“Western Armenia: Lost Motherland”

Produced and directed by Hayk Haroutyunyan, Review by Team Keghart, 31 December 2009
 
“Western Armenia:  Lost Motherland” is a 120-minute documentary about the historical Armenian land, west of present-day Republic of Armenia. It’s also an account of a tour– by a small group of Armenians– to 12 of the main cities in Western Armenia.  As the Armenian tourists tour their ancestral homeland in Kars, Ani, Van, Mush, Karin, Bitlis (Paghesh), Erzerum, and , of course, the majestic  Ararat, the documentary features detailed descriptions of architectural monuments (fortresses,monasteries, churches, bridges), as well as colorful peculiarities of each region. The photography by Hagob Karanfilyan is spectacular.
 
No Armenian can watch this documentary without experiencing a tsunami of mixed emotions. On the one hand the monuments fill one’s heart with pride, but on the other hand the constant reminder that Turkey occupies this larger part of our homeland tears one’s heart apart. The pain becomes more severe when again and again we see churches turned to mosques, to prisons, to stables, to garbage dumps.

Produced and directed by Hayk Haroutyunyan, Review by Team Keghart, 31 December 2009
 
“Western Armenia:  Lost Motherland” is a 120-minute documentary about the historical Armenian land, west of present-day Republic of Armenia. It’s also an account of a tour– by a small group of Armenians– to 12 of the main cities in Western Armenia.  As the Armenian tourists tour their ancestral homeland in Kars, Ani, Van, Mush, Karin, Bitlis (Paghesh), Erzerum, and , of course, the majestic  Ararat, the documentary features detailed descriptions of architectural monuments (fortresses,monasteries, churches, bridges), as well as colorful peculiarities of each region. The photography by Hagob Karanfilyan is spectacular.
 
No Armenian can watch this documentary without experiencing a tsunami of mixed emotions. On the one hand the monuments fill one’s heart with pride, but on the other hand the constant reminder that Turkey occupies this larger part of our homeland tears one’s heart apart. The pain becomes more severe when again and again we see churches turned to mosques, to prisons, to stables, to garbage dumps.
 
The journey begins in Kars with stops at the city’s famed fortress and then to the 10thcentury St. Arakelots Cathedral, now a mosque. The dome of the former church is overgrown with weeds and is topped by the Turkish crescent and star. A remarkable episode of the church stop occurs when the kindly imam allows the visiting Armenians to say “Hayr Mer” in the “mosque.”
Another heart-wrenching scene is the childhood home of poet  Yeghishe Charents. The building is now a decrepit shack surrounded by rubbish, weeds and ruin. At the Kars Museum, the narrator notes that the wooden gate of the building is an Armenian work with the crucifix carvings scraped.
 
Perhaps the saddest sight in Kars is the white train wagon where Turkey and the Soviet Union signed the Treaty of Kars thus handing most of Western Armenia to Turkey.
 
The next stop is Ani, one of Armenia’s medieval capitals. At the approaches to the city an ugly Turkish monument is yet another example of Turkey’s rewriting of history. The monument commemorates “Turks who were slaughtered by Armenians.”
 
The ruins of the blood-red Armenian cathedrals and churches, familiar to most Armenians, stand nobly and unbowed in the middle of the dun prairie, a testimony to Armenian technical and artistic genius. But when the Kurdish shepherd offers to sell an ancient Armenian artifact for a single cigarette, the viewer is eager to leave for the next stop.
 
And the next stop is Lake Van and the monasteries, cathedral and churches surrounding the lake. Lake Van, like Lake Sevan, boasts blue and green hues not found on any palette. This is where the first Urartu kings established their dynasty. However, according to Turkish historiography, Urartu and its kings have nothing to do with Armenians.
 
One of the several ecclesiastical stops here is at the famed Varakavank, which at one time had seven churches. Now most of the monastery is used as a cattle shed.  As in other cities, rampant architectural cannibalism is the rule here, as the visitor sees stolen parts of Armenian monuments used as construction material for Turkish and Kurdish homes and hovels.
 
A bright spot of the Van tour is the mini-documentary about the Van cats—the white felines which usually have green and blue eyes. The exterior of the Holy Cross Church has remained relatively intact. Wall carvings depict Armenian struggles against the Arab Vosdigan oppression, Adam and Eve, Samson and Goliath, and an ornate series of vines and fruits.
 
It’s then off to Bitlis (Paghesh), 18 k. west of Lake Van. Once the urban jewel of the area, it’s now a drab and gloomy town. Like other urban areas featured on the tour, it has few traces of 4,000 years of Armenian presence here.
 
Before heading to Mush (derived from the Armenian “mist”), the tourists go through the Nemrud Mountain. This is also a rare happy stop. Nemrud is a dead volcano, with hot springs and its own micro-climate/ecosystems. The mountain’s crater, we discover, has three glittering lakes.
 
Mush (pop. 64,000) has 3,000 Armenian residents. It’s here that an injured Kevork Chavoush was killed by a mob. The Armenian hero’s tomb has been desecrated beyond recognition.
 
For this reviewer the most painful scene of the documentary was watching a beaming Kurd boast how Armenians were slaughtered. There’s nothing left of the famed St. Garabed Church, which for centuries was a major destination for pilgrims.
 
The group also stops in Erzerum and drives around Ararat, the windblown, snow-capped and proud symbol of Armenia—another prisoner of Turkey.
 
Perhaps to relieve the agony of the tour, the narrator ends the documentary on an optimistic note, saying that although occupied by Turkey, the land “is still ours…You are the owner…we should bring the lost motherland back.” Aahhh.

 

Copies of DVD may be obtained from:

 
 
 

9 comments
  1. the land is still ours

    "the land is still ours, you are the owner, we should bring the lost motherland back."  Aaaahhh

  2. My documentary on Armenian occupied land
    Dear Compatriots,

    In 2006 I made a journey to the Armenian occupied land, making an impressive documentary film, calling it Journey to the Home Land,  thinking and not accepting the present situation that the land belongs to Turkey. 

    Giligia and all Western Armenia are always Armenian and belong to the Armenian people.

    Some of my friends did not accept the name I called the film, thinking that I am calling Turkey as Homeland, forgetting their original roots. 

    A note about Ararad — Ararad is the eternal symbol for our existence as people, but unfortunately it is like the beautiful Princess you are in love with, but  you can’t touch. I do belive that one day it will be for all Armenians.

  3. Western Armenia

    Is the DVD  Lost Motherland  translated into French or Armenian? or subtitled?

    1. Arin

      It is in English and Eastern Armenian. Excellent narrative and exceptional visual presentation. I believe there is a version in Russian too but does not appear on the copy that I have.

      I would not hesitate to recommend people to have a copy in their personal collection and present another one as a gift to their non-Armenian friend.

  4. “Western Armenia: Lost Motherland”

    This is the most comprehensive and professional production I’ve ever seen, prepared with special co-operation of Ani Tour in Yerevan .http://www.anitour.org

    Don’t visit Western Armenia without watching this valuable documentary first.  You would  then fully realize and comprehend what we are giving away through thes  infamous "Protocols".

  5. Remember Western Armenia

    Armenians, perhaps particularly in Hayastan, need to remember the country that almost completely wiped them out: Turkey.  Do they remember Sardarabad?  I doubt it.

    Serge Sargsian and those two would-be double-crossers, Putin and Medvedev, need reminding too.  Turks mean to wipe out Russia when the Turks get the capability.

    Lenin said that the Capitalist West would sell Russia the rope to hang the Capitalists.   Now the Russians are selling Turks the rope to eventually wipe out Russia (and Armenia).  Dumb Russians, dumb Armenians.  The Turks are going to conquer Asia if we do not watch out. 

  6. Mikael, I wonder how many

    Mikael, I wonder how many Hayastansis really welcome a border opening. Seems to me that the state-sponsored media outlets in Armenia are dictating the news rather than reporting it. I also question whether these media outlets hand-pick the people they interview to give the impression that the majority of native Armenians are eager to "get to know" their Turkish neighbors! 
  7. Western Armenia IS NOT Lost Motherland

    Western Armenia is not lost. You have put the wrong title ("Visit Western Armenia Occupied by Turkey and NATO, since Aug 10, 1920"). If you don't have accurate knowledge, how can you make a claim to liberate the Armenian territory? Don't make an inaccurate home-made video and call it documentary and sell it to the public as the truth. Please o not spread erroneous information and call it history. You could have said: "Visit to Western Armenia occupied by Turkey and NATO; will be freed soon".
    See http://www.wilsonforarmenia.org  .

    Thank you.

  8. Turkey Guilty of Committing Genocide in Western Armenia.

    To the European Commission :

    TURKEY İS GUİLTY OF THE GENOCİDE COMMİTTED İN WEST ARMENIA.

    In order to create a Turkish nation from above, Turkish nationalists waged a bloody campaign against non-Turkish and non-Muslim elements of the Ottoman Empire.
    The First World War served as an excuse for the Young Turks, the then Turkish government, to exterminate Armenians. It was a deliberate and sustained war, in the course of which hundreds of thousands Armenians, Syrians and Greeks were ruthlessly killed or forced into exile.
    The collapse of the Ottomans had left a power vacuum, filled by another section of the Turkish nationalists, called Kemalists some years later.
    Mass extermination of the Ottoman times and also an extermination of an ethnically distinct and separate people from Turks. What happened back then has been handed down to later generations by their parents and grandparents who witnessed the onslaught and of whom some are still alive.
    Furthermore, the sites of the mass graves all over West Armenia are well known and can easily be located. The ruins of the country`s cultural heritage, including churches belonged to the nation`s Christians are still visible.
    The Turks are guilty of the genocide of millions.
    The Genocide of the Armenians caused more damage to the Armenian nation than the Holocaust did to the Jews. While the number of Jews killed by Germany was larger than the number of Armenians killed by Turkey, the Armenians lost most of their homeland of Cilicia and Western Armenia due to the genocide. The Holocaust also gave a huge international impetus to create Israel. The Holocaust helped create Israel; the Genocide of Armenians resulted in the disappearance of the Armenian homeland.
    For even if the opening of Turkey’s archives conclusively show there was a deliberate policy and practice on the part of Turkish authorities in 1915-1923 to dispossess and eliminate Armenians (and Greeks) from their ancestral homelands through mass murder, threats and intimidation–in short, that Turkey was guilty of genocide–what then? It is too late to put on trial any of the perpetrators of that genocide, since they have returned to the dust and mud whence they emerged?
    We think it is only fair to mention the Assyrians who were slaughtered as well along with Armenians and Greeks. The total dead of the three ethnic groups was  2.8  million.
    People wish to see justice served. A search for justice has already began. A legal action against Turkey will at long last be taken at some time in the future.
    We demand of the Turkish authorities firstly the recognition of our country, occupied Western Armenia, which was autonomous in the Ottoman Empire and which lost its autonomy; secondly, the recognition of the genocides or attempted genocides suffered by our people in 1915.
    We demand the immediate end of the policy designated under the name ‘Plan D’ which forces the population into an exodus or forced assimilation.
    We demand demilitarization and the banning of all activities of military and paramilitary teams which have been exercising terror over the population since 1889.
    The language of the occupied Western Armenia is still banned today. We demand self-determination in communication, education and social organization. The Turkish state must recognize the specific beliefs and traditions of the occupied Western Armenia. The policy of Islamization and Turkification  must cease.
    The military policy of the Turkish state has already destroyed a great part of our patrimony: setting fire to our forests, bombing our villages; the systematic destruction of our historical monuments.
    We bring to your attention this dramatic reality in the context of discussion re the possibility of EU entering into negotiations with Turkey.
    May the threat to poor people end and may all the minorities of Anatolia live in peace.
    We, the below signatories, demand justice and support the initiatives aimed at bringing Turkey to justice.

    Hakis Datvan, spokesman for the Collective Lake Van.

    Click here, if you want to sign

    https://www.change.org/tr/kampanyalar/the-european-commission-avrupa-komisyonu-we-the-signatures-below-demand-justice?utm_campaign=share_button_chat&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition
    —————————————————–
    Merhaba!
    Türkiye Cumhuriyeti kurulduğundan buyana hiçbir zaman ve hiçbir dönemde bir hukuk devleti olmayı beceremedi. Türkiye’nin siyasi tarihi komplo, cinayet, suikast, darbe mezarlığı gibidir. Gayri meşru tarihi belirleyicidir. Devlet, hükümet ve yönetim erki için esas hareket noktası bu gayri meşru mekanizma üzerinde kurulmuştur. Bu nedenle sürekli bir savaş hali yaşanmış. Bu savaş halinin yürütülmesi için ‘iç’ ve ‘dış’ düşman tanımlaması yapılmıştır. Adeta cumhuriyet meşruluğunu kendisinin çoğu zamanda keyfi olarak tanımladığı bu ‘iç’ ve ‘dış’ düşmana karşı gayri nizami harp yürüterek sağlamıştır. AKP iktidarının sözde, ''Kürtler'e hak verme'' aldatmacası, ortadoğuda beklenen büyük çaplı bir savaşta Kürtleri herzaman ki gibi öne sürüp kırdırma planının bir parçasından başka bir şey değildir. Kürtler'e hak verme oyununun neden mafiavari ''süreçlerle'', bilinen eski komplolarla, PKK içinde örgütlenen MİT elemanları yoluyla yürütüldüğü artık sır değildir. Özel harp dairesinin en önemli kartlarının ortaya konulduğu bu ortamın, Kürt, Ermeni veya Pontus Rumları ile bir alakası yoktur.

    "Avrupa Komisyonu: Ermeni soykiriminin kabulunde gereken adimlarin atilmasi" kampanyasını başlattım ve harekete geçirmek için senin yardımına ihtiyacım var.
    Hemen şimdi 30 saniyeni ayırarak bunu imzalar mısın? İşte linki:
    http://www.change.org/tr/kampanyalar/avrupa-komisyonu-ermeni-soykiriminin-kabulunde-gereken-adimlarin-atilmasi

    İşte bu yüzden önemli:
    Mazlum halklara karsi soykirimlarin bir daha tekrarlanmamasi icin…
    Bu linke tıklayarak kampanyamı imzalayabilirsin.
    Teşekkürler!
    Hakis Datvan

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