Home » Armenia »Arts » Currently Reading:

Sassoun Pilgrimage: 82 Year-Old Hayk Khamoyan Travels to Ancestral Home in Aghbi

August 17, 2012 Armenia, Arts No Comments
Image 17598.jpg

10:35, August 17, 2012

82 year-old Hayk Khamoyan pulls out a slip of paper from his vest pocket.

He’s recently returned from visiting his family roots in western Armenia and the paper lists the names of the places he saw along the way.

“I have trouble remembering all the names, so I had my son jot them down. When my neighbours ask me where I went, I give them the paper to read. Everyone is curious. Just this morning I showed the list to some people here,” says Mr. Khamoyan.

Grandpa Hayk examines the paper and turns to his son Radik, “Hey, you forget to put down Aghtamar. I got on the boat and went to the island. I lit a candle at the church.”

Hayk Khamoyan is the first of the descendants of those who fled the Aghbi village of Sassoun during the Genocide, and made their way to Verin Bazmaberd in Aragatzotn Marz, to return to the ancestral home of Gyalarash, a neighbourhood of Aghbi. The various neighbourhoods of the Aghbi are miles apart from each other, nestled in the mountains and valley of Sassoun.

“I really wanted to take my father and uncle there; the place of their roots. God granted me the pleasure to go myself and see their native home. I had always dreamt of going to western Armenia with them,” says Hayk’s son Radik.

Radik is the secretary of the Sassoun-Taron Patriotic Union and has sung in the Akounk, Zvartounk and Maratouk groups. He’s also taught traditional dance.

Hayk Khamoyan’s father was the only member of the extended clan who made it out alive.   Some forty members of the clan died during the Genocide, many during self-defence battles in the mountains.

There a woman named Shoushan in Verin Bazmaberd who also made the trek from Aghbi. She was an eye witness to how the village was raided and plundered and how Hayk’s relatives, except his father, were killed. She has related all this to Hayk.

Hayk’s father made his way to eastern Armenia and the village of Verin Bazmaberd where he married and tried to make a new life.

Grandpa Hayk says the family story goes that they wanted to remain close to the border in order to return to western Armenia one day. “They always preserved that longing to go back but it never happened. Would the Soviet Union allow anyone to cross the border?”

“I also remember that old woman Shoushan,” says Radik. “They came here and died here. But they always talked about their home and village back over there. Over the years, I heard so many stories about the place that I could actually picture it all.”

The Soviets exiled Hayk’s father as a subversive in 1942 to Siberia where he died or was killed. Nobody can say for sure. He left eight children in Bazmaberd and a widow.

“Exile, massacres, the KGB, WWII, eight fatherless children, etc. Talk about fate. And now one of those eight kids makes the journey back to his father’s native land,” says Radik.

Hayk’s mother, who hailed from Basin, was also the only member of her family to survive the Genocide. When she passed in 1996, the family had 156 grand and great grandchildren. Hayk has since given up counting. “But my sister’s husband is a teacher and he’s kept a list of the extended family and all the births.”

Radik is preparing to publish the family tree and history. According to his research, the family can trace their roots to Sassoun as far back as the 1600s.

97 Years of Longing: Finding the House Built by His Grandfather

Grandpa Hayk was able to locate the Gyalarash neighbourhood of Aghbi village and even his father’s house. The old man was persistent and asked anyone willing to talk.

He had also learnt Kurdish over the years from the Yeminis living in the village of Matador near Bazmaberd. His knowledge of the language came in handy during his travels in western Armenia.

Hayk had been told by his father that there was a big walnut tree by their house in the “old country” and a spring nearby. The house was built by Hay’s grandfather, Khmu. The tree had been planted by him as well. Khmo had also built a basin to collect the water following from the mountains.

Hayk’s father had six brothers that lived side by side in four homes. When Hayk visited only his father’s house and another were left.

“I told the Kurds They Can Stay”

Hayk approached his father’s house and asked the current Kurdish residents who the house belonged to. They said they didn’t know. When Hayk said it was the home of Khmo, one of the Kurds, in amazement, said. Yes.

The new residents haven’t renovated the house at all. It has the same roof and inner beams.

“I told that Kurd that these are the beams built by my grandfather. He said, yes. The guy hasn’t changes a thing other than taking down the nearby tonratoun (clay pit for baking and cooking).”

Without being invited inside, Hayk opened the door, entered the house and made a tour. The Kurds did nothing to stop him.

“It was like I was entering my own home. I didn’t feel like a stranger at all. Not for one minute. I was on my ancestral land and it all seemed so familiar and intimate,” Hayk recounts.

Inside, the only furniture was an old sofa. There was a Kurd lying on it.

When Hayk entered the man got up, somewhat startled. “I told him this is the house of my grandfather but don’t worry, I haven’t come to put you out. Upon hearing this he smiled a bit and confessed that, yes, this is the home of Khmo,” says Hayk.

Hayk says the water from the spring is still following. The Kurds had chopped down most of the walnut tree, saying that it had gotten too big and the branches had covered the nearby garden. Hayk says they cut it down for its wood.

The Kurds then invited the visiting Armenians in for refreshments and even called in a singer to entertain them. One of the Kurds living in the house had been given a Kalashnikov by the government. The man was working as a village patrol member for the government, a kind of eyes and ears to monitor the movements of Kurdish separatists.

Hayk says that there are 3-4 houses occupied in each of the neighbourhoods of Aghbi, but there are no stores or medical clinics. Many of the Kurds have left the mountainous areas and moved down into the valley.

I felt right at home in Sassoun”

“Only the very strong have remained in the mountains. It’s an 8 kilometre climb. Imagine going up and down with baggage? No road existed here in the past but they’ve built one now,” Hayk says.

Hayk brought back stones from his father’s house and water from the spring. He also brought back a stone polished from years of spring water running over it.

He scattered the soil he brought back from western Armenia over the graves of Sassoun descendants and others now buried in Verin Bazmaberd.

The 82 year-old was the eldest in the group of 15 that made the trip to western Armenia. But he was one of the most indefatigable.

“I felt no tiredness there, just happiness. I extracted strength from Sassoun and its mountains. And we made our way to all the mountains even though the roads were in terrible shape and quite scary.”

Hayk has returned but now he feels the same longing for western Armenia and Sassoun in particular that his forbearers had after being exiled.

“I sit and remember what I have seen and where I have been. My longing hasn’t been quenched. Western Armenia is just like the old folk described it, a paradise. Our Sassoun folk are mountain people but down in Moush it’s a Garden of Eden. Everything grows there,” Hayk recounts.

The Vardanyans of Moush: A Father’s Terrible Choice

Hamayak Vardanyan, Hayk’s brother-in-law who also made the trip, says that Moush alone could feed all of Armenia.

“It’s all fertile land. Moush, Erzeroum, Bitlis, Basen, Sarikamish. Just go and see what I mean. We go as visitors with heavy hearts, see all that, and come back here.”

Hamayak Vadanyan lives in the village of Kakavadzor in Aragatzotn Marz. It’s his first trip to western Armenia. He too found his ancestral home in the Verin Marnik village of Moush.

The house and most of the village is in ruins. There are only 10 or so occupied house in the village. He says there isn’t even a paved road leading to the Msho Arakelots Vank of lore.

Hamayak’s father was the only sibling who survived the Genocide. On the road of exile from Moush, his father took his baby boy from his wife’s hand, wrapped it up and left the child in a wheat field. The father collected the children of is two brothers instead and brought them to Kakavadzor to keep the family tree alive.

All of the members of the brothers’ family died in the Genocide. If Hamayak’s father hadn’t saved the children, the family would have disappeared without a trace.

“When they arrived at this place there was a terrible hailstorm that destroyed the crop. My mother would cry and say that God was punishing us for leaving that baby behind. My father replied by saying that ‘God knows what I did. I left my baby behind in order to save the children of my two brothers,” Hamayak recounts.

The family of the brothers survived. One of the descendants was the physician Vahe Baghdasaryan who fought and died in the Artskah War.

Photos: Hakob Poghosyan

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Related posts:

  1. 19 Year-Old Armenian Soldier Laid to Rest in Amberd
  2. 14-year old boy hangs himself in Armenia’s Lori region (photos)
  3. The “Football” Process Between Armenia & Turkey Is Over: Hayk Demoyan
  4. Hayk Babukhanyan: Armenia Should Set March 1 As A Deadline For Ratification
  5. 28 Year-Old Independent Wins Mayoral Election in Griboyedov

Comment on this Article:







Spam Protection by WP-SpamFree

RSS International News By CNN

  • Nigerian military retracts claim
    In an embarrassing blow to its perception from an increasingly skeptical public, the Nigerian military Thursday retracted a report that nearly all the 129 school girls kidnapped by suspected Boko Haram militants had been released. […]
  • Earthquake strikes Mexico
    According to the USGS, the quake measured 7.5 magnitude and was centered north of Acapulco. […]
  • Pope Francis leads Good Friday service
    Pope Francis on Friday evening was leading a service at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican to mark Good Friday, the most solemn day in the Christian calendar. […]
  • Mother slaps, forgives son's killer
    An Iranian mother slaps and then forgives her 17-year old son's murderer in dramatic scenes at the gallows. […]
  • Africa's Oprah?
    Oprah, if you're reading this, for goodness sake return this woman's calls. Ask your assistants if there's a box of yellowing fax messages lying around somewhere in Harpo Studios -- she sent you one daily for a while. […]
  • Saudi Arabia plans 1 km tall tower
    Dubai -- long champion of all things biggest, longest and most expensive -- will soon have some competition from neighboring Saudi Arabia. […]
  • 'Degenerate' art Hitler hated
    Christiane Amanpour looks at an exhibit in New York of art the Nazis labeled 'degenerate,' with historian Simon Schama. […]
  • Saudi veteran intel chief quits
    Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the man behind the kingdom's committed policy to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has stepped down from his intelligence post, according to the country's official news agency. […]
  • Witness contradicts Pistorius
    Prosecutor Gerrie Nel went on the attack again Thursday, trying to discredit a defense witness for Oscar Pistorius on the last day of testimony before the court takes a two-and-a-half week break. […]
  • The 'degenerate' art that Hitler hated
    Christiane Amanpour looks at an exhibit in New York of art the Nazis labeled 'degenerate,' with historian Simon Schama. […]

CNN International Explores the Secrets of Armenia’s Stone Henge

AdvertisementAdvertisementAdvertisementAdvertisement

Recent Comments

RSS Middle East News By BBC

RSS Sports News By The Huffington Post

  • Could This Bubble-Tastic Sport Be The Best Game Ever? (VIDEO)
    What's better than playing soccer? How about playing full-contact soccer and being basically invincible. That's what a group of athletes from Italy had in mind when they strapped up in these awesome bubble suits and then went head-to-head in "bubble football." The video of this bouncing, intense competition went viral after fitness guru J […]
  • UPDATE: Free Playoff Hockey Is Extra Awesome Because It Means Overtime Goals (VIDEO/GIFs)
    Not only is playoff hockey demonstrably awesome but it is also apparently a very good bargain in 2014. After the opening night of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs included one overtime game, the second night had two more that needed more than three periods. Free hockey! In St. Louis, the Blues and Blackhawks played into a third overtime period before a winner e […]
  • Michigan State's Beloved 'Princess Lacey' Honored In Emotional Ceremony On Campus (PHOTOS)
    EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — An 8-year-old Michigan State basketball fan whose battle with cancer inspired the team's players, coaches and many more beyond the hardwood was honored by thousands of her closest friends at a memorial service in East Lansing. Lacey Holsworth's family wanted those attending the event Thursday night at the Breslin Center b […]
  • Cute Dog, Parkour And Slow Motion Come Together... Awesomeness Unfolds
    In 2003, Outkast asked the philosophical question, "What's cooler than being cool?" The thought-provoking response shouted back as the answer from an anonymous chorus akin to tragedies performed in ancient Greece? "Ice cold!" Whoah, deep... At the time it was a conversation that really made you think. Now, more than a decade later, w […]
  • Mike Tyson's Ceremonial First Pitch Includes A Ceremonial Ear Bite Because Of Course (VIDEO)
    Mike Tyson may not have a second career in the major leagues ahead of him but he did manage to throw something resembling a strike at PNC Park. The former heavyweight champ showed off his unusual delivery tossing out a ceremonial first pitch before the Pittsburgh Pirates hosted the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday. Of course, Tyson did this after the pitch. (H/ […]
  • These Mesmerizing GIFs Will Forever Change The Way You See Skateboarders
    For most of the public, skateboarding is merely a hobby for those at the fringes of society. It destroys property, creates a ruckus, and cultivates the misbehaviors of wild teens -- all unfair generalizations, to say the least. In truth, there is an extraordinary amount of skill and athleticism that goes into skateboarding. But that's not even going far […]
  • Only A Rangers Fan Could Love This Terrifying Haircut (PHOTO)
    A New York Rangers fan decided to show his devotion for his team by getting the image of right winger Rick Nash on the etched into the hair on the back of his head. Even if you're a fellow fan of the blueshirts, the resulting haircut may give you nightmares. It's a good thing that hair grows back. Wow...this haircut is something else!!! #Nashty #NY […]
  • NBA Playoffs Preview: LeBron James And The Heat Face New Kid On The Block And Wild West
    The grueling nature of the NBA Playoffs may not offer the same one-game excitement as March Madness, but the high energy and the spate of storylines remain. Will Miami three-peat, or will Indiana finally stand up to LeBron? Can San Antonio make yet another finals run, and are the Clippers ready to make the first deep playoff run in franchise history? Here is […]
  • Derrick Gordon, UMass Basketball Player, On Feeling 'Ecstatic' After Coming Out And Jason Collins' Influence
    “Don’t wait,” 22-year-old Derrick Gordon said emphatically when asked if he has advice for other college athletes thinking about coming out. The University of Massachusetts Amherst sophomore made headlines last week, becoming the first NCAA Division I basketball player to come out as gay. “Take advantage of everything that you have in front of you,” he conti […]
  • Wild Stat of the Week: Paying Tribute to the Best There Ever Has Been
    WIld Stat of the Week: 64 (Years Vin Scully has been working the booth for the Dodgers) There's any number of statistics to impress you with showing how long Vin Scully has been with the Dodgers. For example, over his time with the Dodgers, Vin has seen 11 Dodger managers, 12 U.S presidencies, 14 expansion teams, 22 Yankee platy-by-play announcers, and […]

Poll

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

-

Featured Books

Book Reviews

John Balian’s “Novel Approach” Brings the Armenian Saga to the Masses – An interview with John Balian by Lucine Kasbarian

Gray Wolves and White Doves cover art

10:35, August 17, 2012

82 year-old Hayk Khamoyan pulls out a slip of paper from his vest pocket.

He’s recently returned from visiting his family roots in western Armenia and the paper lists the names of the places he saw along the way.

“I have trouble remembering all the names, so I had my son jot them down. When my neighbours ask me where I went, I give them the paper to read. Everyone is curious. Just this morning I showed the list to some people here,” says Mr. Khamoyan.

Grandpa Hayk examines the paper and turns to his son Radik, “Hey, you forget to put down Aghtamar. I got on the boat and went to the island. I lit a candle at the church.”

Hayk Khamoyan is the first of the descendants of those who fled the Aghbi village of Sassoun during the Genocide, and made their way to Verin Bazmaberd in Aragatzotn Marz, to return to the ancestral home of Gyalarash, a neighbourhood of Aghbi. The various neighbourhoods of the Aghbi are miles apart from each other, nestled in the mountains and valley of Sassoun.

“I really wanted to take my father and uncle there; the place of their roots. God granted me the pleasure to go myself and see their native home. I had always dreamt of going to western Armenia with them,” says Hayk’s son Radik.

Radik is the secretary of the Sassoun-Taron Patriotic Union and has sung in the Akounk, Zvartounk and Maratouk groups. He’s also taught traditional dance.

Hayk Khamoyan’s father was the only member of the extended clan who made it out alive.   Some forty members of the clan died during the Genocide, many during self-defence battles in the mountains.

There a woman named Shoushan in Verin Bazmaberd who also made the trek from Aghbi. She was an eye witness to how the village was raided and plundered and how Hayk’s relatives, except his father, were killed. She has related all this to Hayk.

Hayk’s father made his way to eastern Armenia and the village of Verin Bazmaberd where he married and tried to make a new life.

Grandpa Hayk says the family story goes that they wanted to remain close to the border in order to return to western Armenia one day. “They always preserved that longing to go back but it never happened. Would the Soviet Union allow anyone to cross the border?”

“I also remember that old woman Shoushan,” says Radik. “They came here and died here. But they always talked about their home and village back over there. Over the years, I heard so many stories about the place that I could actually picture it all.”

The Soviets exiled Hayk’s father as a subversive in 1942 to Siberia where he died or was killed. Nobody can say for sure. He left eight children in Bazmaberd and a widow.

“Exile, massacres, the KGB, WWII, eight fatherless children, etc. Talk about fate. And now one of those eight kids makes the journey back to his father’s native land,” says Radik.

Hayk’s mother, who hailed from Basin, was also the only member of her family to survive the Genocide. When she passed in 1996, the family had 156 grand and great grandchildren. Hayk has since given up counting. “But my sister’s husband is a teacher and he’s kept a list of the extended family and all the births.”

Radik is preparing to publish the family tree and history. According to his research, the family can trace their roots to Sassoun as far back as the 1600s.

97 Years of Longing: Finding the House Built by His Grandfather

Grandpa Hayk was able to locate the Gyalarash neighbourhood of Aghbi village and even his father’s house. The old man was persistent and asked anyone willing to talk.

He had also learnt Kurdish over the years from the Yeminis living in the village of Matador near Bazmaberd. His knowledge of the language came in handy during his travels in western Armenia.

Hayk had been told by his father that there was a big walnut tree by their house in the “old country” and a spring nearby. The house was built by Hay’s grandfather, Khmu. The tree had been planted by him as well. Khmo had also built a basin to collect the water following from the mountains.

Hayk’s father had six brothers that lived side by side in four homes. When Hayk visited only his father’s house and another were left.

“I told the Kurds They Can Stay”

Hayk approached his father’s house and asked the current Kurdish residents who the house belonged to. They said they didn’t know. When Hayk said it was the home of Khmo, one of the Kurds, in amazement, said. Yes.

The new residents haven’t renovated the house at all. It has the same roof and inner beams.

“I told that Kurd that these are the beams built by my grandfather. He said, yes. The guy hasn’t changes a thing other than taking down the nearby tonratoun (clay pit for baking and cooking).”

Without being invited inside, Hayk opened the door, entered the house and made a tour. The Kurds did nothing to stop him.

“It was like I was entering my own home. I didn’t feel like a stranger at all. Not for one minute. I was on my ancestral land and it all seemed so familiar and intimate,” Hayk recounts.

Inside, the only furniture was an old sofa. There was a Kurd lying on it.

When Hayk entered the man got up, somewhat startled. “I told him this is the house of my grandfather but don’t worry, I haven’t come to put you out. Upon hearing this he smiled a bit and confessed that, yes, this is the home of Khmo,” says Hayk.

Hayk says the water from the spring is still following. The Kurds had chopped down most of the walnut tree, saying that it had gotten too big and the branches had covered the nearby garden. Hayk says they cut it down for its wood.

The Kurds then invited the visiting Armenians in for refreshments and even called in a singer to entertain them. One of the Kurds living in the house had been given a Kalashnikov by the government. The man was working as a village patrol member for the government, a kind of eyes and ears to monitor the movements of Kurdish separatists.

Hayk says that there are 3-4 houses occupied in each of the neighbourhoods of Aghbi, but there are no stores or medical clinics. Many of the Kurds have left the mountainous areas and moved down into the valley.

I felt right at home in Sassoun”

“Only the very strong have remained in the mountains. It’s an 8 kilometre climb. Imagine going up and down with baggage? No road existed here in the past but they’ve built one now,” Hayk says.

Hayk brought back stones from his father’s house and water from the spring. He also brought back a stone polished from years of spring water running over it.

He scattered the soil he brought back from western Armenia over the graves of Sassoun descendants and others now buried in Verin Bazmaberd.

The 82 year-old was the eldest in the group of 15 that made the trip to western Armenia. But he was one of the most indefatigable.

“I felt no tiredness there, just happiness. I extracted strength from Sassoun and its mountains. And we made our way to all the mountains even though the roads were in terrible shape and quite scary.”

Hayk has returned but now he feels the same longing for western Armenia and Sassoun in particular that his forbearers had after being exiled.

“I sit and remember what I have seen and where I have been. My longing hasn’t been quenched. Western Armenia is just like the old folk described it, a paradise. Our Sassoun folk are mountain people but down in Moush it’s a Garden of Eden. Everything grows there,” Hayk recounts.

The Vardanyans of Moush: A Father’s Terrible Choice

Hamayak Vardanyan, Hayk’s brother-in-law who also made the trip, says that Moush alone could feed all of Armenia.

“It’s all fertile land. Moush, Erzeroum, Bitlis, Basen, Sarikamish. Just go and see what I mean. We go as visitors with heavy hearts, see all that, and come back here.”

Hamayak Vadanyan lives in the village of Kakavadzor in Aragatzotn Marz. It’s his first trip to western Armenia. He too found his ancestral home in the Verin Marnik village of Moush.

The house and most of the village is in ruins. There are only 10 or so occupied house in the village. He says there isn’t even a paved road leading to the Msho Arakelots Vank of lore.

Hamayak’s father was the only sibling who survived the Genocide. On the road of exile from Moush, his father took his baby boy from his wife’s hand, wrapped it up and left the child in a wheat field. The father collected the children of is two brothers instead and brought them to Kakavadzor to keep the family tree alive.

All of the members of the brothers’ family died in the Genocide. If Hamayak’s father hadn’t saved the children, the family would have disappeared without a trace.

“When they arrived at this place there was a terrible hailstorm that destroyed the crop. My mother would cry and say that God was punishing us for leaving that baby behind. My father replied by saying that ‘God knows what I did. I left my baby behind in order to save the children of my two brothers,” Hamayak recounts.

The family of the brothers survived. One of the descendants was the physician Vahe Baghdasaryan who fought and died in the Artskah War.

Photos: Hakob Poghosyan

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Related posts:

  1. 19 Year-Old Armenian Soldier Laid to Rest in Amberd
  2. 14-year old boy hangs himself in Armenia’s Lori region (photos)
  3. The “Football” Process Between Armenia & Turkey Is Over: Hayk Demoyan
  4. Hayk Babukhanyan: Armenia Should Set March 1 As A Deadline For Ratification
  5. 28 Year-Old Independent Wins Mayoral Election in Griboyedov

New Children’s Picture Book From Armenian Folklore

10:35, August 17, 2012

82 year-old Hayk Khamoyan pulls out a slip of paper from his vest pocket.

He’s recently returned from visiting his family roots in western Armenia and the paper lists the names of the places he saw along the way.

“I have trouble remembering all the names, so I had my son jot them down. When my neighbours ask me where I went, I give them the paper to read. Everyone is curious. Just this morning I showed the list to some people here,” says Mr. Khamoyan.

Grandpa Hayk examines the paper and turns to his son Radik, “Hey, you forget to put down Aghtamar. I got on the boat and went to the island. I lit a candle at the church.”

Hayk Khamoyan is the first of the descendants of those who fled the Aghbi village of Sassoun during the Genocide, and made their way to Verin Bazmaberd in Aragatzotn Marz, to return to the ancestral home of Gyalarash, a neighbourhood of Aghbi. The various neighbourhoods of the Aghbi are miles apart from each other, nestled in the mountains and valley of Sassoun.

“I really wanted to take my father and uncle there; the place of their roots. God granted me the pleasure to go myself and see their native home. I had always dreamt of going to western Armenia with them,” says Hayk’s son Radik.

Radik is the secretary of the Sassoun-Taron Patriotic Union and has sung in the Akounk, Zvartounk and Maratouk groups. He’s also taught traditional dance.

Hayk Khamoyan’s father was the only member of the extended clan who made it out alive.   Some forty members of the clan died during the Genocide, many during self-defence battles in the mountains.

There a woman named Shoushan in Verin Bazmaberd who also made the trek from Aghbi. She was an eye witness to how the village was raided and plundered and how Hayk’s relatives, except his father, were killed. She has related all this to Hayk.

Hayk’s father made his way to eastern Armenia and the village of Verin Bazmaberd where he married and tried to make a new life.

Grandpa Hayk says the family story goes that they wanted to remain close to the border in order to return to western Armenia one day. “They always preserved that longing to go back but it never happened. Would the Soviet Union allow anyone to cross the border?”

“I also remember that old woman Shoushan,” says Radik. “They came here and died here. But they always talked about their home and village back over there. Over the years, I heard so many stories about the place that I could actually picture it all.”

The Soviets exiled Hayk’s father as a subversive in 1942 to Siberia where he died or was killed. Nobody can say for sure. He left eight children in Bazmaberd and a widow.

“Exile, massacres, the KGB, WWII, eight fatherless children, etc. Talk about fate. And now one of those eight kids makes the journey back to his father’s native land,” says Radik.

Hayk’s mother, who hailed from Basin, was also the only member of her family to survive the Genocide. When she passed in 1996, the family had 156 grand and great grandchildren. Hayk has since given up counting. “But my sister’s husband is a teacher and he’s kept a list of the extended family and all the births.”

Radik is preparing to publish the family tree and history. According to his research, the family can trace their roots to Sassoun as far back as the 1600s.

97 Years of Longing: Finding the House Built by His Grandfather

Grandpa Hayk was able to locate the Gyalarash neighbourhood of Aghbi village and even his father’s house. The old man was persistent and asked anyone willing to talk.

He had also learnt Kurdish over the years from the Yeminis living in the village of Matador near Bazmaberd. His knowledge of the language came in handy during his travels in western Armenia.

Hayk had been told by his father that there was a big walnut tree by their house in the “old country” and a spring nearby. The house was built by Hay’s grandfather, Khmu. The tree had been planted by him as well. Khmo had also built a basin to collect the water following from the mountains.

Hayk’s father had six brothers that lived side by side in four homes. When Hayk visited only his father’s house and another were left.

“I told the Kurds They Can Stay”

Hayk approached his father’s house and asked the current Kurdish residents who the house belonged to. They said they didn’t know. When Hayk said it was the home of Khmo, one of the Kurds, in amazement, said. Yes.

The new residents haven’t renovated the house at all. It has the same roof and inner beams.

“I told that Kurd that these are the beams built by my grandfather. He said, yes. The guy hasn’t changes a thing other than taking down the nearby tonratoun (clay pit for baking and cooking).”

Without being invited inside, Hayk opened the door, entered the house and made a tour. The Kurds did nothing to stop him.

“It was like I was entering my own home. I didn’t feel like a stranger at all. Not for one minute. I was on my ancestral land and it all seemed so familiar and intimate,” Hayk recounts.

Inside, the only furniture was an old sofa. There was a Kurd lying on it.

When Hayk entered the man got up, somewhat startled. “I told him this is the house of my grandfather but don’t worry, I haven’t come to put you out. Upon hearing this he smiled a bit and confessed that, yes, this is the home of Khmo,” says Hayk.

Hayk says the water from the spring is still following. The Kurds had chopped down most of the walnut tree, saying that it had gotten too big and the branches had covered the nearby garden. Hayk says they cut it down for its wood.

The Kurds then invited the visiting Armenians in for refreshments and even called in a singer to entertain them. One of the Kurds living in the house had been given a Kalashnikov by the government. The man was working as a village patrol member for the government, a kind of eyes and ears to monitor the movements of Kurdish separatists.

Hayk says that there are 3-4 houses occupied in each of the neighbourhoods of Aghbi, but there are no stores or medical clinics. Many of the Kurds have left the mountainous areas and moved down into the valley.

I felt right at home in Sassoun”

“Only the very strong have remained in the mountains. It’s an 8 kilometre climb. Imagine going up and down with baggage? No road existed here in the past but they’ve built one now,” Hayk says.

Hayk brought back stones from his father’s house and water from the spring. He also brought back a stone polished from years of spring water running over it.

He scattered the soil he brought back from western Armenia over the graves of Sassoun descendants and others now buried in Verin Bazmaberd.

The 82 year-old was the eldest in the group of 15 that made the trip to western Armenia. But he was one of the most indefatigable.

“I felt no tiredness there, just happiness. I extracted strength from Sassoun and its mountains. And we made our way to all the mountains even though the roads were in terrible shape and quite scary.”

Hayk has returned but now he feels the same longing for western Armenia and Sassoun in particular that his forbearers had after being exiled.

“I sit and remember what I have seen and where I have been. My longing hasn’t been quenched. Western Armenia is just like the old folk described it, a paradise. Our Sassoun folk are mountain people but down in Moush it’s a Garden of Eden. Everything grows there,” Hayk recounts.

The Vardanyans of Moush: A Father’s Terrible Choice

Hamayak Vardanyan, Hayk’s brother-in-law who also made the trip, says that Moush alone could feed all of Armenia.

“It’s all fertile land. Moush, Erzeroum, Bitlis, Basen, Sarikamish. Just go and see what I mean. We go as visitors with heavy hearts, see all that, and come back here.”

Hamayak Vadanyan lives in the village of Kakavadzor in Aragatzotn Marz. It’s his first trip to western Armenia. He too found his ancestral home in the Verin Marnik village of Moush.

The house and most of the village is in ruins. There are only 10 or so occupied house in the village. He says there isn’t even a paved road leading to the Msho Arakelots Vank of lore.

Hamayak’s father was the only sibling who survived the Genocide. On the road of exile from Moush, his father took his baby boy from his wife’s hand, wrapped it up and left the child in a wheat field. The father collected the children of is two brothers instead and brought them to Kakavadzor to keep the family tree alive.

All of the members of the brothers’ family died in the Genocide. If Hamayak’s father hadn’t saved the children, the family would have disappeared without a trace.

“When they arrived at this place there was a terrible hailstorm that destroyed the crop. My mother would cry and say that God was punishing us for leaving that baby behind. My father replied by saying that ‘God knows what I did. I left my baby behind in order to save the children of my two brothers,” Hamayak recounts.

The family of the brothers survived. One of the descendants was the physician Vahe Baghdasaryan who fought and died in the Artskah War.

Photos: Hakob Poghosyan

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Related posts:

  1. 19 Year-Old Armenian Soldier Laid to Rest in Amberd
  2. 14-year old boy hangs himself in Armenia’s Lori region (photos)
  3. The “Football” Process Between Armenia & Turkey Is Over: Hayk Demoyan
  4. Hayk Babukhanyan: Armenia Should Set March 1 As A Deadline For Ratification
  5. 28 Year-Old Independent Wins Mayoral Election in Griboyedov

“We Need To Lift The Armenian Taboo”

10:35, August 17, 2012

82 year-old Hayk Khamoyan pulls out a slip of paper from his vest pocket.

He’s recently returned from visiting his family roots in western Armenia and the paper lists the names of the places he saw along the way.

“I have trouble remembering all the names, so I had my son jot them down. When my neighbours ask me where I went, I give them the paper to read. Everyone is curious. Just this morning I showed the list to some people here,” says Mr. Khamoyan.

Grandpa Hayk examines the paper and turns to his son Radik, “Hey, you forget to put down Aghtamar. I got on the boat and went to the island. I lit a candle at the church.”

Hayk Khamoyan is the first of the descendants of those who fled the Aghbi village of Sassoun during the Genocide, and made their way to Verin Bazmaberd in Aragatzotn Marz, to return to the ancestral home of Gyalarash, a neighbourhood of Aghbi. The various neighbourhoods of the Aghbi are miles apart from each other, nestled in the mountains and valley of Sassoun.

“I really wanted to take my father and uncle there; the place of their roots. God granted me the pleasure to go myself and see their native home. I had always dreamt of going to western Armenia with them,” says Hayk’s son Radik.

Radik is the secretary of the Sassoun-Taron Patriotic Union and has sung in the Akounk, Zvartounk and Maratouk groups. He’s also taught traditional dance.

Hayk Khamoyan’s father was the only member of the extended clan who made it out alive.   Some forty members of the clan died during the Genocide, many during self-defence battles in the mountains.

There a woman named Shoushan in Verin Bazmaberd who also made the trek from Aghbi. She was an eye witness to how the village was raided and plundered and how Hayk’s relatives, except his father, were killed. She has related all this to Hayk.

Hayk’s father made his way to eastern Armenia and the village of Verin Bazmaberd where he married and tried to make a new life.

Grandpa Hayk says the family story goes that they wanted to remain close to the border in order to return to western Armenia one day. “They always preserved that longing to go back but it never happened. Would the Soviet Union allow anyone to cross the border?”

“I also remember that old woman Shoushan,” says Radik. “They came here and died here. But they always talked about their home and village back over there. Over the years, I heard so many stories about the place that I could actually picture it all.”

The Soviets exiled Hayk’s father as a subversive in 1942 to Siberia where he died or was killed. Nobody can say for sure. He left eight children in Bazmaberd and a widow.

“Exile, massacres, the KGB, WWII, eight fatherless children, etc. Talk about fate. And now one of those eight kids makes the journey back to his father’s native land,” says Radik.

Hayk’s mother, who hailed from Basin, was also the only member of her family to survive the Genocide. When she passed in 1996, the family had 156 grand and great grandchildren. Hayk has since given up counting. “But my sister’s husband is a teacher and he’s kept a list of the extended family and all the births.”

Radik is preparing to publish the family tree and history. According to his research, the family can trace their roots to Sassoun as far back as the 1600s.

97 Years of Longing: Finding the House Built by His Grandfather

Grandpa Hayk was able to locate the Gyalarash neighbourhood of Aghbi village and even his father’s house. The old man was persistent and asked anyone willing to talk.

He had also learnt Kurdish over the years from the Yeminis living in the village of Matador near Bazmaberd. His knowledge of the language came in handy during his travels in western Armenia.

Hayk had been told by his father that there was a big walnut tree by their house in the “old country” and a spring nearby. The house was built by Hay’s grandfather, Khmu. The tree had been planted by him as well. Khmo had also built a basin to collect the water following from the mountains.

Hayk’s father had six brothers that lived side by side in four homes. When Hayk visited only his father’s house and another were left.

“I told the Kurds They Can Stay”

Hayk approached his father’s house and asked the current Kurdish residents who the house belonged to. They said they didn’t know. When Hayk said it was the home of Khmo, one of the Kurds, in amazement, said. Yes.

The new residents haven’t renovated the house at all. It has the same roof and inner beams.

“I told that Kurd that these are the beams built by my grandfather. He said, yes. The guy hasn’t changes a thing other than taking down the nearby tonratoun (clay pit for baking and cooking).”

Without being invited inside, Hayk opened the door, entered the house and made a tour. The Kurds did nothing to stop him.

“It was like I was entering my own home. I didn’t feel like a stranger at all. Not for one minute. I was on my ancestral land and it all seemed so familiar and intimate,” Hayk recounts.

Inside, the only furniture was an old sofa. There was a Kurd lying on it.

When Hayk entered the man got up, somewhat startled. “I told him this is the house of my grandfather but don’t worry, I haven’t come to put you out. Upon hearing this he smiled a bit and confessed that, yes, this is the home of Khmo,” says Hayk.

Hayk says the water from the spring is still following. The Kurds had chopped down most of the walnut tree, saying that it had gotten too big and the branches had covered the nearby garden. Hayk says they cut it down for its wood.

The Kurds then invited the visiting Armenians in for refreshments and even called in a singer to entertain them. One of the Kurds living in the house had been given a Kalashnikov by the government. The man was working as a village patrol member for the government, a kind of eyes and ears to monitor the movements of Kurdish separatists.

Hayk says that there are 3-4 houses occupied in each of the neighbourhoods of Aghbi, but there are no stores or medical clinics. Many of the Kurds have left the mountainous areas and moved down into the valley.

I felt right at home in Sassoun”

“Only the very strong have remained in the mountains. It’s an 8 kilometre climb. Imagine going up and down with baggage? No road existed here in the past but they’ve built one now,” Hayk says.

Hayk brought back stones from his father’s house and water from the spring. He also brought back a stone polished from years of spring water running over it.

He scattered the soil he brought back from western Armenia over the graves of Sassoun descendants and others now buried in Verin Bazmaberd.

The 82 year-old was the eldest in the group of 15 that made the trip to western Armenia. But he was one of the most indefatigable.

“I felt no tiredness there, just happiness. I extracted strength from Sassoun and its mountains. And we made our way to all the mountains even though the roads were in terrible shape and quite scary.”

Hayk has returned but now he feels the same longing for western Armenia and Sassoun in particular that his forbearers had after being exiled.

“I sit and remember what I have seen and where I have been. My longing hasn’t been quenched. Western Armenia is just like the old folk described it, a paradise. Our Sassoun folk are mountain people but down in Moush it’s a Garden of Eden. Everything grows there,” Hayk recounts.

The Vardanyans of Moush: A Father’s Terrible Choice

Hamayak Vardanyan, Hayk’s brother-in-law who also made the trip, says that Moush alone could feed all of Armenia.

“It’s all fertile land. Moush, Erzeroum, Bitlis, Basen, Sarikamish. Just go and see what I mean. We go as visitors with heavy hearts, see all that, and come back here.”

Hamayak Vadanyan lives in the village of Kakavadzor in Aragatzotn Marz. It’s his first trip to western Armenia. He too found his ancestral home in the Verin Marnik village of Moush.

The house and most of the village is in ruins. There are only 10 or so occupied house in the village. He says there isn’t even a paved road leading to the Msho Arakelots Vank of lore.

Hamayak’s father was the only sibling who survived the Genocide. On the road of exile from Moush, his father took his baby boy from his wife’s hand, wrapped it up and left the child in a wheat field. The father collected the children of is two brothers instead and brought them to Kakavadzor to keep the family tree alive.

All of the members of the brothers’ family died in the Genocide. If Hamayak’s father hadn’t saved the children, the family would have disappeared without a trace.

“When they arrived at this place there was a terrible hailstorm that destroyed the crop. My mother would cry and say that God was punishing us for leaving that baby behind. My father replied by saying that ‘God knows what I did. I left my baby behind in order to save the children of my two brothers,” Hamayak recounts.

The family of the brothers survived. One of the descendants was the physician Vahe Baghdasaryan who fought and died in the Artskah War.

Photos: Hakob Poghosyan

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Related posts:

  1. 19 Year-Old Armenian Soldier Laid to Rest in Amberd
  2. 14-year old boy hangs himself in Armenia’s Lori region (photos)
  3. The “Football” Process Between Armenia & Turkey Is Over: Hayk Demoyan
  4. Hayk Babukhanyan: Armenia Should Set March 1 As A Deadline For Ratification
  5. 28 Year-Old Independent Wins Mayoral Election in Griboyedov

US Media Discusses The Armenian Genocide

10:35, August 17, 2012

82 year-old Hayk Khamoyan pulls out a slip of paper from his vest pocket.

He’s recently returned from visiting his family roots in western Armenia and the paper lists the names of the places he saw along the way.

“I have trouble remembering all the names, so I had my son jot them down. When my neighbours ask me where I went, I give them the paper to read. Everyone is curious. Just this morning I showed the list to some people here,” says Mr. Khamoyan.

Grandpa Hayk examines the paper and turns to his son Radik, “Hey, you forget to put down Aghtamar. I got on the boat and went to the island. I lit a candle at the church.”

Hayk Khamoyan is the first of the descendants of those who fled the Aghbi village of Sassoun during the Genocide, and made their way to Verin Bazmaberd in Aragatzotn Marz, to return to the ancestral home of Gyalarash, a neighbourhood of Aghbi. The various neighbourhoods of the Aghbi are miles apart from each other, nestled in the mountains and valley of Sassoun.

“I really wanted to take my father and uncle there; the place of their roots. God granted me the pleasure to go myself and see their native home. I had always dreamt of going to western Armenia with them,” says Hayk’s son Radik.

Radik is the secretary of the Sassoun-Taron Patriotic Union and has sung in the Akounk, Zvartounk and Maratouk groups. He’s also taught traditional dance.

Hayk Khamoyan’s father was the only member of the extended clan who made it out alive.   Some forty members of the clan died during the Genocide, many during self-defence battles in the mountains.

There a woman named Shoushan in Verin Bazmaberd who also made the trek from Aghbi. She was an eye witness to how the village was raided and plundered and how Hayk’s relatives, except his father, were killed. She has related all this to Hayk.

Hayk’s father made his way to eastern Armenia and the village of Verin Bazmaberd where he married and tried to make a new life.

Grandpa Hayk says the family story goes that they wanted to remain close to the border in order to return to western Armenia one day. “They always preserved that longing to go back but it never happened. Would the Soviet Union allow anyone to cross the border?”

“I also remember that old woman Shoushan,” says Radik. “They came here and died here. But they always talked about their home and village back over there. Over the years, I heard so many stories about the place that I could actually picture it all.”

The Soviets exiled Hayk’s father as a subversive in 1942 to Siberia where he died or was killed. Nobody can say for sure. He left eight children in Bazmaberd and a widow.

“Exile, massacres, the KGB, WWII, eight fatherless children, etc. Talk about fate. And now one of those eight kids makes the journey back to his father’s native land,” says Radik.

Hayk’s mother, who hailed from Basin, was also the only member of her family to survive the Genocide. When she passed in 1996, the family had 156 grand and great grandchildren. Hayk has since given up counting. “But my sister’s husband is a teacher and he’s kept a list of the extended family and all the births.”

Radik is preparing to publish the family tree and history. According to his research, the family can trace their roots to Sassoun as far back as the 1600s.

97 Years of Longing: Finding the House Built by His Grandfather

Grandpa Hayk was able to locate the Gyalarash neighbourhood of Aghbi village and even his father’s house. The old man was persistent and asked anyone willing to talk.

He had also learnt Kurdish over the years from the Yeminis living in the village of Matador near Bazmaberd. His knowledge of the language came in handy during his travels in western Armenia.

Hayk had been told by his father that there was a big walnut tree by their house in the “old country” and a spring nearby. The house was built by Hay’s grandfather, Khmu. The tree had been planted by him as well. Khmo had also built a basin to collect the water following from the mountains.

Hayk’s father had six brothers that lived side by side in four homes. When Hayk visited only his father’s house and another were left.

“I told the Kurds They Can Stay”

Hayk approached his father’s house and asked the current Kurdish residents who the house belonged to. They said they didn’t know. When Hayk said it was the home of Khmo, one of the Kurds, in amazement, said. Yes.

The new residents haven’t renovated the house at all. It has the same roof and inner beams.

“I told that Kurd that these are the beams built by my grandfather. He said, yes. The guy hasn’t changes a thing other than taking down the nearby tonratoun (clay pit for baking and cooking).”

Without being invited inside, Hayk opened the door, entered the house and made a tour. The Kurds did nothing to stop him.

“It was like I was entering my own home. I didn’t feel like a stranger at all. Not for one minute. I was on my ancestral land and it all seemed so familiar and intimate,” Hayk recounts.

Inside, the only furniture was an old sofa. There was a Kurd lying on it.

When Hayk entered the man got up, somewhat startled. “I told him this is the house of my grandfather but don’t worry, I haven’t come to put you out. Upon hearing this he smiled a bit and confessed that, yes, this is the home of Khmo,” says Hayk.

Hayk says the water from the spring is still following. The Kurds had chopped down most of the walnut tree, saying that it had gotten too big and the branches had covered the nearby garden. Hayk says they cut it down for its wood.

The Kurds then invited the visiting Armenians in for refreshments and even called in a singer to entertain them. One of the Kurds living in the house had been given a Kalashnikov by the government. The man was working as a village patrol member for the government, a kind of eyes and ears to monitor the movements of Kurdish separatists.

Hayk says that there are 3-4 houses occupied in each of the neighbourhoods of Aghbi, but there are no stores or medical clinics. Many of the Kurds have left the mountainous areas and moved down into the valley.

I felt right at home in Sassoun”

“Only the very strong have remained in the mountains. It’s an 8 kilometre climb. Imagine going up and down with baggage? No road existed here in the past but they’ve built one now,” Hayk says.

Hayk brought back stones from his father’s house and water from the spring. He also brought back a stone polished from years of spring water running over it.

He scattered the soil he brought back from western Armenia over the graves of Sassoun descendants and others now buried in Verin Bazmaberd.

The 82 year-old was the eldest in the group of 15 that made the trip to western Armenia. But he was one of the most indefatigable.

“I felt no tiredness there, just happiness. I extracted strength from Sassoun and its mountains. And we made our way to all the mountains even though the roads were in terrible shape and quite scary.”

Hayk has returned but now he feels the same longing for western Armenia and Sassoun in particular that his forbearers had after being exiled.

“I sit and remember what I have seen and where I have been. My longing hasn’t been quenched. Western Armenia is just like the old folk described it, a paradise. Our Sassoun folk are mountain people but down in Moush it’s a Garden of Eden. Everything grows there,” Hayk recounts.

The Vardanyans of Moush: A Father’s Terrible Choice

Hamayak Vardanyan, Hayk’s brother-in-law who also made the trip, says that Moush alone could feed all of Armenia.

“It’s all fertile land. Moush, Erzeroum, Bitlis, Basen, Sarikamish. Just go and see what I mean. We go as visitors with heavy hearts, see all that, and come back here.”

Hamayak Vadanyan lives in the village of Kakavadzor in Aragatzotn Marz. It’s his first trip to western Armenia. He too found his ancestral home in the Verin Marnik village of Moush.

The house and most of the village is in ruins. There are only 10 or so occupied house in the village. He says there isn’t even a paved road leading to the Msho Arakelots Vank of lore.

Hamayak’s father was the only sibling who survived the Genocide. On the road of exile from Moush, his father took his baby boy from his wife’s hand, wrapped it up and left the child in a wheat field. The father collected the children of is two brothers instead and brought them to Kakavadzor to keep the family tree alive.

All of the members of the brothers’ family died in the Genocide. If Hamayak’s father hadn’t saved the children, the family would have disappeared without a trace.

“When they arrived at this place there was a terrible hailstorm that destroyed the crop. My mother would cry and say that God was punishing us for leaving that baby behind. My father replied by saying that ‘God knows what I did. I left my baby behind in order to save the children of my two brothers,” Hamayak recounts.

The family of the brothers survived. One of the descendants was the physician Vahe Baghdasaryan who fought and died in the Artskah War.

Photos: Hakob Poghosyan

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Related posts:

  1. 19 Year-Old Armenian Soldier Laid to Rest in Amberd
  2. 14-year old boy hangs himself in Armenia’s Lori region (photos)
  3. The “Football” Process Between Armenia & Turkey Is Over: Hayk Demoyan
  4. Hayk Babukhanyan: Armenia Should Set March 1 As A Deadline For Ratification
  5. 28 Year-Old Independent Wins Mayoral Election in Griboyedov

Our Sponsors

Commentary

Want to Write for Hetq?

Image 33145.jpg

10:24, March 14, 2014

I’m looking for freelancers who can broaden the scope of Hetq’s English edition

Arts & Culture, Commentary, Politics, Civil Society, Interviews…

Anything interesting happening in your local community you’d like to share?

Write to me with your ideas and story suggestions.

Hrant at hg.hetq@gmail.com

Source: HetqOriginial Article

No related posts.

For Better or For Worse: Nature Protection Ministry Proposes Amendments to Water Use Laws

Image 32562.jpg

16:44, February 14, 2014

With the goal of providing a systematic solution to issues of effective use of water resources in Ararat valley, the Ministry of Nature Protection of the Republic of Armenia (RA) is proposing amendments and additions to the RA Water Code, and the RA laws on the Republic of Armenia’s National Water Program, on Licensing, and on State Tax.

The proposed legislative package has been sent to the relevant state agencies for their input.

Head of the Ministry of Nature Protection’s Water Resources Management Agency Volodya Narimanyan told Hetq, said that with this amendment package his ministry is attempting to clarify the ideas and the ambiguous commentary, as well as introduce new requirements. For example, one of the main points of the proposed amendments is if water use permit conditions are not met, the water use permit might be annulled.

“In the past, if water use conditions weren’t met, we couldn’t void the permit, but now we’re making that clear. If the state gives you a water use permit with this condition, be kind and meet this condition; otherwise, we will make the permit null and void,” he explained.

A new requirement in the proposed package concerning the execution of drilling operations stipulates that a drilling company or individual must obtain a license so that the state can supervise its activities. “Those companies that execute drilling must have a license for drilling. That is, we are proposing to license activities,” he added.

After the relevant state bodies discuss and submit their opinions regarding the amendments, Narimanyan says, the package will be sent to the RA Ministry of Justice, the government, then finally to parliament.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

No related posts.

2013 in Civil Society: Protests and more protests

Thumbnail

The struggle of civil movements this year has been comprehensive and diverse with limited success in certain fields due to unified efforts and active involvement of the civil society.

Despite the rather passive start of the year in terms of civil movements, the second half of 2013 turned out to be tense with active developments.

Some analysts believe that especially after the February 18 presidential ballot, when current president Serzh Sargsyan won a decisive victory over his opponents and was re-elected for a second term, despite the widespread poverty and atmosphere of injustice in the country, people became even more aware of the fact that is it impossible to achieve changes via elections and started practicing their constitutional rights to civil protest and disobedience more frequently.

Karabakh war veterans’ civil standoff has been unprecedented. Although, every now and then on different occasions they had complained of their social conditions and of being neglected by the state , however never before had they come out to hold systematic rallies and sitting strikes. Retired army colonel Volodya Avetisyan initiated the civil standoff in May and in October found himself behind the bars, with charges of “swindling …in large amounts”. Avetisyan’s and his comrades-in-arms claim that by bringing charges the authorities are trying to silence him. The war vets demanding increase of their pensions and various privileges have now focused their struggle on various acts of protest in Avetisyan’s support. There is another group of Karabakh war veterans presenting political demands to the government. Every Thursday they hold small rallies in Liberty Square and demand that the government resign.

Yerevan mayor Taron Margaryan’s decision to raise public bus fare by 50 percent made the hot Yerevan summer even hotter.

The decision was immediately followed by a civil movement when numerous young activists held a variety of acts of protest during five consecutive days relentlessly struggling, rebelling against the bus fare increase and made the municipal government in the Armenian capital heed the people’s voice, forcing them to understand they would not pay more for using the overloaded, worn-out and hardly functioning minibuses.

The unified effort yielded results and on July 26 the mayor suspended the application of his decision temporarily, meaning that the buses and minibuses continued operating for the same 100 dram fare (around 24 cents). The mayor, however, stated that if residents of Yerevan wanted to have decent public transport services, they have to be ready to pay more. Municipal officials and transport companies running the routes have repeatedly stated after the summer civil standoff that the rise of bus fare is unavoidable, grounding it by the fact that everything else has become more expensive except for public transport services, hence their expenses have grown and they are operating at a loss.

The departing year has turned out to be rather active also in terms of public protests against controversial construction projects. In August, residents of 10 and 12 Sayat-Nova Avenue and 5 Komitas streets, in Yerevan, rebelled against construction in their neighborhoods. These people claim that the construction licenses in densely populated zones of the city are illegal, violate the seismic resistance norms, and block their light. Despite the variety of measures the residents have resorted to, even lying down in front of construction machines to block their way, no tangible results have been achieved; their struggle is ongoing (h).

Despite a drawn-out battle to preserve unchanged Yerevan’s Pak Shuka (“Covered Market”), on the list of historical-cultural heritage and belonging to businessman MP Samvel Alexanyan, opened its doors after two years of repairs, but now as a fashionable supermarket, rather than the produce market it used to be. Although ruling Republican MP Alexanyan kept the fa

Related posts:

  1. Boris Navasardyan resigns as EaP Civil Society Forum co-chair
  2. U.S., French mediators meet civil society in Karabakh, advocate people-to-people contacts
  3. Ethnic Issue: Armenia’s largest minority lacks civil society representation
  4. New funding to support economic development, civil society and institution building in Armenia
  5. Citizen’s central role in civil campaign makes struggle stronger – Armenian oppositionist

Armenian Foreign Policies 2013: Customs Union, U-turn on EU accord, Karabakh, Turkey, regional developments

Thumbnail

2013 became a milestone year for Armenia not only in its foreign, but also domestic politics. After nearly four years of negotiations with the European Union over the signing of an association agreement on September 3 Armenia unexpectedly announced its intention to join the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

This decision has had its influence not only on Armenia proper, but also on the processes elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Inspired by Armenia’s decision, Russia stepped up its pressure on Ukraine, which suspended the process of signing of the Association Agreement with the EU one week before the Vilnius summit of Eastern Partnership. As a result, on November 29 such agreements were initialed only by Moldova and Georgia.

During the year there has been an ongoing debate in Armenia and other post-Soviet countries about whether it is expedient “to revive a new Soviet empire” under the name of a Eurasian Union. But at the end of the year plans to create such a union remain relevant – in May 2014 Armenia is going to be one of the six founders of the Eurasian Union (along with Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan).

Before September 3, Armenia was actively engaged with Europe, stating about shared values and ‘civilizational’ approaches. Armenia even dared reproach Russia for selling offensive weapons to Azerbaijan.

After September 3, however, Armenia suddenly remembered its centuries-old friendship with Russia as well as Russia’s ‘salutary’ role. Pro-Russian rhetoric increased and some even stated the readiness to return to the Russian Empire. In particular, publicist Zori Balayan wrote a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, mentioning the Treaty of Gulistan of 1813, according to which, as a result of the Russian-Persian war, Persia renounced claims to Karabakh that went under Russia’s control.

The Russia-West struggle for post-Soviet countries, including for Armenia, in 2013 came out of its passive phase and acquired the character of an open confrontation. In the course of this battle all methods were employed – from economic blackmail to high-level visits. In particular, the visit by Putin to Armenia on December 2, as some analysts say, marked Armenia’s losing another portion of its sovereignty and security to Russia.

There have been some new developments in the Karabakh settlement process as well. In particular, on November 19, in Vienna, the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Serzh Sargsyan and Ilham Aliyev, met for the first time in almost two years. During the meeting some new proposals were apparently discussed. The talks were confidential, but on the basis of available information experts assume that Russia and Turkey are promoting the project of opening the Turkish-Armenian border at the expense of Armenia’s concessions on two districts around Karabakh. The U.S. and Europe appear to insist on settlement and opening of communications while maintaining the current status quo in Karabakh.

Partially this version was confirmed on the eve of Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s visit to Yerevan on December 12 (he was attending a regional organization’s forum in the Armenian capital). The Turkish press openly reported the offer from Turkey, but President Sargsyan did not receive Davutoglu, while Minister Edward Nalbandian stated that preconditions are unacceptable in Armenian-Turkish normalization.

The sudden change in the policy of Armenia, according to analysts, could lead to some adjustments in the positions of Armenia on relations with Turkey. At the beginning of 2013 Yerevan set up a commission to study possible legal claims to Turkey. The body was headed by the then Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepyan. It was followed by assumptions that in 2015, when the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide will be marked, Armenia, with the support of the West, intends to advance serious claims to Turkey. However, the commission has not yet taken any public steps, and after September 3 decisions on claims to Turkey may already be made through Moscow.

Turkey has made no secret of its concern, especially in connection with the probability of combined Kurdish and Armenian claims. In this regard, Turkey has launched a wide-ranging process of reconciliation with the Kurds. 2013 became auspicious also for the Kurdish movement as the prospect of establishing Kurdistan became even closer.

The agreement on the conflict in Syria became an important event of the year also for Armenia in view of the sizable ethnic Armenian community in this Middle Eastern country. In accordance with this agreement, the world power centers decided not to support any side in the Syrian conflict, to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons and lead the country to democratic elections in 2014.

An even more significant agreement was reached by the end of the year on Iran’s nuclear program, which immediately led to the lifting of a number of sanctions that had been imposed on the Islamic Republic by the West and its activation in regional politics. In particular, Iran immediately tried to offer natural gas to Armenia that would apparently be less expensive than Russia’s. Projects in energy and communication sectors have also become more relevant in view of the recent developments and Armenia may play an important role in them.

Source: Armenia NowOriginial Article

Related posts:

  1. Armenian politician positive on Customs Union U-turn
  2. Hraparak: Russian envoy drops hints about Karabakh status in Customs Union
  3. U-Turn: Official Yerevan’s ‘desire’ to join Russia-led Customs Union comes as ‘big surprise’ for many in Armenia
  4. Armenian Government approves plan of action to join Customs Union
  5. Vote 2013: Customs Union as a factor in Armenia elections

Heritage reshuffle: Postanjyan becomes new leader of parliamentary faction

Thumbnail

Zaruhi Postanjyan has been elected new head of the opposition Heritage faction in parliament. The change comes after Ruben Hakobyan announced his decision to resign as faction leader earlier today.

Talking to media in parliament Hakobyan said Heritage Party leader Raffi Hovannisian had been notified about his move well in advance. He left questions about reasons for his step without commentary, only saying that he had decided to step down as faction leader before the recent scandal around Postanjyan in the wake of her controversial question to President Serzh Sargsyan about his gambling habit at the PACE plenary session in Strasbourg on October 2.

Unlike a majority of Heritage members Hakobyan then was critical of Postanjyan’s behavior. Representatives of the ruling party in Armenia called her statement in Strasbourg slanderous and the parliament speaker threatened to expel her from the Armenian delegation to the PACE.

Postanjian, meanwhile, would not be drawn into speculation about the reasons for Hakobyan’s decision either.

Source: Armenia NowOriginial Article

No related posts.