcomes vote

Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Executive Director Aram Hamparian offered the following comment on the vote:

“Today’s overwhelming vote by the French National Assembly reinforces the growing international consensus—and the mounting pressure on Turkey—for a truthful and just resolution of the Armenian Genocide.”

“Closer to home, France’s stand underscores the need for our own American president and Congress to finally reject Ankara’s gag rule on the proper condemnation and commemoration of this still unpunished crime against humanity.  We mark this occasion by urging President Obama to honor his pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide and the House leadership to bring the Armenian Genocide Resolution, H.Res.304, for a full floor vote.”

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Majority Leader Eric Cantor Brought Key Religious Freedom Measure to a Floor Vote

WASHINGTON—The U.S. House of Representatives Dec. 13 adopted a landmark religious freedom measure, H.Res.306, calling upon Turkey to return the Christian church properties it stole through genocide, and to end its repression of the surviving members of the vast Christian civilizations that once represented a majority in the territory of the present-day Republic of Turkey, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

The measure, spearheaded by Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Howard Berman (D-Calif.) was scheduled for House consideration by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, with the support of Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Ranking Member Berman, of the Foreign Affairs Committee. House Members speaking in support of the measure included Reps. Royce, Berman, Congressional Armenian Genocide Resolution lead co-sponsor Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Congressional Armenian Caucus co-chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), and Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.).
Congressional Turkey Caucus co-chair Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) was alone in speaking out against the resolution. The measure was adopted by voice vote.

“Despite Prime Minister Erdogan’s recent claims of progress on religious freedom, Turkey’s Christian communities continue to face severe discrimination,” explained Royce. “Today, the U.S. House of Representatives considered and adopted my legislation, which calls upon the government of Turkey to end religious discrimination, allow religious prayer and education, and return stolen church property. The United States has a strong interest in promoting religious freedom abroad.”

Berman concurred, noting, “This important resolution calls attention to Turkey’s disturbing, persistent failure to respect the ancient Christian heritage of Anatolia and to treat its Christian
communities as free and equal citizens. Turkey should take immediate steps to restore all confiscated church property and allow full freedom of worship and religious education for all Christian communities.”

In July, Royce and Berman were joined by Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) in spearheading House Foreign Affairs Committee consideration of the “Return of Churches” amendment to the State Department Authorization Bill. Their amendment was overwhelmingly adopted by a vote of 43 to 1.

“The passage of House Resolution 306 is a great victory for religious freedom around the world, and is a turning point in the Armenian people’s fight for religious freedom. Respect for the full exercise of our civil rights is really central to who we are as Americans and central to the values and ideals that we promote all over the world. My home state of Rhode Island was founded by Roger Williams on the principles of religious liberty and freedom and I am proud to co-sponsor the Resolution in that spirit,” said Congressman David Cicilline.

The text of H.Res.306 adopted today is the same as the abridged version adopted at the committee level.

“Today’s vote, over opposition from Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Erdogan and, sadly, even our own American president’s administration, represents a powerful victory for religious freedom, and also reflects the growing American and international consensus that Turkey must—starting with the return of thousands of stolen Christian churches properties and holy sites—accept its responsibilities for the full moral and material implications of a truthful and just resolution of the Armenian Genocide,” said ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian.

Armenian Americans across the U.S. were joined by religious freedom advocates and their counterparts in the Greek, Assyrian, and Syriac communities in making thousands of phone calls to their Representatives in support of H.Res.306, following action alerts issued by the Armenian National Committee of America, American Hellenic Institute, and American Hellenic Educational and Progressive Association and the American Hellenic Council.

With hours left to the scheduled vote on H.Res.306, Turkish American groups mounted a campaign to block the measure but were ultimately unsuccessful.

The ANCA will be posting full video coverage of U.S. consideration of H.Res.306 on its website at

Text of H.Res.306


Urging the Republic of Turkey to safeguard its Christian heritage and to return confiscated church properties.
Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the Secretary of State, in all official contacts with Turkish leaders and other Turkish officials, should emphasize that Turkey should –
(1) end all forms of religious discrimination;
(2) allow the rightful church and lay owners of Christian church properties, without hindrance or restriction, to organize and administer prayer services, religious education, clerical training, appointments, and succession, religious community gatherings, social services, including ministry to the needs of the poor and infirm, and other religious activities;
(3) return to their rightful owners all Christian churches and other places of worship, monasteries, schools, hospitals, monuments, relics, holy sites, and other religious properties, including movable properties, such as artwork, manuscripts, vestments, vessels, and other artifacts; and
(4) allow the rightful Christian church and lay owners of Christian church properties, without hindrance or restriction, to preserve, reconstruct, and repair, as they see fit, all Christian churches and other places of worship, monasteries, schools, hospitals, monuments, relics, holy sites, and other religious properties within Turkey.


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Steve Wozniak rides a Segway through the streets of Yerevan (photolour)

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)—Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak is in Armenia to advise the country on investing in education and youth at the initiative of the Armenian government.

On Thursday, Wozniak, 61, met with Armenia’s IT business community and received a certificate from Synopsis Armenia for his “humanistic vision, enthusiasm and boundless energy in promoting innovation in the spirit of entrepreneurship around the world and in Armenia,” reported ArmRadio.

He is scheduled to meet with President Serzh Sarkisian Friday. Sarkisian is expected to award the former Apple Inc. executive with the “Global Award” for “Outstanding Contribution to Humanity through IT 2011.”

Wozniak is also scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan, other government officials, university leaders and students.

In an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian service (, Wozniak stressed the importance of good education for steady growth of the hi-tech industry. “Even the Silicon Valley always attributed a lot of its success to good schools that had created a lot of good engineers,” he said.

Wozniak, who co-founded Apple with the late Steve Jobs in a Silicon Valley garage in 1976, emphasized at the same time that this should go hand in hand with “inspiring creativity” in children and young people.

“In the age of the Internet it’s very easy for anyone anywhere in the world to come up with ideas that could catch on massively, instantly,” he said. “It’s rare but it’s usually from young people because they aren’t so set in knowing how to do things already.”

“Don’t restrict smart young people, whether they have a college degree or not,” continued Wozniak. “It’s not that great when companies require all sorts of degrees or certification. You have to be able to spot young people who will think for themselves and come up with good new ideas — the real innovators.”

The sector’s growth in recent years has been facilitated by a rapid spread of Internet access in Armenia. Tightening competition among local Internet providers has been improving the quality and lowering the cost of the service.

“I would say that … chess is the sort of thinking that is so involved in a lot of the working out the logistics of hardware and software engineering, being able to hold a lot of patterns, independent ways and results in your head,” he said.

“But you have to encourage people to want to do the best in the world and to be the best in the world,” added Wozniak.

The President’s Global IT Award serves as a great networking tool for potential future investments, adds to the prestige of Armenia as a growing high-tech hub, and helps highlight Armenia on the world IT map, according to Armenia’s presidential press service, which added that the award also “adds to the confidence of foreign investors in Armenia. The award consists of Gold Medal, Diploma and Trophy approved by Award Committee.”

Article printed from Asbarez Armenian News:

URL to article:

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Police say that in every case where a complaint is filed, the offender has been caught thanks to security cameras installed in the Old City.

By Oz Rosenberg
When Narek [g] Garabidian, a Canadian of Armenian extraction, came to Israel to study at the Armenian Orthodox theological seminary in Jerusalem, he never thought he would have to endure harsh insults from passersby.

For the past 18 months, Garabidian said last week, he has been spit at and cursed by ultra-Orthodox passersby in the Old City.

About a month ago he was spit at again, but this time, it hit his clothes. Garabidian, a former football player, said: "I pushed the two young ultra-Orthodox men up against the wall and asked, ‘Why are you doing this?’ They were really scared and said, ‘Forgive us, we’re sorry.’ So I let them go."

When asked about the matter, Armenian clergymen said they had all been spit at, from the archbishop to the youngest of the divinity students. The most recent incident was on Thursday night, when a group of ultra-Orthodox Jews got together to spit at the gates of the Armenian church. However, the police found out about the incident and thwarted it by stationing officers in front of the church.

Police say that in every case where a complaint is filed, the offender has been caught thanks to security cameras installed in the Old City.

But in a verdict almost two weeks ago, Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court Judge Dov Pollock said: "The enforcement authorities are unable to root out the phenomenon and do not catch the spitters."

Pollock dismissed charges against Johannes Maratersian, an Armenian divinity student, who was spit at by an ultra-Orthodox man in May 2008 and responded by punching the man. Pollock ruled that prosecuting a man who has been spit on for years as he walks down the street in his clerical robes would contravene the principles of justice.

The Jerusalem district police responded: "All complaints of mutual assault are treated with the utmost severity. In the past, more than one case ended with charges being filed and the deportation of clergy involved in assault. As opposed to the situation about three years ago, the frequency of spitting has declined dramatically."

Published on Sunday, November 6, 2011 in Haaretz Newspaper

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By: Khatchig Mouradian

Sourp Giragos Opens to the Faithful

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (A.W.)—Armenians from around the world flocked to Surp Giragos Church in Diyarbakir [Dikranakerd] on Oct. 22 to attend both the consecration of the largest Armenian church in the Middle East and the Badarak held the following day.

They were greeted with welcome signs written in Armenian, and with Armenian music playing on the streets, cafes, and hotels in the city.

Renovated by the Surp Giragos Armenian Foundation, with the support of the local Kurdish-controlled municipality, the church, which had witnessed a century of destruction, neglect, and denial, now stood as defiant as ever to the forces suppressing freedom in Turkey. And as the faithful of different religions prayed in unison, the political message wasn’t lost on anyone.

Diyarbakir Mayor Osman Baydemir underlined the importance of confronting the past and seeking justice as part of the process of reconciliation and democratization. In an interview with the Weekly, the Kurdish politician said many view the renovation as an act asking for forgiveness. “You are not our guests. We are your guests,” stressed Baydemir, who heads the Diyarbakir Metropolitan Municipality.

“It’s a bittersweet return for the Armenian nation,” Raffi Hovannisian, the chairman of Armenia’s Heritage Party, told  the Weekly. “Here, in this courtyard, you see the great potential and the depth of the loss we as a nation have registered.”

Scott Avedisian, the mayor of Warwick, R.I., who was invited by the Diyarbakir Municipality to attend the opening, concurred. “The faces of people who once worshipped here, were forced out, survived, and have now returned to their church, attest to the fact that they never lost hope and never lost faith,” he said. The renovation constitutes a “powerful message,” he added, as the church is finally “being used for the very purpose it was originally intended.”

Osman Kavala, the president of “Anadolu Kultur,” [Anatolian Culture] an organization that promotes the art and culture of the region, said that “both the state and metropolitan municipalities provided full support for this project.”

“They are open to confronting the past and the responsibilities of the local population,” he said, and expressed his hope that one day the initiatives in Diyarbakir “will have an impact beyond the city, on the national policy.”

“Our grandparents, incited by others, committed wrongs,” Abdullah Demirbas, the mayor of the Sur Municipality in Diyarbakir, told the Weekly in an exclusive interview after the Badarak in Surp Giragos. “But we, their grandchildren, will not repeat them. Not only that, but we will also not allow others to repeat them.”

The challenge in Turkey, he added, is not only to renovate churches, but to renovate mentalities.

The Armenian Weekly will continue to publish in-depth coverage and interviews from Diyarbakir and Mush throughout the week.

Posted from the Armenian Weekly

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