Time Does Not Heal All Wounds… It Does Not Soften The Pain… It Does Not Obscure The Truth… Nor Does It Dilute Our Determination…
For 106 years, since the Armenian Genocide, time has not succeeded in working its purported magic of healing, softening, obscuring, or diluting.
In fact, the recent great national tragedy in Artsakh and Armenia tells that not much has changed in our indigenous neighborhood even after the passage of more than 100 years.
Many feared that once the 100-year mark passed, the Genocide would slip away easily and unnoticed into the dustbin of history.
Those fears, while understandable, were apparently misplaced.
As long as Turkey and its unscrupulous accomplices continue their mass cover-up of the colossal crime of the Armenian Genocide and wantonly roll out their modern killing machines in Artsakh more than 100 years later continuing their genocidal designs, we shall not weary, we shall not rest.
On this all-encompassing occasion, we present the compelling reflections of Ara Mgrdichian, a friend of the Armenian Bar Association and someone who has been active in community matters here, in Los Angeles, Armenia, and Artsakh over the course of many years.
A Sinister Nomenclature
It is of dire importance to any authentic representation of the century-long Genocide of the Armenians still on-going, to clearly and without any presentiment, note that what has been and is being described by journalists, politicians, pundits, and so-called experts as “ethnic clashes,” “a long brewing conflict,” “fight for disputed territories,” etc., in regard to Turkish and Azeri state violence, directed at Artsakh, Armenia, and the Armenian people, are part and parcel of a larger spectrum of false monikers aimed at propping up a series of grand narratives that serve specific regional and transnational, global interests, pursued vis a vis governmental and non-governmental players aiming to gain from the destruction of Artsakh, Armenia, and Armenians. The lexicon used to describe the immense human tragedy–still unfolding–not only minimizes and diminishes the scope of these crimes against humanity committed (and being committed, still) against Armenians, but promulgates the aforementioned lethal set of grand narratives that belong to a long history of revisionist propaganda archetypes used to relegate the victims of these crimes to the odious, semiotic dustbin of history and journalistic oblivion. Just as the genocide of the Armenians begun a hundred years ago was not a “massacre” or “the tragic result of world war,” the anti-Armenian violence (referenced often as of late), of the late 1980s and early 1990s–the pogroms of Sumgait, Baku, and Kirovabad–were not “ethnic clashes” that were the result of “lingering historic animosities” or any other sinister nomenclature that seeks to disguise, purposefully, the true nature of these offensive, unilateral, genocidal attacks against the Armenian population. The intentional, premeditated violence against Armenians of the late 1980s in Baku, Sumgait, and Kirovabad were acts of extreme, one-sided violence stemming from state sanctioned and initiated genocidal policies against Armenians that resulted in murders, rapes, mutilations, and the fleeing of surviving refugees, to the four corners of the earth, including, at the time, to assumed safe haven in Artsakh and Armenia. And, no, “both sides” did not “suffer comparable losses,” despite the attempts by pro-Turkish, global apologists to create false equivalencies. These crimes were, and are, in fact, the direct, unabashed, continuation of a systemic and systematic policy of racism and genocide, both human and cultural, aimed against the Armenian people, with its most glaring antecedent being the genocide begun and perpetrated by Turkey proper against Armenians at the beginning of the last century and the cultural genocide emanating therefrom and continuing to date. To describe these acts in any other way is to be complicit in the crime of genocide; it is to participate in the destruction of a people, and to aid in the denial of this most grave crime against humanity. The Azeri state, at the center of current and previous maelstroms of violence carried out against the Armenians, was created by the Bolsheviks, with close advisement from a slew of often oppositional regional and global players of agency, as a way to control and exploit Transcaucasian resources and territories through fomenting divisions, both territorial and otherwise, among the newly Sovietized states and oblasts. Prior to this time, there was no Azeri state, but there were people termed Caucasian Tatars, Azeris, Muslim Turkic peoples, as well as distinct and, to this day oppressed, ethnic groups such as the Lezgis and the Talish, who inhabited, what was once part of historical Armenia, and only later became Azerbaijan, with its capital Baku, whose creation and development as a petroleum center was the handiwork of native Armenians. Genocidal massacres and pogroms against native Armenians, conducted by Azeri Turks, numbering into the tens of thousands–up to at least 30,000 or more in one case alone—occurred in Artsakh (Karabagh), particularly Shushi, even prior to the creation of Azerbaijan SSR.These massacres occurred in tandem, prior, and subsequent to the genocide of Armenians in Western Armenia, now Turkey, as part of a Turkish (and western state/corporate) program to deplete the Armenian Highland of its indigenous population. The direct connection, politically and historically, with the Turkic populations of Transcaucasia and the Turkish state proper, whether it is called the Ottoman Empire or the Republic of Turkey, is glaring and cannot be ignored, as their most recent alliances, acts of violence, and war crimes attest.
Subsequent to the bloody Stalinist, Bolshevik betrayal against the Armenians, through collusion with the genocidal Ataturk regime, and multiplied tenfold by the betrayal of Armenian sovereignty and territorial rights by the West (with the subsequent loss of all of Western Armenia), the horror of destruction continued with the fragmentation of the Armenian state and the award of two historically and strategically integral Armenian regions—Artsakh (Karabagh) and Nakhichevan–to newly created Azerbaijan. This was done, as noted earlier, both as compensation to violent neighbor Turkey, but, moreover, as a way to divide, conquer, and keep Soviet control of Transcaucasia (hegemony and oil) and to facilitate the initiation of a new world fossil fuel order that both the West and East had demarcated in the aftermath of WW I. But, most importantly for us, it was in the interests of all concerned—proximate and distant operators, all–to keep Armenia stymied in its development as a state, much as is the case today. The genocidal practices of the Turks continued against the Armenian people both within Turkey and Azerbaijan during the totality of Soviet rule. With Artsakh (Karabagh) and Nakhichevan being given to Azerbaijan as so called “Autonomous Oblasts,” the Azeri Turks were provided official cover to consistently and constantly subject indigenous Armenians to the ravages and violence of cultural genocide and systemic racism resulting in measurable, dire consequences for Armenians and their native land. In addition to this tragic fragmentation and hand-over of strategic, resource-laden Armenian territories, other equally strategic Armenian regions, particularly Karvajar and southern, as well as eastern portions of historical Armenia, had been ordained as Azerbaijan outright—not even as oblast or autonomous zone. The historically Armenian region of Javakhk became Georgian fragmenting Armenia further and, of course, one must remember, again, with great pain, the colossal territorial “elephant in the room” at the time (and possibly for all time) and that is the complete appropriation of Western Armenia by Turkey—Kars, Erzurum, Van, et al–despite all treaties, talks, and transactions by and from the “Great Powers,” who were, in fact, at the core and center of the orchestration of this callous quartering of a nation. Azerbaijan continued its oppression of native Armenians in what was left of their indigenous homeland of Artsakh throughout the Soviet period via forced relocations, policies of exclusion from state programs and positions of local and regional power–while advancing Azeri Turks in their stead; diverting water and other resources from Armenian towns and villages to Azeri settlements, as well as destroying and vandalizing ancient Armenian historical sites, artifacts, and monuments. When they did not destroy these global treasures outright (the most heinous instance being the complete destruction of all Armenian Cross Stones (Khachkars) and churches in Nakhichevan) the Azeri Turks often turned sacred monasteries and ancient structures into barns housing cattle and their excrement and used ancient cross stones, and other artifacts, as fodder for constructing outhouses and sheds as had been done, simultaneously, in Turkey proper over the course of decades. The Armenians of Artsakh were, moreover, the victims of an orchestrated policy of biologic terrorism through the intentional tainting of natural resources by their Azeri Turk governors. Artsakh Armenians were forced to suffer the consequences of unsafe, toxic drinking water and irrigation supplies in many areas of their otherwise fecund homeland, over long years during Soviet Azeri rule (among the ravages of other chemical and heavy metal pollutants) resulting in vastly heightened cases of cancer, sterility, and other health issues of note pronounced within native Artsakh Armenians. When the fall of the Soviet had already begun in the sad afterglow of Glasnost, the Turk Azeris of Baku, Sumgait, Kirovabad, and elsewhere took it upon themselves to restart the once overt and active genocidal policies they had been forced to curtail into cultural and more “subtle” means of ethnic cleansing (kidnappings, disappearances, beatings, etc.) during Soviet rule, and began, once again, to carry out pogroms and massacres against native Armenians.
Bereft of regulation from imperial overlords or others, the genocidal Azeri Turkish state, instead of ceasing and desisting, in fact, renewed and enlarged its policy of genocide by pursuing an unprovoked, violent, one-sided military offensive against the long-suffering, indigenous Armenian population of Artsakh and Armenia proper, with the clear intent of continuing their policy of ethnic cleansing, genocide, and destruction of all traces of indigenous Armenian life.
What started in the proximate past in Baku, Sumgait, and Kirovabad, with its antecedents in the first genocide of the 20th century, was pursued into Artsakh, literally chasing the Armenians westward, further, into what was left of their indigenous lands. The Azeri Turkish state, with the help of Turkey and both the official and unofficial West (as well as Soviet Special Forces early in the aggression), then, attempted to pursue their mutual, historic, and ongoing genocidal policies directly to Artsakh and Armenia proper, launching brutal attacks specifically against civilian Armenians and their indigenous cultural correlatives, from 1989/1990 to 1994. Thus, the “Artsakh (Karabagh) War” of 1990 to 1994 was not intended as “a war of liberation” or was it ever “a war for disputed territory” or “a brewing ethnic conflict” in some “backwater,” but the existential, life and death struggle for self defense and survival by an indigenous people, in its indigenous land, against an unrelenting enemy force seeking to perpetrate genocide, destroy its very existence, and erase all trace of that existence from the face of the earth. In the process of this life and death struggle for self-defense and survival against planned policies and acts of genocide—not “a war for territory”–the Armenians of Artsakh were able to protect their existence, at great human and material cost, eventually forcing a peace with a most ruthless belligerent. In the process, the Armenians of Artsakh and Armenia were, also, able to liberate historic Armenian lands, “gifted” to Azerbaijan by Stalin, dotted with thousands of architectural and historic monuments and artifacts attesting to the land’s Armenian provenance. The extent of these liberated historical Armenian lands, once usurped by Soviet overlords and Azeris, fortunately and necessarily, went beyond the catastrophic, artificial territorial lines created by the Bolsheviks and Stalin in service of their own imperial interests. They, in fact, became minimal necessary operational buffer zones to guarantee a modicum of safety for Artsakh and Armenia from what had proven to be an unrelenting and deadly onslaught by a genocidal post-Soviet, Turkish Azerbaijan, aiming to eradicate Armenians and Armenian culture in the indigenous Armenian homeland. This onslaught, during the early 1990s, included official and unofficial support from Turkey and Turkish paramilitary organizations, US actors and operators—both official and unofficial, and, at various time-scalings, imported Afghan Mujahedeen, Chechen Jihadists, Pakistani and Ukrainian mercenary fighter pilots, and a slew of other military and paramilitary resources used to bomb Armenian civilians and cultural heritage sites and destroy thousands of Armenian lives. For approximately 30 years, a tenuous “peace,” constantly peppered with Azeri aggression and violations of ceasefire agreements including a four-day war, plagued this beautiful land and resulted in countless deaths of both its soldiers and civilians. That is until September of 2020, when the unfathomable occurred–Azerbaijan and Turkey, supported by Israel, Ukraine, Georgia, Pakistan, and thousands of Jihadist mercenaries imported to the region by Turkey, green-lit by the West (UK, US, et al), unleashed the next level of this genocide ongoing resulting in 5000 or more Armenian deaths, 10,000 or more crippled and wounded, hundreds still missing, and scores abused in Azeri prisons. The ongoing Genocide against Armenians took on a more blatant, sinister, and global dimension in 2020 as the Turkish High Military Command took direct control of Azeri, Turkish, and imported terrorist forces, and deployed Turkish Special Forces, thousands of deadly drones, F-16s, and other weapons and personnel, en masse, into the theater of operations in Azerbaijan and, subsequently, into the Republic of Artsakh.
Thousands of Jihadist terrorist forces from northern Syria were transported into Azerbaijan, and the region, by Turkey, with the help of others, to wage battle against Armenians in numbers far greater than the Afghan, Chechen, Pakistani assets and other mercenaries deployed during the 1990s. The Azeri state also enjoyed the full support of Israel, who, most sadly, not only sold Azerbaijan the latest drone, communications, and radar technologies over the years, but was, along with Turkey, flying large capacity cargo aircraft 5 to 10 times a day, full of weapons and other supplies out of Tel Aviv to Baku–even on their holiest of high holy days, Yom Kippur. The Turks, US, UK, and related assets provided unofficial support and “military advisors” during the 1990s, including certain front organizations for their respective intelligence services, but nothing near the magnitude of what was allowed and provided for during the most recent attempts at annihilation. Azerbaijan, in no uncertain terms, clearly exploited, in this latest manifestation of genocide ongoing, Israeli, Turkish, and other NATO satellite and Hum Intel at every turn, and had its lapdog Georgia close off its airspace to Armenian flights and to flights aimed at providing humanitarian aid to Artsakh and Armenia during this most horrific time. In 2020, the Ukraine also continued to support the Azeri state and Turkey with arms, weapons, and other resources, as did Pakistan. In the run-up to its genocidal designs of 2020, Azerbaijan spent untold millions retaining top global public relations organizations, journalists for hire, and a phalanx of social media “assassins” aiming to inundate all platforms with fictitious news accounts, revisionist propaganda, and false narratives regarding Azeri and Turkish aggression and its history, as well as projecting the victims of this ongoing genocide—Armenia and Artsakh—as aggressors. And, as 100 years ago, it is no surprise that the world sat—and continues to sit–in complicit and conspiratorial silence, both publicly and in private, as these genocidal acts and their horrific consequences continue to unfold.
As we begin to call things by their actual names and begin to dispose of the sinister nomenclature that destroys worlds and humans for the sake of greed, we begin, in turn, to destroy the “rose colored glasses” whose hue is, in fact, derived from a sanguine red, tinted and tainted by the innocent blood of our own families. Truth to power is born in the very words we use to raise high the sacred mantle that we now carry. This is how we begin to tear away the camouflage–whether fine muslin or rough foliage–and see how we have allowed ourselves to be duped and destroyed.This is how we begin to see the true nature, depth of direction, and collusion in our destruction by the very states from which Armenians have, sadly, sought help and sponsorship for decades and decades, as well as–most sadly–the direct complicity of the current illegitimate regime in Armenia in all of this bloody mayhem. This is how we realize that the narratives and mores of a “greater” so-called “civilized society” are not at all civilized, nor greater, but the precise opposite—exploitation and murder couched within a saccharine sweetness sure to kill. So, let us, now, note and remember, then, the importance of calling things by their actual names, rather than participating in the further embedding of a sinister nomenclature–false global narratives–within ourselves and others, that aid in the erasure of a people–our people–and its culture for all time. Those narratives and mores we have been trained to hold dear by those aiming to exploit us, often, if not always, have tethered us to the posts where we are slaughtered.
This is how we begin to destroy a sinister nomenclature that defines the operational course of human oppression and to forestall the destruction of the Armenian people.
© Ara Mgrdichian