BUILDING THE MONUMENT TO VICTIMSOF THE ASSYRIAN GENOCIDE IN YEREVAN DISTURBS THE PUBLIC

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The Assyrian community was inspired when it received information in 2009 that the authorities of Yerevan had given а ground area for the monument devoted to victims of the 1915 genocide of the Assyrian Nation, which is under the initiative of the “Atur” Assyrian Association NGO* headed by Arsen Mihaylov.
However, unfortunately, further steps taken by the “Atur” Association caused bewilderment because the sketch of the monument that the NGO presented to Yerevan Municipality for confirmation not only was not chosen through a competition, but has not been published in any newspaper or posted on any website. Therefore, the question of promulgating the sketch became a topic for discussion for the Interstate Assyrian Coordination Council (IACC) via an Internet conference and was made public through persistent demands from members of the IACC in June 2010.
The published sketch has been sharply criticized by the Assyrians in Armenia, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and abroad. Members of the IACC and individual experts have sent letters expressing their indignation to the Yerevan Municipality. The following are some assessments and opinions regarding the sketch in question:
– “This sketch doesn’t present the main ideas, including the tragedy of genocide and the characteristics of traditional Assyrian sculpture to define this complex as a part of Assyrian culture” (from the letter addressed to Yerevan Municipality by members of the Nikolayev organization of the National Union of Artists of Ukraine, Mirzoeva E. I. and Mirzoeva R. E.).
– “As a work of art, the sketch of the monument is artistically and semantically very weak and unprofessional. As an oriental studies expert and a journalist, I don’t understand why this project was not put up for an open debate and wasn’t chosen through a competition as is the case with projects of this magnitude and importance in all parts of the world” (from the letter addressed to Yerevan Municipality by V. Shumanov, editor-in-chief of www.atranews.com, Chicago, USA).
– “We are certain that you cannot help but share our grave concern over the fact that the chief architect of Yerevan confirmed a very bad design of the monument to the victims of the Assyrian genocide. It is inexpressive and doesn’t reflect the depth of our grief and tragedy of the events to which it is devoted. The erection of a monument with such a design would hurt our feelings as a nation. In addition, this design of the monument violates the established tradition of building monuments that give Yerevan a unique appearance that is not likely to make people who love the city indifferent. We really wouldn’t like to see a bad decision associated with the Assyrians in Yerevan…The Assyrians have appreciated and appreciate the impact of the spiritual and intellectual atmosphere of the modern Armenian capital on its citizens of all nationalities.
Of course, we are not trying to impose our opinion on you, but we cannot and will not remain indifferent toward this situation. Assyrians in many countries have repeatedly expressed the desire to transfer funds for the construction of the monument and such joint action is necessary not only for the construction of the monument, but for the maintenance of the consolidation of Assyrians scattered across the globe as well. Unfortunately, acquaintance with the confirmed design of the monument is forcing Assyrians abroad to refuse to fund this project.
The only way out of this situation would be to create a wide-ranging commission to approve the project through a fair and transparent competition. The commission should be composed of people who are honored in the Assyrian community of Armenia and experts, including artists, sculptors and architects. Of course, citizens of Armenia and, above all, the citizens of Yerevan should have the casting vote right. The fundraiser for construction of the monument should be open and fair.
We were deeply content when we learned that in Armenia has already established an initiating group advocating for the solution to the issue based on the above-mentioned principles.
We urge you to support the initiative for project approval of the monument through a competition. This fact will be estimated by Assyrians in different parts of the world with gratitude and will allow the accepting of the best architectural decisions for your fine city” (from the letter addressed to Yerevan Municipality by PhD, Joseph Zaya, Chairman of the Moscow Regional Ethnic Cultural Autonomy of Assyrians, Russia).

The Interstate Assyrian Coordination Council (IACC) has expressed its opinion on the inadmissibility of the realization of this sketch. The IACC had proposed to the “Atur” Association to address Yerevan Municipality with a request to declare the decision on the statement of the given sketch as invalid and declare an open contest for projects of a monument to victims of the Assyrian genocide in 1915.
Unfortunately, the “Atur” Association ignored the opinion expressed by many honorable people of the Assyrian community abroad. For this reason, the Commission “On the erection of the Assyrian Genocide Monument devoted to innocent victims in 1915” in Yerevan (hereinto the Commission) was created on 6 November 2010 because “the monument to victims of the Assyrian genocide erected in Armenia can be of incomparably higher importance than the same monument erected in any other country in the world” (from the letter addressed to Yerevan Municipality by Vice-President of the Association of Assyrians of Ukraine, Givargis Badari).
Representatives of the Assyrian community and religious organizations in Armenia, the Assyrian Federations of Armenia, honored people of the Assyrian community (with a compact population), public and religious organizations of the Assyrian Diaspora have been invited to be a part of the Commission.
The Provision on the Commission states that:
“1. The Commission has the right:
– To demand the granting of financial statements and explanations about gathering and expenditure of funds collected for construction of the monument,
– To address the proper authorities in case of violations of points in the draft for the erection of the monument, not the target of spending and the concealment of funds,
2. The Commission is required to publish reports of the fund raising, earmarked for the erection of the monument.”
In order for the International Assyrian Community to receive more precise information and participate as much as possible in the erection of the monument in Yerevan, the Commission is composed of two parts:
– The Commission with casting votes of citizens of Armenia of Assyrian nationality,
– The International Commission with the deliberative votes of representatives of the Assyrian Diaspora (i.e. not citizens of Armenia).

During a regular session of the Commission, it was decided to address the Mayor of Yerevan with a request to cancel a decision to approve the draft of the monument in order to announce a competition to design a monument dedicated to the innocent victims of the Assyrian genocide in 1915, because the construction of a monument with the project approved by Yerevan Municipality not acceptable because:
1. Construction of such a monument concerns not only the Assyrians in Armenia and the International Assyrian Community, but also citizens of Yerevan. Such a monument will cause harm to Yerevan and the unsuccessful construction will be associated with the Assyrian nation and that is simply inadmissible.
2. Construction would hurt our feelings as a nation from the artistic and professional viewpoint.
3. We can consider the construction of such a monument as the deliberate propagation of information that will belittle the cultural and spiritual heritage of the Assyrian nation.

Note:
A. Mikhailov was also invited to take part in the Commission, but unfortunately he didn’t respond to the proposal and that is why he was not included. The Commission consists of 12 Assyrians who have confirmed their participation in the Commission with their signatures.

Irina Sagradova-Gasparyan, Yerevan, Armenia

 

Members of the Commission: 

The Commissions with the casting vote right

1.       

Chairman,Irina Gasparyan Federation of Assyrian Organizations of Armenia  «Khayadta», Union of Legal Entities
2.       

Vazgen Isakov National Sculptor of Armenia
3.       

Gurgen Maiseev Initiative group
4.       

Lisa Muradova Teacher, artist
5.       

Rev. Isaac Timrs Reverend, The Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East, NGO
6.       

Edik Ionanov «Ishtar» Assyrian Public Organization, NGO
7.       

Elza Yakubova Initiative group
8.       

Taisia Muradova Honored teacher of Armenia
9.       

Anna Givoeva Assyrian Cultural Center «Nineveh», NGO
10.   

Sargon Avchiev Assyrian Youth Center «Аshur», NGO
11.   

Simen Avchiev Representative  of Nor-Artagers village
12.   

Yura Davtyan Initiative group

* NGO – Non Governmental Organization 

The International Commission with the deliberative voting right

1.       

Joseph Zaya Russia, Moscow Ph.D, Chairman of Moscow Regional Ethnic Cultural Autonomy of Assyrians
2.       

Roland Bidjamov

Russia, Moscow

Political scientist, member of Editorial board of the newspaper «Khabre d-Aturaya»
3.       

Ramsini George USA, California Assyrian Democratic Party
4.       

Elias Yalda Australia Assyrian Universal Independent Activists Forum
5.       

Aleksey Tamrazov Ukraine, Kiev Assistant to the editor of the newspaper «Khabre d-Aturaya»
6.       

Vasili Shoumanov USA, Chicago Editor-in-chief of  www.atranews.com
7.       

Ashur Giwargis Lebanon, Beirut Assyrian activist
8.       

Givargis  Badare

Ukraine, Zaporozhye

Vice-President of the Association of the Assyrians of Ukraine, main editor of the newspaper «Khabre d-Aturaya»
9.       

Arsen Savva

Russia, Kazan

Tatarstan Assyrian national-cultural autonomy
10.   

Gabriel Yakoub

Sweden

Social and political activist