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ASBAREZ Online [04-28-2006]

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  • ASBAREZ Online [04-28-2006]

    1) Turkish Human Rights Association Holds Press Conference about Genocide
    2) California State Assembly Releases Proclamation Affirming The Armenian
    3) Presidents Aliyev And Bush Discuss Iran, Karabagh in Washington
    4) ANCA Telethon Launches Web Site
    5) Fun The Armenian Way: 5th Annual ARS Armenian Festival
    6) Hamazkayin Accepting Applications for 2006 Cultural Forum in Armenia
    7) Armenia's Forgotten Chernobyl Heroes Fight for Their Lives 20 Years Later
    8) Turkey Finally Hears Its Past: By Henry Morgenthau III
    9) Critics' Forum: Theater: By Aram Kouyoumdjian
    10) Glimmers: By Garen Yegparian
    12) For the Record:

    1) Turkish Human Rights Association Holds Press Conference about Genocide

    At noon on April 24, the Istanbul office of the Human Rights Association
    held a
    press conference during which the association's Istanbul Branch executive
    committee's read its press release about the Armenian genocide. International
    and national representatives of the media attended the press conference, while
    plain-clothes police officers stood right outside the door.
    The following is the English translation of the press release from the
    Istanbul Branch of the Human Rights Watch:

    Today, the 24th of April, is recognized worldwide as the date signifying the
    Armenian genocide. Only in Turkey it indicates a taboo. The Turkish state
    mobilizes all its resources to deny the meaning of this date.
    At diplomatic platforms, Turkish officials and their advocates claim that
    recognize the "big tragedy" and they only object to it being named a
    "genocide." That's not true. At every occasion in Turkey not only the Armenian
    genocide, but also the great agony of the Armenian people is denied and
    attempts are made to justify the Genocide.
    It was only last month that during a Symposium on the Armenian-Turkish
    relations the denialist official theses were voiced one after another,
    offending the Armenians in Turkey and elsewhere and insulting the memory of
    their grandparents. Lies were told in the name of "science," like "Armenians
    have always sold their masters," "deportation was a means of crisis
    management," the "death toll of deportation is comparable to the death toll of
    flu epidemic in England that time," and "there is no other people as noble as
    the Turkish nation in the world, it is impossible for them to commit a
    genocide," and many more, humiliating a people who were one of the most
    advanced in science, art, and literature.
    Denial is a constituent part of the Genocide itself and results in the
    continuation of the Genocide. Denial of genocide is a human rights
    violation in
    itself. It deprives individuals the right to mourn for their ancestors, for
    the ethnic cleansing of a nation, the annihilation of people of all ages, all
    professions, all social sections, women, men, children, babies, grandparents
    alike just because they were Armenians, regardless of their political
    background or conviction. Perhaps the most important of all, it is the refusal
    of making a solemn, formal commitment and saying "NEVER AGAIN."
    Turkey has made hardly any progress in the field of co-existence, democracy,
    human rights and putting an end to militarism since the time of the Union and
    Progress Committee. Annihilation and denial had been and continues today to be
    the only means to solve the problem. Villages evacuated and put on fire and
    forced displacements are still the manifestation of the same habit of "social
    engineering." There has always been bloodshed in the homeland of Armenians
    since 1915. Unsolved murders, disappearances under custody, rapes and arrests
    en masse during the 1990's were no surprise, given the ongoing state tradition
    lacking any culture of repentance for past crimes against humanity.
    Similarly the removal of a public prosecutor and banning him from profession
    just for taking the courage to mention an accusation against the military, a
    very recent incident, is the manifestation of an old habit of punishing
    who dares to voice any objection to the army. And today's ongoing military
    build up of some 250,000 troops in the southeast of Turkey is the proof of a
    mindset, which is unable to develop any solution to the Kurdish question other
    than armed suppression.
    Turkey will not be able to take even one step forward without putting an end
    to the continuity of the Progress and Union way of ruling. No human rights
    violation can be stopped in Turkey and there will be no hope of breaking the
    vicious circle of Kurdish uprisings and their bloody suppression unless the
    Turkish state agrees to create an environment where public homage is paid to
    Genocide victims, where the sufferings of their grandchildren is shared and
    the Genocide is recognized.
    Today we, as the human rights defenders, would like to address all Armenians
    in Turkey and elsewhere in the world and tell them "we want to share the pain
    in your hearts and bow down before the memory of your lost ones. They are also
    our losses. Our struggle for human rights in Turkey is at the same time our
    mourning for our common losses and an homage paid to the Genocide victims.

    2) California State Assembly Releases Proclamation Affirming The Armenian

    As it has done in previous years, the California State Assembly discussed the
    issue of the Armenian genocide in its Thursday, April 27 session.
    His Eminence Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate, departed for
    Sacramento on Thursday to attend the opening of the State Assembly's session.
    Also present at the opening was the Honorable Gagik Giragossian, Consul
    of the Republic of Armenia, and Armenian National Committee representatives
    Armen Carapetian, Aida Dimidjian, and others.
    The Prelate conducted the opening prayer and delivered his message to Senate
    and Assembly members.
    On this occasion, the Assembly has issued a proclamation affirming the
    genocide of Armenians by the Turkish Government, which they officially
    presented to the Prelate, the Consul General, and ANC representatives. Later
    on, during the general session, there was a moment of silence for the 1.5
    million victims of the Genocide.
    The Prelate reminded the Assembly of the injustices committed by the Turkish
    Government--which to this day go unpunished--and expressed hope that following
    the example of European governments, the US Government too will recognize the
    Genocide and demand justice.
    Earlier, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenneger proclaimed April 23-29
    "Days of Remembrance" of the Armenian genocide.

    3) Presidents Aliyev And Bush Discuss Iran, Karabagh in Washington

    WASHINGTON, DC (Combined Sources)--US President George W. Bush welcomed Friday
    Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev for talks that ranged from their joint
    efforts in Iraq and Iran's nuclear program to Azerbaijan's dispute with
    over Karabagh and democratic reforms.
    In the days running up to the meeting, Aliyev had made it clear that he will
    not allow his country to be used for any operations against neighboring Iran.
    Bush sought to allay Azerbaijan's concerns, saying the United States wants to
    resolve the crisis over Iran's nuclear program through diplomacy.
    Bush has often said he intends to resolve the issue without the use of force,
    but he stresses that all his options are open, including the use of military
    force. On Friday, Bush didn't mention the military option.
    On Wednesday, April 26, Aliyev said that if the United States decides an
    attack is necessary, it would have to do so without Azerbaijan's help because
    Azerbaijan and Iran--which share a nearly 300-kilometer border--have a
    non-aggression treaty.
    Aliyev and Bush also discussed Azerbaijan's continuing dispute with
    neighboring Armenia over Karabagh.
    Bush and Aliyev said little of their discussions on these matters. The Azeri
    leader said only: "I informed Mr. President [of] the latest status of the
    negotiations [on Karabagh] and expressed my hope that a peaceful settlement of
    the conflict will happen and will serve the peace and stability in the whole
    In his remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations, President Aliyev said he
    hopes the United States "as a superpower," will contribute to the
    resolution of
    the conflict.
    The Azeri leader will be in Washington several days. He meets with members of
    Congress and with officials from non-governmental groups such as Freedom House
    and Human Rights Watch. On Friday, he visited the Pentagon and the White

    4) ANCA Telethon Launches Web Site

    --Nationwide phonathon and internet campaign kicks off fundraising effort

    WASHINGTON, DC--The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Telethon
    announced Monday the launch of a website devoted to the telethon at (click on Telethon logo) where supporters of the Armenian Cause
    can make online donations in advance of the May 21 nationwide telethon
    broadcast. In addition, a nationwide inbound and outbound telephone campaign
    has been launched to personally reach out to thousands of Armenian households
    across the country during the weeks preceding the telethon. The purpose of the
    telethon is to raise financial resources that will propel the advocacy for the
    Armenian Cause to a broader scope and new level of sophistication. Proceeds
    will be used to expand the ANCA's advocacy and educational programs on
    issues within the halls of Congress, the White House, state and local
    governments, and the media.
    "The campaign leading up to the Telethon broadcast is meant to rally into
    action everyone who believes in the Armenian Cause and use the latest
    technological tools to unite us as a powerful force regardless of geography,"
    said Steve Artinian, member of the ANCA Telethon's outreach team. "There is an
    amazing pool of professional talent who have come together to ensure the
    Telethon reaches as many households as possible. We are pulling out the stops
    on this effort and intend to raise the stakes for the Cause substantially in
    the process."
    The ANCA Telethon reflects the next step for the many issues confronting the
    community. For example, the ANCA's media relations efforts during the last
    alone are driving increased media coverage of the Armenian genocide. The
    results are rapidly expanding public awareness of the issue and exposure of
    shameful position of the government of Turkey and the US State Department,
    of whom continue to deny the Genocide. The most recent example of the ANCA's
    anti-defamation efforts with the media has been confronting PBS for attempting
    to broadcast their insulting panel discussion, which featured academics
    paid by
    the Turkish government to deny and distort the historical facts about the
    Genocides. However, spurring increased media coverage across the country
    requires greater vigilance in anti-defamation efforts to make sure media
    coverage is accurate and repels the Turkish government's denial campaign. This
    stage has led to an increased need for professional resources and media
    in order to continue winning in the court of public opinion.
    The ANCA Telethon will feature the ANCA's many interesting and successful
    programs asking for financial support. As a run up to the broadcast, the
    Internet campaign and phonathon will allow people to show their support in
    advance of the broadcast. To make a donation in advance, people can call the
    ANCA at (866) 402-2622 or go to and click on the Telethon logo to
    make a donation online.

    5) Fun The Armenian Way: 5th Annual ARS Armenian Festival

    GELNDALE--The fifth annual Armenian Relief Society of Western USA (ARS-WR)
    Armenian Cultural and Food Festival will be held this year on Saturday, May 6
    and Sunday, May 7 at the Glendale Civic Auditorium.
    The festival will feature traditional Armenian dancing, music, and
    exhibits of
    local and Armenian products such as books, arts and crafts, drinks, and food.
    There will be an Armenian costume show, with the opportunity to be
    in traditional Armenian costumes. A workshop will teach participants how to
    make traditional "lavash" bread and string cheese. The festival also
    features a
    special kids' zone, featuring music and storytelling.
    The festival is an ideal place to bring three generations of families
    together, where Armenian music, art, dance, history, culinary heritage, and
    children's games can be enjoyed under one roof. Much of the interesting
    programming enjoyed in previous years--by Armenians and non-Armenians
    alike--will return along with expansion of activities and games for young
    "This year promises to be another colorful event celebrating our 96th
    and enjoying all the various aspects of our culture. Our youth are our future
    and we want them to have fun while enjoying all the sights and sounds of our
    traditions and culture," said Angela Savoian, Chair of the ARS-WR, Regional
    Executive Board.
    The Glendale Civic Auditorium is located at 1401 North Verdugo Road in
    Glendale (the cross street is East Mountain Street). Admission will be $5 for
    the public (young children are admitted free of charge). The festival will
    begin on Saturday, May 6 at 1:00 PM, with official opening ceremonies at 2:00
    PM. The entertainment will continue until midnight. On Sunday, May 7, the
    festival will resume at 11:00 AM and end at 7:00 PM.
    Advertisers and sponsors are welcome. For more information, contact the ARS
    -WR Regional Executive headquarters at (818) 500-1343 (phone), (818) 242-3732
    (fax) or [email protected]
    (<http://www.arswestusa.o rg/>

    The ARS was founded in New York City in 1910; the establishment of the first
    two ARS-WR chapters west of the Mississippi followed in Fresno (1915) and
    Hollywood (1918). The region has grown to include 26 chapters, 5 Social
    offices, Child, Youth and Family Counseling, Saturday Schools. Orphan food and
    school renovation programs are an important focus of the ARS-WR. The ARS-WR
    headquarters is located at 517 W. Glenoaks Blvd., Glendale, CA 91202-2812.

    6) Hamazkayin Accepting Applications for 2006 Cultural Forum in Armenia

    The Hamazkayin Educational and Cultural Society is currently accepting
    applications for its 2006 Cultural Forum to be held in Yerevan, Armenia, from
    July 16-30. All college-aged individuals are encouraged to apply.
    The Hamazkayin Cultural Forum is an annual event that started in 1995 with
    aim to unite young Armenians from around the world to learn more about
    art, history, culture, society, and modern life in the homeland. It is a
    opportunity for people to visit Armenia for the first timeor as a returning
    visitorand meet with fellow Armenians from around the world who are interested
    in learning more about their people's past as well as where they are headed.
    `This is definitely an excellent way for college-aged Armenians to come
    together and share ideas about what they envision as being important for
    stated Asbed Kotchikian, Co-chair of the Forum Executive Committee. `If they
    don't have a thorough understanding of their history and culture, the Forum is
    a great medium to learn about them. Plus, it gives people an excellent
    opportunity to visit Armenia.'
    `I know people who have formed close bonds with one another after attending a
    Forum in the past,' he added.
    There is no limit to the amount of cultural activities that one can
    in Armenia. Every night you can find multiple concerts, plays, and music clubs
    to attend for entertainment. On most evenings classical performances can be
    heard in one of Yerevan's many chamber concert halls, and in some restaurants
    visitors have the pleasure of hearing authentic folk music any night of the
    week. Jazz and rock clubs have become quite noticeable, and for those who
    dancing, there are dozens of discos located throughout the city.
    Most of Armenia's cultural legacy however is found outside Yerevan, in the
    various regions of the country. Armenia is home to hundredsperhaps thousandsof
    churches both preserved and in ruins. There are also ancient fortresses and
    other fascinating structures to see, including a pagan temple in the town of
    Garni. Another prominent site worth visiting is the Sardarabad Memorial and
    History Museum, built on the very site where the historic battle against the
    Turks was won and the first Armenian Republic formed.
    During the Forum attendees will have the opportunity to hear several
    including one given by Dr. Richard G. Hovannisian, Professor of Armenian and
    Near Eastern History at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the
    author of numerous works, including `The Republic of Armenia,' Volumes I-IV,
    and `The Armenian Holocaust.'
    To learn more about the Forum and how to apply, visit:
    You can also send an email to [email protected] with specific questions.
    applications must be received by June 15, 2006.

    Hamazkayin is a worldwide organization with chapters in many countries that
    aims to preserve and promote Armenian art, history, and literature. Its
    goal is
    to educate people about the humanities relating to the Armenian people and
    perpetuate Armenian culture.

    7) Armenia's Forgotten Chernobyl Heroes Fight for Their Lives 20 Years Later

    YEREVAN (RFE/RL)--It took Norayr Manaserian two years to realize that he is no
    longer the healthy man he was before a powerful explosion destroyed one of the
    reactors of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant on April 26, 1986. He was among
    the hundreds of thousands of Soviet citizens who were sent to the scene of the
    world's worst nuclear disaster just days after it sent radiation billowing
    throughout Europe.
    "At first, my mouth would dry up but I didn't care," recalls the 58-year-old
    retired KGB officer. "One day I got really sick and could barely breathe. Then
    my stomach and eventually my kidneys began to hurt."
    Manaserian has barely been able to work and lead a normal life since then. "I
    am hospitalized three or four times a year," he said at a Yerevan clinic
    specializing in treatment of serious burns and nuclear radiation.
    His fate is typical of the 600,000 firefighters, servicemen and other people
    from across the Soviet Union who joined in frantic efforts to contain the
    unprecedented accident. Their heroic efforts spared Europe an even greater
    More than 3,000 of the people known as "liquidators" in the ex-USSR were from
    Armenia. Nearly 400 of them have since died of radiation and other diseases
    caused by it. Those who have survived seem largely neglected by the government
    and forgotten by a society that has gone through other catastrophes since

    The 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster was solemnly marked on
    Wednesday, with world leaders, including US President George W. Bush and Pope
    Benedict XVI, paying tribute to its thousands of victims. The main official
    ceremony took place in the Ukrainian town of Slavutych that was built to house
    the Chernobyl plant's workers. Hundreds of people, each bearing a candle and
    some with red carnations, filed slowly through its streets in the morning.
    Ukraine as well as neighboring Belarus and Russia together estimate that more
    than five million persons currently suffer health problems to some extent,
    as a
    result of Chernobyl. The accident forced the permanent evacuation of more than
    300,000 people from over 5,000 towns and villages in the three nations.
    In Armenia, a low-key commemoration of the disaster anniversary was mainly
    attended by members of an organization uniting Armenian "liquidators." Some of
    them were received and honored by Prime Minister Andranik Markarian on
    Markarian admitted that assistance provided by his government is too modest to
    address their problems.
    Health is by far the most serious of those problems. According to a senior
    doctor at the Yerevan radiation hospital, Marina Mirijanian, some 2,000 local
    "liquidators," still fight for their lives 20 years after the tragedy,
    regularly receiving treatment at the specialized facility. She said most of
    those who die are below the age of 50.
    "We do our best to help them, but not all conditions are adequate," said
    Mirijanian. "Our equipment is old. We would love to replace it but can't
    doing that. Also, there are some very expensive drugs which the hospital
    doesn't have and which patients themselves have to buy."
    There were only two patients at the clinic on Wednesday: Manaserian and a
    45-year-old man who did not want to be identified. He served as an officer
    at a
    Soviet army detachment stationed in Kiev when a massive fireball ripped
    the fourth reactor of the Chernobyl plant.
    "Early in the morning of May 3 [1986], our entire regiment was put on alert
    and taken to the reactor number four," he said. "All troops in the area were
    sent there. It didn't matter if you were with interior troops, army infantry,
    or tank detachments."
    Like the vast majority of other rescuers, the officer and his soldiers were
    not given any personal protective equipment as they helped to evacuate
    residents of nearby Ukrainian towns and villages. The ex-officer received vast
    doses of radiation and has been effectively disabled since 1992.
    "As a former officer, I get a military pension of about 30,000 drams ($67) a
    month," he said. "Other guys are paid only 9,000 drams by social security
    bodies. Those are ridiculous sums."
    Manaserian, for his part, has to live on 23,000 drams but shies away from
    complaining about his plight. "How can a man complain?" he said. "Some men
    become ministers, prosecutors, presidents, or prime ministers, while others
    up like me. What can we do?"

    8) Turkey Finally Hears Its Past

    By Henry Morgenthau III

    CAMBRIDGE (Boston Globe)--'Ambassador Morgenthau's Story," my grandfather's
    account of the killings of Armenians in Turkey in 1915, was published just
    before World War I ended in November 1918. A personal chronicle of his service
    as the US ambassador to Ottoman Turkey for 26 months, the book was published
    last month for the first time in Turkish, a milestone in informing the Turkish
    people of what happened in their country more than 90 years ago.
    The term genocide had not yet been invented when my grandfather wrote his
    book. Thus, Morgenthau refers to `the destruction of the Armenian race" as
    murder of a nation." It was Henry Morgenthau's lonely voice that alerted the
    world to the premeditated atrocities of the Young Turk leaders and the
    complicity of their German allies.
    Why Morgenthau chose to speak out on behalf of the Armenians is a more
    question than how he did so. Almost from the time he arrived in New York as a
    10-year-old German Jewish immigrant, he envisioned public service as his
    ultimate calling. When the opportunity arose, he attached himself to Woodrow
    Wilson's rising star and was appointed US ambassador to Turkey.
    At the end of 1914, Morgenthau noted a pattern: Palestinian Jews were
    conscripted into the Turkish army, then promptly disarmed and placed in labor
    battalions. This was a tactic the Turks used against Greeks and other
    minorities, and, most ominously, against the Armenians.
    Fearing reprisals against Jews in Turkish territories, Morgenthau warned
    international Zionist leaders to contain their indignation. Then he took it
    upon himself to call on the US Navy for help. In January 1915, the USS
    Tennessee was ordered to Alexandria, Egypt, ostensibly to protect US citizens.
    In fact, it made possible the evacuation of impoverished Jewish refugees,
    including David Ben-Gurion and Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, who became respectively
    Israel's first prime minister and second president.
    Morgenthau was never able to carry out a rescue of the Armenians with the
    effectiveness he achieved in saving Jews, though certainly not for want of
    trying. There were fundamental differences between the Armenian and Jewish
    situations. The Armenians were a minority located within the borders of
    Turkey and Czarist Russia. The Jews, on the other hand, were widely dispersed
    throughout Eastern and Western Europe and the United States, and to a much
    lesser extent in the Near East, including the Holy Land. In Western Europe and
    the United States, Jews had risen to positions of power and had learned how to
    network internationally. The diaspora Armenians had not yet achieved such
    status and so could not mobilize support for their persecuted kinsmen.
    When Morgenthau appealed to Enver Pasha, the Turkish minister of war, to
    permit US missionaries to feed starving Armenians, the response was coldly
    cynical. `We don't want the Americans to feed the Armenians... That is one of
    the worst things that could happen to them... It is their belief that they
    friends in other countries which leads them to oppose the government and so
    bring down upon them all their miseries." The Turkish minister of the
    Talaat Pasha, was equally callous: `The hatred between the Turks and the
    Armenians is now so intense that we have got to finish them. If we don't, they
    will plan their revenge."
    The memoirs of my grandfather factually chronicle an important period of
    history. Yet, 91 years later, the Turkish state insists the genocide of the
    Armenians did not happen. Why does Turkey protect the murderers of the past?
    That is a question that needs to be asked over and over again until the truth
    is acknowledged. As Turkey seeks membership in the European Union, it is being
    challenged to open up its society and adopt free speech.
    But its penal code has resulted in several Turkish writers being brought
    before their own courts for speaking out about the Armenian genocide. Surely a
    modern country like Turkey needs to treat its citizens with more respect. Free
    speech cannot be denied, especially in a country seeking to join the EU.
    Whatever may have motivated Turkish officials to deny the Genocide for more
    than 90 years, there now appears to be some light at the end of the tunnel.
    US government, which had knuckled under in support of the Turkish policy of
    denial, is now urging all parties to accept the realities of history.
    At this critical moment, the publication of the Turkish edition of
    Morgenthau's Story" is an important step for the citizens of Turkey. It is
    their right to know their own history, good and bad, without interference from
    the state. A crime denied is a crime repeated. Great nations in history have
    acknowledged the misdeeds of their earlier governments. It is time for Turkey
    to join the ranks of those great nations.

    Henry Morgenthau III, who lives in Cambridge, is the author of a family
    history, `Mostly Morgenthaus."

    9) Critics' Forum: Theater

    Bogosian Double-Play

    By Aram Kouyoumdjian

    To describe a play as `talky' seems rather silly; dialogue, after all, serves
    as a foundation for drama. Eric Bogosian's plays, however, are `talky.' They
    don't unfold as intricate narratives. They don't have much plot. Bogosian is
    far less interested in what his characters have to do than in what they
    have to
    say. In fact, the need to talk, to rant, to spew words with ferocity often
    defines the figures that populate Bogosian's solo performance works.
    The preoccupation with talk spills over into Bogosian's full-cast plays, two
    of which were revived in recent Los Angeles productions. The teens and
    twenty-somethings of `subUrbia' have little to do but talk, as they loiter
    outside a convenience store. And words are tantamount to currency in the
    aptly-named `Talk Radio.'
    By all indications, the brief incarnation of `subUrbia' at the Hollywood
    Club should have been a disaster. The venue itself, located in a strip mall,
    boasts a playing area for which `stage' is too strong a word. At the matinee I
    attended, the sun shining through the storefront windows asserted its own
    `lighting design' on a set that could not have cost more than a latte.
    Unexpectedly enough, the show worked. Sort of. Well, it worked as much as it
    could have in the face of such impediments. It worked mostly because of a
    committed cast that generated honest and energetic performances to offset some
    of this middling production's shortcomings.
    The play's minimal plot finds its young suburbanites in front of a 7-Eleven,
    their usual hangout, when a former friend from high school, who has found fame
    as a rock star, returns for a visit. This auspicious reunion offers
    life-altering choices for the locals. After all, dreams are still alive for
    some of them, like the aspiring artist Sooze (Stacy Michelle Gold), even if
    they've proven paralyzing for the idealistic Jeff (Beau Hirshfield) or
    disillusioning for the jaded Tim (Jeremy Rodriguez).
    For the most part, Bogosian's script sounds authentic in recreating the
    language of youth (although its slips are all-too-painful to the ear). The
    language of youth, however, is fickle and ever-changing, so a number of
    references in `subUrbia' had been updated for this production in order to keep
    the text, now a dozen years old, relevant.
    Fortunately, the script had an ally in director Frank Krueger, who achieved a
    sense of urgency whenever necessary (the `roughhousing' among the characters
    turned quite physical) but knew to allow quieter sequences to unfold at the
    appropriate pace. Still, he never missed the play's funnier elements
    (drawing a
    hilarious, albeit over-the-top, performance from Brad Robinson). One only
    wished he were better equipped with the resources to have production values
    consistent with his vision.
    Crisp production values were on full display in the Gangbusters Theatre
    Company's staging of `Talk Radio,' which had a limited run at Theatre 68 in
    Hollywood. This early play from Bogosian's canon, virtually devoid of plot,
    dramatizes an hour from the talk show of controversial (and fictional) shock
    jock Barry Champlain the night before his show is to go national. Scenic
    designer Danny Cistone's meticulous replica of a broadcast studio provided the
    perfect setting in which Champlain, winningly portrayed by Christian Levatino,
    would expose his callers' demons while struggling with his own.
    In a strong ensemble, Jonathan Burbridge stood out as Champlain's call
    screener, perfectly balancing Levatino's intensity with a casual portrayal
    punctuated by both laughs and poignancy. Equally worthy of mention was Matt
    Mann, riotous in his scene-stealing turn as a drugged-out fan who finagles his
    way onto Champlain's show.
    The play, however, belonged to Levatino, who constructed a complex character
    in Champlain, even as he unleashed Bogosian's words with all their intended
    fury. In Levatino's hands, Champlain's rage was explosive and profane, his
    introspection solemn and quiet. One could not help being struck by the
    depth of
    his performance, which revolved, for significant stretches of time, around a
    microphone. But Levatino practically gave life to this inanimate object in
    developing an organic, even visceral, interaction with `callers' who never
    appeared onstage.
    Director Leon Shanglebee confidently helmed the edgy work, managing to keep
    focus where the script meandered. Even in its deviations, however, Bogosian's
    raw, intense, and kinetic writing always maintained tension and commanded

    Aram Kouyoumdjian is the winner of Elly Awards for both playwriting (`The
    Farewells') and directing (`Three Hotels'). His performance piece, `Protest,'
    was recently staged at the Finborough Theatre in London. You can reach him or
    any of the other contributors to Critics' Forum at [email protected].
    This and all other articles published in this series are available online at To sign up for a weekly electronic version of new
    articles, go to Critics' Forum is a group
    created to
    discuss issues relating to Armenian art and culture in the diaspora.

    10) Glimmers

    By Garen Yegparian

    We may be making progress, minor and mixed though it might be. I'm referring
    to participation in this year's commemorative activities, of course.
    Last year, I'd observed that being a multiple-of-ten year seemed to have
    helped turnout. Without that reason, numbers in two key places were up this
    year. Others were less inspiring.
    In Burbank, the ANC ran an essay and art contest for public school students.
    The theme of `Learning from the Past, Shaping Our Future: What Does the
    Armenian Genocide Mean to Me' garnered 140 participants. Three students won
    cash prizes in each contest, and another four received honorable mentions.
    winners were also recognized at the April 18 Burbank City Council meeting
    the annual Genocide proclamation was issued by the city. During that ceremony
    the art was exhibited, one of the essays read, and a Siamanto poem recited in
    translation. The meeting's invocation was given by the Armenian clergy as
    well. Also on April 18th, the Armenian students at Burbank High School
    organized an event in the gym featuring Armenian bands. It drew a few hundred
    Meanwhile, about 100 people marched from McCambridge Park's eternal flame,
    dedicated to the memory of Burbank soldiers who died in war, to City Hall.
    There, a program was held on the steps. Just over 200 attended. This matches
    last year and is weak relative to a high point of over 600 a few years ago.
    One of my two big disappointments was the youth rally organized by the ARF
    Shant Student Organization. This event has drawn standing-room-only crowds
    at least the last two years. This year the numbers were anemic. The program
    was substantive, but I heard mumbling about insufficient publicity. I rather
    think it was the absence of a name-draw. David Barsamian and Samantha Power
    gave the preceding two years' rallies substantial star-power. Just goes to
    show, if we organize well and provide substantive material, our community will
    support youth (and other) efforts. Failing that, people just won't attend
    except out of guilt, and/or because nothing else fit their schedule.
    By far the biggest disappointment was the gathering at the martyrs' monument
    in Montebello, not least because attendance was under 2000. Once again this
    year, the organizers deviated from the tried-and-true, to the detriment of the
    event and our community. Instead of having the gathering on the 24th, it was
    shifted to the 23rd. BAD CALL. Last year the corresponding event was
    moved to
    Glendale High School damaging the standing of the event. This year it was the
    date change. Why don't we get it? Our community, rightly, wants to have a
    solemn gathering, at the monument, on April 24th. I would argue that even the
    speakers are superfluous, and we should simply have the clergy performing
    requiem services repeatedly over the course of several hours as people lay
    flowers, a la the Yerevan monument.
    Regarding the program, I have to confess it was better. First, and most
    important, it was not interminable, under an hour and a half. Having Ragip
    Zarakolu speak, though a bit too briefly, was a good touch. He brought two
    ingredients. As one of the Turks involved in breaking the wall of silence, he
    inspires hope among Armenians. Plus, he has a universal, pan-human worldview,
    often acutely absent in our community. Unfortunately, his presentation was
    very short. This has an eye-opening effect, especially coming from `a Turk.'
    Having Peter Cowe speak in Armenian was a cutesy touch. But what was the
    point? Based on what standing was he asked to speak? A professor of Armenian
    studies? C'mon. Not that what he said wasn't good, and true, and appropriate,
    but it just wasn't his place and time. California Lieutenant Governor
    candidate and emcee Jackie Speier did a good job of keeping the program moving
    and her California Senate and Assembly colleagues shortwinded. Adam Schiff's
    presentation was also appropriate and informative. However, these guys, as
    I've suggested before, should be invited to speak at the Turkish consulate.
    More on this below.
    Interestingly, some people have decided to show up at the Montebello
    on the 24th, formal program or not. One friend drove by on that afternoon,
    thought 500 people were there. I called another who actually was there at
    moment and was told more like 200. Regardless, it demonstrates where the
    community's soul is on this issue. Sadly, just before receiving these
    I learned of a number of cars, yerakooyn draped, making nuisances of
    on the highways leading to the Montebello monument. They got nailed by police
    waiting for them as they exited.
    The really interesting stuff, the glimmers of hope, came on the 24th. George
    Bush was in Irvine speaking to a chamber of commerce. The AYF called a
    to demand that he properly recognize the Genocide. Outside the Hyatt where he
    spoke, we outnumbered all the other demonstrators combined--be they anti-war,
    generally anti-Bush, or on either side of the immigration issue. In fact, our
    picketers were able to lead everyone else in a chant of `George, do your
    The media there seemed focused on the immigration issue to the exclusion of
    others. Eventually, a few reporters spoke to our representatives, though how
    much was actually aired, be it TV or radio, I don't know. Interesting is that
    Telemundo, the Spanish TV station, interviewed one of us, in English.
    Later, a
    radio program, broadcast to several Spanish-speaking countries, interviewed
    of us, in Spanish. How's that for a vote in support of multilingualism?
    For a
    protest organized on very short notice that involved the possibility (and for
    me the actuality) of traveling through traffic hell for most of participants,
    the turnout of 100 or so was excellent, particularly since they all went to
    Turkish consulate demonstration later in the day. The AYF did a good job on
    this one. The value of keeping our elected's on notice that their actions are
    being watched and evaluated cannot be overstated.
    From Irvine, it was off to Hollywood for the sixth `March in Little Armenia'
    organized by United Young Armenians. Arriving late, I was unable to
    participate in the march, but did catch most of the program at the end. What
    first struck me were the hundreds of people leaving the area. Strange.
    Factoring this in, it seemed to me that participation was up this year, to
    something approaching 8000. This was confirmed when I queried city
    Most importantly, this year's program was far more substantive than the past,
    though it was still a bit inaudible at the rear end of the crowd. Harut
    Sassounian and Ragip Zarakolu spoke well and meaningfully and the program
    overall was not too lengthy. Unfortunately, I heard the same-old, tired
    as the last few marchers entered Hobart where the stage and gathering were.
    After the program, those on the stage seemed to hold court. A stream of
    approached, discussed issues with, and took pictures of them. They seemed
    thirsty for contact with our active, visible leadership.
    Increased numbers at the rally were not the only highlight. The organizers
    announced the AYF's demonstration at the Turkish consulate. The event was
    shown on Armenian TV, regardless of factional affiliation. Hopefully these
    speak to a lessening of tensions and will lead to more integration of our
    24th efforts. And, while still somewhat trapped in the spirit of
    self-affirmation, the choice of speakers and content indicates progress
    politicization of this event. By this I mean making it more of an activist,
    really Hai Tad pursuing event, rather than a partisan tool or convenient,
    close-to-home means of assuaging Armenian guilt. The one criticism that I
    is the decision to give Frank Quintero the podium. In the absence of most
    other elected officials (except Greg Krikorian), this smacks of
    internal-Armenian political gamesmanship. Most of the community is supporting
    Paul Krekorian, Quintero's opponent, in their 43rd Assembly District race for
    the Democratic nomination. While the vast majority of those in attendance do
    not even live in the district, video of this will likely be used by the
    campaign, in-district, to his benefit and Krekorian's detriment.
    Finally, and appropriately, the culmination of the day was the AYF
    demonstration at the Turkish consulate, now in a new location, 6300 Wilshire
    Boulevard. Let's see how long it'll take to wear out their welcome. It is a
    much bigger office building situated at the corner of Crescent Heights, a much
    busier intersection than the old location. It gives us much more visibility.
    Perhaps only by coincidence, but the office of `The Young Turks' radio program
    (see last week's article) is located at 6230. I wonder...
    This was the best turnout of my 17 years in the LA area, almost 3000 people.
    This number was deemed a bit high by City officials, and the Los Angeles Times
    reported 2500. I think it was a pleasant surprise to the organizers, one of
    whom had glumly predicted decreased participation relative to last year. The
    new location and unexpected numbers probably made managing the event more
    challenging, but it went well. Life-size wood cutouts of Kemal Ataturk,
    Reagan, and Ambassador John Evans with their Genocide affirming quotes graced
    this gathering--a novel and good idea. The slogans chanted, while more
    numerous than in Hollywood, were still mostly retreads. A few new, good ones
    are needed in that stable. While the police behaved well through most of the
    now-shortened (two, instead of three, hours) protest, after it was over, they
    behaved in their typically thug-y way when they `received the order' to
    have us
    disperse. Plus, one of them was foolish enough to stop and cite a `flag-car'
    for who knows what, literally in the middle of Wilshire Boulevard, in the left
    turn lane, during rush hour. I suppose we should thank him for gnarling
    traffic and drawing more attention to our demonstration from the circling news
    helicopters above. It also seemed to me that the age distribution had
    the average age was lower, which bodes well for the future.
    The biggest failing of this demonstration is its ending. It doesn't leave
    with a sense of accomplishment. That was compounded this year by the greater
    participation and noisier intersection--a bullhorn is just not sufficient to
    the task of offering inspiring closing words. Here, I return to the notion of
    elected officials' participation. It would make the protest much more
    meaningful for them to speak in this venue. Imagine a Congressman, or even a
    Senator, telling Turkey off right in front of their diplomatic faces! But, we
    gotta ask first.
    Simultaneously, removal of the elected's from the Montebello event would
    render it a more solemn, quiet, and contemplative gathering. People could
    up, lay their flower, and proceed to the Turkish consulate. Buses could be
    recruited to assist this process and parking problems at the monument would
    dissipate. Those going to the Hollywood rally could thus be integrated with
    our significant monument and most significant political action--the Turkish
    consulate demonstration.
    Some glimmers of hope are these increased numbers. To what are they
    attributable? One interpretation I heard was Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi
    Gonul's visit (see my `Thank You Vecdi' article). The protest held when he
    spoke to the LA World Affairs Council may have primed people for this week's
    actions. I think the perceptible progress INSIDE Turkey towards Genocide
    recognition may also be exciting, energizing, and re-politicizing our
    community. In the same vein, Turkish official and quasi-official reaction to
    this progress may also be triggering Armenians' ire. It's even possible that
    something like `The Young Turks' radio program galls people to action.
    Some non-Armenian owned shops in Glendale actually closed on the 24th.
    Conversely, many Armenian owned ones remained open on the 24th. It really is
    time for a `list of shame' website naming these outfits alongside purveyors of
    Turkish products. What's worse, I learned of an Armenian wholesaler who not
    only remained open, but also disallowed Armenian employees to take the day

    Countless other events were organized. Besides those held in our Armenian
    schools, it would be interesting to know how many people showed up at each
    and even more so, how many unduplicated individuals attended--I am far from
    only person to attend multiple activities. That number, and its distribution,
    would inform and guide future action.
    Meanwhile, let's keep hammering away at the Turkish wall of denial. The
    hairline cracks are becoming visible. More importantly, let's do it more
    regularly. Anyone up for picketing that vile radio program next month?



    When I sat down to write this week's column, I thought that the words would
    just flow. This entire week I was a one-man Armenian activism machine working
    to complete my `To Do' list from last week's column and help bring recognition
    to the Armenian genocide. But each time I started striking the keys on my
    keyboard, I ended up hitting the delete button and starting over. Maybe the
    emotions overwhelmed me or maybe it was the lack of clarity with so many
    thoughts swimming in my head, but something wasn't coming together. It's
    probably both. Regardless of what the real reason is, I've now pumped my
    with so many mocha shmocha caramel sweetness frappucinos and my blood
    caffeine/sugar level is so high, that I'm ready to wrestle a large African
    elephant with my bare hands. That's what happens when you try to write an
    article in a coffee shop and have had writer's block for six hours! I guess
    this is my way of saying "I'm sorry that this article is brief and not up
    to my
    usual standards" but the show must go on!
    I'm not going to recap everything that took place over the course of last
    (or month) related to the Armenian genocide recognition events but I do
    want to
    use this forum to say `Thank You' to the members of System Of A Down who went
    to Washington, DC to raise awareness about this issue. I don't know what their
    future holds, but I hope this crew of Armenian rockers have many more years of
    success ahead of them before their VH1 `Behind the Music' special featuring
    Shavo's or Serge's old school Armenian neighbor, some guy named `Baron Sako,'
    wearing a wool sweater and suit in 90 degree LA weather explaining what the
    System kids were like growing up with subtitles scrolling at the bottom.
    John, Daron, and Shavo--Thank you, thank you, thank you! You made all of us
    proud this week. You're great Armenian Americans but more importantly, you're
    great human beings.
    In spite of all the great coverage that the System guys received from their
    visit to Washington, DC, it was still not as perfect as I would have hoped,
    because at the same time our boys were `moshing' (Put the dictionary down.
    not in there. It's a form of rock n' roll dancing) around Capitol Hill,
    President Aliyev of Azerbaijan was visiting our nation's capitol to probably
    discuss a wide spectrum of various issues with President Bush and US State
    Department officials such as:

    1. How much oil can Azerbaijan produce?
    2. How much oil can Azerbaijan sell to the US?
    3. How much oil Azerbaijan will pump through their Baku-Ceyhan pipeline?
    4. How much oil...

    You get the point. And how appropriate that Aliyev's visit coincides with
    claims President Bush has made about probing into price gouging by major oil
    companies. Or how ironic that in addition to issuing a very political message
    on April 24 that omitted the word `genocide,' the President decided instead to
    meet with the son of a former Soviet KGB official bent on wiping out the
    Armenians of Artsakh (aka Mountainous Karabagh Republic) off the map. Atta boy
    Mr. President! You never let us down. On April 24, a day that will live in
    world history in infamy, your assistants met with a man who openly advocates
    ethnically cleansing Armenians from their historic lands in Artsakh. What's
    next? Meeting with Holocaust deniers the week before the start of Hanukkah?
    about visiting a tobacco farm during National Heart Association month? The
    President should know better and if he doesn't, then his staff is not doing a
    good job of briefing him on issues that are important to his constituency.
    The most recent polls show that President Bush's approval ratings are the
    lowest they have ever been. His approval rating dropped faster than a Hummer's
    gas gage going from `F' to `E.' I have a solution to the President's
    woes. It's simple, fiscally responsible, and will set the tone for the legacy
    of his Administration--and it doesn't involve Iraq. Mr. President, all you
    to do is issue a forceful statement to the Republic of Turkey stating that you
    agree that if Turkey is to ever join the European Union (and the Westernized
    world) then it must acknowledge its genocide of the Armenians and make the
    proper apologies and reparations. It's a very simple and morally sound
    to defend. And even though some pundits or spin doctors will try to make it
    seem as though it will hurt America's interests in the region, your own
    experience should show that our interests can't be hurt any more than they
    At least this would show the world that America means business when it
    comes to
    freedom and liberty. You can do it! Some of us still believe that you will do
    the right thing.
    I didn't want to write a long piece this week. I only had a few things to say
    and I said them. I know that this President hasn't been the best President
    he can be, but I believe that he still possesses the potential to come around
    on critical issues and show the world what Americans are really made of.
    President Bush, if you're reading this right now, please do the right thing!
    Trust me on this one my friend. Do this and your approval rating will change
    faster than Paris Hilton's boyfriends. You can do it. A lot of people still
    believe in you.

    Skeptik Sinikian has been ordered to attend anger management classes
    this year's April 24 disappointments. This column was part of a 12 step
    to control anger and frustrations. He will return next week when his mood
    altering medication has worn off. In the meantime, you can email him at
    [email protected] or visit his blog at

    12) For the Record:

    The article, `Israeli Police Prevent Armenian Pilgrims from Attending The Holy
    Fire Ceremony And Arrest A Number of Armenians,' appearing online Friday,
    27, 2006, was written by Bedross Der Matossian.