"Nowhere, A Story of Exile" book on Armenian massacres in Baku presented
Saturday, September 06, 2014
Novosti international press center in Yerevan yesterday hosted
"Nowhere, A Story of Exile" book about a family of Armenian refugees
from Baku. The head of Ordinary Genocide Project Marina Grigoryan said
at the event that the book was published in the U.S. and is unique in
the sense that it is the first English-language book about the
Armenian massacres in Baku.
According to M. Grigoryan, the book is based on Anna Astvatsaturian
Turcotte's diary that she kept at age of 10-12 when she lived in Baku.
Later in the United States where she moved along with her family, Anna
Astvatsaturian Turcotte published the book that contains her memories
of the 1988-1992 events. The book also includes recollections from
witnesses of persecution and atrocities committed against Armenians.
M. Grigoryan said that because of the records made in the diary, Anna
Astvatsaturian Turcotte can be compared to Anne Frank, a Jewish girl
who described the Nazi terror in her wartime diary.
Ms. Grigoryan informed those present that the creative group of "The
Baku Tragedy in Eyewitness Accounts" Project that was launched on the
25th anniversary of the Armenian massacres in the Azerbaijani capital
went to the U.S. to meet with Armenian refugees residing there. "As a
result, extensive interesting materials with unique accounts were
gathered to be used for a new collection and a film," the project head
said, adding that new forms of presenting the tragedy will be sought.
"We consider it important to show that not only Armenians, but also
families in which one of the spouses was of Armenian descent suffered
from the tragedy," Marina Grigoryan said. She announced that the
English- and Russian-language premieres of the film are scheduled for
Novosti-Armenia news agency reports that Anna Astvatsaturian Turcotte
who is on a visit to Yerevan said for her part that the Americans are
not familiar with the Karabakh problem and the Baku events, but
following the book's publication and the meetings held, many of them
started taking a sincere interest.
She told those present that in September 1989 when she was 11 her
family fled Baku and moved to Armenia. The plight of Armenian refugees
from Baku worsened after the 1988 Spitak earthquake, amid the Karabakh
war and the disintegration of the USSR.
"After living in quite difficult conditions in Armenia for two and a
half years, our family made a decision to move to America. We arrived
in the U.S. with four suitcases, $180 and refugee status: that was all
we had. It was the beginning of a new peaceful future," Astvatsaturian
In her words, at that time she took a decision to preserve the diary
for her children and grandchildren so that "they could be aware of
their roots, their past and imagine those hardships that the people of
Artsakh have endured," she said.
"Interest in the Baku events and the Karabakh independence process is
increasing in American society in recent years. Many members of the
Armenian Diaspora had no idea of it, and I consider this inadmissible.
My husband and me worked together to contribute to the adoption of the
resolution about Karabakh's independence by the State of Maine,"
Astvatsaturian Turcotte stated.
In her words, she has repeatedly made speeches, sharing her memories
not only in various U.S. states, but also in the Congress, and she
received an invitation to deliver a speech in the European Parliament
"I will speak about the difficult path that Armenians of Baku have
followed, as well as the Karabakh problem and the work aimed at the
recognition of Karabakh's independence," said Anna Astvatsaturian
Turcotte, a lawyer and a mother of two. She was granted U.S.
citizenship in 1997.
The Ordinary Genocide Project is implemented the PR and Information
Center of the Armenian President's Administration. As part of the
project, a series of documentaries was filmed in five languages about
the events in Sumgait, Baku, Maraga, the Ring Operation, Karabakh
records website was launched, and a number of books were published,
republished, and translated.
"Nowhere, A Story of Exile" book on Armenian massacres in Baku
Posted 08 September 2014 - 10:00 AM
"Nowhere, A Story of Exile" book on Armenian massacres in Baku presented
- MosJan and onjig like this
Posted 31 December 2014 - 09:13 AM
December 30, 2014
A Book presentation on A Story of Exile
By Florence Avakian
The Eastern Diocese's Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center was the
venue to hear a riveting account of childhood dreams crushed, the daily fear
of violence, and escape from country to country in search of a safe home.
On Thursday evening, November 13, Anna Astvatsaturian Turcotte related the
harrowing story of her family's life in Baku during the ethnic cleansing of
Armenians by Azeri Muslims. The story recounted in Nowhere: A Story of Exile
includes their flight to Armenia-at a time when it was teetering on the edge
after the disastrous 1988 earthquake-and their eventual emigration to
The Zohrab Information Center sponsored the lecture. Its director, the Very
Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan, called the book, "an extraordinary memoir
documenting the heartbreaking story of the 1988 pogroms against the
Armenians in Baku." The Azeri terrorists who went from door to door with
prepared addresses of their Armenian victims also committed the atrocities
against the Armenians in Sumgait and Kirovabad.
The speaker has traveled to several locales presenting her book to both
Armenian and non-Armenian audiences. She began her talk by pointing out that
in Azerbaijan it was dangerous to name Armenian children with Armenian
names, and so she was called Anna: "a safer version of Anoush." She was 10
when the brutalities began in Baku, and kept a diary from ages 14 to 16 of
her family's struggles in Azerbaijan, Armenia, and America.
Her family's graves and the graves of all Armenians were destroyed. Three
hundred thousand Armenians fled Baku and went to Armenia.
Escaping with her family (and nothing else) to Yerevan in 1989, she found a
country on the brink after the disastrous 1988 earthquake, the Turkish
blockade, and the Artsakh crisis.
"The people were in no condition to receive us, including our own family
members," she related. "Anger, fear, and darkness had overtaken everyone."
Shunned by teachers and resident Armenians, with no prospects for work, and
no decent place to live, her family decided that there was no future for
them in Yerevan.
"As a child, the resentment that drenched my little heart from this
treatment in Yerevan stayed with me for years. And it's not isolated. It
stays with many Baku Armenians in Russia, Western Europe, and the United
States. It often overshadows other reasons why conditions were so bad,
because we saw humans at their worst in Baku, and then were seen as
traitors, or un-Armenian, by many in Yerevan."
A Refugee Fate
She and her family came to America with $180 and four suitcases, and
"eventually built a successful life." She called the 22 years in the U.S.
"not easy either financially or emotionally. I worked hard to become a
normal teenager, a normal young adult, a normal American, hoping to blend in
and forget. But I never really fitted in, not in Armenia, not with
Americans, and not with diasporan Armenians"-whom she said did not help her
"Mine was a refugee fate. Two decades were lived avoiding the news from my
homeland Azerbaijan, my ancestral home Armenia, and the heartache in
But her years of avoiding everything Armenian and her outrage at her
childhood memories diminished as she read the diaries she had written in her
teenage years. As a mother of two children, her "maternal instincts kicked
in," and she decided that her childhood memories had to be printed and read.
Following a two-year U.S. tour of her book, she was ready to return to her
ancestral home. "Coming back to Armenia was a freeing experience. There
cannot be a better way to return to your ancestral home than with love and
forgiveness, surrounded by the proud but quiet humming of your ethnicity in
every aspect of your life," she said with obvious emotion.
This time she was warmly welcomed as an Armenian. Strolling through the busy
streets of Yerevan with her father, and seeing the thousands of people in
Republic Square enjoying the musical fountains, the lights, and the many
children dancing with flowers and balloons, she realized with pride the
inspiring achievements of these people who have survived Genocide,
earthquake, ethnic cleansing, war, and blockade: "a people who cannot be
During her stay there, she also visited Artsakh and saw the dramatic
achievements of the brave people of that ancient Armenian land.
A lawyer and a human rights advocate, Anna Astvatsaturian Turcotte currently
lives in Maine with her husband and two children, and works in banking
regulatory reform. In April 2013, she successfully spearheaded the
Nagorno-Karabagh recognition efforts at the Maine House of Representatives.
She has been honored with the "Mkhitar Gosh Medal" by President Serge
Sargsyan, and a "Gratitude Medal" from Artsakh President Bako Sahakyan.
Posted 06 February 2015 - 10:47 AM
THE HILL: ACCORDING TO ILHAM ALIYEV'S TWEETS HE LIVES IN 'UTOPIA'
19:29 05/02/2015 >> POLITICS
If one lived within the confines of the Azerbaijani president's
official Twitter account, one might think Azerbaijan is situated within
Utopia, writes Anna Astvatsaturian Turcotte, the writer of the book
"Nowhere: The Story of Exile" in the site of "The Hill".
As noted in the article, independent coverage of the rigged elections,
violations of the rights of journalists, civil society and activists
are in contradiction with statements of Aliyev in microblog "Twitter".
"What Aliyev forgets to include in his Twitter monologues are
the recently raised concerns by U.S. Secretary of State Kerry of
Azerbaijan's human rights abuses. Once these concerns were raised,
Azerbaijani authorities raided and closed Radio Free Europe - Radio
Liberty's Baku bureau, interrogated its employees while denying them
access to legal representation. According to RFE/RL, the bureau, funded
by the U.S. government, was taken over by Azerbaijani prosecutor's
office, which confiscated documents and equipment before sealing
off the premises. The criticism that triggered such a response
focused on treatment of journalists, specifically the imprisonment
of investigative journalists and rights activists Leyla Yunus, her
husband Arif, and Khadija Ismayilova," the author writes.
The author reminds that in his op-ed in the Wall Street Journal,
David J. Kramer of Human Rights and Democracy at the McCain Institute,
called the raid "a direct challenge to the U.S.," and called for U.S.
to "impose consequences on" Aliyev's "thuggish" regime. Kramer
correctly pointed out that some responded to the dictator's capricious
actions, as did the Council of Europe's human-rights chief, Nils
Muiznieks, and several U.N. envoys. The war of words erupted when
the U.S. Ambassador to OSCE, Daniel Baer, tweeted that the raid was a
"behavior of weak, insecure corrupt governments and leaders." Words
are not enough. "Why does the Aliyev regime think it can get away with
its abuses?" Kramer asks, before answering, "Because so far it has."
"With the unfolding of the tragic events in Paris, the Azerbaijani
crackdown is alarming to the observers. But this reality always
simmered under the glittery disguise of Baku's downtown, with promises
of a progressive nation, eager to receive its investors.
Azerbaijan's abuses have been swept under the rug not only with its
internal crackdowns on freedom, but also with its blatant disregard to
international law over the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) conflict,"
Astvatsaturian Turcotte stresses, specifically, the 2014 downing
of the NKR military helicopter did not trigger any strong OSCE,
or world, reactions.
In response to Aliyev's tweets that Armenia does not want peace,
while the Minsk Group can't achieve any result in this matter, the
author notes that this speech doesn't correspond to reality.
"As far as NKR and Armenia are concerned, peace is the only thing that
is advantageous for the continued development of the two Armenian
nations. Since 1994 NKR enjoyed rebuilding of its nation, free of
Azerbaijani aggression. Why, then, would NKR disturb the peace it has
won, and the roads and buildings it has built in the last 21 years,
by agitating a war-mongering neighbor next door that threatens war
daily?" the author wonders.
"And every time Aliyev gets bored, expect a tweet from him describing
his fictitious Utopia," Astvatsaturian Turcotte says and adds,
yet on the 25th anniversary of Baku pogroms when innocent Armenian
population of Azerbaijan was killed, violated and exiled from their
homes, one of his 43 tweets that day declares: "Armenia is a powerless
and poor country.
The author calls on the US administration to enforce consequences on
Azerbaijan's disregard for human rights and international agreements
by which it must abide.
Posted 11 February 2015 - 10:19 AM
Let the whole world see, this is the kind of people we're dealing with. How can Artsakh live under the rule of these animals!
Azerbaijani newspaper editor: If I go to war again, I won’t even pity Armenian children
Gabil Aliyev, Azerbaijani newspaper “Gundelik Baku” founder and editor, turned to the president Ilham Aliyev requesting to defend him from N24 medical and social expert commission former chairman Amirkhan Aslanov in the legal proceedings that were initiated for Aslanov’s appeal against Aliyev. The Azerbaijani newspaper editor claims that Aslanov’s mother, whose name is Knarik, is Armenian, and that is the reason why he had insulted Aslanov and was sued by him, “Gundelik Baku” site reports.
According to the article, the editor wrote an article pointing out that Aslanov is of Armenian descent; and that’s why he was fired. “Today another minister employed him. He has got some position in Gyanja,” Aliyev resents.
The editor says he is not content with the legal processes, as the judge Ayten Mirzazadeh rejected his petition to immediately find out Aslanov’s mother’s nationality, the article reads. Aliyev claims that this was the very reason for him to turn to the president, minister of justice and other Azerbaijani officials urging them to support his point.
“I consider the Armenians as my eternal enemies. Wherever I see Armenians, I will cut off their tongues and call them vicious. Even if they take me into pieces I’ll always hate them. I call on all the Azerbaijani citizens to back me in my struggle against Knarik’s son and all the ‘knariks’. I call on the president Ilham Aliyev to support me, as I’m being sued only because I called people as Aslanov immoral; and Ayten Mirzazadeh the judge is protecting them. And how else can we express our protest against the Armenians, lest calling them horny enemies? If I go to war again, I won’t even pity the Armenian children. We, as well as our descendants will fight against the Armenians and will never make it up with them. I turn to the Azerbaijani publics: take part in court proceedings! In Knarik’s son’s court proceedings against us we should all follow the motto ‘Say no to every Armenian’ and raise this issue in Facebook,” ‘Gundelik Baku’ Azerbaijani newspaper editor urges in his letter.
Posted 13 February 2015 - 09:11 AM
18:44 13/02/2015 » SOCIETY
Event at U.S. Congress commemorating victims of Armenian pogroms in Azerbaijan
On February 11, Permanent Representative of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic to the USA Robert Avetisian participated in an event at the US Congress organized by the Washington Office of the Armenian National Committee of America. The event was dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Armenian pogroms in Azerbaijan in 1988-1990, as well as the numerous challenges that independent Artsakh faced in the social, economic, and other spheres, the press service of the NKR Foreign Ministry reported.
Diplomats of the RA Embassy to the USA, representatives of the ANCA Washington Office, U.S. Congressman Frank Pallone, representatives of other congressional offices, former Armenian refugees from Azerbaijan, journalists, and members of the Armenian community of America participated in the event titled “Nagorno Karabakh. The generation following the Armenian pogroms, the challenge of establishing peace, and the democratic development.”
Armenian National Committee of America Executive Director Aram Hamparian delivered an opening speech.
In his speech, Co-Chairman of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, Congressman Frank Pallone condemned the massacre of the Armenian population in Azerbaijan, stressed the necessity of recognizing the NKR independence and the importance of providing continuous U.S. assistance to Artsakh.
The keynote speakers were American Armenian lawyer and former refugee from Baku Anna Astvatsaturian-Turcotte, who touched upon the issues related to the Armenian massacre in Baku and Azerbaijan's crimes against the Armenian population, as well as lecturer of the School of Public Health of the University of California, Los Angeles, Dr. Alina Dorian, whose speech covered a range of issues related to the U.S. assistance to Artsakh and the NKR health care system. Short speeches were also delivered by a group of former Armenian refugees.
At the end of the event, NKR Permanent Representative to the USA Robert Avetisian expressed his gratitude to the organizers and participants of the event, stressed the necessity of condemning the crime committed against the Armenian population of Azerbaijan and the importance of the development of Artsakh.
Posted 14 February 2015 - 09:25 AM
17:05 14/02/2015 » SOCIETY
Azerbaijani media give corpses of Armenians killed in 1905 in Baku for ‘Azerbaijanis killed in 1918 in Shamakhi’
Azerbaijani website "1news.az" attached faked photographs to the article about fictitious "genocide in Shamakhi" allegedly committed by the Armenian Dashnaks and Bolsheviks.
In the article the corpses of Armenians killed during the pogroms in Baku in 1905 and gathered in the courtyard of the Armenian Church for the funeral are presented as victims of "Armenian aggression". On the other photos from this series, but from other angles Armenian priest is clearly visible. Moreover, the actual circumstances in which the photo was taken cannot be denied at least because it was published in French edition of “Le Grand Illustre” in an article published on February 19, 1905 which was descriping the pogroms of Armenians in Baku, naturally long before the events taken place in 1918 in Shamakhi.
Most apparently, photographs with the corpses of Armenians killed in Baku in 1905 and presented as Azerbaijanis, allegedly killed in 1918 in Shamakhi, have been taken by the Azerbaijani media from the book of the Azerbaijani historian Solmaz Rustamov-Togidi titled "1918. Massacre in Azerbaijan in photos and documents" in the annotation of which was stated that in the book "rare photographs of the tragic fate of tens of thousands Azerbaijanis killed in Baku and Shamakh are reflected.”
The book of Rustamov-Togidi presents the same photo of the victims of the Armenian pogroms noted as taken in Baku; however the victims are resubmitted as the Azerbaijanis. The annotation to the photo reads: "Armenian atrocities in Baku" which gives the readers wrong impression.
Note that this is not the first attempt of the Azerbaijanis of using falsified photos in propaganda purposes. A number of such attempts has been documented and exposed on the website “Xocali.net” project.
Posted 08 January 2016 - 10:22 AM
IF NOT US, THEN WHO
Anna Astvatsaturian Turcotte
BY ANNA ASTVATSATURIAN TURCOTTE
Over the last two years I've been traveling the country and
internationally to talk about my childhood, escaping Azerbaijani
violence in Baku as Nagorno-Karabakh was fighting for its independence
from Azerbaijan's brutal regime. In almost every community I visit,
both Armenian and non-Armenian, there is an element of surprise,
both on the part of the audience but also for me, learning about the
community I visit. The audience's questions are always enlightening of
what triggers that specific community, what drives their interest in
my topic and how they engage in their work for the Armenian Homeland
or globally. This exchange of ideas, this two-way education, is the
reason I take personal vacation time from work and fly away from
my children for days at a time to do this. I want to educate people
who want to learn about what it was like to live as an Armenian in
Azerbaijan, hiding and running for our lives. I want to tell them of
the hatred that still exists and of the rabid, almost unbelievable
anti-Armenianism that's being taught right now to the children of
Azerbaijan. I also want to describe the rich and vibrant history of
the Armenian Artsakh who against all odds achieved the unthinkable.
In almost all instances that experience is positive. Recently, when
visiting a very vibrant Armenian community, I presented to a large
hall full of people happy to hear me. But the first question that
followed my presentation was presented in the form of a statement
that shook me to my core.
"You know, I think the best solution for Karabakh conflict is to take
all of the Armenians out of it, ship them out, empty the country and
give the lands back to Azerbaijan. Just be done with it."
I'm not the type to be easily shaken by a public outburst in the
audience. I've had my share of anti-Armenian and misogynist hecklers
in the past. In the present American political climate, I've faced
criticism of prejudice against refugees and immigrants. It all comes
with the territory and I'm well aware that when you become a public
person, you take the good with the bad, and everyone is entitled
to their opinion, whatever it may be. I was and am aware of these
sentiments in certain pockets of the Armenian Diaspora. They are
casually voiced at fundraisers for development of Artsakh; hesitations
to donate because "what if we have to give this land back?" Other times
they will base their pessimism, cynicism and lack of involvement on
"corruption and backwardness." All those things are understandable.
But this statement was something else. It is easy to brush it off as
a statement of one crazy guy in the audience who doesn't know what
he's talking about. But he is not the only one, sadly.
To empty Artsakh of all Armenians, ship them out and give the land
back to Azerbaijan is disturbing on every level.
Firstly, let's examine the decision itself to empty Artsakh. Diaspora
Armenians, a group to which this gentleman belongs, have a tendency
to take ownership of Armenia, the Homeland, even if they've never
lived there, never visited or have family connections. I think
that's excellent. This feeling of belonging and owing a duty to and
owning the Homeland is what makes Armenia strong. We, and I consider
myself to be a Diaspora Armenian, are the watchful eye, observer
and protector of the Homeland outside of its borders. We are the
global network ready to come to its aid, financially, politically and
socially. But let's be clear: we do this from afar. The citizens of
Armenia and Artsakh are the true owners of its future. That is the
essence of Sovereignty and Self-Determination. I see this over and
over and over again. There is an expressed sense of superiority to
the people of Armenia, and apparently Artsakh; a presumption to make
decisions for them, as opposed to allowing them to decide what is in
their own interests. Yes, nothing is done in a vacuum, but aside from
the tired complaining of the corruption in Armenia , which by the
way is the normal by-product of post-Soviet transition, there is a
tinge of snobbish elitism that comes across some of the commentary on
Armenian issues from the Diaspora that I have a hard time ignoring or
tolerating. In the two decades of Armenia's and Artsakh's independence
the people of the Homeland have carried the heavy weight of freedom
through blockade, destruction, hunger and cold, carrying this weight
on their own backs. They are entitled to respect; they are entitled
to choose what is best for their country. Our appropriate response
is to assist their decisions.
Second element of this multi-dysfunctional statement is the
"shipping out." Do you know who ships people out and empties the
lands of Armenians? Turkish and Azerbaijani governments. Armenians
were emptied from Western Armenia, Baku and Nakhichevan, murdered
and pushed out like cattle, men, women, children. Are we ready to do
this to the Armenian people of Artsakh? Apparently the logistics of
where these 150,000 Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic would go
and how they will live after they are "shipped out" aren't important
to this gentleman. He might not be aware, or perhaps doesn't care,
that refugee resettlement isn't easy. What's paramount to him is the
inconvenience and annoyance that this conflict causes these pockets
of the Diaspora, many of whom, I am ready to argue, have never set
foot in Artsakh or read about its history and people. Let's! Let's
abandon the fight for independence, the war that was won by Armenians
of Karabakh, the two decade progress they've made in developing
the infrastructure of their democratic government, the hundreds of
millions of dollars of construction and development projects Diaspora
invested in Karabakh. Let's forget the thousands that died there,
both Artsakhtsi and Diaspora men and women that fought for Karabakh
and continue to die on its borders defending their ancestral homes.
Let's take these people that live there, their Homeland, and make
them refugees, just like our grandparents during the Genocide, just
like my family and friends fleeing Baku.
Indeed, this statement made to me was the extreme, but a variation of
this is heard far too often in some Diaspora communities, and even in
Yerevan: to back away from what has been achieved, the progress that's
been made because things aren't coming together packaged in a neat,
convenient and quiet box with a pretty bow on top.
For any Armenian to give up on Artsakh now, when Artsakh proves itself
day in and day out as a democratic, functioning and peace-loving
country, is shameful and illogical. To give up on Armenians of Artsakh,
when Azerbaijan dictatorship jails its opponents, journalists and
human-rights advocates while parading its anti-Armenianism and
violence in broad daylight, proving its essence to the world, would
be unthinkable. To give up on Artsakh as Azerbaijan is firing and
shelling both on Artsakh and on Armenian borders is unforgivable.
But let's talk about the last element of this asinine statement,
giving the Armenian Artsakh "back to Azerbaijan." I want to get one
thing straight before delving into this "giving back" business. Even
when Artsakh was considered to be completely within the Azerbaijani
republic of the Soviet Union, it was always Armenian. It was placed
within Azerbaijan by Joseph Stalin. That is the source of Azerbaijan's
claim to the land. Even after this deliberate artificial inclusion of
Artsakh within Azerbaijani borders, it remained autonomous. It had and
continued to have an overwhelming majority Armenian population. That
same population conducted a referendum in to secede from Azerbaijan
and rejoin Armenia. That referendum was lawful under Soviet law.
Finally, land. Ever since setting foot on the American soil as a Baku
refugee and meeting and reading about the Armenian Diaspora here,
I have been told over and over again about the beauty and the pain
of the Western Armenia, where most of the Armenian-Americans come from.
The 100- year fight for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide is
never without the mention of Armenian lands and Armenian property. I
have been to countless events and memorials, seen countless maps
depicting the Armenian Empire and photographs of ruins of the
Armenian cities, big and small, with crumbling churches and desolate
countryside. There is always talk about returning to the Homeland,
returning the lands and the property and the churches. And after
a 100-year fight for this Homeland, and with a free and independent
Armenia and Artsakh in existence, we are willing to turn our backs and
hand the other Homeland, Artsakh, over to our enemies, as a cavalier
afterthought. These same enemies that would not stop with Artsakh;
that would instead keep going West to destroy all Armenia as we know
it. Are we, the Diaspora, so comfortable with the notion of losing
our Homeland that we don't know what to make of it when we actually
win it back, as in the case of Artsakh?
All this talk of the Homeland, everywhere I go, got me thinking. What
is the Armenian Homeland? Is it only where your roots go, or is it
a bigger, an all-encompassing entity that makes us all Armenian? My
roots are in Khndzoresk, Karashen, Nakhichevan, and Gandzak. But
my Armenia, my Homeland, it is wide, diverse, stretched out and
fragmented, beautiful yet sad, built up yet torn apart, populated
yet desolate. As members of the Armenian people, we should not
be concerned with where this Homeland is, but what should be most
important is that there is an Armenian person somewhere who calls
it home and we should unite, put away our personal limitations and
fight for this Armenian Homeland. If not us, then who?
Posted 20 November 2017 - 10:25 AM
Armenpress News Agency, Armenia
November 18, 2017 Saturday
Baku pogrom eyewitness calls on not to forget the Armenian massacres
YEREVAN, NOVEMBER 18, ARMENPRESS. The Azerbaijani anti-Armenian
policy, launched in 1988 in Sumgait, Baku and Kirovabad by the
Armenian massacres, continues until today, Anna Astvatsaturian
Turcotte, American-Armenian writer, public figure, a refugee from
Baku, said during a press conference in Yerevan on November 18,
“The Sumgait pogrom in Baku was the beginning of the end of our life,
the end of our childhood. The Azerbaijani leadership sent the crowd to
massacre Armenians in Baku, Kirovabad and Sumgait. 30 years passed
since these events, but I know that Azerbaijanis still continue these
atrocities against Armenians in Artsakh and around the world. That’s
why I think that the Diaspora-Armenians should never forget these
tragic events because if we forget them such crimes will repeat”, she
She said despite Azerbaijan’s desire and attempts to exterminate
Armenians, the Armenian people live and continue developing.
“Armenians worldwide, as well as other states have not forgotten and
will not forget the crimes against humanity committed by
Azerbaijanis”, Anna Astvatsaturian Turcotte said.
She informed that the presentation of her book titled ‘Nowhere: A
Story of Exile’ was held in Moscow and St. Petersburg which tells the
story of Armenian massacres in Azerbaijan in 1988-1992.
Anna Astvatsaturian Turcotte witnessed the Armenian massacres in Baku
when she was 11 years old in 1988.
Posted 23 February 2018 - 12:09 PM
Anna Astvatsaturian Turcotte
BY ANNA ASTVATSATURIAN TURCOTTE
Special to Asbarez
There is something liberating in telling a group of strangers about the most painful part of your life. Your loved ones usually know what happened. It is discussed once or twice but never repeated again, whether because it is uncommon in our Armenian culture to dwell on the painful past, or perhaps it is our pride – we are not very good at letting anyone know we are still haunted by the things that make us who we are.
I have been on the road for six years since the publication of my book, “Nowhere, a Story of Exile.” It is my voice at 11 to 14 years old; the years of my life when my innocence was lost and a sarcastic, jaded, resentful and hurt adolescent emerged, quiet in my own pain. Alone, with my lined paper and a modest, yet cherished collection of new American BIC pens to use up on the manuscript, I channeled my loss. Since publishing my book 20 years after I wrote it, I have been invited from the largest of Armenian communities to the smallest, to speak on the Capitol Hill and the European Parliament.
Scenes from Azerbaijan’s savagery in the Sumgait Pogroms of 1988
Non-Armenians who never heard of us hosted my presentations, and human rights activists whose work is inspired by the stories of victims reach out to me. Dozens of refugees write me weekly to thank me, to tell me their stories, and to encourage me to keep going. I continue to speak of my family’s collective pain and the pain of my people as a duty, to be the voice for the ones that cannot speak any longer, making my small contribution to the work of so many. I should be satisfied by my work after six years. But it’s far from it.
“You speak about these events so calmly,” I often hear from my audience members. These kind people know there is more to my delivery and acknowledge a deep pain laced with a sense of duty. This duty is what drives me to leave my children at home with my husband, take vacation time from work, and travel to these often-obscure destinations to expose my soul to strangers.
Anna Astvatsaturian Turcotte (center) with her parents in Baku
There is more, I think, thanking them but rarely breaking down. The emotional part comes when I am alone, overwhelmed by the back-to-back presentations of mass murder, mutilation, exile, while most of the world around me is oblivious. It is hidden in the nightmares and in the memories of an Azerbaijani neighbor whose skin I punched and scratched to escape an attempted rape in the patio of our apartment building as a 11-year-old child living in Baku. I still get revolted by the smell of alcohol and smoke mixed together. After it happened, I told my grandmother, but I did not reveal this to my parents. It would mean my father would retaliate, perhaps killing the man. Then we would be killed. For the next months as my parents were preparing to escape, the man whispered, “erməni” (Armenian), in the vilest manner every time he saw me on my way home or to school. This neighbor in his mid-twenties, whose family was part of the Azerbaijani government, haunted my life since that day. I barely mention it in my book and I often never speak about it publicly. Yet, that is what makes me who I am. And I am the lucky one who is alive, who wasn’t technically raped, whose family was beaten, exiled and terrorized for months, but lived. Yet, I still can’t join peaceful and patriotic marches in America because of childhood trauma of being surrounded by marching thousands of violent men, the dark clothed masses of bloodthirsty thugs ready to kill me, an Armenian girl, had they known I was hiding in that first-floor apartment on Ahundov street. And despite the Azerbaijani media mocking my truth, the truth is, I get startled if I hear Azerbaijani speech in close proximity to me physically.
The author with her mother in Baku
That is the curious case of our trauma. Many times it isn’t visible. Many times it isn’t about the numbers of the dead, like a ghoulish competition; any life lost should be mourned. It is about the systematic traumatization of the Armenian population of Azerbaijan through misinformation, infliction of fear and horror, exile and loss of property and, most importantly, in the manner in which these murders took place, and in the manner they were instantly forgotten. It is in the psychological scars that were purposely inflicted with such hatred that it is nearly impossible to forget, and in most cases unimaginable to forgive. Armenians received festive celebratory cards when tens of thousands of Armenians were killed in the Spitak earthquake. Girls were raped in front of their parents, cigarettes were put out on their skins. Armenian parents were murdered in front of their half-Azerbaijani children.
For nearly three decades my community hears things like, “Well, it isn’t exactly genocide,” or, “Yes, that was tragic, but weren’t only 30 or 200 killed?” And “perhaps it is time to forget it and move on.” This is what haunts us too; the deliberate obliviousness of the people that should be mourning with us, standing beside us, acknowledging us, and advocating for us. When we ask why the world forgets our dead, we should also look in the mirror and ask ourselves the same question.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Sumgait massacres that shaped the lives of over 300,000 of us and the current Azerbaijani policy toward Armenians worldwide, especially toward Artsakh. Since I began advocating for its liberation and tying the mass murders in Azerbaijan to the past genocide and mass atrocities of my grandfather’s time, I’ve seen progress. There is more of an effort in diaspora organizations to remember Sumgait, Kirovabad, Baku and Maragha, along with the work toward Artsakh’s liberation. But it is not enough.
Many still can’t distinguish between what Sumgait, Kirovabad and Baku atrocities are and how they occurred; especially what significance they have toward the liberation movement. These weren’t simply siloed events that one can easily compartmentalize, define or escape. Instead, the atrocities grew from one-off murders in the dark alleys, gradually building into mass demonstrations and pogroms like a tsunami, gathering force and momentum. They were often masked as something else, somewhere else, before finally bursting with the Baku pogroms when the last of Armenian minority were killed, ferried across the Caspian or drowned at sea. It was an inexorable two-year campaign of eliminating more than 300,000 Armenians; driving us all out of Azerbaijan. And one atrocity, allowed by the powers at be, forgotten by the world, lead to another atrocity. And the continued and deliberate ignorance of these tragic events by the world lead directly to the current situation in Artsakh when civilians are killed and mutilated in underreported war crimes, children are shot across the border on playgrounds, and young soldiers I often meet in my travels to the region lose their limbs and lives defending their families.
In these past six years of advocacy, I see more and more Armenian refugees from Azerbaijan spreading awareness. Perhaps it is because the shellshock has an expiration date. Julia Papiyan in Michigan comes to my mind; a daughter of a Baku survivor put so much of her effort into the building of a khatchkar in memory of the Armenians killed in Azerbaijan. Arevik Makasdjian, a Baku survivor who launched and runs “Kids of Karabakh” charity in San Francisco, inspires me with her tireless humanitarian efforts. Ilona Kocharyan, daughter of Baku refugees now living in a war-torn Ukraine, recently shot her first film about Artsakh called “The Roots,” moving me to tears. Saro Saryan, a Baku refugee, veteran of Artsakh’s liberation war, is running a refugee organization out of Shushi, and introducing Artsakh to the visitors from all over the world. And they are just a handful of amazing refugees I have met across the world in my work. But we cannot do it alone.
What I am still failing to see, and continue to advocate for, is for the Sargsyan Administration and other entities of the Armenian government, to properly commemorate the 30th, the 35th, and the 50th anniversary of the Sumgait, Kirovabad, Baku and Maragha atrocities. I also continue to ask diaspora organizations how they commemorate these events. I still advocate for these atrocities to be highlighted during the negotiations over Artsakh. This historic anti-armenianism is very much relevant in the way the Aliyev regime approaches the conflict, and it will not change. We cannot allow them to rewrite history. This joint effort amongst us to advocate for the voiceless, and securing of the borders, are the only way to secure Artsakh’s independence. And the best way to ensure these atrocities happen again is by deliberately brushing them under the proverbial rug. Haven’t we learned this already?
Posted 01 March 2018 - 12:02 PM
The U.S. even provides funding to programs and publications affected by Azerbaijan's despotism.
WESTBROOK — Thirty years ago I was preparing to turn 10 on March 14, 1988, excited to have my entire family from all corners of Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan, to come to our garden and eat delicious shish kabobs and cake. But that was not to happen.
THIRTY YEARS OF OPPRESSION
This was the government’s response to the call of Armenians from the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh to rejoin Armenia, defying Stalin’s drawing of the borders in 1923. The Soviet Union began its collapse with that single democratic and constitutional movement of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, and the response was brutal. This response has been ongoing for the last 30 years. The city of Sumgait was first, then Kirovabad, then my home city of Baku. The entire Armenian population of Azerbaijan, some 300,000, was ethnically cleansed and displaced.
We lost more than our property. Even our history is being erased from Azerbaijan as we speak. My grandparents’ graves and every Armenian cemetery were demolished, leaving no traces of Armenians ever living in Azerbaijan. This brutal government’s policy of anti-Armenianism continues. The U.S. State Department warns American citizens of Armenian descent against traveling to the region for fear of being killed for our ethnicity.
U.S., MAINE TAKE IN REFUGEES
Back in the early 1990s, tens of thousands of us ended up in the United States, many in Maine. We are proud Americans, investors, business owners, public servants. And we cannot understand how after 30 years of systemic and consistent anti-Armenianism by Azerbaijan, and especially after accepting tens of thousands of Armenians from Azerbaijan as refugees, the United States continues to placate this authoritarian despotic regime.
Just recently, on Jan. 21, the program “Echo of the Caucasus,” a project by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, which is funded fully by the U.S. Congress, interviewed Azerbaijani journalist Zeynal Ibrahimov about his new book, “35 Letters to My Son.” Ibrahimov is one of the few Azerbaijani nationals – albeit an escaped Azerbaijani hiding in Britain as a political asylum seeker – who freely discusses the atrocities committed against the Armenian population of Azerbaijan and assigns the current conflict to the dictator Heydar Aliyev himself and his policies.
Soon after the interview was published, the article, headlined “Black mirror of Azerbaijan,” was removed from the Echo’s website and the journalist who conducted the interview, Katsiaryna Prakovyeva, was promptly fired. The article was then replaced by a propaganda piece written by an Azerbaijani political analyst handpicked by the regime of the dictator’s son and successor, Ilham Aliyev.
Why does the U.S. Congress allow a foreign dictatorship’s actions oppressing speech and free journalism, specifically within programs and publications funded by the U.S. Congress itself?
Anna Astvatstataurian Turcotte is a Westbrook resident and city councilor, an Armenian refugee from Azerbaijan and author of the autobiography “Nowhere: A Story of Exile.”
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