This historic landmark is being torn down

A few months ago I had posted an entry revealing that a historic building, with a history dating as far back as the late 19th century, was in danger of being destroyed by a developer and multi-millionaire with government connections. The building housed at least two families, both of whom operated small door-step stores selling sandwiches, bottled soda, candy, and other snacks. To my dismay while walking to work this morning past the Yerevan Hotel, across from which the building is located, I found that two thirds of the two-floor apartment building has been completely demolished, virtually overnight. It was still standing yesterday.

The person responsible for the demolition of the site, according to a story published by Hetq Online earlier in the year, is Gagik Tsarukian, an “oligarch” who is infamously known as “Dodi Gago.” He used to own the majority of the shares in the Kotayk brewery until he sold them off over a month ago. He is considered to be the outright owner of the “Kentron” television station and the conglomerate “Multigroup,” which has a broad area of business interests, with stakes in dairy products, a wine factory, cement, real estate, gasoline stations, and other businesses. He is also a member of parliament, and it is generally accepted that he became one in order to escape any kind of prosecution, as all National Assembly members are apparently immune. Now he is the head of his own political party called “Prosperous Armenia.” He is also closely linked to the top leadership of Armenia, which is another reason why he can do virtually anything he wants.

This building was constructed on what was once a cemetery, where Turkish settlers buried their dead. Most of Yerevan’s center was completely occupied by Turks within the last few hundred years. Even up until the beginning of the 20th century there were Turkish settlements in Yerevan. This should not be a surprise to anyone.

It was made simply from mud, rocks, and straw. That’s all that is left now in a pile next to the disco situated to the left of it. But it was solid and lasted for over 100 years. There is no way of knowing exactly how old it is of course since there are no records to prove when it was constructed. Nevertheless, it is part of Yerevan’s history. It was an intact structure that was not crumbling, that showed no real signs of decay. It had obviously settled and some walls looked a bit uneven, but nothing so bad that it would crumble on top of passers-by. It was just an old building, a landmark, that just needed some care. It was a home and still is partially a home, for now, to families who obviously had an emotional connection to it, and who felt it a duty to protect this ancient structure.

These types of buildings are going away. Some should be cleared out for safety issues, while others just need to be preserved. In all cases such buildings are destroyed for the purposes of developing real estate. For visitors the building may be an eyesore, and an obvious excuse to construct a new hotel, disco, or shopping mall since the other ancient structures on either side of it were torn down long ago. Nevertheless it was another small piece of Yerevan’s history which has all but been smeared away into oblivion. And no one cares about what is happening.

There is now very little to account for pre-Soviet Yerevan’s history. You can no longer point to any 19th-century structure and announce that it is part of antiquity, it is where people used to live and want to live, it is a monument to how old the city really is. I have never heard of such careless, random demolition occurring in any other city in the world, without any thought or understanding of how the past is being wholly discarded for the supposed sake of progress. These narrow-minded actions represent a total disregard for human rights and for cultural and historical preservation. This destruction is a quintessence example of the “vochinch” mentality that is so prevalent in Armenian society, which is spreading like an epidemic. No one seems to care about anything anymore. It’s becoming more and more obvious. And it is really a shame.


Anonymous said…
This is nothing compared to the ancient Azeri mosques and historical building that you Armenians tore down in Shusha, the heart of Azeri culture and history, in your effort to erase Shusha's Azeri identity. I'm not too worried though, since the days of your turbaned benefactors in Tehran are numbered...the flirtation with nukes, the incitement of Iranian Azeris with the offensive "cockroach" cartoon (the cockroach should have been an Armenian, not an Azeri) in the paper "IRAN", etc. all these signal the end of the glorious days of the mullahcracy. Without your turbaned friends you have no one to turn to once a second war is waged in Qarabag. If your army were that strong, you'd be in Naxcivan, and Javakheti (Georgia) by now. Enjoy Qarabag while you can, it won't be yours too long, losers.
I don't know where this aggression is coming from, and I don't understand how world politics comes into play regarding this situation in Armenia’s capital city, which has totally nothing to do with the modern diplomatic strife between Armenians and Turks.

But since you decided to talk about politics, Anonymous (I still do not understand why people do not bother signing names to their agitated comments), let me say here that as far as I understand, the ancient cemetery in Jugha, Nakhichevan, which is part of Azerbaijan, has been mostly if not completely decimated. Virtually nothing is left to document the Armenians' presence there. I decided not to make an issue about this on my blog, but I suppose I must identify now that this destruction is part of an obviously malicious, long-running campaign of cultural genocide committed by Turks in both Turkey and Azerbaijan against the Armenian people's heritage, which has a more than 2,000 year history.

In terms of Karabagh and your quote about Armenians being “losers,” the last time I checked, about 10 seconds ago, Armenians control Karabagh as well as 15 percent of Azerbaijan as a result of a war initiated by Azerbaijan. I do not want to see war break out once more after a 12 year cease-fire, and hopefully it will not once the Azeri government accepts the fact that it has lost Karabagh, with no chance of getting it back, then agree to sign a peace deal. Karabagh belongs to the Armenian people since it is historically Armenian land. It always has been and will be. Yes, I understand that Shushi was an important cultural center for the Azeri people, and once a peace deal is signed I am positive they will have a right to return there and rebuild their homes if they so choose.

But do not lecture me or any of the readers of this blog about cultural landmark destruction. The Armenians have been the victims of careless disregard and disrespect of its legacy for far too long throughout Asia Minor and the Caucasus. Unlike those cultural devastations, which were permanent, deliberate and not necessarily the result of war, the Azeris should be able restore what has been damaged in Shushi. For instance the mosque on the road leading up towards Shushi from Stepanakert undoubtedly was damaged during the war, but it is standing and it can be repaired—I personally saw it twice last year. From what I know there are mosques still standing elsewhere, for example in Aghdam, one Azeri region under Armenian control (and which would undoubtedly be returned in a peace deal, by the way). The thousands of totally destroyed Armenian churches and monuments within a 1,000 mile or so radius of Armenia cannot be reconstructed, because there is nothing left to restore. Do I need to mention something called the Armenian Genocide as well?

Let’s not fool ourselves—the peoples of this region need to come to mutual understandings fast regarding land boundaries and diplomatic relations. But showing continued aggression in the form of spoken rhetoric, not to mention cultural desecration, does nothing to overcome the hurdles both Armenian and Turkish peoples face.
Anonymous said…
Perhaps we could start thus step towards "mutual understanding" by a) not threatening to take Karabakh by force, and b) not referring to Azerbaijanis as Turks.
Anonymous said…
Please stop your martyr complex with your Genocide myths. And you do a great job of inflating a few thousands to one and a half million...bravo...yes 10 seconds ago when you checked Qarabag was under your control, but you missed my won't be forever, and your statement that Azerbaijan will never be able to recuperate to be there when she does and makes you look more foolish than you are. Your falsified history in the Caucasus is laughable...Chechens, Avars, Lezgins, Azeris, Georgians, Ingushetians, Abkhazians, Ossetians, etc. have more history than you people with your phony maps of "King Tigran" and "King Arshag" so called "empire" stretching from the Black Sea to the Caspian (lotta bull, since Armenia never even touched the Black Sea at any time in history). You will get your butts kicked by Azeris...first in Iran, and then in the South Caucasus. Even Iranians are realizing what backstabbers you are...pretending to support Iran, then supporting Kurdish separatist groups that are just as hostile to Iran as Turkey. And what about your famous hateful greeting "Hay es? Turk es?" people are the lowest of cultures.
The above comment is the last one I will publish from an anonymous source. Although this person left several other comments, I published this one since it best demonstrates the hatred and rhetoric that I have encountered on this blog as well as in some news articles. It represents the kind of backwards, out of touch way of thinking that I cannot be bothered to challenge anymore.

So if you are not prepared to back up your words with a signature of some sort, at least by a nickname or with initials, I will not bother to publish your comment since it has no validity without an attached name, at least as far as I am concered. Thanks.
Ara said…
From the posts above, I will continue to say that Azeri and/or Turks should not live side by side with Armenians under a Turkish or Armenian government (let them live side by side in Russia or Germany), as they are always going to cause problems for eachother. They just are not on the same page when it comes to what is right and wrong.

Azeris returning to their "homes" in Shushi or giving back Aghdam? I think this is a really bad idea. Peace deals are only as good as the toilet paper they are on. How many peace deals do you know of that were not broken? The Philippines, Darfur, Israel, Turkey, America, ect. They just don't really mean anything as conditions do change and so do deals.

Reality is that Armenia is going to have to continue to spend money on its military to secure its boarders (which most government do) for as long as it is a country and learn from its history so that never again will its people see a genocide.
In response to Onnik's comment:
"In the 11th century, the conquering Seljuk Turks became the dominant force in Azerbaijan and laid the ethnic foundation of contemporary Azerbaijanis or Azeri Turks."


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