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The Birth of ‘Great Calamity’: How ‘Medz Yeghern’ Was Introduced onto the World Stage

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… Listen, O Lord, to the lament that rises from this place,
to the call of the dead from the depths of the Metz Yeghérn
–John Paul II (2001)

Words matter. Some people try to keep them meaningful, while others render them meaningless. And while some struggle to preserve memory, others fight to impose amnesia.

Medz Yeghern1 is the most common term used by survivors of the Armenian Genocide and their descendants to identify what befell the Armenian nation in 1915. Over the past decade, American, European and Turkish news outlets have consistently translated Medz Yeghern as “Great Calamity.” The Turkish media has repeated this seemingly innocuous translation over and over again in an attempt to deny the genocidal intent inherent in the meaning the victims themselves have given to the phrase.

Pope John Paul II at the genocide memorial in Dzidzernagapert

In a parallel development, influential Armenian-American writers and editors have uncritically adopted this translation. We have come to the point where many readers and writers, Armenian and non-Armenian alike, appear to be sincerely convinced that the word “yeghern” has meant “calamity” over the past hundred years. This article, the first in a series, will explore the birth of “calamity” after Pope John Paul II and President George W. Bush used Medz Yeghern.

‘Chart’ and ‘Medz Yeghern’

Armenians across the diaspora have heard and applied the word “chart (“massacre”) to describe the events of 1915. It has been widely used colloquially and is sometimes even seen in writing: Early on, journalist Sebouh Aguni, a survivor of the genocide, used the word chart in his 1920 book Milion me hayeru charti badmutiune (“The History of the Chart of a Million Armenians”). In 2009, British journalist Robert Fisk wrote the following when President Barack Obama first used Medz Yeghern in his April 24 address: “Like Presidents Clinton and George Bush, [Obama] called the mass killings ‘great atrocities’ and even tried to hedge his bets by using the Armenian phrase ‘Meds Yeghern,’ which means the same thing—it’s a phrase that elderly Armenians once used about the Nazi-like slaughter—but the Armenian for genocide is ‘chart.’ And even that was missing.”2 Fisk was, in fact, mistaken in his choice of the word; nowadays, there is a clear-cut difference between the legal terms to designate a non-systematic massacre (chart, or “massacre”) and systematic mass killing (tseghasbanutiun, or “genocide”). Sabra and Shatila during the Lebanese Civil War was a chart; Rwanda was a tseghasbanutiun.

Medz Yeghern, frequently shortened to Yeghern in writing, is not an esoteric phrase used only by the highly literate. It was indeed adopted by Armenian intellectuals to describe a massacre much greater in scale and destruction than the Armenian massacres of 1895-96 and the Cilician Armenian pogroms of 1909 (the latter were also called yeghern in the 1910’s and later), but it soon became the most widely used and heard phrase among all classes of Armenians, even after tseghasbanutiun, the loan translation of “genocide,” was coined in 1945. Although the usage of Medz Yeghern may have quantitatively decreased in books and the media since the late 1980’s to early 1990’s,3 it is still very much alive in many Armenian-language periodicals and books in both Armenia and the diaspora.

Pope John Paul II and ‘Metz Yeghérn’

Long before 1915, the definition of yeghern had shifted to the primary meaning of “crime” or “evil.” A yeghernakordz was defined as a “criminal” (vojrakordz) or “evildoer” (charakordz) who was brought to trial before a yeghernatad adean (“criminal court”), this last word being used only in Western Armenian.

In a book chapter first published in 1986, Rev. Levon Zekiyan (signing as Boghos Levon Zekiyan), a scholar and former member of the Mekhitarist Congregation who remains an Armenian rite priest of the Catholic Church, had sensibly noted when speaking of the “catastrophe of the Metz Yeghern”: “The genocide was consummated by a total uprooting, which the Armenian language simply wants to indicate with a proper name, Aghet (catastrophe) or Yeghern (crime), within the corresponding metaphysical radicality. These nouns are normally accompanied in the common use by the qualifier Metz (great) to simply underscore their wholly singular scope and signification in the history of the Armenian people.”4

Around a decade later, in 1995, the Italian translation of a short book by French-Armenian historian Claude Mutafian appeared under the title Metz Yeghérn: Breve storia del genocidio degli armeni (“Metz Yeghérn: A Short History of the Armenian Genocide”). The phrase was transliterated using Classical/Eastern Armenian phonetics and used as a synonym of genocide. The back cover provided its translation: “Metz Yeghérn, the ‘Great Evil’: That’s how the Armenians remember their holocaust, with a word which means, together, physical and also moral evil that hurts, tortures, kills.”5

In 2000, Pope John Paul II was not “struck with senile dementia”—as the Turkish newspaper Milliyet headlined6—when he issued a joint declaration in English with the Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II during the latter’s visit to the Vatican, and stated: “The Armenian Genocide, which began the century, was a prologue to horrors that would follow.”7 On Sept. 26, 2001, in a short speech given in Yerevan at the Genocide Memorial on the hill of Tzitzernakaberd, the head of the Roman Catholic Church said, “We are appalled by the terrible violence done to the Armenian people, and dismayed that the world still knows such inhumanity,” and read the following prayer in English:

“O Judge of the living and the dead, have mercy on us!
Listen, O Lord, to the lament that rises from this place,
to the call of the dead from the depths of the Metz Yeghérn,
the cry of innocent blood that pleads like the blood of Abel,
like Rachel weeping for her children because they are no more.”

The English version of L’Osservatore Romano, the semi-official newspaper of the Vatican, quoted the prayer and gave the literal translation of Metz Yeghérn for the benefit of its readers: “great crime or great evil.”8 The Pope used the same transliteration found in Mutafian’s book (in its fifth print by 2010), which contained a postface by Rev. Zekiyan.

But it is here where the comedy of errors begins. The BBC rushed to report the same day of the prayer that, “The Pope has skirted controversy [with Turkey] on his visit to Armenia by avoiding the word ‘genocide’ in his prayers for those who died at the hands of Ottoman Turks… His use of the Armenian term, ‘Metz Yeghern,’ which means great calamity, to refer to the murders staved off the potential diplomatic storm which the word ‘genocide’ might have provoked from Turkey.” Its analyst Felix Corley repeated the equation “Metz Yeghern = big calamity,” and stated that it is “the term the Armenians have used which has the same resonance as ‘Shoah’ does for Jews.”9

The next day, a correspondent for the The New York Times reported: “In the end, the pope said nothing to whitewash the issue. … But in his remarks, in English, he used not the word ‘genocide’ but the Armenian term ‘metz yeghern.’ This signifies genocide to people here, but translates literally as ‘the big calamity.’ … Later in the day, Turkish officials said they were satisfied, in part because the word ‘Turk’ had not been mentioned, either. … Armenians had no complaints, either. At an ecumenical service tonight, Catholicos Karekin II, the Armenian Apostolic Church’s supreme patriarch, used the same term the pope had, ‘metz yeghern,’ in an address in Armenian, though the remarks distributed in English did translate the phrase as ‘genocide.’”10

But on the same day, The Guardian published an article that showed more of an understanding of the Armenian phrase: “The entire prayer was in English except for metz yeghern, which means great crime or great evil in Armenian. … For more than 75 years the Armenians have used metz yeghern to refer to what they say was genocide, a word coined during the second world war in response to the Holocaust. Some dictionaries say that over the years yeghern has come to mean genocide.”11 It was echoed in a dictionary of political and economic terms of Eastern Europe published in 2002: “Armenia, as an independent State since 1991, has lobbied persistently for ‘the Armenian genocide’ (Armenians use the term ‘metz yeghern, meaning great crime or great evil) to become an internationally accepted part of the historical record.”12

That same day, on Sept. 27, the Pope signed another joint declaration with the Catholicos of All Armenians that addressed “the extermination of a million and a half Armenian Christians, in what is generally referred to as the first genocide of the Twentieth Century.”13 His signature beneath the word “genocide” for the second time in less than a year was further proof of his full endorsement of the content and wording of the speech. The BBC failed to report it, while The New York Times did not consider it suited for all the news that’s fit to print.

The Armenian National Committee of America had taken note of the joint declaration and its use of the word “genocide,” and did not take offense to the Pope’s use of Medz Yeghern. Their press release that day was entitled, “Pope Condemns Armenian Genocide; Rejects Turkish Government Pressure,” and stated, “In a short speech at the Genocide Memorial the Pope noted that ‘The horrible violence that was brought onto the Armenians, repels us,’ and later referred to the Armenian Genocide, in Armenian, as the Medz Yeghern.”14

Ironically, selective reporting of the Pope’s actions became a memory for Armenian-American journalists. In 2009, Harout Sassounian, the publisher and editor of California Courier, and Edmond Y. Azadian, a permanent columnist of the The Armenian Mirror-Spectator, would cite the BBC to support their contention that the Pope had skirted the issue.15 Khatchig Mouradian, the editor of The Armenian Weekly, would declare that Medz Yeghern had become “‘a four-letter word’ once Pope John Paul II and President Barack Obama began using it in order to avoid saying ‘genocide.’”16 Completely omitted was the fact that the Pope had used Karekin II’s same word (officially translated as “genocide”), and had backed it one day later with their joint declaration, even though Turkey had protested its use in 2000 and “the Turks had asked that he avoided using that word [in Armenia].”17

George W. Bush and ‘Great Calamity’

The source for the semantic guesses of the BBC and the New York Times remains unclear. The latter may have inspired some White House speechwriter hungry for ideas, for the translation made its way into the following sentence from President George W. Bush’s April 24, 2003 address: “Many Armenians refer to these appalling events as the ‘great calamity.’” His statement in April 2005 again tiptoed around the word “genocide” with the following line: “This terrible event is what many Armenian people have come to call the ‘Great Calamity’…”18

These exercises in rhetoric were not lost on Armenian commentators such as Sassounian, who in 2003 remarked: “Here is a sample of the verbal gymnastics that the president engaged in this year: ‘horrible tragedy,’ ‘mass killings,’ ‘forced exile,’ ‘appalling events,’ ‘great calamity,’ ‘the suffering that befell Armenians in 1915,’ ‘a tragedy for all humanity,’ and ‘horrendous loss of life.’” Bush’s 2005 statement prompted Sassounian to write the following: “Once again, the president’s handlers have put in his statement just about every euphemism in the English language to avoid saying genocide, such as forced exile, mass killings, terrible event, Great Calamity, horrible loss of life, human tragedy, and suffering.”19

Former U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Marie Yovanovitch unveiled the mystery of the Armenian source for “Great Calamity” on June 19, 2008, in response to questions from Obama, then a junior Senator from Illinois, during her Senate confirmation hearing:

Obama: “How do you characterize the events surrounding the Armenian Genocide?”

Yovanovitch: “…The United States recognizes these events as one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century, the Medz Yeghern, or Great Calamity, as many Armenians refer to it.”

Obama: “If confirmed, what actions will you take to remember the victims of the Armenian genocide?”

Yovanovitch: “If confirmed, I will continue the tradition of participating in the official memorial event held in Yerevan every April. I will refer to this great historic catastrophe as the Medz Yeghern, the term often used within Armenia to refer to that dark chapter of history.”20

Yovanovitch, currently deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Eurasian and European Affairs at the State Department, had conveniently forgotten half of the story: The term is often used within (and outside) Armenia as a synonym of the word genocide to refer to that dark chapter of history. Among many examples, the detailed entry of Medz Yeghern in the authoritative Encyclopedia of the Armenian Question, published by the Haykakan Hanragitaran (Armenian Encyclopedia) in 1996, begins: “Medz Yeghern: The massive deportation and annihilation of the Armenian population of Western Armenia, Cilicia, and the other provinces of the Ottoman Empire, executed by the governing circles of Turkey during the First World War of 1914-18. The Turkish policy of genocide [tseghasbanutiun] of the Armenians was conditioned by a series of factors, of which the ideology of pan-Islamism and pan-Turkism, carried by the governing circles of the Ottoman Empire since the mid-19th century, had premiere significance.”21

To conclude this introduction of our investigation, we may thus state that:

1) Pope John Paul II, the first non-Armenian dignitary who used the phrase Medz Yeghern, was inspired by an Armenian source and consistently used both Medz Yeghern and “genocide” one after the other in 2001. Medz Yeghern, as stated by the Vatican semi-official newspaper, meant “great crime” or “great evil,” and not “big” or “great calamity,” as some international media misleadingly suggested. Armenian commentators believe that the Pope avoided condemning the genocide.

2) President George W. Bush picked “great calamity” and used it twice in his addresses on April 24. As his appointee Ambassador Yovanovitch later showed, the source of that expression, ascribed to “many Armenians,” was Medz Yeghern. The Armenian media never challenged the translation while criticizing Bush’s “verbal gymnastics.”

 

Notes

[1] Armenian words will be transliterated throughout this series on the basis of Western Armenian phonetic values, except in the case of quotations and bibliographical references in the footnotes.

2 The Independent, April 28, 2009.

3 Khatchig Mouradian, “From Yeghern to Genocide: Armenian Newspapers, Raphael Lemkin, and the Road to the UN Genocide Convention,” Haigazian Armenological Review, vol. 29, 2009, p. 129.

4 Boghos Levon Zekiyan, L’Armenia e gli armeni. Polis lacerata e patria spirituale: la sfida di una sopravvivenza, Milan: Guerini e Associati, 2001, p. 35.

5 Claude Mutafian, Metz Yeghérn. Breve storia del genocidio degli armeni, translated by Antonia Arslan, Milan: Guerini e Associati, 1995, back cover. The phrase did not appear in the text; the French original had been published as Un aperçu sur le génocide des Arméniens (Paris, 1995).

6 Quoted in Robert Fisk, The Great War for Civilization: The Conquest of the Middle East, New York: Random House, 2005, p. 543.

7 See http://press.catholica.va/news_services/bulletin/news/7981.php?index=7981&po_date=10.11.2000&lang=ge

8 L’Osservatore Romano, English version, Oct. 3, 2001.

9 “Pope Avoids Armenia Controversy,” www.news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/1564257.stm; Felix Corley, “Analysis: Pope Treads Cautiously in Armenia,” www.news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/1564927.stm.

10 The New York Times, Sept. 27, 2001.

11 The Guardian, Sept. 27, 2001.

12 Alan John Day, Roger East, Richard Thomas, A Political and Economic Dictionary of Eastern Europe, Cambridge: Cambridge International Reference on Current Affairs, 2002, p. 26.

13 See www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/speeches/2001/september/documents/hf_jp-ii_spe_20010927_decl-jp-ii-karekin-ii_en.html.

14 See www.anca.org/press_releases/press_releases_print.php?prid=109.

15 Harut Sassounian, The Huffington Post, April 28, 2009; Edmond Azadian, The Armenian Mirror-Spectator, June 13, 2009.

16 The Armenian Mirror-Spectator, Oct. 27, 2011.

17 The New York Times, Sept. 27, 2001.

[1]8 See www.anca.org/genocide/bush.php.

19 California Courier, May 1, 2003; California Courier, April 28, 2005.

20 Asbarez, July 11, 2008.

21 Haykakan Harts Hanragitaran (Encyclopedia of the Armenian Question), Yerevan: Haykakan Hanragitaran, 1996, p. 303.

34 Comments on The Birth of ‘Great Calamity’: How ‘Medz Yeghern’ Was Introduced onto the World Stage

  1. the same George Bush who stood on the Whoite House lawn begging Congress not to pass the Armenian Genocide resolution?

  2. avatar John Kevranian // October 25, 2012 at 11:50 am // Reply

    The Webster dictionary does not have the words ‘Medz Yeghern’ in the dictionary. If the President is going to use these words to describe the Genocide, the dictionary should include the word so Americans and everyone in the world can define the words ‘Medz Yeghern’.

  3. I have often said that the reason the words “so called” or “alleged” or “Armenians claim” still appear next to the words “Armenian Genocide” has nothing to do with crude Turkish propaganda, but everything to do with inept Armenian propagandists. This article is another example that proves I am right.

    Those survivors knew what was meant by “Medz Yeghern” – they did not abuse the memories of the unspeakable horrors of their experiences by reducing them to a bland phrase like “great crime”. They knew it was more than that, that it was something outside a mere “crime”. “Crime” is a banal, emotionless, earth-bound, society-based, concept. (One society’s “crime” is anothers “public duty” – remember that the Young Turks made it a “crime” to protect Armenians from massacre, remember the thousands of innocent Soviet-era Armenians denounced and sent to their deaths for their “crimes”.) “Great Calamity” is an accurate translation of what “Medz Yeghern” means. The false “Great Crime” translation is a recent invention of Armenian propagandists who are trying to alter Armenian history for modern political reasons. They are no better than their falsifying Turkish counterparts and their propaganda should be opposed to the same degree as the propaganda produced by the Turkish state is opposed.

    • avatar Vartan Matiossian // October 26, 2012 at 9:49 pm //

      If you are one of those survivors or a descendant of those survivors (as I am), you may be entitled to say that you know what “those survivors knew.” If not, you are only speaking from your own subjective viewpoint and without knowledge of cause.
      If you have ever opened a dictionary and, better, have you read a dozen texts written by the survivors in their original Armenian, then you’re entitled to say that they didn’t reduce it to a bland phrase like “great crime.” If not, then you will see enough proof to understand–if you are willing to– that there is no “invention of Armenian propagandists” whatsoever.

  4. avatar Vartan Matiossian // October 25, 2012 at 9:43 pm // Reply

    Indeed, John. For the time being, a few scholars and works of reference have started to use those words –even with wrong translation–. But, first of all, we need to learn ourselves the actual definition. This is why I wrote this series of articles, after waiting in vain four years for someone to set the record straight ….

    • You want to “set the record staight” by obliterating 90 years of correct usage, including the usage by those that suffered the events? I think that the shallowness of your aims (political point scoring) matches the utter shallowness of this incorrect “great crime” translation. I fail to see why we should care what corrupt politicians or the leaders of the believers in invisible pink unicorns have to say about the Armenian Genocide. However, if you care that much about what they say, then argue for them to openly use the word “genocide” rather than attempt this convoluted way to turn their cowardly and insulting use of “Medz Yeghern” into something they did not say.

  5. avatar edmond y. azadian // October 25, 2012 at 10:37 pm // Reply

    a very comprehensive and objective study by mr. matiosian. however the study which tries to undermine harout sassounian’s and my qulifying as squirting the word genocide by pope john paul II needs further clarification before dimissing as wrong.the two instences where the pope has signed under a document where the word genocide is used are joint declarations giving credence to the fact that they may have been fed by the cosigner, but when left alone the Pope has used the term medz yeghern. it would have been more consistent if the pope had used the same term in his prayer at tzitzernakapert.It is no clearcut conclusion. his avoidence in using the genocide word along sparing the words turk or ottoman imply some political thinking which the pope was great on

    • avatar Vartan Matiossian // October 26, 2012 at 9:56 pm //

      Thank you, Mr. Azadian. Of course, I didn’t try to “undermine” your qualifier; it was just one of the conclusions to which I arrived after presenting enough evidence–combined with the documents– to show that the Pope seemed to have used the word “Medz Yeghern” with the meaning “genocide.” If the word “genocide” was fed by the cosigner, as you say, I’m sure that I don’t need to remind you that, when you put your signature along someone else, you become responsible for what you signed, and you can’t say otherwise.

  6. Unfortunately often is repeated the wrong meaning, confusing “yeghel / yeghelutyun – Եղելութիւն” (event, fact) or “Yegher – Եղեր ” (drama, mourning) with the correct term “yeghern – Եղեռն” (crime) to refer to the term genocide.

  7. Words words words… As commented above, the descendants of Armenian survivors (and plenty of us ‘gavours’ as well) know what happened. Somehow it’s not the same if you don’t use the G-word. I submit that ‘Medz Yeghern’ will be equivalent to “Armenian Genocide” when the Turkish politicians howl and condemn the use of the term. When the opposition goes ballistic, you know you’ve done something right.

  8. To Ari Armen: I think you put your finger on why so many people are confused about the meaning of “yeghern”. I knew there was a problem but
    could not explain it as well as you do. Thank you. It is good that Dr. Matiossian has opened up this topic.

  9. At least as head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II was able to go in and recognize the Armenian Genocide for what it was — the first organized genocide of the 20th century. The Young Turks organized it at a party meeting in Salonika in 1911. That meeting was infiltrated by spies from Russia, Germany, France, Austria-Hungary, and Great Britain. It got to White Hall — Great Britain’s Foreign Ministry — where Arnold Toynbee meticulously wrote up the massacres of 1894 to 1896, and the massacre of 1909. As well as the Armenian Genocide of 1915 to 1922.

  10. I resent words like “befell” as used in this article, as well as its synonym “happened” when speaking about the Armenian Genocide. These words have an underlying reference to “chance” or “fate” or “happenstance.” Genocide did not happen to us. It was done to us. The word “done” denotes action. It is an active verb. It tells you that someone did something. Words like “befell” and “happened” are nebulous. Please let us not say “what happened, or befell, in 1915.” Whenever possible, let us use the word genocide when we speak of what was done to us in 1915.

    • well said Perouz.

    • avatar Vartan Matiossian // October 28, 2012 at 4:32 am //

      Words matter, but we don’t need to stretch them until making them unrecognizable. If you had read my sentence with care, you would haven’t found anything to resent. I didn’t say that the “genocide happened to us” or the “genocide befell us.” I used the verb “befall” to make an objective statement: “identify what befell the Armenian nation in 1915.” Period.

  11. avatar Sylva-MD-Poetry // October 27, 2012 at 3:43 am // Reply

    ‘‘Medz Yeghern’’*
    Shan’’t Be Uttered by Others
    Hence ‘‘Genocide’’ and Further Forth

    ““Every Language has a soul
    Every language has its own roar
    Exhales inside its cavernous’’ core
    Can you learn languages all!
    Each language vibrates a soul.””**

    Sylva-MD-Poetry

    President O.B, should not use a phrase he can’’t understand,
    He is a poet, judge, lawyer, he must be criticized.

    Medz Yeghern for us are two horrible words
    Not every one can realize
    Something more than calamity . . .
    Massacres . . . Tragedy . . . Disaster . . . or even Genocide
    Which sounds still little!
    ‘‘A Killing Plague’’

    Deep painfulness can create endless anguish phrases lexicons
    Not felt with everyone yet to be invented . . .
    Affected and still affecting Lives of our cohorts
    Like the end of the world

    Hence . . .
    Translation has no meaning at all Maybe for others,
    Thus never for us.
    The word ‘‘calamity’’ seems an ant
    Facing a starving tiger . . . lion
    A phrase can’’t heed torments.

    Can any human being translate
    What’’s in their deep, scorned-mind
    How much they love their mothers . . . yv
    Their lost motherland!

    So please Dr. President
    Calm your bemused sense
    Don’’t behave tenaciously
    Don’’t sell your philosophy
    On the graves of seared lives
    Don’’t please your and our enemies
    Don’’t pretend to be deaf to what’’ is really bleeding
    Under the rain . . . on the streets sunken in mud.
    To run your shiny-wheeled political cart . . . !
    Don’’t enunciate a phrase.
    You did with your tongue
    So . . . can never pronounce through your chest
    As you never walked with hungry bare injured soles,

    Did the criminal gendarmes’’ assaults,
    They enjoyed smashing humans’’ vital organs,
    Drive you to an unknown destiny
    Near red-rivers filled with bones,
    To see smashed innocent faces from your blood with
    Crushed lacrimating eyes outside prayers’’ skulls.
    Tell me, ““How can you feel the pain
    Of something you never have faced or felt!”” How can you utter
    That horrible phrase!

    Please O.B. understand that,
    ‘‘We Love You’’——
    ‘‘Ge sirenk kez’’——©——‘‘Kez ge sirenk’’
    We are not here to insult someone
    Who made us promises and said that was
    ‘‘A Real Genocide’’;
    Don’’t act like a lover who changed his promise
    Because of another who betrays and fires fears.

    Your promise stagnated in our hearts.
    We heartlessly weep . . .
    We can only say,
    ““Also You . . . The Son of Darling . . .
    Sweet . . . Senseful Stanley-Ann,
    Betrayed Us . . .
    Why!””

    Each time we hear Medz Yeghern
    We can witness a pointed, poisoned
    Turkish scimitars
    Entering our already injured heart-valves.
    Tearing our creed.

    Regretful that we possess
    So naïve a soulful-faith!
    Not every race could sincerely grace . . . !
    June 19, 2010
    __________________

    * Medz Yeghern: Armenian phrase used by President Barrak Obama on the Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day on April 24, 2010 instead of using the word Genocide he used word ‘‘calamity’’ just after four months from inauguration day on April 24, 2009, But he had clearly said the word Genocide before inauguration!
    Obama meant to please the second generation of the new-Ottomans in spite of 44 out of 50 American States recognizing the Armenian genocide.

    Ref:
    “My Son-My Sun: Chants Ann,Obamas Mother” (June 2011) p.151
    The book already forwarded to p.Obama and his wife …I did not hear rom them yet.

  12. avatar sylva-MD- Poetry // October 27, 2012 at 6:13 am // Reply

    Dr. O.B… (Barak Obama):
    When You’ll Pronounce Genocide…?
    After you leave the White House…!

    The Word ‘genocide’ will be your
    ‘Sequel to Triumph’
    You will never reach without it
    Nobel Prize is not a triumph…
    Although you heartily deserve it…
    To promote Health Care for your Nation.

    Things are changed
    Nobel turned Business and Industry
    Those days the criminals can get…
    Miss Karman got it…

    Mrs. Tawakkul Karman The Turkish and Never Arab Yemeni and Her Nobel Prize for Peace

    Karman reached to Her Roots to say,
    I am Turkish and Never Arab Yemeni
    She said, “For me, Turkish citizenship is more important than the Nobel, October 24, 2012”
    She announced proudly…Without any shame…
    I wish Mr. Alfred Nobel heard…what she said…

    Is Nobel Prize more important than any Nationality…?
    Nationalities can change…
    Turkish Nationality was named Ottoman… before Ward War I
    My grandparents they had one…Before they were slayed by Turkish scimitars
    But Nobel breathes since 1901 with pride…with dignity…

    Knowing that Mrs. Karman’s origin was from the Central Anatolian province of Karman,
    She was thought at home that she was Turkish and never a real Arab
    But she got Nobel because she was Yemeni Arab…
    How about our Origin…Was there city Karman before 11th century…?
    There were Armenian High lands…City Ani
    With its one thousand Churches with its civilization…
    Still the ruins you can see in the every site…even in the iPods too mini

    Her ancestors are invaders and killers…
    How they arrived to Yemen…?
    And took Yemeni’s Coffee calling it Turkish…
    The Turkish soldiers entered Yemen and killed 30,000 Yemeni
    then Yemenis revenged by killing 10 times more…300,000 Ottomans…
    Called them ‘The Sons of B****…’
    She is decendent from the soldiers who is searching for gold in Yemen…

    Why an Armenian can’t get Noble Price…
    How many our girls were raped and slayed…
    Prayed to god before they were killed …thrown then selves in rivers…
    Because of their faith…their genus dignity…
    I say, “Every Armenian girl was Human Activist…”
    Why Nobel group forgets all famous Armenians…
    Who helped and dedicated where they lived …respecting their birth place…
    Read about many Prof. Roger Altounyan…Damadyan and many…many
    Because they are applying their laws…
    Why a Turkish female will get A Noble …And not any Armenian…
    Who is she to get such a prize and deny…with pride…
    You should take that prize from her…
    Let her return to Karman city and save her nations fouls dignity
    No one can compare a respectful Prize with any Noble Nationality…
    Because she was brought up Turkish and never having
    Honest Yemeni proud genes…
    Yemeni’s have more civilization than any nation…every literate knows this…
    What Turkish nation has… Kill and Invade…Rape and confiscate…!!!

    Tawakkol Karman was born 1979 in Mekhlaf, Ta’izz province, Yemen.
    And never seen Karman…She thrived on the best Honey of the world
    Of the Yemen…and Yemeni bread and shared…their brave honest people …
    With water dates every delicious fruits…
    She forgot them all calling her self Turkish of Seljuks …Ottomans…

    This is what she said before
    Speaking before an audience at the University of Michigan, Karman summed up her belief: “I am a citizen of the world. The Earth is my country, and humanity is my nation.”[39] Wikipedia…
    She was a big liar…compare both speech….This and recent one…October 2012
    I looked Karman City does not exist in Wikipedia …May be had an Armenian name before…Can any give me more information…To continue my mission till death…!

    Sylva-MD-Poetry
    Written instantly
    October 27, 2012

  13. The Jewish genocide is recognized as Holocaust not as Shoah. Likewise, the Armenian genocide must be recognized as Genocide not Medz Yeghern. End of story.

    • avatar Vartan Matiossian // October 28, 2012 at 4:35 am //

      Please check and find how the word Shoah is used throughout Europe (and not Holocaust or its equivalent in other European languages), and how the word is being more and more used in America.
      As it was pointed out to me elsewhere, the word Shoah also appears in the Webster dictionary. therefore it is part of the English language.

    • Semantically, the Armenian Genocide has many variations: Medz Yeghern, Medz Aghet, Medz Djart, Medz Spand, etc. But legally, it is the Genocide that must be recognized and acknowledged as such. Cheap attempts to linguistically substitute the term ‘Genocide’ with other annotations that are primarily used within the narrow national context, is a deliberate obstruction for recognition of the crime by those forces who work to avert attention from Holocaust to other—and earlier—genocides that were perpetrated against other peoples, including the Armenians. After the Armenian Genocide is recognized and reparations are made, then it wouldn’t matter much whether it is semantically called Genocide or Medz Yeghern. If whatever forces put the term ‘Medz Yeghern’ into the mouth of the US President, as well as those Armenians who tacitly advance their sinister agendas, so wish to stick to the linguistic analogue of the term ‘genocide’ in the Armenian language, then there is one: ‘tseghaspanutyun’. But I guess this particular term won’t be preferred over ‘Medz Yeghern’ because ‘tseghaspanutyun’ means ‘annihilation of race’, i.e. genocide, not ‘great calamity’ that ‘Medz Yeghern’ means. May it also be recalled that when Raphael Lemkin coined the term ‘genocide’ he based his invention on his extensive research of Armenian and Jewish cases. As a Polish Jew, he certainly knew of the term ‘Shoah’ and might have known—through his research—of the term ‘Medz Yeghern’, but the objective was to create a LEGAL term describing these crimes against humanity for the purpose of including it in the text of the UN document on the prevention of such crimes. In sum, using the term ‘Medz Yeghern’ by such high authorities as the President of the United States or the Catholic Pope is, to me, a diversion from the crime that Armenians demand the world to condemn. Again, the crime is legally called ‘Genocide’.

  14. The translation of Medz Yeghern into English or Latin means
    “Genocide” the word of genocide did not exist at the time of Medz Yeghern, therefore Raphael Lemkin created the word of genocide, after extensive research was done based on Armenian Genocide or Medz Yeghern!!

    Turks will try to use the word of Medz Yeghern in order to get away the consequences of UN recognition of Genocide in 1948!! The correct word of Medze Yeghern does not exist in UN and it’s “correct” translation into English as of today, unless we Armenians push websites or Google sites to translate the word of Medz Yeghern properly, into Latin word as GENOCIDE!!

    • avatar Ari Armen // October 28, 2012 at 9:56 am //

      To “GB”

      That’s right !

      From Wikipedia
      English:The Armenian Genocide[4] (Armenian: Հայոց Ցեղասպանություն, [hɑˈjɔtsʰ tsʰɛʁɑspɑnuˈtʰjun]), also known as the Armenian Holocaust, the Armenian Massacres and, traditionally among Armenians, as the Great Crime (Armenian: Մեծ Եղեռն, [mɛts jɛˈʁɛrn]; English transliteration: Medz Yeghern [Medz/Great + Yeghern/Crime][5][6

      Genocide Remembrance Day (Armenian: Եղեռնի զոհերի հիշատակի օր) or Genocide Memorial day[1],

      Italian:L’espressione Genocidio armeno, talvolta Olocausto degli Armeni[1][2] o Massacro degli Armeni (in lingua armena Հայոց Ցեղասպանութիւն Hayoc’ C’eġaspanowt’yown o Մեծ Եղեռն Medz Yeghern “Grande Crimine”, in turco Ermeni Soykırımı “Genocidio armeno”

      Meds Yeghern is used by Armenians synonymous with Հայոց ցեղասպանություն (Hayoc’ c’eġaspanut’yun, “Genocide of Armenians”) to refer to the Armenian Genocide the way Shoah is used by Jews to refer to the Holocaust.

    • avatar Sylva-MD- Poetry // October 29, 2012 at 9:40 pm //

      Thanks for your suggestion…
      Other world my grandmother use to say,
      “Medz Chart”…
      I call it Killing …Slaying Plague…

  15. avatar Vartan Matiossian // October 28, 2012 at 4:12 am // Reply

    To Steve: You have no idea that “great crime'” is incorrect, except your own subjective iopiinion, and yet you continue repeating the same thing. Please show that you know the “correct usage”‘ with examples öf the use of “Medz Yeghern” by survivors in Armenian that you may definitely translate as “great calamity.” You may say whatever you want about “”crime,” but you can’t argue with facts. By the way, “L’Osservatore Romano” is not an “Armenian propagandist.”

  16. Language is a powerful tool. Let us not help others erode the meaning of what was done to us by using it incorrectly ourselves. Please never refer to the murder of our people by saying that they “perished.” They did not simply “perish.” They were murdered. The use of the word “perish” raises the question of how they perished. A snake bite? Getting lost? Refusing to eat? Tripping and falling down the mountain? Dying of natural causes? My grandmother was repeatedly smashed in the face and pounded on her head with rocks. She was stoned to death. My father witnessed an unborn child cut out of a living womb and impaled on a bayonet. That woman and her child were butchered. There are fields covered with the bodies of our boys and men who were all axed to death, their heads split open, their brains spilled on the ground. Women and children were doused with gasoline and torched. They were burned to death. Thousands of little children and their mothers pleaded for food and water until they could plead no more and they starved to death. Women were raped and then shot in the head, their bodies discarded like used paper cups. Our people were murdered, butchered, stoned, shot, axed, burned, and starved: they did not simply “perish” during the Armenian Genocide. It is also not appropriate to say that “they did not survive.” This is also weak terminology. It raises the same questions that “perish” raises. If you do not know the method used, simply use the word “murder.” We are all aware that this word refers to an illegal, immoral, act of violence. It better describes what was done to us during the Armenian Genocide.
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

  17. Vartan; Your comment: “I used the verb “befall” to make an objective statement: “identify what befell the Armenian nation in 1915. Period.”

    Sorry, Vartan; I disagree with you. Genocide is not something that “befell” the Armenian nation. Genocide is what was done to the Armenian nation.
    We need to speak in more decisive terms. Webster defines it as being “To happen, esp. by chance.”
    Genocide is not “by chance.”

  18. Gourgen, we need to recognize one fact: The President of the United States using the word genocide does not automatically bring into existence the legal proceedings or obligations associated with the genocides recognized since the Genocide Convention took effect, let alone the reparations you mention. These would take more than a word from our president. His use of the word would have a primarily moral and historical meaning and send a message to the world that the United States, based on its own extensive diplomatic record, recognizes and laments the genocide committed against the Armenian people by the Ottoman government. That would be a lot. But we should not, in our passion to have the president utter that word, lapse into saying that ‘yeghern’ means ‘calamity’ when it does not. It means ‘crime’, just as ‘vojir’ does. Denying that is part and parcel of denialism.

    • All the more so, Diran. If using the proper term ‘genocide’ by the President of the United States doesn’t automatically bring into existence the legal proceedings or obligations associated with genocides and/or reparations, then it is mandatory for him to keep his word and call a spade a spade, and not engage in linguistic gymnastics with annotations that are used in a narrow national context. Again, if he so wished to use an Armenian analogue for the term ‘genocide’, then there’s one readily available for him: ‘tseghaspanutyun’, annihilation of race. Using the term ‘Medz Yeghern’ by the President of the United States is precarious for Armenians, because it sets precedent for the gradual substitution of the term ‘genocide’ with ‘great calamity’ or ‘great crime’. There’s no international law for the prevention of ‘great crimes’; there’s one for the prevention of ‘genocides’. And the Armenian case was one of two or three cases that were researched by Lemkin to coin the legal term for the UN, the ‘genocide’, i.e. ‘killing of a race’. Again, if the use of the word ‘genocide’ would have a primarily moral and historical meaning, then why substitute it with ‘Medz Yeghern’ that bears a different meaning?

  19. Gourgen, When you use the expression ‘narrow national context’ I think you are simply calling attention to the fact that the president did not use the English word he promised to use. That being obvious, would you really be satisfied if he actually placed ‘tseghaspanutyun’ in his statement, an even longer and less pronounceable term? I would not. It is not his professional duty to speak in tongues and use terms that his target audience does not understand. It would certainly take a whole lot of cumbersome annotations to explain ‘tseghaspanutyun” to the American people and the world (if anyone was listening at that point), and it still would not fulfill his promise, which was to use the well-known English word. If you spent more time defending the true meaning of ‘yeghern’ instead of repeatedly trying to bring ‘calamity’ into the picture, you would do more to advance the cause of truth pertaining to the Armenian Genocide than you do with your insistence on ‘tseghaspanutyun’, because the literal meaning of Medz Yeghern being Great Crime is the basis on which it is accepted by most Armenians as a synonym for the Armenian Genocide, similar to the way in which Shoah is a synonym for the Holocaust. You refer to Lemkin’s research on the Armenian Genocide. If he looked deeply enough, he surely would have become aware of the term Medz Yeghern as used by the leading Armenian spokesmen of the time, a term that means Great Crime, a perfect basis on which to build his eventual concept.
    Let’s not sell it short.

    • Diran, when I use the expression ‘narrow national context’ I call attention to the fact that, while in the Armenian national psyche ‘Medz Yeghern’ bears the same meaning as ‘tseghaspanutyun’, when translated into English for non-Armenians it denotes something different than genocide. Imagine: if an American citizen was listening to the president’s proclamation or a researcher was doing a research of Obama years or a biographer was compiling material about the president, he or she could have called the White House requesting explanation of ‘Medz Yeghern’. And the explanation he or she would be given, I assume, might have been as follows: ‘Well, this is how the Armenians call the tragedy of 1915: the Great Crime’. A citizen, a researcher, or a biographer would have then registered in his or her mind: a great crime was committed in 1915 against the Armenians. Genocide, thus, is nowhere to be seen or presumed!

      You write: “It is not his professional duty to speak in tongues and use terms that his target audience does not understand.” Exactly. Then why use any such terms instead of the English word ‘genocide’ if, as you believe, using it doesn’t automatically bring into existence the legal proceedings associated with the genocides? If for the matters of political expediency the president used a term that his target audience didn’t understand, then why not use ‘tseghaspanutyun’ instead of ‘Medz Yeghern’? His target audience wouldn’t understand ‘tseghaspanutyun’ either, would it? I think we know why. Because if a concerned citizen or a researcher or a biographer would call the White House for explanations for ‘tseghaspanutyun’, the term would be translated to them as ‘genocide’: killing of race. Longer and less pronounceable term ‘tseghaspanutyun’, I’m sure, had nothing to do with the selection of ‘Medz Yeghern’. Its political connotation had.

      You write: “If you spent more time defending the true meaning of ‘yeghern’ instead of trying to bring ‘calamity’ into the picture, you would do more to advance the cause of truth pertaining to the Armenian Genocide than you do with your insistence on ‘tseghaspanutyun’, because the literal meaning of Medz Yeghern being Great Crime is the basis on which it is accepted by most Armenians as a synonym for the Armenian Genocide, similar to the way in which Shoah is a synonym for the Holocaust.”

      Again, in the narrow national context, yes. But this is the President of the United States, not the President of Armenia or Artsakh. Even the President of Armenia uses ‘tseghaspanutyun’ more frequently and less so ‘Medz Yeghern’, as far as I can see. If the President of Armenia in one or all of his speeches would use ‘Medz Yeghern’, Armenians would understand what he means because both the president and the populace are segments on one nation, one history, one genetic pool, one national destiny, essentially one mentality. But if a high-ranking foreigner uses ‘Medz Yeghern’ knowing that each word of the President of the United States is heard in virtually all corners of the world, the term can do more harm to the Armenian cause, because all those who listened to him at that point, could have made an inquiry, if interested, and learn that ‘Medz Yeghern’ means Great Crime. What crime, where, when, committed by whom, and whether or not legally punishable – hardly would anyone dig deeper than a mere inquiry. On the contrast, if ‘tseghaspanutyun’ were used and translated to the inquirers as ‘genocide’, it would do more to advance the cause of truth pertaining to our cause.

      Yes, ‘Medz Yeghern’ might have been a perfect basis for Lemkin on which he built his eventual concept. But only a basis. ‘Medz Yeghern’ or the ‘Shoah’ for that matter, were not sufficiently descriptive terms for the crimes committed by the Turks and the Germans. Nor could these narrow national terms denoting Great Crime and Catastrophe, respectively, be included as such in an international document. For that reason, a more distinct and all-inclusive term was invented, most importantly a LEGAL term. It is the legal implication of the term that’s more important for advancing the cause, then its national one.

      Our English-speaking President promised to recognize the genocide not Medz Yeghern. End of story. How come while being the Senator he used the English term for genocide but when president, the Armenian term for great crime?

  20. avatar gaytzag palandjian // November 4, 2012 at 12:05 pm // Reply

    Sylva MD,
    You wrote best and also hit where you should…*hasgcoghin parev…OB etc.,
    Another above -a rather contemporary person that can match up with the cunning Turk,also wrote well that the IInd P J. was also intentioanlly dubbing it so…Medz Yeghern. Not to get entangled up with |World dirty diplomacy…..
    It has been all put together-PRIOR TO Lemkin’s coining the word GENOCIDE.
    We should stick to latter to best make the world public aware of what happened to our ancestors.
    let’s forge ahead with GENOCIDE RECOGNITION AND REPARATIONS!!!!!!
    We certainly deserve the latter.My version shall always be BLOOD MONEY ,first.Land issue…it can wait ,till the Kurdish issue ripens up…
    We are an overpatient people …let them exhaust what they still have in their vocabularies and diplomacy to try and evade the TRUTH.The cannot!!!!period.

  21. Gourgen, I appreciate the thoughtfulness and clarity of your reply. I agree with much of what you say. My main concern is that it be well understood that the literal meaning of Medz Yeghern is great crime, not great calamity. In your latest post you recognize that, something that I welcome, because crime and calamity belong to radically different categories of meaning and cannot be used side by side to explain the meaning of yeghern. To do so is to engage, consciously or unconsciously, in an act of denialism.

    The Turkish denialist propaganda mill has seized on the concept of ‘great calamity’ as a golden opportunity to finally close the books on the Armenian Genocide in 2015, terming what happened a mutual “Anatolian tragedy”, not a genocide, in the hope of putting the last flourish on its falsification of Armenian history. You may be unaware of it, but the Turkish press has been filled with columns steadily promoting this phony definition for several years now.That is why I said you should support its true meaning. Supporting its true meaning is also important for history: it recognizes and honors the principal name the immediate survivors chose for what had just happened to them and which they then bequeathed to their descendants as a direct expression of their experience. No legitimate history of the period can be written which does not take this into account or covers it up.

    You say “Our English speaking president promised to recognize the genocide not Medz Yeghern. End of story.” But also, our English speaking president promised to use the word genocide, not “tseghaspantyun”. Your scenario of people calling the White House to find out what the strange 5 syllable word means is highly implausible and does not make a good case for its advantages over Medz Yeghern. As I said, and I know we agree, the best thing for the president to do is to use the word genocide as he promised to do.

    Another question you might want to ask pertains to the following excerpt from the president’s 2012 statement in which I have inserted your suggested “Tseghasbanutyun”, just to see how it would look.

    “Today, we commemorate the Tseghasbanutyun, one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century. In doing so, we honor the memory of the 1.5 million Armenians who were brutally massacred or marched to their deaths in the waning days of the Ottoman Empire.”

    Should he say, HAYOTZ Tseghasbanutyun or “the Armenian Tseghasbanutyun, or just Tseghasbanutyun? (Any of this would obviously call for even more explanations). I’m afraid that the eyes of most citizens would simply glaze over at the sight of such a term, and I’m not at all sure how many would have their curiosity piqued enough to make any sort of inquiry on the matter to get the answer you think is inevitable and will finally put an end to confusion.

    On sum, I think the advantages you see in the use “tseghasbanutyun” in comparison with “Medz Yeghern” are slight if not negligible. At this point, despite all the controversy over it, the term “Medz Yeghern” has far more”brand recognition”. Maybe we can do something with it. . . .

  22. Gourgen, I wanted to address your following comments more specifically:

    1.”When I use the expression ‘narrow national context’ I call attention to the fact that, while in the Armenian national psyche ‘Medz Yeghern’ bears the same meaning as ‘tseghaspanutyun’, when translated into English for non-Armenians it denotes something different than genocide.”

    My response: You are absolutely right in the first clause, but there is no automatic reason that Medz Yeghern loses its Armenian meaning when translated into English for non-Armenians. That is the result of a well cultivated campaign in the Turkish press and elsewhere to misrepresent its true meaning (as I referred to in my previous post). We should call that effort for what it is and stand up for the true meaning, not abandon the effort and add on several syllables.
    I, myself, think it is perfectly suitable to say to the English-speaking world: The Armenians call their genocide the Great Crime. It averts the
    troublesome issue of pronunciation. Many Armenians have already used this term.

    2. Imagine: if an American citizen was listening to the president’s proclamation or a researcher was doing a research of Obama years or a biographer was compiling material about the president, he or she could have called the White House requesting explanation of ‘Medz Yeghern’. And the explanation he or she would be given, I assume, might have been as follows: ‘Well, this is how the Armenians call the tragedy of 1915: the Great Crime’. A citizen, a researcher, or a biographer would have then registered in his or her mind: a great crime was committed in 1915 against the Armenians. Genocide, thus, is nowhere to be seen or presumed!

    My response: After you, I, and countless other Armenians had made it clear that Medz Yeghern=Great Crime=the Armenian Genocide, I don’t think any presidential historian would have any trouble realizing that addressing 1915 was addressing the Armenian Genocide. They don’t live in a vacuum.

  23. avatar Sylva-MD-Poetry // November 11, 2012 at 7:36 am // Reply

    Armenians in Bangladesh…since 17 century…No one abolished their Church…Aren’t they muslims …!!! I never knew about it just i looked by Chance

    The Armenian community of Dhaka played a significant role in Bengali trade and commerce in the 17th and 18th centuries. In the early part of 18th Century, Armenians settled in Dhaka, then one of the commercial centres in Bengal. They initially built a chapel and cemetery at Tejgagon, five miles from Dhaka. The oldest tombstone is “Avetis” an Armenian merchant who died on 15 August 1714. Apart from Dhaka there was a significant Armenian presence in Saidabad (a suburb of the capital Murshidabad), Hoogli, Kolkata, Chinsura, Patna and Kasimbazar. A neighborhood in Dhaka, Armanitola, bears their name; there is the Church of the Holy Resurrection and the cemetery established by the community in 1781 standing as major landmarks.[2][3] Their assertive presence, however, began to decline from the beginning of British rule. Michael Joseph Martin (Mikel Housep Martirossian) is reported to have been the last Armenian in Dhaka.[4] Wikipedia just today

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