A Confession

By Avedis Kevorkian, Philadelphia, PA  USA, 28 august 2012
This is addressed to those of my critics of my meager efforts on this web-site who have said, or otherwise suggested, that I am not Armenian.
You are correct.  I am not Armenian,
  • which means that my father, who published and edited an independent (chezok) Armenian newspaper (“Ungakh yev unvakh”) for 43 years and on which I worked for 34 years, and who wrote a massive 660-page book (in Armenian) about his village in Anatolia) and whose entire family was obviously killed in error by the Turks who thought they were Armenian, was not Armenian and

By Avedis Kevorkian, Philadelphia, PA  USA, 28 august 2012
This is addressed to those of my critics of my meager efforts on this web-site who have said, or otherwise suggested, that I am not Armenian.
You are correct.  I am not Armenian,
  • which means that my father, who published and edited an independent (chezok) Armenian newspaper (“Ungakh yev unvakh”) for 43 years and on which I worked for 34 years, and who wrote a massive 660-page book (in Armenian) about his village in Anatolia) and whose entire family was obviously killed in error by the Turks who thought they were Armenian, was not Armenian and

  • which means that my mother who wrote beautiful stories and poems in Armenian and who founded two award-winning Armenian Folk Dance Groups, and who was the founder and chairman of the “Save Tellierian Committee” in Marseille, France, and who was founder and chairman until her marriage of the Armenian Sports Association in Marseilles, and whose father was on the infamous list of those to be rounded-up in Smyrna on April 15 but who was warned by a Turkish friend that he was on such a list and enabled him to escape with his family, was not Armenian.
I am not Armenian 
  • because I criticize the oligarchic kleptocracy that is Armenia, and real Armenians don’t criticize such corruption. and
  • because I criticize the oligarchs who steal land from the poor people to build bigger and better villas while there are still earthquake victims (more than 23 years later) who are still living in shipping containers, and real Armenians don’t criticize such injustices, and
  • because I don’t think it is funny to be told that Armenia has “the best judges that money can buy,” because real Armenians must stand in awe of such corruption, and
  • because I join with Armenians in Armenia who do criticize such things (they, too, must not be Armenian, I suppose) and are killed and beaten and no one is punished, much less, arrested, and am critical when the crooks and thieves and thugs are permitted to live by a separate set of rules, when real Armenians must accept this dual society.
It is obvious that I am not Armenian
  • when I decry the fact that the Diaspora continues to live in a divided society, because of the continued existence of so-called “political” parties that did the Armenians no good in the 19th century, and did the Armenians no good in the 20th century, and have done the Armenians no good in the 21st century except create and maintain that divided society, because only real Armenians accept such idiocy, and
  • when I decry the existence of a divided church that the Diaspora accepts with the utterly ludicrous description of “One Church With Two Heads” (which medically describes one body with two heads as a monster that is termed “diprosopus tetrotus,” ) because  only real Armenians can defend a Church divided not on canonical or doctrinal difference, and


  • when I am angered when as chairman of a committee to raise funds for a khatchkar for the unmarked grave of the only Armenian to have served in the Union Navy during the American Civil War and wrote to an Armenian Veterans organization and was asked “which church is supporting your drive?” instead of wholeheartedly contributing to the effort to show America that a newly arrived immigrant quickly became a citizen and volunteered to defend his new country, because to be a real Armenian means that one accepts such a stupid reaction thus supporting the divided community in which we live, and


  • when I decry a country that sends abroad incompetent, inept, and useless ambassadors who seem to think their role is to be honored by the host Armenian Diaspora, and not argue Armenia’s corner in international bodies and foreign capitals, and who show no concern when the Azeris fire-bomb their Embassy (as happened in London), because real Armenians only flatter and honor the ambassadors, and


  • when I decry the fact that nothing gets done in Armenia unless officials are bribed, because only real Armenians accept such corruption.
Yes, I cannot be a real Armenian because I foolishly feel that it is my right to criticize in hopes that someone will take heed and a wrong is righted, a crime is punished, a corrupt official is removed, an injustice is rectified, because only real Armenians accept  the status quo with pride and act as if they––and only they––own Armenia and the Armenians and that no one else is permitted to speak and write without their permission.
The problem, Dear Folks, is if I am not an Armenian, what am I?  Other than a damn fool, that is.  
  1. “Real Armenians”

    Dear Avedis,

    I read everything you write on Keghart.com with understanding and often amusement. You should not mind the "real Armenians". 

  2. Let’s See

    Let's see who are the real Armenians. Why not support a worthwhile project, such as Talindolls.com , and buy as many dolls as you can. You will  not be able to claim  immunity because of corruption in Armenia. Ten dolls and you are the best. Anywhere in between, you are getting there. Thank you.

  3. You Are in Good Company

    Avedis Kevorkian is not a "real" Armenian.

    As I grew up, I was told many times, that I am not a real Armenian because I am a baptized Catholic.

    Continuing in the same vain as Avedis, this would of course mean that:

    • The greatest seascape painter that walked on this earth, Hovhannes Aivazovsky, was not an Armenian, because he was a Catholic.
    • The great poet Daniel Varoujan was not an Armenian, because he was a Catholic.
    • Arguably the greatest Armenian writer and thinker of modern times, Gostan Zarian was not an Armenian, because he was a Catholic.
    • The Mekhitarists, who have literally created modern Western Armenian and whose institutions have been intellectual and cultural beacons for Armenians for centuries are not Armenian because they are Catholic.  Even when they were teaching Lord Byron the Armenian language, they were likely only "pretending" to be Armenians.
    • My great paternal uncle, Levon Attarian, who, during the Ottoman tribunals of 1919, was the prosecuting attorney on behalf of the Genocide victims of Yozgad, and who managed to get the CUP butcher and governor of Yozgad hanged for his crimes, was not an Armenian, because he too was a Catholic.

    I  had the privilege of meeting and talking with Avedis. I would love to meet him again. Because I would love to tell him that we are in the very good company of all those who are not "real" Armenians.


    Viken L. Attarian

    1. Do Not Be Disturbed

      Do not be disturbed or disillusioned by the few who opine like that. For your information and that of others, it is not only the uneducated or ignorant who think that way. Some of our top-notch editors, writers and so-called intellectuals share similar sentiments. When the First Armenian World Congress convened  in Paris (Sept.1979), we were mocked indirectly the local daily "Haratch". The newspaper's editorial said that a Protestant Verabadveli has come forward to lead the Armenian nation. The author little realized or remembered or was cognizant of the fact that the person who organized the resistance at Moussa Dagh was a Verabadveli. He saved over 4,000 Armenians.

      Sometimes among us the jealousy is so acute that it blinds us; we utter such insults toward each other. So take it easy,  my friend. Ignore such people, as I have done all my life. They eventually give in or realize how futile their ugly attitude is.

      Gaytzag Palandjian

      P.S. Our president at that Paris conference was Verabadveli James Karnusian who expertly conducted most  of our sessions. There were others…like Meguerditch Bouldoukian, Ajemian and a Catholic priest.

  4. In Good Company But Not Necessarily the Same


    A Catholic, being labeled not an Armenian, may put him in good company but not necessarily in the same company with Avedis. Let me explain.

    Let us face it. Historically, since King Drtad ordered the conversation of his entire nation–nobility, clergy, military and commoners–to Christianity, and for the next 15 centuries being an Armenian and being a member of our Armenian Apostolic Church was one and the same. Throughout those centuries, until the Catholic movement in our midst, it would have been unthinkable to claim to be an Armenian and not have been anointed with holy muron on the forehead. Those or some of those who labeled Viken as not Armenian may have done it with an intellectual tease. Avedis’s is different.

    How does Avedis color being an Armenian? Let me quote the title of one of the most-read articles in Keghart.com, penned by no other than Avedis Kevorkian. The title of the article is "One People, One Nation, One Church"…and One Puzzle. The puzzle for Avedis is that the one people with one nation and with one church has two heads. He conveniently disregards the Armenian Catholics and the Armenian Evangelicals. He does not allude to them in any way, not to the centralized hierarchy of the Armenian Catholic Church, nor the decentralized hierarchy of the Armenian Evangelical Church. Is it a Freudian slip? It maybe, but it is significant, nonetheless. Every one of us may have an inherent perception of what constitutes to be an Armenian and an inherent bias against those who do not measure up to that perception.

    I do not recall if I have ever been labeled being non-Armenian. It may be because of my views are conventional and conformist. Should someone label me, I would take it with a grain of salt and move on. After all, friends and enemies alike care less for an explanation.

    1. I Understand, But

      Shad Sireli Vahe,

      I understand and truly appreciate your explanation, but

      Firstly, I am well aware of the role of the Armenian Apostolic (Gregorian) Church in shaping the Armenian identity. That is not at issue. What is at issue are the declarations of ignoramuses who claim to have a monopoly on their definition of being an Armenian, and narrowing it down to what suits their callous purpose. Whether that purpose is the stifling of healthy criticism (the case of Avedis) or the perpetuation of a racist discourse (my own experience).

      Secondly, and for the record, when I was baptized, I too was anointed with Holy Muron, just not the one that comes from Echmiadzin. I am certain that that fact would not make me less Armenian.

      Thirdly, Catholicism arrived among Armenians with the Crusaders, during the Kingdom of Cilicia, around the late 13th century. By the 14th century, their presence among Armenians is well documented. Therefore, they arrived about five centuries earlier than you suggest. Just as a frame of reference, our presence amongst Armenians would likely make us contemporaneous with the late European converters to Christianity, such as some of the Scandinavian and Finnish tribes.

      Fourthly, it was NOT an intellectual tease that I was being subjected to. I vividly remember being told by so-called Armenian priests, in elementary school class, that I am not an Armenian, that I should not line up for Holy Communion with my classmates, that the Catholic Confessional booth is a mockery because a confession must be in public. I was a child, who was very certain about his identity (I still am), but I was being challenged by figures of authority who were behaving like bullies against defenseless children. I also recall standing up to them and complaining to the principal. If such behavior happened today in any Western country, they would be fired from their jobs, and most likely taken to court by the parents and be liable for at least fines for the psychological damage they were doing. In extreme and persisting cases, they could actually serve jail time. 

      The real problem is that even today, like Gaydzag Palandjian suggests, we have the same divisive discourse being spread by "intellectual"s, demagogues and men of the cloth who speak about a National Church as uniquely defining our identity. Given my personal childhood experiences, I cannot take it with a grain of salt. That is a very dangerous path indeed and such hypocrisy must be unmasked in my view. You and I and Avedis and every other Armenian should stand up to them and clearly condemn such positions.

      Why? Because they are reprehensible, not from an Armenian perspective, but ultimately from a human one.


      Viken L. Attarian

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