National, International, Armenia, and Community News and Opinion

National, International, Armenia, and Community News and Opinion


is the key

for liberated


See story on page 21m



art is his air!

See story on page C5m




See story on page 7m

Western U.S. Edition

Number 86

November 1, 2008

the armenian



Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, right, is joined by his running mate Sen. Joe Biden, at a rally in Sunrise, Fla., Oct. 29. AP Photo/Jae C. Hong.

Armenian-Americans rally

around Barack Obama for


See story on page 1 m

See editorial on page 22 m

The Armenian Reporter | November 1, 2008

Number 86

November 1, 2008

the armenian



Mexico’s ambassador to the United States

discusses his Armenian heritage

Arturo Sarukhan Casamitjana,

Mexico’s ambassador to the United

States, is of Armenian heritage.

The ambassador sat down to an interview

with the Armenian Reporter

to talk about his family history, his

career, his thoughts on Armenia,

and Mexico’s foreign policy priorities

vis-à-vis the United States.

He tells the story of how he came

to lead one of the most important

embassies in Washington, representing

a country of more than 100

million people, and the intriguing

story of his grandparents’ journey

to Mexico. Having visited Armenia

as a teenager during the Soviet era,

the ambassador has not been back.

“It is certainly what I look forward

to because it is important to, number

one, understand one’s roots,”

he said.

See story on page 3 m


Armenia Fund has high hopes for Telethon-2008

In less than a month, the Armenia

Fund’s annual telethon will kick

off in Los Angeles. Ara Vardanian,

the acting executive director of the

fund, during a press briefing in Yerevan

said, “I am hopeful that this

year we will be able to surpass last

year’s results.”

Flanked by well-known Armenian

producers and entertainers,

Mr. Vardanian stressed that the

Over a thousand people gathered

at the Alex Theater in Glendale to

celebrate the 5th anniversary of the

Glendale-Ghapan Sister City Association.

Young performers dancing

the shourch bar demonstrated

the importance of unity and the

strength of tradition.

They also demonstrated that although

thousands of miles apart,

the homeland continues to sustain

them. In 2003, a delegation of city officials

and community leaders from

On Sunday, Sept. 28, Holy Cross

Church of Armenia celebrated its

79th anniversary and the 22nd annual

pilgrimage to the Shrine of

Charkhapan Soorp Asdvadzadzin

with a gala banquet and program

in the church hall. The church also

honored Rev. Fr. Arten Ashjian on

the 60th anniversary of his ordination

into the priesthood. On this

day, celebrating the Divine Liturgy

was Archbishop Yeghishe Gizirian,

who read the Gontag awarded to




fund cares more about the number

of donors than the amount of

their donations, Armen Hakobyan


Mr. Vardanian provided an update

on the collection of pledges

from the fund’s Eastern U.S. affiliate,

as well as cooperation with the

new Diaspora Ministry.

Glendale-Ghapan Sister City Association

celebrates 5th anniversary

See story on page 19m

As part of its

80th anniversary

celebrations, the


Cultural and


Organization will

be presenting an

art exhibition

at the Western

Prelacy in La

Crescenta from

November 7 to

9, featuring the

works of cuttingedge


See story on

page 13 m

Glendale visited the southern Armenian

city of Ghapan. Since then the

organization has taken several steps

towards its mission of cultivating

economic cooperation and cultural

interchange. “The Glendale-Ghapan

Sister City Association is good program

that brings together different

cultures and encourages an exchange

of ideas and programs,” Artin Manoukian,

president of GGSCA said.

See story on page 8 m

Fr. Arten Ashjian honored for 60 years of service

Fr. Arten on this occasion by Catholicos

Karekin II. Tributes to Fr.

Arten included a message from the

Primate, Archbishop Khajag Barsamian,

who wrote, “You are a ‘Good

Shepherd’ who has truly lived the

Armenian priesthood and applied

both your spiritual knowledge and

intellectual endeavors to illuminating

the Armenian Church for the

goodness of the Armenian faithful.”

See story on page 14m

Armenian-Americans rally

around Obama for president

“Turnout is critical”

in November 4 vote

by Emil Sanamyan

and Lusine Sarkisyan

ANC-PAC supporter Aida Dimejian, California State Assembly member Paul

Krekorian, Glendale City Clerk Ardashes Kassakhian (in glasses), with

presidential hopeful Barack Obama at a campaign event in Los Angeles, December

10, 2007. Photo: ANC-PAC.

WASHINGTON – “I think Barack

would be a strong supporter of

the Armenian Cause,” said Armenian-American

attorney Sarah

Leah Whitson, Senator Barack

Obama’s classmate at Harvard

Law School in 1988–91.

“I believe that Barack recognizes

the importance of history and recognizing

genocide; I think that he

would not back down on speaking

out about the need for Turkey to

recognize its history,” Ms. Whitson,

who is now Middle East director

for the New York–based Human

Rights Watch, told the Armenian

Reporter. She also emphasized the

role Harvard professor Samantha

Power, an advocate for genocide

prevention, has played in Mr.

Obama’s campaign.

The campaign of Mr. Obama,

Democrat of Illinois, and Senator

Joe Biden of Delaware to become

the next president and vice president

of the United States has gained

strong support throughout the Armenian-American


The Armenian National Committee

of America (ANCA) formed ties

with Mr. Obama’s campaign early

on, and supported his candidacy

well before he emerged as the Democratic

Party’s nominee. In January,

Mr. Obama issued a statement to

Armenian-Americans, pledging unequivocally,

“As President I will recognize

the Armenian Genocide.”

Mr. Obama also said he supported

a settlement of the Karabakh conflict

“based upon America’s founding

commitment to the principles of

democracy and self-determination.”

This statement takes on added importance

as Vice President Dick

Cheney and senior officials at the

State Department have lately taken

to playing down the principle of selfdetermination

for Karabakh in favor

of Azerbaijan’s “territorial integrity.”

(See editorial on page 22.)

Since the Democratic National

Convention, the Obama-Biden campaign

has had the support of the

U.S.-Armenia Public Affairs Committee

(USAPAC). The editorial page

of the Armenian Reporter strongly

endorsed Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden.

The publisher of the California Courier,

Harut Sassounian, has likewise

endorsed the Obama-Biden ticket.

Acknowledging that polls show

Mr. Obama very likely to win the

presidency, Ross Vartian, executive

director of USAPAC, emphasized

“voter turnout is critical” to

the actual outcome. The only poll

that counts is the vote you cast now

or on Election Day, November 4, he

said. (Some 16 million Americans

in more than 30 states have already

turned out to vote early.)

Armenians for Obama

Last June, a number of Armenian

activists, most with ties to the

ANCA, came together to establish

Armenians for Obama, a campaigning


Continued on page m

COAF raises $1.25 million for rural

Armenia in New York gala

by Florence Avakian

NEW YORK – The Children of Armenia

Fund (COAF), which held its

2008 Save a Generation Awards

Dinner on Friday, October 24, announced

that it had raised $1.25

million for its programs focused on

children in rural Armenia, bringing

the total raised over its five-year existence

to over $9 million. Speaking

at the dinner, held at Cipriani 42nd

Street in New York, was New York

Times columnist Nicholas Kristof.

“The successes of COAF are evident

in the faces of our children,” said

Dr. Garo Armen, who envisioned,

initiated, organized and brought

COAF to fruition. The program began

with rebuilding the complete

infrastructure in a single village,

Karakert; it has now been expanded

to provide assistance to nine villages.

COAF implements an array of

projects in education, health care,

and social and economic development,

as well as cultural programs

in Armenia.

A unique celebration

On Friday evening, as more than

350 attendees entered the massive,

From left: Ambassador Evans, Nicholas Kristof and Garo Armen. Photo: COAF.

marble-columned building for the

sumptuous affair, there was a definite

air of excitement and celebration,

coupled with the steely determination

to continue and expand

this project for the future.

During the reception, guests were

greeted by rotating strobe lights, a

sequin-covered mime dancer on an

elevated platform, agile acrobats

from Cirque du Soleil, palm readers,

and over 40 valuable auction items

on display.

Guests of honor attending the

gala event included John Evans,

former U.S. ambassador to Armenia;

Ambassador Armen Martirosyan,

Armenia’s permanent

Continued on page m

The Armenian Reporter | November 1, 2008


Washington briefing

by Emil Sanamyan and

Lusine Sarkisyan

Senior Turkish official:

Armenians aren’t our


On a visit to Washington this week,

Ahmet Davutoğlu, described

as the architect of the Turkish

government’s foreign policy in

the last five years, sought to warn

the campaign of the Democratic

Party presidential candidate Sen.

Barack Obama (D.-Ill.) against

changing U.S. policy on the Armenian

Genocide, while reiterating

Turkey’s desire to improve relations

with Armenia and Armenian-


In remarks at a Brookings Institution

event on October 28, Mr.

Davutoğlu insisted that Turkey

wants “to have best relations with

Armenia,” and “good relations”

with Armenians everywhere in the

diaspora, and that he and his government

“don’t see Armenia as a

threat; we don’t see Armenians as


Responding to a question from

the Armenian Reporter, he said

President Abdullah Gul’s visit to

Yerevan in early September was

“done with the purpose of improving

our relations with Armenians,

not as a response to the Georgian

crisis [and] was not a visit of realpolitik.”

The “decision to visit Yerevan

was clear immediately after [the

invitation from President Serge

Sargsian] was received [in July]

but of course it was not publicized,”

he said.

At the Brookings event, Alan

Makovsky, a senior Democratic

staff member for the House Foreign

Affairs Committee, appeared

to take to heart Azerbaijan’s “nervousness”

over Armenian-Turkish

talks and wondered what Turkey’s

“red lines” were with regard to


Mr. Davutoglu’s comments suggested

that unlike its unchanged

position on the Armenian Genocide,

the Turkish government may

be considering dropping or modifying

its preconditions related to the

Karabakh conflict.

While reiterating that Turkey

has close ties with Azerbaijan,

and arguing that the Karabakh

conflict should be resolved sooner

rather than later, Mr. Davutoglu

declined to link such a resolution

directly to Armenian-Turkish

talks focused on establishing diplomatic

relations and opening the


Ambassador Davutoğlu, who

is the chief foreign policy advisor

to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip

Erdoğan, was dispatched to U.S.,

as the Turkish Hurriyet daily put it,

to “warn the future U.S. administration

against endorsing Armenian

claims of genocide at the hands of

the Ottoman Empire.”

“A step in the wrong direction will

pose a risk not only to the Turkish-

American strategic cooperation but

also to Turkey’s efforts to reach out

to Armenia,” Mr. Davutoğlu was

quoted as saying after talks with

Bush Administration officials and

Republican and Democratic campaign


Meanwhile, speaking at the

Jamestown Foundation on October

29, Graham Fuller, a veteran Turkey

expert for the RAND Corporation,

stressed that considering the

long list of differences between the

two countries – especially on Iran

and Russia – Turkey “is no longer

a U.S. ally.”

International Monetary

Fund to prop up

Ukraine and Belarus

After the recently agreed $4.5 billion

international aid and loans

package to Georgia, the International

Monetary Fund (IMF) announced

this week plans to loan

$16.5 billion to Ukraine and $2 billion

to Belarus, international news

agencies reported.

Armenian-Americans rally around Obama for president

IMF managing director Dominique

Strauss-Kahn said on October

26 that the Ukraine loan was

intended “to maintain confidence

and economic and financial stability”

in the country whose current

government has been seeking

membership in the U.S.-led NATO


The global financial crisis in

combination with a political crisis

inside Ukraine has already had a

significant impact on the country’s

financial sector and exports, a bulk

of which comprised weapon systems

supplied to Georgia, Azerbaijan,

and other countries.

More unusually, the IMF loan to

Belarus, long a pariah state in the

West and a close ally of Russia’s, is

reportedly linked to its intended

“economic liberalization.” That decision

comes after Russia pledged

to provide Belarus with a $2 billion

loan of its own in the form of

delay in payments for natural gas


Belarus refused to fully endorse

the Russian position on Georgia

and took steps – like an early release

of a political dissident – interpreted

as gestures intended to

improve relations with the United



n Continued from page

Polls and past elections show that

a majority of voters in the states with

the largest Armenian populations

– California, most New England states,

New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut

– are likely to vote for the Obama-

Biden ticket. Thus, Armenians for

Obama has focused its campaigning

efforts on Nevada, Pennsylvania, and

Virginia – states with anticipated

competitive contests.

By contrast, there has been no

publicly reported Armenian-American

community-based campaigning

for Mr. McCain, even though

the community has a strong crosssection

of Republican Party supporters.

And Mr. McCain has made

little to no effort to spur Armenian

enthusiasm for his presidential bid.

Meanwhile, another coast-tocoast

group, Armenian-Americans

for Obama, has emerged to support

the Obama-Biden ticket. Members

include Roger Strauch from California’s

Silicon Valley and New Jersey

developers Michael and David


The Obama campaign’s “Armenian-American

National Leadership

Committee,” announced on

October 17, includes Democratic

members of Congress from California

Anna Eshoo, Adam Schiff,

and Jackie Speier, California

State Assembly member Paul

Krekorian, and Dick Harpootlian,

a former chair of the South

Carolina Democratic Party.

According to figures published at, Armenians

for Obama, with over $75,000 collected,

is one of the most active

ethnic community–based supporters

of Mr. Obama grouped

into “European and Mediterranean

Americans for Obama.”

Recalling Barack

Obama’s earlier days

“During our years at law school, Armenia

was frequently in the news

at the forefront of the [Soviet] reforms,”

recalls Tom Samuelian

who was also Sen. Obama’s classmate

at Harvard Law School and

has since repatriated to Armenia

where he established and heads the

Arlex law firm. He is also dean of

the Law Department at the American

University of Armenia.

“We had a small but active Armenian

Students’ Club at [the law

school] that worked to raise awareness

of Armenian issues at the time,

with posters, leaflets, information

tables, and public events, including

Karabakh’s self-determination,

genocide recognition, and earthquake


Another of Mr. Obama’s Armenian-American

classmates at Harvard

Law, Emily Maranjian, along

with her husband and fellow classmate

Joe Fernandez, were early

backers of Mr. Obama’s presidential

bid, according to the Providence

Journal. Ms. Maranjian is currently

a prosecutor with the Rhode Island

Attorney General’s Office.

World public, U.S.

foreign policy experts

back Obama

Mr. Obama appears to command

public sympathy around world.

Gallup studies found support for

Mr. Obama among two-thirds of

Canadians, Australians, and Japanese,

43 percent of Armenians in

Armenia (with 10 percent going

to Mr. McCain), and 22 percent of

Turks (with 8 percent for the opposition).

Many Turks, and especially the

Turkish government, were initially

wary of Mr. Obama’s pledges

to Armenian-Americans. In early

2008, Turkish prime minister

Recep Tayyib Erdogan called

Mr. Obama an “amateur” for his

pledge to affirm the Armenian

Genocide. But Turkish commentators

have also expressed

discomfort with Mr. McCain’s

foreign policy approach. And in

recent months, the Turkish government

has been reaching out to

the Obama campaign.

The few countries where Mr.

McCain is more popular include

Armenia’s neighbor Georgia,

where he had the support of

23 percent of the people to Mr.

Obama’s 15 percent, apparently

reflecting the Arizona senator’s

strong support for the incumbent

Georgian government. In

Pakistan, the candidates are even

at 5 percent each, with 90 percent

having no preference.

Unusually, the United Kingdom’s

Prime Minister Gordon Brown

(left-of center Labour Party),

France’s Patrick Devedjian, secretary-general

of the governing

right-of-center Union for a Popular

Movement, and a number of other

European leaders have openly

backed Mr. Obama.

In the U.S. foreign policy establishment,

in addition to the Clinton

Administration secretaries of

state, Mr. Obama was endorsed by

President Bush’s former State Secretary

(2001–2005) Colin Powell

and several hundred retired diplomats.

Among them is the former U.S.

ambassador to Armenia (2004–

2006) John Evans, who said he

decided to support the Illinois

Barack Obama and Joe Biden vs. John McCain and Sarah Palin

Issue Obama-Biden McCain-Palin

Legacy of the Armenian


Congressional resolution

affirming U.S. record on the

Armenian Genocide

Administration policy on the

Armenian Genocide

Armenia peace and security

Armenia progress and


Regional visits and exposure

Barack Obama and Joe Biden see it as an issue of

contemporary relevance.

Both Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden have co-sponsored

proposed Senate resolutions.

As Senate Foreign Relations Committee members,

Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden questioned the

administration’s refusal to use the term “Armenian

Genocide.” Mr. Obama has pledged unequivocally,

“As President I will recognize the Armenian


Mr. Obama pledged support for a Karabakh

agreement based on “principles of democracy

and self- Determination.” Mr. Biden provided key

support for 1990s sanctions against Azerbaijan.

Mr. Obama pledged continued support to Armenia.

No visits to Armenia. Mr. Obama once visited

Russia and Azerbaijan with Sen. Dick Lugar (R.-

Ind.); Mr. Biden has been to Georgia and Turkey.

senator last January, before the

Democratic primary.

“Potentialities that Obama and

the Democrats are bringing to this

election are so much greater than

the [Republican] alternative. I don’t

think Obama can be endorsed on

a single-issue basis. [My endorsement]

came before I learned that

Senator Obama expressed considerable

sympathy for my situation,”

Mr. Evans told the Armenian Reporter.

As part of the Senate Foreign

Relations Committee hearing to

replace Ambassador Evans in the

summer of 2006, Mr. Obama criticized

the Bush administration for

punishing a diplomat for speaking

frankly on the Armenian Genocide.

Asked whether he thought Mr.

Obama, if elected president, would

stick to his pledges of affirming the

Genocide and supporting Karabakh’s

self-determination, Mr. Evans

said that Mr. Obama “would do

his very best to do the right thing

and carry out his promises.” f

John McCain sees it as a historical issue. Sarah

Palin’s position is unknown.

Mr. McCain has refused to support resolutions

since 1990.

No record. No pledge on the topic in letter to


Since 1989 Mr. McCain has been for peaceful

settlement in Karabakh, but he has opposed

sanctions on military aid to Azerbaijan since the


Mr. McCain recognized Armenia’s contributions

in Iraq and Kosovo, but did not pledge continued

support to Armenia.

Mr. McCain traveled to Armenia and Azerbaijan

in the mid-1990s, and has made multiple trips to

Georgia and Turkey.

The Armenian Reporter | November 1, 2008


Mexico’s ambassador to the United States

discusses his Armenian heritage

An interview with

Arturo Sarukhán,


other Armenian


In an October 9 interview with Arturo

Sarukhán Casamitjana, Mexico’s

ambassador to the United States, the

Armenian Reporter’s Washington

Editor Emil Sanamyan and intern

Lusine Sarkisyan asked him

about his unique family history, his

thoughts on Armenia, and Mexico’s

foreign policy priorities vis-à-vis the

United States.

Armenian Reporter: How does

someone of Armenian descent get

to lead one of the most important

embassies in Washington, representing

Mexico, a country of more

than 100 million?

Arturo Sarukhán: Hard work!

I’m a career diplomat. I’ve been in

the Foreign Service for 14 years.

This is my second tour duty in

Washington. I was here earlier as

chief of staff to the ambassador. I

arrived as a chief of staff to the ambassador

in 1993 and stayed on with

the next ambassador, and then [in

1998] I went back to Mexico.

How did I arrive to this specific

post? Well, I was consul general in

New York and I asked for a leave of

absence from the Foreign Service,

resigned my commission as consul

general in New York, and joined

[then presidential candidate] Felipe

Calderón as his chief foreign

policy advisor and his international

spokesperson. I then headed the

transition team on foreign policy

and became ambassador in 2007.

AR: Can you tell us your family

story, particularly the Armenian


AS: My grandparents arrived

in Mexico in the early 1930s. My

grandfather was a Russian-Armenian

also named Artur Sarukhanian,

but when he arrived in Mexico

he tried to make it easier on the

Mexican authorities [and cut the

“ian”]. He was an aide to Alexander

Kerensky [head of Russia’s “Provisional

government” in 1917]. After

Kerensky was overthrown by the

Bolsheviks, he left Russia and came

to Venice, where he was trained at

the Armenian seminary.

My grandmother fled the Genocide

in 1915. Most of her family

was killed in the Genocide, but she

was able to escape to Thessaloniki

in northern Greece. From there

she went to Venice and my grandparents

met and were married in


At the time Benito Mussolini

came to power [in Italy and was establishing

his Fascist government]

my grandfather said: “This smells


So, they went to Mexico with

the idea of coming to Canada. My

grandfather spoke 9 languages,

English among them, but he had

read a lot about Mexico, so he decided

to stop in Mexico on their

way to Canada. They never left. My

grandparents fell in love with Mexico

and they stayed in Mexico.

That’s how I was born in Mexico.

AR: What is the Armenian presence

in Mexico?

AS: It’s a very small community.

A lot of those who arrived as a result

of the Genocide actually did

end up doing what my grandfather

wanted to do, which was move

north to the U.S. or Canada. So, a

lot of the Mexican-Armenian families

after World War II – most of

them ended up in Fresno, California.

The Armenian community in

Mexico is very small.

Armenian resilience

and unfinished

Armenian Genocide


Arturo Sarukhán Casamitjana

AR: Although at a distance from

Armenia, I imagine you over time

have followed the events in Armenia.

What is the most striking

thing about Armenia for you?

AS: I was [in Armenia] once with

my father when I was a teenager,

when it was still a part of the Soviet

Union. I have not been back to the

independent Armenia.

It is certainly what I look forward

to because it is important

to, number one, understand one’s

roots. But also, [even though] I am

a Mexican diplomat and I represent

my country in the most important

country for Mexico, which

is the United States, there is such

a thing as a global citizenry. These

pasts and origins have the ability

to connect and create networks regardless

of passport, nationality,

ethnicity, and color.

[Such networks] are the only response

to some of the challenges

that many countries like ours face.

Challenges like security in the post-

September 11 world, environmental

degradation, social-economic

development that is also just and


Armenia and Mexico have lived

next to big, powerful countries. Armenia

is near Russia and Mexico

near the U.S. We’ve both had traumatic

historical experiences with

our neighbors: Armenia with Turkey

and to certain extent Russia,

Mexico with the U.S. after the war

of 1847. So, I think there is a lot of

common ground that can be built

on by engaging.

There are two things that surprise

me. One is the resiliency of

the Armenian people and culture.

I see that at home with my father

and mother. (She is also a refugee,

but from another side of the

Mediterranean. She is a republican

refugee from the 1930s Civil War

in Spain.)

The other thing that surprises

me is how the Armenian diaspora

has not had the ability to forcefully

portray and make its case as the

Jewish-American community has.

How the resources and the capital,

manpower, and even the celebrities

– even though some of them

do it very actively – has not been

translated to a full-fledged recognition,

explanation, coming to terms

with what happened in that part of

the world.

AR: Has Mexico been confronted

with the Armenian Genocide issue

either in the context of international

organizations or directly,

and how does it perceive the issue

of genocide?

AS: I think Mexico is one of the

countries that have supported

resolutions condemning genocide.

For reasons that have to do with

geographical distance and the fact

that there is a small Armenian

community in Mexico, it is not an

issue that is on top of Mexican diplomatic


AR: But is the Armenian Genocide

debated in Mexico?

AS: No, not really. Some people

know, some people are interested,

some people have written about it,

but again it’s not a top issue. We

don’t have the size that other countries

like Argentina, France, and

others have in terms of the Armenian

population. It’s not something

that comes from the grassroots.

AR: Uruguay, a Latin American

country, was in fact the first

country to formally adopt a resolution

on the Armenian Genocide,

in part since it does have a substantial

Armenian community. Do

Latin American countries develop

common policies on issues such as


For example, earlier this year

there was a United Nations General

Assembly vote on the Karabakh

conflict, an issue of key concern

to Armenia. And Azerbaijan relied

on support from Islamic countries,

most of which basically joined in

support of Azerbaijan’s position,

while the vast majority of countries,

including Latin American ones, abstained

or did not vote.

Is there a similar solidarity

among the Latin American countries

in the UN or elsewhere?

AS: There is a Latin American

group and they usually vote en bloc,

but not always, depending on the

issue. The closer the issue is to the

core diplomatic priorities in the region

it becomes more difficult to

vote en bloc. The farther away you

The ambassador of Mexico to the

United States since January 2007,

Mr. Sarukhán was foreign policy

coordinator for presidential candidate

Felipe Calderón (who was

elected president of Mexico in


Since 1994, Mr. Sarukhán’s

diplomatic career has included

postings as Mexico’s consul general

in New York, with Mexico’s

Secretariat of Foreign Affairs, and

as Mexico’s representative at the

Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear

Weapons in Latin America

and the Caribbean (OPANAL).

He is also a professor at the

Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo

de México (ITAM) and has taught

at the Mexican National Defense

College, the Inter-American Defense

College, and at the U.S. National

Defense University.

Mr. Sarukhán has a bachelor’s

degree from El Colegio de México

(1988) and, as Fulbright Scholar

and Ford Foundation Fellow, he

earned his master’s degree in U.S.

foreign policy from Washington’s

Johns Hopkins University School

of Advanced International Studies


The Kingdoms of Spain and

Sweden conferred on him the

Order of Civil Merit of Isabel la

Católica, Officers Degree, and

the Order of the Polar Star, Commanders

Degree, respectively.

Mr. Sarukhán is married to

Verónica Valencia and they have

two young daughters, Laia and



get, whether it is an issue of security

or development, it will change,

but there isn’t a paradigm that forces

the group to vote in block. Many

times on many issues in nations

decide to go their own way.

Immigration debate

and Mexican-Armenian

relations in California

AR: While there is a big distance

from Mexico to Armenia, Armenians

and Mexicans definitely meet

in Los Angeles. One of the major

issues on Mexico’s agenda is immigration

and how the U.S. government

treats immigrants.

The Armenian-American community,

although themselves mostly

recent immigrants, does tend to

lean to the conservative side of

the debate on Latin American immigration.

What case does Mexico

make to the U.S. on this issue?

AS: I have very good working relations

with Congressman Adam

Schiff, who comes from one of

the districts [including Glendale

and Pasadena, north of Los Angeles]

with the highest concentration

of Armenians and Mexicans. We

always joke that if one day he decides

to run for a higher office then

I would be a good candidate for his

district. He is doing a terrific job in

speaking for the issues and some of

these tensions that exist.

There are few issues today in

America which are as divisive as

immigration. And for good reason,

substantial portion of citizens of

this country feel that immigrants

have broken the law, that it speaks

to the challenge of how you improve

border security, and how you

make sure you know who the people

living on your territory are.

At the same time, it rubs against

what this country is. It’s not a coincidence

that the motto of this nation

is “E pluribus unum” [“From

many, one” in Latin]. The successive

waves of immigrants into this

nation have made this country

what it is. It’s a vital plural-ethnic,

plural-cultural tolerant society because

it is a nation of immigrants.

There are two challenges here.

Number One is that the recent

waves of Latin American migrants

who are coming to this country especially

after the last serious immigration

reform in 1986 have faced

obstacles that no previous immigrant

communities faced. That is,

they have been now undocumented

for more than 20 years. And if

you look at previous waves of immigration,

they all faced at some

point nativism and anti-immigrant

sentiment, but in a generation they

were able to successfully integrate

into the fabric of American life and


You now have more than twenty

years of waves of migrants who’ve

come from Latin America and are

living in the shadows because of

the rules and lack of reforms. They

have not been able to integrate,

and at a time [of economic] uncertainty,

this feeds into a creeping

fear which exists in the American

public over globalization and free

trade, goods from China, trucks

from Mexico and undocumented


[Secondly,] for countries like

Mexico and the U.S., it is important

to measure the impact two countries

have on one another. There

is no bilateral relationship that is

more important and more unique

for the economic prosperity, for

the social well-being and security of

two nations, Mexico and the U.S.

There is the 3,000-kilometer border

and there are 35 million Mexican-Americans

in this country, of

whom 6 to 7 million are undocumented

migrants. In fact Mexico

is the U.S.’ third-largest trading

partner. Every day there are 75,000

trucks that cross the border in both

directions. It is an extremely dynamic


We in Mexico and you in America

need to pause and think how do

we ensure that a labor-intensive

country like Mexico and a capitalintensive

country like the U.S. can

take advantage of that geographic

proximity, human capital, to be

able to continue to compete on a

world stage, even with the likes of

China and India.

In many ways, our loss is your

gain. The fact that Mexico can’t hold

on to 200-300 thousand people a

year who can’t find better-paid jobs

in Mexico and come to the U.S. is

a huge loss to my country. Mexico

cannot grow at a rate that it needs

to grow to start breaking economic

asymmetries that exist between

Mexico and the U.S. if we are bleeding

bold entrepreneurial men and

Continued on page m

The Armenian Reporter | November 1, 2008


COAF raises $1.25 million for rural Armenia

n Continued from page

representative to the United Nations;

Carnegie Corporation of New

York president Vartan Gregorian;

Khalil Barrage, George Pagoumian,

Daniel Sahakian, Henry

Sahakian, and Emmy and Tony

Award–winning actress Andrea


Clerical dignitaries included

Catholic Exarchate Bishop Manuel

Batakian, Prelacy Vicar General

Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian,

and Dean of Saint Vartan Cathedral

Rev. Fr. Mardiros Chevian. The

presence of several representatives

of Armenian-American organizations

was acknowledged by COAF

President Antranig Sarkissian.

The villages have


As the guests took their seats at

flower-bedecked tables, a costumed

Ms. Martin, the evening’s Mistress

of Ceremonies, took center stage,

belting out a rollicking rendition

of the popular “Come-on-a-my-

House.” A warm welcome from

Armenia was voiced by COAF Head

of Programs in Armenia Ovsanna


“Much has changed in our villages,”

Ms. Yeghoyan said. “The biggest

achievements are the people

and the children who open their

eyes, and look into their future.

The bright light of hope is reflected

in their eyes. Before COAF came,

school was a scary place for the

children. Now they are happy, they

compete in competitions, and win

awards. Thank you from every child

in our villages.”

The 2008 Save a Generation

Benefactor Award was presented

to longtime philanthropists Larry

Feinberg, his wife Cindy and their

12-year-old daughter Samantha,

who have supported COAF since its

inception and had visited the COAFsupported

villages last summer. On

her 11th birthday, Samantha asked

her friends and family to donate

to COAF in lieu of the presents she

would have received. “Before I went

to Armenia, I saw it in black and

white,” Samantha said. “But when

we visited the sites where COAF

works, I saw lots of colors.” A threeminute

trailer for COAF’s upcoming

documentary, titled A Bloom in the

Desert, highlighted many impressive

accomplishments of the organization.

Giving voice to the


n Continued from page

women who are crossing that border

every year.

At the end of the day what we

need to ensure that every single

Mexican that crosses the border to

the U.S. does so legally, whether it’s

with a visa or it’s a part of a temporary

worker program. But we have

to ensure that as both countries

work to ensure the security of our

border, we leave the doors open so

the free flow of listed goods and

people can continue.

AR: In terms of the Armenian

community in California, are you

surprised there has not been more

sensitivity to fellow economic migrants

from Latin America?

From left, Vahan Janjigian, Garo Armen, and Vartan Gregorian with the Kervandjian family (Ara, Shant, Alex, Taline, and Heddy Kervandjian) and Lara Sahakian.

Amb. Evans, in his introduction of

keynote speaker Nicholas Kristof,

noted that the journalist was of Armenian

background. Mr. Kristof’s

family name was Hachikian. When

the family emigrated from Armenia

to Poland centuries ago, they

took on the name Krzysztofowicz

(the Polish translation of Hachikian).

Coming to America, the journalist’s

father shortened the name

to Kristof.

The two-time Pulitzer Prize–winning

journalist has always championed

the causes of suffering

peoples, especially the victims of

the ongoing genocide in Darfur. An

early opponent of the Iraq war, Mr.

Kristof has also focused attention

on global poverty, health, gender

issues and climate change.

“He is no detached observer. He

has given voice to the voiceless,”

Amb. Evans said.

Mr. Kristof, who was awarded

COAF’s 2008 Save a Generation Humanitarian

Award, paid tribute to

the accomplishments of COAF. He

said that this worthy organization

is part of an effort to “crack

the code in underdeveloped countries

with its health, education and

grassroots programs.”

Referring to President Bush’s

decision to end the distinguished

Foreign Service career of Mr. Evans

after the ambassador acknowledged

the Armenian Genocide, Mr.

Kristof declared to a lengthy ovation,

“If we cannot use the word

Armenian Genocide’, then we cannot

talk about any genocide.”

Mr. Kristof, who said he has seen

“the absolute worst of humanity,”

asked why anyone should care

about a distant place. He answered

by saying that it would make a difference

in people’s lives; it would

connect to a cause larger than

oneself; and a person would gain a

new perspective on himself or herself.

Relating the story of a young

American woman who went to

Darfur to help, he said, “She never

broke down on seeing the horrors

while there. But when she came

home and saw her grandmother

put seeds in a bird feeder during

winter, she wept uncontrollably. To

see a simple action of mercy caused

her to break down. How fortunate

we are to live in this free country.”

A voice to the villagers

Dr. Armen, in inspiring remarks,

put COAF’s efforts in a historical

perspective. During the Soviet period,

he said, Armenia “was subsidized

for its intellectual ability,

since of all republics Armenia had

the highest literacy rate. But when

Continued on page m

Mexico’s U.S. envoy discusses his Armenian heritage

AS: This is going to sound biased,

but I am a believer that communities

like the Armenian and

the Mexican communities are natural

allies. They share agendas and

challenges in this country. Many

of them have come here driven

by the same problems of lack of

economical opportunities. Both

are hard working societies. [In the

past] the Armenian community

faced the prejudice and racism

and discrimination in this country

that Mexican communities are

facing today.

Mexican-Americans are already

partnering with the Jewish-American

community based on these

common challenges and the need

for these two communities to work

together to ensure that this country

continues to remain tolerant

and open to diversity.

It would make more sense if Armenian

and Mexican communities

work together, especially in

the West Coast and New England,

where we have the highest concentration

of Armenian-Americans, to

bring down the bombastic nature

of the debate, to look at the opportunities

and the challenges in an

objective and forward-looking way.

AR: Thank you.

AS: Thank you for this opportunity

and thank you for remembering.

The Armenian Reporter thanks its

former Washington intern Nareg

Seferian and the Mexican Embassy’s

press officer Ricardo Alday for

arranging the interview. f

The ambassador’s father

The ambassador’s father, José

Aristeo Sarukhán Kermez, was

born in Mexico in 1940. An awardwinning

biologist he was president

of Mexico’s National University

from 1989 to 1997, and continues

to do research on ecology there.

In November 2007, writing in the

leading Mexican daily El Universal,

Dr. Sarukhán Kermez discussed

the Armenian community’s efforts

to win Armenian Genocide

affirmation in the U.S. Congress

and his own family experience.

See his commentary in Spanish at

editoriales/38926.html f

Garo Armen

speaking. Photos:


José Aristeo Sarukhán Kermez.

Photo: Wikipedia.

The Armenian Reporter | November 1, 2008


COAF raises $1.25 million for rural Armenia

n Continued from page

the subsidies stopped, there was no

progress and great despair.”

In 2003, Dr. Armen went to

the Baghramian region, which he

described as “the hopeless of the

hopeless.” In the village of Karakert,

there was a scarcity of water, piles

of garbage, no employment, a decrepit

town hall, and schools with

no heat, hot water, or bathrooms.

“I decided to return every three

months. This was the first chance

for COAF, and our plan was ready

in three months. We mobilized

the community. The people living

there were surprised that they had

a voice to decide their future.”

Sharing the stage with Dr. Armen,

Ms. Yeghoyan described how their

first priority, the refurbishment of

the schools, was completed in July

2005. A health clinic was resurrected

to supply screenings, pregnancy

care, and other resources. A community

center with cultural events

was established. With the collaboration

of the World Bank, an irrigation

system was rebuilt. Through

Paul Newman’s foundation, a generous

donor for three years, a photo

and video club was established. And

benefactor George Pagoumian announced

that he would reconstruct

a medical center for Baghramian’s

Miasnikian village, which will serve

15 villages in the region. It will be

named “L’Enfant Jesus” (Christ

the Child) or “Jesus of Nazareth” in

memory of his grandfather Kevork.

20,000 lives changed


The success of this first endeavor

led to a “cluster” project, in which

nearby villages were added. For the

past two and a half years, there have

been six villages in the program.

Three more were recently added,

bringing the total to nine villages

in the COAF cluster program.

Dr. Ricardo Pinto of Strategem

Consulting, who has been familiar

with COAF’s work since 2005, when

the United Nations Development

Program hired him to evaluate the

program, has called the work of

COAF “miraculous” in his independent

evaluation report.

The lives of 20,000 human beings

have been changed forever, declared

Dr. Armen, and he pointed

out that this can be accomplished

with a modest amount of money.

“By addressing inequality, and deemphasizing

trivial aspects of life,

we can make the world better for

generations to come,” he said.

During the event, Taline

Aynilian conducted a live auction

of four selected items, including a

painting by Armenia-born artist

Gagik Ghazanchyan, Super Bowl

champion and New York Giants

quarterback Eli Manning’s jersey

and helmet, and trips to Yerevan

and New York City. Tony Award–

winning actor Bill Irwin from

Baggy Pants Comedy did a hilarious

routine on the “Seven Ages of

Man.” Three acrobats, including the

remarkable Elena Lev from the

acclaimed troupe Cirque du Soleil,

and Mary Bond Davis from the

award-winning musical Hairspray

performed to thunderous ovations.

Following the event, Mr. Kristof,

voiced the feelings of many attendees,

saying, “it was a terrific achievement

for so many people to attend

when the economy is in a meltdown.

I was also struck by the fact that

there were a number of people present

who did not have an Armenian

connection. I was so happy to be at

an event with such a dedicated and

accomplished agenda and goal.” f

From left, Cindy, Larry, and Samantha Feinberg accept the 2008 Save a Generation Benefactor Award.

Emcee Andrea Martin introduces

performer Bill Irwin.

Ovsanna Yeghoyan thanks friends of

COAF for their continued support.

From left, Huguette and George Pagoumian with their

daughter Caroline Pagoumian Bowen. Photos: COAF.

From left, Daniel and Ludmila Sahakian with Vartan Gregorian.

From left, Henry

Sahakian, Sandy

Edwards, Donna

Evans, Jennifer


Amb. John Evans,

Seda Sahakian.


From left,Taline, Vahram, and Lucienne Aynilian.

Garo Armen looks on as Samantha Feinberg reflects on her August visit to


6 The Armenian Reporter | November 1, 2008



Adventures From

History – Der Zor

Part II of


by Tamar


The last room under the church

held little treasures and relics of the

time. The walls are lined with glass

cased filled with etched silver belts,

embroidered baptismal clothes

and church paraphernalia. There

are also photos of the villages and

towns, capturing a moment in time

before they were emptied of their

residents in 1915. Next to them

were their corresponding statistics

like population numbers, number

of churches and schools. There were

also a few family or school group

photos of healthy, robust people

dressed in their regional costumes,

some western some clearly ethnic.

Strangely the displays have not

affected me. This memorial had not

been a part of any of the horrors. I

needed to go into the desert where

the Armenians met their end in

those long ago days.

We drive deeper into the desert,

crossing the beautiful wide expanse

of the Euphrates in sight of its famous

suspension bridge. “It’s just

like the Golden Gate Bridge” says

Toros referring to the famed orange

landmark in San Francisco. It was

hard to believe this river had once

been the watery grave of so many

women and children that their intertwined

bodies had formed a solid

bridge where one could cross it

without getting their feet wet. The

bits and pieces of stories I’d stored

in the deep recesses of my memory

where removing themselves from

the shadowy depths of lore and

anchoring themselves in today’s

sharply focused reality.

Very quickly the desert takes over

and we see no other landmarks besides

the clusters of mud-plastered

homes with low slug roofs, small

windows and smooth rounded wall.

Occasionally the monotony of the

mud brown color is broken by the

bright green of the small, cultivated

rectangular fields. An hour later we

pass the small sign on the right announcing

our destination, Merkadeh,

and a hundred yards past it on

the left is the chapel set against the

small hill. It was built at the same

time as the memorial and church

in the city. It is new and bright

with straight walls and sharp corners.

The gate to the courtyard is

locked and we go in search of the


Abu Nshme is a tall, gaunt

man with a weathered face. He is

dressed in a traditional tan colored

robe. He steps out of his house and,

seeing we are westerners, knows

why we are there. He greets us

with a slight nod of his head and

climbs into the minibus. His movements

are calm and reserved. His

voice rumbles from the depths of

his abdomen and sounds at odds

to his thin frame. He barely moves

his lips when talking, as if excess

movement would sap him of the

precious energy he needs to survive

in the hard conditions in which he

was born to live.

The chapel is a much smaller

version of the church and equally

sparse. I want to be in the desert

walking where all those others

walked before me. The hill behind

the courtyard wall beckons and I

make my way to the top. The sand

engulfs my feet and the jagged

rocks scratch my ankles. At midday

the temperature is over a hundred

degrees. I try to drink from the water

bottle in my hand but I can’t

swallow the warm water and spit

it out. I feel guilty about my vain

attempt to satisfy my thirst. The

top of the hill is a wide flat expanse

that looks out across a desolate

desert where the wind is blowing

vertical columns of sand straight

into the sky. The flatness stretches

out to the horizon.

Besides this one, there are a couple

of other hills in the immediate

vicinity. They rise suddenly from

the monotony of the terrain. They

are all similar in shape and composition;

porous and pockmarked

with small caves that have been

filled for the past ninety odd years.

During World War I the entire

region was under Ottoman control

and the hill across the road from

where I stand was the site of a military

garrison. The Armenians, hundreds

of thousands of women and

children, arrived in large caravans

after a long march across Turkey.

The elderly could not last long and

died by the droves where they fell

along the human caravan. Many

of the rest were starved, tortured,

and raped. They were used a target

practice for sword play where

babies were thrown in the air and

skillfully caught on the blade, gambled

with by guessing the gender

of unborn babies then cutting open

the mother’s belly to settle the bet,

buried alive up to their necks and

used as balls in a game of polo.

They devised all sorts of ingenious

distraction for their entertainment

during their long and arduous execution

of duty.

“You dig with your bare hands

and can find bones a few inches below

the surface,” Father Massoyan

told me at the memorial site when

he heard of our plan to journey to

Merkadeh. The remoteness of the

location coupled with the small

community makes it impossible

for a priest to stay long and the

Mother See has devised a rotating

schedule of visiting priests. Remembering

Der Hayr’s words, now

I can’t keep my eyes off the ground

as I climb the hill. I’m partly hoping

and partly dreading coming across

a sun weathered piece of bone.

Aysham and Aysan, Abu Nshme’s

sons, follow behind me. Both are

wiry and thin like their father but

Aysham, about fifteen years old, is

more friendly and talkative than

his brother. I want to be alone to

feel the essence of the place but the

chatter in Arabic follows me to the

crest. They stop when I stop. Aysham

waves me over and points to

the ground. I’m not the first pilgrim

he’s encountered and knows

what my search entails. He speaks

no English and I no Arabic. He

points at a small hole in the side of

the hill where a few shards of bone

are visible. He expects me to reach

for them but all I manage to do is

stare into the dark hole at the small

glowing specks of white. I am torn

between the conflicting desires of

finding a bone to take home as a

physical reminder of my pilgrimage

and preserving the sanctity

of these long troubles souls. I say

nothing. Aysham repeats the only

words of English he knows, “I’m

sorry. I’m sorry.”

These mounds, clustered in the

quarter mile area were once pockmarked

with caves. When the

Turks collected the Armenians in

this desolate spot, some sought

refuge from the sun and their tormentors

in the fissures in the hills.

When the time came the Turks

began to slaughter every single

one of the starving, exhausted,

barely living bodies. They hunted

the Armenians like Aysham hunted

the jackrabbits I’d seen gamboling

between the rocks. Those

Vartan Oskanian honored in Los Angeles

as the Professional of the Year

Adam Schiff, Vaughn

Gregor, and Carla

Garapedian in



Professional Society

celebrates 50th


by Shahane Martirosyan

who hid in the caves for shelter

soon found them converted into

tombs. The local Arabs, not knowing

who these bedraggled people

were, assumed they were criminals

brought here for punishment

and did not interfere. An exposed

body in the desert does not take

long to decompose and soon, to

avoid the spread of disease, the

villages came to bury the dead,

laid out like an Oriental carpet

across the hills. That is when they

realized that the dead were women

and children. Those already

in the caves were simply covered

with dirt while others were placed

in freshly dug graves. They prayed

over their souls and harbored the

handful of survivors.

When the Turks finally retreated

behind their current borders, the

villagers vented their pent up anger

by burning the military garrison

and renaming their town. They

Vartan Oskanian.

LOS ANGELES – Inside the elegantly

appointed walls of Sheraton

Universal Hotel, hundreds of Armenian

professionals from all over

Southern California gathered on

Saturday, October 25, to celebrate

the 50th anniversary of the Armenian

Professional Society (aps).

Vartan Oskanian was honored as

the Professional of the Year while

Vaughn Gregor, one of the founding

members of aps, took a minute

to chronicle the accomplishments

of aps over the past 50 years.

Mr. Oskanian was the foreign

minister of Armenia from April

1998 to April 2008. He has since established

the Civilitas Foundation

in Yerevan.

The reception began with music

by Salpy Kerkonian on the flute,

accompanied by Armen Mangasarian

and Garik Terzian on the

violin. The guests took their seats

and a night of celebration proceeded

with the national anthems and

welcoming remarks from master of

ceremonies Arthur Avazian. aps

president Ara Assilian also welcomed

the guests of the evening

and dinner was served.

The atmosphere of the event was

friendly as the guests greeted one

another and toasted each other

with wine while the musicians entertained

with classic songs such

as “Bésame Mucho” and “What a

Wonderful World.”

As the evening progressed, Mr.

Gregor was honored with a recognition

award as one of the organization’s

charter members. It was

in Mr. Gregor’s home that three

of the original members, Leo Garapedian,

Virgil Arklin, and Mr.

Gregor talked about an Armenian

professional organization. Five

more members were added to this

group, forming the Armenian Professional


Fifty years later, Mr. Gregor got

up in front of hundreds of Armenian

professionals and reflected

on the five decades of the aps. In

his detailed address, he expressed

his special appreciation to all those

members who started the society.

He asked the attendees to applaud

Carla Garapedian – who in her

own right has become an Emmy

Winning documentary director.

Mr. Gregor went on to say how

proud he was to be part of an association

that has never forgotten

about the homeland. He remembered

how aps was one of the first

organizations in the United States

that made the conscious decision to

send a group of Armenian-American

professionals to Gyumri after

the 1988 earthquake for assistance.

He noted that the professionals

in aps are more than just friends;

they are comrades. He said in his

speech that although comrade

sounds like a communistic term,

he calls his friends at aps comrades

because they have served that purpose

as part of the organization

during his lifetime.

Mr. Gregor also mentioned one

of the more unique members of

the Armenian Professional Society,

Hermine Mahseredjian. Years

ago Ms. Mahseredjian received a

scholarship from aps for her graduate

studies. She went on to work

as a professor at California State

University, at Northridge for 24

years, where she served as founder

and director of the Armenian

Studies Program. During her professional

career, she joined the aps

and soon became the first woman

president of aps.

Ms. Mahseredjian was also honored

during the evening’s festivities.

She remembered her time as

part of aps and paid tribute to Mr.

Oskanian, who welcomed her in

Armenia when she took one of her

classes to visit the motherland.

The most anticipated moment

came near the end of the evening

when Mr. Oskanian was presented

with the Professional of the Year

award. As he walked to the stage,

the crowd got on their feet to applaud

the man of the hour.

Mr. Oskanian accepted the award,

first thanking aps for the work

they have done for the Armenian

community. His emotional speech

was well received by the audience

who applauded continuously. The

speech put great emphasis on Armenians

in the diaspora and in the

homeland to stay connected.

Mr. Oskanian, who is originally

from Aleppo, Syria, has degrees

from Fletcher School of Law and

Diplomacy, Harvard University,

Tufts University, as well as Yerevan

Polytechnic Institute. Mr. Oskanian

has played a great role in

Armenian statehood. For over a decade

he was the lead negotiator for

Armenia in the Nagorno-Karabakh

peace process. His speech at the

event encouraged a more involved

relationship from the diaspora and

urged a united front.

Representative Adam Schiff (D.-

Calif.) was present at the event and

made a small speech in honor of

Mr. Oskanian. Mr. Schiff emphasized

that the relationship between

Armenia and the United States is

more important now than ever before

considering Russia’s moves in

Georgia. He also commended Mr.

Oskanian’s work in Armenia.

The Armenian Professional

Society for the past 50 years has

granted scholarships to students

of Armenian heritage. As the event

came to an end, Armen Donigian

presented two graduate students

with their scholarships. aps has assisted

300 students since its foundation.

Continuing the tradition,

this year’s scholarship recipients

were Armen Kiramijian and Mikael


Mr. Kiramijian is currently attending

California Western School

of Law. He has a BS and MS in

economics from the University

of Southern California. As for Mr.

Oganesyan, he is currently at usc

Thornton School of Music Prestige

Program. He graduated from Tel

Aviv University in 2007 and also attended

the Buchman–Mehta School

of Music. Both of the young men

accepted their scholarships. Each

thanked aps and expressed their

thoughts on Armenian heritage.

The event was a celebration from

the second it began to the minute it

wound down. After concluding notes

by the master of ceremonies, crowds

of people approached the Professional

of the Year, Mr. Oskanian,

congratulating him and thanking

him for all his efforts throughout

the past years in Armenia.

call it Merkadeh, the final resting

place. It is in honor of the thousands

of people who are buried on

their lands.

Aysham leads me back to the

courtyard where, sitting in the

shade of the wall, Abu Nshme is

recounting the stories passed down

to him from his grandparents. His

grandmother was a survivor, the

niece of an archbishop and the sister

of a priest. In a long life spent

with her saviors, she never learned

to speak Arabic properly. I’m impressed

by the lifetime of pain and

anger that fueled this defiance

against her fate. But perhaps it was

a small way of holding onto her

original identity? There’s no way to

know since there aren’t any people

left alive who remember those long

ago events.

The villagers here or the estimated

twelve million Armenians

around the world have not forgotten

history. Nine decades after the

events of 1915, the descendents of

the survivors of the first Christian

nation have found a way to thank

and repay their Muslim counterparts

in this remote location by

building a hospital a short ways

up the road from the chapel. It is

an apt and much delayed show of

thanks to the Muslim villagers who

took care of and continue to protect

the people of the first Christian

nation. It is the ultimate irony

in light of today’s political and religious


During the drive back to the city

everything is out of focus and the

scenery outside my window passes

without registering on my brain. I

feel numb. It’s only as I begin to

write these words do the images of

what I’ve seen and the visions of

long ago past events come together

in a cohesive tidal wave of emotion

and I begin to cry.

The Armenian Reporter | November 1, 2008 7


Cutting-edge filmmaking celebrated at 11th Annual Arpa

International Film Festival in Hollywood

by Mshak Ghazarian

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. – With

blue skies and the bustle of a busy

Hollywood weekend as the backdrop,

the Egyptian Theatre opened

its doors for the weekend-long 11th

Annual Arpa International Film


On this opening night, the young

and the old converged. Both Sevak

Ohanian, the 21-year-old director

of My Big Fat Armenian Family, a

comedic look at some of the difficulties

faced by a family trying to

find itself in a new country, and the

venerable filmmaker J. Michael

Hagopian, 95, debuting his latest

work, The River Ran Red, featuring

survivors of the Armenian Genocide,

were present at the openingnight


The River Ran Red is Mr. Hagopian’s

seventh film exploring the

Genocide and its impact on Armenians

worldwide. In this look at

the events of 1915 and their aftermath,

Mr. Hagopian takes us on a

journey to find the last survivors

of the Catastrophe. The journey

takes us to survivors who live in

Sydney, Los Angeles, and villages

near the Der-Zor desert along the

Euphrates. There, we learn of three

survivors. They were children at

the time of the Genocide, the only

ones to escape certain death when

they and their group of Armenian

deportees were thrown into a cave.

The Turkish soldiers then set a fire

at the cave’s entrance, trapping the

victims inside.

As he addressed the audience after

The River Ran Red was screened

at the Rigler Theatre, Mr. Hagopian

noted that of the 400-plus interviewees

whose stories he has documented

in his lifetime, he is now

the sole living Genocide survivor.

As such, he said, he feels he needs

to preserve their voices and asked

the audience to have the passion

and dedication to help those less


Passion and dedication were two

of the prevailing themes of the

weekend. On day two of the festival,

a panel on contemporary filmmaking,

hosted by producer Zoe Kevork,

featured panelists Eric Nazarian

(director, Blue Hour), Hrag

Yedalian (director, The People’s Advocate:

The Life and Times of Charles

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Mary Apick was honored as an actor, filmmaker, and humanitarian.

R. Garry), Mark Mahon (director,

Strength and Honour), Roger Kupelian

(visual effects, Lord of The

Rings, director and producer, East

of Byzantium), and Tadeh Daschi

(director, The Witch of Portobello).

In responding to audience requests

for advice as to what it takes for

young filmmakers to make it in the

film industry, the panelists shared

a common conviction: you need to

You share the same


Discover what happens

when you share

the same experience.

Mary Apick.

be a little crazy and you need to be

passionate and dedicated. Without

these qualities, the panelists maintained,

a story can easily get lost in

the big world of filmmaking.

The final day of the festival featured

a screening of Ted Braun’s

Darfur Now. The recipient of the

2007 naacp Image Award for Best

Documentary and numerous other

awards and honorable mentions,

Darfur Now chronicles the work of

six individuals who strive to help

solve the Sudan’s humanitarian

crisis. Mr. Braun was the first and

only filmmaker to be granted permission

by the Sudanese government

to film within the conflict areas.

During the Q&A after his film’s

screening, Mr. Braun spoke of the

dedication and sacrifice it took to

make the documentary.

With over 200 submissions

this year, Arpa had a wide choice

of films to present at the festival.

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In keeping with its mission to

promote the arts and foster consciousness

of global issues, the

organizing committee chose films

from all over the world and in various

categories including features,

documentaries, shorts, and music

videos. The diversity of films and

subject matter provided for much

discussion and also made it very

difficult for the jury to select its


Finally, it was time for the Closing

Night Gala Awards. That evening,

Mr. Braun was honored with

the Armin T. Wegner Humanitarian

Award for Darfur Now. Actor

Marco Khan, an Armenian born

in Iran, was introduced by the Hollyscoop

Girls, Diane, Nora, and

Ani, in a very humorous skit that

showed the softer, more playful

side of the big, broad-shouldered,

and imposing Khan. He received

the Breakthrough Artist of the

Year Award for his roles in Iron

Man, 10,000 B.C., and You Don’t

Mess With the Zohan. And then it

was Mary Apick’s turn to receive

the arpa Foundation Award. The

montage that introduced her

showed the diversity of her work,

comprising a slew of English- and

Farsi-language roles on the big and

small screens as well as in theater.

Mrs. Apick was recognized for her

influential and internationally acclaimed

work as an actor, filmmaker,

and humanitarian.

The Best Music Video Award

went to “Break Out the Violins,”

directed by Mr. Daschi. Director

Hyun Oh’s KungFu English won

Best Documentary. Best Short was

won by the Shammasian Brothers

for “Romans 12:20.” Float, directed

by Johnney Asuncion, took home

Best Screenplay. The Enemy God,

directed by Yai Wanonabalewa,

won the Best Director Award, and

Mr. Mahon’s Strength and Honour

won Best Feature.

The weekend provided festival

goers a chance to see the results

of the imagination and countless

hours that directors, casts, and

crews have put into each of these

projects. Mr. Hagopian stated

that he needed help in preserving

the voices of those who need

to be heard. The festival weekend

showed that Hagopian should not

be too worried about the filmmakers

coming behind him: they have

seen his effort, they understand

the dedication it takes, and they’re

ready to bring their passion and art

to the rest of the world.


8 The Armenian Reporter | November 1, 2008


Glendale-Ghapan Sister City Association celebrates 5th anniversary

by Silva Sevlian

GLENDALE, Calif. - Dancing

the shourch bar on the stage of the

Alex Theater, young Armenians

demonstrated the importance of

unity and the strength of tradition.

They also demonstrated that

although thousands of miles apart,

the homeland continues to sustain


The Glendale-Ghapan Sister City

Association (ggsca) celebrated its

5th anniversary by inviting members

of the community to celebrate

in song and dance at the Alex Theatre

in Glendale and witness the

impact that the partnership has

had on the two cities through a

video tribute.

“There is a great saying in Armenian

that says ‘Bartsrartsee yev

Bartsartsru’ which means rise up

and raise others with you,” said

Glendale City Clerk Ardy Kassakhian

who acted as the master of

ceremonies. “I want to thank the

Ghapan-Glendale Sister City Association

for grabbing the hand of our

fellow Armenians in Ghapan and

for setting the tone for a brighter

future for not just us in Glendale

but for the residents of Ghapan as


With over 1,000 people in attendance,

the audience cheered

after hearing the Glendale High

School Choir begin the show by

singing both the American and

Armenian National Anthems --a

symbol of the integration of cultures.

“The Glendale-Ghapan Sister

City Association is good program

that brings together different cultures

and encourages an exchange

of ideas and programs,” Artin Manoukian,

president of ggsca said.

In 2003, a delegation of city officials

and community leaders from

Glendale visited the southern Armenian

city of Ghapan. Since then

the organization has taken several

steps towards its mission of cultivating

economic cooperation and

cultural interchange.

Through several charitable

projects, Glendale has aided

Ghapan’s schools, health care

center, and community infrastructure

- area’s which were the

most vulnerable.

In 2005, the Glendale Fire Department

donated a fire paramedic

which is being used today as a

transportation vehicle between

Ghapan hospital and Yerevan hospital

in emergency cases.

In an effort to raise funds for the

renovation of a classroom for students,

the Glendale Unified School

District organized an event named

“Hye Hopes,” and succeeded at raising

enough to renovate the classroom

and two restrooms in Ghapan.

ggsca has helped the students

learn something outside of their

immediate community, Nayiri Nahabedian

Glendale Unified School

board member said.

“Anytime our students have an

opportunity to be of service to the

community, whether that is their

own neighbors in the same town

or a community across the world,

they get to learn about service and

how great it feels to give,” Nahabedian


Rafi Manoukian, former mayor

of Glendale, was in office in 2002

when the council adopted the resolution

which recognized Ghapan as

its sister city.

“It is an exchange through cities,

not solely financial, but a moral

and information exchange,” Manoukian

said.“Admiring from far

away, they have accomplished a

tremendous amount.”

Armen Karapetyan, Ghapan’s

mayor, visited Glendale for two

weeks in 2006 to learn about its

different levels of operation. In

his stay, Karapetyan visited public

institutions in Glendale such

as the City Hall, Glendale Community

College, a local hospital,

libraries and educational institutions.

“The relationship between the

two cities is special because of

Glendale’s large Armenian population

and the city’s ability to positively

impact the lives of people living

in Ghapan,” Assemblyman Paul

Krekorian said.

“Anytime that two cities on opposite

sides of the world can build

a relationship of partnership and

friendship it benefits both - not

for tangible benefits but for intangible

benefits of building

friendship and understanding

across the ocean.”

To further the connection between

the two cities, Glendale Community

College Board of Trustees

established a formal relationship

between the college and Ghapan

College in 2005, making them sister


Tamar Thomassian, a member

of the Armenian Student Association

at the Glendale Community

College, volunteered to help

with the 5th anniversary celebrations

and to spread awareness

about the accomplishments of

the organization. “Like an older

sister responds to the needs of

her younger sister, Glendale is

making a commitment to assist

Ghapan,” Thomassian said. “What

they’re receiving is a big sense of

cultural unity.”

Footage of children of Ghapan

showed them receiving gifts of

A day in the life of the Primate of the Western Diocese



from the City,

gusd, gcc, gamc

& Alex Theatres



Below: Luna


backpacks and school supplies. Although

they are receiving aid from

Glendale, Thomassian said, Ghapan

is reciprocating by providing

insight into their culture.

“When you see the children of

Ghapan waving and saying ‘Thank

you Glendale’ it just shows that

we’re making a difference and it

warms your heart,” Thomassian


Abp. Derderian and

lscc members visit

schools and parishes

BURBANK, Calif. – On October

21, Archbishop Hovnan Derderian,

Primate, accompanied by several

members of the Central Council

of the Ladies’ Society (lscc)

of the Western Diocese, namely

Araxie Boyamian, Chair, Lena

Simonian (vice-chair), Meline

Agagianian (advisor), and Elizabet

Maronyan (advisor), as well

as Fr. Khajag Shahbazyan (Burbank

parish priest), visited several

churches and parochial schools in

the greater Los Angeles area. The

following is a summary of their visits

and meetings:

8:30 a.m. - lscc members joined

the clergy for the morning prayer

service in the Armen and Gloria

Hampar Room of the Arshag and

Archbishop Hovnan Derderian. Photo:

Hilma Shahinian.

Eleanor Dickranian Diocesan Complex.

9:20 a.m. - The Primate, the lscc

members, and Fr. Khajag were

welcomed by Archpriest Fr. Hovsep

Hagopian, parish priest; Mr.

Vahan Aladadian, Parish Council

chair; Mrs. Lena Simonian; and a

group of other parishioners at the

La Canada Flintridge Country Club.

Abp. Derderian listened to various

reports about the La Canada parish

and in his remarks encouraged

the parish leadership to consider

a closer working relationship with

other parishes in the area.

10:45 a.m. - the Diocesan delegation

arrived at St. Gregory the Illuminator

Church of Pasadena and

visited Hovsepian School, which

is situated on the premises of the

church. Very Rev. Fr. Baret Yeretsian,

parish priest, and Mr. Shahe

Mankerian, principal, escorted

the visiting group into the school,

where the enthusiastic students

greeted the guests by reciting poems

and performing songs. Hovsepian

School has more than 200 students.

The 25th anniversary of the

establishment of the school will be

celebrated next year.

12:15 p.m. - The Diocesan delegation

arrived at St. John Armenian

Church of Hollywood, where a luncheon,

organized by the Ladies’ Society,

was held. During the event,

Archpriest Fr. Manoog Markarian,

parish priest, spoke about the

mystery of the sacrament of holy

matrimony. A great number of ladies

attended the luncheon, during

which the Primate provided answers

to several questions posed by


1:45 p.m. - Archpriest Fr. Nareg

Matarian, parish priest, and

members of the St. Sarkis Ladies’

Society welcomed the Primate, accompanying

ladies, and the priest

during a reception at St. Sarkis

Church in East Los Angeles. Yeretsgin

Baytsar Matarian, chair of

the Ladies’ Society, spoke about the

contributions of the organization

to the life of the church. In his remarks,

Abp. Derderian praised the

Ladies’ Societies and their community

activities throughout the Diocese.

A hymn-singing workshop by

Archpriest Fr. Matarian was held

following the reception.

3:15 p.m. - the Diocesan visiting

group arrived at St. John Armenian

Church of Los Angeles. Archpriest

Fr. Arshag Khatchadourian, parish

priest, introduced the members

of the Parish Ladies’ Society during

the meeting with the guests. Abp.

Derderian expressed his great satisfaction

with the accomplishments

of St. John Armenian Church.

5:00 p.m. - St. Peter Armenian

Church of Nan Nuys was the last

stop of the day’s visitations. After

the dinner and meeting with the

Parish Ladies’ Society, Archpriest

Fr. Shnork Demirjian spoke

about the 50th anniversary of the

establishment of the church and

the ensuing celebrations.


The Armenian Reporter | November 1, 2008 9


Armineh Chelebian runs for a seat in the California Assembly

by Silva Sevlian

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. – Thirty

years after she and her family

moved from Tehran to the San Fernando

Valley, where she attended

one of California’s first Armenian

schools, Armineh Chelebian is

campaigning as the Republican

candidate for the State Assembly,

representing the 40th District.

Running a campaign comprised

solely of volunteers, Ms. Chelebian,

an accountant, is fighting to represent

the Assembly district that includes

Northridge, Woodland Hills,

and Van Nuys. With top priorities

including public safety, schoolsystem

reform, and improving

California’s business climate, she

has been endorsed by Los Angeles

County Sheriff Lee Baca, Supervisor

Mike Antonovich, and the

Howard Jarvis Tax Payers Association.

Ms. Chelebian said her ability to

relate to the working residents of

her district is what sets her apart

from other politicians.

“I am not a career politician. I’m

coming in fresh from the community

as an average citizen,” she explained.

“I know what’s wrong with

middle-class America because I am

middle-class America.”

Ms. Chelebian got her start in

politics working with Glendale

Council member Bob Yousefian

as his campaign treasurer in the

2000 City Council elections. As

one of her strongest supporters,

Mr. Yousefian said her ability to

spend money wisely and maintain

a budget will be beneficial

to the constituents of the 40th


“I think she would be good for the

State of California because she is

someone who has an understanding

of what a regular person goes

through,” Mr. Yousefian said.

With regard to Armenian issues,

Ms. Yousefian said the Armenian

community needs Ms. Chelebian to

represent Armenians in the State

Assembly in order to voice concerns

and make calls to the House

or Senate to advocate such issues

as Genocide recognition.

“The Armenian support is absolutely

crucial,” Ms. Chelebian said.

“We need to win by 10,000–12,000

votes and Armenians make up half

of those votes.”

With endorsements from some

of the state’s most influential Armenian

leaders, including former

Governor George Deukmejian

and former California Senator

Chuck Poochigian, Ms. Chelebian

said she is receiving support from

Armineh Chelebian.

the Armenian community as well

as other minority groups from the

San Fernando Valley.

“I am representing all of us who

stood in line to come to this great

country,” Ms. Chelebian said.

Ms. Chelebian attended Ferrahian

High School. After a short-lived

career at McDonalds, where her

pay was raised from $1.90 to $2.10

after she was named “employee

of the month,” Ms. Chelebian attended

California State University,

Northridge (csun). She received a

degree in business administration

and worked in the healthcare industry,

starting a home-based business

in 1994.

While raising her children, Ms.

Chelebian has served on various

school boards, councils, and committees.

Today both her son and

daughter attend her alma mater.

“With csun, it’s a family tradition,”

Ms. Chelebian said.

Citing her more than 20 years of

experience in accounting, Ms. Chelebian

said her skills in budgeting,

management, and consulting will

enable her to help end California’s

current economic crisis.

“A lot of problems that we have

in Sacramento are because [today’s

leadership] doesn’t know how to

balance a budget,” she said. “I will

be able to bring an insight from my

own professional background.”

Ms. Chelebian presently serves

as assistant treasurer of the Los

Angeles Republican Party and chair

of the Republican County Central

Committee of the 40th Assembly


Ms. Chelebian’s involvement in

the civic life of the San Fernando

Valley is recognized by voters, said

Mark Vafiades, a reserve sheriff

and volunteer canvasser working

for the Chelebian campaign.

“She’s been part of the community

for so long,” Mr. Vafiades said.

“She understands how the economy

works, how businesses work, and

the struggle of homeowners. Mostly

she knows the things that we

want and she knows how to represent

us in Sacramento.”

One of Ms. Chelebian’s biggest

hurdles will be crossing party lines

and receiving votes from independents

and Democrats, who together

make up the majority of registered

voters in the district.

Given her heavy community involvement,

Ms. Chelebian said, she

believes that voters should not focus

on party affiliation but rather

the service she can provide for the


“We are all Americans first before

we are Republicans or Democrats,”

she said. “We are all Californians

before we are Republicans or Democrats.

I don’t see myself as a Republican.

I see myself as a 30-year

resident of the San Fernando Valley.”

“I came [to the United States] as a

teenager, I’ve raised kids here, I’ve

gone to school here, I’ve worked

here,” Ms. Chelebian added. “I’m

as much entitled to look after my

community as anyone else.”


Michael Amerian in fierce campaign for Los Angeles City Attorney post

by Lory Tatoulian

LOS ANGELES – For the past five

months, Deputy Los Angeles City

Attorney Michael R. Amerian has

been running a fierce campaign to

be elected City Attorney. Now continuing

to build on his momentum,

Mr. Amerian is gearing up for the

March 3, 2009 primary, which will

be followed by a run-off on May 19.

The 34-year-old prosecutor, who is

currently the only candidate that

works at the City Attorney’s office,

said he is “convinced that the only

way to maximize the potential out

of the City Attorney’s office is to

have somebody within the office

lead it.”

The charismatic young attorney

feels that his experience as a prosecutor,

combined with his activism

in the business and community

sectors, make him the most viable

and seasoned candidate for the position.

His opponents are attorney

Carmen A. Trutanich and City

Council member Jack Weiss.

During a kick-off fundraiser at

the Showpro Studios in Atwater

Village, Los Angeles, Mr. Amerian

spoke to a room full of supporters

about his background as lawyer

and presented a slew of initiatives

he plans to implement once elected

as City Attorney. Mr. Amerian described

the hundreds of cases he

has successfully prosecuted, along

with his vast experience in being

on the front lines against gang

crime and domestic violence.

“While I’ve been at the City Attorney’s

office, I can’t express how

Michael Amerian.

much I have enjoyed working there

and giving back to the community

every day,” he said. “Whether its

been representing domestic-violence

victims who are so afraid of

coming forward to testify or helping

a family that has lost a member

to a drunk driver, it really has been

rewarding to make a career out of

protecting the members of our society

who need the most help.”

Devotion to pubic service is transgenerational

in the Amerian family.

His father, Hon. Richard Amerian,

who died in 2001, was the first judge

of Armenian descent to serve in

Southern California. At 32, he was

one of the youngest judges ever appointed

to the California Court of

Appeals. Michael’s mother, Lynn, is

also a longtime public servant. She

has worked as a key staff member for

several elected officials at Los Angeles

City Hall for nearly 20 years.

Judge Amerian was widely regarded

as a trailblazer, having helped

pave the way for many young Armenians

who later became influential

lawyers and judges serving in the

U.S. judicial system.

Despite the large number of Armenians,

including many practicing

attorneys, living in Los Angeles,

there has never been an Armenian

to hold an elected office at Los Angeles

City Hall. Amerian hopes to reverse

this trend and give Armenians

an official presence in the city.

“When he became a judge, my father

blazed a trail that many others

in our community have followed,”

he said. “Given the size of our community

in Los Angeles, the time

has finally come for us to have a

voice at City Hall for the first time.

It would be such an honor to not

only be that voice, but to carve the

way for future generations of our


Michael Amerian earned a bachelor

of science degree in foreign service

from Georgetown University.

He received his juris doctorate from

the University of Southern California

(usc) Law School. At usc, he established

the Justice Richard Amerian

Scholarship Endowment for

deserving law students and served

as a staff member on the Review of

Law and Women’s Studies.

While in law school, Mr. Amerian

also worked as a staff member for

the Los Angeles Elected Charter

Reform Commission, the entity

responsible for creating neighborhood

councils throughout the city.

During his service with the commission,

Amerian attended community

meetings across the city, gaining

valuable insight into the numerous

issues confronted by Los Angeles.

Later, Amerian served as a law

clerk for United States District

Court Judge Dickran Tevrizian.

In this capacity, he worked on cases

involving complex constitutional,

civil rights, municipal liability, free

speech, securities fraud, trademark,

and patent cases. Amerian was also

an attorney in private practice, representing

individuals and Fortune

100 companies in both state and

federal court regarding various environmental,

intellectual property,

product liability, and general business

litigation matters.

Mr. Amerian feels deeply connected

to the Armenian community,

regarding it as the foundation

that has helped inform his identity.

Born and raised in the San Fernando

Valley, Amerian is the grandson

of Genocide survivors. He has

served as a trustee of the George

Ignatius Foundation, a charitable

trust that has provided hundreds

of thousands of dollars to support

educational, cultural, religious,

and humanitarian organizations

throughout the world. In addition,

Mr. Amerian serves on the Board

of Directors of the Armenian Film

Foundation and is a member of the

Western Diocese’s Government Relations

and Protocol Committee.

“The reason that we are supporting

him is not just because he is Armenian,

but because he is the best

candidate out there,” said Dr. Ara

Tavitian. “He has been an exemplary

prosecutor in anti-gang and

domestic-violence cases.”

Amerian needs to raise up to $4

million for the campaign. Since the

last reporting period, which ended

on September 30, he has gained an

edge over both of his opponents.

“I have been able to put together

a bipartisan coalition of endorsements

that are going to help the

campaign,” Mr. Amerian noted.

Mr. Amerian’s chief campaign advisor,

Bill Carrick, is a seasoned

strategist who has had experience

running presidential and city-wide

campaigns. To win the election,

Mr. Amerian needs approximately

125,000 votes. Toward this end, he

is hoping to tap into the pool of

some 30,000 voters of Armenian


Mr. Amerian’s campaign is working

to rally voters on a grassroots

level. Amerian said that even

though people who live outside the

City of Los Angeles can’t vote for

him, “they can still help by donating

to the website (

or volunteering to walk

precincts, or making phone calls

and telling their friends who do live

in Los Angeles to vote for me.”

Mr. Amerian acknowledges that

he is running a very competitive

race and the key to his success lies

in the support of the Armenian

community. “We need to mobilize

the Armenian community and encourage

each other to get as many

Armenians out to the ballot boxes

as possible,” he said. “The other

candidates are looking at this opportunity

as a springboard to do

something else. I can assure [voters]

that the City Attorney’s Office

is my primary focus and I will dedicate

every minute of every day to

guarantee that the quality of life in

this city improves.”

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10 The Armenian Reporter | November 1, 2008


Conference features first-ever panel on Armenian-Americans


– On October 19, four scholars presented

a panel titled, “Does History

Influence Identity? An Exploration

of the Third Generation of

Armenians in America,” at the annual

American Studies Association

(asa) Conference. The event was

held in Albuquerque, New Mexico,

from October 16 to 19. This was

the first panel on Armenians to be

included in the conference since it

was established in 1951.

Kim Hewitt, assistant professor

of American history and American

studies at State University of New

York, Empire State College, presented

a paper titled, “The Myth of

the Infinite Embrace: Armenians

and American Citizenship,” which

explored the influence of national

policy in interpreting history as it

affected and continues to affect Armenians

in America.

Janice Okoomian, instructor

at Bryant College, Rhode Island,

was not able to attend; but her paper,

Armenian-American Literature

and Feminist Analysis,” was

read by Julianne Newmark, the

panel chair and assistant professor

at New Mexico Institute of Mining

and Technology. Ms. Okoomian’s

paper focused on “family [as

the] site of post- genocide survival”

and concluded that “diversity allowed

Armenians to survive.”

Rubina Peroomian, research

associate at the University of California,

Los Angeles, presented

her paper, “Third-Generation Armenian-American

Writers Echo

the Quest for Self-Identity with

the Genocide at its Core,” which

focused on the impact of genocide

on self-identity as explored

From left,



Leah Sneider,

Kim Hewitt,

and Rubina


in several pieces of memoir and


Finally, Leah Sneider, a Ph.D.

candidate in American literature

at the University of New Mexico,

presented, “The Story of History:

American Studies and Race Theory

Re-Imagined,” which explored how

Armenian-Americans complicate

race theory in America and presented

the case for history as a new

way of distinguishing ethnicity in

a diverse, multi-ethnic America.

Those in attendance found the

panel extremely intriguing and

informational as most had not

previously known much about

the topics presented. One attendee

noted that she thought

the topics were important and

may have provoked more interest

had the panel had taken place

earlier in the conference. Yet the

discussion that followed encouraged

the panelists to continue

their work, propose more panels

for future asa conferences, and

even attempt an anthology project

focusing on the issues they

explored in their papers.

The asa 2008 conference theme

was “Back Down to the Crossroads:

Integrative American Studies

in Theory and Practice.”


Galatzan calls on lausd to hire Armenian-speaking

facilitator for East Valley schools

LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles

Unified Board of Education Member

Tamar Galatzan has urged

the Los Angeles Unified School

District (lausd) to create a fulltime

position for an Armenianspeaking

parent/community facilitator

in Local District #2, which

covers most of the East San Fernando


“More than 50 percent of the

lausd students who come from

Armenian-speaking homes attend

schools in Local District #2,” noted

Ms. Galatzan. “It is absolutely

critical that the district provide

these families with a facilitator

who can help them understand

Prelate presides over opening of annual book fair

SANTA ANA, Calif. – In celebration

of Armenian Culture Month,

the Forty Martyrs Church of Orange

County held its annual book fair on

October 19. Organized by the Pastor

and Board of Trustees of the church,

in conjunction with the administration

and parent support committee

of A.G. Minassian School, the event

took place at the Ghazarian Hall of

the Harout Barsamian Armenian

Center in Santa Ana.

The day began with the Divine

Liturgy, celebrated by Abp. Moushegh

Mardirossian, Prelate, who

was assisted at the altar by parish

priest Rev. Fr. Hrant Yeretzian.

The Prelate began his sermon by

speaking about the situation in

the rules, regulations, and bureaucratic

decisions that impact

their children’s education.”

For the past four years, the

lausd employed a facilitator for

the Armenian-speaking community

of Local District #2. The district

includes North Hollywood’s Grant

High School, whose student population

is 35 percent Armenian. The

position was eliminated this year

due to budget cuts.

According to lausd figures, 442

Grant students come from homes

where Armenian is the primary

spoken language. The lausd estimates

that there are 3,338 students

in Local District #2 who are

Armenia at the time of the Translator

Fathers of the church and

the unfavorable conditions that

threatened the heritage of the Armenian

people. In that dire situation,

the Prelate said, St. Mesrob

Mashdots invented the Armenian

alphabet, thus ushering in a

new age of literary and cultural

achievement and helping cement

the national identity of the Armenian


With the translation of the Bible

into Armenian, the Christian

teachings became readily available

to the masses, the Prelate explained.

“As the heirs to this legacy

of our Translator Fathers, let us

remain true to them by fostering

dependent on an Armenian-speaking

parent/community facilitator.

Ms. Galatzan has written a

strongly worded letter to the

lausd Personnel Commission requesting

the creation of an Armenian-speaking


facilitator position. The commission

is expected to make a decision

regarding the issue at its October

27 meeting.

“The district must make a strong

effort to accommodate the tremendous

diversity of its students,”

said Galatzan. “Establishing this

position sends a powerful message

of the lausd’s commitment

to this goal.”

the Armenian language among our

youth,” he said. He also urged the

faithful to continue to support A.G.

Minassian School in all its endeavors

and contribute to its progress

for the benefit of the Armenian

youth and its education.

Following the Divine Liturgy,

Abp. Mardirossian and the

parishioners proceeded to the

Ghazarian Hall, where the Prelate

presided over the opening of

the annual book fair. He commended

the organizers for honoring

Armenian Culture Month

by keeping the tradition of the

fair alive.

A reception followed at the Gugasian


Prelate meets with Armenian Evangelical World

Council representative

Mihran Agbabian, Hagop

Panossian honored by aesa

GLENDALE, Calif. – The Armenian

Engineers and Scientists of

America (aesa) announced the selection

of Prof. Mihran Agbabian

and Dr. Hagop Panossian as the

recipients of the 2008 Victor Hambartsumyan


Prof. Agbabian was chosen by

the Past Presidents Committee of

the aesa. He is the founding president

of the American University of

Armenia in Yerevan. Dr. Panossian

was selected by the aesa’s 2008

Council members. He is a two-time

past president and the founder of

the aesa.

“On the occasion of its 25th anniversary,

the aesa is honoring two

individuals who have selflessly devoted

25 years of their lives toward

the advancement of engineering

and the sciences and service to the

Armenian community,” said Shant

Kenderian, president of the aesa.

“As beneficiaries of their service, the

rest of us can only show our appreciation

in a symbolic way. Bestowing

the award on these two individuals

is a duty and an obligation.

By accepting the award, it is they

who have honored the aesa.”

Since the aesa established the

Victor Hambartsumyan Award in

1994, it has been bestowed on 15

Armenian scientists, including Victor

Hambartsumyan himself. Mr.

Kenderian said that the aesa is

pleased to revive the award tradition,

which for a variety of reasons

was discontinued in recent years.

The award ceremony will be held

during the aesa 25th Anniversary

Banquet, which will take place at the

Renaissance Banquet Hall in Glendale

on November 7. Kenderian said

the ceremony will have great significance

as the organization celebrates

its 25th anniversary and Armenians

worldwide celebrate Victor Hambartsumyan’s

100th birthday this

year. Kenderian added that the aesa

plans to continue the award tradition

by instituting an award nomination

and selection process so that

the Victor Hambartsumyan Award

is bestowed on Armenian engineers

and scientists every year.

“This award is made prestigious

by its namesake, honorable by its

recipients, and given validity by the

aesa’s 25-year history and dedicated

services to Armenians and the motherland,”

Mr. Kenderian said.



October 22, Abp. Moushegh

Mardirossian, Prelate, welcomed

to the Prelacy Armenian

Evangelical World Council Representative

in Armenia Rev. Dr.

Rene Leonian, who was accompanied

by Minister to the Armenian

Evangelical Union Rev.

Joe Matossian, Rev. Abraham

Chaparian, and Armenian Missionary

Association of America

Administrative Director Mr. Dikran


The Prelate and guests exchanged

information regarding

the endeavors of their respective

churches. Given the fact that Rev.

Dr. Leonian and Mr. Youmoushakian’s

visit to the Prelacy was

their first, the Prelate conveyed

to them the work carried out by

churches, schools, and various

councils and committees serving

under the jurisdiction of the

Prelacy. Noting that the 35th anniversary

of the Prelacy will be

celebrated this year, Abp. Mardirossian

highlighted the Pralcy’s

accomplishments of the past

three decades.

Rev. Dr. Leonian spoke in detail

of the reestablishment of the

Armenian Evangelical Church

and the expansion of its mission

in Armenia and Artsakh since

the two republics’ independence.

He also talked about the challenges

which his church faces in

its work in the homeland as well

as the means to overcome them

to better serve the Armenian


The meeting concluded with an

exchange of mementos.

The Armenian Reporter | November 1, 2008 11


Genocide Studies and Prevention special issue

focuses on the aftermath of genocide

TORONTO – The latest issue

of Genocide Studies and Prevention

focuses on the aftermath of genocide,

an area within genocide studies

that addresses the reality that

genocide continues long after the

direct killing stops, the Zoryan

Institute has announced. The special

issue explores the post-genocidal

period in terms of justice in

Rwanda, reconciliation in Bosnia

and the former Yugoslavia, and the

cross-generational impact of denial

of the Armenian Genocide.

The article “Cycles of Genocide,

Stories of Denial: Atom Egoyan’s

Ararat” by Donna-Lee Frieze,

research fellow in the School of

History, Heritage and Society at

Deakin University, Australia, offers

insights into the denial of

genocide and its long-term impact

on victims, perpetrators,

and their relationships. This extensive

analysis of Mr. Egoyan’s

landmark feature film on the Armenian

Genocide broaches the

complex challenges of representing

genocide artistically, hinging

on whether the artist conceives

genocide to be an isolated historical

event or an ongoing reality. Ms.

Frieze finds Mr.Egoyan revealing

that the truth of genocide is much

more complex, fragmented, and

unsettled than is typically understood

when genocide is viewed

solely in terms of the mass killing.

This article invites a revisit to Mr.

Egoyan’s Ararat.

Editor Henry Theriault has

provided a wide variety of articles

illustrating that “the post-genocide

period poses a range of great

challenges, and genocide casts its

shadow across generations.”

Genocide Studies and Prevention:

An International Journal was

co-founded by the International

Association of Genocide Scholars

and the International Institute

for Genocide and Human Rights

Studies (A Division of the Zoryan

Institute). The journal’s mission is

to understand the phenomenon of

genocide, create an awareness of

it as an ongoing scourge, and promote

the necessity of preventing it,

for both pragmatic and moral reasons.



Kerry C. Kachejian, an Iraq veteran, to speak at

Armenian-American peers’ luncheon


Veteran’s Experience” will be the

topic of the talk by Col. Kerry C.

Kachejian, as the Philadelphia

Armenian-American Veterans Association

(paava) honors “those

who have served,” at its 10th Anniversary

Luncheon, November 9

at 1 p.m.

Supported by all five area churches,

the paava luncheon will be held

at the largest of them, the Holy

Trinity Church, 101 Ashmead Rd,

Cheltenham, just across the Philadelphia

city line. All Armenian veterans

and the spouses of deceased

veterans are invited as guests.

A member of the Army Reserves,

Col. Kachejian has been called to

active duty twice in recent years.

The first time in 2004, he served as

deputy chief of staff for operations

for the Gulf Region, responsible for

the reconstruction of Iraq. In 2007,

he was recalled and served as the

deputy commander at the Transatlantic

Programs Center, responsible

for military construction in

the Middle East, including support

for Iraq and Afghanistan.

The winner of several medals,

Col. Kachejian is a 1982 West

Point graduate, and holds a B.Sc. in

aerospace engineering, an M.Sc. in

systems engineering, and another

M.Sc. in national resource strategy.

He is a registered professional engineer,

employed by Raytheon.

Formally established ten years

ago, paava arose from an organization

of the veterans of one of

Philadelphia’s Armenian churches;

its luncheons honoring those

veterans soon became an all-Philadelphia

event. Representatives

Jazz Nights @ alma features Musaner

from the five churches – Holy

Martyrs, Holy Trinity, St. Gregory,

St. Mark, and Sts. Sahag-Mesrob

– serve on the board. Sandra

Selverian, who never served in

the country’s armed forces but

felt that the contributions and

sacrifices of the veterans should

be recognized, serves as paava’s

president. Over the years, more

than 420 veterans have been on

paava’s roll of honor.


Richard Weinsheimer at 1-215-673-8116

WATERTOWN, Mass. – The

Armenian Library and Museum of

America (alma) continues its “Jazz

Nights @ alma” concert series with

a performance by Musaner on Friday,

November 14, at 8 p.m.

Musaner is a local innovative

music project directed by composer

and pianist Ara Sarkissian,

who will lead Todd Brunel

(clarinet and soprano saxophone),

Ken Field (alto saxophone),

Gary Fieldman (drums), Martin

Haroutunian (folk instruments),

Andrew Hickman (tenor

saxophone) and Blake Newman

(bass) through a program

featuring original compositions

and innovative arrangements of

folk music from Armenia and the


The upcoming concert will be

Musaner’s second performance under

the Jazz Nights @ alma series.

The group has also played shows

at other venues in the Boston and

Greater Boston area, including Institute

of Contemporary Art, Ryles

Jazz Club, and Arsenal Center for

the Arts.

The Jazz Nights @ alma concerts

feature performances by

both established and up-andcoming

groups from the New

England and surrounding areas.

Past performances have been given

by Vardan Ovsepian, John

Baboian’s The Be-Bop Guitars,

Kevin Harris, and Jerry Bergonzi.

The series takes place in

alma’s Contemporary Art Gallery,

a unique venue that allows guests

to enjoy quality music in an intimate

cabaret style setting surrounded

by art.

alma will open its museum

doors at 7:30 p.m., giving patrons

who arrive early the opportunity to

browse alma’s current exhibits, including

“The Doctor Is Out: The Art

of Dr. Jack Kevorkian” and “Who

Are the Armenians?”


(617) 926-2562

Armenian photographs from Project save to come to

life at aiwa conference in Argentina

WATERTOWN, Mass. – Have

you ever wondered what it would

be like to be able to trace your family’s

ancestry through photographs?

Are you interested in learning more

about Armenian history, culture,

and life through pictures?

The Armenian International

Women’s Association hosts its 5th

international conference November

9–12 in Buenos Aires, the organization

has announced. One of

the speakers will be Ruth Thomasian,

founder and executive director

of Project SAVE Armenian Photograph

Archives, based in Watertown,


Ruth brings a wealth of knowledge

and information to her presentations.

She has collected and

documented almost 27,000 photographs

over the last 33 years – from

the late 1800s to the present day.

Many of the photos were collected

at private homes, where individuals

shared stories, recorded by Ruth,

about the pictures, allowing these

treasures to truly come to life.

As a photo archivist and historian,

Ruth will explain how she

found her own heritage through

photographs and their stories, and

how she was determined to preserve

that heritage for all. She will

share a selection of vintage photographs

with the audience through

both PowerPoint presentations

and photo blow-ups on display.

She will walk guests through the

process of photograph collecting,

as well as the archival methods

used for documentation.

Ruth will be making two presentations

at this conference – one as

a panelist on the subject of Keeping

Armenian Heritage Alive, and

a luncheon speech for all participants

and guests, titled “A Look

at Ourselves: Armenian Women

in the Homeland and Diaspora.”

Conference attendees are invited

to bring a photograph to show

Ruth for her comments, before

and after her presentations or at

another time during the conference.

This event marks Ruth’s 2nd aiwa

conference. At the London 1994

meeting, Ruth was awarded aiwa’s

Woman of Achievement Award for

her establishment of Project SAVE

Archives in 1975.

In keeping with the conference

theme, “Continent to Continent:

Armenian Women Interacting in

Worldwide Arenas,” two special

guests, one from America, the other

from Armenia, will bring their

particular expertise to the conference


The keynote speaker will be

Donna J. Evans, who acquired a

unique perspective on the lives of

Armenian women when, from 2004

to 2006, she engaged in various

charitable, educational and development

projects in Yerevan as wife

of the former U.S. ambassador to

Armenia, John Evans. Also participating

will be Hranush Hakobyan,

longtime elected member of

Armenia’s parliament and president

of aiwa Armenia, who has come

into special prominence recently

as a result of her appointment by

President Serge Sargsian to the

newly established post of minister

of diaspora of the Republic of Armenia.

Recently she was granted

the title of Ambassador Extraordinary

and Plenipotentiary of the

Republic of Armenia.

Mark your calendars! November

9–12, 2008 in Buenos Aires. “This

conference is guaranteed to inform,

enlighten, and connect Armenian

women worldwide,” the organizers





Visit us at

12 The Armenian Reporter | November 1, 2008


Cultural diversity and athletics merge at Glendale Friendship Games

Event promotes

sportsmanship and


High School gyms, where the only

audible sounds were those of the

rhythmic beat of the ball echoing

off the walls as it met the paddle

and the sporadic applause that

erupted among spectators.

by Anna Margaryan

GLENDALE, Calif. – Glendale’s

multi-dimensional cultural

landscape was well-represented

as 568 athletes and hundreds of

community members descended

upon Glendale High School for the

third annual Glendale Friendship


Organized by the Homenetmen

Glendale Ararat Chapter, the twoday

event showcased the talents

of athletes, young and old, who

came to the venue to compete in

basketball, volleyball, soccer, tennis,

table tennis, and gymnastics.

Throughout the course of the

weekend, Glendale High School’s

basketball and tennis courts and

football field were home to simultaneous

competitive games that

captivated thousands of sports


The flurry of activity was impressive

as participants donning

light-blue “Ararat Friendship

Games” T-shirts, with the signature

flame and cupping hands imprinted

on them, rushed to and

from games.

Although representations of Armenian

culture were embedded

within the foundation of the event,

they were featured in only subtle

forms, such as small flags printed

on T-shirts. After all, the Armenian

tricolor was not the primary focus

of the day; rather, it was diversity

that was championed.

The event may have been created

and nurtured by members of

the Armenian community, but the

target audience is much wider. Accordingly,

numerous ethnic groups

attended the games, mirroring

Glendale’s kaleidoscope of cultures.

Athletics in the


Just because the theme of the

games is friendship doesn’t mean

that some hearty competition is not

welcomed. Teams of vibrant young

players tore up the soccer fields and

the basketball, volleyball, and tennis

courts with their athletic skills.

It seems that while sportsmanship

is cherished, no one left his or her

competitive edge at home this year.

Participating in the Glendale

Friendship Games were youths

from several sporting organizations

and schools in Glendale and

neighboring communities, including

ayso Region 88, CV Soccer Club,

mtm Club, Hoover High School,

Burbank High School, Crescenta

Valley High School, agbu Pasadena,

Soccer Store, City of Glendale

Employee team, mgm Soccer team,

Hye United Soccer Team, TapOut

Volleyball team, X-Factor Volleyball,

Homenetmen Massis, and

Homenetmen Ararat.

High schools Hoover, Burbank,

Crescenta Valley, and AGBU Pasadena

brought their freshmen and

sophomore basketball teams,

which energized the competition

and pleasantly surprised event organizers.

“Basically it’s a tournament and

they want to evaluate their players

and teams and how they play

against others,” said Glendale

Friendship Games Organizing

Committee Co-chair Sako Hemelian.

Adults, too, got into the spirit

of sports. Glendale City officials

tested their hoop skills against

the senior members of Ararat in

an energetic exhibition game of

basketball, which left no doubt

in the minds of spectators that

middle-aged men can still make

a slam dunk or two, despite the

knee braces and receding hair

lines. Indeed, it seemed that

these men, many of them longtime

athletes, may even give the

young basketball hopefuls a run

for their money.

Participants on the City of Glendale

team included the Glendale

fire chief, school board member

Greg Krikorian, a housing project

manager, the deputy director of

housing, and a public education


Soccer kicks off the


The Glendale Friendship Games

may have officially begun on October

18, but the soccer tournaments

had been in full swing since September


The tournaments included the

Girls C Division Under 16, the Boys

D Division Under 14, and the Boys

F Division Under 10. These games

took place at the Glendale Sports

Complex as well as at Glendale


I had a chance to catch a tournament

game at the Glendale Sports

Complex on October 16, when two

ayso girls’ teams, the Under-16 division

and the Under-14 division,

battled it out for first and second


The chilly air at the Glendale

Sports Complex, in the rolling

hills above the city, couldn’t keep

the young girls and their supportive

fans from coming out for the

final game Thursday night. The two

teams boasted a multicultural roll

call, with the girls eager to win and

anxious to display their sportsmanship.

“Even though it’s not a serious

competition, it is very competitive,”

said Ararat Board of Directors Vicechair

Serge Grakasian. “The games

were all very good. There’s lots of

sportsmanship here.”

The games may have been played

in the name of fun, but the adrenaline

was definitely pumping and

everyone, including the soccer officials,

was certainly taking the finals


“The Friendship Games have been

one of the best-organized sporting

events that I’ve ever seen because

they brought in ayso players, Ararat

players,” said volunteer referee

and ayso Under-10 Boys’ Coordinator

Hazen Burford. “What it is,

is a bunch of kids coming up here

playing and having a blast.”

The consensus among Burford

and the two volunteer linesmen,

Doug Wallace and Armik Ghazarians,

who appeared to display

a genuine sense of excitement

in overseeing these tournament

games, was simply that they do it

for the kids. Ghazarians is an ayso

coach. Wallace is an ayso assistant

regional coordinator.

Watching the three men run

alongside the kids as they officiated

the match, expressing to us

their amazement at how well the

girls played as we stood on the

sidelines made it clear that Burford,

Wallace, and Ghazarians

were entirely committed to the

young athletes.

“All the girls know each other,

which helps because they don’t get

nasty or dirty,” Wallace said. “So it

really is the Friendship Games. A

lot of these girls will be playing on

Saturday on the same team even

though they are playing against

each other today.”

This year soccer received muchcoveted

attention from the major

league as Chivas usa officially recognized

the Glendale Friendship

Games. Chivas forward Alecko Eskandarian

even held a meet and

greet with the participants some

weeks prior to the Friendship


Scouts present

the colors (above)

and fans look on

at the Glendale



Table tennis serves up

serious competition

A look of concentration creased the

brows of all the table tennis players

as they engaged in some heated

volleying back and forth in an attempt

to raise their ranking in the

table tennis world.

The table tennis match, sanctioned

by USA Table Tennis and

sponsored by Joola USA, offered

the kind of diversity event organizers

had hoped for, drawing

88 participants – some of them

world-class athletes from Sir

Lanka, China, England, and the

United States.

“The participation in table tennis

is a lot more than what we anticipated,”

said Hemelian. “If it weren’t

an official tournament, we would

not have had that much participation

or quality players.”

The adults may have come to improve

their ranking, but it was the

relative newcomers who stole the

show. The talented young players

included 12-year-old Eric Shahnazari,

the son of Ararat member Robert

Shahnazari, who participated in

the Juniors Under-14 tournaments

in his quest to better his standing.

Robert Shahnazari, who is a 25-

year veteran of the table tennis

world, coordinated the tournament

and personally invited the participants.

“I play nationwide and I know

everybody and I invited them,”

said Shahnazari when I asked him

how he managed to get some of

the world’s top-ranking table tennis

players to attend the Glendale

Friendship Games. He added: “It is

an official match and some of them

know me because we practice together,

so they came.”

The table tennis tournament offered

a variety of games for veterans

and novices alike. The semifinal

and final matches were simply

intense. A kind of hush enveloped

the smaller of the two Glendale

The final ceremony

The concluding ceremony began

with scout members marching

with the U.S., California, and City

of Glendale flags, followed by a salute

by scout leaders and the playing

of the national anthem.

The final notes of the national

anthem gave way to a short speech

by Glendale Friendship Games Organizing

Committee Co-chair Edwin


“The Games have two main

goals,” he said. “One is to promote

sports and the other is to

promote harmony and goodwill

in the community.”

Moments later, large, blue gymnastics

mats were rolled out as

some of the games’ youngest participants

took center stage. Walking

onto the mats with perfect

posture and illuminating smiles,

the Homenetmen Ararat rhythmic

gymnastics team was definitely a

crowd pleaser. Dressed in metallic

pink, lavender, and silver costumes,

the preteen girls riled up the crowd

with their upbeat performance.

Their dynamic routine was nothing

short of physically challenging

– with difficult tumbling passes,

splits, as well as baton and ribbon


Some of these young gymnasts

have already achieved ranking in

the world of rhythmic gymnastics

– with two placing 17th and 22nd,

respectively, in the Junior Olympics

held in Columbus, Ohio, earlier

this year.

The older girls may have had perfected

their routines, but it was the

littlest gymnasts that became the

darlings of the audience. Outfitted

in black leotards with colorful

wraps, the girls, many of whom

appeared to be three or four years

old, danced in unison while bearing

multicolored hula hoops and receiving

cheers from the spectators,

who by then had completely filled

the stands.

Though it was a difficult undertaking

to follow the performance

put on by the rhythmic gymnastics

squads, the moment that

many of the young athletes had

been anxiously waiting for was

realized in the form of the medal


Glendale City officials, including

Councilman Ara Najarian and

Glendale Unified School District

Board members Joylene Wagner

and Chakib Sambar, were also on

hand to aid in the ceremony and

praise Homenetmen Ararat for its

efforts in fostering cultural diversity

and unity.

“I want to congratulate Homenetmen

Ararat for going beyond the

Armenian community,” said Wagner.

“I’m amazed at how much you

do, how well you do it, and how

many students you serve.”

Her words encapsulated the goals

of event organizers, who, in fostering

the growth of these games, envisioned

an event that would cross

cultural barriers, unite the community,

and create harmony bred from

a mutual love of sports.

Medals and photo ops may have

concluded the third annual Glendale

Friendship Games, but long after

the medals lose their luster and

the photographs become yellow

with age, the themes of harmony,

diversity, community, and sportsmanship

which defined the games

will continue to reign supreme.


The Armenian Reporter | November 1, 2008 13


Hamazkayin celebrates 80 years of cultural activity

Art exhibition at

Prelacy to mark


LOS ANGELES - For 80 years

Hamazkayin has been a driving

force in the artistic milieu of the

Armenian diaspora. By preserving

and promoting artists and their

ideas, Hamazkayin has been a

grassroots alliance that has passed

on the legacy of Armenian artistic

heritage from one generation to

the next. On the occasion of their

80th anniversary, the organization

will be a hosting a series of events

that celebrate this milestone.

From November 7 to 9, Hamazkayin

will be presenting an art exhibition

at the Western Prelacy in La

Crescenta. The three-day event will

feature four accomplished painters

whose works are regarded as cuttingedge,

aesthetically engaging, bold

and sublime. The cadre of painters

include, Samuel Halaj, Minas Halaj,

Garbis Bartanian and Harout

Joulhayan. Each artist possesses

a highly distinctive style, yet the

Hamazkayin organizers chose these

four because there are some parallels

underlying their work.

“When we put these four artists

together, it was like alchemy, where

all the elements just fit perfectly,” a

Hamazkayin board member said.

“There was a similar genre that

was present in their works, so we

thought it was better than presenting

the works of these four exceptionally

talented artists.”

The mission of Hamazkayin is to

bring deserving artists out of the

woodwork and into the spotlight.

“There is just so much talent all

around us, it is a shame not to see

these creative minds thrive. That is

our responsibility with Hamzkayin;

we need to support them in every

way we can. Without art, our culture

would be obsolete.”

The four artists explore a vast

canvas of ideas, forms and expressions

with their paintings. From

bi-culturalism, to relationships, to

spirituality, to existential musings,

to spiritual inspiration - the paintings

that will be shown at the exhibition

promise to challenge, uplift

and provoke.

Both father and son, Samuel

and Minas Halaj will be coming

together to display their work in

the same room. Minas Halaj, a

dexterous painter has been producing

works of art since he was

a young boy. With contour lines,

symbolism and bisected portraits

inspired by miniatures, Minas creates

a quixotic world that is all of

his own on canvas. As he paints, he

channels his memories, his dreams,

the memories of his ancestors and

their dreams - and transmits all

of these past and present reveries

onto canvas.

“With symbols and illuminated

lines and forms, I metaphorically

translate what I need to say. There

is so much power in symbols, they

trump words and really evoke the

hidden secrets of our hearts and

minds,” Samuel Halaj said.

Halaj is adamant about not following

a particular genre or keeping

with a certain trend. He believes it

is important to transcend all convention.

“When the artist paints it

is a completely visceral experience,

you cannot premeditate everything.

You need to keep true to your mind

and heart and not care what others

are doing.”

Samuel’s son, Minas moved to

the United States from Armenia

eight years ago. His father followed

five years later. Minas has inherited

his father’s talent, but has found

a completely different style of his

own. Born into art, Minas Halaj

Dreamers, Samuel Halaj.

Lovers, Samuel Halaj.

Night in Karabakh, Garbis Bartanian.

feels that art is “the essence in my

blood, it is what I am.” Minas’s art

has two dimensions, the subliminal

that is vibrant, colorful, ever moving

and evolving, imbued with dynamic

formations of cognitive and

spiritual content. The other is what

he sees on canvas; the meditative,

where he and the viewer reflect on

the first, the internal. “I am selfless

in what I do. I do not create just

myself. I know it as purpose beyond

me or what I can understand.”

From an early age Garbis Bartanian

was deeply interested in the arts,

namely drawing. His father, Harout,

being a musician and master oud

player, was always an inspiration to

the young artist by offering him his

first exposure to the arts and music.

The family was living in Lebanon

when civil war broke out, taking a

toll on Garbis and his parents, who

became the victims of a devastating

mortar attack.

The repercussions of war left

deep impressions on the young

artist. This experience later served

his art, underpinning his body of

work with passion and insight. At

a young age, Garbis enrolled at the

Toros Roslyn Hamazkayin Fine

Arts Academy in Beirut and then

later wanted to also fulfill the spiritual

quest and entered the Armenian

Apostolic Seminary in Bikfaya.

“I wanted to ask the big questions,

I wanted to find my place in the

universe,” Garbis says.

Euphrates, Harout Joulhayan.

Autumn, Harout Joulhayan.

As a result of the intensifying

war, he moved to the United States

where he reunited with his family in

their new home, only to deal with

the loss of his mother to cancer.

This devastating loss becomes

a second major turning point in

Garbis’ life, and further entrenched

him into the abyss of the unknown

and the frailty of the human experience,

which is inevitably and

so poignantly witnessed in his

pieces from this time period. While

strengthening the foundations for

his artistic flight, his love for learning

led him to study the mind that

is behind all human experience.

Bartanian has attained a B.A. and

M.A. degrees in psychology, philosophy,

and yoga. Spirituality and

the significance of religious influences

throughout his life is clearly

evident in his body of work. “Living

in the moment” attitude, as well as

“sucking the juice of every experience

that one goes through.”

In his works, one can see his intense

spiritual longing for the Ultimate

(as the most sublime) struggle,

sadness, the very compelling and

powerful emotional outburst, embodied

in the intense desire for detachment

from Suffering, in contrast

to his Post-2000 ones, where there

is a total paradigm shift. There is a

sense of release, a definite aura of

deep appreciation married with an

air of acceptance of the beauty of the

world around him, as well as the one

inside, found in life’s presented manifold

experiences. At the Hamazkayin

exhibition, he will also be showing

paintings that were inspired from his

recent trip to Armenia.

Harout Joulhaian creates both

oil and watercolor paintings. The artist

shows great freedom and expression

in his works coordinating pictorial

tension throughout the entire

surface of the canvas with rhythmic

arrangement of lines, and the static

quality of representation. Joulhaian

seamlessly harmonizes beautiful

compositions and abstract movements

of bright colors and form.

Joulhaian garners his energy form

nature and infuses it onto his canvas.

“It is not the impression of nature

on my canvas, it is the expression

of nature,” Joulhaian explains.

Joulhaian began painting at a

very young age in Aleppo, Syria. He

later went on to study at the Yerevan

State Academy of Fine Arts and

then later went back to the Architectural

University, Aleppo to teach

watercolor and oil painting.

Many of his paintings have been

inspired by music or theater. In his

piece Rondo, the canvas was completed

to a piece of music his wife

Zvart composed. He has a series of

paintings with the theme of transcending

mediums. “I created abstract

forms of paintings to be give

a visual aspect to the music. Painting

and art complete each other

and vice versa,” the painter says.

Joulhaian also has an affinity for

the theater and has created many

abstract pieces that explore the elements

of stage, performance, real life,

and personas. On canvas, he blurs

the line between the performance

on stage and that in real life because

the artist believes that everyone of

us plays a role, and we have perfected

our characters in our daily lives, just

as the actors have done on stage.

Joulhaian will be showing his

work, which include a water color

series that was inspired by his trip

to ancient Armenia, where he did

plain air paintings and set up his

easel and paints in the actual location

of ancient Armenian sites

in Cilicia and began to paint. “We

have an indestructible connection

to that land and I wanted to somehow

capture that electric energy

and ancient history in my paintings,”

Joulhaian says.

The art exhibition will be the second

event lined up for Hamazkayin’s

80 th anniversary celebrations. On

November 2, a discussion forum will

take place, with the participation of

three prominent Armenian school

principals, a young member of the

Armenian Youth Federation, and parents

who will discuss the issue of the

Armenian language and its preservation

among the young generation.

Also on November 14, 2008 the

Pasadena Shahan Shahnour Chapter’s

Lori dance group will have its

first performance,

14 The Armenian Reporter | November 1, 2008


Fr. Arten Ashjian honored for 60 years of service as a priest

NEW YORK – On Sunday, Sept.

28, Holy Cross Church of Armenia

(on W. 187th St. in Manhattan) celebrated

its 79th anniversary and

the 22nd annual pilgrimage to the

Shrine of Charkhapan Soorp Asdvadzadzin

with a gala banquet and

program in the church hall. In addition,

the church honored Rev. Fr.

Arten Ashjian on the 60th anniversary

of his ordination into the


Fr. Arten, along with Rev. Fr.

Carnig Hallajian, serve as visiting

priests for Sunday services.

On this day, celebrating the Divine

Liturgy was Archbishop

Yeghishe Gizirian, who read

the Gontag awarded to Fr. Arten

on this occasion by Catholicos

Karekin II. Assisted by deacons

and the Zvartnotz and Gomidas

Choirs with Anna Mintanciyan

at the organ, the service culminated

with the decorated cross

being blessed by clergy as it was

carried to the four corners of the

church forming a cross, representing

the four corners of the


Banquet co-chair Hagop Uryan

welcomed guests to the dinner, including

Rev. Fr. Karekin Kasparian

and Yeretzgin Dawn Kasparian

from St. Gregory the Enlightener

Church in White Plains. Mr.

Uryan offered a toast to Fr. Arten

and Yeretzgin Mary Ashjian for

their many years of service to the

Armenian Church. Master of ceremonies

Jon Simonian guided

the program, which followed a delicious

meal prepared by the Holy

Cross Women’s Guild.

Yn. Mary and Rev, Fr Arten Ashjian cuttung the celebratory cake at Holy Cross

Church of Armenia. The cake was part of the day’s events honoring Fr. Arten on

the 60th anniversary of his ordination into the priesthood.

A performance by pianist Karine

Poghosyan was one of the

highlights of the afternoon. Ms.

Poghosyan, who had performed a

week earlier at Carnegie Hall with

other AGBU performing arts scholarship

recipients, played selections

from Liszt, Haydn, and Komitas,

concluding with a passionate piano

sonata by Aram Khachaturian. She

received a standing ovation from

the joyous crowd.

Tributes to Fr. Arten included a

message from the Primate, Archbishop

Khajag Barsamian, who

was in Etchmiadzin. Abp. Barsamian

wrote, “You are a ‘Good

Shepherd’ who has truly lived the

Armenian priesthood and applied

both your spiritual knowledge and

intellectual endeavors to illuminating

the Armenian Church for the

goodness of the Armenian faithful”.

Deacon Joseph Kalemkerian

noted that the honoree, as a young

priest in 1948 at Holy Cross Church,

recognized that he, George Mekenian,

and Caspar Kasparian were

restless and spent many hours directing

their youthful energies into

serving the Armenian Church.

Following a video tribute to Fr.

Arten’s years as a priest prepared

by Deacon Artur Petrosyan, Fr.

Karekin spoke about Fr. Arten as

a role model. He remarked that

Fr. Arten, though retired, has

been an active priest for the entire

60 years. “It is remarkable

that, in his advanced age, he still

functions as a priest, counselor,

preacher, educator, and ecumenist,

thus setting, humbly, an example

of devotion and faith. He

is a respected scholar and author,”

Fr. Karekin added.

Rev. Fr. Arten Ashjian (right) receiving a Gontag issued by Catholicos Karekin

II on the occasion of the 60th anniversasry of his ordination into the priesthood.

The Gontag was read during church services at Holy Cross Church of Armenia by

Abp. Yeghishe Gizirian (left).

Abp. Gizirian spoke of his friendship

with both Fr. Arten and Yn.

Mary. He noted Fr. Arten’s contributions

writing, teaching, and

providing guidance on Armenian

canonical and religious teachings

to members of Diocesan communities

in the United States and abroad.

The archbishop also presented the

honoree and Yn. Mary with a contribution

from Holy Cross Church

to the Armenian Church Endowment

Fund established by them to

benefit the children of Armenian


Fr. Arten spoke of his childhood

at the American Consulate in Aleppo,

where his father worked, and

how the efforts of Archbishop Tiran

Nersoyan were instrumental

for the young seminarian coming

to America. He went on to express

appreciation and thanks to the

many friends and guests who had

come to honor him.

As a member of the Mabel Fenner

Scholarship Committee, Mr. Simonian

presented scholarships

to seven young people. This is the

fourth year the church has awarded

scholarships to deserving Armenian

students. There to accept their

awards were Anna Hovhanessian,

Deanna Cachoian-Schanz, Ani

and Laura Barsamian, and Ceran

Keshishian accepting for her

granddaughter Heather Scolnick.

Unable to attend were Nicole Sirpuhi

Mark and Kristina Gomez-


After enjoying the celebratory

cake honoring Fr. Arten and Yn.

Mary, which was donated by parishioner

Joyce Sulahian currently in

Jerusalem, Abp. Gizirian ended the

event with a closing prayer.

New York Armenian Center in Woodside gathers the local

community every month for family night

“One Nation, One

Family” is the theme

NEW YORK – Since July the

New York Armenian Center Social

Committee has brought together

young and old from all corners of

the local Armenian community for

a monthly family night under the

theme “One Nation, One Family.”

Each time, participants pack the

main hall of the Armenian Center

in Woodside, N.Y., to spend an

evening socializing and relaxing “at


Members of such institutions

as the Holy Martyrs Armenian

Church; the Armenian Network of

America; Armenian Relief Society

(ARS) Mayr and Erebuni chapters;

the Hamzakayin of New York; the

Armenian National Committee

(ANC) of New York; the Armenian

Youth Federation (ayf) New York

Calendar of Events

Hyortik chapter; St. Illuminator’s

Armenian Day School; St. Sarkis

Armenian Church; and St. Illuminator’s

Armenian Apostolic Cathedral

are just some of the attendees.

During the event attendees enjoy

home-cooked food prepared

and donated by community volunteers.

Armenian folk and traditional

music plays in the background

as young and old take to the dance

floor. Admission is always free and

each month is host to a tournament

such as blot, ping-pong, and

tavlou (backgammon). Participants

pay a small tournament entrance

fee and spend the evening

in friendly competition. Prizes are

distributed to the victor who returns

the following month to defend

his/her title.

Also offered are games for children

of all ages: Ping-Pong, basketball,

soccer, Monopoly, and arts

and crafts. New York Hyortik members

provide their office and lounge

New York Hyortik members also offer their office and lounge space as a venue to

hang out, sing songs, and watch movies. Photo: Zem ProImage.

space as a venue to hang out, sing

songs, and watch movies.

Through this initiative the

committee said it aims to unite

the community and strengthen

the bonds that tie Armenians

together as a nation. “From the

beginning the purpose of the

Armenian Center was to bring

Armenians together so everyone

has a second home and feels

like family,” said Social Committee

member Valod Atakhanian.

Through their current programs

more youth have been coming to

the center and the community

has been embracing its activities,

he added. The committee also

announced that each event will

benefit a different community

organization. Proceeds from the

November 21 Family Night will go

to the St. Illuminator’s Armenian

Apostolic Cathedral Reconstruction


“Family Night at the Armenian

Center provides a great opportunity

for the community to come

together and catch up with friends

and family. There are plenty of activities

for all age groups to enjoy,”

said Armenian National Committee

(anc) of New York member

Raffi Mahserdjian, who comes

with his wife Marie and two-yearold

son Aren.



EST. Location: Armenian Church

Cultural Center, Melikian Hall,

8849 E Cholla St, Scottsdale, AZ.

11 am to 6 pm Admission: $1,

FREE Parking. For more information

contact Armenian Apostolic

Church of Arizona, 480-451-


Northern California




Location: Saroyan Hall, 825

Brotherhood Way, San Francisco,

CA. 6:30 PM Admission: tbd.

For more information contact

Ani Ayanian; anizenop@yahoo.




TIQUE NOEL. Location: Calvary

Armenian Congregational

Church, 725 Brotherhood Way,

San Francisco, CA. 12:00 -9:00

pm Admission: Free. For more

information contact Calvary

Armenian Congregational

Church, 415- 586-2000; Cacc@


SHOW. Location: HYATT RE-


5101 Great America Pkwy, Santa

Clara, CA. 12:30 PM Admission:

TBD. For more information contact

St. Andrew Cultural Committee,

(650)344-4707; sylvia.


SHOW. Location: HYATT RE-

GECLANCY, 5101 Great America

Pkwy, Santa Clara, CA.

11:30AM Admission: $60. For

more information contact St.

Andrew Cultural Committee,



RETREAT. Location: “God is

with us”, 51 Commonwealth

Ave., San Francisco, CA. 9AM to

3PM Admission: FREE. For more

information contact St. Gregory

Armenian Church, 415-751-9140;




St. Vartan Armenian Apostolic

Church, 650 Spruce Street, Oakland,

CA. 7:30pm Admission:

$35 / $28 / $15. For more information

contact Bay Area Classical

Harmonies, (510) 868-0695;




St. John Armenian Apostolic

Church, 275 Olympia Blvd, San

Francisco, CA. 7:30pm Admission:

$35 / $28 / $15. For more

information contact Bay Area

Classical Harmonies, (510) 868-




Location: Private Residence in

Mountain View, We will provide

the full address once we

receive the payments, San Jose,

CA. 7:00pm-Midnight Admission:

$25. For more informa-

The Armenian Reporter | November 1, 2008 15


Calendar of Events

tion contact Layla Sabourian,

415.438.0111; laylasabourian@




EVENT. Location: Congregation

Ner Shalom, 85 La Plaza, Cotati,

CA. 6:00PM – 11PM Admission:

Adults $25 8-13 $10. For more

information contact Christyne

Davidian, 707- 762-2995;




St. Andrew Armenian Apostolic

Church, 11370 S. Stelling Road,

Cupertino, CA. 5:00pm Admission:

$35 / $28 / $15. For more

information contact Bay Area

Classical Harmonies, (510) 868-



YEAR’S EVE. Location: New

Year’s Eve, 825 Brotherhood

Way, San Francisco, CA. Details

to Follow Admission: Details to

Follow. For more information

contact Kef Night Commitee,






Hertz Hall, University of

California, Berkeley, CA. 3p.m.

Admission: $46. For more information

contact Cal Performances,

510.642.9988; tickets@


NING. Location: Saroyan Hall,

825 Brotherhood Way, San Francisco,

CA. 6:30 PM Admission:

TBD. For more information

contact ANC SF, (415) 387-3433;


CONCERT. Location: California

Palace of the Legion

of Honor, 100 34th Ave, San

Francisco, CA. 2:00 pm Admission:

TBD. For more information

contact Support Committee

for Armenia’s Cosmic Ray

Division, (650) 926-4444;

Central California



A.A.C.L. Hall, California Armenian

Home, 6720 E. Kings Canyon

Rd., Fresno, CA. 6:15 pm

Admission: $20. For more information

contact Selma Chapter

Triple X Charitable Trust, 559-








RIES: Location: Glendale

Civi Auditorium, 1401 N.

Verdugo Road at Mountain

Ave., Glendale. The class is

held weekly until the party

Feb. 12, 2009. Late registration

through Nov. 6. Adults

are $120 and Students to

23 years $105. Call 562-941-

0845. Visit www.bozigian.

com. Bozigian also presents

his Middle Eastern Trio for

your dancing pleasure.

Southern California



OPENING. Location: Westfield

Topanga Shopping Centre

- Chocolate Covered Company,

6600 Topanga Canyon Boulevard,

Canoga Park, CA. 9:00 AM

- 9:00 PM Admission: FREE!. For

more information contact Ara

Demirjian, 818-357-0957; ara@




Glendale Ararat Center,

3347 N San Fernando Rd, Los

Angeles, CA. 7:00 pm Admission:

$100. For more information

contact LA Homenetmen,

(818) 4930936; datevd@hotmail.




FRIENDS Location: Hotel Cafe,

1623 1/2 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Los

Angeles, CA. 9:00pm Admission:

$10. For more information

contact Melineh Kurdian, ; info@






15105 Mission Hills Rd, Mission

Hills, CA. 7:30 PM Admission:

$70. For more information


SCHOLARSHIP, 818 636-5039;.



Woodley Park, 6335 Woodley

Ave, Van Nuys, CA. 8:30 AM

Admission: $25. For more information

contact HMEM Massis,

(818) 554-4397; massis5k@gmail.

com. Tickets on www.itsmyseat.






Glendale High School Auditorium,


Glendale, CA. 6pm Admission:

$50 - $35 - $20-$12. For more information

contact Tekeyan and

OIA, 818-243-4112.


TELETHON – Christmas Fund

for Armenian Orphans and Disabled

Children, and the Restoration

of Children’s Home. Presented

by Kach Nazar Magazine

& Kach Nazar TV Broadcasting

A.M.G.A. TV (10 hours). For info.

Call (818) 246-0125; forourkids@



GAM VOCH. Location: Pasadena

Armenian Center, 740 E.

Washington Blvd, Pasadena,

CA. 4:00 pm Admission: Free.

For more information contact

Hamazkayin Pasadena “Shahan

Shahnour” Chapter, ;



Glendale Public Library,

222 E Harvard St, Glendale, CA.

7:00 p.m. Admission: $40.00.

For more information contact

LNH Insight, Inc., 818-230-2789; Tickets on



Glendale Public Library, 222 East

Harvard St, Glendale, CA. 7-10

PM Admission: Free. For more

information contact Armenian

Writers Association of California,




Renaissance Banquet

Hall, 1236 S Central Ave, Glendale,

CA. 8:00 pm Admission:

TBD. For more information contact

AESA, (818) 547-3372;



CY HALL. Location: Western

Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic

Church, 6252 Honolulu

Ave, La Crescenta, CA. 8:00 pm

Admission: Free. For more information

contact Hamazkayin

Pasadena “Shahan Shahnour”

Chapter, hamazkayinpasadena@


NIGHT. Location: Barsdall Gallery

Theatre, 4804 Hollywood

Blvd., Los Angeles, CA. 7p.m.

Admission: $20. For more information

contact Armenian Mesrobian

School, (562) 699-2057;





CELEBRATION: Location: Nazarian

Center of the AGBU Manoogian

Demirjian School, Canoga

Park – 6:00pm.





Nazarian Center, 6844 Oakdale

Ave., Canoga Park, CA. 6:00 p.m.

Admission: $150.00/person. For

more information contact St

Peter Armenian Church of Van

Nuys, 818-886-8950; eilesq@aol.




HALL. Location: Western Prelacy

of the Armenian Apostolic

Church, 6252 Honolulu Ave, La

Crescenta, CA. 11:00 am – 5:00

pm Admission: Free. For more

information contact Hamazkayin

Pasadena “Shahan Shahnour”

Chapter, ;




NEWPORT GALA. Location: The

Balboa Bay Club, Newport Beach.

The event will honor Nishan and

Ruby Ann Derderian with a Lifetime

Humanitarian Awards and

celebrate “Bringing Sight to Armenian

Eyes” for sixteen years.

Dinner is at 6:00pm, $500 per

person and proceeds will benefit

the Project’s programs to eliminate

preventable blindness in

Armenia. For advance reservations

and additional information,

contact the AECP office toll

free at 866-448-2327.




Alex Theater, 216 North Brand

Boulevard, Glendale, CA. 20:00

Admission: Soon. For more information

contact Apricot Entertainment,

818 397 8479.



Location: Pasadena Jazz Institute,

260 East Colorado Blvd

Suite 206, Pasadena, CA. 7:00

PM Admission: $10. For more

information contact Pasadena

Jazz Institute, (626) 398-3344; Tickets on



BUBBLES. Location: Macy’s

Sherman Oaks At the Westfield

Fashion Square, 14006 Riverside

Dr., Sherman Oaks, CA. 6:30

p.m. Admission: Free. For more

information contact Macy’s,




TIONAL FUND. Location: Palladio,

1018 E Colorado St, Glendale,

CA. 7:00 pm Admission: $100.00

per person. For more information

contact Ofik & Roza, (818)





Bagramian Hall, 900 W

Lincoln Ave, Montebello, CA.

8:00PM Admission: $40. For

more information contact AYF

Montebello Vahan Cardashian

Chapter, 562-760-9578;


NIGHT. Location: AGBU Pasadena

Center, 2495 E Mountain

St, Pasadena, CA. 6 PM Admission:

$20 & $35. For more information

contact AGBU PASADE-

NA CHAPTER, (626) 794-7942;


NO BORDERS. Location: Safari

Sam’s, 5214 W Sunset Blvd, Los

Angeles, CA. 7 PM Admission:

$20 suggested/varies. For more

information contact Crystal Allene

Cook, (310) 739 1159; info@




Glendale Central Library

Auditorium, 222 E. Harvard St.,

Glendale, CA. All Weekend Admission:

free. For more information

contact Abril Bookstore,

(818) 243-4112; arno@abrilbooks.




Lanterman Auditorium,

4491 Cornishon Ave, La Canada,

CA. 5:00 P.M. Admission: $25,

$20, $15, $10. For more information

contact Maggie Tune Production,

(818) 426 4956;

Tickets on



Hyatt Regency Century

Plaza Hotel, 2025 Avenue of the

Stars, Los Angeles, CA, 90067,

7:00pm . For more information,

please call 818-243-6222.



GLENDALE. Location: Glendale

Public Library, 222 E Harvard St,

Glendale, CA. 7:00 p.m. Admission:

$40. For more information

contact LNH Insight, Inc., (818)


Tickets on



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WITH PAUL. Location: Pasadena

Armenian Center, 740 E

Washington Blvd, Pasadena, CA.

08:30PM Admission: $51.00. For

more information contact AGBU

High School Pasadena, (818) 247-

1717; Paul@Verginieproductions.




DANCE. Location: Pasadena Armenian

Center, 740 E. Washington

Blvd., Pasadena, CA. 6pm

Admission: $20, age 10+ $35.

For more information contact

A.R.S., 626-398-2052 Hasmig);





AUCTION. Location: Vill del Sol

d’Oro, 200 N. Michillinda Ave.,

Pasadena, CA. 12 pm-6 pm Admission:

Free Admission. For

more information contact ARA

Project, 626 792-4479; ckaloo@




CONCERT. Location: Zipper

Concert Hall at the Colburn

School, 200 S. Grand Avenue,

Los Angeles, CA. 8:00PM Admission:

$25/$40. For more information

contact Suzie Shatarevyan,

(626)275-2636; suzie@inhisshoes.

org. Tickets on www.itsmyseat.





KRIKORIAN. Location: Ararat

Home’s Deukmejian Banquet

Hall, Mission Hills, CA, Mission

Hills, CA. 8:00 p.m. Admission:

$65.00. For more information

contact Gorun Kazanjian,

818 437 4008; girian1@



Taglyan Cultural Center,

1201 Vine St, Los Angeles, CA.

6:30 P.M. Admission: $75.00. For

more information contact Anahid

Fund, 818-409-0655; Anahid_Fund@Yahool.Com.



Raitt Recital Hall: Pepperdine

University, 24255 Pacific Coast

HWY, Malibu, CA. 2:00 PM Admission:

$25. For more information

contact Center For The

Arts, (212) 994-3540; tdorn@

Check Enclosed OR Charge My:

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mail coupon to: armenian reporter

p.o. box 129, paramus, nj 07652


fax coupon to (201) 226-1660

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16 The Armenian Reporter | November 1, 2008


agbu’s Discover Armenia trip exposes diaspora teens to their heritage

PARIS – For the fifth consecutive

year, agbu’s Discover Armenia

organized an action-packed trip to

Armenia and neighboring Karabakh

for diaspora youth, ages 15 to

18. From August 8 to 27, 22 youths

from 13 cities and 6 countries spent

20 unforgettable days in Armenia

under the direction and guidance

of Herminé Duzian, agbu Diaspora

Youth Programs Coordinator

in Armenia. The youths hailed from

Belgium (Anvers), Canada (Toronto,

Montreal), France (Paris, Marseilles,

Vienne, Valance, Bordeaux),

Germany (Munich), Lebanon (Beirut),

and the United States (New

Jersey, New York, California).

Along with visits to Garni,

Geghard, the Holy See of Etchmiadzin,

Noravank, the agbu Nork

Children’s Center, Oshakan, the

Tsitsernakabert Armenian Genocide

Museum, Sardarabad, Lake

Sevan, the agbu-sponsored Vazkenian

Theological Seminary, and

other landmarks and museums,

the participants also learned the

value of volunteerism by helping

with the renovation of homes in

the village of Khor Virap, which

was sponsored by the Fuller Center

for Housing, and in the cleaning of

the Khosrov Forest State Preserve,

coordinated by the World Wildlife


Participants had a number of

once-in-a-lifetime experiences,

including climbing Armenia’s

highest mountain, Mount Aragats,

and spending an unforgettable

evening with renowned

Armenian pop singers Shushan

Petrossian and Arsen Grigorian

at the agbu Camp Antranik in

the Lori region.

In Karabakh, participants became

acquainted with local agbu

projects and visited the city of

Shushi and the medieval monastic

complex of Gandzasar.

The trip aims to expose participating

youth to the wondrous nature

of Armenia and the lives of its

citizens. “This is my first time in

Armenia and I liked it a lot. I will

definitely return in the future. I will

help my people as much as I can to

make Armenia a better place,” said

Haigaram Kalindjian, who grew

up in Lebanon and currently attends

a Canadian college.

Talin Knadjian of Belgium

shares Mr. Kalindjian’s enthusiasm:

“When we went to Khor Virap

to help renovate houses, we

got acquainted with several young

people there. They asked me what

I do and I became acquainted with

their everyday activities. They were

very kind to us and were very happy

that a group of Armenians from

Youth from six

countries lend

a hand to clean

up the Khosrov

Forest State

Reserve and

in the process

learn the value

of volunteerism

through agbu’s


Armenia trip.

abroad had come to help them. It

was all very memorable.”


Herminé Duzian at

Senior Karabakh delegation debates with eu policy makers at

agbu Europe round table

BRUSSELS – A delegation from

Nagorno-Karabakh visited Brussels

from October 14 to 17 to take

part in a round table hosted by

agbu Europe in partnership with

the Heinrich Böll Foundation’s

Brussels office. The delegation was

composed of Eduard Atanesyan,

deputy foreign minister of the Republic

of Nagorno-Karabakh, and

David Babayan, head of the Information

Department of the Office

of the President of Karabakh.

The round table brought together

representatives of various organizations

and institutions involved

in European policy in the region,

including ngos, think tanks, embassies,

and various European institutions.

Azerbaijani diplomats

and ngos in Brussels were invited

but did not attend.

The purpose of this visit – the first

to Brussels by a delegation from

Karabakh since 1999 – was to allow

EU decision-makers and experts to

A view of the agbu Europe-sponsored Round Table in Brussels, Belgium. A

delegation from Karabakh was joined by representatives of various organizations

and institutions involved in formulating European policy in the Caucasus.

establish contact with representatives

from Karabakh and to inform

them about the country’s situation.

Even though the EU’s interest in

the South Caucasus has increased

considerably in recent years, it has

abstained from establishing relations

with Karabakh, even at the

most informal level. The EU’s Special

Representative for the South

Caucasus has not yet traveled to

Karabakh, though he has visited

other unrecognized republics in

the region.

The round table reviewed the

state of Karabakh’s economy, state,

and society. Karabakh’s economy

started from nothing after it was

entirely destroyed in the war, but

it is now developing fast. It faces

challenges similar to those of most

other post-Soviet republics, compounded

by the absence of international

assistance and by potential

investors’ reluctance caused by

the country’s unrecognized status.

On the other hand, the speakers

claimed that governance and democratic

standards, facilitated by

the country’s small size, are rather

more advanced in Karabakh than

in the neighboring South Caucasian


Discussing negotiations on Karabakh’s

final status, Mr. Babayan

and Mr. Atanesyan explained their

government’s positions. Karabakh

expects to being included as

Yerevan-born boxing champ is Germany’s “Killer Queen”

by Harry Koundakjian

Undefeated world champion flyweight

boxer Susianna “Susi”

Kentikian, 21, has won 16 of her

22 professional fights by knockout.

Nicknamed the “Queen of

Murder” in her adopted Germany,

the Yerevan-born fighter says she

aims to prove “that women can

fight better than some men.”

Also known as the “Killer

Queen,” Ms. Kentikian took up

boxing at 12, turned pro in 2005,

won her first world championship

two years later, and remains the

World Association and Women’s

International Boxing Federation

world flyweight champion. Since

2007, the German television station

ProSiebven has broadcast her

fights live.

In a recent match, Ms. Kertikian

knocked down Israeli challenger

Hagar Feniri to win her 7th world

lightweight title with scores of

97:93, 98:92 and 99:91. “She was

a very good boxer,” observed the

Killer Queen. “It is the first time

that I am having ten rounds. She

Susianna “Susi” Kentikian.

was strong. I won and the audience

was satisfied. I was proud of their


Born Syuzanna Kentikyan in Yerevan,

she left Armenia with her

family at age 5 during the Nagorno-Karabakh

war and eventually

settled in Hamburg. Now a German

Susianna “Susi” Kentikian.(in white).

national, Ms. Kentikian says Armenia

has not revoked her citizenship.

“I train every day in the morning

and sometimes in the evenings but

never on Sundays,” says the Queen

of Murder, adding that she hopes to

attain the popularity of retired German

boxing star Regina Halmich.

“After finishing my career I want

to have children: one boy and one

girl,” Ms. Kentikian concludes.

“However, now I don’t think about

that because I still have a lot to

do. I hope that thanks to God and

my work I can make my dreams

come true.”

a party in the negotiations on its

future status. In a lively discussion

about Azerbaijani refugees’

right to return to Karabakh, Mr.

Babayan confirmed that they were

welcome to do so, provided that

those involved accept the jurisdiction

of the Republic of Nagorno-

Karabakh. He insisted, however,

that refugees should not be used as

pawns in a political game, and that

negotiations on the topic should

genuinely aim to satisfy their right

of return.

This round table, held on October

16, was the first in a series of round

tables and events which agbu Europe

will be organizing as part of its

work with the European institutions.

The next event to be organized will

be a conference, on November 13

next, on the Rediscovery of Armenian

Heritage in Turkey.



physicians in

New York to

discuss diabetes

QUEENS, N.Y. – With nearly

25 million Americans affected by

diabetes – about 4 million of whom

don’t know they have it – diabetes

is a major public health challenge.

That’s why the Armenian-American

Health Professional Organization

(aahpo) is offering a comprehensive

workshop about diabetes on

Friday, November 21, 7 to 10 p.m., at

the Armenian Society in Little Neck.

Designed for the general public,

the workshop will offer information

directly from healthcare professionals

about symptoms, prevention,

treatment, and risks associated with

poor control and nontreatment of

diabetes. aahpo is a 501(c)3 service

organization dedicated to the promotion

of the public health needs of

Armenians in the United States and

in Armenia.


(718) 786-3842

The Armenian Reporter | November 1, 2008 17


Sirpuhe Conte, philanthropist, dies at 99

Sirpuhe Conte

Sayat Nova Dance Company is spectacular in “Power in Rhythm”

by Nairi Checkosky


Mrs. John (Sirpuhe) Conte died

peacefully and entered her eternal

home on October 23. She was three

months away from celebrating her

100th birthday.

Sirpuhe was born in the village

of Hadjin, Turkey, and immigrated

to the United States as a young

lady. She resided in Los Angeles

with her devoted parents, Yeghia

and Hanasant, brothers John

and Barkev, and sisters Azad and

Mary, all whom preceded her in


In 1931 she married Stephen

Philibosian, a successful Oriental

rug merchant and philanthropist.

They had two daughters, Joyce and

Louise, both of whom survive her

in California. She and her husband

later moved to Philadelphia, enjoying

their beautiful Hilltop Farm,

which later became the Armenian

Sisters Academy of Philadelphia

after the death of Mr. Philibosian

in 1974.

Sirpuhe became a dedicated volunteer

for a number of organizations,

and carried on the philanthropy

of her husband. Of special

interest was support for Armenians

in the Middle East, building

and renovating elementary schools

in Lebanon, student scholarships,

supporting orphanages and providing

housing for the aged and

blind. Mrs. Conte often traveled

to the Middle East, and was honored

by the Lebanese government

with a Certificate of Merit for her

many charitable and cultural contributions.

In 1955 the Philibosian

Foundation founded, Haigazian

University, the only Armenian institute

of higher learning outside

of Armenia.

In 1953, she moved to California

with her daughter Louise, and

was one of the first to launch

the financing of the Los Angeles

Music Center. She married John

Conte in 1962, and they soon

moved to Palm Springs, where

they owned and operated the El

Mirador Hotel. During this time

they founded and operated KMIR-

TV on the grounds of the hotel,

later locating the station in Palm

Desert. The station was sold to

Journal Broadcasting. The Contes

built a home at Eldorado Country

Club, and were later joined

there by Joyce and Joe Stein,

Stephanie and Michael Landes

and their children, and Louise

Danelian. Four generations at


Mr. Conte died in 2006. Sirpuhe’s

philanthropic activities in

California included Eisenhower

Medical Center, the Virginia Waring

International Piano Competition,

the Center for East-West

Medicine at ucla, Pet Rescue of

the Desert, and arcs (Achievement

Rewards for College Scientists)

of which she was a charter

member. She served as a trustee

of the McCallum Theatre, and also

was honored with Northwood Institute’s

Distinguished Women’s

Award in 1978.

Mrs. Conte is survived by her

daughters, Joyce (husband Joe)

and Louise, grandchildren Stephanie

(husband Michael) Landes,

Christina (husband David)

Segel, Leslie (husband Rick)

Berge and Stephen (wife Lulu)

Danelian, great-grandchildren

Matthew, Christina and Stephen

Landes, Stephanie Logan,

Catherine Harnish, and Henry

Richard Segel, and Andrew and

Emily Smith, Christopher (wife

Susan) Conte and their children

Ashley and John Richard. During

the last four years, Sirpuhe received

attentive, faithful and loving

care from Gabriella DaCosta

and Vickie Hayworth. The family

has been truly blessed by their


A celebration of Mrs. Conte’s life

was held at the Forest Lawn Mortuary

on Ramon Road at DaVall in

Cathedral City on Sunday, October

26. Rev. Doug Garrard, pastor of

the Palm Desert Community Presbyterian

Church, presided. Sirpuhe

was laid to rest with her husband.

Gifts of remembrance may be

made to the Armenian Missionary

Association of America, 31 West

Century Road, Paramus, NJ 07652,

Pet Rescue of the Desert, Christian

Schools of the Desert, 40700 Yucca

Lane, Bermuda Dunes, CA 92203,

and the ucla Center for East-West

Medicine, 2428 Santa Monica Boulevard,

Suite 208, Santa Monica, CA

90404, att: Dr. Hui.

We grieve not as those who have

no hope.


Nova Dance Company of Boston’s

performance of “Power in

Rhythm” on Saturday, September

27, at the George Washington Lisner

Auditorium in Washington,

was a two-hour celebration of Armenian

dance, song, poetry, and

visual art in honor of Armenia’s

independence. Proceeds from the

show, which was sponsored by

the Women’s Guild of the Washington-area

St. Mary’s Armenian

Apostolic Church, will benefit

Habitat for Humanity Armenia.

The artistry of the troupe was

magnificent, each movement flowing

to the next in a breathtaking arrangement

of modern and ancient

Armenian dances. The women

moved as one, with arms, hands

– even fingers – perfectly coordinated.

The visual imagery paid tribute

to triumph in Karabakh, troubadour

Sayat Nova, and the ruins of

Ani, as well as the Christian faith of

the Armenian people.

Sayat Nova, an 18th-century

troubadour and priest, enriched Armenian

culture through songs and

poems that were at the forefront of

the Armenian literary and musical

movement of the time. He wrote:

Kanee goozeh kameen daneh,

dzovemen avaz chee bagsee

Tegooz ulleem tegooz chulleem

mechleesneroom saz chee bagsee

However hard the wind blows,

there will be no shortage of sand

on beaches

Whether or not I exist, there will

be no shortage of music at feasts

But the wind has not blown away

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Armenian

president Serge Sargsian’s

surprise invitation to his Turkish

counterpart to attend the September

6 Armenia-Turkey soccer match

in Yerevan placed the ball squarely

on Turkey’s side of the field. While

a negative reply would signal rejection

of Armenia’s friendly gesture,

acceptance could endanger

The performers of the Sayat Nova Dance Company of Boston.

his contribution. His namesake

dance group, the Sayat Nova Dance

Company, embraces a dance tradition

that embodies traditional Armenian

culture, yet adds a modern


Founder and director Apo

Ashjian was trained by the finest

choreographers in Armenia, such

as Gagik Karapetian, and in the

diaspora, such as Sarkis Paskalian.

The dance group has over 70 dedicated

dancers, performers, and crew

who spend tireless hours rehearsing

and sacrificing so much to bring

their shows to life. They navigate

upward of fourteen costume changes

per show, memorize over two

hours of dances and songs, practice

for many hours per week, and

Turkey’s relations with Azerbaijan.

Then Russia invaded Georgia, significantly

changing the situation.

What made Abdullah Gül decide

to visit Armenia? Why did he do so?

What was discussed during his visit?

What were more than 100 Turkish

journalists doing in the streets of

Yerevan? Who visited the Genocide

memorial? And did the visit improve

Armenian-Turkish relations?

Artak Shakaryan, senior research

fellow in Turkish studies at

the Institute of Oriental Studies,

a division of Armenia’s National

Academy of Sciences, promises to

address these questions in a lecture

sponsored by the Harvard University

Armenian Student Organization,

8 p.m., November 3, at 202

travel long distances. These dancers,

together with Mr. Ashjian and assistant

directors Hagop Ashjian

and Shaghig Palanjian and their

committee members, have a steadfast

dedication to their mission “to

preserve and promote the Armenian


The St. Mary’s Women’s Guild

worked for many months to ensure

Turkish studies scholar from Armenia to lecture at

Harvard University on “soccer diplomacy”

Harvard Hall (between Peabody St.

and the Old Yard).

Educated at Yerevan State University

and the National Academy

of Sciences, Dr. Shakarian has authored

a book and more than 100

articles. A frequent commentator

in the Armenian media, he is fluent

in Armenian, English, Russian, and


a successful and well-attended evening.

When the dancers arrived in

Washington, the Women’s Guild

welcomed them with a delicious

homemade meal. After the show,

the dancers gathered at St. Mary’s

Church for a lavish cast party, featuring

DJ Garrett Hallajian. The party

was sponsored by Nairi Checkosky

Balian and Sevag Balian.

Visit us at

18 The Armenian Reporter | November 1, 2008


amaa 90th anniversary highlights contributions to Armenia

PARAMUS, N.J. – Celebrating

“90 Years of Miracles,” the annual

meeting of the Armenian Missionary

Association of America took

place on October 18 at the amaa

headquarters in Paramus. A banquet

at the Hasbrouck Heights

Hilton followed at 7 p.m. The weekend’s

festivities concluded the next

morning with an 11 a.m. worship

service at the Armenian Presbyterian

Church of Paramus.

Earlier – on July 14 – more than

80 supporters from five countries

gathered in Armenia’s capital for

an 8-day tour of amaa projects

and historical sites in the homeland.

After sightseeing in Yerevan,

the group made a pilgrimage to the

Genocide Monument, where executive

director Andy Torigian offered

prayers at the Eternal Flame.

An impromptu baseball game

took place the next day on a visit to

the Sheen-Shoghik Camp in Hankavan,

with equipment and clothing

donated by the Landes family

of California. Rounding out the afternoon

were dance performances

by a group from the amaa community

center in Gyumri and songs

presented by the campers.

The third day began with a visit

to the new site of the amaa Center

and Church, including the new

seminary building, so that visitors

could see firsthand the construction

of the organization’s new

headquarters. Arpine Aynilian

was honored at the current amaa

Center and the Nerses and Arpine

Aynilian Medical Clinic, with her

family in attendance.

Students at the Khoren and

Shoushanik Avedisian Elementary

School welcomed the group

with songs. According to benefactors

Edward and Pamela Avedisian,

who introduced principal

Melanya Geghamyan, this school

was named the best in Armenia in


The National Chamber Orchestra

of Armenia dedicated that evening’s

concert to the amaa’s 90th

anniversary. In his bilingual welcome

to the concert, Mr. Torigian

reviewed the organization’s nine

decades of service, acknowledging

the support of the Armenian

government. Following remarks by

Rev. René Léonian, amaa’s representative

in Armenia, artistic director

and principal conductor Aram

Gharabekian presented a moving


A trip to amaa Community Center

and Church in Vanatzor offered

the international visitors an opportunity

to mingle with local community

members and amaa student


A special performance by the

Shoghig Choir, directed by Armavir

Church pastor Garush Antonyan,

made for an emotional evening at

St. Leon Church to dedicate new

classroom building and gymnasium

Sardarabad. The amaa group, some

of whom were discovering Armenia

for the first time, also visited

historic churches in Oshakan and

Ashtarak, the pit of St. Gregory the

Illuminator at Khor Virab, Etchmiadzin,

Garni, Geghart, and the

Vernissage market.



Above : Sheen

Shoghig Camp

in Hankavan.

Above left: amaa


visiting with Pres.

Serge Sarkissian.

Left: Avedissian

School children


Saroyan centennial to honor

renowned author’s legacy

FAIR LAWN, N.J. – On a monumental

day in the half-century history

of St. Leon Armenian Church,

parishioners will celebrate the

dedication of a new Education and

Recreation Center on November 2.

Archbishop Khajag Barsamian,

Primate, will preside over the blessing

and ribbon-cutting ceremony

immediately after the Divine Liturgy,

to be followed by a luncheon

and program in Abajian Hall.

The new classroom building has

six large classrooms, an assembly

area, office, meeting room, locker

rooms, and a lounge. The adjacent

gymnasium is large enough to accommodate

regulation basketball

and other gym activities. There will

be ample bleachers for spectators,

especially those attending the basketball

games of the Church League.

St. Leon had its humble origins

in Paterson, New Jersey, the home

of many Armenian immigrants

who found work in the city’s silk

mills. In 1933, in the midst of the

Depression, the growing congregation

purchased an existing structure

and consecrated it as St. Leon

Armenian Church.

St. Leon grew stronger in numbers,

and the parish needed to

consider a new location. The appropriate

two-acre site was purchased

in Fair Lawn in 1958, and the residence

on the property immediately

became the Parish House. It was

not until 1965, however, that the

new church structure was built and

consecrated. The parish continued

to expand. In 1982 a beautiful Community

Center was constructed

to provide the congregation with

Holy Martyrs to celebrate 50 years


1874, the Garden City Hotel has

been a favorite of the rich and famous,

including the Vanderbilts,

Astors, Kennedys, and Clintons.

What better place to celebrate the

golden anniversary of Holy Martyrs

Armenian Church?

Since 1958, Holy Martyrs has

been a resource more precious

than gold for the Armenian community,

organizers say. Open to

the public, the “24-karat” event

on Sunday, November 9, begins

with a 5 p.m. cocktail hour, followed

by dinner and dancing to

the Arthur Apkarian Ensemble of



Arlene Aprahamian at 1-516-365-7808

Adele Aghazadian at 1-516-365-1044

Let us know what’s on your mind.

Write to us at

much-needed space for its range

of activities. All the while, the adjacent

two acres of property were

identified for future growth, and

they finally became available for

purchase in 2002. The parish began

to plan for classroom space and a


A building committee took on

the task of solidifying plans, raising

funds, and construction. The

original plan was to construct the

building in two phases: first, the

classroom building, then, when

additional funds were raised, the

gymnasium; however, because of

the charitable outpouring of the

parish, the entire project was completed

in one phase.



FLUSHING, N.Y. – Among the

celebrations of the 100th birthday

of renowned Armenian-American

writer William Saroyan will be a

program at 3 p.m., November 23,

in Lefrak Concert Hall of Queens

College. A shining example of the

Armenian contribution to America,

Saroyan played an undeniable role

in forging the sense of pride felt

by Armenian-Americans across

this country, organizers say. The

event pays tribute to the Pulitzer

Prize-winning talent who transformed

Broadway in the 1930s and

40s and wrote unforgettable stories

still taught in schools around the


Program offerings include presentations

on Saroyan’s life and

art, readings from his short stories,

a performance of his short play

The Morgenthau Story to be

screened in Boston

BELMONT, Mass. – The Morgenthau

Story, a new documentary

film by Apo Torosyan, will

be screened at 8 p.m. on Thursday,

November 6, at the National

Association for Armenian Studies

and Research (naasr), 395

Concord Ave., Belmont, Mass.

Co-sponsored by naasr and the

Harvard University Mashtots

Chair in Armenian Studies, the

evening begins with remarks

from Mashtots Professor James

Russell. The naasr bookstore

will be open for 30 minutes before

the screening.

U.S. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau,

who served at Constantinople

during the Armenian

Genocide, appealed without success

to the Ottoman leaders to

stop the killings. In 1923, during

the aftermath of the Genocide

and expulsion of Armenians,

Greeks, and Assyrians, he helped

save thousands of lives as head

of the Refugee Relief Committee

in Greece. The film interweaves

Ambassador Morgenthau’s story

and interviews with three of his



“Hello, Out There,” and a setting of

composer Arno Babajanian’s score

for a 1960s production in Armenia

of Saroyan’s play “My Heart’s in the

Highlands.” The writer’s watercolor

abstract painting will be on display

in the atrium.

Co-sponsored by the Anthropology

Museum of the People of New

York, the Armenian Cultural Educational

Resource Center Gallery, and

the Armenian General Benevolent

Union (AGBU), the Saroyan tribute

is also supported by the Queens

College English and Music Departments,

the Prelacy of the Armenian

Apostolic Church of America, and

Diocese of the Armenian Church of

America (Eastern).



St. Leon Church in

New Jersey to host

casino night

FAIR LAWN, N.J. – Whether

you are a serious gambler or a casual

“donor” in Las Vegas, St. Leon Armenian

Church Casino Night may

be for you. Sponsored by the Men’s

Fellowship group, the November 15

event opens at 7:30 p.m. in Abajian

Hall, which will be transformed

into a Las Vegas–style casino with

dice, blackjack, poker, and other

games of chance, all orchestrated

by the Tumbling Dice Co. The gambling

begins at 8, followed by a silent

auction. Admission includes

refreshments and gaming chips.


Robert Ishkanian, 201-652-8762

The Armenian Reporter | November 1, 2008 19


Armenia Fund has high hopes for Telethon 2008

by Armen Hakobyan

by Emil Danielyan

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev

will meet his Armenian

and Azerbaijani counterparts in

Moscow on November 2 for potentially

decisive talks on the Nagorno-

Karabakh conflict, it was officially

announced on October 28.

The Kremlin said the trilateral

meeting would take place “in accordance

with an agreement reached


President Serge Sargsian’s office

confirmed the information.

“Issues related to the settlement of

the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will

be on the agenda of the meeting,” it

said in a short statement.

Mr. Medvedev publicly offered

to host more face-to-face talks between

Mr. Sargsian and Azerbaijan’s

President Ilham Aliev during

an official visit to Yerevan on

October 21. The Karabakh conflict

was reportedly high on the agenda

of the trip. Mr. Medvedev also discussed

it in a phone call with Mr.

Aliyev the next day.

YEREVAN – In less then a month,

the traditional annual telethon of

the Armenia Fund will kick off in

Los Angeles. The telethon will start

early on November 27 and conclude

12 hours later.

The telethon will be broadcast

throughout the United States.

“I am hopeful that this year we

will be able to surpass last year’s

results,” Ara Vardanian, the acting

executive director of the fund,

said in a press conference on October

28 in Yerevan. He noted that

during the past several years, the

numbers of participants and donations

through the telethon have

grown at an annual average of 15

percent. At the same time, Mr.

Vardanian noted, “The amount of

the money is not important; it’s

the participation that matters. The

Armenia Fund has always attached

importance to the number of donors

and not the amount of their


During the press conference,

Mr. Vardanian was accompanied

by Armen Hambardzumian,

the producer of “Mea Culpa” and

“Khatabalada,” both very popular

plays, and renowned actor Hrant

Tokhatian, who had come to

show their support for the telethon.

Mr. Hambardzumian announced,

“We have decided to donate

the entire profit from “Opera,

Opera” and “Mea Culpa,” which

will be staged on November 3–5 to

the Armenia Fund. He also noted

that the Vardan Ajemian Theater

in Gyumri and the Henrik Malian

Dramatic Theater have decided

to donate their profits from a

play based on William Saroyan’s

works to the fund. Mr. Tokhatian

added, “I would like us to fully

grasp that in reality, the money

is not being donated to the Armenia

Fund, but is being donated to

ourselves, our children, as we are

talking about our future.” He also

noted that he has decided to participate

every year in the fund’s

fundraising both personally and

professionally.“This is the only

Mr. Medvedev announced

his initiative following upbeat

statements on Karabakh peace

prospects made by Russian Foreign

Minister Sergei Lavrov. In

an October 7 interview with the

Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily, Mr. Lavrov

had described as “very real”

chances for the resolution of the

Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.

“There remain two or three unresolved

issues which need to be

agreed upon at the next meetings

of the presidents of Armenia and

Azerbaijan,” he had said.

Mr. Sargsian said over the

weekend that the Karabakh dispute

can be resolved only if Azerbaijan

recognizes the Karabakh

Armenians’ “right to self-determination.”

But Mr. Aliyev insisted

on Friday that Baku would never

accept Karabakh’s secession from



Copyright (c) 2008 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted

with the permission of Radio Free

Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut

Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.

foundation that does not have

any political or party orientation;

it only has a civic orientation. The

Armenia Fund is that place where

we can all truly join in and work

together,” he noted.

Mr. Vardanian echoed these

sentiments and said that he is convinced

that society in Armenia has

reached a certain level where it can

now help the Armenia Fund and by

doing so help itself.

Viva-Cell-MTS will be the chief

sponsor of the telethon, just as it

was last year. The mobile operator

has already donated $1 million

dollars, $750 thousand of which

has been spent on the preparatory

work for the telethon. The remaining

$250 thousand has been allocated

to the implementation of the

fund’s projects.

In response to a question from

the Armenian Reporter about funds

raised during the 2007 Telethon,

Mr. Vardanian noted that while $15

million was pledged last year, as of

October 28, 2008, only $7.7 million

had been transferred to the Armenia

Fund’s account in Yerevan.

He said that the $7.7 million figure

included the pledge of Russian-

Armenian benefactor Levon Hairapetian

to spend $2.5 million, but

not through the fund.

Mr. Vardanian said that Mr. Hairapetian

had finished a school in

Artsakh’s Vank village and was

working on the water pipeline of

Western mediators

to join summit in


by Ruben Meloyan

U.S. and French mediators will

travel to Moscow ahead of the November

2 meeting of the Armenian

and Azerbaijani presidents hosted

by Russia, Foreign Minister Edward

Nalbandian announced on

October 29.

Mr. Nalbandian said he and his

Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar

Mammadyarov would meet the

American, French as well as Russian

diplomats co-chairing the

OSCE Minsk Group in the Russian

capital on November 1. He said the

co-chairs could also meet Presidents

Aliyev and Sargsian after

their trilateral meeting with Russia’s


Mr. Medvedev has initiated the

Armenian-Azerbaijani summit

amid renewed international hopes

the village. More importantly he

underwrote the impressive wedding

of 700 young couples in Artsakh

(See Armenian Reporter, October

25). The Armenia Fund has

decided that it would work more

closely with Russian-Armenians.

The Armenian Reporter had broken

the news that the fund’s affiiate in

the United States, Armenia Fund

USA, reported having collected all

funds pledged during last year’s

telethon, but had not transferred

any of the money as of June 2008.

Since then, Mr. Vardanian

said, the affiliate had transferred

$250,000 to the fund’s account in


Mr. Vardanian said the gasification

and renovation of the irrigation

system of the village of

Aknaghbyur in the Tavush province

are being implemented with

those funds.

AFUSA is expecting additional

funds included in the sums announced

during last year’s telethon,

Mr. Vardanian said. These

are large contributions from major

donors. In one case, the donor is

waiting for more detailed plans, he


Mr. Vardanian was hopeful that

the global financial crisis would not

have a large effect on the fund’s

ability to raise money this year. He

acknowledged, however, that consistent

major donors had warned

him that they would be donating

significantly less money than they

have in the past.

Asked about the impact of inflation

– expected to come to about

9 percent this year – on the fund,

Mr. Vardanian again struck an optimistic

note. He said contracts were

in place for the fund’s construction


Asked by the Reporter about

plans of the new Ministry of Diaspora

Affairs to identify high-priority

projects that require funding

in Armenia’s provinces, Mr.

Vardanian said the Armenia Fund

would have to do the fund raising.

“The Ministry for the Diaspora is a

state body and does not have the

right to become engaged in fundraising.

WhatMinister Hranush

Hakobyan is doing in terms of

clarifying the primary issues of

the regions, she is doing for the

Armenia Fund. Of course, we also

cooperate in that sense. Everyone

should know that wherever Mrs.

Hakobyan presents a construction

or economic development project,

it is going to be implemented

through the Armenia Fund. I am

sure that the ministry will support

us. Our level of cooperation is very

high,” said Mr. Vardanian.

Apart from the telethon, the

pan-European phonethon will take

place in France from November 13

to 16. France-Telecom will support

the phonethon by providing telephone



Presidents Aliyev, Sargsian to meet in Moscow on Sunday

Armenia sets new development targets

for a near-term solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh

conflict. The Russian

president and other officials

have expressed hope that Mr. Aliyev

and Mr. Sargsian would bridge

their remaining differences on a

framework peace accord proposed

by the Minsk Group.

The Russian initiative has fuelled

talk of Moscow seeking to

sideline the West in the Karabakh

peace process as part of its efforts

to boost its influence in the South

Caucasus after the recent war with


However, the initiative was welcomed

by the United States on October

28. “We are pleased by this

initiative that Moscow is undertaking.

We hope that the initiative succeeds.

We are monitoring it very

closely,” U.S. State Department

spokespersion Sean McCormack

told reporters.

“We hope that the meeting of the

presidents will give yet another serious

impetus to the acceleration

of the negotiations,” Mr. Nalbandian

said for his part. He said the

success of the Moscow talks depends

on whether Azerbaijan will

embrace mutual compromise. The

Armenian side is ready to make its

share of the concessions, he said.

“We can find a settlement with

Azerbaijan,” Mr. Nalbandian told

a news conference. “That will be

possible if Azerbaijan expresses

political will and opts for an appropriate

settlement, instead of taking

disruptive steps in various international

organizations and making

parallel statements.”

Mr. Nalbandian also dismissed

opposition claims that Sarkisian is

re-orienting Armenia’s foreign policy

toward the West in hopes of securing

U.S. and European support

for his rule. “If somebody notices

some change in our relations with

Russia, I can assure them that that

change can only reinforce, expand

and deepen our strategic and allied

relations with Russia,” he said. f

Copyright (c) 2008 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted

with the permission of Radio Free

Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut

Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.

by Hovannes Shoghikian

YEREVAN (RFE/RL) – Armenia’s

government approved on October

29 a long-term economic program

that commits it to achieving over

the next decade much greater

prosperity on the level already

Visit us at

enjoyed by the European Union’s

new, formerly Communist, member


“Our target is the level of economic

development of eastern and

central European countries,” said

Finance Minister Tigran Davtian.

“The program envisages that by 2017,

we will have reached the level of

economic development which new

European Union member states

had in 2006.”

According to Mr. Davtian, the

success of the Sustainable Development

Program (SDP) will be

measured by the per-capita size of

Armenia’s Gross Domestic Product

(GDP), which stood at around

$3,500 in 2007. He said that ratio

is to more than double by 2015 and

reach $12,600 by 2021.

The unveiled program is a significantly

revised version of a poverty

reduction strategy approved by the

cabinet of late Prime Minister Andranik

Margarian in 2001. Under

that program, the proportion of

Armenians living below the official

poverty line was to drop to 26.5

percent by 2012.

Armenia has already met that

target in 2006 because of fasterthan-expected

economic growth.

The SDP envisages that the poverty

rate will shrink by more than

half in the next four years and

stand at only 7 percent in 2021.

In a written statement, the government

said that its new development

targets will be met as a result

of continued economic growth,

further increases in public spending,

and a “modernization of the

country’s system of governance.” It

said all government ministers were

instructed to come up by December

30 with detailed action plans

designed to spur “prolonged economic


The Armenian economy is on

track to expand at a double-digit

rate for the seventh consecutive

year in 2008.

Mr. Davtian was confident

that the robust growth can continue

despite the global economic



Copyright (c) 2008 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted

with the permission of Radio Free

Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut

Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.

Tigran Davtyan. Photo: Photolure.

20 The Armenian Reporter | November 1, 2008


“The Case of the Seven is a bubble,” their lawyer says

by Armen Hakobyan

Armen Khachatrian.

YEREVAN – Armen Khachatrian,

the coordinator of the Legal Support

for Political Prisoners Service

of the opposition Armenian National

Congress told the Armenian

Reporter that the Case of the Seven

is devoid of substance.

The Case of the Seven involves

members of parliament Miasnik

Malkhasian, Hakob Hakobyan,

and Sassun Mikaelian, former

foreign minister Alexander Arzumanian,

and another three

people. They are accused of organizing

mass riots that resulted in

a number of deaths. Mr. Khachatrian

considers them to be, without

question, political prisoners – just

like all the other people accused

and sentenced under the March

1 criminal case, apart from those

who participated in the lootings.

The Legal Support for Political

Prisoners Service operates within

the framework of the Armenian National

Congress headed by Levon

Ter-Petrossian. The service was

formed, “in the situation generated

after March 1, when people were

being arrested constantly and their

numbers had reached about 500

and the number of those detained

had surpassed 5,000 throughout

the Republic. At that time, at the

end of March and the beginning of

April, we tried to offer preliminary

legal aid by guaranteeing lawyers

or simply direct legal consultation.

After that, when the trial processes

began, we literally started offering

legal support by guaranteeing

lawyers. Parallel to this we began

to support the elucidation of the


When asked how they had determined

that 5,000 people had

been detained – the number radically

differs from figures – Mr.

Khachatrian said, “When the political

‘strolls’ [mini-demonstrations]

had just begun on Northern

Avenue at the end of March, the

police detained more than 80 people

in a single day; however, the

next day only seven people were

mentioned in the information

provided by the police. They had

prepared reports on only seven

of the 80 detainees. According to

the law, [the police] must prepare

a report for each of them; after

all you are taking a person to the

police department and keeping

him there for a couple of hours. If

they do not want to make a report,

then let them say that they have

kidnapped or detained a person

illegally. This is also one of the reasons

for the difference. We have

counted the names and surnames

everyday and we base our data on

those numbers.”

To the question of how many

pending cases there are according

to their data, Mr. Khachatrian

said that among the cases they

also include cases reported before

March 1, connected with the

elections or opposition figures.

“From the first day we decided not

to separate the cases of political

prisoners detained, imprisoned,

or sentenced before March 1. In

other words, we view them all as

March 1, 2008, in Yerevan. Photo: Photolure.

one. For example, Smbat Ayvazian,

who was detained on February

23, is, nevertheless, a person

persecuted as a result of recent political

events in Armenia,” said Mr.

Khachatrian and added that they

consider the former deputy prosecutor

general Gagik Jhangirian,

his brother Vardan Jhangirian,

Bedros Makeyan, and Harout

Urutian to be political prisoners,

even though they were detained

before March 1.

According to Mr. Khachatrian,

overall, “160 people have been accused

in the March 1 case, the cases

of 21 have been quashed, eight have

been vindicated by the court and

the cases of the rest of them are either

being examined or are in court,

or are being appealed or had sentences

passed on them.” Currently,

about 30 cases including the Case

of the Seven are under a separate

court case. Mr. Khachatrian said he

thought that the authorities “will

probably try to summarize the accusations

or court procedures of

all the cases within the Case of the

Seven. The authorities are trying to

summarize the series of criminal

investigations in the Case of the


“There are some reservations. The

reservations are connected to the

fact that some people who had

not participated in the rallies and

who had come there to rob and

loot have also been detained and

later on sentenced in the March 1

case. Naturally we cannot consider

them political prisoners. If I am not

mistaken, about 40 people were accused

of robbery, looting, and using

drugs,” he explained.

According to the Legal Support

for Political Prisoners Service

overall, 131 people are political

prisoners and about 300 more

people are considered politically

persecuted. Amongst these are

the editor-in-chief of Haykakan

Zhamanak daily and representative

of Levon Ter-Petrossian’s

electoral headquarters, Nikol

Pashinian, Member of Parliament

Khachatur Sukiassian,

and others being sought by law

enforcement bodies. They consider

all those people against whom

law enforcement bodies have not

declared an investigation, but

who have been forced to go into

hiding or flee Armenia temporarily

for their “political views,

political activities or political

stance” to be politically persecuted.

“Amongst those men are, for

example, Valodia Hovhanissian,

who actively participated in the

election process and supported

Levon Ter-Petrossian and is currently

in hiding, even though he is

not being sought,” said Mr. Khachatrian.

“He has already received

corresponding status in another

country [Georgia]. Some economic

sanctions were used against

him, resulting in him losing his

business in Armenia; he was the

owner of Aygservice. The man lost

his business just because he supported

Levon Ter-Petrossian.”

Investigation into the events of March 1 continues

Mr. Khachatrian describes the

political cases which have been examined

in courts so far as empty


As far as the Case of the Seven is

concerned, Mr. Khachatrian noted,

“The legal absurdity is total in this

case. Here they have completed

that logic. There are two kinds of

balloons or bubbles: rubber balloons,

which can be burst by a needle

and soap bubbles, which burst

by themselves. In this case, the

criminal case is bursting by itself.

In other words, if the defendants

do not question witnesses in court,

do not present arbitrators, etc.,

then the accusations disappear by

the preliminary testimonies.”

The Legal Support for Political

Prisoners Service is preparing all

the necessary documents and 2-3

cases in order to apply to the European

Court of Human Rights and

appeal the decision of the Armenian


The authorities of Armenia,

naturally, do not accept that there

are political prisoners in the country.


by Armen Hakobyan

YEREVAN – “The preliminary investigation

into the ‘mother case’

of the events of March 1 continues

in order to find the rest of those involved

in the crime and give a legal

evaluation to their actions,” Sona

Truzian, the press secretary of

Armenia’s prosecutor general told

the Armenian Reporter.

The case refers to the criminal investigation

into clashes that caused

the deaths of 10 people (two police

officers and eight civilians)

and injuries to hundreds of others.

The clashes took place in the early

morning of March 1 in Yerevan’s

Freedom Square and continued later

that same day in different areas

of the city between the supporters

of the opposition and the police.

Armenia’s Special Investigations

Service is conducting the investigation.

Reviewing the numbers

To date, 140 people have been accused.

Of them, 118 were held in

detention; 22 were freed on their

own recognizance. The courts ordered

the release of eight people

from pretrail detention. Another 23

were ordered released by the prosectors

supervising the Special Investigations


According to the official data,

the pursuit of another 22 people

has been dropped and the relevant

parts of the criminal case have

been quashed.

From the mother case, 89 separate

criminal cases were opened

and have been sent to court. They

charge 104 individuals; 79 of the accused

were already under detention

at that time, and the other 25 swore

not to leave the country until the

end of the case.

Currently 13 people are being

tried in 11 criminal cases. Of them,

12 are being held in custody.

Verdicts have been handed down

on 78 cases involving 91 people.

Five people have been vindicated.

Another 43 people have been found

guilty and sentenced to between

six months and six years in prison.

Another 37 have been found guilty

and have had their sentences suspended.

Case of the Seven is

about to go to trial

Now, the investigation has been

completed and all evidence has

been presented for consideration

in a case, “The Case of the Seven,”

involving three members of parliament

and a former foreign minister.

Member of parliament Hakob

Hakobyan, former foreign minister

Alexander Arzumanian,

Shant Haroutounian, Grigor

Voskerichian, and Souren Sirounian

have been charged under

Article 225 of the Penal Code (for

organizing mass riots, accompanied

by killings) and Article 300

(actions aimed at overthrowing the

Constitution by violence); member

of parliament Miasnik Malkhasian

has been charged under those

articles and Article 38-316 of the

Penal Code (accomplice in violence

against law enforcement officials).

Member of parliament Sassun

Mikaelyan has been charged under

the two articles and Article 235,

unlawful possession of a deadlu


A case involving five people, including

Khacatur Sukiasian, a

member of parliament and owner

of the Sil Group, and Nikol

Pashinian, an editor and opposition

activist, is still being developed.


The Armenian Reporter | November 1, 2008 21


Tufenkian vineyards are already bearing fruit

Resettlement is the

key for liberated


by Tatul Hakobyan

KASHATAGH, Nagorno-Karabakh

– Talk of returning the liberated

territories to Azerbaijan has been

the major obstacle hindering the

revitalization and resettlement

of those territories. The territory

that falls between the Soviet-era

Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous

Region and the Republic of Armenia

is historically Armenian territory.

The fertile valleys that fall

between the historic provinces of

Siunik and Artsakh, between the

Aghavn, Hakar, and Vorotan Rivers,

were cleared of Armenian residents

in the last 200 years; other

villages, such as Hak and Alghuli,

had been populated by Armenians

until 1918.

Aygehovit is one of the Hakar

valley’s partly restored and resettled

villages. According to Zorik

Hovhannisian, the head of the

village, this valley and Aygehovit

are among the most beautiful

places in the world. Even though he

was born in Stepanavan, in Armenia’s

Lori province, he has lived and

worked in Artik for many years. The

head of the village says that talk of

returning the territories affects the

residents psychologically.

“After living with no electricity

for six years, we finally have it,” he

said. “The Tufenkian Foundation

has started implementing some

humanitarian projects and the government

of Nagorno-Karabakh is

lending small sums of money to the

villagers at zero interest; however,

this is too little for the restoration

and resettlement of these territories,”

Mr. Hovhannisian added.

The head of the village is convinced

that something must be

done to make people feel respected

on this land and not feel like creatures

begging for help. “In other

words, they must give people the

opportunity to work and live with

dignity. They must know that this

land belongs to them. Nothing else

is needed; a man will create the rest

with his own hands,” he said.

Antranig Kasbarian, director

of the Tufenkian Foundation’s

Nagorno-Karabakh Office, agrees

that first of all the employment issue

must be resolved in the liberated

territories. It is impossible to

keep people on those lands even

if you construct good housing for

them. “The main reason behind the

emigration from the Kashatagh

region from 2000 to 2007 was unemployment,”

Mr. Kasbarian told

the Armenian Reporter. “Our foundation

has started restoring about

40 hectares of vineyards in the villages

of Aygehovit and Urekan.”

Aygehovit was established in 1997

and currently has 160 residents. Mr.

Hovhannissian confirmed that since

2002, some of the residents had left

the village. People do not feel as

though the land needs them or that

the land is important in general.

“However, I do not think about

those who leave,” he said. “Maybe

they left because they were unable

to live and adapt here or maybe the

situation in their former settlements

has improved. The most important

thing is that new families

are being formed in the village and

the local youth are getting married

and having children. At the same

time, they continually ask, “What

future will my child have living like

this?” The principal issue must be

the resettlement of these lands. It

is not right to only partly resettle.

The enemy thinks, ‘Why aren’t the

Armenians resettling the territories?

Because it does not belong to

them,’” Mr. Hovhannisian said.

He said that if they had permanently

settled residents, it would

Fact Finding Group of Experts to

assist March 1 investigation

Medical center in Ishkhanadzor. Photo: Tatul Hakobyan for the Armenian Reporter.

Armenian Reporter map of Kashatagh by Grigor Beglaryan © 2008.

be difficult, if not impossible, to return

liberated lands to Azerbaijan.

People in these liberated areas no

longer beg for help. They demand

an opportunity to live and work in


American-Armenian benefactor

James Tufenkian, working

with the Karabakh government,

organized a conference in Berdzor

(Lachin) six months ago (See

Armenian Reporter, April 5). The

objective of the conference was to

draw attention to the liberated territories

and at the same time attract

diaspora investment for the

revitalization and resettlement of

those territories.

According to Mr. Kasbarian,

some promises of investments

have already been given. The establishment

of a winery, which will use

local crops, is one of their priorities.

This year, even though the climate

was not favorable, about 80

tons of grapes were gathered from

the Tufenkian vineyards. The residents

of Aygehovit also grow grapes.

They complain that the wineries of

Hadrut or Karmir Shuka bought

their grapes for only 110 drams per

kilogram. Besides that, transporting

the grapes from Aygehovit is

expensive, as a result of which viniculture

is not profitable.

Besides alleviating the worries of

the villagers, the establishment of

a winery in Aygehovit or its surrounding

villages would also help

encourage the planting of new

vineyards. When the Tufenkian

Foundation constructed a flour

mill in Aygehovit in 2005, the residents

of all the surrounding villages

found it easier to sell their wheat or

simply turn their wheat into bread

at the mill. When the foundation

built a health center in neighboring

Ishkhanadzor village, it was a blessing

for the residents of all the surrounding

villages; the closest heath

centers were in Berdzor, Goris, and

Kapan, each of which is about 40

miles away from Ishkhanadzor.

The Hakar River valley can produce

a bountiful harvest, but lands

need to be cared for and should

not be treated merely as a security

zone or liberated territories, but as

a homeland, which belongs to Armenians.

I toured the fertile Hakar River

valley for a day with the Tufenkian

Foundation’s driver Michael, in his

Niva. During our drive back, he suggested

that I should try the Hakari

fish. Romik, he said, is the best

fisher around. He moved to Aygehovit

from Ashtarak four years ago.

Besides being a good fisher,

Romik is also a hardworking Armenian

and a caring parent. He has

managed to plant fruit trees on

more then 2 hectares of land. Truly,

Hakar’s fish had an incomparable

flavor. Fish from rivers is tasty, especially

when the waters flow from

the ice-cold springs of the mountains

of Armenia.


Human Rights

defender names his


by Armen Hakobyan

YEREVAN – Armen Harutyunyan,

Armenia’s Human Rights Defender,

has named his representative

to take part in the work of a Fact

Finding Group of Experts being

set up to assist the special parliamentary

commission investigating

the bloody events of March 1. Mr.

Harutyunyan named his Chief of

Staff Vahe Stepanyan as his representative.

From 1990 to 1996 Mr.

Stepanyan served as Minister of

Justice in Levon Ter-Petrossian’s


On October 23, President Serge

Sargsian signed an executive order

under which a fact-finding

group of experts would be created

to investigate the events leading

up to March 1, collect the corresponding

documents and facts,

and present them to the commission.

The group will have five members,

two of whom will represent the

governing coalition; one will represent

the Heritage Party; one will

be from Mr. Ter-Petrossian’s side;

and one will represent the Human

Rights Defender.

The president has made it clear

that all those participating in the

group must be experts in their respective

fields and must not be an

elected or appointed official or belong

to a political party, with the

exception of the Human Rights

Defender’s representative.

The Fact Finding Group of Experts

will have wide-ranging powers;

it can include international experts

in its investigations, including

legal experts, with the stipulation

that they will work behind closed

doors and in secret. Those who do

not adhere will be asked to leave

the group.

Although the group must begin

its work in the coming days, the coalition,

the Heritage Party, and Mr.

Ter-Petrossian have yet to name

their representatives. f

22 The Armenian Reporter | November 1, 2008



If you haven’t voted already, wait no longer. Cast your ballot.

Let’s recall why four polls taken the same week often show four different outcomes. Four

pollsters can ask the same 1,000 people the same question and get the same answers, but

publish very different numbers. That’s because they have to predict just how many of those

1,000 people will actually take the trouble to vote.

The pollsters know that a citizen may be registered to vote, may have chosen whom to

support, may intend to vote, but might well not actually cast his or her ballot. Each pollster

has a formula for predicting behavior, and that helps explain the different numbers.

Thus opinion polling gives us valuable information. But it is far from infallible. If you

think your preferred candidate will win with or without your vote, think again. If enough

people think like you, your candidate will lose.

And does that really matter? We believe it does.

The stakes are high

We do not harbor the illusion that a single election will change everything that’s wrong with

U.S. federal policy – and maintain everything that’s right about it. The changes we want will

require ongoing, well-planned, and coordinated hard work – which is what we advocate.

But we do know this: a failure to change course in America will lead us straight into the


Last year we saw the vigor with which the Bush administration fought our efforts to

acknowledge a tragic chapter in Armenian and world history and a proud chapter in the history

of the United States and American diplomacy: the Armenian Genocide, the efforts of

American diplomats to save Armenian lives, and the benevolence of the American people

toward the “starving Armenians” decades ago.

The passion with which the administration pursued the wrong course was stunning.

In recent weeks we see the emergence of another ill-advised anti-Armenian policy.

As a key mediator in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the United States had in the past

refrained from prejudging the outcome of the negotiations; with the help of the mediators,

the parties to the conflict were expected to find the balance between respecting the principle

of maintaining the territorial integrity of states and respecting the undeniable right

of the people of Karabakh to determine their own destiny.

Lately, however, in discussing the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Vice President Dick Cheney,

Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew

Bryza have taken to stating that the starting point must be the “territorial integrity”

of Azerbaijan. When pressed by the Armenian Reporter on October 18, Assistant Secretary of

State Daniel Fried acknowledged, “There are other principles, such as self-determination.”

This new anti-Armenian tilt was developed by the Bush administration’s political appointees

in the State Department, people whose substantial influence is likely to grow if the

Republican Party were to retain the White House. Mr. Negroponte, for example, is often

named as a possible secretary of state in a McCain administration.

Senator Barack Obama, on the other hand, stated in January, “I will promote Armenian

security by seeking an end to the Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades, and by working for

a lasting and durable settlement of the Nagorno Karabagh conflict that is agreeable to all

parties, and based upon America’s founding commitment to the principles of democracy

and self determination.”

This commitment is consistent with the record of Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden in the Senate.

In our endorsement of Barack Obama and Joe Biden for president and vice president

(October 4), we discussed why we believed they are the right choice for us as Americans and

as Armenian-Americans.

But it is not enough to make a choice and to support candidates for office.

You have to actually cast a ballot. Do it.

Trustee contributions to the AGMM

Financial contributions by former and current members of the Board of Trustees of Armenian Genocide Museum

and Memorial (AGMM) for the benefit of the AGMM as of September 2006.


A reminder of our endorsements

A reminder of the candidates endorsed

jointly by the Armenian Reporter and the U.S.-

Armenia Public Affairs Committee (USAPAC).

President and Vice President

of the United States

Barack Obama and Joseph Biden (D.)

United States Senate

In earlier editorials, we discussed the importance

of the legislative branch to Armenian-

American issues (September 20) and gave our

reasons for endorsing specific candidates for

the Senate (October 11). A reminder of the

candidates we endorsed:


Mark Udall (D.)


Joe Biden (D.)


Richard Durbin (D.)


Mitch McConnell (R.)


Susan Collins (R.)


John Kerry (D.)


Carl Levin (D.)


Norm Coleman (R.)

New Hampshire

John Sununu (R.)

New Jersey

Frank Lautenberg (D.)

North Carolina

Elizabeth Dole (R.)

Rhode Island

Jack Reed (D.)

South Dakota

Tim Johnson (D.)

U.S. House of Representatives

In earlier editorials, we discussed the importance

of the legislative branch to Armenian-

American issues (September 20) and gave our

reasons for endorsing specific candidates for

the House (Sept. 20, October 18 and 25). A

reminder of the candidates we endorsed, and

those we opposed.

Vote for


Artur Davis (D.)

American Samoa

Eni F. H. Faleomavaega (D.)


Gabrielle Giffords (D.)

Raul Grijalva (D.)

Ed Pastor (D.)


Joe Baca (D.)

Xavier Becerra (D.)

Howard Berman (D.)

Brian Bilbray (R.)

Mary Bono Mack (R.)

Ken Calvert (R.)

John Campbell (R.)

Lois Capps (D.)

Dennis Cardoza (D.)

Jim Costa (D.)

Susan Davis (D.)

the armenian


David Dreier (R.)

Anna Eshoo (D.)

Sam Farr (D.)

Bob Filner (D.)

Elton Gallegly (R.)

Michael Honda (D.)

Darrell Issa (R.)

Barbara Lee (D.)

Zoe Lofgren (D.)

Dan Lungren (R.)

Doris Matsui (D.)

Kevin McCarthy (R.)

Buck McKeon (R.)

Gerald McNerney (D.)

Georgia Miller (D.)

Gary Miller (R.)

Grace Napolitano (D.)

Devin Nunes (R.)

Nancy Pelosi (D.)

George Radanovich (R.)

Laura Richardson (D.)

Dana Rohrabacher (R.)

Lucille Roybal-Allard (D.)

Edward Royce (R.)

Linda Sanchez (D.)

Loretta Sanchez (D.)

Adam Schiff (D.)

Brad Sherman (D.)

Hilda Solis (D.)

Jackie Speier (D.)

Pete Stark (D.)

Ellen Tauscher (D.)

Mike Thompson (D.)

Maxine Waters (D.)

Diane Watson (D.)

Henry Waxman (D.)

Lynn Woolsey (D.)


Diana DeGette (D.)

Marilyn Musgrave (R.)

Ed Perlmutter (D.)

John Salazar (D.)


Joe Courtney (D.)

Rosa DeLauro (D.)

John Larson (D.)

Chris Murphy (D.)

Chris Shays (R.)

District of Columbia

Eleonor Holmes Norton (D.)


Gus Bilirakis (R.)

Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R.)

Mario Diaz-Balart (R.)

Ron Klein (D.)

Kendrick Meek (D.)


John Barrow (D.)

Jack Kingston (R.)

John Lewis (D.)

Jim Marshall (D.)


Madeleine Bordallo (D.)


Neil Abercrombie (D.)

Mazie Hirono (D.)


Melissa Bean (D.)

Jerry Costello (D.)

Danny Davis (D.)

Luis Gutierrez (D.)

Phil Hare (D.)

Continued on page 23 m

Armenian Reporter (ISSN 0004-2358), an independent newspaper,

is published weekly by Armenian Reporter llc.

Gerard L. Cafesjian, President and ceo

Publisher Sylva A. Boghossian

Office manager Lisa Kopooshian

Copyright © 2008 by Armenian

Reporter llc. All Rights Reserved

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POSTMASTER: Send address changes to PO Box

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Editor Vincent Lima

Western U.S. Bureau Chief and

Arts & Culture editor Paul Chaderjian

Washington editor Emil Sanamyan

Associate editor Maria Titizian

Assistant to the Editor Seda Stepanyan

Copy editor Ishkhan Jinbashian

Art director Grigor Hakobyan

Layout assistant Nareh Balian

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The Armenian Reporter | November 1, 2008 23


American Armenian shopper in Yerevan

by Kendra Lee Tutunjian

YEREVAN – My shopping experience started

with my husband and me having the honor to

baptize our daughter, Zaradonna, at Etchmiadzin.

We were thrilled and looking forward

to that day, but I had only one problem: no

dress! This meant I had to go shopping....not

such good news here in Armenia. For those

of you who have not ventured to Yerevan,

you might be in the dark about how challenging

it is to buy clothing in this city. First of all,

most young women in Yerevan are a petite

size 2 and all women dress up formally with

high heels on for all occasions (going to the

market, dropping their kids off at kindergarten,

and just walking outside their home).

Here is how the day unfolded: babysitter

arrived (check), headed in the direction of

shops by taxi (check), jumped out hopeful

and in a great mood (check), even feeling

kind of light because I think I might have

lost a pound! (check, check). The first store I

walked into featured Valentino, but I wasn’t

impressed because I was only looking for

one stinking outfit. I took one walk in and

the saleswoman said, “No, I am sorry we

don’t have your size.” Not realizing what had

just happened and still feeling upbeat, I ventured

into another store that came highly

recommended. The clothing store was looking

good, as it had air conditioning (check,

check, check!), must be my lucky day. Really

it just might be because the lady who

was helping me spoke English (did I mention

that I am currently taking Armenianlanguage

lessons?) and she had clothes that

were my size. So I proceeded as normal in

trying them on. The clothes were adequate;

they were a different style, Yerevan style, or

should I say European with flair?

Anyway, I found a skirt and a top. They were

somewhat appealing and they looked good

enough on me. So I was ready to purchase

these two items, kind of; I mean they were

not the most amazing things I had ever seen,

but it was pretty and I was desperate, and it

was really smoking hot outside, and I only

had a babysitter for a limited time, and still

had to shop for Zaradonna’s baptism dress.

Anyway, as I was taking it off, I asked the

lady, “What is the price of these two items?”

She replied, “It is $800.” I was thinking if I

loved it, maybe, but not for just anything mediocre.

You know? So, out of the store I went

and crossed the street (which here is a death

wish) and hopped into another store where

they only had one dress in my size. I tried it

on and it fit. It was slenderizing, but very different.

Hard to explain; let’s just say I would

never try it on in the States. Anyway, it was

550. I caught myself saying to the saleslady,

“Did you mean Armenian dram?” She replied,

A reminder of our endorsements

“No, U.S. dollars.” Which made me wonder

what are the standards by which Armenia is

classified as a developing country?

Running out of time, I went back to my

apartment, jumped in the car, which I was

driving (that is another story in and of itself),

grabbed a relative, and off we went to the

“mall.” I began to dream: Barney’s, Nordy’s,

Henri Bendel, I’ll even settle for Gottschalks

at this point... but guess what? To my surprise,

no air conditioning! It was like shopping

in a Fresno mall in the heat of summer without


So as the story goes, we walked into several

small shops and all of them were so dreadful.

Clothes came straight from China and the

worst part was that as soon as we said, Do

you have a dress for me? they looked up and

down at me and said, “No, du medz es,” or

you’re big. Can you imagine?

So finally we found a dress on a mannequin

in the window. We went in and I said, “Do you

have this in my size?” They were so thrilled...

finally a girl to fit in this huge dress! So I

tried it on behind a curtain facing the window

as Zaradonna was lifting the curtain up, and

anyway, it fit. A little big, I might add, but I

wanted it anyway, mostly to end my misery.

I went to purchase this dress and guess

what? Not enough cash on me! This is a current

event in my life here in Yerevan. I am

still not accustomed to a cash society, considering

we are the ultimate Americans. We

don’t write checks; we do all of our banking

online, and have paperless bills. Obviously

they don’t, of course, take credit cards. We

were faced with having to go home and get

cash and come back. Can you imagine? At

this point, we were all sweating. I am sure

that if Zaradonna could talk she would

have been saying, “Take me home to my airconditioned

house.” I did have one thing to

rely on, however; it was this Evian aerosol

spray water thingy that my friend, a fellow

American-Armenian who already left,

gave me. I think I sprayed the whole can in

one day; it was hilarious. My relative didn’t

know what I was spraying her with, and all

she was concerned with was her hair.

Needless to say, we got Zaradonna’s baptismal

outfit, I gave my relative the money

(once we reached home), and bless her heart,

she went back to the mall without me, bought

the dress, came over the next day with the

dress in hand.

The icing on the cake, the sweetest part:

my brother-in-law, who came from the United

States to be the godfather for the baptism,

so sweetly said to me in a sly, adorable way,

“Ken, you look great! You have lost a lot of

weight.” I didn’t want to ruin the moment by

telling him, “Nah, I am huge here in Armenia”;

instead, I just indulged myself and took

the compliment with enormous pleasure! f

n Continued from page 22

Jesse Jackson (D.)

Mark Kirk (R.)

Dan Lipinski (D.)

Donald Manzullo (R.)

Peter Roskam (R.)

Bobby Rush (D.)

Janice Schakowsky (D.)


Mark Souder (R.)

Peter Visclosky (D.)


Bruce Braley (D.)


John Yarmuth (D.)


Charlie Melancon (D.)


Michael Michaud (D.)


Steny Hoyer (D.)

John Sarbanes (D.)

Chris Van Hollen (D.)


Michael Capuano (D.)

William Delahunt (D.)

Barney Frank (D.)

Steve Lynch (D.)

Ed Markey (D.)

James McGovern (D.)

Richard Neal (D.)

John Olver (D.)

John Tierney (D.)

Niki Tsongas (D.)


Dave Camp (R.)

John Conyers (D.)

Dale Kildee (D.)

Joe Knollenberg (R.)

Sander Levin (D.)

Thaddeus McCotter (R.)

Candice Miller (R.)

Mike Rogers (R.)

Tim Walberg (R.)


Michele Bachmann (R.)

Keith Ellison (D.)

Ashwin Madia (D.)

Betty McCollum (D.)

Collin Peterson (D.)

Tim Walz (D.)


Bennie Tompson (D.)


Emanuel Cleaver (D.)

Wm. Lacy Clay (D.)

North Carolina

G.K. Butterfield (D.)

Melvin Watt (D.)


Shelley Berkley (D.)

Jon Porter (R.)

New Hampshire

Joseph Bradley (R.)

Paul Hodes (D.)

New Jersey

Robert Andrews (D.)

Rodney Flelinghuysen (R.)

Scott Garrett (R.)

Rush Holt (D.)

Frank LoBiondo (R.)

Frank Pallone (D.)

Donald Payne (D.)

Steve Rothman (D.)

Albio Sires (D.)

Christopher Smith (R.)

New York

Gary Ackerman (D.)

Michael Arcuri (D.)

Tim Bishop (D.)

Yvette Clarke (D.)

Joseph Crowley (D.)

Eliot Engel (D.)

Kirsten Gillibrand (D.)

John Hall (D.)

Maurice Hinchey (D.)

Steve Israel (D.)

Nita Lowey (D.)

Carolyn Maloney (D.)

Carolyn McCarthy (D.)

John McHugh (R.)

Jerrold Nadler (D.)

Charles Rangel (D.)

Jose Serrano (D.)

Edolphus Towns (D.)

Nydia Velazquez (D.)

Anthony Weiner (D.)


Steve Chabot (R.)

David Krikorian (I.)

Dennis Kucinich (D.)

Steven LaTourette (R.)

Tim Ryan (D.)

Zach Space (D.)

Betty Sutton (D.)


Earl Blumenauer (D.)

Peter DeFazio (D.)

David Wu (D.)


Robert Brady (D.)

Charles Dent (R.)

Mike Doyle (D.)

Chaka Fattah (D.)

Jim Gerlach (R.)

Joseph Pitts (R.)

Allyson Schwartz (D.)

Rhode Island

Patrick Kennedy (D.)

James Langevin (D.)

South Dakota

Stephanie Herseth Sandli (D.)


Zach Wamp (R.)


Lloyd Doggett (D.)

Charles Gonsalez (D.)

Al Green (D.)

Gene Green (D.)

Sheila Jackson Lee (D.)

Kenny Marchant (R.)

Michael McCaul (R.)

Ciro Rodriguez (D.)


Jim Matheson (D.)

Virgin Islands

Donna Christensen (D.)


Eric Cantor (R.)

Jim Moran (D.)

Robert Scott (D.)

Frank Wolf (R.)


Brian Baird (D.)

Jim McDermott (D.)

Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R.)

David Reichert (R.)


Tammy Baldwin (D.)

Ron Kind (D.)

Steve Kagen (D.)

Paul Ryan (R.)

James Sensenbrenner (R.)

Vote against


× Jeff Flake (R.)


× Jane Harman (D.)


Vote “No” on

Proposition 8 in

California: The

Armenian thing to do

× Wally Herger (R.)


× Illeana Ros-Lehtinen (R.)

× Robert Wexler (D.)


× Rahm Emanuel (D.)


× Dan Burton (R.)


× Ed Whitfield (R.)


× Russ Carnahan (D.)

North Carolina

× Virginia Foxx (R.)

New York

× Gregory Meeks (D.)

Puerto Rico

× Luis Fortuno (R.)


× John Murtha (D.)

× Bill Shuster (R.)


× Steve Cohen (D.)


× Kay Granger (R.)

× Ruben Hinojosa (D.)

× Solomon Ortiz (D.)

× Ted Poe (R.)


× Adam Smith (D.) f


On November 4, Californians will be asked

whether they want to insert within their

state constitution a ban on marriage for a

portion of the state’s population. If passed,

Proposition 8 will take away a fundamental

right that the California Supreme Court

confirmed in May of this year: the right of

any person to marry another person of his

or her choosing. No matter what you feel

about gays or lesbians, it is wrong to deny a

group of people a right that is so cherished

by society. It is also unfair: On the one hand,

gay people are sometimes accused of being

promiscuous; on the other hand, when they

want to form a committed, monogamous,

long-lasting relationship, they are told that

they cannot protect that relationship within

the framework of civil marriage. And remember,

the court’s decision said nothing about

whether churches or other religious institutions

would have to recognize gay marriage.

Prop. 8 has nothing to do with religion. It

has nothing to do with gay marriage being

“taught” to children in schools, which will not

happen. And nobody is going to get sued over

their personal views on homosexuality. All

these are lies that the opponents of gay marriage

are spreading to scare Californians into

voting in favor of the marriage ban. In fact,

the opponents of gay marriage have gone

even as far as to call people who are in favor

of gay marriage and tell them to vote “yes”

(which is the wrong way to vote if you support

equal marriage rights).

As Armenians, haven’t we experienced

firsthand what it means to be discriminated

against? As Armenians, shouldn’t we be promoting

equality and justice for all people, regardless

of our personal views of those people?

As Armenians, we should not judge other

people who have done nothing wrong, and

we certainly should not use our vote to discriminate

against them. This has everything

to do with fairness and justice. On November

4, please vote no on Proposition 8.

Very truly yours,

Gay and Lesbian Armenian Society of Los

Angeles (GALAS)

24 The Armenian Reporter | November 1, 2008

The Armenian Reporter | November 1, 2008

Ensuring the Future

of Armenia’s Past

Project Discovery! is dedicated to the discovery and

preservation of Armenia's archaeological and cultural legacy.

Armenia has a long and continuous past that is both culturally rich

and historically significant. And yet, our history is largely unknown to

the academic community outside of Armenia primarily due to lack of

funds available to Armenian scientists.

Project Discovery! was organized to

meet this challenge. We have supported

archaeological excavations, attendance by

Armenian scholars at international

conferences, publication of books,

scientific journals and museum catalogues,

websites, libraries and laboratories.

We are unique, in that we are the only public charity dedicated

to supporting Armenian archaeology. We are joined in our

mission by an Academic Advisory Board of eminent scholars, both

Armenian and non-Armenian, from prestigious universities and

research institutions across the US and around the world.

At a time when exciting discoveries in Armenia are attracting

the attention of scientists from the international community, it

Tufts University professor Lucy Der Manuelian

describes Armenia as “an archaeological

paradise”, containing a wealth of internationally

significant archaeological material remains which

embody our heritage and testify to our

contributions to world civilization.

has never been more important to develop and support the

infrastructure of archaeology in Armenia.

We are proud of the contribution we

are making to discover and preserve

the archaeological and cultural legacy

of Armenia. Your enthusiastic support

over the past several years has enabled

us to achieve major accomplishments –

such as the establishment of a research

and conservation laboratory at Yerevan

State University, the publication of

Aramazd: Armenian Journal of Near

Eastern Studies, and Terra Armenica, the first website of Armenian

archaeology and history, among many, many other projects.

The past is a heritage we all share. Won't you join us in our

commitment to preserve one of the world's earliest civilizations?

Please send your tax deductible contribution to ensure the future of

Armenia's past.

Project Discovery!

Ensuring the Future of Armenia’s Past

“Detail of Vishap” c 1,500 B.C.

340 Lakewood Drive | Bloomfield Hills, Michigan 48304 | 248.563.0016 | |

The Armenian Reporter | November 1, 2008





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