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The Armenian Mirror-Spectator 6/11/2011

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  • The Armenian Mirror-Spectator 6/11/2011

    The Armenian Mirror-Spectator
    755 Mount Auburn St.
    Watertown, MA 02472
    Tel: (617) 924-4420
    Fax: (617) 924-2887
    E-mail: [email protected]

    ************************************************** *******************
    1. Banquet Celebrates Mirror Anniversary
    2. Sumbat: A Son's Tribute to His Father's Unique Style, Creativity
    3. Commentary: From Memory Lane to Cyberspace
    4. New York Times Writer Displays Bias for Azerbaijan in Article

    ************************************************** *******************
    1. Banquet Celebrates Mirror Anniversary

    By Aram Arkun

    TEANECK, N.J. - More than 200 guests assembled here at a banquet on June 4
    to raise funds, support and celebrate the work of the Armenian
    Mirror-Spectator, and commemorate three New York area intellectuals who
    were important in its history.

    Guests were initially greeted at the Teaneck Marriott at Glenpointe with
    classical music performed by violoncellist Elizabeth Kalfayan and violinist
    Orlando Wells.

    After Shoghig Chalian, co-chair of the event together with Betty Salbashian,
    welcomed the guests, Vagharshak Ohanyan and Lena Chilingerian, accompanied
    on the piano by Dr. Meroujan Maljian, sang the national anthems of the US
    and Armenia, and Bishop Manuel Batakian, Eparch of the Armenian Catholic
    Eparchy of the US and Canada, gave the invocation. Salbashian then
    introduced Dr. Raffy Hovanessian, the master of ceremonies, who introduced
    the various speakers.

    Nerses Babayan, who was close to the Housepian family, spoke about Dr.
    Movses Housepian (1876- 1952). He described his service to the Armenian
    community as a physician in the United States, and his efforts in serving
    the Armenian volunteer movement during World War I. Later, Housepian became
    one of the leaders of the Armenian Democratic Liberal Party (ADL) and a
    supporter of the Mirror- Spectator. Babayan exclaimed, `Dr. Movses
    Hovsepian belongs to a phalanx of dedicated Armenians who readily answered
    the supreme call of their people.'

    Novelist and critic Peter Sourian was unable to participate in the evening
    due to illness, but sent his talk on Jack Antreassian to be read by Dr.
    Vagheenag Tarpinian, member of the Tekeyan Cultural Association's Greater
    New York Chapter Committee. Sourian pointed out the duality of Jack/Ardavast
    as an Armenian in America and his dedication to the advancement of Armenian
    literature and culture, declaring, `He chose to deploy his considerable
    gifts not for his own advancement in the world of personal possibilities
    that America offered, but rather to serve the wounded Armenian nation,'
    Tarpinian read. His sacrifices on behalf of the Armenians deserve to be
    honored and remembered, he added.

    Journalist Florence Avakian expressed her admiration for Armine Dikijian as
    one of her three role models, calling her `gutsy and very stylish.' Avakian
    had read Dikijian's writings from the time she was in elementary school and
    continued to do so for many years. Avakian observed, `This was a woman with
    a rare communicative ability, a sense of observation that was so keen.
    People were attracted to her, her smiling face*85.She was also a fearless
    woman, who was not afraid to go home late at night after covering events, in
    the subway to Brooklyn.' She served two decades in the Brooklyn Public
    Library and several further decades as a head criminal justice librarian.
    Avakian concluded, `This is a woman whose great legacy continues until today
    and there are many of us who are still inspired by her example and her

    Dr. Edgar Housepian, son of Dr. Movses Housepian then responded on behalf of
    the families of the honorees, including Armine Dikijian's niece, Andrea
    Halejian, who was present in the audience. Housepian related his
    longstanding admiration for his father's work. Aside from his
    Armenian-related work, as a young man, his father had many adventures which
    became fodder for wonderful bedtime stories for his children. For example,
    he took a job as a ship's doctor and went down the Amazon River.

    Also in the program, was jazz singer Datevik Hovanesian, accompanied by jazz
    pianist Bob Albanese, bass player Phil Palombi, and drummer David Meade. She
    sang versions of two Sayat Nova songs, two Komitas pieces, a song by Antonio
    Carlos Jobim, and an Armenian folk song, all with her inimitable style,
    backed by her tremendous trio.

    Keynote speaker Stephen Kurkjian, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist,
    then took the podium and said, `I know firsthand the importance of this
    paper for the Armenian community. For much of its history, it has been a
    mainstay in my home*85my grandmother never wavered. The Baikar Armenian
    paper was there every morning, and the Mirror- Spectator for me and my
    sisters, and it was required reading.' Like other good newspapers, `It
    informs its readers. It challenges them. It illuminates the world around
    us.' Kurkjian continued, `It continues to provide excellent coverage of
    Armenia's place, and Armenians' place, in the world. *85 It provides depth of
    coverage on the issues of the day that we all care about.'

    Kurkjian noted that with the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide
    approaching, the responsibility of passing on the knowledge of our history
    and the pride that comes with it is all the more important. He described his
    current project of researching a group photograph of Armenians from Gesarea
    (Kayseri) who were victims of the Genocide. He called on the present Turkish
    government to make at least one act of reaching out to the Armenians as an
    initial step before the 100th anniversary: `invite us back, not because we
    are going to stay, but so that we can honor the memory of those lives that
    they [the Ottomans] took.' In this way, funeral services could be held for
    the victims of the Genocide. Meanwhile, he concluded, `when the 100th
    anniversary comes, we will be in the streets, we will be on the front pages,
    we will be on every broadcast and telecast,' celebrating our survival and
    success, not just our losses.

    Meanwhile, after the banquet guests had finished the main course, Alin
    Gregorian, the editor of the Mirror-Spectator, and Hagop Vartivarian on
    behalf of the Tekeyan Cultural Association, cut a special anniversary cake.
    Vartivarian thanked the organizers of the banquet, and pointed out that the
    Mirror-Spectator would be a source for future historians studying the
    Armenians, and the Armenian Americans in particular. Gregorian thanked all
    the supporters of the newspaper. Hovanessian then read letters of
    congratulations from Osheen Keshishian, editor of the Armenian Observer,
    Baydzig Kalaidjian, editor of Zartonk daily of Beirut, Lebanon and Asbed
    Artinian, editor of Arev newspaper of Cairo, Egypt on the occasion of the
    Mirror-Spectator's anniversary.

    Ambassador Garen Nazarian, Permanent Representative of the Republic of
    Armenia to the United Nations, congratulated the Tekeyan Cultural
    Association and the supporters of the Mirror-Spectator. He said that the
    Armenian media, including the Mirror-Spectator, played a vital role in
    providing correct information about Armenia, and correcting errors in other
    media outlets, including misinformation deliberately propagated by
    Azerbaijan. Nazarian declared that the Mirror can also play an important
    role in the resolution of the issues connected with the Armenian Genocide.
    He concluded that `just as a mirror is an indispensable item for putting
    outer selves in order, so is the Mirror-Spectator an indispensable paper
    for exploring the understanding of our inner selves and the world around us.
    And as we introspect, we become a more open and prosperous nation, and a
    stronger democracy.'

    Edmond Azadian, co-chairman of the ADL Eastern District Committee of the US
    and Canada, began collaborating with the Mirror as early as 1966. He
    pointed out that the founders of the Mirror-Spectator converted tragedy into
    triumph. Though the Western Armenian language, as the poet Vahan Tekeyan
    pointed out, might have been falling gradually into oblivion, the
    Mirror still
    allowed for the survival of elements of the Armenian heritage and spirit.
    Armenian journalism, from the very start founded outside of the homeland,
    worked in favor of the homeland. The Mirror worked to bond Armenians
    together, and build bridges.

    He declared that the print media is not yet defunct and the Mirror has a
    role in propelling its 80-year legacy into the future while sharing in the
    progress of electronic media. It now has a global readership in cyberspace.
    It provides a forum for free intellectual discourse.

    A Hovsep Pushman lithograph was given as a present by art connoisseur
    Andreas Roubian to TCA's Hagop Vartivarian, who decided to put it up for
    silent auction in order to aid the Mirror-Spectator this evening. Saro
    Hartounian, the chief executive officer of Harco Industries, was the winner
    of this auction. Moved by Vartivarian's dedication Roubian gave a second
    copy of the lithograph to Vartivarian, but the latter promised to use it at
    a later occasion to again support the Armenian cause.

    Archbishop Yeghishe Gizirian gave the closing prayer. As a faithful reader
    of the Mirror, he wished that it could continue its work and soon
    celebrate its centennial. He pointed out that everything in this world is
    transitory, and said `only writing and literature are lasting and useful.'

    Present at the banquet were a number of important benefactors, such as Nazar
    and Artemis Nazarian, Edward and Carmen Gulbenkian, Dr. Raffy and Shoghag
    Hovanessian, Hratch and Suzanne Toufayan and Ruth Bedevian (Sarkis Bedevian
    was in Armenia). Representatives of organizations included Dr. Dennis
    Papazian, Grand Commander of the Knights of Vartan; Peter Kougasian, vice
    president of the Armenian Missionary Association of America; Van Krikorian,
    trustee of the Armenian Assembly of America; Alex Sarafian of the Central
    Committee of the Eastern Region of the US of the Armenian Revolutionary
    Federation; Nazareth Festekjian of the Central Board of the Armenian General
    Benevolent Union; Papken Megerian, ADL Eastern District cochair and
    treasurer of the Diocesan Council of the Armenian Church of America
    (Eastern) and the Very Rev. Daniel Findikyan, dean and professor of
    liturgical studies at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, as well as Aram Arkun,
    the Mirror-Spectator's associate editor.

    On this occasion a colorful and first-class booklet was published which
    included historical facts, photos and biographies of all editors of the
    Mirror-Spectator, list of donors and many congratulatory letters among
    which were from Berge Setrakian, president of AGBU and Hrair Hovnanian,
    president of the Armenian Assembly. The list of donations will be published

    ************************************************** ****************
    2. Sumbat: A Son's Tribute to His Father's Unique Style, Creativity

    By Alin K. Gregorian
    Mirror-Spectator Staff

    WATERTOWN, Mass. - Dr. Armen Der Kiureghian is the Taisei Professor of
    Civil Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, and the
    winner of numerous awards and patents. He is also a dedicated son and art
    lover, who wants to shed light on the legacy of his late father, painter
    Sumbat Der Kiureghian.

    His efforts have culminated in a beautiful coffee-table book, The Life
    and Art of Sumbat, filled with the paintings of his father, which often
    captured Iranian village life, as well as traditional Armenian life. The
    book was published in Armenia, where, incidentally, Der Kiureghian was
    the founding member of the Board of Trustees of the American University
    of Armenia.

    The younger Der Kiureghian was at the Armenian Library and Museum of
    America (ALMA) on Wednesday, May 25, at a program jointly sponsored by
    the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR), where
    he discussed the genesis of his father's art.

    The artist, who is generally known by his first name, Sumbat, was born in
    New Julfa, the old Armenian quarter of Isfahan, Iran. Armen Der
    Kiureghian stressed that by writing the book, he was not claiming to be a
    historian or art historian, `but my credentials are my intimate knowledge
    of the artist.'

    He added, `I admired Sumbat as a man and as an artist. Sumbat's art was
    an integral part of his life.'

    Der Kiureghian explained the history of his family, which was typical of
    Isfahan Armenians. He said his father was descended from the 17th-century
    Armenians who were forcibly brought to Iran by Shah Abbas, the Persian
    king, from Jugha, in Nakhijevan, Armenia. The reasons were many for this
    forced migration, but mainly, they were for bringing the silk trade in
    which many took part (and thus the Silk Road) to Iran. Many settled in
    the Iranian cities of Hamadan and Arak but the majority went to Isfahan,
    Peria and Charmahal. In return for the violent uprooting, the government
    treated them fairly liberally as far as the practice of their religion or
    the maintaining of their culture was concerned.

    Many of Sumbat's early paintings involve those of the old Vank or church
    in New Jugha, which Der Kiureghian explained, because of the cultural
    juxtaposition particular to that city, had vaguely Islamic architectural
    features, as well as traditional Armenian elements. Because of the
    Armenians' travels for trade all over Europe, there were even influences
    from as far afield as Venice in the churches there.

    Sumbat's father, a watch repairman, died fairly young, leaving his
    mother, Takouhi, a widow with several children. `Sumbat was exceptionally
    likeable' and already showing signs of talent as a painter when in the
    1924-25 school year, he won a painting competition. A painter, Sarkis
    Kachadourian, mentored him. He also received a medal from the king, Reza
    Shah, for his efforts in promoting Iranian art.

    Eventually, Sumbat dropped out of school and opened an art studio. His
    business thrived, and he produced many paintings for a seemingly-
    insatiable clientele. He met and married a young woman in Isfahan, Arax
    Aftandilian, and the young family eventually moved to the port city of
    Abadan. He organized an exhibit of his paintings there and one of the
    people attending it was Stanley F. Foster, a Briton who was touring
    Iran. He was so impressed with Sumbat's style that he asked for lessons
    from him, in return for funding travel to Europe. They left for almost a
    year, during which Sumbat taught and created many paintings.

    Sumbat was not only an artist, he was also a family man. Armen Der
    Kiureghian recalled that his father started a tradition of taking actual
    pictures of his family and then transposing the pictures of their faces
    onto other scenes that he would paint. For example, the family members -
    father, mother and three children - are on a canoe, as a Gypsy family,
    etc. Many people, he said, clamored to receive the cards and in fact
    asked for them.

    In addition, Sumbat would create colors and textures of his own, giving
    particular warmth and affability to his works. For example, the younger
    Der Kiureghian said he used coffee grounds from traditional Armenian

    Another of his innovations, his son said, was painting on newspapers
    (`Sumbatism,' as Der Kiureghian called them). The newspaper paintings on
    either Armenian- or Persian-language newspapers, which eventually became
    one of the hallmarks of Sumbat, started out, Der Kiureghian explained, as
    a means for Sumbat to clean his brushes in between colors. Afterwards,
    when the colors would make patterns, he would take his time and add just
    the right shapes to transform the random colors into a cohesive picture.

    What interested Sumbat was village life and he would often leave for a
    few days at a time, taking only a few essentials, including his easel and
    paints, and just paint.

    He also visited Armenia and painted many villages there. In fact, his
    paintings are in the collections of the Armenian National Gallery and

    Sumbat moved to the US in 1980. For more information on the book, the
    artist or to see a collection of his paintings, visit

    ************************************************** ******************
    3. Commentary: From Memory Lane to Cyberspace

    By Edmond Y. Azadian

    The year 2012 will mark the 80th anniversary of the Armenian
    Mirror-Spectator. However, The New York/New Jersey Chapter of Tekeyan
    Cultural Association, joining a group of friends of the Armenian
    Mirror-Spectator, fired the opening salvo of celebrations by organizing an
    elegant banquet on Saturday, June 4, in Teaneck, NJ, at the Marriott Hotel.
    In attendance were diplomats, high-ranking clergy, representatives of
    organizations - an elite crowd of writers, intellectuals and community
    leaders and benefactors.

    The evening was saturated with nostalgia as former editors and major
    contributors were remembered and honored. Dr. Movses Hovsepian, Armine
    Dikijian and Jack Antreassian, who had been the pillars of the community and
    they had become part of Mirror history. A tastefully-designed
    programbooklet had highlighted all the previous and current editors who were
    as if in attendance that evening.

    The affair afforded the opportunity to reflect on the history of the
    publication and its role in shaping community life and direction.

    The booklet appropriately included a poem by Vahan Tekeyan, which helped
    define the dichotomy faced by the founders of the paper as they embarked on
    a new venture. It was a watershed event because they had to separate
    language from the mission. Until then, Armenians had not faced that kind of
    situation; language had always served as the vehicle of the mission.

    The dilemma was either to forgo the mission or forgo the language.
    Abandoning the mission would automatically lead to the demise of the
    language anyway.

    Poet Tekeyan lamented the decline and the eventual demise of the Armenian
    language by writing:

    `The language I write is read but by a few.
    With time, even those few readers slowly decrease*85
    A hundred years from now, our speech though old, still new
    With its smooth and harsh sounds,
    will have to come to cease.'

    It is unfortunate that the poet's prophecy is becoming fact of life in the
    diaspora. It is a pity to lose the beautiful Armenian language. However, it
    is not a pity when we can cross the language barrier and carry the spirit
    and the mission of our ancestors to the next generation and to posterity.
    That was the nature of the venture that the founders were embarking on, in
    1932, when they saw the handwriting on the wall and were alarmed by the
    alienation of the new generation. While agonizing over the demise of the
    language, they undertook the task of having the legacy transcend from one
    generation to the other through the publication of the first
    English-language Armenian paper in the US. They tried to convert tragedy
    into triumph.

    My personal association and the collaboration with the Mirror dates back
    to 1966, almost 45 years. Through my association with the editors and the
    major contributors, I came to realize that they were the incarnations of the
    very same founders as they carried on with their sacred mission through the
    paper's history; they had the same dedication, vigor and vision.

    The destiny of the Armenian people has an ironic twist. Indeed it was
    destined to have Armenian journalism to be born and flourish outside our
    homeland, but for the homeland.

    The first Armenian newspaper, Azdarar, was published in 1794, in Madras,
    India. It was edited by a priest named Rev. Harutune Shemavonian. The editor
    and a group of patriotic intellectuals had a dream to achieve; they aspired
    to see Armenia free and independent. They even had outlandish plans to
    purchase historic Armenia from the Ottoman Sultan, similar to Theodore
    Herzl's plan to carve a homeland for the persecuted Jews.

    The Armenian Mirror-Spectator was also founded in Boston, Mass., away from
    Armenia, certainly with tamer ambitions and with the rather more modest
    goals of bonding Armenians together, building bridges from one city to
    another, or even one country to another.

    In our fast-moving world and in the era of globalization, some people have
    come to believe that print media is something of the past, as electronic
    media takes over and progresses at a dizzying pace. Despite the bankruptcy
    of the Borders bookstore chain, the print media is still with us for the
    foreseeable future and the Mirror has a role to play for that future; it has
    to propel 80 years of legacy into that future while beginning to share the
    progress of the electronic media.

    Initially half of the Mirror subscription base was in the New York/New
    Jersey area. Initiatives, like the 80th anniversary celebration, will mark
    healthy comeback for it into this market.

    Through the Internet, the Mirror has been able to reach its global
    readership, as it has ventured into cyberspace.

    We do not and we should not underestimate the contributions and the
    achievements of other publications. As we compete, we learn from each other
    and we are destined to carry the same mission for the Armenians around the

    There is a pervasive bias that publications sponsored by political groups
    tend to be partisan and closed to open flow of views and ideas. Through its
    persistent policy, the Mirror has tried to dispel that bias, because the
    publication has been a forum for free intellectual discourse, at the same
    time never losing sight of popular sentiments. Indeed it has retained and
    maintained its touch with the general public throughout its history.

    Had Rev. Harutune Shemavonian been alive today, he would certainly have
    blessed the endeavor and venture of the Mirror.

    As the 80th anniversary celebrations take off, the publication moves from
    the memory lane into cyberspace, for future ventures and adventures.

    ************************************************** ****************
    4. New York Times Writer Displays Bias for Azerbaijan in Article

    (The following letter was sent to the New York Times in protest of a
    recent article on Nagorno Karabagh.)

    To the Editor:

    The New York Times is a pacesetter in responsible journalism, yet that
    very same vocation pre-empts it from undermining its own standards and
    journalistic standards.

    The article published in your May 31 issue by Ellen Barry constitutes
    disservice to your readers and to people in general.

    Under the title, `Frozen Conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenian begins
    to boil,' the writer covers the bellicose mood in Azerbaijan, freely
    subscribing to views and statements of the Azeri side.

    It is not for us to remind any journalist tackling a topic to do his or
    her homework. Ellen Barry has allowed herself to use blanket statements
    without heeding history. She writes: `Since the early 1990s, Azerbaijan
    has been trying to regain control of Nagorno-Karabagh, a predominantly
    Armenian enclave within its borders, and secure the return of ethnic
    Azeris who were forced from their homes by the war.'

    There is more than one falsehood in the above statement. Why should a New
    York Times writer endorse freely what the Azeri government has been
    harping along that Karabagh is within Azerbaijan's borders, when even in
    the harshest Stalinist period it had a special status as a autonomous
    region (oblask) similar to the Nakhichevan exclave, which was an
    autonomous republic, both brought under Azeri rule by a ruse of Stalin?
    During the Soviet period, 60 percent of Nakhichevan's population was
    Armenian, but the region was depopulated through the `brotherly'
    conniving of KGB colonel and Politburo member Heydar Aliyev, who
    eventually became the leader of Azerbaijan and was in turn succeeded by
    his son, Ilham, in a democratic nation (irony intended).

    Your correspondent dwells at length on Azerbaijan's refugee problem,
    noting some heart-wrenching cases, which sound very tragic when taken out
    of historic context.

    First, the refugee problem was the outcome of the war, which the
    Azerbaijani government launched against the Armenians in Karabagh.

    Second, while the Aliyev dynasty and its minions reap the nation's vast
    oil wealth, living at an obscene level of opulence, i.e., residences in
    Dubai and Paris shopping blow-outs, they keep the refugees as political
    pawns to make a case vis-a-vis the international community on the cruelty
    of Armenia.

    It looks like your writer's heart has been bleeding when writing about
    the Azeri refugee problem.

    The following quote covers only one side of the refugee problem, which
    intentionally leaves out the other phase: `Among the forces driving Baku
    refugees who have spent nearly two decades in limbo. The United Nations
    says there are 586,013 - 7 percent of Azerbaijan's population, which is
    one of the highest per capita displacement rates in the world, according
    to the International Displacement Monitoring center.'

    Your writer must be commended for resorting for reliable sources to
    preserve the integrity of her fact- finding statement, but why does she
    not employ the same due diligence in reporting what happened to the
    Armenian refugees of Sumgait and Baku in 1988 and 1990, after the pogroms
    were launched against them by the Azeri government?

    During the Soviet period, an affluent community of Armenians lived in
    Azerbaijan, numbering 450,000. They were killed or deported. Those who
    believed they have found a safe haven in Armenia were killed in the 1988
    earthquake. I would like to leave the math to you to figure out the
    percentage of 450,000 Armenian refugees over a population of 3 million.

    Last but not least, Barry writes: `Azerbaijan, by far the richer of the
    two, has increased defense spending twenty-fold since 2003, according to
    the International Crisis Group.'

    Rather than using the petrodollars for gearing up for a new war, the
    Azeri government could solve its refugee problem, which is its own doing
    and compensate the Armenian refugees who left their properties behind in

    By playing up to the conscience of the world, your writer is adding fuel
    to Azeri intentions of launching a new war.

    A balanced and comprehensive coverage would have contributed to the just
    settlement of this thorny crisis and consequently contributed to the
    cause of responsible and fair journalism.

    - Edmond Y. Azadian Chairman, Armenian Rights Council of America