The Gradual Demise of Our Collective Memory

While the capital city shuts off the lights and prepares for sleep in its endless bliss of naive trust, an invisible monster lurks the city streets. It travels from avenue to avenue and from city square to city square targeting all that still stands witness to our collective memory.

And so, you wake up one morning to the sudden realization that your fate has already been sealed. You wake up and discover that you no longer have history. Someone has hijacked the soul of your city. Someone has stolen a piece of your collective identity.

One after another, everything that rightfully belongs to our collective heritage is put up for auction by a pathetic class of elites who are in control of our destiny. These very elites have already allowed themselves the right to compromise the architectural integrity of the historic Government House of the First Republic (from where the father of Armenia’s independence, Aram Manougian, masterminded the great mobilization for the Battle of Sardarabad in May 1918) and turn it into a pizza parlor. These elites have also allowed themselves the right to neglect and to cause the deliberate deterioration of Aram Manougian’s historic home on Aram Street, and now plan to refashion it to be part of Central Yerevan’s new shopping complex. These elites have privatized the Foreign Ministry’s headquarters on Republic Square, Yerevan’s Pak Shuka (indoor market), and the famous Marzahamergayin Hamalir, the city’s massive Convention Hall for Sports and Conferences located by the Tzitzernakaberd Genocide Memorial. They are the ones who have taken, over the years, huge bites out of the capital’s greenspaces and now plan to raise their malls and casinos on the last serene spaces still surrounding the nation’s Genocide Monument.

Marzahamergayin Hamalir, Yerevan's Convention Hall for Sports and Conferences located by the Tzitzernakaberd Genocide Memorial (Photo: Mosinyan)
The Marzahamergayin Hamalir, Yerevan’s Convention Hall for Sports and Conferences located by the Tzitzernakaberd Genocide Memorial (Photo: Mosinyan)

The tragedy is that there seems to be no force that can stop this monster. There seems to be nothing that can control its evil appetite.

What’s next, Mr. President? What is the next target of this insatiable monster? What historic landmark will it target next? We know that these targets are commonly referred to as “objects” (“obyect”) by the city bureaucrats. We also know that these objects have a soul and are meant to reverberate in the consciousness of generations to come as a living part of our national heritage. Which one of the remaining treasures will be the next victim? And who is this monster anyway that the state has, so far, been unable to subdue?


This article, which originally appeared in Armenian, was translated by Rupen Janbazian for the Armenian Weekly.


Garo Armenian

Garo Armenian

Garo Armenian

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  1. You are absolutely right Garo. This process had began with independence years (when massive grabs were made) and accelerates with time. The reason is (as always) the predominant indifference of the people, especially given the fact that the majority of those who even understands the concepts you mentioned is physically not in Armenia to voice their protest. Those who we have here are either part of the problem or just too few to make any difference. Our only and the last choice is to educate the growing generation with values true to our culture, teach them fight for their memories, because we have clearly failing in doing so. We had few victories -(Moscow cinema summer hall, Mashtots park) but that is it. Whats left to do is to pray that until the new blood comes into the system we will be spared at least something. And protest the anarchy while trying to wake everyone up.

  2. It may actually make a difference if the 13,300 people who have posted “like” on social media (Facebook) for the article, were to send letters/emails to the President and Parliament of Armenia. The destruction of historic buildings in the name of modernity (casinos, “shuga”, fashion stores, etc.) is already irriversible.
    It is beyond comprehension how historic buildings have become the properties of the few, who may or may not know the history of Armenia and Armenians. Not limited to Armenia, these are members of the “global greed club”established in the past twenty years. Unfortunately, such individuals make people forget the good that is also being done in Armenia and elsewhere.

  3. The greatest gift god gave to man is not life, nor choice, but death. With death comes the possiblity of change. A man will cease to exist one day, whether naturally or unnaturally, and so will his offspring and in turn their offspring ad infinitum. This way no man can control no thing forever; nature forcefully relinquishes control, giving another man the opportunity to take over (hopefully) for the better.

  4. What Armenia needs is a socialistic system based on nationalistic principles. Armenian cultural traits (i.e. business smart, competitive, shrewd, aggressive, materialistic, ostentatious, arrogant, clannish, etc) and Western style Capitalism (individualistic, monopolistic, exploitative, elite based, profit oriented, growth oriented, etc) is a formula for disaster for Armenia. Armenians need to wake up and realize that Armenia has been suffering from twenty-five years of Capitalism. The destruction brought upon Armenia by the sudden and complete collapse of the Soviet Union will be felt for generations to come. In the meanwhile, however, as long as those waiting on the political sidelines in Yerevan for the overthrow of the Armenian government continue serving Western/Turkish interests, we will continue tolerating our oligarchs as the lesser evil.

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