'NATION INTO DUST'
EDITORIAL | AUGUST 15, 2013 1:36 PM
By Edmond Y. Azadian
The celebrated Armenian national poet, Vahan Tekeyan, has written a
series of poems which encapsulate in the most concise and effective
fashion the woes befallen on the Armenian people throughout history.
One of those poems is titled, "Nation into Dust," which begins with
the line: "You small, diminished land, finer than a grain of dust."
This short statement laments the status of the Armenian people and
their homeland, which have been reduced to dust as a consequence of
the crime perpetrated by the Ottoman Turks. The poet, who, most of the
time comes off as a pessimistic prophet, this time around concludes
the poem with optimism, writing, "For grains of dust may some day be
recast as stone once again."
The Turks decided to pulverize the Armenian people so that they may
not rise again to claim their ancestral homeland. Tekeyan's optimistic
conclusion notwithstanding, the Armenians remain a "nation into dust"
through infighting and internecine squabbles of self-destructive
magnitude. What the Turks intended to reduce us into a nation of dust
we continue perpetrating that status through our own volition.
We are at the threshold of the Genocide centennial and except
some rhetoric and grandiose plans we, as a nation, continue the
self-flagellation, while Turkey has already taken counter measures
to blunt any effort that Armenians could undertake to reach out to
The Turks already have their strategic plans in place because they
realize the national security threat that this "nation of dust"
Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has already announced plans
to mark the year 2015 as the centennial anniversary of the Gallipoli
campaign, where Turkish forces, under the leadership of Mustapha Kemal,
defeated the Allied Troops at the Straits of Dardanelles.
Certainly the well-heeled lobbying firms in Turkey will generate enough
noise on the international scene to drown all Armenian initiatives.
Following the Ergenekon or Deep State trials and recent convictions,
which put behind bars all the military brass undermining Prime Minister
Erdogan's initiatives, the Supreme Military Council of Turkey has
nominated new commanders to head its air, land and marine forces, to
be able to deal with all the neighbors which may in any way threaten
Turkey's national interests. Militarily Armenia is no match for Turkey,
but politically the Ankara leadership is convinced that Armenian
lobbying in the US has been jeopardizing American-Turkish relations. It
is not a coincidence that Turkey has appointed Hulyusi Akar as the
commander of the land forces. It so happens that Mr. Akar is one of
Turkey's "experts" on Armenian issues. In fact, his doctoral thesis at
Istanbul's Bogazici University was titled, "The Armenian Question and
the Impact of the Armenian lobby on the American-Turkish relations."
While Turkey is investing its tremendous resources in money, military
power and political clout, what are the Armenians doing to counter
We can enumerate a few despicable acts and continue lamenting our
status of a nation reduced to dust.
Recently one of the topics scheduled to be discussed at the Supreme
Spiritual Council at Echmiadzin was the planning of centennial
programs. But no one was interested in that topic. Instead, an obscene
campaign was unleashed to denigrate the church hierarchy as if to
sabotage the more pressing issues. Indeed, the coincidence may lead
one to believe in conspiracy theories. At this time, the merits or
demerits of the questions raised is not the issue, but the timing is
Another issue was an engrossing situation created by law firms seeking
compensation for the survivors of the victims of the Armenian Genocide
from the insurance companies.
A statement issued on July 24, 2013 heralded that "Yeghiayan, Kabatek
and Geragos amicably resolve their differences."
It is important to quote some major statement from the release:
"The law offices of Vatkes Yeghiayan, the firm of Katabeck Kellner
and the firm of Geragos and Geragos jointly announce that they have
amicably resolved their differences which arose from the settlement
of the Armenian Genocide claims in the AXA litigation pending in the
federal court. Specifically, the lawsuit filed by Geragos and Kabatek
Brown Kellner (case no. 2:11-cv-03043-CAS-AGA) against Mr. Yeghiayan,
Rita Mahdessian and a number of charities is being dismissed with
The moral of this uncalled for litigation lies further down in the
release: "The lawyers who filed the case are aware that the AXA case
is meager compensation for the fathomless injustice committed upon the
Armenian people. They know that while they cannot undo the dark pages
of Armenian history, they must continue to fight for justice." Mr.
Yeghiyan has further commented: "We must not lose sight of our
main objective - which is a measure of justice for the heirs of
One wonders if these prominent lawyers knew that our objective was to
fight for justice or they learned after they embarrassed each other
and the Armenian community with them.
These are venerable law firms which have done so much good for the
community and with all their legal expertise it seems that they have
lost common sense.
It was a minor victory against Turkey - not even against Turkey,
but against a foreign insurance company - and we became a laughing
stock of the Turks.
This case also symbolizes our vulnerability, should one day the Turks
decide to discuss a compensation of any size. The Turks have already
learned that all it takes to create chaos for Armenians is to float
a trial balloon.
Another issue of principle has come to upset our scholarly community;
a scholarly conference took place in Tbilisi, Georgia, on the topic
of the Armenian Genocide. Many of the organizers and participants
were Genocide deniers. The ARF media appealed to Armenian scholars
to refrain from attending and many scholars heeded the warning. The
reasoning was to not legitimize the Genocide deniers, which is a valid
point. However Prof. Gerard Libaridian agreed to attend and read a
paper. It is beside the point that the scholar failed to show up for
health reasons. The ARF media on the East and West coasts (namely the
Armenian Weekly and Asbarez) joined their forces to attack Professor
For many years the Armenian scholars attended MESA meetings either
unprepared or leaving the forum open to Turkish scholars and their
hired guns. Some academics maintained that they were not Genocide
scholars, others believed that facing the Genocide deniers would place
them in the realm of advocacy, which would chip away their academic
credentials. In his lengthy rebuttal, Professor Libaridian maintains
that we should meet the deniers in the lion's den face to face and
take them to task.
It seems that his detailed reasoning has failed to convince his
opponents who have produced another piece, this time around abandoning
the niceties of academic discourse.
If we have to face the deniers, our scholars must be as prepared
as the opponents are, otherwise, we would fall into the trap of a
But what we learn from this debate is that the ARF media has come to
settle old scores with Professor Libaridian, who was a former member
of ARF and quit. As senior advisor to President Levon Ter-Petrosian,
he is perceived to be the architect of the president's so-called
"pro-Turkish" policy. All these resentments built up over the years
and have come out under the guise of academic debate.
Besides the ARF believes that it has a monopoly on the Armenian case
and Genocide issues. What we need is a discussion in our community
to decide whether or not we should face the Genocide deniers and use
such meetings as a positive way to change opinions.
Last but not least, is the issue of the Genocide Museum in Washington.
The Cafesjian Family Foundation won the legal battle and gained
control of the museum site. But it looks like the museum battle is
lost as there seems to be no prospect of opening it in the year 2015 -
at least not on the magnificent scale envisioned originally. This is
a tragedy on top of the tragedy of the Genocide itself.
Had the poet Tekeyan been resurrected, perhaps he would revise the
optimistic punch line of his poem to state that we were reduced to
the state of a nation of dust by the enemy and that we will struggle
ourselves to continue on surviving as a "nation of dust."
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'NATION INTO DUST'
Posted 16 August 2013 - 09:58 AM
'NATION INTO DUST'
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