The switch flips alright, but it flips on its own. The second my journey to the homeland began, no amount of waiting in airplanes and airports could phase me. I feel like Balotelli on steroids, a Euro saved from doom, an Occupy Mashdots Park and Save Teghut gone viral into every corner and every mind of the country.
With that said, I landed three days ago and have been pouncing around Armenia frantically getting everything in order. The beauty of this year’s Youth Corps is in its constant move toward real connections and real effects. Almost all of our materials for this year’s program are being purchased here in Armenia. Our program books are being printed here, our t-shirts are coming hot off the press from Mineh Printing down the street from the hrabarag, we bought our sports gear, paper, pens, and other supplies all from local Armenian businesses. Our participants have been coming in one by one, with some already here working with Birthright Armenia, and others spending quality time with their relatives. We plan on officially getting the entire group into motion July 2nd, once all of our participants have arrived in Armenia.
The sheer thought of being able to influence over 600 kids in a matter of six weeks is sending adrenaline through my body like no other. The connections we’re going to make with the land, the people, the customs and life lessons we’re going to learn through our interactions, the civil society building, getting the idea of the real value of one’s vote across to a turned-off country, the sharing of ideas, the power of our interactions are all a few days away from materializing into yet another successful summer of progress.
So long for now, you’ll be hearing from my teammates as the group gets together to officially launch our program.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – On June 10, the San Francisco AYF Rosdom Chapter organized an event honoring the freedom fighters who fought during the Artsakh liberation movement. More than 150 community members attended the program, which took place at Vasbourgan Hall following church services.
Vana Andonian, Secretary for the Rosdom Chapter, served as Mistress of Ceremonies and welcomed guests to the event. St. Gregory Armenian Church Pastor, Archpriest Khoren Habeshian, welcomed guests, congratulated the AYF for their efforts and opened the event with a prayer.
The AYF then held a video presentation explaining the importance of the recently launched “With Our Soldiers (WOS)” campaign. Donations were collected throughout the event as part of the campaigns efforts to assist veterans of the war with necessary medical treatments.
“We are truly indebted to the Azadamardik’s that went to the frontline and fought so that we have a free and independent Armenia and Artsakh,” stated Raffi Senekeremian, Chairman of the San Francisco AYF. “We are very thankful to all those that came to the event to support our soldiers and helped us raise money for such a great cause.”
ARF San Francisco Krisdapor Gomideh Chairman, Mr. Hrayr Sarkissian, congratulated the AYF on taking on such an important task and spoke about how several San Francisco community members fought on the frontline during the war.
AYF Western Region Chairman, David Arakelian, was also on hand and spoke on behalf of the Central Executive. The time has come for us as a community to lead the way and lend moral, medical and financial support to those who played an instrumental role in the Artsakh liberation struggle, he asserted.
For more information about the WOS campaign and further efforts to aid veterans of the Artsakh war, visit www.WithOurSoldiers.com.
The Glendale Roupen Chapter gave the AYFs With Our Soldiers (WOS) campaign a vital boost this past week with a generous donation of over $5000. The money will go toward treatments for veterans of the Artsakh war still grappling with combat injuries.
Our azadamardiks are the heroes of our nation, said Verginie Touloumian, Chair of the Glendale chapter. They are the reason we enjoy our mountainous homeland and we feel obligated to prioritize their health. We want to make sure they know we are thankful for their dedication to our country.
Following the AYFs announcement of the WOS campaign, a series of fundraisers have been organized from the South Bay to San Francisco aimed at bringing greater attention and relief to veterans of the war.
However, even prior to the launch, the Glendale AYF had set its sight on aiding the cause of Artsakh. In the Fall of 2011, its general meeting passed a resolution calling for the chapter to set money aside for an emergency Artsakh Fund. Twenty percent of all profits gathered by the chapter throughout the fiscal year were to go toward this special fund.
When WOS was initiated, members felt the situation of the soldiers qualified as an emergency. They decided to direct their funds toward helping those who are still suffering from the injuries of the war.
In our opinion, this is the most pressing emergency today, said Shoghak Kazandjian, a member of the Glendale Executive. The need of veterans is a very important issue and helping them through the Artsakh Fund is putting its intended purpose to use.
Some of the main fundraising events the chapter held to gather money were a Nerd-themed Costume Party in November and a 35th anniversary event in March marking the founding of the Glendale chapter.
AYF chapters, central councils, and community supporters will continue to organize fundraisers and gather donations for the campaign throughout the year, with treatments for veterans scheduled to begin this summer.
For more information about the WOS campaign and further efforts to aid veterans of the Artsakh war, visit www.WithOurSoldiers.com.
2000 թուականին, ընկատիքիս հետ միասին, առաջին անգամ ըլլալով աձցելեցի հայրենիք: Թէեւ բաւական փոքր էի տարիքով, սակայն Հայաստանը վրաս մեծ ազդեցութիւն գործեց ու զիս մղեց որ յաճախ վերադառնամ այնտեղ: Հայաստան գտնուած եմ զանազան առիթներով. Մասնակցած եմ ժողովներու, սեմինարներու եւ զբոսաշրջումներու, սակայն բախտաւորութիւնը չէի ունեցած կամաւորաբար աշխատելու Հայաստանի մէջ:
Չբաւարարուելով Թորոնթոյի Հայ գաղութէն ներս տարած յամեստ գործունէութեամբս, որոշեցի այս տարի վերադառնալ Հայաստան, սովորականէն
քիչ մը աւելի երկար ժամաակով, կամաւոր աշխատանքի ճամբով, ու «Դէպի Հայք» կազմակերպութեան աջակցութեամբ, ծառայելու եւ ուղղակի ներդրում ունենալու հայրենիքիս աստիճանաւոր վերելքին. Որոշում մը, որ իմ կածիքով, ամէն Հայ երիտասարդ արնուազն մէկ անգամ պէտք է արնէ: Փափաքս էր աշխատիլ «Հրայր Մարուխեան» Հիմնադրամին մէջ: «Հրայր Մարուխեան» Հիմնադրամը սոցեալ-դեմոկրատական հիմնարկ մըն է, հիմնուած 2009 թուականին, որուն նպատակն է տառածել հաւասարութեան, ազատութեան եւ ժողովրրդավարութեան արժէքները Հայաստանի եւ տարածաշրջանի մէջ: Հիմնադրամը կիրագործէ գիտական հետազոտութիւններ, կը կազմակերպէ համաժողովներ եւ դասընթացքներ երիտասարդ քաղաքական ղեկավարներու համար, եւ կը հրատարակէ բծախնդրօրէն պատրաստուած ուսումնասիրութւիններ՝ բարելաւելու համար երկրի սոցիալական, տնտեսական եւ քաղաքական վիճակը: Հիմնադրամը նաեւ սերտօրէն կը գործակցի Հայաստանի Հանրապետութեան խորհրդարանի խմբակցութիւններուն, տեղական տարածաշրջանային եւ միջազգային քաղաքական ու հետազոտական այլ հաստատութիւններու հետ:
Երեք ամիսներու ընթացքին, աշխատանքային շրջանիս մասնակից եղայ կազմակերպչական ծրագրային աշխատանքներուն, ուսումնասիրութիւններուն եւ խորհրդաժողովներուն, որոնց ընդմէջէն, աւելի լաւ ըմբռնեցի թէ մեր հայրենիքը որքան շատ կարիքը ունի նոյնանման կազմակերպութիւններու իր քաղաքական, սոցիալական եւ տնտեսական բնագաւարներու վիճակը բրելաւելու համար:
21 Սեպտեմբեր, 1991-ին Հայաստանի Հանրապետութիւնը հրչակուեցաւ ազատ եւ անկախ պետութիւն, վերջ դնելով 70 տարուայ համայնավարական տիրապետութեան: Հայ ժողովուրդի աւելի քան 99 տոկոսը «այո՛» քուեարկեց՝ երկար ժամանակէ ի վեր սպասուած վերանկախութեան: Սակայն յաջորդող տարիները որ անմիջապէս յետեւեցան հրչակման եղան դժուարին եւ յուսախաբեցուցիչ: Յաճախակի եւ շարունակական պատերազմ Ատրպէյճանի դէմ, համատարած թշուարութիւն ու աղքատութիւն, 7 Դեկտեմբեր, 1988-ի երկրաշարժի ահրելի հետեւանքներն ու լայնատարած տնտեսական անապահովութիւնը պատճառ եղան որպեսզի Հայաստանի քաղաքացիները յետսյետէ յուսահատին եւ սկսին երկմտութիւններ ու կասկածներ ունենալ վերանկախութեան բերած բարիքներու մասին: Ահաւասիկ անցած են քսան երկար տարիներ Հայաստանի վերանկախացման օրերէն: Դժբախտաբար շատ բան չէ փոխուած Հայաստանի քաղաքացիական, տնտեսական եւ հասարակական ընթագքներէր ներս: Մինչեւ օրս, Ատրպէյճանի հետ կայուն եւ ստոյք համաձայնութիւն չէ հաստատուած: Տակաւին կան արտաքին ճնշումներ: Հասարակութեան տնտեսական արժէքները կը ոտնակոխուին մի քանի օլիկարքներու կողմէ, որոնք տնտեսական մենաշնորհներ (monopolies) ըլլալով՝ թոյլ չեն տար որպէսզի տնտեսութիւնը, մասնաւորաբար փոքր ու միջին գործատերերը զարգացնեն իրենց սկսած գործերը, զագացնելով նաեւ հայրենիքը: Հասարակական արդարութիւն եւ ընկերային անարդարութիւն երկրի չորս կողմը կը տիրէ, եւ Հայաստանը կը շարունակէ մնալ անկայուն, սահմանափակում եւ կաշկանդուած իր իսկ սահմաններուն մէջ:
Այս բոլորին հանդերձ, հսկայ ուրախութիւն էր ինծի համար ապրիլ, շնջել եւ գործել Հայաստանի մէջ, եւ աւելին՝ ներկայ գնտուիլ ու մասնակից դառնալ Հայաստանի վերանկախացման 20 ամեակի տօսակատարութիւններուն: Անհաւատալի զգացում մըն էր ականատէս ըլլալ եւ վայելէլ ժողովուրդիս ցնծութիւնը՝ իր երկրին հանդէպ ունեցած սէրն ու գուրգուրաքը, եւ դարձեալ ազատ ու անկախ պետութիւն ունենալու ուրախութիւնն ու հպարտութիւնը: Անբացատրելի զգացում էր տեսնաել բազմահազար հայրենակիցներ՝ տատիկներ ու պապիկներ, չափահասներ, երիտասարդ-երիտասարդուհիներ, պատանիներ եւ նոյնիսկ մանուկներ ու երեխաներ որոնք լայն ժպիտներ իրենց դէմքին կը յետեւէին քաղաքի չորս կողմը տեղի ունեցող հրաշալի եւ անմոռանալի վերանկախացման միջոցարումներուն: Վերանկախացման տօնակատարութիւնները վերջացան հանրապետութեան հրապարակի մէջ տեղի ունեցող բարձր մակարդակի եւ հիանալի սինֆօնիք երաժշտական համերգով, որուն յաջորդեցին գեղեցիկ ու լուսաւոր հրավառութեան փայլատակումներ. Պայթումներ, որոնք ցնցեցին եւ անակնկալի ենթարկեցին բոլորիս: Դէեւ շատ փոքր եմ յիշելու այն օրերը, ճիշդ այդ րոպէին էր որ մտածումներս զիտ փոխադրեցին Արցախեան պատերազմնի դժուար տարիներուն, ուր մեր հայրենի եղբայրներն ու քոյրերը, մայրերն ու հայրերը վախով ու սարսափով կը լսէին մարտական ռումբերու պայթումները, մեր պապենական սահմանները պաշտպանելու ընդացքին: Այսօր, 20 տարեներ ետք, այն նոյն սարսափելի պայթումները վերածուած են ուրախութեան ու ցնծութեան փայլատակումներու, որոնք հպարտութեամբ կը լսէինք միասնաբար, ու անգամ մը եւս կ՛ստիպէին զիս որպէսզի խոնհարիմ մեր հերոս մարտիկներու եւ նահատակներու յիշատակին առջեւ, քաջ գիտնալով թէ անոնց անձնուէր նուիրումի հետեւանքովն է որ մենք ունինք 2 անկախ, ազատ, ու զիրար ամբողջացնող պետութիւններ այսօր:
Անցեալ մի գանի ամիսներու ընթացքին, ինծի համար շատ աւելի հստակացաւ թէ մեր հայրենիքը կարիք ունի անձնուէր երիտասարդներու, որոնք պատրաստ են նուիրեալ աշխատանք տանելու երկէն ներս, ու բարելաւել Հայաստանի ներկայ վիճակը: Ես կը հաւատամ որ անցած են այն օրերը, երբ Հայաստանը մեր սրտերու ու մտքերու մէջ միայն իտէալ մըն էր, մեր տուներու պատերուն կախուած Արարատ լերան նկարով խորհրդանշուող: Հայաստանը իրական երկիր է իրական խնդիրներով Հայրենի հողին վրայ, ֆիզիքական ներկայութեամբ, մեր մասնագիտական կարելիութիւններով թափ տանք աստիճանաբար դէպի վեր բարցրացող մեր անկախ հայրենիքի վերելքին՝ հաստատելու համար մարդկային իրաւունքներու հաւասարութիւն, պաշտպանելու տկարներն ու անիրաւութեան զոհ գացած հայրենակիցները եւ օգնելու համար մեր երկրին ընկերային, քաղաքական եւ տնտեսական վիճակին: «Հրայր Մարուխեան» Հիմնադրամը օրինակ մըն է միայն շատ մը այ հաստատութիւններու կողքին, որոնք կը պայքարին փոփոխութեան ու բարելաւման ենթարկելու Հայաստանի իրավիճակը: Մեր բոլորին պարտականութիւնն է, հակարակ որ ափերուն վրայ կ՛ապրինք, հաւատարիմ մնալու անկախութեան գաղաբարին եւ էականօրէն ցքտիլ Հայաստանը անգամ մը եւս ուղղելլու դէպի իրաւացի եւ ճշգրիտ ժողովրդավար պետութիւն:
“What do savage tribes today take over first of all from the Europeans? Liquor and Christianity, the narcotics of Europe.” – Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science
Liquor and Christianity are similar to the effect that they both have the ability to alter one’s state of mind and dull one’s senses. Where alcohol is able to intoxicate physically, as a result of the release of inhibitory chemicals in the brain, Christianity’s ability to intoxicate is of a wildly complex, counterintuitive, and entirely mental nature. Christianity is grounded on the assumption that the real world is attainable only after death, in the form of an afterlife, and is promised only to the pious. Piety entails the denial of worldly pleasures and refusal of the temptations of the present life. In essence, the present life is to be turned away from and treated merely as a means to an end—that end being admission to heaven. The concept of the afterlife is one that has greatly influenced the reality and behavior of many faithful Christians, argued Nietzsche, similarly to liquor and other “narcotics”.
Liquor and religion both appear in a different context for Nietzsche in his earlier work The Birth of Tragedy. In this work Nietzsche gives a historical explanation of the concept of Greek tragedy, and highlights the existence of a dichotomy in tragedy that includes both Dionysian and Apollonian influences. The Dionysian was named after Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, and signifies intoxication, irrationality, instinctual behavior, and ecstatic pleasure. The Apollonian, on the other hand, was named after Apollo who represents rationality, sobriety, and discipline. An ongoing struggle between these two influential elements is essential in preserving the balance necessary for the continuity of progress. Therefore, neither the Dionysian nor the Apollonian forces are to succeed in triumphing over the other. Though Christianity is not explicitly mentioned in this particular work, it shares in common with the Apollonian the fundamental principles of choosing rationality over instinct and a dedication to discipline in the face of life’s temptations. Similarly to the Apollonian, religion strongly antagonizes all of the objectives of the Dionysian.
These and many other ideas articulated by the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche have influenced the works of various Armenian authors from the early twentieth century until the present. The work Hin Astvatsner by the playwright Levon Shant is one of such works. As the title suggests, the Dionysian–Apollonian dichotomy present in the play Hin Astvatsner corresponds to the clashing of the ancient gods with the Christian god. A young monk is torn between an Apollonian drive to devote himself entirely to what he believes to be rational teachings of Christianity, and a Dionysian longing to worship the ancient gods Vahagn and Anahit, who represent the visceral and worldly passions of war and love. After leading a monastic life of utter isolation from the outside world in an effort to ward off all worldly temptation, he falls in love with a girl whom he rescues from drowning. His faith is tested as he is consumed with delusions of the girl, in which she introduces him to the ancient gods that previously occupied the land his monastery is built on. The teachings of these gods encourage treating life as an end in and of itself rather than disconnecting from one’s life to contemplate the afterlife. He is intrigued by the revolutionary idea of living in fulfillment of the present and pursuing rather than renouncing one’s desires. The young monk’s balance is ultimately disturbed when the Dionysian forces win him over, leading to his tragic end by unintentional suicide.
The influence of Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophy on Armenian thought is evident in Levon Shant’s play Hin Astvatsner, and may also be found in the writings of the famous Armenian poets Varuzhan and Avedik Isahakyan.
The voice is a human gift to be embraced and used. It is through speech that one may relay their most pertinent ideas and engage others with their vision. Yet, the spoken word is an obligation, viewed as an essential in the advocacy of any cause. But the ability to remain silent, constitutes a strength in and of itself, and allows each person to foster their power. We have created tactics and methods that aim to generate the greatest amount of noise, which have, nonetheless, proven to be successful in the past. Yet, we have passed over the notion of silence as a tool for the mass portrayal of a message as well as the increased consciousness of individuals.
On Thursday, January 26, 2012, the affiliated schools and organizations of the Confederation of All-Armenian Student Associations joined in silence to protest the denial of the Armenian Genocide. Silent protests were organized in conjunction at UCLA, USC, UCSD, UCSB, UC Irvine, Cal State LA and CSUN. The “Stain of Denial” was aimed at informing the greater campus communities about the Armenian Genocide and the ensuing denial campaign by the government of Turkey. Through their individual student bodies, the respective All-ASA organizations spread the collective message of the detrimental effects of injustice and denial, generations after the initial crime was committed. Covering their mouths with tape and bearing written signs as testaments of their message, hundreds of college students coalesced to condemn the cyclical precedent of the repression of justice. Following the passage of legislation in France criminalizing the Armenian Genocide, these students encouraged the US government not to succumb to political bullying and reject Turkey’s gag rule.
A sudden silence ensuing on a normal school day in January can really take us back to the fundamentals. It takes the silent portrayal of our message to reveal to us the multi-faceted approaches involved in the advocacy of our cause. Through my participation in the silent protest at UCSD, I saw a dynamic overcome the participants throughout the day. As students first arrived, they giggled in skepticism when we placed tape over their mouths, handed them a poster and asked them to sit silently in a high-traffic area on campus. Hesitant at first, they continuously peeled off their tape, distracted themselves with conversations, and mingled with friends. After about an hour, a certain sense of solemnity came over the participants, as the gravity of their task seemed to finally settle in. Silence ensued and each person became cognizant of their individual contribution in our collective message. Contemplating over their current situation, a certain aura of consciousness was obvious within each student, recognizing the substantive importance of the message they were relaying. Instead of being merely supportive of an event or project, these students were the spectacle themselves, feeling the characterization on their own skin and physically carrying the label of their message.
Cultivating silence as a means of advocacy has proven challenging, as it lacks the galvanizing effect of the fervent, loud desperation of spoken word. Silence and powerlessness are often equated through a causal relationship. Nevertheless, where silent demonstrations lack in ardency, they make up for in attracting inquisitive interest. From the participant standpoint, what seemed elusive and were solely held as ideas, had now became a tangible reality. Individuals were challenged to not only advocate the reality of our issue, but to become a representative part of it. To the unknowing passerby on campus at these colleges, written messages and their human characterizations incited curiosity as to the rigor of this sit-down, silent demonstration. Media coverage, via school and community newspapers, television news networks, magazines, and blogs, created a vibrant buzz around events where virtually no words were spoken. Almost all participating schools had segments published in either their community or school newspapers, with several protesters being featured on the covers of well-known school media.
There are many situations in which silence has the loudest voice. The ability for a person to say nothing and stand for a cause nurtures a great strength and understanding. What is said through spoken word is understood, but what is said through silence is felt. Part of our responsibility as student leaders is to ensure that there is a resonant consciousness among our student bodies of the issues that we all represent. Before we can render others responsible for our causes, we need to promote education and understanding within our own ranks. The collective message will be relayed, be it through traditional modes of demonstration or newly employed tactics, but focus on developing the individual advertence to our cause is a priority. Thus, it was this very zeal for raising awareness and setting demands that incited hundreds of college students to demonstrate that sometimes saying nothing actually says the most.
Our community is filled with hundreds of talented young artists pushing the boundaries of expression and creativity in various fields. Haytoug recently had the chance to sit down with one such prominent young artist: filmmaker, photographer, and writer Apo Avedissian.
Haytoug: Can you give us some background on how you got involved in photography, videography and art in general?
Apo Avedissian: During the 2003 war in Iraq, I was a 13-year-old kid in Baghdad with a camera, walking around taking pictures of arms and legs detached from bodies. I found a subject to tell a story about: the war. Photography wasn’t my hobby, storytelling was. That’s why I’ve not only done photography, but also filmmaking, stenciling, and writing. Art is my tool of choice. High school in the U.S. also gave me a major push towards getting into the business aspect of art itself. I was invited to Hoover High School’s Art Academy during the first two months of a photography class and was soon given two awards that allowed me to buy a new, professional camera. It was my first professional camera.
H: Is your foundation based on formal training from those classes or did you develop your talent outside of the school setting?
A.A.: I do tend to be an egomaniac, so I will say everything is based on myself. Although I am influenced by things around me, just like anyone else, once I took those classes I really wasn’t a fan of being told how to make art. In math, when one person discovers a new formula, they’re praised as scientists, and they should be. In art, however, there’s that one fine line you need to follow. I don’t like that. Art is self expression to me, and the fact that a class exists to teach you how to be creative is just a bit too much. The fact that there are classes shows other people’s opinions, however, so as long as I’m not forced to join an art class, anyone is free into joining one and experimenting with anything they’d like.
H: A lot of people know you for directing and producing music videos. What is it about the intersection of music and video that you enjoy?
A.A.: Storytelling. I don’t talk a lot in person. I tend to observe and create art in my mind. Art is how I express myself. If I feel a certain way about an event or anything around me, I will tell the story through art.
H: What are some of the key projects you’ve worked on, and the achievements you’ve had so far?
A.A.: My ability to reach out and have thousands of people being a click away from viewing my work online is what I consider my main major achievement. With the $100 cheap camera that I started with, I built a 35,000 people fan base on MySpace when I first started. Now I’m on Twitter, which was also a tool I used for a really cool Armenian project.
I love being criticized. I live for the feedback. Feedback and criticism are more important, to me, than medals and trophies.
H: For many people, finding motivation to be creative and developing original concepts is not easy. Where do you find your inspiration/influence?
A.A.: I wake up with it. Not in the same bed though [laughs]. All jokes aside, I do have rituals and certain things I do and go through daily to have a good artistic day. Another artist once said “you’re crazy,” when they saw what I go through daily, to which I replied “I’m making art every day. What are you doing?”
H: How do you think being Armenian and from a family that has survived Genocide and war has affected your art?
A.A.: With what my grand-grandparents went through during the Armenian Genocide, you can only think of the negatives. After going through and surviving the Genocide itself, they settled in Baghdad, Iraq. Soon enough that country was another bleeding place for everyone in it.
I left Iraq late 2004, about two years into the war. What I saw made me who I am, so I can only use my imagination to try and see what my grand-grandparents went through back around 1915. The first half of my life was based on the Genocide stories, and the quarter that followed it is based on the war I, myself, went through and survived, as well.
The Armenian Community in Iraq did a really good job teaching us our culture, language, and everything they could keep alive from the past. So good, in fact, that I still remember and know most of my elementary school lessons about Armenians. Because of all of that, my work shows more tears than smiles, I realize.
H: In addition to your work with the camera, you’ve become known for your incisive blog entries and writings on Apotize.com. What are your thoughts on the power of conveying ideas through mediums such as writing as opposed to words or visuals?
A.A.: Writing and visuals are the tools I use to tell what I have in mind. Whatever fits the topic, I will use. Sometimes a picture does it all. At other times, that picture isn’t clear enough, not as clear as a blog. I like to influence people. I don’t like forcing anyone into doing anything. I want to influence, yet again, giving them the full option of choosing what they do next. Just like a reminder, I’ll bring up some facts from both sides without forcing a decision. You are reminded; you choose to snooze or wake up.
Writing is a very powerful tool to put out emotions and ideas. Last year, on April 24th, I wrote a blog on Apotize.com asking everyone to use Twitter to post or “tweet” a fact about the Armenian Genocide, and add the hashtag #ArmenianGenocide in the tweet itself. By doing that, we might be able to “trend” that phrase, which means millions of visitors on the site, whether Armenian or not, could see the phrase as ‘most used/ popular’ for that day and time. Later that day, we had “#ArmenianGenocide” and “Armenians” trending in Los Angeles. That was a huge success on our end, and with the help of the readers we were actually able to do something very productive, and answered many “odars’” questions about the trend, which they had no idea about.
On that day, we taught thousands of people about the Armenian Genocide, all with one simple idea that came to my mind, and through my writing, got many great minds involved. This year, I intend to try it again, hopefully trending the phrase #ArmenianGenocide worldwide, having everyone logging in to Twitter see it, and once they click on it, see the facts we’re posting and our unheard stories.
H: What role do you think artists play in society, specifically for the Armenian community in the Diaspora?
A.A.: Teachers. Artists show you things you haven’t seen before or have forgotten about. Artists put your attention on an important topic to them, and you choose whether to understand it or not. Artists can be teachers, inventors, and even historians, to be honest. When you have a 100 year old art piece, that is good enough, you will look at the picture and remember stories about that time.
H: What are some upcoming projects we can expect from you?
A.A.: I’m in the process of stenciling a 17×7 ft. wall for a music video I will be featured in. I’m also working on a documentary titled Yergat. The rest is your imagination.
I don’t plan things, they just happen. I know about those two because the documentary I’ve been working on for about five years now, and the stencil I planned two days ago. I’ll soon stencil and shoot the video for it.
H: How do people get in touch with you regarding commissioning work?
A.A.: My personal website (www.apomontage. com) has my email, Twitter, and Facebook links beside my work.
Ever since I was a young —and vigilantly idealistic— little girl, I dreamed of becoming noticed in magazine covers, my name plastered all over it as if I were someone praised and adored. My Barbies were all superstars that attended parties for their book releases; my dolls their fans that eagerly awaited their autographs. It was as if my mind was filled to the brim with a set goal to become a writer; I had no intention of turning back – even at the ripe old age of eight.
It is now that I see myself as more than just a writer. I identify myself more as an editor, a writer-grammar enthusiast hybrid that adores anything written by someone other than herself. I have edited thousands of others works, given feedback, and often procrastinated writing my own work. Ernest Hemingway once wrote “A writer does not sit and write, he sits down at a typewriter and bleeds.” Every time I am in front of my measly – and often back-numbing-computer, I stare at the keyboard for days wondering how to configure sentences into a structure that is meaningful. Maybe a little less dramatic than bleeding, but it still rings true to the amount of emotion, sweat, and tears a finalized written piece of work may evolve into.
And in such procrastination, being an Armenian writer often implies that you are stereotyped into the vicinity of the Kardashians, praised for Cher’s comeback, and often eluded to William Saroyan. Some may even latch onto to the idea of Yerevan magazine to imply what it’s like for Armenians seeking journalism – if we are not writing for an Armenian publication, we must be writing about being Armenian, right? Wrong!
As a half-Armenian, half-European mut, I often look towards Michael Arlen’s Passage to Ararat for a little inspiration on finding my own identity through the rich culture being Armenian provides for me. Arlen (who is half-Armenian himself) claimed that by searching for his past, he will “find in the present”. I, too, consistently look towards my Armenian roots as a guide to find my inner workings. The rich substance our culture provides works as an insight to the most meaningful, and often emotional, pieces of work.
As the Editor-in-Chief and founder of the women’s online magazine Reasons to Be Beautiful, an intern at Access Hollywood, and a editor for an on-campus women’s website I find myself busy with learning to identify myself as a writer and work towards representing the Armenian writing community in the best way possible. The moments I have to talk with co-workers, I often find myself stating that I am half-Armenian, and I am (fill in any positive adjective here) because of my strong heritage.
Even stepping foot in any interviewers door, I often claim that yes, I like the Kardashians, and yes, I do love my heritage. And yes, I am eager to learn about others because of the strong cultural implications I have already discovered about myself.
Because that is what writers do, at first they will allude to their own inner creativity and then warmly welcome any spout of inspiration you may have for them; we lust over meaningful chats over coffee and resort to sharing memories with our readers, and ultimately, our listeners.
Ever since I could remember, I’ve always been around the Armenian Genocide April 24th demonstrations staged in front of the Turkish Consulate in Jerusalem, shouting slogans for recognition, cursing the state denial of Turkey, and singing revolutionary songs knitted with the memories of the lost homeland. For me the demand for recognition by Turkey was inflamed by the hope that, once after recognition, Armenia and Turkey would sit around a table and discuss the issue of justice: “what now?”
Naturally, if such a situation did come to unfold, there would be scores of Armenians attaching the obligation of compensation with the return of Western Armenia. But before banging on the table and ordering the realignment of borders, there is a bit of reflection that is necessary before stomping our feet and roaring for the restoration of Van, Mush, and Ararat under Armenian rule—no matter how right and reasonable.
Somewhere in our decades-long struggle for Genocide recognition and subsequent justice, we seem to have overlooked the changes that transpired in the lost homeland. Not only were these changes not addressed properly, they still seem to be avoided; and that act of evading will do nothing but sadly blind the hopeful Armenians whom desire to resettle the Armenian nation in the lands we consider our cradle of civilization.
Though the Ottoman Turks were not successful in wiping out the Armenian nation from the face of the earth, they did have a significant success that came to light only after the demise of the Ottoman Empire and the following years of the Republic of Turkey. They were successful in their genocide of Western Armenia, the land. The painful truth is that Western Armenia is indefinitely lost. It is impossible to imagine Armenian authority established there within the foreseeable future—or even the unforeseeable future. The facts on the ground impede our national desires from ever being materialized if Turkey one day decides to right the wrong and return Armenian lands to Armenia.
There are somewhere between 12-14 million Kurds residing in lands we passionately call Western Armenia. The Kurds are themselves busy with a national struggle for independence, or at least a more extensive autonomy than the present one offered to them by the Turkish state. Make no mistake that the nationalist Kurdish movements, fueled by the wish for independence, will fiercely defend their claim on many Western Armenian lands, especially Van and Mount Ararat. It seems that for years, Armenian nationalists have known that if such a situation unfolded where Western Armenia is to be returned to Armenia, the Turks would no longer be our number one adversaries; rather, the Kurds and Armenians will be caught in a confrontation. Yet, this possibility of a Kurdish-Armenian conflict has been swept under the rug for the moment, while both parties are still dealing with Turkey.
However, I’d like to state that Armenians have already lost this conflict over Western Armenia. If Armenia did get the lands returned to its sovereign rule, the country will have to face the national aspirations of 14 million Kurds. These aspirations will inescapably be opposed by Armenians, and low and behold, the occupation of the Kurdish people will begin.
Living in Jerusalem has given me a foresight into what would transpire if Western Armenia was put under the authority of the Republic of Armenia. And I fear that that potential-scenario will unintentionally turn Armenia into the Israel of the Caucasus. I don’t mean the good Israel that is equipped with a decent healthcare system, an unshakeable prosperous economy, or a place of sanctuary for many refugees fleeing the slaughters of Africa. I mean the other Israel that carries out the daily occupation of the Palestinian people, whom have their own national aspirations for independence.
The outnumbering Kurdish population will surely put up an armed resistance towards Armenian rule, but it is safe to say that Armenia’s organized military will overcome the Kurdish opposition. But it will not overcome the Kurdish presence. Similar to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank (a land which holds biblical and historical meaning to the Jewish people where Palestinians reside by the millions), Armenia will have to occupy Western Armenia, a land which holds national and historical meaning to the Armenian people where the Kurds reside by the millions.
Occupation of a people is an ill and a state-evil that cannot be justified no matter what. Thus, occupation is not the way, and should not even be considered for a minute.
Western Armenia holds almost 14 million Kurds—Kurds that wish for a free Kurdistan from Northern Iraq to Southern Turkey, and also northeastern Syria. Indeed there are a few thousand Hamshen Armenians and an allegedly one million ‘hidden’ Armenians in Western Armenia. But these numbers don’t stand a chance against the strong 14 million of the freedom fighting Kurdish people. Hence, Armenia, on the day of receiving the returned lands of Western Armenia, will have to cede the lands to the Kurdish national aspirations. Demography, the most crucial element in this matter, is against the Armenian dream of having Western Armenia back.
On a more pragmatic and practical level, there can be solutions to satisfy both the Armenian and Kurdish contradictory aspirations. Mount Ararat and an outlet to the sea should be given to Armenia, the former because of its unspeakable and infinite attachment to Armenian culture, and the latter for the basic reason of opening Armenia’s trade routes. In return, the Kurds will be able to establish a free independent Kurdistan with the promise of granting autonomous Armenian provinces within the newly-independent country. This is not the ideal solution for the inescapable conflict that will rise if Turkey ever decides to relinquish Western Armenia, but it is a basis on which to start contemplating.
For the many whom believe that occupation is an unnecessary exaggeration and will not come to be, they should think once more about perhaps offering Armenian citizenship to the Kurds of Western Armenia. In such a future, Armenia’s population will still be outnumbered by the Kurds, and through elections (taking advantage of their new citizenship), the government and the state of Armenia will be altered, as the Kurdish political figures will win overwhelmingly. This latent fate should be averted, for the sake of the Republic of Armenia.
And for others whom deem population transfer as a means for a solution, let it be known to them that a transfer of a population (distinct from yours and in the context of conflict) is absolutely inadmissible and tantamount to genocide. Whether a neo-fascist Armenian is convinced that the Kurds should abandon the Caucasus and return to their Mesopotamia, or another zealous nationalist does not see anything wrong and immoral in simply relocating the Kurds to a Kurdish state in Northern Iraq, forced population-transfer is inhumane and an insult to the history of Armenians; that is beneath us.
It is by national misfortune, an unpreventable reality, and a sad patriotic heart that I say to all Armenians that the recognition of the Armenian Genocide cannot deliver territorial compensation favorable to the current Armenian veracity. With that in mind, the Armenian nation should concentrate its efforts in territories where Armenians do actually reside—the Republic, Kharabagh, and Javakhk. Western Armenia will always remain in our hearts and minds, but not in our hands. It’s a truth we have yet to face.
This article is not meant to picture a bleak, somewhat semi-apocalyptic future for Armenia; the article is based on assumptions only, and is heavily anchored by the actions of Turkey—if Turkey returns Western Armenia to Armenia. Similar to John Mearshheimer’s controversial article ‘Back to the Future’ in which his assumptions are exclusively cemented in specific future actions of the US in Europe, my article follows the same pattern of heavily relying on the specific future actions of Turkey. However, that is an ‘if’ that is far from materializing, and there are many other factors that have not been taken into account in this article. Nonetheless, what I tried to detail out is a brief, general idea of what is most likely to transpire if, and only if, Turkey hands over Western Armenia to Armenia. Suffice to say, that is a future scenario that should be handled and facilitated cautiously and pragmatically…not ideologically.