Saturday, October 31, 2009

Armenia–Turkey relations & Genocide

BBC reported on 10-10-2009:

" Turkey and Armenia have signed a historic accord normalising relations after a century of hostility. The deal was signed by the two foreign ministers after last-minute problems delayed the ceremony in Switzerland. Under the agreement, Turkey and Armenia are to establish diplomatic ties and reopen their shared border.

The accord has been met by protests in Armenia, where many people say it does not fully address the 1915 killing of hundreds of thousands of Armenians(Armenian Genocide)".

The World’s Fact Book - Armenia
Armenia prides itself on being the first nation to formally adopt Christianity (early 4th century). Despite periods of autonomy, over the centuries Armenia came under the sway of various empires including the Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Persian, and Ottoman. During World War I in the western portion of Armenia, Ottoman Turkey instituted a policy of forced resettlement coupled with other harsh practices that resulted in an estimated 1 million Armenian deaths. The eastern area of Armenia was ceded by the Ottomans to Russia in 1828; this portion declared its independence in 1918, but was conquered by the Soviet Red Army in 1920. Armenian leaders remain preoccupied by the long conflict with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, a primarily Armenian-populated region, assigned to Soviet Azerbaijan in the 1920s by Moscow. Armenia and Azerbaijan began fighting over the area in 1988; the struggle escalated after both countries attained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. By May 1994, when a cease-fire took hold, ethnic Armenian forces held not only Nagorno-Karabakh but also a significant portion of Azerbaijan proper. The economies of both sides have been hurt by their inability to make substantial progress toward a peaceful resolution. Turkey closed the common border with Armenia because of the Armenian separatists' control of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas.

Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993 in solidarity with Azerbaijan in its war with Armenian-backed ethnic Armenians in the mountain region of Nagorno-Karabakh. Former Soviet Armenia and NATO-member Turkey have no diplomatic ties, but a relationship haunted by the World War One killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks(refer as Armenian Genocide), a defining element of Armenian national identity.

Armenia supports ethnic Armenian secessionists in Nagorno-Karabakh and since the early 1990s, has militarily occupied 16% of Azerbaijan - Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) continues to mediate dispute; over 800,000 mostly ethnic Azerbaijanis were driven from the occupied lands and Armenia; about 230,000 ethnic Armenians were driven from their homes in Azerbaijan into Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh; Azerbaijan seeks transit route through Armenia to connect to Naxcivan exclave; border with Turkey remains closed over Nagorno-Karabakh dispute; ethnic Armenian groups in Javakheti region of Georgia seek greater autonomy; Armenians continue to emigrate, primarily to Russia, seeking employment

Unemployment and poverty remain widespread. Armenia's economic problems are aggravated by a trade blockade, imposed by neighboring Turkey and Azerbaijan since the dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh. The conflict over the predominantly Armenian-populated region in Azerbaijan overshadowed Armenia's return to independence in 1991.

Full-scale war broke out the same year as ethnic Armenians in Karabakh fought for independence, supported by troops and resources from Armenia proper. A ceasefire in place since 1994 has failed to deliver any lasting solution.

In the wake of the 2007 assassination of Armenian intellectual Hrant Dink by a Turkish nationalist, and the ensuing scandal in which his killer was exalted as a hero by the policemen who had detained him, tens of thousands of Turkish citizens marched throughout the country in protest. The subsequent diplomatic thaw saw Turkish President Abdullah Gül become the first ever Turkish leader to visit Armenia and the announcement of a provisional road map for normalizing diplomatic ties.

In 2009 the foreign ministries of the two countries said that they would begin talks for formal diplomatic recognition.

It announced on October 10, 2009 that both countries had agreed to establish diplomatic relations. The agreement signed at a ceremony in Zurich, Switzerland, would establish diplomatic relations between Turkey and Armenia and open the joint border, which was sealed after the 1993 Armenian invasion of Nagorno-Karabakh. The enclave is inhabited primarily by ethnic Armenians.

The obstacles to normal diplomacy

The two obstacles between the normalization of diplomatic relationship between the two countries are:

1.Armenian campaign to have the mass killing of ethnic Armenians by Turkish troops in 1915 categorized as genocide, a term successive Turkish governments have refused to accept.

In that Turkey seems to have been successful. The protocol it is signing agrees that the "historical dimension" will be studied by a bilateral commission, to which international experts will contribute. The committee of historians should decide whether the killings were genocide. The Armenian-Turkish agreement calls for a panel to discuss "the historical dimension" of the killings, including "an impartial scientific examination of the historical records and archives to define existing problems and formulate recommendations."

2. The disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan, a state with close ethnic links to Turkey. When, in 1993, ethnic Armenian forces took control of large swathes of territory around the enclave, the Turkish government closed the border with Armenia.

In practice, Turkish negotiators have put the issue aside, viewing it as a parallel process which is being handled through mediation by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). It is not mentioned as a condition for signing the protocol formally establishing diplomatic relations.

Note: On 11-10-2009(Sunday), Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has promised the Azeri government that border will not be reopened until the conflict is resolved, and Armenian forces withdraw from Azeri territory they have been occupying outside the enclave(ref: Yahoo News,11-10-2009).

The mass killing of hundreds of thousands of Armenians in 1915-18 is still a huge issue here. The fact that Turkey has not recognized them as a systematic "genocide" is very painful, especially for those who are descended from the victims of the deportations and executions.

The protocol mentions no pre-conditions for Turkey to officially recognise genocide before ratifying it. That has struck a nerve with those in the wider Armenian diaspora and here in the homeland.

why does the Armenian government want to pursue rapprochement at all, given all the controversy?

1. Armenian President Serge Sarkisian has come under mounting pressure from the European Union to make progress. He was strongly criticized by the West in 2008 after the authorities orchestrated a violent crackdown on pro-opposition demonstrators in Yerevan after a presidential election they say was rigged. Analysts say he now needs a foreign policy success to boost confidence in his leadership. The political career prevail over national agenda on Armenian Genocide.

2. There is great will on the part of the US and the EU to move things forward in terms of rapprochement. The obvious factor is the large reserve of oil and gas resources of the region near Caspian Sea, and the regional security. Armenia will be under heavy diplomatic pressure from them.

3. As a landlocked country, Armenia cannot afford in the long term to keep its borders closed. Currently, trade with Turkey relies heavily on Georgia for transit. Its border with another neighbor, Azerbaijan, remains closed since the two went to war over the region of Nagorno Karabakh in the 1990s and Armenia would probably benefit economically from an open border with Turkey.

Feedback from Armenians

Armenia is very poor, and its people have much more immediate concerns to be worried about. However most people in Armenia feel their landlocked country has been too isolated since the Turkish border closed and are ready for it to reopen.

Armenia has a huge diaspora and has always experienced waves of emigration, but the exodus of recent years has caused real alarm. It is estimated that Armenia has lost up to a quarter of its population since independence, as young families seek what they hope will be a better life abroad. Armenia is primarily a source country for women and girls trafficked to the UAE and Turkey for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation; Armenian men and women are trafficked to Turkey and Russia for the purpose of forced labor(ref: The World’s Fact Book by CIA)

The Armenian diaspora are not happy with the signing. Revealingly, most of the best-known reflections of the killings, in music and literature, were produced outside Armenia. In France, and especially the US, Armenians have excelled in science and commerce, and have a vocal presence in politics and the judiciary. This leads Turkey and its allies to speak of an "Armenian lobby", which they say exerts disproportionate influence.

But among the diaspora, the mass killings in 1915 are the seminal event of modern Armenian history, something that binds together what is one of the world's most dispersed peoples.
Indeed, many diaspora Armenians passionately believe that the killings define latter-day Armenian identity. And it is the diaspora, rather than Armenia itself, that drives the effort to have those killings recognized internationally as genocide.

A member of the National Council of the Armenians of Western Armenia, chief representative of Western Armenia in a UN forum on indigenous peoples Armenak Abrahamyan says that the protocol “On Establishing Diplomatic Relations” commits Armenia to recognizing its existing border with Turkey, which, according to him, is an act of forgetting Western Armenia. According to Abrahamyan, as an indigenous people, Armenians are entitled to make a territorial claim under a corresponding UN resolution.
“This protocol means that Armenia gives up its historical Armenian lands. It means that the history of Armenia is completely changed and the rights of Armenians of Western Armenia do not exist and that there was no genocide,” says Abrahamyan.The National Council of the Armenians of Western Armenia was set up in 2004 in Shushi, Karabakh, with the goal of uniting Western Armenians from all over the world.

“If Western Armenia is returned to Armenia, then Armenia will face the Kurdish issue. What will we, less then three million Armenians with our mentality of leaving for Los Angeles, do against 15 million Kurds?” says Gagik Keryan, Head of the Chair of Political Science at the Yerevan State University.

The Armenian Genocide

The Armenian Genocide led to the forcible deportation and massacre of the majority of the Ottoman Armenian population between 1915 and 1917.

The term "genocide" was coined by Raphael Lemkin (1900–1959), a Polish-Jewish legal scholar, in 1944, firstly from the Latin "gens, gentis," meaning "birth, race, stock, kind" or the Greek root génos (γένος) (same meaning); secondly from Latin -cidium (cutting, killing) via French -cide. Lemkin introduced the word genocide in his book Axis Rule in Occupied Europe (1944). After World War II, he learned that some 40 members of his family, including his parents, had been killed in the Holocaust. Raphael Lemkin, who would later coin the word "genocide," is born into a Polish Jewish family in 1900. His memoirs detail early exposure to the history of Ottoman attacks against Armenians (which most scholars believe constitute genocide), antisemitic pogroms, and other histories of group-targeted violence as key to forming his beliefs about the need for legal protection of groups. Some scholars said that the word "Genocide" was derived from Armenian Genocide.

A legal definition is found in the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG). Article 2 of this convention defines genocide as "any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group."

The Genocide of the 20th century included:
7. Bosnia-Herzegovina: 1992-1995 - 200,000 Deaths
6. Rwanda: 1994 - 800,000 Deaths
5. Pol Pot in Cambodia: 1975-1979 - 2,000,000 Deaths
4. Nazi Holocaust: 1938-1945 - 6,000,000 Deaths
3. Rape of Nanking: 1937-1938 - 300,000 Deaths
2. Stalin's Forced Famine: 1932-1933 - 7,000,000 Deaths
1. Armenians in Turkey: 1915-1918 - 1,500,000 Deaths

That is no denial that Armenian is historically the resident of the region, and its native land was taken by nomadic invaders. For three thousand years, a thriving Armenian community had existed inside the vast region of the Middle East bordered by the Black, Mediterranean and Caspian Seas. The area, known as Asia Minor, stands at the crossroads of three continents; Europe, Asia and Africa. Great powers rose and fell over the many centuries and the Armenian homeland was at various times ruled by Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs and Mongols. In the eleventh century, the first Turkish invasion of the Armenian homeland occurred. Thus began several hundred years of rule by Muslim Turks. By the sixteenth century, Armenia had been absorbed into the vast and mighty Ottoman Empire. At its peak, this Turkish empire included much of Southeast Europe, North Africa, and almost all of the Middle East.

But by the 1800s the once powerful Ottoman Empire was in serious decline.As the empire gradually disintegrated, formerly subject peoples including the Greeks, Serbs and Romanians achieved their long-awaited independence. Only the Armenians and the Arabs of the Middle East remained stuck in the backward and nearly bankrupt empire, now under the autocratic rule of Sultan Abdul Hamid.

By the 1890s, young Armenians began to press for political reforms, calling for a constitutional government, the right to vote and an end to discriminatory practices such as special taxes levied solely against them because they were Christians. The despotic Sultan responded to their pleas with brutal persecutions. Between 1894 and 1896 over 100,000 inhabitants of Armenian villages were massacred during widespread pogroms conducted by the Sultan's special regiments.

But the Sultan's days were numbered. In July 1908, reform-minded Turkish nationalists known as "Young Turks" forced the Sultan to allow a constitutional government and guarantee basic rights. The Young Turks were ambitious junior officers in the Turkish Army who hoped to halt their country's steady decline.

Armenians in Turkey were delighted with this sudden turn of events and its prospects for a brighter future. Jubilant public rallies were held attended by both Turks and Armenians with banners held high calling for freedom, equality and justice.

However, their hopes were dashed when three of the Young Turks seized full control of the government via a coup in 1913. This triumvirate of Young Turks, consisting of Mehmed Talaat, Ismail Enver and Ahmed Djemal, came to wield dictatorial powers and concocted their own ambitious plans for the future of Turkey. They wanted to unite all of the Turkic peoples in the entire region while expanding the borders of Turkey eastward across the Caucasus all the way into Central Asia. This would create a new Turkish empire, a "great and eternal land" called Turan with one language and one religion.

The decision to annihilate the entire population came directly from the ruling triumvirate of ultra-nationalist Young Turks. The actual extermination orders were transmitted in coded telegrams to all provincial governors throughout Turkey. Armed roundups began on the evening of April 24, 1915, as 300 Armenian political leaders, educators, writers, clergy and dignitaries in Constantinople (present day Istanbul) were taken from their homes, briefly jailed and tortured, then hanged or shot.

Next, there were mass arrests of Armenian men throughout the country by Turkish soldiers, police agents and bands of Turkish volunteers. The men were tied together with ropes in small groups then taken to the outskirts of their town and shot dead or bayoneted by death squads. Local Turks and Kurds armed with knives and sticks often joined in on the killing.

Then it was the turn of Armenian women, children, and the elderly. On very short notice, they were ordered to pack a few belongings and be ready to leave home, under the pretext that they were being relocated to a non-military zone for their own safety. They were actually being taken on death marches heading south toward the Syrian desert.

Most of the homes and villages left behind by the rousted Armenians were quickly occupied by Turks who assumed instant ownership of everything. In many cases, young Armenian children were spared from deportation by local Turks who took them from their families.

Individual caravans consisting of thousands of deported Armenians were escorted by Turkish gendarmes. These guards allowed roving government units of hardened criminals known as the "Special Organization" to attack the defenseless people, killing anyone they pleased. They also encouraged Kurdish bandits to raid the caravans and steal anything they wanted. In addition, an extraordinary amount of sexual abuse and rape of girls and young women occurred at the hands of the Special Organization and Kurdish bandits. Most of the attractive young females were kidnapped for a life of involuntary servitude.

The death marches, involving over a million Armenians, covered hundreds of miles and lasted months. Indirect routes through mountains and wilderness areas were deliberately chosen in order to prolong the ordeal and to keep the caravans away from Turkish villages.

Food supplies being carried by the people quickly ran out and they were usually denied further food or water. Anyone stopping to rest or lagging behind the caravan was mercilessly beaten until they rejoined the march. If they couldn't continue they were shot. A common practice was to force all of the people in the caravan to remove every stitch of clothing and have them resume the march in the nude under the scorching sun until they dropped dead by the roadside from exhaustion and dehydration.

An estimated 75 percent of the Armenians on these marches perished, especially children and the elderly. Those who survived the ordeal were herded into the desert without a drop of water. Others were killed by being thrown off cliffs, burned alive, or drowned in rivers.

The Turkish countryside became littered with decomposing corpses.

(source: Extract from

According to Rafael de Nogales, Ottoman commander of the artillery at Van Resistance, the Armenians’ posture was defensive and in response to the massacres being committed in villages surrounding Van. Also, Armenians were being forcibly relocated from Zeitun in March 1915, months before the Tehcir Law was passed. Further massacres and deportations occurred during the closing stages and immediate aftermath of WW1. The modern Turkish government has always systematically denied or rationalized the killings of Armenians during the Ottoman period, inflaming Armenian resentment in Armenia and around the world. Once a pillar of the Dashnagtzoutiun, Hovhannes Katchaznouni, the first prime minister of Armenia, stated in his parting address at the Party congress in 1923 Bucharest: "At the beginning of the Fall of 1914 when Turkey had not yet entered the war but had already been making preparations, Armenian revolutionary bands began to be formed in Transcaucasia with great enthusiasm and, especially, with much uproar."

In recent years the Armenian Genocide has been increasingly discussed in Turkey, at conferences and universities,since the law does not prevent debates on the topic. Even though freedom of speech and freedom of thought are guaranteed by Turkish law due to the nature of Article 301, people claiming an Armenian Genocide can be accused of calling the nation "killers" and thus "insulting Turkishness". Over eighty authors have faced prosecution for "insulting Turkishness"; Kemal Kerinçsiz, an ultra-nationalist lawyer, is responsible for at least forty of them, and his group Büyük Hukukçular Birliği ("Great Union of Jurists" or "Turkish Lawyer's Union") for most of the rest.

(source: wikipedia)

Please also read Chronology of Armenian Genocide at the official site of The Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute,

Despite the silence of Armenian Genocide, Armenia agreed to diplomatic relationship. This is partly because the economically and energy deprived Armenian need an avenue to improve its economy. The border opening of the landlocked country will boost the economy for the well being of its people and country. Goodwill and politic prevail over historical national agenda(of Armenian Genocide). It is also the external pressure from EC and USA to normalize the diplomatic relationship of the two countries due to the geopolitic(of petrol and gas resources). The historical feeling of the past will took a back seat. The Turkey on other hand is eager to join the EC, which is an incentive for her to normalize relationship.

We just hope that Armenia will not be a casualty again for the global politic. The hidden agenda of the EC and USA is the rich resources of oil and gas at the Caspian Sea which lies above one of the world's largest groups of oil and gas fields. We can only pray that the new found relationship will bring peace to the region,this is provide that the superpowers have more concern for the poor countries and play less ugly global politic. Pray that this region, Asia Minor will not be future Middle East.....geopolitic, source of war...

Related articles/references:

1. Q&A: Armenian genocide dispute , by BBC 10-7-2008,
2. Armenian diaspora bound by killings , by BBC 12-10-2006,
3. Turkey's Armenian dilemma , by BBC 27-2-2007,
4. Armenia and Turkey normalise ties, by BBC 10-10-2009,
5. Armenia–Turkey relations,
6. Turkey: Armenia must pull out of Nagorno-Karabakh, yahoo news dated 11-10-2009
7. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C.:
8. The Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute official site:

Armenian Genocide Denial Impossible…Literally

This is an interesting blog article re-posting from dated 10-12-2008. It was about the origin of the word " Genocide" and literally it was related to Armenian Genocide. Like orange color related to orange fruits, it is interconnected, a denial of Armenian Genocide is like denial the word genocide.....

The article is re-posted below:

Writing at the Keghart blog, Australian Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies researcher Vicken Babkenian argues that it is, literally, impossible to deny the Armenian Genocide. Since the word “genocide” was coined by Raphael Lemkin to specifically describe what happened to Armenians during WWI and to Jews during WWII, by using the word “genocide” one recognizes – even if saying “the Armenian Genocide was a lie” – the Armenian Genocide (and the Holocaust):

It all began when I was cutting an Orange for my niece when she asked me why the name Orange is both a color and a fruit. After doing some research, I discovered that the root of the word Orange in the English language is derived from the fruit. In other words the Etymology of the color and the fruit is interconnected. No one can argue that the fruit Orange is not Orange.

As someone who has studied the Armenian Genocide over a number of years, I could not help but familiarize myself with the etymology of the word Genocide. I discovered that the word genocide is from the roots genos (Greek for family, tribe, race, a people, a nation) and –cide (Latin – occidere or cideo – to Massacre, Kill, exterminate). I looked up the word in the Oxford dictionary and found the definition to be “the extermination of a race”. I then recalled that this definition of the word ‘genocide’ had been used by contemporary eyewitnesses, diplomats, historians, journalists to describe what was happening to the Armenians during WWI. Lord James Bryce in 1915 called it “the Extermination of a Race” in a New York Times article. If the word ‘genocide’ had been coined before WWI, then that one word would have been used, instead of the five words which mean the same thing.

I then conducted some research on Raphael Lemkin, “The founder of the genocide convention” and on the genesis of the word ‘genocide’ which he coined in 1944. In his manuscript titled “Totally unofficial”, Lemkin wrote:

“In 1915 . . . I began . . . to read more history to study whether national, religious, or racial groups as such were being destroyed. The truth came out after the war. In Turkey, more than 1,200,000 Armenians were put to death . . . After the end of the war, some 150 Turkish war criminals were arrested and interned by the British Government on the island of Malta . . . Then one day, I read in the newspapers that all Turkish war criminals were to be released. I was shocked. A nation that killed and the guilty persons were set free . . . I felt that a law against this type of racial or religious murder must be adopted by the world”

I soon reached the conclusion that the word genocide is etymologically interconnected with the tragedy of the Armenians, just like the word Orange is to the fruit of the same name. The man who coined the word genocide had in large part based it on the Armenian catastrophe. He even stated on national television “that it happened to the Armenians.”

I searched online to learn which countries had actually signed and ratified the Genocide Convention. I discovered that most countries in the world had done so, including the United States, Great Britain, Turkey, Israel and so on. I concluded that by ratifying the convention they had in fact recognized that the Armenian holocaust was in fact a genocide.

Yes, I use the word ‘holocaust’ because that word was used to describe what was happening to the Armenians during the Abdul Hamid Massacres, Adana Massacres and the Armenian genocide by contemporary writers. William Walker Rockwell in an article titled “the Total of Armenian and Syrian Dead” in the New York Times Current History February 1916, wrote “If the ghosts of the Christian civilians who have perished miserably in Turkey since the commencement of the great holocaust should march down Fifth Avenue twenty abreast there might be a million of them … for most of them will be women and children”.

The Armenian genocide has been recognized by the majority of the nations of the world and we didn’t even know it. If those countries who have ratified the genocide convention deny that the Armenians were victims of genocide, then they should either terminate their participation to the convention, or have the convention change the word ‘genocide’ to something else which is not intrinsically connected to the Armenian slaughter.

Denying that Armenians were victims of genocide is akin to denying that an Orange is Orange. It is insane and illogical. For those who believe that what happened to the Armenians should not be termed a ‘genocide’, should have convinced Raphael Lemkin not to base the word on what had happened to the Armenians. Unfortunately for them, it is too late, by signing the genocide convention; most of the world has already recognized the Armenian genocide.

There is another article which also touched my heart, the article from the same blog dated 9-1-2009; it is about a Turkish is giving all the land he inherited (which was actually owned by murdered assyrians),to an Assyrian organization.

Encouraged by the recent apology to Armenians by thousands of Turkish intelectuals and disissidents, a Turkish citizen has done the unprecedented: Berzan Boti (not his real name) of Siirt is giving all the land he inherited to an Assyrian organization. Along with Armenians, indigenous Assyrians were also victims of the WWI genocide at the hands of Ottoman Empire’s government during WWI:

Boti’s letter to Sabri Atman, founder and director of the Assyrian Seyfo Center in Europe who will now be responsible for the returned land (south of the Lake Van), states:

“When I found out that the properties that I and my brothers inherited from our father wasn’t our own, but properties taken from the murdered Assyrians in 1915 I felt an indescribable feeling of guilt and shame. I’ve been thinking long and hard before I have come to this decision. I tried to put myself in their position. I have personally apologized to every Assyrian and Armenian I’ve met. But this does not get rid of the crime our ancestors committed. Even if I am personally not responsible for what happened in 1915, I felt as I had to do more than just to apologize. Finally, I came to the decision to give back all properties that I inherited from my forefathers to Seyfo Center, which works for the recognition of the Seyfo (Assyrian) genocide in 1915” (source: Assyria Times dated 1-8-2009,

I do not know whether the news is true; if it is a true story then the actual person(Berzan Boti, not his real name) is very courageous and honorable. He is a brave person with a big heart.


Friday, October 30, 2009

Armenian history in Nakhichevan destroyed & BTC Pipeline

To destroy the ancient tombstone and erase the actual history is really shocking...

Djulfa, Nakhichevan: the worst documented case of history fabrication; Azerbaijani soldiers destroying the largest Armenian medieval cemetery in the world (December 2005) – the site is now a military rifle range

There are no Armenians left in Nakhichevan (thanks to a Soviet Azerbaijani policy of nonviolent ethnic cleansing which attracted little attention at the time) and not a trace of the rich Armenian heritage (the most precious of which, the Djulfa cemetery, was reduced to dust by Azeri soldiers in December 2005 – see the videotape), Armenia has no claims to Nakhichevan and perhaps rightly so. Yet, apparently, the history factory in Nakhichevan is still cooking. Note: The remaining Armenians were expelled by Azerbaijani forces during the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh as part of the forceful exchange of population between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

While Armenia restraints itself from claiming its indigenous lands, and particularly Nakhichevan, taken away from it without its consent, Turkey and Azerbaijan must discontinue their unhealthy fabrications of history.


Featuring a never-seen-before satellite image of a vandalized medieval cemetery at the Iranian-Azerbaijani border, "The New Tears of Araxes," a five-minute film, tells the tragic story of thousands of ancient Armenian headstones flattened to the ground by the Azerbaijani authorities in Djulfa or Julfa (Jugha in Armenian), Nakhichevan.

On December 15, 2005, eyewitnesses across the River Araxes videotaped Azeri soldiers destroying Armenian burial monuments - khachkars (cross stones) - some as old as 1,500 years. Azerbaijani officials denied the vandalism, but banned European Parliament members from visiting the site in March of 2006. Only a few outside news sources tried to publicize the tragedy.

"The New Tears of Araxes" is written by Sarah Pickman, a University of Chicago student, who was the only American reporter to cover the tragedy when she interned for Archaeology Magazine. Producer and narrator Simon Maghakyan, who is among America's top 20 college students according to USA TODAY (April 24, 2006), hopes the film will break a year of ignorance and silence. When asked why others should care, Maghakyan quotes Martin Luther King Jr. as saying, "Injustice anywhere is threat to justice everywhere."

Music by Djivan Gasparian (Gladiator, The Passion of the Christ, Munich, Syriana); Digital sound track production by Transtar Entertainment Group; Photographs by Research on Armenian Architecture, and Argam Ayvazian; Footage of 2005 destruction by Tabriz's Armenian Church, Iran; Satellite image by Digital Globe; Map by The Times, London. © Simon Maghakyan 2006.

To learn more about the deliberate destruction of the world's largest Armenian archaeological site, visit the Djulfa Virtual Memorial and Museum -

Sept 2007 update: Azerbaijani authorities are razing another Armenian cemetery in Baku, the capital city of the South Caucasus republic......

The Azerbaijani and Turkish, even Japanese need to learn from the German; to admit the wrong doing with courage and accept the historical fact of what have happen during Armenian Genocide and Nanjing Massacre. There is no point erasing history to cover the past. The truth will prevail....


Republic of Azerbaijian
Azerbaijan or formally the Republic of Azerbaijan, is a country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to the south. The exclave of Nakhichevan is bounded by Armenia to the north and east, Iran to the south and west, while having a short borderline with Turkey to the northwest. The Nagorno-Karabakh region in the southwest of Azerbaijan proper declared itself independent from Azerbaijan in 1991, but it is not recognized by any nation and considered a legal part of Azerbaijan.
Note: Azerbaijan not only refer to Republic of Azerbaijan(a former Russian republic) but also the name of Iranian region of Azerbaijan. This name originated from pre-Islamic history of Persia, derived from Atropates, a Persian. Following the Russian-Persian Wars of the 18th and 19th centuries, Persian territories in the Caucasus were ceded to the Russian Empire and [30] the treaties of Gulistan in 1813 and Turkmenchay in 1828 finalized the borders with Russia and present-day Iran.[31][32] The formation of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic in 1918 established the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan as it is today.

Republic of Azerbaijan consist of 90.6% Azeris, 2.2% Lezgins, 1.8% Russian, 1.5% Armenian(who all lived in break away Nagorno-Karabakh region , and other minorities.

Nagorno-Karabakh is a landlocked region in the South Caucasus, lying between Lower Karabakh and Zangezur and covering the southeastern range of the Lesser Caucasus mountains. The region is mostly mountainous and forested and has an area of 8,223 square kilometres (3,175 sq mi).
The population was 95% Armenian, with the remaining total including Assyrians, Greeks, and Kurds. Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh is facing demographic shift but slower than Nakhchivan trends, and feared an eventual "de-Armenianization" of the area.

The region is de jure part of Azerbaijan, but most of it is de facto governed by the internationally unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. Since the end of the Nagorno-Karabakh War in 1994(war between Armenia and Azerbaijan), representatives of the governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan have been holding peace talks mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group on the region's disputed status. Nagorno-Karabakh falls within the lands occupied by peoples known to modern archaeologists as the Kura-Araxes culture, who lived between the two rivers Kura and Araxes.

Why Nagorno-Karabakh is important?

The BTC pipeline runs from Baku (capital of Azerbaijan, on the Caspian Sea), up through Georgia, down into Turkey, and out to the Mediterranean Sea at Ceyhan in southern Turkey. Because Azerbaijan and Armenia are in a state of cold war — no diplomatic relations, borders closed — the pipeline goes around Armenia.

What is the BTC pipeline?

The Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan(BTC) pipeline is a 1,768 kilometres (1,099 mi) long crude oil pipeline from the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli oil field in the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. It connects Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan; Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia; and Ceyhan, a port on the south-eastern Mediterranean coast of Turkey, hence its name. It is the second longest oil pipeline in the world after the Druzhba pipeline. The first oil that was pumped from the Baku end of the pipeline on 10 May 2005 reached Ceyhan on 28 May 2006. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline Company (BTC Co.) was established in London on 1 August 2002. The ceremony launching construction of the pipeline was held on 18 September 2002. Construction began in April 2003 and was completed in 2005. BP is the largest shareholder(30.1%)of BTC CO., the 2nd largest shareholder is State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR).

1) It is the only pipeline carrying oil out of the former Soviet Union that doesn’t go through Russia. Russia is not happy about the pipeline.

2) It carries a lot of oil. At full capacity it’s going to pump about a million barrels a day. The Caspian Sea lies above one of the world's largest groups of oil and gas fields. The BTC pipeline as easing the dependence of the US and other Western nations on oil from the Middle East, it supplies only 1% of global demand during its first stage. This region and the BTC pipeline is going to be strategic in future global geopolitic.

3) As oil flows out of the pipeline, money flows back in. The pipeline is earning Azerbaijan roughly a billion dollars a month. Azerbaijan, you see, is using a lot of that oil revenue to arm. Azerbaijan and Armenia are in a state of cold war. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is still unresolved, and it has the potential of going hot again.


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The Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic is a landlocked exclave of Azerbaijan. The region covers 5,363 km² and borders Armenia (221 km) to the east and north, Iran (179 km) to the south and west, and Turkey (15 km) to the northwest. The capital is Nakhchivan City. According to Sumerian, Jewish, and Islamic tradition, Nakhchivan and Seron were the only two cities built after the Great Flood and before the subsequent dispersion of peoples.Nakhchivan became a scene of conflict during the Nagorno-Karabakh War.The conflict in the area caused a harsh reaction from Turkey, which together with Russia is a guarantor of Nakhchivan's status in accordance with the Treaty of Kars. Today, Nakhchivan retains its autonomy as the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic and is internationally recognized as a constituent part of Azerbaijan governed by its own elected parliament. A new constitution for Nakhchivan was approved in a referendum on November 12, 1995. The constitution was adopted by the republic's assembly on April 28, 1998 and has been in force since January 8, 1999. However, the republic remains isolated, not only from the rest of Azerbaijan, but practically from the entire South Caucasus region.

During the Soviet era, Nakhchivan saw a significant demographic shift. Its Armenian population gradually decreased as many emigrated to the Armenian SSR. In 1926, 15% of region's population was Armenian, but by 1979 this number had shrunk to 1.4%. The Azeri population, meanwhile increased substantially with both a higher birth rate and immigration (going from 85% in 1926 to 96% by 1979. There was complete "de-Armenianization".

Variations of the name Nakhchivan include Nakhichevan, Naxcivan, Naxçivan, Nachidsheuan, Nakhijevan, Nakhchawan, Nakhitchevan, Nakhjavan and Nakhdjevan. Look at the many variations of names, you can understand the history of the place is complicated. According to the nineteenth-century language scholar, Johann Heinrich Hübschmann, the name "Nakhichavan" in Armenian literally means "the place of descent", a Biblical reference to the descent of Noah's Ark on the adjacent Mount Ararat. Hübschmann notes, however, that it was not known by that name in antiquity. Instead, he states the present-day name evolved to "Nakhchivan" from "Naxcavan". The prefix "Naxc" was a name and "avan" is Armenian for "town". Nakhchivan was also mentioned in Ptolemy's Geography and by other classical writers as Naxuana. Modern historian Suren Yeremyan disputes this assertion, arguing that ancient Armenian tradition placed Nakhichevan's founding to the year 3669 B.C. and, in ascribing its establishment to Noah, that it took its present name after the Armenian phrase "Nakhnakan Ichevan" (Նախնական Իջևան), or "first landing." Nakh (before or first) and ichevan (landing, sanctuary) – referring to Noah’s coming out of the Ark from (another holy Armenian symbol) Mount Ararat – next to Nakhichevan now on Turkish territory. Josephus stated that the name of the first city built by Noah after the Great Flood was Themanin, and this city has been identified as an alternate name for Nakhchivan. The name "Themanin" means either "eight" or "eighty," referring to either the eight people who survived the flood on the arkin Jewish tradition or the eighty who survived in Islamic tradition.

(source: wikipedia)

There are no Armenians left in Nakhichevan, and not a trace of the rich Armenian heritage (the most precious of which, the Djulfa cemetery, was reduced to dust by Azeri soldiers in December 2005. To erase the history of the past for political reason is not healthy, even the past may be ugly past, but it is still a true fact for the future generation to know, to learn and avoid the same mistake. The history can be conserved for tourism to generate income source for the country. It is still part of the history, why destroy it? This is the 4th anniversary of the destruction, I hope UNESCO will do something to prevent similar event happen again in future is a loss to human history, not only Armenian history, or Azerbajian history.

Related articles:

1. The factor of history factory in Armenia-Turkey relations, dated 4-10-2009,
2. Nakhchivan,
3. Azerbaijan,
4. Nagorno-Karabakh,
5. 阿塞拜疆:纪念亚美尼亚古墓摧毁,
6. Azerbaijan: Destruction of Ancient Cemetery Commemorated,
7. Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan pipeline,

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hiroshima Atom Bomb Impact

The documentary movie on the Impact of Atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan.

During the final stages of World War II in 1945, the United States conducted two atomic bombings against Japan in the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. After six months of intense strategic fire-bombing of 67 Japanese cities the Hirohito regime ignored an ultimatum given by the Potsdam Declaration. By executive order of President Harry S. Truman the U.S. dropped the nuclear weapon Little Boy on the city of Hiroshima on Monday, August 6, 1945, followed by the detonation of the bomb Fat Man over Nagasaki on August 9. These are the only attacks with nuclear weapons in the history of warfare

The bombs killed as many as 140,000 people in Hiroshima and 80,000 in Nagasaki by the end of 1945, with roughly half of those deaths occurring on the days of the bombings. Amongst these, 15–20% died from injuries or the combined effects of flash burns, trauma, and radiation burns, compounded by illness, malnutrition and radiation sickness. Since then, more have died from leukemia (231 observed) and solid cancers (334 observed) attributed to exposure to radiation released by the bombs. In both cities, most of the dead were civilians.

Six days after the detonation over Nagasaki, on August 15, Japan announced its surrender to the Allied Powers, signing the Instrument of Surrender on September 2, officially ending the Pacific War and therefore World War II. Germany had signed its unavoidable. Instrument of Surrender on May 7, ending the war in Europe. The bombings led, in part, to post-war Japan adopting Three Non-Nuclear Principles, forbidding the nation from nuclear armament.
(Extract from wikipedia)

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No matter how , I am against the use of atomic bomb. Moreover, it is the use of two bombs at innocent people. If it is one bomb, I think they will have surrender, why two?. The American should bomb the palace and the army camp, why drop the bomb at innocent people. They just want to test the bomb, preparing for the future role as superpower. That is the agenda behind, why don't they use it in Germany first? Is it because the scientists are German, and they have secret agreement not to use it on their mother land?. So the alternative is the Japan....

I dislike WW2, and Japanese occupation, two of my uncles died during WW2(one was with the railway in Thailand). My maternal grandpa died during WW2, all died at relative young age. The Japanese armies has committed war crimes of killing, raping and burning down houses, many innocent people all over Asia suffered.

But not all Japanese are bad, some Japanese were supporters of Dr Sun Yat Sen during the Chinese revolution. We are sad for the Japanese during the war , just like the German, their herding mentality caused that. They are blinded to believe in their leaders. We should blame the military leaders and the King. The bombs should be on them. There are good Japanese. Not all Japanese are the same. So why bomb on innocent people?

But the worst thing currently , is that the right wing are erasing the historical record of WW2 in Japanese school text books, and find ways to justify their war crime, that cannot be accepted, and the world should not let them do that. Japanese politic are controlled by the hawks in LDP, the formation was linked to WW2 military leaders/war criminals and Yakuza, and that is the problem. They are normally right wing or hawks that win, supported by big corporation or the uyoku (extreme right-wing political groups),and even Yakuza have great influence on the political parties. It was the political games of power and money. It is difficult for the left wing or dove to win. Some said the yakuza are part and parcel of the LDP! Its formation and the running of the party are the work of the yakuza. It is a relationship of interdependence, mutual help, friendship, cooperation and support. The hawks is now trying to brain wash their younger generation, a return to military mentality. Some Japanese have forgotten the Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The crime of few military leaders and the king was compensated by the lives of many innocent Japanese people,that is not fair; the hawks has not learn the lesson.

Prime Ministers of Japan in Showa Period(1947-1989)
Showa Period (昭和時代),is the period of Japanese history corresponding to the reign of Emperor Hirohito (posthumus name : Emperor Shōwa), from December 25, 1926 to January 7, 1989). There were two part (i) Pre-war and WW2 period(1926-1947) and post war period(1947-1989). The name Showa literally means "period of enlightened peace", but ironically it was the period where WW2(World War 2)happen. racial discrimination against other Asians was habitual in Imperial Japan, having begun with the start of Japanese colonialism. The Shōwa regime thus preached racial superiority and racialist theories, based on sacred nature of the Yamato-damashii. According to historian Kurakichi Shiratori, one of emperor Shōwa's teachers : "Therefore nothing in the world compares to the divine nature (shinsei) of the imperial house and likewise the majesty of our national polity (kokutai). Here is one great reason for Japan's superiority". The post war Showa period(1947-1989), was the period when war criminals/Yakuza controlled the political power in the initial years,it was also the era of LDP hawks.
The first postwar elections was held in 1948 and women were given the franchise for the first time in 1947, and the Liberal Party's vice president, Yoshida Shigeru (1878-1967), became the prime minister.

The following are list of Prime Minister in post war Showa period(1947-1989):

1. Tetsu Katayama(片山 哲), 46th Prime Minister from 24-5-1947 to 10-3-1948, from Socialist Party. He is a Christian and a lawyer. He was against the expulsion of Saitō Takao(斎藤隆夫)from Diet on 7-3-1940, who had make a speech against a Japan's "holy war" in China. He was the first socialist to serve as Prime Minister. He was forced to resign.
2. Hitoshi Ashida(芦田 均), 47th Prime Minister from 10-3-1948 to 15-10-1948, from Democratic Party. Two of his cabinet ministers were accused of corruption in the Showa Electric scandal, which forced the cabinet to resign.
3. Shigeru Yoshida(吉田 茂), 48th to 51th Prime Minister for 4 terms from 15th October 1948 to 10th December 1954, from Liberal Party. Throughout the 1930s and before the war ended in the early 1940s, Yoshida continued to participate in Japan's imperialist movement. After several months' imprisonment in 1945, he became one of Japan's key postwar leaders. He was also the 45th Prime Minister from 22-5-1946 to 24-5-1947. He is a Catholic.
4. Ichirō Hatoyama(鳩山 一郎), 52th to 54th Prime Minister for 3 terms, from Japan Democratic Party. He was about to become prime minister in 1946, but was barred from politics for five years by Supreme Commander Allied Powers because they thought he had co-operated with the authoritarian government in the 1930s and 1940s. He was Japan's 3rd Christian Prime Minister, a Baptist. The current Prime Minister(2009) Yukio Hatoyama,is his grandson.
5.Tanzan Ishibashi(石橋 湛山), the 55th Prime Minister(23-12-1956 to 25-2-1957) from LDP. A journalist, who had a liberal political view and espoused the Small Japan policy; the core opinion of his Small Japan policy was the abandonment of Manchuria. He opposed Kishi's politics on security, which seemed too militant to Ishibashi. Ishibashi stated that the government should endeavor to set up diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China and his policy was popular among the people. Unfortunately he became sick and gave up his office only two months later.
6. Nobusuke Kishi(岸 信介), 56th to 57th Prime Minister for 2 terms from 25th Feb 1957 to 19th July 1960, from LDP. In 1935, he became one of the top officials involved in the industrial development of Manchukuo. Prime Minister Hideki Tojo, himself a veteran of the Manchurian campaign, appointed Kishi Minister of Commerce and Industry in 1941, and he held this position until Japan's surrender in 1945. Until 1948, Kishi was imprisoned as a "class A" war crime suspect. Unlike Tojo (and several other cabinet members), however, Kishi was never indicted or tried by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. But historian John W. Dower writes: "Even Japanese activists who endorse the ideals of the Nuremberg and Tokyo charters, and who have labored to document and publicize the atrocities of the shōwa regime, cannot defend the American decision to exonerate the emperor of war responsibility and then, in the chill of the Cold war, release and soon afterwards openly embrace accused right-winged war criminals like the later prime minister Nobusuke Kishi".
7.Hayato Ikeda(池田 勇人), the 58th to 60th Prime Minister from 19-7-1960 to 9-11-1964 for 3 terms. From LDP. Takafusa Nakamura, a leading economic historian, described Ikeda as "the single most important figure in Japan's rapid growth. He should long be remembered as the man who pulled together a national consensus for economic growth."
8. Eisaku Satō(佐藤 榮作), 61th to 63th Prime Minister for 3 terms, from LDP. Satō shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Seán MacBride in 1974, but he is anti-Chinese and pro-Taiwan.
9. Kakuei Tanaka(田中 角榮), 64th & 65th Prime Minister for 2 terms from 7 July 1972 to 9 December 1974, from LDP. His most notable achievement was the normalization of Japan's relations with the People's Republic of China. He fell from power after a long series of scandals, leading him to be described as "that paragon of post-war corruption.".The Lockheed trial ended on October 12, 1983, Tanaka was found guilty and sentenced to 4 years in jail. The Tokyo High Court dismissed Tanaka's appeal on July 29th, and the original sentence passed down in 1983 was reinstated. Tanaka immediately posted bail and appealed to the Supreme Court. While his appeal lingered in the Court's docket, Tanaka's medical condition deteriorated. He resigned from the Diet in 1989, was diagnosed with diabetes, and finally died of pneumonia at Keio University Hospital at 2:04 p.m. on December 16, 1993.
10. Takeo Miki(三木 武夫), 66th Prime Minister from 9-12-1974 to 24-12-1976. He was from LDP. He was popular with the public but not popular with the party members as he attempt to reform LDP after Lockheed bribery scandals. He resigned.
11.Takeo Fukuda(福田 赳夫), 67th Prime Minister from December 24, 1976 to December 7, 1978. He was from LDP.He lost his presidency of LDP and resigned as Prime Minister.
12.Masayoshi Ōhira(大平 正芳), 68th & 69th two terms Prime Minister from 7 December 1978 to 12 June 1980. He is the 6th Christian to become Prime Minister(after Hara Takashi, Takahashi Korekiyo, Ichirō Hatoyama, Tetsu Katayama, and Shigeru Yoshida).On May 16, 1980, a vote of no confidence was held in the Diet against him, he was forced to seek for new election. He was hospitalized for exhaustion on May 31 and died of a massive heart attack 12 days later.

Except the 46th Prime Minister, all other Prime Ministers from post WW2 Showa Period are from LDP or its related parties. LDP hawks greatly influence its policies.

"What controls politics is power, and power lies in money. " Japan's Prime Minister Nobosuki Kishi(from LDP), 1956. In 1935, he became one of the top officials involved in the industrial development of Manchukuo. Prime Minister Hideki Tojo, himself a veteran of the Manchurian campaign, appointed Kishi Minister of Commerce and Industry in 1941, and he held this position until Japan's surrender in 1945. He is graduate from the Sugamo prison who was classified as a Class A war criminal(wikipedia however reported he was a suspect and never indicted or tried by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East). He was released together with Yoshio Kodama, but soon staged the biggest political comeback in history!. In 1955, when the Liberal Party merged with the Democratic Party to form LDP(Libral Democratic Party), he powered his way up, backed by Kodama, to become the secretary-general of the LDP, then pushed on to become the Deputy Prime Minister under the Shigeru Yoshida government, and later Prime Minister in March 1957. There are many politician including Prime Ministers of post WW2 Japan, who were involved directly in WW2 war crime, some of them were released from Sugamo prison as war criminals but were directly involved in formation of LDP. It was not prohibited by the USA because some of them can be used for their experience in China in their anti-communist strategy.

The opposition party DPJ(Democratic Party of Japan, 民主党, ) led by Yukio Hatoyama(鳩山由紀夫), has cleared majority by winning 308 seats (10 seats won by allies Social Democratic Party and People's New Party). The current Prime Minister Hatoyama is from the left wing, 2nd Prime Minister born after the WW2(born 11 February 1947),he was appointed Prime Minister on 16-9-2009. We hope that he will initiated the pacifying campaign to apologize to the world for the war crime and the Nanjing Massacre. Otherwise it will be "like a kabuki play -- the actors change over the years, but the roles they play are always the same."
Note: His paternal grandfather, Ichirō Hatoyama(鳩山 一郎), was Prime Minister and founder and the first President of the Liberal Democratic Party (自由民主党),1954–1955).

That us prayed that the Hiroshima & Nagasaki incident will not happen well as Nanjing Massacre....

Stop the war. Stop the nuclear weapon. Stop bomb testing.......stop political games? Yes, political games which built fanatic political dream that misled the masses of innocent people into military power, that go wild and become inhuman. It all start with crazy politician.

Related articles:
1. Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
2. Japan's political thugs exposed,
3. Nobosuki Kishi,

Armenian in Burma & Asia

Like Burmese Chinese and Burmese Indian, Anglo-Burmese((Eurasians of mixed Burmese and European,though not necessarily British ancestry),are not recognized as citizen in Burma. There is another minority race, the Armenians, which have been in Burma since 1612. Like Armenian in Penang, Armenians in Burma are merchants.

Who are Armenian?

The Armenians (Armenian: Հայեր, Hayer) are a nation and ethnic group which originated in the Caucasus and the Armenian Highland. It is estimated that there are 8 million Armenians around the world. There is a large concentration of Armenians in the Caucasus, especially in Armenia, and there is a significant presence in Georgia, Iran, Russia, and Ukraine. As a result of the Armenian genocide, a large number of survivors fled to many countries throughout the world, such as France, the United States, Argentina and the Levan.

Armenian Apostolic Church
Christianity began to spread in Armenia soon after Christ's death, due to the efforts of two of his apostles, St. Thaddeus and St. Bartholomew. In the early 3rd century, Arsacid Armenia became the first nation to adopt Christianity as a state religion. Most Armenians adhere to the Armenian Apostolic Church, a Non-Chalcedonian church. They speak two different, but mutually intelligible, dialects of their language: Eastern Armenian (spoken mainly in Armenia, Iran and the former Soviet republics) and Western Armenian (spoken primarily in the Armenian diaspora)

Over 93% of Armenian Christians belong to the Armenian Apostolic Church, a form of Oriental (Non-Chalcedonian) Orthodoxy, which is a very ritualistic, conservative church, roughly comparable to the Coptic and Syriac churches. Armenian Apostolic Church is in communion only with a group of churches within Oriental Orthodoxy.

Where is Armenia?
Armenia lies in the highlands surrounding the Biblical mountains of Ararat, upon which, according to Judeo-Christian history, Noah's Ark came to rest after the flood (Gen 8:4). In the Bronze Age, several states flourished in the area of Greater Armenia, including the Hittite Empire (at the height of its power), Mitanni (South-Western historical Armenia), and Hayasa-Azzi (1600-1200 BC). Soon after the Hayasa-Azzi were the Nairi (1400-1000 BC) and the Kingdom of Urartu (1000-600 BC), who successively established their sovereignty over the Armenian Highlands. Each of the aforementioned nations and tribes participated in the ethnogenesis of the Armenian people. Yerevan, the modern capital of Armenia, was founded in 782 BC by king Argishti I.

In 1984, it was suggested by Thomas Gamkrelidze and Vyacheslav V. Ivanov that the Proto-Indo-European homeland is located in the Armenian Highland.

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The modern Armenia is today Republic of Armenia. According to wikipedia;

Armenia en-us-Armenia.ogg /ɑrˈmiːniə/ (help·info) (Armenian: Հայաստան, transliterated: Hayastan, IPA: [hɑjɑsˈtɑn]), officially the Republic of Armenia (Հայաստանի Հանրապետություն, Hayastani Hanrapetut’yun, [hɑjɑstɑˈni hɑnɾɑpɛtuˈtʰjun]), is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Situated at the juncture of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bordered by Turkey to the west, Georgia to the north, Azerbaijan to the east, and Iran and the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan to the south.

A former republic of the Soviet Union, Armenia is a unitary, multiparty, democratic nation-state with an ancient and historic cultural heritage. The Kingdom of Armenia was the first state to adopt Christianity as its religion[10] in the early years of the 4th century (the traditional date is 301). The modern Republic of Armenia recognizes the exclusive historical mission of the Armenian Apostolic Church as a national church, although the modern Republic of Armenia has separation of church and state.

History of Armenian Diaspora
Like Chinese, Indian, Jews, there are large population of Armenian community in diaspora. They are good in business as merchants.

Armenian diaspora existed since the Armenian loss of statehood in 1375 (when the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia fell to the Mamelukes), it grew in size due to emigration from the Ottoman Empire and Russia and the Caucasus. The Armenian diaspora grew considerably during and after the First World War. Although many Armenians perished during the Armenian Genocide, some of the Armenians managed to escape, and established themselves in various Eastern European cities, such as Moscow, Russia; Sochi, Russia; Odessa, Ukraine; Sevastopol, Crimea (Ukraine); Tbilisi, Georgia; Batumi, Georgia; Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Others emigrated to the The Balkans, such as Bulgaria and Athens, Greece.Yet others emigrated to Middle Eastern cities, such as and Aleppo, Syria and Beirut, Lebanon.

Armenian Communities in Asia
Armenian communities can also be found on the Asian Continent. Some of these communities have a very long history going back to many centuries. In Asian countries, there were important communities in India, Pakistan, and as far east as Malaysia, Singapore, Burma and Hong Kong.By the 18th century, Armenian communities had established themselves in India (particularly Kolkata), Myanmar, the Malay Peninsula (particularly Penang and Malacca), and Java. The Armenians in Asia have greatly decreased in number. Now there are hardly 100 Armenians in India, mostly in Kolkata, where the Armenian College and Philanthropic Academy (est. 1821) still functions. The Armenians in Singapore, who numbered as many as 100 families at their peak in the 1880s, have now moved to Australia or become part of the wider Singapore community as Eurasian. The Chinese Armenian community is a very small community , due to the mass-exodus of Armenians from Harbin, their colony dwindled down to a mere 40-50 people. Soon after Capt Francis Light occupied Penang, Malaya(now Malaysia) in 1786, Armenian traders were calling in on their way from India to Melaka (Malacca) and Batavia (Jakarta). By 1807, there were enough Armenian traders to justify the naming of Armenian Lane, which later became Armenian Street in Penang. The Church of St George the Illuminator on Bishop Street was established by Armenian merchant and philanthropist Catchatour Galastaun in 1824. Priests were sent from Persia to minister to the needs of the small Armenian community until late 1880s. The church was demolished around 1906. Now most of the Penang Armenian has migrated either to Singapore or Australia. Many Armenians remaining in Burma have also emigrated, the small number remained might also be considered part of the Anglo-Indian or, more correctly, the Anglo-Burmese community.

A number of Armenians in Singapore and Malaysia had connections with the Armenian communities in India, Dacca and Burma(a list can be found in This provided evidence that there were close connection between Armenian in Burma, Penang, Singapore. Their connection even traced to Armenians from India, moved to Burma, Penang, and Singapore, and finally to Australia.

Armenian Business Communities in Asia
The earliest European traders were the Portuguese, who seized Malacca on the Malay Peninsula in 1511. Within the century commercial supremacy passed to the Dutch, and during the Napoleonic Wars to the British, who founded the city of Singapore in 1819. In the late 19th century Burma and the Malay Peninsula became part of the British Empire. This attracted many Armenian merchant to Asia.

Armenian trading firms such as the Aristarkies Sarkies Company (1820-1841), Apcar & Stephens Company (1826-1845) and Mackertich M. Moses Company (1821-1845) were prominent in Singapore's economy. By the 1830s, Armenian merchants began investing in land. Built in 1835, in March 1836 the Church of St Gregory the Illuminator was consecrated, making it the first church in Singapore.

Tigran Sarkies set up as an auctioneer in 1882. He soon ventured into the hotel business, opening the Eastern Hotel on Light Street in 1884. In 1886, he and his brother Martin, calling themselves Sarkies Brothers, established the Oriental Hotel on Farquhar Street. Younger brother Aviet joined them and managed the Eastern. Meanwhile, Tigran and Martin extended and refurbished the Oriental. Renaming it the Eastern and Oriental - the now-renowned E & O on Farquhar Street Penang - in 1889. The Sarkies Brothers also ran the Sea View Hotel, the Oriental Tiffin and Billiard Rooms and, from 1905 until 1920, the Crag Hotel (Penang Hill). They also expanded their hotel business to the Raffles Hotel in Singapore and The Strand Hotel in Yangon in 1901. Most of their senior staff was Armenian, thus boosting the Armenian population in Penang, Singapore and Burma.(extra from wikipedia)

History of Armenian in Burma

It was reported that the first Armenian arrived in 1612, who arrived and stayed in Syriam(now called Thanlyin). A tombstone dated 1725 was discovered in the place(ref: History of Burma, by
G.E. Harvey pg 191). The Armenians are merchant in Burma.

Armenians were deported in large numbers to New Julfa, on the outskirts of Isfahan (Persia), early in the seventeenth century. Many continued on to India and Southeast Asia in the eighteenth century as conditions turned against them in Persia. By the 19th century they were to be found chiefly in Burma, the Malay peninsula (particularly Penang and Malacca), and Java, and were usually accepted as 'European' or 'White'. They tended to emigrate further from around World War I, notably to Australia.

In Burma, major Armenian traders were employed as officials by the Burmese kings, especially in charge of customs and relations with foreigners. They survived the First Burmese War in 1826, when the British annexed Arakan and Tenasserim, but the British conquest of Lower Burma, the commercial heart of the country, in 1852, led to renewed accusations (from the British) that Armenian merchants were anti-British, and even pro-Russian. Nevertheless, the Armenians of Yangon built their church in 1862, on land presented to them by the King of Burma.

The 1871-1872 Census of British India revealed that there were 1,250 Armenians, chiefly in Kolkata, Dhaka and Yangon. The 1881 Census stated the figure to be 1,308; 737 in Bengal and 466 in Burma. By 1891, the total figure was 1,295.

The Armenian Apostolic Church of St. John the Baptist still stands at No. 66, 40th Street (now Bo Aung Kyaw Street) in Yangon. According to its records, 76 Armenians were baptised in Burma between 1851-1915 (Yangon, Mandalay and Maymyo (now Pyin U Lwin)), 237 Armenians were married between 1855-1941 and over 300 Armenians died between 1811-1921.

Syriam(now Thanlyin)
Thanlyin was formerly known as Syriam(usually pronounce as "Tanyin"). It is a city in Yangon Division in Myanmar. It is situated at the confluence of the Yangon and Bago Rivers, the Irrawaddy Delta ; to be exact it is on the southern bank of Bango River. It is just opposite the city of Yangon(also known as Rangoon). The city is the home to largest port of the country, Thilawa port.

The colonial town of Syriam was built by the British for it's port and petroleum refinery plant. It is also a sub-urban town right a few miles away from Yangon, across 1.5 mile-long bridge

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Its history
Thanlyin first came to prominence in the 15th century as the main port city of the Hanthawaddy Kingdom, replacing a silted up Bago port. In 1539, the city became part of the Kingdom of Taungoo. Thanlyin was the base of the Portuguese adventurer/mercenary, Philip De Brito, who was officially a trade representative from Rakhine, he established himself as a local warlord from his base at Thanlyin, and hired his forces on occasion to the Mon in their battles against the Bamar. In 1599, the city fell to the Rakhine forces led by him( Filipe de Brito e Nicote)who was made governor of the city. The city was recaptured by the Burmese in 1613, he was executed by impalement, a punishment reserved for defilers of Buddhist temples. Thanlyin continued to be a major port until it was destroyed by King Alaungpaya in 1756 during the Mon revolt.

The main tourist attraction in Thanlyin is Kyaikkhauk Pagoda and Yeylel Pagoda. There is also the National Races village across the river.De Brito declared independence from his nominal Rakhine masters in 1603, defeated the invading Rakhine navy in 1604 and 1605, and successfully established Portuguese rule under the Portuguese viceroy of Goa. A short-time self-proclaimed King Philip de Brito, a one-time Portuguese mercenary who became the de-facto ruler of Syriam until, in 1613, he was defeated by the Bamar and impaled.In 1613, Burmese king Anaukpetlun recaptured the city, and executed de Brito by impalement, a punishment reserved for defilers of Buddhist temples. The city, an important seventeenth-century port, was destroyed by King Alaungpaya.

Thanlyin remained the major port of the Taungoo kingdom until mid-18th century. In the 1740s, Thanlyin was made the base of the French East India Company for their help in the Mon's reestablishment of Hanthawaddy Kingdom. The arrangement lasted until 1756 when King Alaungpaya of Konbaung dynasty captured the city. From then on, the importance has shifted to Yangon across the river, which Alaungpaya founded just a year earlier.

Thanlyin became part of the British Empire in 1852 after the Second Anglo-Burmese War. The British made the city into the oil refinery center of the country in the early 20th century to process the oil shipped from central Myanmar. The refinery was destroyed during World War II. The Thanlyin refinery was rebuilt in 1957, and underwent expansion in 1979 with Japanese assistance. In 1979 a pipeline was completed between Syriam and the Mann oilfield.

Thanlyin(Syriam) was once an important city on the Irrawaddy Delta but is today a forgotten suburb of Yangon.

Since the 1990s, the city has undergone major changes. Thanlyin was finally connected to Yangon by road in 1993 when the Thanlyin Bridge was built. In the late 1990s, Thilawa Port was built to handle the container ships away from Yangon's ports. The city is home to a national university in Myanmar Maritime University, and local universities in the University of East Yangon and Technological University, Thanlyin. The city's population has increased from 43,000 in 1983 to 123,000 in 1996.

Most people travel to Thanlyin to see the impressive Kyauktan Ye Le Pagoda, which is located approximately 20kms to the south of the city on a small island in Hmaw Won Creek. This pretty temple complex contains a grand collection of artwork.

Visitors to Thanlyin can also cross the Yangon River to explore the town of Kyauktan, where there are a number of good places to eat and a vibrant market.

(source: extract from wikipedia)

Despite many Armenians had contributed to the development of Burmese economy, like other Anglo-Burmese, Burmese Indian and Burmese Chinese; many have migrated and moved to other countries due to negative political development in Burma. The Burmese Armenians, if any still remaining in Burma might be considered as part of the Anglo-Indian or, more correctly, the Anglo-Burmese community. The diaspora of Armenian community in Burma is the lost to the country.......

Related articles/References:

1.Armenians in Burma,
3. Respected Citizens: the History of Armenians in Singapore and Malaysia, by Nadia H Wright, published by Amassia Publishing
4. Blog dated Tuesday, August 4, 2009, Armenian Genocide 1915-1923

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Myanmar migrants face deportation

Human movement, some are under forced displacement and some may be human trafficking. This is the daily affair in Thai- Burma border, from the north to the south. They called them IDP if they are still in Burma, if they crossed the border they are refugee.

There are refugee in the border camp, there are stateless Burmese in Thailand working illegally for survival, some lucky one was granted refugee status, but many are without identification. The one without identification cannot move out from the refugee camp, some have been there for more than 20 years. Some crossed the legal frontier to work illegally in the city, even move down to Malaysia and some to Singapore(this is remote due to strong control). Malaysia and Thailand become their heaven for living. They are having the threat of human right abuse, and facing emotionally and psychologically deprived environment. Far away from home, from the country......

The video was taken on 11-4-2008, today the story still continue...

If they are deported back to Myanmar, what is their future?

Military Junta promised election in 2010. Can they return to their home after 2010 election? It seems to be remote, the offensive in Kokang, and other border attack did not give any positive sign.....

Cry Burma, cry Myanmar, the world have forgotten you....they are more concern with Tibet, Xinjiang, and other oil producing areas....they forgot Kokang, they forgot North East India(when opium no longer a valued legal commodity like during the Opium War), they are going after the other new commodity(petrol), may be followed by energy, water in near future...They forgot the experience of East Timor a long time ago...and many others that require real help....and they just want to play global politic.....

Cry louder, let the world and superpower hear it.....

After the darkness, there should be sunshine; the Burmese still hope for their sunshine....

Maybe after Christmas....or after New Year....

World Refugee Day: Angelina Jolie calls for greater understanding

At an event marking the launch of activities for World Refugee Day on June 20, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie appeared today alongside UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres to call on the world to recognise millions of victims of conflict around the world not as a burden but as a potential gift.

Burmese Refugee Camp

Refugee: a person forced to leave his or her home or native land to seek safe refuge as a result of war, persecution, or the like.

The country of Burma is being ruled by a "military regime [who] arbitrarily arrests, tortures, rapes and executes its own people, ruthlessly persecutes ethnic minorities, and bizarrely builds itself a new capital city while failing to address the increasingly urgent challenges of refugee flows, illicit narcotics and human trafficking, and the spread of HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases." (Wikipedia)

Some of these people have lived in this camp for over 20 years. Others die in this camp, never to see their homeland. While the children who are born here may never leave the camp itself, wherein their world view is only as big as this camp.

Even so, within this darkness of a "Forgotten Crisis" - deep down there is a light that never goes out.

Myanmar refugees on the Thai-Myanmar border

The situation of refugees from Myanmar in camps in Thailand is one of the most protracted in the world. These refugees have been confined to nine closed camps since their arrival in the 1980s. According to Thai law, those found outside the camps are subject to arrest and deportation. Officially, refugees have no access to employment.

The prolonged confinement of the Myanmar refugees has created numerous social, psychological and protection concerns. The coping mechanisms of refugees have been eroded, and the restrictions imposed on them have increased their dependency on assistance.

Against this background, the introduction of third-country resettlement has opened a durable solutions window. In 2009, UNHCR expects 18,000 departures. Despite this remarkable burden-sharing effort, the camp population is not likely to dwindle rapidly because of a number of factors, including the irregular functioning of the screening and admissions system for the camps. The Office will continue to work with the Government to find durable solutions for the refugees and ensure that asylum-seekers have access to fair and efficient asylum procedures.

(extract from UNHCR report, Global Needs Assessment: Thailand)


This video won't give them justice, but at least it can give you a window, a chance to see another world much smaller and more fragile than our own, a chance to understand what is happening at the Refugee Camp.

UNHCR partners in Thailand
Implementing partners
Government agencies: Ministries of Education, the Interior, and Justice
NGOs: Aide Médicale Internationale, American Refugee Committee, Catholic Office for Emergency Relief and Refugees, Handicap International, International Rescue Committee, Malteser International, Right to Play, Ruam Mit Foundation for Youth, Shanti Volunteer Association, ZOA Refugee Care
Operational partners
Government agencies: Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Social Development and Human Security, and the National Security Council
NGOs: ICS Asia, JRS, Solidarité, TBBC, WEAVE

The campaign
The campaign was created in 2006 by the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) in partnership with Nike and Microsoft.

The goal of the campaign is to give more than nine million children better access to education, sport and technology by 2010.

The website exists to raise funds, but also to give voice to those who often go unheard, allowing visitors to see pictures of the camps where children pass much of their lives, read refugee children's stories and understand what refugee children's lives are like.

Related articles:
1.My Blog article on Wednesday, June 24, 2009, Clinic Mae Tao at Mae Sot(แม่สอด)
2. UNHCR makes dream of education come true for Myanmar refugee boy, dated 22-6-2009
3. Restless Souls(2006), by Phil Thornton, published by Asia Books, Bangkok,Thailand
4.The repatriation predicament of Burmese refugees in Thailand: a preliminary analysis(2001), by Hazel Lang, UNHCR Working Paper NO: 46,
5. Mae Tao Clinic official website,
6.Global Needs Assessment: Thailand, by UNHCR, ttp://
7. The campaign,

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Top 10 of the world's worst roads

A top 10 of the world's worst roads, compiled by the Association for Safe International Road Travel(ASIRT):

10) Grand Trunk Road (India)
'GT', as it's often called, was built about 500 years ago to connect the east and western regions of the Indian subcontinent. The 2,500km road is full of trucks and rattling buses manned by drivers without much respect for their lives - or yours. And then there's the cyclists, the pedestrians, the salesmen, the ox carts, the cows, the buffalos....

9) Patiopoulo-Perdikaki Road (Greece)

This dirt track leads from Patiopoulo down to Perdikaki in the Agrafa region of Greece. It's steep, busy, full of huge potholes and extremely slippery (due to the gravel surface). It's also very narrow in places, with no lines or guard rails on the edges. That's less than ideal given the sheer drop... on both sides.

8) A44 (United Kingdom)

Much of the A44, a major road which runs from Oxford in southern England to Aberystwyth in west Wales, is fairly innocuous, but a 40km section between Leominster and Worcester has several blind corners. A quarter of accidents here involve vehicles leaving the road, and even more are head-on collisions. Nevertheless, the route is popular with thrill-seeking bikers.

7) Luxor-al Hurghada Road (Egypt)
Egypt's most dangerous road links two tourist locations - the ancient city of Luxor in the south, and Hurghada, a hub for diving schools on the coast of the Red Sea. The route is well-known bandit territory, with travellers facing a high risk of ambush and hijack. To avoid detection at night, the vast majority of drivers opt not to use their headlights. And that has a rather predicable side-effect...

6) Cotopaxi Volcan (Ecuador)

This 40km-long dirt track, one of countless dangerous roads in Ecuador, connects the Pan American Highway with the Cotopaxi Volcan National Park, which boasts one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. The treacherous route is peppered with holes, but the 'highlight' of the journey comes when you need to cross a bridge-less stream. It's particularly dangerous during flash floods... and flash floods seem to occur here even in the lightest of rains. You won't find that mentioned in any travel brochure.

5) Coastal roads (Croatia)

The Croatian coast makes the list due to the narrow and twisty nature of the roads, and a general lack of markings, lay-bys and side rails. The scenery on the jagged coast is absolutely stunning, but if you're driving, it's probably best to watch where you're going - and keep your fingers crossed that others do too.

4) Pan American Highway (Costa Rica)
The Pan-American Highway system, the longest drivable road in the world, runs an incredible 48,270km from Alaska to the lower reaches of South America. Several stretches can be considered 'tricky', but the most infamous section is a high mountain pass called 'Cerro de la Muerte' in Costa Rica. It's steep, narrow, twisty, full of holes and susceptible to flash floods and landslides. The name translates as 'Hill of Death'.

3) Sichuan-Tibet Highway (China)

At least 100,000 people are said to die on Chinese roads each year - or one person every 5 minutes. You'll want to avoid the 2,000km-long (but not very wide) Sichuan-Tibet Highway, which traverses at least a dozen different mountains with an average height of 4,000-5,000m. The high altitude means you'll be driving among clouds, and there's a high risk of landslides and avalanches to boot.

2) BR-116 (Brazil)
Brazil's second longest road runs 1,550km from Porto Alegre to Rio de Janeiro. The middle section, which covers around 400km from Curitiba to São Paulo, has steep cliffs, poor conditions and unstable weather. Officially it's named Rodovia Régis Bittencourt, but it's known locally as 'Rodovia da Morte'. That's 'Highway of Death'.

1) The North Yungas Road (Bolivia)
Some of the choices here may seem a little quirky, but few will deny that Bolivia's 'Death Road' is the most dangerous in the world. North Yungas Road snakes across roughly 70km of the Andes, with drops of up to 3,500m... and dozens of wrecked vehicles at the bottom. Drivers need to contend with crazy hairpins, oncoming traffic (often rushing to beat you into bends), an almost constant layer of fog and, during tropical downpours, high risk of landslides too. Tourist companies cash in on the road's notoriety by offering extreme bike tours down it. We'll give that a miss, thanks.

Association for Safe International Road Travel(ASIRT):was founded in 1995 in response to a bus crash in Turkey in which Aron Sobel, a twenty-five year old U.S. citizen, was killed along with 21 other passengers from many countries
Official website:

Related blog articles
Thursday, June 11, 2009 - The 10 Most Dangerous Roads in the world

Burmese in Penang(槟城缅甸人)

The Early History of the Burmese Community in Penang

by Dato' Mary J. Ritchie & Ms. Nyee Aye Toolseram

We have no records of the earliest Burmese arrivals to Penang. However, we know that after 1800, there was a large Burmese settlement in the area between Bagan Jeramal and Pulau Tikus. The Burmese also settled in Batu Maung.

The earliest settlers were fishermen who came by fishing boats and established a colony - probably at Telok Ava, near the present Chinese cemetery in Telok Bahang. The early burial ground of the Burmese was a plot of land in front of Casuarina Hotel, probably the car park site.

Most of the early Burmese community were concentrated in the Burmese Village in Pulau Tikus. There were also nearby fishing settlements along the coast. Early paintings depicted the "Burmese Temple" (painted by Captain Edward H. Locker, 1805) and a house named "MacKinnon's Residence near Burmese village" (painted by James Wathen, 1811) in the Pulau Tikus area.
The original site of the temple land was purchased by Nonia Betong from George Layton for 390 spanish dollars. The temple was founded on 1st August 1803 and named the Nandy Moloh Temple. The four trustees were all ladies: Nonia Betong, Nonia Meerut, Nonia Koloh and Nonia Bulan.
The Burmese community expanded, and together with the Thai Buddhist community they appealed to Queen Victoria of England for land to build bigger temples and burial grounds for elders. Queen Victoria through the East India Company granted land jointly for the Siamese and Burmese communities to erect their temples.

The Burmese Temple Trustees (1845) were Nong May & Bon Khan. Later, on the demise of the above trustees, three Burmese trustees were added: Koo Pao, Poh Oh and Changerig. The temple pagoda appears in an early painting (John Turnbull Thomson, 1848). In 1948, the Penang court appointed Maung Pho Min, Maung Shoey Nee and Maung Shoey Dong to administer the trust.

The Chief Monks of the temple were as follows:
The late Ven. U Nandamala 1803-1842
The late Ven. U Sutti 1842-1865
The late Ven. U Vicara 1865-1897
The late Ven. U Nanavamsa 1897-1922
The late Ven. U Jagara 1922-1957
The late Ven. U. Vimala 1957-1972
The late Ven. U Paranavamsa 1972- present

The Burmese are devout Buddhists. In recent years, much of the Buddhist Temple, including the old Simla Hall, has been redeveloped and new Buddha statues added, through the generous donations of devotees. The Burmese Buddhist festivals are Soon Dawgyi, Kathina celebration (offering of money tree and Kathina robes), Wesak Day Procession and Water Festival.
The Burmese were traders who conducted barter trade. They were also famous for cigar manufacturing. Some of the educated ones were civil servants, such as surveyors, station masters and clerks. A few became professionals, such as doctors.

The Burmese cigar factory was pioneered by Sin Yew Kyong (1890-1961). His wife was a Nonya by the name of Khoo Lean Sim. Coming to Penang at age 16, Sin later set up a "choorut" or cigar factory and company, Guan Hin, at 8, Tavoy Road, Penang. This factory employed about 300 Burmese choorut rolling factory girls in the 1930s. Sin later opened a cigar shop at 22 Prangin Lane, Penang, and a factory at 19 Eastern Road, Taiping, Perak. The factory was managed by his two sons Sin Hock Leong and Sin Tien Ho.

Many of the cigar factory girls were sought after as wives for the Chinese immigrants.
Through intermarriage, the Burmese integrated with other ethnic communities in Penang. The following are stories of two Burmese families in Penang.

Oral history by Dato' Mary J. Ritchie
My grandmother Mah Nyong (1840-1921) came from Burma to Penang, trading in gem stones. My father Maung Shoay Tong was a trader, selling herbal cures and bicycles. He loved music and was active in community work. My mother Meh Itt Chanradvirode was born in Phuket, Thailand. She was active in giving herbal cures and healing injuries. My parents had 10 chlidren (7 sons and 3 daughters). My eldest sister is Mah Seng Yin and my eldest brother is Maung Song Seng. My uncle Maung Shoay Tee worked as a surveyor. He retired and stayed in Taiping. My aunt's name was Mah Meek.

Oral history by Nyee Aye Toolseram
My grandfather was Dr. Hari Singh Thulasiram (Dr. Harrison Toolseram) of Burmese Indian origin. He had his clinic in Chulia Street. My grandmother Mah Poh Siew was of Burmese Chinese origin. My auntie, June Toolseram married Mr. Devosse of Dutch origin. My uncle Jan Toolseram married a Nyonya around the year 1941.
My father Puteh or Phu Thay (1898-1969) worked as a ledger clerk and a meter reader inspector. His first marriage was to Winnie Bamford of Dutch origin (circa 1904-1939). They had 4 sons and 2 daughters. His second marriage was to my mother Keng Choo or Peh Nyet of Burmese Chinese origin (1915-1960). They had 2 sons and 4 daughters.
My father took part as a violin player in the Bangsawan performances organised by the Chinese Amateur Dramatic Association in aid of China Distress Relief Fund on 17-18 August, 1928. My
uncle on my mother's side is Maung Toon Meng, and he married a Chinese wife. There used to be a Penang Burmese Buddhist Association, according to a picture taken around 1941.
My father Puteh Toolseram or Phu Thay Toolseram (1898-1969) worked as a ledger clerk and a meter reader inspector. His first marriage was to Winnie Bamford of Dutch origin (circa 1904-1939). They had 4 sons and 2 daughters.

• Bamooung Toolseram
• Ong Toolseram
• ….

His second marriage was to my mother Keng Choo or Peh Nyet of Burmese Chinese origin (1915-1960). They had 2 sons and 4 daughters.
• Lha Toon Toolseram
• Bamoung Toolseram
• Nyee Aye Toolseram
• Nya Toolseram
• Darling Toolseram
• Bee Bee Toolseram

My father took part as a violin player in the Bangsawan performances organised by the Chinese Amateur Dramatic Association in aid of China Distress Relief Fund on 17-18 August, 1928. My uncle on my mother’s side is Maung Toon Meng, and he married a Chinese wife. There used to be a Penang Burmese Buddhist Association, according to a picture taken around 1941.


Looking back at our history, we are proud to be the Penang Burmese community. As a minority, the questions we should ask are, what will happen to our community in the future? Will our religion and culture survive after 200 years of the history of Penang?
In view of the questions asked, we, a group of Penangites, have registered an organisation named Penang Burmese Society, with a mission to carry on our Burmese heritage and culture. Presently, we are planning, developing and strategising interesting programmes to promote Burmese living culture and traditions. We hope everyone (including the State government) can give full support to further our mission.

(source: from Penang Story Project, website: )

Penang Burmese Society
Malaysians of Burmese descent have formed the Penang Burmese Society to preserve their ethnic culture, values and language. Society chairman Moung Ban Chowi said the society will be a base for Malaysians of Burmese descent to interact and for the younger generation to know their roots.

"Being a small community, our people seemed to be losing their identity. We were once a sizeable community in Penang and Taiping but through inter- marriages, our identity has diminished.

The Burmese had formed a settlement here in the early 19th century, and their presence remained until the early part of the 20th century. At that time, there was a Burmese village here called Kampong Ava - probably named after the town of Ava (today Inwa) in Myanmar. When the British administrators created the main road here, they named it Burmah Road. Off shoots of Burmah Road were also named after places in Burma(Burma Lane) . Hence we now have road names that are of Burmese origin including Burmah, Irrawaddi, Rangoon, Mandalay, Moulmein, Salween, Tavoy and Thaton.

Today, the Burmese presence in Pulau Tikus is best represented by the Dhammikarama Burmese Temple at Burmah Lane (Lorong Burma). It has been around since the beginning of the 19th century. The oldest part of the temple, the stupa, dates back to 1805.

The Burmese are devout Buddhists. History tells us of Burmese settling in Penang Island, many wear around the Pulau Tikus area. They came here as early as 1800s and appealed to Queen Victoria of England for land to build bigger temples and burial grounds for elders. Queen Victoria through the East India Company granted land jointly for the Siamese and Burmese communities to erect their temples. This Burmese temple is the first Buddhist temple in Penang.

Burmese Temple

The Dhammikarama Burmese Temple at Burmah Lane, originally known as the Nandy Molah Burmese Temple, was the first Buddhist temple to be built in Penang in 1803, on land donated by Nyonya Betong, one of its many woman patrons. The oldest part of the temple is the stupa which was consecrated in 1805. It is enshrined within an outer stupa which was constructed in 1838, together with the ceremonial hall guarded by a pair of stone elephants.

Mythical figures and religious icons dot the spacious compound, much of which were later additions. Among them are bell-bearing acolytes, myriad buddhas, chimeras and flying beings. Two huge and imposing-looking chinthes (mythical beings that are a cross between a dragon, a dog and a lion) flank the entrance to the main prayer hall. At a disused 200 year-old well is a huge pond filled with carps. Buddha statues in different meditative poses nestle in grottos marked with the names of individual donors as well as signs of the zodiac. A pair of winged chimeras called Panca Rupa look resplendent in the roles as "Guardian Protectors of the World."

A huge mural depicts the Great Renunciation of Prince Siddharta. The future Buddha is shown riding his steed Kanthaka in mid-air with his faithful servant Channa seemingly hanging on. Evil beings try to discourage him from his noble quest while good ones welcome him with open arms.


The above articles reflected that Burma and Penang had been having close relationship in the past including trading relationship. Even today there are many Burmese immigrant in Penang, both legal and illegal, some are under refugee status.They are welcome by Penang community firstly due to their hardworking nature , and secondly they can easily assimilated to local society. Burmese community, old and new are indeed a contributor to the development of Penang....