Disappointed in Aurora Award Winner

Lucine Kasbarian, New Jersey-based writer and cartoonist, sent the below letter to Aurora Award-winning Marguerite Barankitse on May 26. As of publishing date, Kasbarian hasn't received a reply. The Aurora Award is the brainchild of Vartan Gregoryan, Noubar Afeyan,  and Ruben Vardanian. Barankitse was awarded for her humanitarian aid during the civil war in Burundi–Editor

May 26, 2016

Dear Madame Barankitse,

I was so pleased to learn that you had deservedly received the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity, an award given to humanitarians in memory of the Armenian Genocide. Congratulations!

Your tremendous work on behalf of children and their inalienable rights — regardless of their ethnic or religious backgrounds — is very moving and inspiring!

Lucine Kasbarian, New Jersey-based writer and cartoonist, sent the below letter to Aurora Award-winning Marguerite Barankitse on May 26. As of publishing date, Kasbarian hasn't received a reply. The Aurora Award is the brainchild of Vartan Gregoryan, Noubar Afeyan,  and Ruben Vardanian. Barankitse was awarded for her humanitarian aid during the civil war in Burundi–Editor

May 26, 2016

Dear Madame Barankitse,

I was so pleased to learn that you had deservedly received the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity, an award given to humanitarians in memory of the Armenian Genocide. Congratulations!

Your tremendous work on behalf of children and their inalienable rights — regardless of their ethnic or religious backgrounds — is very moving and inspiring!

 I was extremely touched to see photos of you posing in front of Mt. Ararat.  As you know, it is the symbol of Armenia to all Armenians, even as it sits beyond Armenia's present borders.

From viewing the UN session at the recent World Humanitarian Summit as well as reading press reports, I learned that you did not mention the Armenian Genocide in your remarks there.

One would think that you would have taken the opportunity to "Awaken Humanity" about the still unpunished Armenian Genocide by discussing it while at a conference which, coincidentally, took place in Turkey, the perpetrating state that, to this day, continues to enjoy the fruits of that Genocide and persecute its remaining indigenous Armenians.

Mentioning the Armenians Genocide would have sent a very strong message and been an appropriate way to acknowledge your benefactors and the Armenian people who, after 100 years, still await justice for the planned elimination of their ancestors and confiscation of their indigenous homeland.

I am filled with disappointment.

Sincerely yours,

Lucine Kasbarian

 

8 comments
  1. Aurora Award

    I share the disappointment of Lucine Kasbarian. What is wrong with many humanitarians. Who are pressuring them to not mention the Armenian Genocide? Is this a taboo imposed by a supernatural power or just a matter of ignorance?

    1. Aurora Award

      In response to Minas Kojayan, it is a matter of ignorance, but usually a matter involving a lack of moral courage and conscience–as per Britain, the U.S., and Israel, three of the biggest deniers of the Armenian Genocide for reasons that have everything to do with political expediency and nothing to do with integrity, courage, and decency. 

  2. Aurora Award

    Great letter, Lucine. Can they take the prize back and all the hospitality I'm sure she enjoyed in Armenia? What a fraud.
     

  3. Barankitse Mention

    There was some mention of the Aurora Prize and Armenian Genocide in a feature on Barankitse in "The Guardian" (June 11, 2916):

    "Winning the Aurora prize – a prestigious humanitarian prize founded in memory of the Armenian genocide – was an honour that she says was celebrated enthusiastically throughout the Burundian diaspora. “You should have seen how they danced in the refugee camp – all the children were dancing all night!” Barankitse remembers. “I was crying all night – because all the Burundians said: ‘Wow! Now we’ve washed away the shame.’”

    I don't know why there should be so much obsession about the Armenian Genocide being forced into people's throats, whether it's Barankitse or not. Is that why she won the prize, to act as a propaganda tool? I thought she won the prize because she does moving and meaningful work, and some people–coincidentally Armenians–decided to support her.

    If the idea is to lobby for Armenian Genocide recognition or anti-Turkism in or out of Turkey then one can easily spend the one million-plus dollars of the whole Aurora enterprise towards advocacy work.

    I don't think it is reasonable to expect Barankitse or future Aurora Prize winners to act as propaganda tools for the Armenian Cause. On the contrary – alongside advocacy efforts, which can indeed be meaningful – I think that Armenians paying it forward sends a much stronger message of the nation surviving and thriving despite hardships, rather than in effect bribing people hoping that they would bash Turkey at a given opportunity.

    1. Mentioning the Armenian Genocide is not “propanganda”

      Merely mentioning the Armenian Genocide should not be considered "propaganda". It is simply mentioning an important fact that a winner of the Aurora Prize should know something about and that has brought this woman and her cause extra recognition.

      People who claim that Armenians somehow force the genocide down people's throats might like to ask themselves whether the Holocaust is forced down people's throats, often to the exclusion of other genocides.

  4. Prize Founders Have A Lot of Explaining to Do

    Before considering criticizing the author for her correct stance, it is incumbent on us to ask ourselves why such a prize exists and why the prize's founders are certainly not "awakening humanity" by continuously propping up unelected, authoritarian Serge Sargsyan.

    They have a lot of explaining to do. Their behavior is as scandalous as it gets.

  5. Why Aurora?

    According to the website, the Aurora Prize is granted “On behalf of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and in gratitude to their saviors, the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity will be granted annually to an individual whose actions have had an exceptional impact on preserving human life and advancing humanitarian causes. The Aurora Prize Laureate will be honored with a US $100,000 grant. In addition, that individual will have the unique opportunity to continue the cycle of giving by nominating organizations that inspired their work to receive a US $1,000,000 award."

    The Aurora Prize will be awarded annually on April 24 in Yerevan, Armenia. The purpose of awarding the prize, the location and the date make it amply clear as to the thought behind the prize. The good intentions of the grantors of the prize is much appreciated.

    My concern is the naming of the prize. Why was it named Aurora? Is it in reference to Aurora Mardiganian? That name was the publicity-friendly screen name given by the handlers of the young Armenian girl whose parents had baptized her Arshalus Mardigian. The teenager could not yet speak English and in spite of herself became the heroine of the first movie (silent) about the Genocide.

    With that assumption another possibility could have been naming the prize Zabel, after Zabel Essayan who is claimed to have been the only woman on the list  of community leaders targeted for deportation by the Young Turk government on April 24.

    1. Aurora the Wrong Choice.

      On further browsing the Internet I found out that the Aurora Prize IS named after Arshaluys Mardigian. 

      Consequently Aurora Prize  is the wrong name for  a well-meaning prize.

      The name Aaurora Mardiganian is a painful reminder of the exploitation of the miseries of this beautiful Armenian teenager who miraculously survived the horrors of the Genocide. Her parents baptized her, loved her and nurtured her as Arshaluys and not as Aurora.

      This prize of tangible monetary value should then be named Arshaluys and not Aurora, although cumbersome to sound, if that prize is really meant to honor her  as a feisty survivor. Naming the prize Zabel, in honor of Zabel Essayan is another choice.

      I invite readers to read Anahid Meymarian's article I translated titling it wrongly as "Discovering Aurora Mardigian".

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