Hi, My name is Arsineh Khachikian. I was born and raised in Washington, DC and I currently live in Armenia, the homeland of my ancestors. My grandfather was a survivor of the Armenian Genocide, as are the grandparents of most Armenians across the globe. In fact, few of my friends have a family tree that extends beyond 3 generations. My question is this. What is the extent of research done by media outlets, including CNN, on the facts of genocide when covering a related story. In the case of the Armenian Genocide (as we saw in the coverage of the assassination of Turkish-Armenian Journalist Hrant Dink, as well as last year's controversial resolution passed in the House Foreign Affairs committee recognizing the Armenian Genocide), we rarely hear the genocide presented as a historical fact, rather as the "alleged" genocide, or "what Armenians say was genocide." How is that possible when a majority of historians worldwide site the Armenian genocide as a fact, providing amply evidence to support their argument. Isn't it true that by not presenting these facts, you are opening a forum for denial, which is the precedent that encourages other nations to follow the example, as Hitler followed Turkey's example when he said, "Afterall, who remembers the annihilation of the Armenians." Later the Hutus in Rwanda, and now Sudan continue to follow the same example. My second question is this. What do you believe to be the media's role in post-genocide story coverage, as pertaining to the denial campaigns by the perpetrator, which is widely considered to be the continuation of genocide committed. Thank you for very important program on this global epidemic.You can find more interesting posted questions here.
Friday, December 05, 2008
I guess not so bloody for others? CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour is know for her hard-hitting, ruthless style of journalism. She has covered some of the toughest stories CNN dares to tackle. It only makes sense that she take on the biggest human crisis known to man: Genocide. Tomorrow, CNN will broadcast her latest, Scream Bloody Murder of which Asbarez Daily Newspaper obtained a press screener and reports that In the almost 90-minute press screener, the Armenian Genocide was mentioned for about 45 seconds as an anecdotal reference to Lemkin's struggle for human justice. Using photographs now familiar to all Armenians and possibly obtained from Armin T. Wegner Collection, Amanpour illustrates the horror of the Armenian Genocide but does not delve into it in as in-depth and compelling manner as she does the other instances of Genocide. She also spoke directly with The Armenian Reporter, saying "... The fact that Turkey still denies it officially is a problem. We didn't find it so in our work, but it is an issue I know, especially for Armenia. We actually didn't focus entirely on the Armenian Genocide. The way we focused on it was to use it as this amazing opportunity to show where the word came from and what it actually infers; the Armenian Genocide infers to the words of Raphael Lemkin and that was incredibly important for us to highlight that. We focused a lot on the events that I've covered during my lifetime." I'm preparing to watch the program for myself, but given this much prior information, I have to ask. If you are going to cover the epidemic of genocide, starting with the campaign to criminalize genocide, continue to show the struggle so many have endured to (as you titled your program) "SCREAM BLOODY MURDER" while the world turned a deaf ear only to allow genocide to continue around the world, shouldn't you be talking about the biggest cover up of genocide, the very one which inspired Lemkin to coin the word, the very one which also inspired Adolf Hitler to follow through with the Holocaust? Afterall, it's this denial that scares CNN from ever using the word "Genocide" in their reporting on related matters. Thus, I turned my question on CNN. They are allowing the public to post questions in their ireport page prior to the program, of which apparently she will respond to during the show. Here's what I had to say:
Monday, December 01, 2008
In response to my blog on Change in Armenia (made on my facebook page), two of my friends raised concerns for change in a direction that is misguided, and another example of Western influence that is not necessarily positive progress. I ended up writing a very long response that I though was worth a blog in itself. So here it is... my response. Arsineh Khachikian wrote at 12:00am Anoush and Daniel, I have to say I agree and disagree on some level, but I'm glad you guys raised the issue. I think at times, we (including me) start to talk about Western influence as a quickly spreading disease that is threatening Armenia's society. I agree that Armenia can not be a copy of Western democracies, but this should not be a complete rejection of practices that take place in the West. When I said things were better this time around, I specified kindness and willingness to follow up and assist. This is a sign of professionalism that fuels efficiency. The case of Armenia is a little different because the system that was in place before no longer exists and cannot exist anymore. The Soviet days are over and turning back to them is no smarter than following in the steps of democracy. I'm not fond of consumerism, but I do believe in a form of democracy. There are many cases where diasporans have come from the US and implemented practices they learned in the US to create companies and NGOs that work very well in Armenia and employ hundreds of people, and primarily serve Armenia and Armenians, rather than globalization. In fact, our closed borders may be a blessing for that reason. I agree that quality of life cannot be found in consumerism. Quality of life is in compassion, love, respect. These are three characteristics I feel have been squashed in Armenia over the last 20 years. Every day, I meet more and more people holding doors open for each other, saying hello with a smile, and laughing with each other, and not just people of their same background. I believe that this is a result of people having work, managing their lives, and restoring their dignity. But there is a fine line between managing one's life and being squeezed in a capitalistic society that spins out of control... Here's my vision. We need to take the best of each society and apply it to Armenia. If there is one good description of Armenians in this world, it is that we are resourceful, often with the narrowest means. We have experts in all fields all around the world, and we are accomplishing great strides in our homeland against all odds. The bottom line is this. The world is going in a direction that affects us whether we like it or not. The world is interconnected, and it's better for Armenia to build a strong economy that can work with the West, but also stand on its own. It's a delicate game we are playing here, but this is a vision I believe Armenians can achieve. Thank you for your feedback guys, would love more discussion on this.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
My hope continues... Samantha Power is back, not only as part of Obama's trasition team, but as part of the State Department agency review team on the president-elect's official Web site. I hope she bites Clinton's head off. Now let's get a real position on Genocide. My next blog was interestingly enough going to be about my prediction on when the Genocide issue achieves recognition in the United States under an Obama administration. Given the inevitable appointment of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, my hope was diminishing. I started to imagine a different scenario, one that would delay proper Genocide recognition into a second term, and eventually call for recognition without proper reparations (a risky precedent... admit genocide without risk?). But Obama has displayed good judgement once again. After the Clintonites he appeased with high positions, he's remembering those who gave him a moral standing in this politicized Washington. Dr. Power, I salute you. (See her message to the Armenian community earlier in the campaign). Pulitzer Prize winning author (Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide) and Harvard Professor Dr. Samantha Power speaks at this year's Annual Armenian National Committee of America, Eastern Region Banquet where she received the ANCA Freedom Award for championing human rights as they pertain to the Armenian Cause. PHOTO BY ARSINEH KHACHIKIAN © 2008 Arsineh Khachikian OBAMA ADVISER WHO CALLED CLINTON A 'MONSTER' BACK November 29, 2008 Posted: 01:41 PM ET From CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney Power resigned from Obama's campaign earlier this year. (CNN) — Samantha Power, the Obama foreign policy adviser who stepped down from her post earlier this year after labeling Sen. Hillary Clinton a "monster," is now working for the president-elect's transition team. According to the Associated Press, Power is part of a team of foreign policy experts tapped by President-elect Obama to help ease the transition at the State Department — the agency Clinton is expected to head up. Power is also formally listed as part of the State Department agency review team on the president-elect's official Web site. Power stepped down from the Obama campaign in March after she called Clinton — then Obama's rival for the Democratic nomination — a "monster" and someone who "is stooping to anything." The comments came in an interview with a Scottish newspaper. "You just look at her and think, 'Ergh,' " Power also told The Scotsman then. "The amount of deceit she has put forward is really unattractive." Power quickly issued an apology for the comments, but resigned her post days later. "I made inexcusable remarks that are at marked variance from my oft-stated admiration for Senator Clinton," Power said in her resignation statement. The Obama transition team did not comment on Power's new role. Power is currently a professor at Harvard University and was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 2003 for her book, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide. In 2004, Time Magazine labeled her one of America's top 100 scientists and thinkers.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Akh, it was inevitable. I had to return to say something about the complete transformation our world has taken in the last year. Let's review what has happened in the last year (and couple months). I say couple months because I want to start with the event that was the beginning of things happening that shocked me: 1) The Armenian Genocide Resolution passed in the House Foreign Affairs Committee, resulting in worldwide coverage of the issue, including my favorite, the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. 2) Riots broke out after the Armenian Presidential elections, sparking a State of Emergency and resulting in many horrific deaths, thus putting the citizens of Armenia in a state of fear, frustration, rage, and lack of hope. (I didn't say they were good or bad, I just said it was a transformation. 3) Serzh Sargsyan became president of Armenia and started with a bang, inviting Turkish President Abdullah Gul to the Turkey-Armenia fútbol match in Armenia. He accepted the invitation and was received peacefully. In addition, hundreds of Turks also attended, while paying a visit to the Armenian Genocide Memorial and Museum. The game was followed with diplomatic talks of Turkish-Armenian Relations, and continue. 4) Senator Barack Obama became the first African American President-Elect of the United States. He takes with him the promise to properly recognize the Armenian Genocide. 5) My favorite, I published my first book and travelled to 13 cities to present and share the story and experience. That's just my own personal transformation. :) That's my top 5 major events of the last 14 months, stated to set the stage of my return to blogging. But if you've read my blogs before, you know full well I'm full of opinions, and not to fall short of my reputation, here's my first: OH HOW OUR STANDARDS HAVE LOWERED I'm just as happy as the next bleeding-heart liberal that Barack Obama has been elected president of the United States. I'm a firm believer that he will make the difference in proper recognition of the Armenian Genocide, despite the line up of advisors he's chosen. Yikes, these are not good friends. None-the-less, I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt and waiting until he has the opportunity to speak on the issue before attacking him. That said, I know he's not president yet, but he has already given a few press conferences. One of the things I loved most about Obama during his campaign was his articulate and poised speech. The last two days have shown another side of him that is not inspiring such strong confidence, and while I expected the media to prey on him for the first signs of a nervous and almost speechless Obama, they go on to clarify the points he was making for him. Again, proud of Obama, but when will the media do their job and properly question our leaders? If that were Bush (and I can't believe I'm defending him right now), the media would have chewed him up and spit him up by now. Anyway, I'll be in DC for the inauguration, so you know I'll be out celebrating with everyone else. I just hope that this is not a sign of a cowardly media sucking up to their precious new president. The fantasy is now over, let's treat him like we would any other president. CHANGE IS ON THE WAY... IN ARMENIA For the first time in years, I left Armenia for a solid few months of time in order to tour to promote my new book, My Nation: The Trails & Trials of an Armenian Repatriate. This gave me a chance to step away from Armenia, gain perspective and return with a fresh pair of eyes to see how much has changed. Boy has it. Customer care, entrepreneurs, major business endeavors, and serious marketing strategies have risen. My new high speed internet at a very low cost is not just the result of a competitive market, but also made possible by tele-marketing campaigns. Look, I hate tele-marketers, but how perfect was it that the day I was planning on researching internet package plans with Beeline, they happened to call offering home delivery service. Just days later, I had a technician trained to also setup internet on a Macintosh, knocking on my door with DSL in hand. All my questions answered, customer care hotline's provided, which I used almost immediately, and before I knew it, I was ready to go. Business aside, people seem nicer, more flexible, happier this time around. It's possible I'm just refreshed and now weeding out the positives around me, as opposed to before. But it's nice to come back to. For a while it seemed that the dynamic environment that attracted so many of us to move here was gone... replaced with tension and anger after the country took steps backward during the elections. It seems a positive energy is pushing us forward yet again. That's all for now. Stay tuned for more. I leave you with a pic of the week from my last stop on the 3 month tour: Dubai... not on my list of favorite cities... frankly, high on my list of cities I hate. Streets of Dubai. October 2008. © 2008 Arsineh Khachikian