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A Brief History of Largest Church in Middle East and Christianity in Diyarbakir

Recently it was reported that the Armenian cathedral of Sourp Giragos in Dikranagerd, Turkey, is undergoing major renovation. I thought that our readers might be interested to read about the history of this famous sanctuary.

The exterior of Sourp Giragos with the new bell tower, 1914.

Amid (alternatively, A-Mi-Da, Amida, Amith, Omid, and later Diyar-Bakir, Diyarbekir, and among the Armenian community, Dikranagerd or Dikrisagerd) is situated on the west bank of the Tigris River and is one of the oldest, continually inhabited cities in the world. Because of its strategic position, both commercially and militarily, Amid has boasted a cosmopolitan population, representing nearly every ethnic and religious group in the area.

It is unknown when and by whom Christianity was introduced into the city of Amid. It is historically probable that early missionaries, either directly from Jerusalem (the seat of James) or by emissary from Antioch (the seat of Peter) or from Edessa (the seat of Thomas) proclaimed Christianity there. The Armenians maintain that Thaddeus and Bartholomew preached in Amid on their way north into the Armenian highlands, while the Syrians credit Thomas, Addai, and Mari with the introduction of Christianity there. No one can be certain except to say that a church was established in Amid during the first century. It is also unclear who the first bishop of Amid may have been, and what type of persecution befell the community during the first three centuries of Christian formation. What is known is that in 325 AD, a bishop named Simon of Amid attended the First Ecumenical Council at Nicea. Whether he were ethnically Syrian, Greek, Armenian, or Assyrian remains unclear, and secondary to the importance of episcopal representation of Amid.

Owing to its geographic location, Amid has been influenced and invaded from every direction. Not surprisingly, every theological creed and dispute has been manifested within the many churches inside the city at various points in history. For that reason, it is improbable that anyone could truly determine either the origin or the subsequent denomination of a particular parish over the course of the first 15 centuries of Christianity in Amid. Greeks, Armenians, West Syrians, East Syrians, and Arabs commingled and collided in the same buildings, and each voiced conflicting claims to ownership. Prior to the first Muslim invasion in the 7th century, it is believed that there were more than 30 churches within the city walls. Research is required to determine who built which sanctuary and which denomination claimed specific rights.

After Amid was conquered by the Ottomans in 1517 and the millet (nationality-based) system of administration was imposed, the Christians in the city settled into a modus operandi with regard to the religious demarcation of properties and liturgical services. There was further definition (and friction) in the late 18th century when certain groups aligned themselves with the Roman Catholic Uniate organizations that had recently moved into the area. In the 19th century, other groups associated themselves with various Protestant denominations. Each time a group broke away, ancient church buildings were also requisitioned for use as either Uniate or Protestant places of worship.

The main altar of the cathedral, 1987.

By the end of the 19th century, the following denominations maintained churches and related schools in the city: Armenian Apostolic, Armenian Catholic, Armenian Protestant; Syrian Orthodox (West Syrian, sometimes called Jacobite), Syrian Catholic, Syrian Protestant; Greek Orthodox (both Greek-speaking and Arabic-speaking), Greek Catholic (also called Melkites); Assyrian Orthodox (East Syrian, sometimes called Nestorian), Assyrian Catholic (also called Chaldean), Assyrian Protestant; Roman Catholic (also called Latin, serving mostly Europeans); Arab Catholic, Arab Protestant.

In 1518, the Ottomans confiscated the largest Armenian Apostolic church in Amid, called Saint Theodore (“Sourp Toros”), and converted the sanctuary into a mosque, renaming it Kursunlu Cami. The community was devastated by the confiscation and was likewise pressured to accommodate the dislodged congregation. There was a smaller church, called Saint Sergius (“Sourp Sarkis”), which was upgraded to the position of cathedral for the Armenians. Sourp Sarkis was later renovated, and eventually contained five altars. Until 1915, Sourp Sarkis was famous because it preserved the valuable relic of the right-side nail used in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. This relic was brought out in solemn procession several times each year, and was venerated by all of the Christians in Amid. When Sourp Sarkis was pillaged in May 1915, the relic of the Holy Nail was either stolen or lost. During most of the 20th century, the building has been operated as a warehouse, and has consequently fallen into ruins.

The Weekly thanks Missak Kelechian for providing this photograph of Sourp Giragos upon reading this article online.

In the early 18th century (perhaps in 1722), the Ottomans decided that the city was too overcrowded; consequently, all of the cemeteries (Christian and Muslim alike) were to be exhumed and the remains re-interred in new cemeteries located outside of the city walls. On the grounds of the earlier Armenian cemetery in the middle of the city was a funeral chapel. This chapel had been donated by a grieving family in loving memory of their daughter and her infant son, both of whom passed away shortly after childbirth. Appropriately, the name of the chapel was Saints Cyriacus and Julietta.

Briefly, toward the end of the third century, the widow Julietta was persecuted for her adherence to Christianity. She was arrested and brought before the local judge who demanded that she renounce her faith. She refused. In order to intimidate her, the judge seized hold of her three-year old son, Cyriacus. The little boy, attempting to defend his mother, also began to proclaim “I am a Christan! I am a Christian!” The judge became so infuriated that he grabbed Cyriacus by the feet and, swinging the child, dashed the little boy’s head against the stone steps, killing him. It is said that Julietta died of fright at seeing this gruesome persecution of both Christianity and her son. The solemnity of their martyrdom spread quickly throughout the area, and countless churches and shrines were built in memory of Saints Cyriacus and Julietta. They are likewise venerated by all Orthodox and Catholic Churches throughout the world. In Armenian, Cyriacus is “Giragos,” and Julietta is “Houghida” or “Oghida.”

After the relocation of the cemetery, the city land still belonged to the Armenians, who decided to build a new church on the site. Accordingly, the new church was consecrated in the names of Saints Cyriacus and Julietta. During the course of the 18th and early 19th centuries, the edifice was renovated and enlarged on several occasions. Tragedy struck on June 10, 1880, when the entire sanctuary was consumed in a devastating fire.

The Armenian community decided to rebuild and even enlarge the structure, which was completed in 1883. At the time, the new church of “Sourp Giragos yev Houghida” was purported to be the largest Armenian basilica in Anatolia. The external dimensions are 31 meters in length by 35 meters in width. The basilica is renowned for having seven altars, constructed with mosaic tiles and overlaid with gold: five on the ground floor and two on the second story. From the northeast to the southeast: Saint Gregory the Illuminator (“Sourp Krikor Lousavoritch”), Saints Cyriacus and Julietta, the main altar in the center dedicated to the Holy Birthgiver-of-God Mary (“Sourp Asdvadzadzin”), Saint John the Baptist (“Sourp Garabed”), and Saint Stephen the Protomartyr (“Sourp Sdepannos”). Upstairs: Saints Peter and Paul (“Sourp Bedros yev Sourp Boghos”) and the Holy Archangels (“Sourp Hreshdagabedk”).

Church services were held every morning and every evening. Holy Badarak was offered every Sunday as well as other days during the week, often at one of the various altars in commemoration of a particular saint’s day. The Dikranagerdtsis were fond of entering the cathedral throughout the day, and especially as they would pass by to and from their daily tasks.

The basilica was built with 16 monolith columns forming 20 arches that supported a flat roof; there was no dome surmounting the structure, though the sanctuary was constructed with giant windows all across the northern and southern walls to allow plenty of sunshine. Around the interior was a second story gallery that extended across the western, northern, and southern walls. It is said that more than 3,000 faithful could be comfortably accommodated on both floors during services.

It was decided that the headquarters of the diocese of Dikranagerd would be relocated from Sourp Sarkis to Sourp Giragos, making the new church the cathedral for the diocese. Surrounding the cathedral were a series of buildings: chapels, rectories for the priests, classrooms for the Sunday School, bookstore, kitchen for preparing food daily for the poor and elderly, and the offices for the prelature. At its peak, there were more than 100 clergy and laity on the staff of the cathedral. For a brief time, there was also a parochial school for boys and girls located within the compound.

Over the course of several centuries, Sourp Giragos accumulated a substantial financial endowment. Either through bequests or by purchase, the church came to own numerous residential and commercial properties within the city walls, as well as livestock and numerous acres of farmland in the surrounding villages. The properties produced rental income to the church, and the farms provided both food and work for the people. The bank investments produced annual returns for the salaries and maintenance of the staff and charitable foundations. Medical services, daily meals (both served and delivered), orphan care, and elder support were all part of the services ministered by the church and out of the endowment. The church also owned and maintained critical water wells and fountains inside and outside the city. In addition to the cemeteries, the church was also responsible for several chapels and shrines that were visited regularly during pilgrimages.

The first bell tower of the cathedral, which was built in 1884, was struck by lightning on Holy Saturday morning, 1913. It was rebuilt that same year, and when it was completed, it was the tallest structure in the city. The bell was cast by the famous Zildjian Company. The spire would become a point of contention with the Muslims, since the Armenian bell tower was taller than any of their minarets.

On May 28, 1915, as the Ottomans were dragging the Armenian prelate, Mgrditch Vartabed Chulghadian, off to be tortured and eventually martyred, the artillery cannon from across the city took aim at the bell tower and shot it to pieces as the prelate was forced to watch. Even though the church continued to operate during the 20th century, the bell tower was never rebuilt.

Most of the Armenians living inside the city were trapped, and neighborhood by neighborhood, the Ottomans pillaged property and killed the helpless Dikranagerdtsis with nearly full-proof entrapment. The gendarmes sealed off each street and then raided the houses without reproach.

After 1918, the few Armenians still residing both in the city and surrounding villages congregated around the large complex of Sourp Giragos, and attempted to revitalize the community. Until 1985, there was a permanent priest living inside the compound, and services were continued daily for the remaining 100 or so families.

In the early 1990’s, during a series of severe snowstorms, sections of the roof of the cathedral collapsed, eventually leaving the basilica with just four walls and no protection from the elements. Vandals caused serious damage to the altars as they chipped away the mosaics and tore out the artwork and gold overlay. The floor of the basilica was mired in mud and debris for many years, and most of the metalwork has corroded in the interim.

Within the compound was a small chapel dedicated to Saint James (“Sourp Hagop”). The Armenians would utilize this chapel for their occasional services when a priest would visit from Istanbul.

The deteriorating economic and political conditions in Diyarbakir forced most of the Armenians to leave, either to Istanbul or to Europe. Today, there are just a handful of Armenians living in the city. It should be noted that the other Christians living in the city were also persecuted by the Ottomans in 1915. Many were massacred and others were forced to leave. Today, only the Syrian Orthodox and the Chaldean Catholics have been able to keep their ancient churches in the city.

It gives a very different meaning to the words of our beloved song: “Umoonuh daran, yesi chi daran, key amoh.”

46 Comments on A Brief History of Largest Church in Middle East and Christianity in Diyarbakir

  1. Thank you for this article! I am closely following the developments relalted to this church and its renovation, and I have to say there is more, way more meaning and value here than there was during the Akhtamar scandal…

  2. I agree. I saw the author speak at a conference at UCLA recently, and I am glad the Weekly and Dr. leylegian are collaborating now. We need stories like this about all villages and towns in historic Armenia!

  3. That is good that church is getting renovated. But the way it is getting done have a lots of questions. First – by this project we supporting turks who killed us. We supporting them with our money, investing more than 3 millions dollars in the turkish economy.
    Second – workers also are turks. so we supporting turkish company (or german company in turkey – workers are turks)
    Third – when it will be done and pilgrimage tours to the cathedral will start – it will be a great support to turkey as well.
     
    In conclusion – turks killed us during the gennocide, destroyed our churches and we are saying ” here are the money please fix what you destroyed”. So why would not turks destroy it again – it’s a great source of income for them – they destroy and kill, we are paying for that!

    Why would not we better to invest that money to support Genocide recognition, or in Armenia economy, create jobs there etc?
     
    Happy Thanksgiving
    And please support ARTSAKH if Teleton 2010

  4. George, I agree with your general point, but in this case, it’s more complicated. The Diyarbakir belediyye is covering part of the expenses, the region is dominated by Kurds who are saying they are ready to face their past, etc. etc. Perhaps the Weekly, which has contacts in Turkey should provide some insights into what’s going on there regarding this matter.

  5. Who says, and what type of thinking can advocate that rebuilding an Armenian Church does not serve the purpose of recognition of the Armenian genocide ? But it only serves for Turkish propaganda and helps their economy? What type of silly and shallow thinking can it be when one believes that by DISOWNING what is Armenian is the way to serve the Armenian interests? Let us not forget that every time when an Armenian Church is being resurrected it delivers a very strong message not only to the world but to the new generation of the locals as well, who grew up clueless of the real history of their surroundings. This type of work shows everybody that there was an Armenian presence, an Armenian civilization on this land going back few millenniums, and simply puts forward the questions : “What happened to these Armenians who build these churches?”, “Why aren’t they here on this land anymore ?” “What happened to them?” ‘Since they are all over the world they are not a lost civilization , then why aren’t they here any more?”
    Quite the contrary the real struggle for the recognition of the genocide must take place right there , on these lands where genocide took place, since then, only then, the recognition will have a lasting meaning to all ! 

  6. It is good news, for me as a Turk(is it really important to be a Turk, Armenian or American?)
    First time,at the 24th april, in Haydarpasa and Taksim Square there was a memorial, in Istanbul, renovating churches in many area in Turkey, lots of books in Turkish about genocide(it is immpossible to read without tears).

    New places you shall never find, you’ll not find other seas.
    The city still shall follow you. You’ll wander still
    in the same streets, you’ll roam in the same neighborhoods,
    in these same houses you’ll turn gray.
    You’ll always arrive at this same city. Don’t hope for somewhere
    else; …(From Kavafis)

    I know it is painfull, ı know you are very angry, and you are right as well,. when you go to the cties which where your grand parents from, you will hear same melodies from kids, maybe you heard from your parents, you will see the same eyes which your parents have, you will be very angry i know but i am sure you will feel you are at home. There is a saying here’ homeland is always callback’ ,
    see you again in your homeland


  7. I Shall Return Where I Belonged
    “Dikranagerd-Tikranagert ”
    Your Name Degraded Harshly,
    But Shan’t Vanish,
    As Our Souls Breathing Soundlessly There!
     
    Return…
    Dear Armenians return from everywhere
    Return…to your real land
    From Artsakh to Anatolia and further west
    To view dead valleys…rivers.
    To Tikrangert where King Tigranes II (Dikran the Great*)
    Implanted his first stone to build a civilized city,
    He turned it green, like Eden’s place.
     
    See the invaders change everything including the name
    By smashing every piece of rock carved with it,
    Changing it from Dikranagerd to Diyarbakir;
    Changed King’s Dikran name to Diyar from word dar
    That means ‘homes’ in stolen languages and…why
    The Bakir…means a new land…newborn!
     
    Return…
    To see your churches, cathedrals destroyed
    Their grounds no longer filled of marbles…stones
    But full of wild plants…dried weeds and smelly sands,
    Bones of killed animals, and insects scattered, dry, breathless.
    No khoran, shrine left to pray and call old God.
     
    Even the Almighty, scornfully lost his faith
    And left those lands for scavengers to breathe in,
    Robbers of stones and of churches to
    Build on seized lands, many ugly shanty homes
    Deprived of basic art…Covered with mud
     
    Nevertheless…still, you can see some stones
    Carved on crosses typical of Armenian art, Khachkar
    In it the Armenian alphabet which can still be read.
    Some rocks are decorated by our ancient animals and planets.
     
    Your BC cemeteries are alive only awaiting excavation,
    Let souls of DNA arise and wrestle with slayers and
    Scream to reach the sky…Narrate what the slayers did
    In that artful, educated, dedicated people’s fertile lands.
     
    Recently I saw on TV…
    Photos that left me smashed soundless…
    That ruins crossed my hidden volcanic flames…
    To shout where are the real humans in this life.
     
    Dikranagerd, Tigranagert
    On my grandparents’ serenade dative terrains…
    There were schools, colleges, goldsmiths, music, art…
    On every corner, the bells jingled calling saints.
     
    My grandmother used to say,
    “Our house was near the cathedral.
    Every Sunday the city was quiet
    Believers attended there to pray!”
     
    (C)  Sylva Portoian, MD

    June 27, 2010
     
    ______________________________________________
    * Tigranes II (140-55 BC): King of Armenian, who distinguished himself as the most glorious among all Armenian kings. He succeeded his father in 95 BC. Brother-in-law and true ally of Mithridates the Great, the glorious King of Pontus, he struggled together with his formidable relative against the Roman dominance. Tigranes the Second also known as Tigranes the Great, extended the Armenian borders from Caspian Sea to Egypt, gaining full control over the vast territories. After having subdued the provinces in Syria, Cappadocia and Mesopotamia, Tigranes also conquered Palestine, taking many thousands of prisoners. He united all the Armenian lands and built four large cities in different parts of his empire all four called Tigranakert. Just like his father Artashes, Tigranes transported from Greece many statues of the Greek Gods. A gigantic statue of Zeus was erected in Ani fortress, and sanctuary for Anahit (Aphrodite) was raised in the city of Ashtishat.

  8. Yes, painful, to visit our Armenian cities and villages in Turkey and to hear the children there, at play, singing songs in their Turkish lyrics, but yet, melodies Armenian!
    Brings to mind all the Armenian young women, victims,  who had to become their grandmothers… had taught them their own Armenian songs – in the language of those who had stolen them too, as turks had eliminated their families.  
    This was told by Archbishop Mesrob Ashjian, of blessed memory, as he traveled with a group from USA to visit the villages of their families… all ‘eliminated’ – victims of the Turkish Genocide of the Armenian nation… which Turk denies.   Manooshag

  9. Dear Fr.George
    the History of Christianity in the city goes back to the 1st century, by St.Thomas, through Urhay (Edessa). the Diocese was one of the large one in Chaldean Church. and people were there were Chaldean and Armenian.
    fr.noel 

  10. KYB. Rebuilding anything in turkey does serve their economy. That is fact. It could be diminished if all technical, engineering work would be done by Armenian companies, but not turkish. I know that 1/3 is given by kurd comunity that is fine, but the other 2/3 by Armenians from Turkey and Worldwide (perhaps mostly US Armenians).

    I did not say that rebuilding Armenian Churches in Turkey doesn’t serve Genocide recognition. But For sure there better methods to make Turkey to recognize it.

    1. All money that we are paying to rebuild Churches mostly are going to turkish economy. that money they are using against us, against genocide recognition, against Armenia, supporting azerbaidjan, lobbying senators to vote against genocide recognition etc.. 90% of people who will visit the church will be Armenians, who already know the history. The rest of visitors also might know about it.

  11. It is good that you being turk recognizing what your government did and doing is shameful. That is brave for sure. But that is not enough.
     

  12. George, first of all before we can calculate any economical impact let us be frank about the realities as Armenians. In 2008 Turkey received 25 million tourists, and today’s Turkey is the 17th largest economy of the world. So, how much do you think us, 9 million Armenians of the world, can impact these numbers even if good chunk of us decides to travel to Turkey?
    Second, let us not fool ourselves, as long as USA have vital interests in the Middle East  our congress will continue to behave same manner since the interests of USA mandates that . Do you know that 80% of supplies for our military in Iraq goes though Turkey? Furthermore, as USA and the west are trying to mend bridges between themselves and moderate Islamic world, to corner the radical Islam, they will continue to side step dealing with otherissues which is not vital for their intersts. We like it or not  the behavior of US Congress is not about Genocide it is about US interests and lobbyist groupinterests, the only unknown here is the future of the Turkish and Israel’i relationship. Now, if things further deteriorate on that front maybe things may take a different turn- but that is a long shot !
    In conclusion, Armenian tourist dollars or donation money only helps resurrection of these Church’s, and contrary of what some may think establishes ownership of the Armenian people to these structures and our  belonging to this land. It has minuscule- if any- serious economical impact on the Turkish economy. On the other hand this type of work expidiets “the gene” to come out of the bottle for Turkish people -the people not the State- to realize the true history of the land which they are living on, therefore to understand and admit the Armenian Genocide. It is my opinion that that the most meaningful acceptance of the Armenian Genocide will be , when it is done by the Turkish people as Hirant Dink advocated ” from the bottom up” ! The rest, we like it or not, unfortunately will always be influnced by pure politics and national interests!

  13. Thank you Rev. Leylegian for this great article. It is the story of the people and all the trebulations that they went through that makes St. Garabed church so special and dear to us.
    It is a bitter sweet renovation. On one part, renovating a church with so much history is a positive development. On the other hand, it is a slap in our face that we need to provide most of the funds for the renovation ourselves, where the law and common decency would dictate that the party who caused the damage of the property should pay for the renovation. This just puts into prespective the extent of damage that the Ottomans caused our nation, with absolute no regard for cultural monuments, history and human rights. In many ways, our loss is so tremendous…you cannot put a price on it.

  14.    If we hope to keep the dream of western Armenia in our people, then it must become more than a history lesson. If we don’t take advantage of what remains of the Armenian presence in historic Armenia,then a greta opportunity will be missed. We must not talk about western Armenia as only a part of our great past, but as a part of our future. Renovating our historic landmarks confirms our historic presence for the world, the lack of a current Armenian population is glaring example of the impact of the genocide and it provide our people with the opportunity to build a relationship with these occupied lands.
    The probability of regaining them in the short term is irrelevant… our goals begin with a vision of our future. Who would have predicted an independent Armenian republic even 25 years ago? Very few of us, but we have maintained a vision.
                Forgot about this concern about helping the Turkish economy. Stay focused on the greater purpose. These churches, St. Giragos, Holy Cross and Holy Virgin , aside from the sustainable spiritual value, provide us a venue for our cause. They enable us, if we remain focused, another venue to push for recognition and reparitions. Think about it…. in the last four months there have been three very public examples of our unfinished business in western Armenia. It is not only a place of our grandfathers, it represents a rallying for today’s nation and there continues to be reminders before us. Can we get past our anger and other distractions to take advantage?

  15. Oh, but what a joy to be able to restore such an important and beloved church!
    We can’t let our bitterness, anger and sense of injustice (all of which I share with many here) overshadow the rush of purpose one gets from accomplishing such a meaningful reconstruction. Armenians have faced very dark days and yet we have persevered.  We have faced evil and the worst of what mankind can do to one another, and yet we have persevered.   The guilty have yet to pay for their crime, and yes it is not fair, but we can hold our heads high as we stand up, pick up the pieces of our broken land and reclaim our place in it.  Let’s not let concern over monetary gain for Turkey stand in our way as we provide reasons, opportunities, and places for hidden Armenians to come forward and be counted among us.  This is a positive outcome that far outweighs a few dollars to Turkey.

  16. Stepan, I had to chuckle to myself to see that you and I are again on the same wavelength.  I agree with what you wrote above.

  17.  I would like to endorse Hovakim K’s suggestion that the Weekly focus an article or even a series on local environment, especially politically, in Diyarbekir and perhaps even Van. Our community needs more working knowledge on the subject. The more we understand on the dynamics of modern Turkish society the more effective we will be in the pursuit of our goals. For many Armenians, we feel we learned enough about the Turks from the 1890-1923 period to operate in today’s political culture. This is both naive and limits our impact. We can all best serve our cause as informed individuals who share a common purpose.

  18.    Boyajian, I have respect for your balanced views. I believe that our community’s strength lies in its diversity and as a part of that diversity we need to honor the past , but be willing to acknowledge that honoring is more than expressing anger and frustration. One of the continuing tragic impacts of the genocide is that large segments of our community seem unable to get beyond our enduring negative views of anything Turkish. Simply discussing this at times, can bring on criticism as ” naive’ or ” a lackey of the Turks”. I think our long and healthy discourse on the Akhtamar event illustrated this amply.
           I am an optimist though and believe that slowly a mentality is emerging that has knowledge and respect for our past ; yet at the same times is not motivated by revenge,anger or hatred; but by a vision of justice and eventual harmony. The real impact of the genocide on my generation(my grandparents were survivors) is that not only have we inherited the unfinished agenda of the “cause”, but we in the diaspora, through isolation and frustration, have become driven by negative forces at times. I see this emotion as double edged…it has motivated us to remember and particiapte, but it also distracts many into “empty aggression”. How many of our brothers and sisters do we know who easily volunteer negative views of anything Turkish, but have limited knowledge or motivation to actually do something? Just say the word “Turkish” to an average Armenian today and look at the reaction? Yes, of course, I,also, feel the anger, but we cannot be driven simply by that type of emotion. Especially when we are presented with opportunities to advance our cause and we won’t play because of our distain for anything Turkish. Why is it that this great people has such low political self-esteem? My grandmother was from Adana, spoke Turkish with her siblings and listened to “Turkish music” , but she was an incredible inspiration for everything Armenian in life… our faith, our heritage and our noble mission. They went through the genocide, but didn’t see everything Turkish as “bad” Why? I believe they were grounded in their faith.
            One of the behaviors I very much respect about your views is that you acknowledge our human reactions ,but encouage all of us to go beyond that. We are a Chrsitian people and our faith calls us to higher level. We can be driven by our faith and committed to our cause. In fact, the sense of calm and peace that our faith provides, should enable us to remain very focus on what counts in our heritage.
           Thanks Boyajian, keep the faith.

  19. Dear Stepan, thank you so much for your very objective and healthy ideas. I wish our nation can think at the same level that you are. You are a real intellectual. By the way you can read any Turkish newspaper via internet. During the Aghtamar , I would say problem, I went to the side to the City of Van and read many interesting things that Armenian media did not even mentioned.Try to read Taraf, Zaman and Radikal or any Turkish newspaper and you can learn the political situation in Turkey today. Some of them have Armenian columnists who are writing very interesting articles.It is good to know what our Bolsahays are thinking and reacting. Thanks again for your brilliant ideas.

  20. Same to you Stepan.  Sometimes we Armenians are our own worst enemies.  I agree that we can fight for justice without succumbing to negative and hateful views against all things Turkish and without shooting ourselves in the foot.  Reclaiming our historic or sacred sites in Turkey is important, regardless of the gain to Turkey, because of the statement it makes to the world about our survival and our assertion of our rights.  It is only a matter of time before all these sites are destroyed and disappear.  We need to act fast to preserve our footprint on these lands and to help our hidden Armenian brothers and sisters reclaim their heritage with pride.

  21. KYB “So, how much do you think us, 9 million Armenians of the world, can impact these numbers even if good chunk of us decides to travel to Turkey?”
    It would be much useful if you would think of how much this 9 mil. of Armenians could impact the economy of Armenia instead.
    Let’s put it in numbers. Lets say 500.000 Armenians are traveling to turkey, each of them are living there $700-1000 (numbers are in the middle of what average tourist is living in turkey). Total those armenians brought to turkey $350 000 000 – 500 000 000.
    Stepan. The situation with Soviet Armenia is absolutely different to what happened in turkey. During soviet time Armenians haven’t been deported and killed. Ofcourse there was many negative to Armenia actions (as Nahichevan and Atsakh – that was given to azerbaidjan) but that is absolutely different subject.
    We can compare investing money to a hostile country turkey to the same situation that happened in georgia and azerbaidjan when Armenians was creating infrastructure there and eventually we have 0 presence  in those countries (0 in azerbaidjan and 0 power in georgia).
    I do not hate turks. More than that i have friends who are Turks and they do recognize what happened.

    More than that I would like to mention what I did said in my previous posts – renovation of our Churches is a good thing. But it should be done by bringing to this process Armenian companies, Armenian workers etc. That would be the solution. Otherwise yes we do support the country that hates us. and that is fact – no matter what anyone would say.
    And recognition of the Genocide would be only when Armenia will be strong, only when Armenian diaspora will be powerful all over the world. That are only conditions that can be achieved by supporting Armenia that we have today and each other.

    If we will showing our presence, maximum what we will achieve is a sorrow from other nations. All they will be saying is “poor Armenians…”. Is it your goal?

  22. I would like to make a corrections to my last sentence
    If we will showing only our presence, maximum what we will achieve is a sorrow from other nations. All they will be saying is “poor Armenians…”. Is it your goal?

  23. Dear Boyajian and Stepan,
    It is always a pleasure to read your comments.
    I am certain that every Armenian wishes in his heart to see the destruction that claimed so many of our churches, and tore at our cultural heritage, reversed in as many of our remaining churches in Turkey as possible. The renovation of our churches, as I said earlier, is a positive step forward, and an important step in revitalizing our cultural presence on a land that we had inhabited for thousands of years. I think more can and should be said about the unbelievable courage and dedication of our Turkish Armenian brethren who are forging ahead with these projects in a country that continues to refuse to acknowledge what it has done to our churches and cultural monuments, as well as to us as a people. Their efforts are heroic, and their work should be acknowledged, encouraged and celebrated.
    Having said that, we would be making a grave error if we put our guard down, and in our excitement become dangerously out of touch with the facts on the ground. Some decent, intelligent and modern Turks might show better understanding of our cause, but Turkey in general is becoming more fanatically Islamic by the looks of it, and today more than ever it remains hostile towards Armenia. We do not know how things will work out down the road. We can’t tell if Turkey is allowing these renovations out of goodness or out of its desire to join the EU. And what will happen to these projects and the plight of the Turkish Armenians if the EU continues holding Turkey at bay, and Turkey leans even further towards the East?
    Let’s study the details of the recent church renovations. Akhtamar was renovated by the Turkish government as a museum. We are grateful that it will not fall into further disrepair. Turkey marketted the project as proof of the country’s tolerance for other religions. However, not only was the church left disfunctional, but nowhere in the church or its vicinity is there a sign that mentions the history of the church, who it belonged to, what religion it belonged to, and how it fell into disrepair. And irony of ironies, even the name of the island it sits on was changed. Aren’t museums supposed to be true to name and historic facts?
    On the other hand, St Garabed church is not even being marketted in Turkish news.
    Armenians are not haters. Case in point, look at how we are befriending the Kurds who have mercilessly massacred us during the Genocide. All it took was for their current leaders to acknowledge and apologize for what their ancestors had done. Our anger stems from the outrage of injustice. Turkey’s stubborness not to face its past has put us in a position where if we continue to demand justice we are labeled “haters”, and if we move on like Turkey wants us to, we will disrespect the memory of our ancestors and show no regard to law and justice.
    We have always been builders and artisans. We have become experts in building churches, but we have failed at becoming experts in defending our people and our rights. Our community in Turkey was at the pinacle of its architectural, cultural and economic state right before the Genocide. Economically, culturally and monetarily we were much more superior to the Turks. And yet all of that economic power crumbled very easily, because while we concentrated on embellishing our churches, homes and pockets, we failed to produce a sound system of leadership that could provide safety and security to our people.
    This is the time to learn from the past. This is the time to put the safety, security and rights of our people first and foremost. This is the time to come together and formulate a comprehensive governmental system that will unite the different parts of our people, and respond more effectively to our basic needs of security and political viability.
    A building becomes a “church” only when it is filled with its people.

  24. GEORGE and KATIA K, I share all your views, you both represent the conscious Armenians, who cannot be mesmerized by the turkish disguised devious criminal mind; although George, I have a problem with your idea of 100% Armenian participation in the historic Armenian monuments’ reconstructions; let us not be naive, the turks will not allow any Armenian company to go there and reconstruct; assuming we are allowed, for months the money spent by the team members will go in turkish pockets instead, as you are advocating, of going in an absolutely urgent, strategically necessary Artsakh projects.

    Also, I am extremely disturbed to see that we are debating this subject of revivalism of our historic monuments when turkey has for centuries and until to this very day has practiced their systematic destruction. As an example take the bogus restoration of Sourp Khatch on Akhtamar, one of our most famous monuments, which instead of turning over to the Armenians (the legitimate owners) they turned it into a turkish museum with the picture hanging on the wall of mustafa kemal, the murderer of a nation, one of the most notorious criminal of mankind. Let us not kid ourselves or be childishly naive, Sourp Khatch’s restoration was the product of the fiendish turkish mind to trick and show the world that they have never done anything wrong to the Armenian nation and that they are preserving their patrimony.

    How naive can one be to believe that the hidden Armenians will come out of their hidings and pray inside the restored Sourp Giragos of Dikranagerd, after witnessing the Soorp Khatch ordeal; turkey will cleverly and with agility turn Sourp Giragos into a turkish museum and as usual the world will sit back and watch the criminal act, since the “important” world leaders and their advisors are bought by the turkish lobby.

     How can we have such a short memory when only 3 years ago when Hrant Dink was assassinated, covertly by the turkish state, with the 100,000 funeral attendees holding a sign saying “we are all Hrant Dink” and two days later in a fully packed soccer stadium the attendees were all holding a sign saying “we are all samas” the name of the murderer, without any reprimand by the authorities; and lately we heard that the turkish parliament had passed a new special law to liberate samas from prison.

    Eight centuries ago an uncivilized cultureless nomadic horde called turcs came to Asia Minor from central Asia, occupied, killed and destroyed much more advanced cultures and civilizations, already established since millennia.

    Today the turkish nomadic horde is the same, they have not changed, in 1954 they have brutally expulsed 100,000 Greeks, killed a great number of them, looted their shops in daylight in Constantinople, buried Greek priests alive. In 1974 they illegally and brutally attacked and occupied 50% of the island of Cypress, tortured, murdered and deported 10,000 people whose whereabouts is not known to this day. In 1993 and up to this date they are territorially illegally blockading the newly independent republic of Armenia, from the brutal soviet regime, that had not yet recovered from the ashes of the genocide perpetrated by turkey. They cotinue the occupation of Armenian historic lands given to Armenia by the treaty of Sevres. They continue to deny the Armenian, Greek and Assyrian genocides. From 600 years ago until today they continue the open mistreatment of all the minorities who are not of turkic origin, the example is the genocide against the Kurds which they continue perpetrating. They continue the occupation of Alexandrette which belongs to Syria granted to turkey illegally by the French mandate as a deal with turkey. They still continue the systematic destruction of the Armenian historic monuments. They illegally divert the waters of the Tigress river for their convenience, thus punishing Syria and Iraq, the list goes on and on.

    Turkey has to satify 34 required chapters to enter the EU, for 30 years it has so far not satisfied even one of them; this alone is a testimony of their failure to be accepted and it is not, as the corrupt mainstream media wants us to believe that it is because they are muslims.      

  25. Hayaser, I agree we must know our history, know the nature of our enemy and keep our guard up as Katia wrote.  But then what?  There is much to hate about Turkey and her politics.  I share in this; but we should take positive steps when we can, despite our anger.  And…hidden Armenians are rediscovering their heritage all over Turkey today.  What is prompting this?  And what do you think it means to them to see Armenians asserting their rights.  Restoration of a church like in Akhtamar is a small step, and though it is a gross distortion of what a true restoration should be, it is a rallying point from which we can take further steps to reclaim what is ours.  Peace to you and all ‘hayaser’ friends.

  26. SYLVA.MD.POETRY, I did not mean to ignore you in my first comment above, your poetry is so exquisite, inspiring and to the point that I wish every human being could  read it, let alone all Armenians, so that they wake up and join in an organized and effective response to turkey. ABREES HAZAR ABREES SYLVA.

    BOYAJIAN, you make full sense and I agree that we should penetrate our historic land with diplomacy but in a well organized and aggressive way; as I showed above, the racist turkish government is watchful, we have not experienced success yet, with Sourp Khatch turkey has the upper hand, with Sourp Giragos we don’t know yet, I am not optimistic that the church once restored, the authorities will accept full Armenian ownership and use; if it is that easy then what are we waiting, let us go and restore the thousands of Armenian cultural monuments; the sad fact is that we have not succeeded yet in restoring the few monuments in Armenia and Artsakh, and the ones that have been restored were done by non-Armenian money.

    It was disheartening to see only $ 20 million collected by the telethon for Artsakh water projects, with probably only 600 donors worldwide; it is a disgrace for our just and legitimate rights; the donors’ number should have been 2 millions and the money collected should have amounted to $ 200 millions.

    If we can obtain official authorization by turkey for full ownership and use by Armenians of restored monuments, I am all for it. But sadly the story on the ground is different, the Sourp Khatch example is still fresh, that church is permanently the property of the turkish government, and let us not fool ourselves, by official law the Armenians have no right to repair any of the “fully operational Armenian churches” in Constantinople, so that in time they become hazardous for human use and are shut down by the government permanently, there are such churches in Constantinople. We are dealing with a devious fiendish people who respects only the language of force.

    HAYER ARTENTSEK YEV MIATSEK     

  27. Hayaser, I agree with everything you said too.
    Having beautiful churches and renovating old historical monuments should be a priority only after the safety, security, economic wellbeing, living conditions and brighter future prospects of our people have been secured. We should pour our resources in making life bearable and full of hope for the people of Armenia and Artsakh, so that they stop emigrating to other countries such as Turkey!! We should focus on strenghtening Armenia, militarily, economically and diplomatically so that our people can feel confident in their homeland and their future in it. Renovated churches in Western Armenia is a bonus.

  28. Hayaser, sorry, I was not even aware of the telethon for Artsakh.  Could part of the problem lie in the fact that the Armenia-Diaspora communication network has holes in it and needs to improve?
    Katia, I agree that priority must go to the safety and security of Armenia.  People before objects, without a doubt.  But we should be alert to opportunities in Turkey to reestablish our presence in Western Armenia.  Even if the door opens only a crack, we should slip a foot in it.

  29. Hayaser, I think you don’t read this side or any other Armenian press a lot. On this side there was a video regarding Surp Giragos, and the Ateshyan srpazan was thanking to the mayor of Diyarbakir, by saying that he was very gratefull this time , because this chuch belongs to him, he is the owner.I think you missed this part. Second, you are very wrong that churches in Istanbul can not be repaired.Just two weeks ago, I saw the picture of Surp Harutyun,which was restored by the Sisli municipality.  Hayaser, You like it or not but things are changing little by little.By the way, just a little reminder, “haters are always hater.” Do not think that a good norm being an excellent Armenian, is not to be a hater. Unfortunately, some Armenians think so, which is very very wrong. We need to change our thinking style. Education an self realization can help us to recognize ourselves.

  30. Anna, you made some great points. Unfortunately many in the Armenian world think the norm must be ” what is good for Turkey can not be good for Armenians or Armenia”. Although we Armenians must never leave our guard down dealing with Turkey , since its government always may try to out maneuver Armenia and Armenians -as Wikileaks is showing-, we must also acknowledge that, there are things which are rapidly changing in Turkey. Who could have thought an April 24 commemoration in Taksim square and Haydarpasha train station in Istanbul, which took place with Erdogan governments watch in 2010 -during which posters of the Armenian victims were raised-? Also who could have imagined all these articles being written in many newspapers in Turkey such as Taraf ,Zaman, Yeni Shafak etc by Turkish intellectuals/columnists indicating that what took place in 1915 was indeed a Genocide? These are noticeable changes in Turkey. We have to acknowledge the fact that, as  democracy takes a hold in Turkey things may, and will change. Also, unfortunately to pump up hatred even facts are not being reflected as they are, by some in the Armenian press . For example Surp Khac Divine Liturgy which took place in Aghtamar island on September 19 was initiated by the request of the Armenian Patriarch Mesrop II, it was not initiated by the Turkish government for propaganda purposes as some were claiming to encourage boycotting pilgrimage to the island for the occasion. Although Turks tried to score political mileage from it, so what ? At the end of the day the entire world witnessed who were the builders of this millennium old architectural marvel. They saw our belonging to the land and more importantly the locals got a first hand education about the real history of the land. In my opinion the only meaningful way the Armenian Genocide will be acknowledged , will be done via educating Turks about their true history. Since without peoples acknowledgement and understanding  no government in Turkey can overcome 95 years of misinformation and dare to take that step because they will simply be pushed out by the Kemalists, whose ancestors mostly benefited from the Genocide, by becoming the new owners of the unclaimed Armenian property. Furthermore resurrection of these old Churches in my opinion, neither compete against tourist dollars intended for Armenia by the Diaspora Armenians, nor lack of it will make a dent in the Turkish economy. Let us be realistic to be able to reach our goals, since unrealistic approach can only push us further away from realization of our dreams.  The world is changing, and new friendships are being forged all around us. Even those which we have counted on their support and friendship, are not hesitant to forge new friendships which can be at the expense of our relationship with them. Let us not be naive !

  31. The telethon for Artsakh was well advertised. Especially in Armenian news resources. The only way to not be aware of it: 1. not reading armenian news. 2 ignoring some of them.
     

  32. KYB “We have to acknowledge the fact that, as  democracy takes a hold in Turkey things may, and will change.” You are almost repeating the words of some Dashnaks couple of years before the Genocide in 1915. In Turkey always were intellectuals who was supporting Armenians and Armenia, but their presence never was significant to bring any changes.
     
    “Let us be realistic to be able to reach our goals, since unrealistic approach can only push us further away from realization of our dreams.” What do you mean by saying “be realistic” and what are “unrealistic approach” for you? Lets talk straight to the point. Taking into account that today we have Armenia and Artsakh as an independent countries with many unresolved issues (economical, and political).

  33.  Some great posts by all of you on this subject. It is a critically important one for our people because it is helping to drive our political maturation…. which is essential in engaging our adversaries.
            I believe that for many years in the diaspora most Armenians have been “fighting” an invisible “enemy”. Denial by the Turks makes our cause less visible. That why they initially employed this method, but it is also why this have bben more aggressive of late. It’s not working. The truth will always prevail.
                We can take heart in this but to make real progress , we need to look inward and hold a mirror up. It will be very difficult to make progress in our cause with meaningful interaction with those who oppose us or partis that can serve to influence them. Look it may be more emotionally fulfilling to have one way discussions that are full of pre-judging and anger, but it is not sustaining. One of the unfortunate impacts of decades of an indifferent world and Turkish denial , is that we are a less informed community as it relates to others. How many Armenians in the diaspora understand the dynamics of Turkey today and how is that limiting our collective capability.
             I, like many of you , have bben active in the Armenian community all my life; yet I our public very close minded and uninformed. We generally think it is sufficient to have our frozen stereotype of Turks to enage them in our struggle. I am remonde of the comments made by Khatchig Mouradian, editor of this paper, upon his return from Turkey last April 24; encourgaing us all to consider the possibilites… not at the expense of justice, but to advance it. It is in our interests to engage and influence where appropriate… not as defeated and subserviant “former Ottoman subjects” , but as a strong , proud and justice seeking community that has its eye on the goal. Armenians who seek opportunites in the current dynamics are not necessarily “naive and dreaming”, but may in fact representing an emerging mentality that will make our diaspora more effective. I think we all understand what we are dealing with in the Turkish government. Real change in Turkey will come from within. We need to encourage enlightenment there and not feel as we have betrayed our grandparents memory or the Armenian cause.

  34. George, this is a side issue but I want to follow up:  With a little effort, I realize that I had seen the telethon advertisement on this site many times without really registering what it was about. Saw it, read it, ignored it…   I don’t live in LA, don’t get Armenian television, but visit AW almost daily.  A passive side window did not catch my eye or attention; it just blended into the background for me. Not trying to make an excuse, but if I missed it, others did too.  Isn’t that a hole in the network?

  35. Boyajian, I am with you. I must have seen the ad on this site, too, but it only registered with me when a friend from LA asked me about it yesterday.

  36. I agree with Katia K in that we would be making a grave error, if we put our guard down and become overexcited. While I appreciate the graded approach of the Stepan and Boyajian duo, I tend to disagree that reclaiming our sites in Turkey has actually made a statement to the world about our survival and assertion of our rights. Excuse me, but the participation of a few hundreds of Armenians in the Turkish Akhtamar buffoonery has resulted in spreading no such statement whatsoever, and Boyajian seemed to accept this post factum. Based on how the world media has covered the dog & pony show at Akhtamar, it is, I believe, fair to say that we are failed to make a statement about our survival and assertion of our rights to the world. And we’ll nbe making the same error, if we fail to get the message across in the case of Tigranakert (Diyarbekir) church. While I agree that the restoration of our churches is a positive step forward, I still think it chiefly serves Turkish propaganda purposes and Turkey’s EU entry ambitions. I haven’t seen so far that a restoration makes a statement to the world about our survival and assertion of our rights. Re-read the media coverage of the Akhtamar event, and prove me wrong, if you will. Also, while our faith does provide the sense of calm and peace, it also cautions us against romanticism and unsubstantiated overexcitement when dealing with the unholy: “do not give dogs what is sacred and do not throw your pearls to pigs…” Cheers.

  37. It wonders me that the world’s Christian religions have never taken the stance that the
    Ottomans and their subsequent Turk leaderships have pursued Genocides against the non-Muslims – Since the Armenians were geographically placed where the Turk wanted to steal their lands, wealths, women, children and worse.  Too, because the Armenians were even more. the first amongst nations to adopt Chrisitanity as their national religion 301AD.   Just as today, the Turks have attacked and spent multitudes of monies against the Woodrow Wilson memorial (even with an ex-Congress the president of the Wilson memorial).  Built in the USA, by and for the citizens of the USA in memory of a fine American leader… BUT, nearly 100 years later, Turks knowing that Wilson had been in support of the Armenians… and now, today, via all the dishonest and deceit ways… a Turkey is funding TODAY the destruction of the Woodrow Wilson memorial – under our noses – in the capitol of the USA – in Washington DC.  Such are Turkey leaderships… and have been since 19th, 20th, 21st centuries… leading the way to destroy, eliminate, all that which the Turk needs to eliminate, wherever, whenever, however!  Turkish style!
    Manooshag

  38. We should not repair any thing while our lands under occupaion…enemies who can slaughter us any second…more and more.
    Read about famous Arab Historian ( Ibn Al-Gawzi)
    I was searching his name and I read this
    Every Armenian should read.
     
    Sibt Ibn Al Gawzi
    He discribes what he saw in our capital Ani
    From wikipedia which is more important than wikileak
    If we don’t take lessons from our history we are dump…
     
    In 1064 a large Seljuk Turkish army, headed by Sultan Alp Arslan, with the help of the Caucasian Georgians headed by King Bagrat, attacked Ani and after a siege of 25 days they captured the city and slaughtered its population. An account of the sack and massacres in Ani is given by the Arab historian Sibt ibn al-Gawzi, who quotes an eyewitness saying:
     
    The army entered the city, massacred its inhabitants, pillaged and burned it, leaving it in ruins and taking prisoner all those who remained alive…The dead bodies were so many that they blocked the streets; one could not go anywhere without stepping over them. And the number of prisoners was not less than 50,000 souls. I was determined to enter city and see the destruction with my own eyes. I tried to find a street in which I would not have to walk over the corpses; but that was impossible.[10]

    In 1918, during the latter stages of World War I, the armies of the Ottoman Empire were fighting their way across the territory of the newly declared Republic of Armenia, capturing Kars in April 1918. At Ani, attempts were made to evacuate the artefacts contained in the museum as Turkish soldiers were approaching the site. About 6000 of the most portable items were removed by archaeologist Ashkharbek Kalantar, a participant of Marr’s excavation campaigns. At the behest of Joseph Orbeli, the saved items were consolidated into a museum collection; they are currently part of the collection of Yerevan’s State Museum of Armenian History.[14] Everything that was left behind was later looted or destroyed.[15] Turkey’s surrender at the end of World War 1 led to the restoration of Ani to Armenian control, but a resumed offensive against the Armenian Republic in 1920 resulted in Turkey’s recapture of Ani. In 1921 the signing of the Treaty of Kars formalised the incorporation of the territory containing Ani into the Republic of Turkey.
    In May 1921 the Turkish National Assembly issued a command to the commander of the Eastern Front, Kazım Karabekir, ordering that the “monuments of Ani be wiped off the face of the earth”.[16] Karabekir records in his memoirs that he replied dismissively to this command,[17]but the wiping-out of all traces of Marr’s excavations and building repairs suggests that the command was partially carried out.[18]

     

  39. Dear Boyajian,
    The Armenia Fund Telethon takes place on every Thanksgiving Day. For those who are not familiar with the American Holiday, Thanksgiving is always celebrated on the last Thursday of November. For the past many years, millions of dollars have been raised and appropriated to the construction of roads, hospitals and schools in Artsakh. This past Telethon was dedicated to the project of “water”. Many Karapakzis will tell you that Azerbaijan had purposefully neglected to modernize the villages. Infrastructure was nonexistant. The residents of most villages have no pipes with running water in their homes, in this day and age. They have to travel more than 3 miles on foot to carry water from a natural source. Life was made purposefully unbearable for the Armenians in Karabagh so that they would leave in the example of Nakhichevan. The ability of the Karapaghzis to cling to their homeland is heroic and nothing less than miraculous.
    Karabagh has always been our land. It was given by Stalin to Azerbaijan along with other Armenian lands in 1923. The demand of Armenians for Karabagh to be annexed back to Armenia was what started the crumble of the USSR. And look at the situation now. Many other enclaves succeeded to get authonomy, and Karabagh that started the “self determination” move during Parastroica is fighting for its independence to be recognized by the hypocrits of the world.

  40. Katia K, thanks for the information.  Ironic isn’t it, the many firsts we Armenians can claim:  First Christian nation, first Genocide of the 20th century, first enclave to pursue self-determination…  When will we be first in line for justice?

  41. First of all George, there is a big difference between 1915 and now, also remember that as early as 1913, then the Patrirach of Constantinople Hovhannes Arscharouni ,on  many occasions called on his flock to stop working together with Ittaatci forces. Unfortunately unlike others, at the time Tasnags felt otherwise, counting on their close political relationship with the Itaatcis. Second, at that time Ottomans were just delivered a blow at the Balkans, following the Balkan war, loosing almost all their European territories. Because of which, they were in a panic stage wondering where the next blow will be coming from. I do not believe that reflects Turkey’s current political standing. In the opinion of many scholars, if there was one major catalystto be named as a contributor for the Armenian Genocide, that  was the outcome of the Balkan War. We must remember that even pan Turkism/Turanism will find its roots at the outcome of the Balkan War, therefore I do not see what type of a parallel you are seeing between 1915 and 2010?
    On the other hand, the realism which I am talking about is very clear for those who are  politically savvy and calculating. The fact remains that in today’s world, no major power will risk their national interests with Turkey, just to be on the right side of the history regardless of how close they feel about the Armenian cause. Look what happened in Lebanon last week during Erdogans visit. The welcome he received there -probably in one of the best organized  Armenian strong holds in the Diaspora-was simply un imaginable pre Davos days. At the end of the day international politics of any nation is driven based on economical gain and national interests not on conscious, even though we Armenian Americans may like to believe otherwise. Another reality check which we Armenians must always keep in mind is that, what would happen to Armenia’s life line, if , only if,  Iran -her only dependable opening to the world- changes its political alignment in the name of Muslim brotherhood? Turkey’s last vote in UN in favor of Iran few months ago against sanctions – along with Brazil-,  can anytime become an accounts payable for Iran  just to please Turkey for the continuation of the favor. Or, more realistically what would happen if Iran finds itself in a war situation in the near future – after all even Saudis are in favor of seeing Iran bombed-, during which, all of a sudden Armenia’s southern boarder gets blockaded as well, since everything coming in or going out of Iran will be automatically blockaded? These are neither fantasy nor unrealistic scenarios George, as we reading and learning more from the  the wilkileaks . We all read how close even Armenia became to be black listed by USA due to arm sales to Iran during the final days of Bush administration, didn’t we? In other words, realism mandates that, when thinking the future of Armenia and Artsak, we all must be open minded to new openings since there is no guarantee that today’s statue quo will be sustainable as politics of the region becomes subject to new developments. Furthermore although it is not my style to play sarcasm on others thought process, since you are insistingly asking let me give you an example of unrealistic approach: to anticipate 350M-500M tourist dollars to be spend by the Armenians visiting Turkey, therefore contributing her economic development, while we are able to gather only 20m for Artsakh during the annual Telethon to contribute for her development. One last note what does this sentence of yours mean and who are you addressing to? 
    “It is good that you being Turk recognizing what your government did and doing is shameful. That is brave for sure. But that is not enough.” 

  42. I think having a healthy and strong Armenia comes before anything else, and that’s should be our main goal, after that let the united leadership of the all Armenians ( Armenia, Artsakh, diaspora ) make the decision of renovating the Armenian churches and other places in the occupied lands. it seems wrong to me to start rebuilding something without even consulting today’s leadership; spending millons to feed the poor and hungry in Armenian villages or orphanages must come first in my opinion. the Turkish government need to ask Armenians for forgiveness about the genocide that their predecessors has done.  otherwise, they are still considered a participants in the crime. In order to bring back trust and peace into the region, I think it is the responsibility of the Turkish government to assume full repairs of the damage caused years ago and even today. Katia K.I do agree with you, and I have respect for everybody else who made a comment, thanks for Armenian Weekly.

  43. Sylva-MD-Poetry, thanks for taking us back to the distant past and to the recent past to remind those naive thinking Armenians that the turc has not changed. Just because in Constantinople today, the population generally appear westernized, it does not mean they have a western mentality, far from it. If opportunity is given to them they will repeat the same barbarism again. Thank you Sylva for the historical insight.

    Katia K, thanks for giving us useful and to-the-point details that so many of us need to know. The people of Artsakh are for ever our unforgettable giant heroes like those of 1918 May 28 Sardarabad victorious resistance valiant giants. 

    We should be on our guard like almost all of you have expressed above; let us be conscious of the extreme gravity our nation is facing today and put all our possible resources nationwide, wisely, orderly, at the service of strengthening our nation economically, socially and militarily, without contradicting each other and by keeping in mind the intentions of our enemy.  

  44. On this page you can find  video of Surp Giragos church taken 2 days ago  and videos of 2 other armenian chuches in Diyarbekir.

  45. avatar Craigie Zildjian // January 21, 2011 at 10:49 pm // Reply

    Dr. Leylegian,
    I read in your article that in 1913 the bell for the repaired bell tower of the Soup Giragos was cast by my family descendants, the Zildjian Company.
    We never were able to confirm that the Zildjians made church bells.  Would you know of other churches where the Zildjians made the church bells?  We are also looking for more historical information re. products other than cymbals (such as cauldrons) made by the Zildjians, but do not know where to find this information.
    We are interested in learning more about our family history and Armenian ancestors.  Would you know a researcher who might be able to help us?
    Your article was quite moving.  Naturally, it was quite sad to see that our family was somehow touched by the destruction of the bell tower and the overall tragedy of events.  Naturally, we wonder whether any of our ancestors were killed in the Genocide.  We thought that most of the Zildjians lived in Psamatia and therefore escaped most of the brutality that existed elsewhere.
    I look forward to hearing from you if you can tell us where to look for more information about the Zildjian family.
    Sincerely,
    Craigie Zildjian

  46. Our http://www.cyriac-fhp.com (Cyriac Family History Project) has a wep page dedicated to the martyred child and his mother – Sourp Giragos is apparently the Armenian designation for Saint Cyr or Agia Kyriake or Sveta Nedelja or Saint Cyriacus or 2,600+ other variations of the spelling of the name.  This Armenian was discovered within the last hour via Google Alerts.  Other primary Saint Cyr web pages are at http://www.cyriac-fhp.com/csx.htm (Cyriacus at the Baths of Diocletian in Rome), http://www.cyriac-fhp.com/cjx.htm (Saint Cyriacus of Ancona, a Jew who converted and was honored with the Cyriacus name upon becoming Bishop of Ancona in the 4th century and http://www.cyriac-fhp.com/cqx.htm ( 3 years old St. Cyr and his mother Julitta who both have dozens of alternative names described at the web site).

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