Response to Boyajian Letter on Djerejian Lecture

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response David Boyajian’s letter published in the Armenian Weekly on Sept. 27, 2012 regarding Ambassador Djerejian’s upcoming presentation at the human rights lecture endowed by my husband and myself and in conjunction with the Armenian Heritage Park.

It is unfortunate that Mr. Boyajian, who had already voiced his opinions to me and my committee regarding the selection of Ambassador Edward Djerejian for this year’s speaker, has chosen to go public with his ill-founded criticism before the lecture. He might have withheld his judgment until after he heard what the ambassador had to say. Boyajian’s use of inflammatory language, out of context, pronouncing the ambassador guilty by association, and more importantly guilty for not publicly doing things Boyajian’s way, draws the line between those of who would be diplomats and those who are not.

Given the recent tragic events in Libya, we have come to more fully appreciate the difficulties our ambassadors have always faced. I for one join our committee, and I hope with the entire Armenian community, to welcome a man who has served our nation in difficult posts, has upheld his personal honor and our county’s honor, and share the respect we feel for him as an Armenian-American.

Our committee’s invitations come after hours of meetings, discussions, and vetting potential speakers—including by our co-sponsors.  Controversy has come in the past, and will no doubt with each year’s choice for speaker and even our topics. It is impossible for people at this level of accomplishment to please everyone—nor should they. It is exactly why it is so important to hear them speak whether we think we agree with them or not.

We are honored that Ambassador Djerejian has taken the time out of his very busy schedule which takes him around the world to be our speaker.

Carolann S. Najarian, M.D.
The K.George and Carolann S. Najarian, M.D. Endowed Lecture on Human Rights in conjunction with the Armenian Heritage Park

 

 

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38 Comments

  1. OK, he had a difficult job, and is diplomatic. What exatly does that have to do with human rights?

    From Boyadjian letter it’s apparent that the man doesn’t enjoy all that high of a respect as Armenian-American either. So again, why exactly was he chosen, and how bad of a list did you have to vet through?

    By the way, another diplomat and Ambassador, John Evans, did acknowledge the Armenian Genocide to the detriment of his career. So contrary to what your resonse might imply, one’s diplomatic and career pursuits do not have to come at the expence of one’s soul, which certainly seems to be the case with Ambassador Djerejian.

    And in refuting Boiadjian’s arguments, you could have at least brought a few of your own (or committee’s) of why Djerejian is an appropriate choice, other than the generic rubric of him being a former Ambassador.

  2. Ms. Najarian, M.D.:

    You response fails to adequately address the criticisms lodged by Mr. Boyajian. On the contrary, by inference, your article appears to confirm the claims of Mr. Boyajian: instead of specifically refuting the allegations, you are creating a distraction by bringing up completely unrelated items, such as “….we have come to more fully appreciate the difficulties our ambassadors have always faced”.

    I am a member of the Armenian-American community.
    I am a patriotic American.
    Please try to convince this one member to give the benefit of the doubt to Amb. Djerejian by directly answering these two questions:

    Does Mr. Boyajian speak the truth in the paragraph that starts “In a depressing political presentation to Armenian Americans in Texas in 2011, ….”
    Yes or No ?

    Does Mr. Boyajian speak the truth about Ambassador Edward Djerejian praising Kemal Ataturk in his book: Yes or No ?

    And bringing up the tragic murder of US Ambassador Chris Stevens to try to defend Mr. Djerejian shows desperation.
    Mr. Boyajian did not question the patriotism of Amb. Djerejian to our nation, the USA: he questioned his support of entities and persons who have the intent and the means to exterminate Armenians in South Caucasus.

    And being a patriotic American, and a US Ambassador, and someone who puts the true American values of our Founding Fathers above the interests of oil profiteers are not mutually exclusive: here is one Patriotic American US Ambassador that fits that description:

    Honorable Ambassador John Marshall Evans, emphasis on ‘Honorable’.

    Maybe Amb. Djerejian can learn something about being a true American patriot from Amb. Evans.

  3. Ms. Najarian, MD,

    I wonder what it is that Djerejian has to say this time that is going to be so different from what he has already said. Did he share the details of his speech with you?

    He preaches defeatist strategies to Armenians, implies that we should take all the blame for Turkey’s and Azerbaijan’s expansionist and genocidal strategies. They just can do whatever they feel like. No critical note whatsoever. Armenian’s should just take it as it is, be the first one to extend a friendly hand and try so hard to sweeten our relations.

    His cold and “dimplomatic” speeches leave me depressed and feeling sorry for myself.

    I don’t care if he had a hard time being a US ambassador. Maybe, in Israel, but how hard could it be in Syria, a stable country at the time? There were also many perks and awards of the job, right? He wanted to do it, obviously. And so what?

    Djerejian likes to pretend that he is, oh, so wise and diplomatic. In fact, behind his facade of “neutrality” hides a big COWARD. He should learn from some courageous US politicians who are not afraid to raise their voice to fight for justice for Armenians. The best example, of course, is Honorable Ambassador John Marshall Evans.

  4. Sad to note that Dr. Najarian had very little to say to recommend Amb. Djerejian as a speaker for the event other than he was a long-time American diplomat. His credentials with respect to the cause of recognition and justice for Armenians are still clouded by his own questionable statements.

    Everyone recognizes the need at times for conciliatory speech when someone acts as an ambassador or diplomat. But Ambassador John Evans has shown that there is also time for speaking truth without equivocation. At this time in our history, we Armenians must defy the ‘axmen’ and our representatives in the world must speak truth with courage and strength.

  5. Dr. Najarian, Amb. Djerejian’s long time track record shows that he hasn’t lifted a finger for the Armenian cause,I have never heard,seen,or read anything to prove me wrong.Mr David Boyajian is right to point this out to the public at large.

    Dr. Najarian, sadly your response is so pathetic to say the least, you seem to be living in another planet,wake up.

    You do well if you change your advisers.

  6. I believe the frequent poster here going only by “Boyajian” is not the same David Boyajian who penned the original letter to the editor.

    • She is not, I can assure you. We have two Boyajians–David Boyajian and a lady who happens to have the same last name.

  7. Dear Armenian friends, I wish we could have this discussion around a table with a couple of bottles of good Armenian wine (or brandy) but we have to do it on the internet, which is less pleasant. With regard to Ed Djerejian, I strongly urge you to give Ed an ear. He was my first boss at the US Embassy in Moscow, and has been a good friend, whom I called in 2005 when the whole State Dept was turning against me for telling the truth about the Armenian Genocide. He had a very successful career in the US Foreign Service, and is still doing some exciting and interesting work, for example, he served on the Iraq Study Group. He may not publicly champion every idea held dear by every Armenian-American, but he is one of the most highly accomplished sons of Armenia and deserves to be heard. Also, let’s recognize the Najarians for their generosity in endowing the lecture. We need to hear various voices, not to drown them out.

    • Dear Amb. John Evans…Our Hero
      We should respect what you said…
      I’m sure you know Amb Ed. more than we do
      But our emotions are emotions and can never die…
      We are humans and can’t be politicians
      We live in what we felt since childhood
      We lost the beauty our childhood and still do…
      in spite being grandparents…
      It is true what Sir Henry Wotton (1568-1639) said in 17th century
      “Ambassador is an honest man, sent to lie abroad for the good of his motherland”…
      But you could not lie…because your genes are not born to be only ambassador…
      because what you felt and believed in was more important than your title…
      You are Ambassador of humanity and not only for your motherland…
      You behaved godly and accepted the consequences for what you believed in
      and knew how your enemies will behave…

  8. Amb. Evans, I will gladly give Amb. Djerejian an ear. However on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, with Turkey’s continued, unrepentent denial, and on the heels of the despicable pardoning and promotion of the murderer Ramil Safarov by President Aliyev of Azerbaijan, I have great hopes for any Armenian who has the privilege and opportunity to stand on the soap box and promote justice and human rights. Regardless of what he may or may not have said or done in the past, I hope Amb. Djerejian takes this opportunity to courageously honor his ancestors, as well as all victims of man’s inhumanity toward man. Some of the comments here may appear overly strident, but they come from the desire most Armenians have for justice to be done, for Armenia to be made more secure, and for leaders to emerge who speak the truth in a way that penetrates even the most apathetic hearts and closed-minds.

  9. It’s much better to have a person like Edward Djerjian on the inside of an organisation that has been traditionally hostile to our aspirations than outside. I refuse to believe that an Armenian, any Armenian, would turn his back on the tragedy we have suffered. I believe in letting people do their work without disruptive interference from the outside. Let the man do his job at his own pace.

  10. Dr. Najarian,

    Amb. Djerejian’s decades-long track record of ardently being pro-Turkic and anti-Armenian speaks volumes of who and what he is.

    I call upon all righteous individuals, Armenian and non-Armenian, to boycott this defeatist event and not to pay any attention to Amb. Evans’ calls to attend. He says: Armenians “need to hear various voices [of pro-Turkism], not to drown them out.” How ridiculous!

  11. Dear all,
    I’d like to make two points at the risk of being called a defeatist or worse:
    1) Ambassadors are diplomats not activists.
    2) Do you really want to live in a world where any voice that is not your own “is drown out?” What if one day that meant YOU (Armenian, American or Turkish) couldn’t articulate your opinions, emotions and frustrations just like you are doing now?

    • Dear Sonmez-Poole:

      Regarding: “I’d like to make two points at the risk of being called a defeatist or worse”

      Why would we, Armenian-Americans, call a Turkish-American “defeatist” or “worse” ? You are not on our side: does not apply.

      One question though specifically for you: do you unequivocally accept the historical fact of the Armenian Genocide perpetrated by Ottoman and CUP Turks.

      Thank you.

    • thank you for the link, Gina:

      yes it is an interesting article.
      and I commend Ms. Sonmez-Poole for taking the difficult journey of discovery herself.

      but after all these years of denial and our counter-efforts, the threshold has changed, the price has gone up: at least for me.
      grudgingly tip-toeing into using the G-word, with a lot of ‘buffer’, if you will, is no longer satisfactory, sorry. (read the last paragraph that starts “I now use…”)

      if someone like Ayse Gunaysu, who lives in Turkey, in real danger of arrest or worse, can affirm the AG with no equivocation, then I see no reason for any Turkish-American not to rise to the same level.

      and “dialogue”, “reconciliation”, and all that are code-words for running out the clock – as I see it.

    • According to Dr. Carolann Najarian, one of the benefactors of the lecture, “This endowed lecture on human rights, a public program of the Armenian Heritage Park, is in my father’s honor as he taught so many about the need to pay attention, spot injustice and speak out wherever and whenever it occurs.”

      Does this suggest someone who is a career diplomat or an activist? Decide for yourselves.

      The question is not whether Mr. Djerejian has the right to express his opinions. The question is whether he is an appropriate choice to give the Armenian Heritage Park Lecture on Human Rights. Expressing doubts about his selection for this honor is not silencing him.

    • 1) “Ambassadors are diplomats not activists”. Hypothetically speaking, true. But Ambassadors are above all human beings who cherish their own system of values and can sometimes exhibit the traits of political activism. Had Henry Morgenthau Jr., the US Ambassador to Ottoman Turkey, been only a diplomat, he would have reported that whole-scale massacres and forcible deportations involving Armenians were taking place in Eastern Turkey (Western Armenia). But he chose to show a sign of a political activism and human decency when he described them as a “campaign of race extermination”. Had the term “genocide” existed back in 1915, I’m sure Ambassador Morgenthau would have used it.

      By the way, I’ve read your article (thanks, Gina!), but the Turkish people should know in the age of the Internet and digital publications that the murders which as you say they do not deny, including the killing of women and children, were not only as a result of the deportations. Typically, and this is confirmed by a host of witness accounts, genocide scholars, and historians, Turks would disarm and kill Armenian men outside the towns and villages and then deport mostly women, children, and the elders for death marches to the Syrian deserts to die of starvation, inflicting killings, rapes, tortures, and mutilations en route. Therefore, it is not as a result of deportations only that the people were killed. We know of many instances when Armenians were burn alive in the churches, buried alive, stifled by gas, injected by petroleum, thrown from cliffs, drown in rivers and the sea. Deportations were only one of many Turkish methods at deliberately destroying an ethnic group.

      2) “Do you really want to live in a world where any voice that is not your own “is drown out?” There are still people who believe that the Jewish Holocaust was a hoax. Do you really want to live in a world where any voice that’s not supporting the truth about the horrible fate of the Jews is drown out?

  12. I am not familiar with Amb. Djerejian’s political positions and opinions but in his defense Armenians must understand that he was not representing Armenians and nor Armenia. As a US Ambassador his loyalty and mission is to serve the “American” people for whom he works and represents and no one else. American foreign policy embraces Turkey as an ally and friend. They use the Genocide as a baton to squeeze as much as they can from Turkey. Armenia has a great working relationship with Iran and Russia because rightly so it serves the interests of the Armenia people. Agree or disagree this is how it works in the real world.

    Let me remind you of another great American Armenian Governor, George D of California. He was admonished for not pardoning a terrorist/murderer. As an American Armenian I am proud of Governor GD for having had the courage and fortitude of upholding the rule of law and respecting the citizens of California who vested in him their trust. As much as emotionally I empathized with those that wanted a pardon, had he pardoned that convict, he would make us no better than the thugs that cover up the Genocide.

    For us to demand civility and the rule of law we must also respect it.

    • Chris J,

      While I agree with most of your points, I don’t see why he has to praise Ataturk in his work, for example. There are many law abiding US citizens and politicians who are not afraid to talk about the Armenian Genocide, are not afraid to criticize Azerbaijan for letting the axe murderer free. I think the latter was so disgusting and immoral that anybody, a politician or not, can feel free to criticize. A man in Djerejian’s position simply had say someting about it. Did he utter a single word? I don’t think so.

      As Avery pointed out quite correctly, being a patriotic law-abiding US citizen and speaking the truth do not have to be mutually exclusive.

    • John Marshall Evans, too, as a US Ambassador, was not representing Armenians or Armenia. He, too, had loyalty for and saw his mission in serving the American people for whom he worked and whom he represented. But in contrast to ethnic “Armenian” Ed Djerejian, Ambassador Evans had INTEGRITY and COURAGE to call historical facts, such as the Turkish crime of genocide, by their proper names. At the end, it boils down to personal strengths and weaknesses of a person. Human decency does not preclude loyalty to one’s government or country. I don’t see why a mere acknowledgement of a crime against humanity, perpetrated by a past Turkish regime and reported to the US government in 1915 by their own Ambassador and Consuls in Turkey, can damage America’s embracing Turkey as an ally and friend. Did acknowledgement of Jewish holocaust damage America’s relationship with Germany?

    • Three US foreign service officers resigned in 2003 to protest the US invasion of Iraq. One of them, John Brady Kiesling was stationed in Armenia and after being transferred to Greece he wrote a letter of resignation to Secretary of State Colin Powell that was posted by the New York Times and circulated widely (see: “U.S. Diplomat’s Letter of Resignation” at http://www.nytimes.com/2003/02/27/international/27WEB-TNAT.html?ex=1227502800&en=1fc74d8d62dbb786&ei=5070). He is the author of Rediscovering Armenia: An Archaeological/Touristic Gazetteer and Map Set for the Historical Monuments of Armenia and Diplomacy Lessons: Realism for an Unloved Superpower.

      Mr. Kiesling demonstrated disloyalty to his country’s official foreign policy line by truthfully expressing his concerns, but did it make him and other US diplomats less patriotic and law-abiding US citizens than those who did not speak the truth?

  13. Had Ed Djerejian not been a member of a coterie of internationalists –so-called “architects of the new world order” such as the Council on Foreign Relations, he wouldn’t have risen to high positions in the US Foreign Service. In other words, had he retained his compassion towards the Armenian national concerns, it is unlikely that he would have been invited to join the internationalist CFR and have a successful public career.

  14. For all who cite the constraints of his position in his defense, please note that Djerejian left government service in 1994 and has been free to speak out since then.

  15. To Avery and others:
    1) This is not a race and I am in no competition to “rise” to some proscribed “level” on this or any other matter related to the subject. And yes, I personally accept the historical fact of the Armenian Genocide perpetrated by Ottoman and CUP Turks.
    2) It is a fact that I chose my words carefully when I wrote that article as I was trying to appeal to the minds and hearts of more than a small circle of people such as those commenting on this link.

    That said, I am uncomfortable with the use of expressions such as “…on our side” or not, and the easy labeling of individuals as true Armenians or not…therefore I will keep my comments at a minimum from this point on.
    Respectfully,

    • Ms. Sonmez-Poole,

      I read and very much appreciated your article wen I read it originally, and again now. I would appreciate your thoughts on the following;

      1. I look in vain for more liberal and humane voices in the Turkish Diaspora. Although there are such voices in Turkey, there are none which I can locate here. All I can find are the “official” Turkish Diaspora voices, as typified by the ATAA, many of whose leaders and publictions are un-selfconsciously, even gleefully racist, see. e.g. ATAA President Kirlikovali’s internet posts comparing the Armenian Genocide to a joke he knows about the death of a fly, his specualtion that Hrant Dink was killed by “anti-Turks,” meaning Armenians, or a long article he wrote in a Turkish Diaspra publiocation saying that Armenians are born of a criminal culture. Are there public Turkish Diaspora voices other than yours who repudiate the ATAA and this sort of thing?

      2. Can you describe the difficulties you have faced since publishing your article?

      I know that we would all appreciate your thoughts and response.

    • “but after all these years of denial and our counter-efforts, the threshold has changed, the price has gone up”

      Now from her article I did notice something. If you acknowledge a crime that your ancestors committed and never apologized for, shouldn’t you then, you know, apologize and make things right?

      But you spoke about the price going up, What’s the new price? Some might be willing to pay.

  16. To JDA:
    1) I try to stay away from ATAA or any other organization which may provide a podium to individuals with clearly racist thoughts such as the ones you have mentioned. I must say however that I would not consider ATAA or Mr.Kirlikovali the overall representative of the thousands of Turkish-Armenians who live in the U.S. I have a feeling there are those who agree with my article but who, for one reason or another, have decided not to add their voices to mine.
    2) I cannot say I have had difficulties due to the publishing of my article other than the disappointment of having too few Turkish people making their support of it clear and public.
    3) I must add that in the months that followed the publishing of my article, the Turkish foreign minister was reported as saying that referring to the events of 1915 as the Armenian Genocide was a matter of personal opinion. Incidentally, the last book written by Hasan Cemal, one of the most preeminent journalists in Turkey, carries the title: 1915: The Armenian Genocide.
    And finally, thank you for your kind words…

  17. CORRECTION ON EARLIER POST:

    I meant “…thousands of Turkish-Americans in the U.S.” not “…Turkish-Armenians in the U.S.”

    Sorry about that!

    • It would be very healing for both sides to hear from the ‘silent’ Turks who can admit to the atrocities of 1915-23 and are willing to express compassion and regret.

  18. You see dear countrymen/women…Sylva(the poetess) has very well defined Ambsd. John Evan´s integrity /honesty and endowed with a humane character.
    Whereas, some others prefer business before (no,not pleasure) HUMANITY, human rights ,Justice and punishment.Yes,latter is also an elemental part of Democracy..
    Elsewhere today- I go over a few Yerevan armenian newspapers,too on internet of course- I got a bit disappointed to read that present Ambassador in RA has opined his approval and is encouraging BIZness cross-border with great Turkey.Looks like a delegation is in town ,Yerevan . Thus, he has inadvertently showed that he is of the ¨other¨kind/type..
    Though this gentleman has been a very ¨down to earth¨ one in Yerevan now,visiting and helping the people in all kinds of trades,arts, etc., etc.,but he suddenly FOREGOES the above mentioned criteria,that is essential in being a HUMANE person,let alone an Ambassador of goowill…
    First things first dear Ambassador(no mention of names).We expect that you follow the line your predecessor Amb. John Evans did,period.
    Otherwise, we shall look sideways when you pass by on your friendly visits…

  19. ERRATA &CORRECTION.
    Up above I mentioned that I had come across the BIZness preferred Tendency of the present Ambassador in RA. I had actually venture d into ¨Twitter¨which is totally new to me,never before entered there.
    But, when I did-as is very usual forme-I always look any matter that is related to Armenia/Armenians..
    Then I read that ¨twitter¨¨ informing the GOOD tidings that BIZness will thrive cross border w/great Turkey….showing his being kindly disposed to it.
    I just don´t know when ARMENIANS WILL BE GRANTED J U S T I C E !!!!

  20. RVDV:

    In that narrow sense, righteous Turkish-Kurdish-Americans need to be more vocal when their compatriots work against our AG recognition efforts.
    They need to be more proactive against their fellow AG Denialists.

    Mr Sassounian had an article @AW about Azeri and Turkish Denialist groups attacking Hyatt CEO Mark Hoplamazian: have any TKA/TA groups publicly repudiated their compatriots’ attacks on a private Armenian-American citizen who is involved in his community’s AG recognition efforts on his own time ?
    One of the posters @AW wrote that Muhtar Kent, quote, “…donates to vicious anti Armenian groups.”: as far as I know, no Armenian-American groups have bothered private citizen Muhtar Kent for that. So a Turkish-American CEO can support, let us call it Turkish ‘issues’, but an Armenian-American CEO cannot ?

    I have mentioned this before: In 2010, on April 24, about 25-30 Turkish-American young men and women were videotaped gleefully singing and dancing (!) in front of the Turkish Embassy in Washington D.C.: have any Turkish-Americans publicly repudiated that vicious display of hate on American soil ?

    You (lonely) yourself have done much to earn our respect by proactively confronting AG Denialists on the pages of AW: not just ‘magnanimously’ using the G-word and congratulating yourself for the achievement. But, proactively confronting the Denialists.
    At the same time you are not shy about vigorously defending general Turkish viewpoints as you see it. So, clearly there is no conflict between the two.

    Nobody on our side (that I know of) is asking TAs or TKAs to join AGBU, or ANCA, or AAA or any other grassroots Armenian organizations.
    Nobody on our side (that I know of) is asking Turkish-Kurdish-Americans to betray Turkey, or support RoA: for you (plural) the AG issue can stand alone.

    But there should be far more like you (singular) at large in the TA or TKA community: visibly, publicly, proactively shaming the Turkish Denialists.
    That to me is the higher threshold.

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