Armenian Blog Roundup: April 24…

“This day, 93 years ago, by detaining (and later shooting) the top Armenian intellectuals and politicians in Istanbul, the Ottoman government started the massive effort to uproot its entire Armenian population ordering it to march from the historic Armenian lands into the Syrian desert. The result was the mass killings, rapes, death by starvation, and exodus of survivors. The Armenian Genocide was accomplished. Practically no Armenians live now on the lands populated by their ancestors for at least two millennia…

April 24, Yerevan © Onnik Krikorian / Oneworld Multimedia 2008
I don’t forget. And I don’t forgive the perpetrators and executioners of this crime against my people.…” – this is how Artashes has expressed the feelings of many Armenian bloggers. Others have applied to the Armenian poets, publishing extracts from Shiraz and Tumanyan.
Athanatoi blog has carried out a massive amount of research and collected in one chronological list from 1915-2008, all the formulations adopted by various countries, effectively recognizing the Armenian Genocide. It becomes clear from this list, that France, United Kingdom and Russian Empire have issued a declaration already on May 24th, 1915 about the mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, and that the US Senate has adopted a condemning resolution on February 9, 1916.

March with lanterns, April 23, Yerevan © Onnik Krikorian / Oneworld Multimedia 2008
A wide review of Armenian Genocide related publications in international and Turkish media as well as Armenian blogs on April 24th is posted by Blogian, also detailing the populous marches held in Holywood and Yerevan.
The two different marches to Tsitsernakaberd: one by the ARF-Dashnaktsutyun youth with lanterns and the other by opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrossian’s supporters, without lanterns, were covered by
Onnik Krikorian on his renamed blog – The Caucaus Knot:

At first the police refused to allow Ter-Petrossian’s supporters to walk on the road and demanded they stay on the sidewalk. []The police also backed down with participants of the walk and they took over one lane of traffic. To be fair, the night before, ARF-D youth had also taken over one side of Baghramian Avenue so it’s not as if the police always work to keep the road open. Of course, it is unknown whether the march was legally sanctioned or not.[]Although there were many police escorting the protesters, they were unarmed and not decked out in riot gear. [] As it was, apart from whistles and the near-constant shouts of “Levon, President,” there were no incidents.

March without lanterns, April 24, Yerevan © Onnik Krikorian / Oneworld Multimedia 2008

Of course, April 24 is not about the Armenian Revolutionary Federation — Dashnaktsutyun (ARF-D), the government or the radical opposition. It is about Armenians worldwide and so, to end, some photos of other citizens who also made the journey up to Tsitsernakaberd to pay their respects to the memory of those that died in the Armenian Genocide.

April 24, Yerevan © Onnik Krikorian / Oneworld Multimedia 2008
“I am a claimant”, Moonlight has written, while 517design blog has published a series of posters with the stamp “We’ll get these back”, displaying the map of Armenia presented by the US President Woodro Wilson, as well as scenes from Ani, Bitlis, Kars, Trapizon cities and Lake Van. The initiative turned into a sponteneous flashmob – a large number of bloggers republished the posters at their own blogs.

Ahousekeeper blog has posted an interesting analysis, stating his concerns with the fact, that by focusing all attention on the single date of April 24th, we – Armenians are thus feeling, that our responsibility ends with this, whereas:

[]a range of very serious issues are connected with our perception of the Great Genocide. For example, many are complaining, that over time we have developed a fixation on our image of the victim, and have thus wrapped ourselves into our pains, without attempting to save our land from the enemy’s paws and punishing the criminal state. On the other hand, certain forces (using the same approach of “enough mourning”), are trying to persuade, that it is time to forget everything, because weeping and anger, however justified, are destructive. “Move on, enough clining to the past. It is time to finally start a dialogue with neighbors”, such people are saying. There is another numerous group, who are saying “We remember, we mourn and we would like to return the lands of our fathers, but what can we do against a mighty adversary like Turkey?” In other words, there are many opinions, many more unanswered questions, but no solutions, or solutions which are unrealistic and directed more to diverting attention from serious matters.

Speaking of the statement made by the newly appointed RA Foreign minister Eduard Nalbandyan at the Armenian Genocide commemoration event marked in the Paris City Hall, where the RA FM has said: “It is impossible to imagine the future of Armenians and Turks without reconciliation”, Nazarian says, that such approaches were named “defeatist” in the past and notes his surprise for such strange change of foreign policy priorities.
Hrag Vartanian has recalled the protest/performance staged by the Armenian American artist Onnig Kardash on April 24, 1969 in front of the St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral in Manhatten’s Murray Hill neighborhood. The artist stood with a poster “Un-hate a turk”, thus “underscoring the need for love in the face of hate”, the blogger writes.
Mark Grigorian has recalled the times, when the Armenian Genocide memorial was not built yet. “The shock caused by the Genocide was so strong, that perhaps every Armenian continues to feel it”, the blogger writes, expressing conviction, that the issue of Genocide recognition can only be settled by the joint efforts of Armenians and Turks. “There cannot be winners and losers in this matter.” Mark Grigorian says, “recognition will bring victory both to Armenians and Turks” he concludes.
The Podcast of this post, made by the team is available here.

Artur Papyan

Journalist, blogger, digital security and media consultant


  1. I would like to commend ARF-D and HHSh for ogranising separate marches for the commemoration of April 24.
    In particular, I though the way HHSh linked the commemoration with current events (1,500,000 + 10, April 24 = March 1, etc.) and with its political demands (Sergik heracir, etc.) was extremely intelligent.
    I hope other political parties will do the same in coming years. Each party will march under its banner and present its political program. Different NGOs, ministries, schools and sports clubs can also bring their members in separate groups.
    Even corporation can organise and sponsor separate marches. Employees can march with corporate logos and chant the commercial offers of the day.
    Having almost 1 million people around, is a golden opportunity to publicise any political or commercial offer.

  2. Right… I hope you’re joking, no?

  3. it’s not a good joke though. maybe you’re serious?

  4. Unfortunately, separate marches are already a common feature of divided Diasporan communities and while I dislike the idea of using the occasion for partisan political purposes, at least in Armenia such marches are attended by an insignificant minority.
    For example, (partisan) estimates for the ARF-D march was 15,000 and for Levon’s, 10,000. In both cases I’d say less, but anyway, even at these maximum estimates they are nothing compared to the hundreds of thousands who go on their own as individuals, families or as groups of friends.
    Still, on a brighter note, I met a handful of Levon’s people (actually, mainly from Aram Sargsyan’s Republic party) who went for both marches. Basically, they commemorated the day on such marches regardless of who was organizing it. Moreover, the divisions in Diasporan communities can be more damaging,
    When I was living in London, for example, out of a community estimated at around 12-15,000 only 300 participated in one of the marches. The rest did not participate at all. Of course, not everybody goes up to the Genocide Memorial in Yerevan, but the numbers that do are significant.
    Elsewhere, and seldom reported on, other communities outside of Yerevan also have their own Genocide memorials which people visit. Anyway, the point is that there is nothing wrong with groups — even political — marching on their own as something much larger (although perhaps the ARF-D should do theirs on 24 April along with everyone else).
    However, I agree that exploiting the day for political purposes is to be regretted and it will be interesting to note whether the fact that the pro-Levon rally was simply that — a pro-Levon for president rally — it will be interesting to see if it backfires.
    Incidentally, I remember looking at the drivers of all the cars that passed or actually, were moving at a crawl because of traffic, as well as that of pedestrians. The majority were not interested in the Levon march and many of those who the march passed by looked pretty apathetic at that. Some looked quite fed up, to be honest.
    Anyway, I have to wonder if the march wasn’t also designed for foreign consumption as well. Does the very fact that Levon for the first time attended a Genocide event with full publicity symbolize something along the lines of not even this day is sacred enough for me not to do keep the idea of regime change and a “popular revolution” under cover.
    As has been noticed, the march had signs equating 1 March with the Armenian Genocide, and some of those were reported to call Kocharian and Serge “Turks.” Oterwise, the rally was 98 percent about Levon’s bid to return to power which was unfortunate.
    However, whatever the rights and wrongs of the ARF-D and Levon marches, I am glad to note that there were no clashes or problems although A1 Plus tried desperately to make some (which in my opinion, failed).

  5. Azadakan is being somewhat sarcastic, I think, and with good reason.
    Like I said, there is nothing wrong with political groups, NGOs, etc going as groups, I would imagine (although also not necessary). Exploiting it for politically (or commercially) partisan purposes is obviously regrettable and not something to be welcomed.

  6. While I totally welcome the idea of marking the Genocide event in partisan groups, etc. – using the Genocide COMMEMORATION date for any other purpose is immoral. The link that Levon supporters established between March 1 killings and Genocide was clever, to say the least, but chanting ‘Levon’ was way to much for me to stomack.

  7. I am vehemently against (ab)using the Commemoration day for any other purpose. However, if sectarian rallies are not condemned today, I don’t see how the scenario that I depicted above will not eventually take place.

  8. Onnik, very informative post.
    Concerning the motivations behind the HHSh march, in addition to the foreign consumption, I think there was also the internal (internal to the opposition) consumption aspect. I mean the demand from the hardcore rank-and-file who are very much into rallies as the main form of political activism.

  9. […] The link that Levon supporters established between March 1 killings and Genocide was clever […]
    I don’t quite understand what you mean by this. You really think it was clever? Like in some abstract sense? Or perhaps you are being sarcastic. Actually, I see no link between the two.

  10. Grigor – I meant it’s clever in terms of PR and political technologies.

  11. Grigor – I meant it’s clever in terms of PR and political technologies

    Clever is not the word I’d use. Perhaps if they hope to get foreign support for Levon’s bid to return to power (one government source alleges that he has already suggested ending claims for Genocide recognition in return for backing), but internally? Well, I think they thought the photographs from the day of riot police and protesters might help them, but thankfully, the government didn’t act so stupid (for a change).
    Otherwise, the link was pretty unsophisticated, incorrect and likely to do more harm to Armenia’s image and claims for Genocide recognition than anything else. Of course, Levon’s supporters in the media and civil society will use it (although not as I’m sure they hoped), but I don’t think it worked at all for the rest of the population from what I saw. The only people who seem to have thought it a good PR opportunity were Hetq Online, RFE/RL and A1 Plus.
    Still, like I said, at least it didn’t end in clashes and ultimately was so small it was insignificant (same can be said for the ARF-D march, as well).

  12. And Grigor, yes, I agree, all Armenians here seem to think political activity is screaming, shouting, and marching — especially around days of mourning. It’s about time someone injected some new ideas and methods into the mix. For now, though, it all seems rather amateurish and disorganized compared to protest movements elsewhere in the world. And, of course, much smaller.

  13. Onnik – I thought your idea of trying to win parliamentary seats (expressed elsewhere) was rather new and could actually make certain changes in the way of thinking of the people. My impression of Armenians has always been that they think that the president has it all, but that is just not true in a country that has a President and a parliament. I thought that was a good idea, but I am not sure how you implement it.
    I would really like to see some kind of investigative journalism emerging in Armenia. Of course, I have no idea what I am talking about, but it seems that we don’t have guys like those two who cracked down Watergate scandal. Do we? Or is it the case that everybody is just afraid to talk. There is got to be someone in the government who wants to talk, no?

  14. Interestingly, when one journalism lecturer was over here to help people (actually at Hetq) engage in investigative techniques, a lot of it was about using investigative methods of journalism to write on normal subject matters.
    Basically, what we have here in Armenia is a media that doesn’t even bother to check its facts let alone investigate matters such as corruption. At the same time, however, the government doesn’t release information it should — or is very reluctant to.
    As much as I don’t like its pro-Levon leanings, Hetq Online is an interesting example. In particular, the publication uses the courts to get facts and figures which should otherwise be public knowledge. The ownership of the cafes in Liberty Square is a case in point.
    However, as a whole, I think the whole media in Armenia is now discredited. It was never in a good shape anyway, but the 2008 presidential election made it even worse with most taking sides. However, I heard that Aravot was better than most, and in terms of broadcast media, Yerkir Media TV did a good job.
    On the whole, however, it is simpler for most journalists (usually female students fresh out of University, or veteran hacks who are politically partisan and work to the same methods employed in the Soviet era for their chosen political force) to just print rumors.
    The media is not performing its role as an INDEPENDENT watchdog. It is PARTISAN and part of the battle which means that the (pro-opposition) print AND (pro-government) broadcast media is discredited and not trusted.
    As for the obsession with the presidency, yes, you’re right, and perhaps that’s as much a reflection on the lack of democracy or democratic thinking in any walk of life. While many blame the constitution introduced under Ter-Petrossian for this top-down control pyramid, fact is that the situation has changed somewhat with the 2005 amendments.
    Thing is that the thinking and approach to elections hasn’t changed. Armenians appear to want their King/Tsar/Mythical Benevolent Dictator. However, while the argument is that the makeup of the parliament will be determined by the presidency (in an undemocratic region like the CIS), it’s a chicken and an egg situation.
    I mean, the makeup of the parliament also controls the checks and balances necessary for democratic presidential elections — in particular, the makeup of the election commissions.
    Probably, the checks and balances will take time to emerge and properly function, but in the short term it is theoretically possible to hold democratic elections, but I think the necessity of having mature political forces able to contest them and a proper media (and here, the pro-government and pro-opposition media functions the same way) as well as genuine international oversight will be key.
    Dunno. I personally believe that we could all now start to focus on creating the environment where democratic parliamentary elections can be held. Probably, this would be a natural evolution of the system if we all set our minds to do this now — and not to ensure that our preferred candidate comes to power, but only in the interests of democracy.
    For me at least, the problem that still remains is that both the pro-Serge and pro-Levon camps do not represent anything democratic. There is no room for discussion and debate in either and anyone who speaks out against either is attacked, intimidated or threatened.
    I would hope that a new real pro-democracy third force (and not necessarily a political party but a real non-partisan movement sick of both sides) might emerge, but I don’t see where it will come from or if it will at all, in fact. Still, I’ve already gone off the point of this post so better stop.

  15. Onnik- thanks for the insight. You know the problems in media is really tough on us. Those who are in Armenia at least see whats happening with their own eyes. We on the other hand just rely on various gossips and distorted version of the events we get from our relatives and the media. Depending which relative I call, I will either hear all positive things or all negative things, and this is exactly how the media is these days. It is really crucial for us to get the right information because I for one find it really difficult to imagine whats happening there. At any rate, recent reports show that Diaspora’s help constitutes a large portion of Armenian economy and we at least deserve a fair presentation of the events especially because that is our only source of information. Otherwise, it is confusing, sometimes too confusing.

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