Commentary: The Skeletons Are Dancing…


By Edmond Y. Azadian

Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night agitated by a nightmare where I see a million-and-a-half skeletons dancing restlessly and seeking a peaceful place to rest. An entire nation was doomed to extermination and believed to have been buried in 1915. But the skeletons are still dancing and they are still seek- ing closure for their brutal deaths.

While the world turns a deaf ear to the pleas of those unburied bones and while Mr. Erdogan complains to Mr. Obama during their March meeting in South Korea that he is “bored” by the continuing attempts of the Armenians to have the Genocide recognized, we were hoping against hope that finally a resting place for the memory of those restless souls had found its place at a Genocide museum, within the walking distance of the White House at the nation’s capital.

The story was too good to be true. A few selfless benefactors had come together, pledged millions of dollars, bought a historic bank building to convert into a museum dedicated to the Armenian Genocide, thumbing their noses at the Turkish government and sending a political message to the world — stand- ing for justice, truth and commemoration of the martyrs.

It was indeed a historic moment as the centennial of the Genocide was around the corner and Turkey was already planning its pre-emptive strike to blunt the political impact of Armenian activism, in the most visible spot in the world.

The initiative itself was significant in the sense that it presumed some political maturity on the part of Armenians, as a few well-meaning individuals had come forth to realize this most challenging project. Many similar major projects in this arena in the past were stillborn when left to languish in committees who could not carry out the work.

The Turkish government would have given an arm and a leg to destroy the project, or at least derail it until the Genocide centennial tsunami was over.

Little did we know that the Turks did not need to raise a finger to defeat the project. The self-destructive Armenian tradition was there to do the job. While the responsible parties were at each other’s throats, the Genocide museum project was on hold.

To raise questions about the issue has become such a political hot potato that one cannot approach the issue without ruffling some feathers, to mix metaphors. As the lawsuits have become so prevalent, a healthy dose of caution is warranted here.

Little is being filtered to the press and most of it extremely partisan and self-serving. Incidentally, no one can blame the political parties for adhering to partisan views after reading the incriminating releases about the ongoing legal battles.

News came out that Gerald Cafesjian had sued the Armenian

Assembly and had won the case, with John Waters, his assistant, blaming the Assembly. Now, it seems the tables have been turned and Mr. Waters is no less vitriolic in his attacks against his for- mer employer.

This tragedy reminds us of another one which triggered the disintegration of the French-Armenian community in Paris, in the 1960s, when Armenians had a collective home, a very rare feat for the community. It was a former palace belonging to a French count named Trevise on an eponymous street. All Armenian organizations — regardless of their political affiliation or leaning — owned space in that building and the majority of the company shares belonged to the Armenian Apostolic church. However, a man named Tossounian, who belonged to a French- Turkish club (a rare species, indeed) was able to undermine the legal foundations of the holding company, take over the proper- ty and expel all the organizations.

Ever since, Paris Armenians have never been able to come under one roof collectively.

Where the museum project stands at this time is anybody’s guess. The parties have been keeping their respective truths too close to their chests and anyone who tries to speculate about the issue, either does not know the truth or does not understand the issues. Yes, indeed, I don’t understand it and I am issuing a challenge to any other party that understands these shenanigans to explain them. It is incomprehensible that this despicable spectacle is going on in full view of the community (for that matter, the world) on the eve of the Genocide centennial.

Of course, the money belongs to the parties involved and no one has the right to question who wins and who loses that money. But the martyrs belong to everybody and everybody is entitled to know how the memory of the martyrs is being honored or exploited.

The Genocide Museum was meant to bring all Armenians together in a show of force. But its first step has already divided its initiators, before reaching the rank and file.

Can it be that truly the major players were incompetent enough to set off this disastrous chain of events? One assumes that individuals who have been able to amass so many resources must have enough judgment and intelligence to anticipate utter disaster far earlier than the conclusion of the legal battles.

The martyrs gave their own lives to maintain their faith and some people have to emulate them by compromising a portion of their egos.

Today, the legitimate question is: are we going to witness the dedication of the Genocide Museum on April 24, 2015? The answer is imperative and it has to come now.

The nightmare is continuing; the 1.5 million skeletons are dancing around the White House, seeking their resting place, but the parties are in court, settling personal scores while the Turks are laughing.