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Recovering Iportant Things Lost During The Genocide

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  • Recovering Iportant Things Lost During The Genocide
    Hayastan or Bust.

  • #2
    Re: Recovering Iportant Things Lost During The Genocide

    Every single compensation case for the Armenian genocide, whether against financial institutions or museums, constitute good precedents for the reparations that Turkey will eventually have to pay.


    • #3
      Re: Recovering Iportant Things Lost During The Genocide

      Appo Jabarian

      Executive Publisher / Managing Editor
      USA Armenian Life Magazine
      211 June 11, 2010

      Last week, the news on Armenian Church's legal action against the J.
      Paul Getty Museum, demanding the return of seven pages ripped from
      a sacred Armenian Bible dating back to 1256, made national and
      international headlines.

      The lawsuit, initiated and filed by attorney Vartkes Yeghiayan on
      behalf of The Catholicossate of The Great House of Cilicia's Western
      Prelacy in La Crescenta, California reached a worldwide audience.

      "As of June 9, an astounding 96,500 Google hits indicated the extent of
      the widespread dissemination of the initial details of the lawsuit.As
      of June 10, Google hits had surpassed 112,000."

      The ranks of the world and local media outlets included several
      TV networks, major print and web-based dailies such as The Los
      Angeles Times, Associated Press,,,,,,,,,,, and numerous others.

      According to legal documents related to the case "Western Prelacy v.

      Getty," and filed at the Superior Court of California, in the County
      of Los Angeles, the seven pages, stolen during the Armenian Genocide
      (1915-1923) from the Zeyt'un Bible only surfaced in 2007.

      The eleven-page "Complaint and Demand for Jury Trial" specifies that
      "The Catholicossate did not discover that the seven missing pages
      (canon tablets) of the Zeyt'un Gospels were being housed in the Getty
      Museum in Los Angeles until June 2007 when attorney Vartkes Yeghiayan
      discovered them by chance and informed the Catholicossate. This action
      - brought before June 2010* is therefore properly brought within the
      three-year statute of limitations of Cal. Civ. Code Proc. 338 (c),
      which contains the discovery rule stating as follows: 'An action for
      taking, detaining, or injuring any goods or chattels, including actions
      for the specific recovery of personal property. The cause of action
      in the case of theft, as defined in Section 484 of the Penal Code,
      of any article of historical, interpretive, scientific, or artistic
      significance is not deemed to have accrued until the discovery of the
      whereabouts of the article by the aggrieved party, his or her agent,
      or the law enforcement agency that originally investigated the theft'
      (italics added). Plaintiff, through its attorney Vartkes Yeghiayan,
      made a timely demand on Defendants for return of the seven pages
      (canon tablets) of the Zeyt'un Gospels, and Defendants have failed
      and refused to deliver the property to Plaintiff."

      The introduction of the lawsuit reveals that "At the time the
      seven pages of the Zeyt'un Gospels were acquired by the Defendants
      (hereinafter referred to as "Defendants" or "Getty"), they knew
      or should have known that the Zeyt'un Gospel manuscript pages were
      stolen, and belonged to the Catholicossate, the rightful owner of the
      Zeyt'un Gospel manuscript, which was commissioned by the Catholicos
      Constantine I of Bardzerberd, and had become a cultural treasure for
      the Armenian Orthodox Church."

      The Armenian Church's lawsuit indicates: "Unbeknownst to the
      Catholicossate, the seven missing stolen pages (canon tablets)
      of the Zeyt'un Gospel Bible ripped from the full manuscript that
      became stolen property eventually ended up in a private collection
      of a family in Watertown, Massachusetts, where they were loaned
      to the Pierpont Morgan Library in 1994 for an exhibition entitled
      "Treasures >>From Heaven." The family's name remained anonymous at
      that time. The Catholicossate was never informed by the family or by
      the Pierpont Morgan Library of their possession of the seven missing
      stolen pages which clearly were part of the entire Zeyt'un Gospels
      Bible manuscript. Upon information and belief, Defendants acquired,
      through purchase or otherwise, the seven stolen pages ripped from
      the Zeyt'un Gospels Bible sometime after the Pierpont Morgan Library
      exhibition in 1994.

      "During World War I (1915-1918), one and a half million Armenians were
      massacred by the Turks. In 1921, when the French forces evacuated
      Cilicia, a second wave of massacres ordered by Kemalist Turkey took
      the lives of another three hundred thousand Armenians. The rest of
      the Armenians were forced to leave their homeland and found refuge
      mostly in Syria and Lebanon. The Catholicossate in Sis was robbed
      and ruined by the Turks. Catholicos Sahak II followed his flock in
      exile. After wandering in Syria and Lebanon, in 1930, he established
      the Catholicossate in Antelias, Lebanon. Thus, a new era opened in the
      history of the Catholicossate with the organization of Dioceses and
      the founding of a new theological seminary. The Armenian people spread
      all over the world and looked to the Catholicossate with new hopes
      and expectations," specifies the document prepared by Mr. Yeghiayan
      and his associates.

      In an article by The Associated Press titled "Armenian church sues
      Getty museum over return of pages ripped from sacred Bible dating to
      1256," Sue Manning wrote: "Michael Bazyler, a Chapman University law
      professor and member of the plaintiff's legal team, said Thursday that
      attorneys hope the pages can be returned during negotiation rather
      than litigation. 'We contend these seven pages are stolen property,
      and they can never get title," Bazyler said. "We are asking for the
      return of the seven pages back to the church.' ... Bazyler believes
      this is the first case filed in the United States for the return of
      cultural or religious objects taken around the time of World War I,
      when historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed
      by Ottoman Turks."

      "It's a matter of historical identity and preservation of the Armenian
      culture. ... It's important everyone realizes that," said Western
      Prelacy board member Levon Kirakosian to The Associated Press.

      In an interesting turn of events, "in or about 1947-1948, Catholicos
      Karekin sent the Zeyt'un Gospel Bible to the same Dr. H. Der Ghazarian
      in Aleppo to authenticate its provenance. The Bible was authenticated
      and was sent back to the Catholicossate minus seven (7) illustrated
      pages(canon tablets) that had been ripped from the manuscripts and
      stolen from it. The Catholicossate attempted to find out, but has
      never been able to determine, the perpetrator of the theft of the
      missing seven canon tables from the Zeyt'un Gospel. Upon information
      and belief, His Excellency Shnork, the Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul,
      subsequently took the Bible and gave it to the Madenataran Museum
      in Yerevan, Armenia, (the main repository for Armenian manuscripts),
      where it is presently located, minus the seven missing pages (canon

      During the critical days of the Armenian Genocide, the full Armenian
      Church hierarchy in procession paraded the Zeyt'un Bible through every
      street in Zeyt'un in order to create a divine firewall of protection
      around the city. At or about 1915, the Zeyt'un Bible was taken from
      the church in Zeyt'un and handed to the descendants of an Armenian
      royal family, Assadur Agha Surmeliantz, the Sourenians, who because
      of their connections with the Turks were not deported until spring
      1916 when deported to Marash.

      On March 25,1916, the prominent Sourenian family which was safeguarding
      the Zeyt'un Bible, along with the other Armenians of Zeyt'un, was
      deported from Zeyt'un to Sultaniye near Konia. ...

      Sourenian, the Patriarch of the Sourenian clan, brought the magical
      Bible to Marash with him, in order to save it from certain destruction,
      and also to be protected by its divine power. Relenting to ardent
      requests of a friend, Doctor H. Der Ghazarian, Assadur loaned the
      Bible to him for a few days. The Sourenian clan was unexpectedly
      exiled once again, while the Bible remained with Doctor Der Ghazarian,
      who ... joined the French Army and retreated with them ... Dr. Der
      Ghazarian's two sisters managed to deliver the Zeyt'un Gospel Bible to
      the American missionaries in Marash. It is believed that the Zeyt'un
      Bible stayed in Marash when Armenians returned from the deportation
      under the protection of French forces (1918).

      However, the Armenians were later evacuated when the French left
      in 1921, and the Armenians escaped to Aleppo (1921-23). The exact
      location of the Zeyt'un Gospels after this postwar time period is
      unknown. ... In 1928, a Dr. Liman (or Lyman), sent word from Marash to
      the "Zeyt'un Compatriotic Union" in Aleppo, informing them that he was
      in possession of the "Zeyt'un Bible" and was ready to transfer it to
      them. Soon after, when Dr. Liman was visiting Aleppo, a delegation of
      "Zeytounzis" went to see him. ... Liman told the delegation that he
      could not bring the Bible out himself from Turkey but was ready to give
      it to them if they would send someone to Marash. Otherwise, he wanted
      to entrust the Bible either to the American "Bible House" in Istanbul,
      or to the Armenian Patriarchate there. He was told to pass it on to
      the Patriarchate of the Armenian Church, the legal complaint states.

      According to the Getty website "The Zeyt'un Gospels, made in the
      scriptorium at Hromklay for Katholikos Constantine I in 1256, are
      the earliest signed work of T'oros Roslin, the most accomplished
      illuminator and scribe in Armenia in the 1200s. These canon tables were
      separated from the manuscript at some point in the past and eventually
      acquired by the Getty Museum, while the rest of the manuscript is in
      a public collection in Armenia."

      ( --
      last visited June 9, 2010).

      While having them on display Getty didn't have the decency to
      properly define the proper identity of the stolen seven pages as
      being "Armenian." But far more astonishingly, in reference to those
      illegally appropriated Armenian cannon tables, Getty chose to use the
      word "separated." Of course it would not volunteer to use the word
      "stolen" instead.

      Now Getty should have the decency to meet its moral, financial, and
      legal obligations to the rightful owners of the stolen seven pages,
      the Great House of Cilicia and its jurisdictional representative in
      Western United States, the Western Prelacy.

      Talaat Pasha, one of the prominent leaders of the Young Turk party
      and one of the triumvirate that perpetrated the Armenian Genocide
      talked about leaving only one Armenian alive to be placed in a museum.

      To his and his successors' deep disappointment, he could not push
      Armenia and Armenians into oblivion. The opposite has happened.

      Armenians not only did not become a permanent fixture in a museum but
      also they have made a resounding comeback on the world stage. They
      are determined to take back what rightfully belonged to them.

      Getty Museum's officials' future actions will tell whether Getty is
      a "repository" of stolen cultural artifacts of historic value or a
      legitimate exhibition hall featuring items that are legally acquired.

      This initial step in freeing the seven stolen pages of Armenian
      Bible from illegal possession by The J. Paul Getty Museum may be the
      first slice of justice for the genocide-stricken Armenians. But this
      small yet very meaningful legal step may surely lead to comprehensive
      justice regarding their ancestral lands in Western Armenia and Cilicia,
      and hundreds of cultural and religious properties that continue to
      be illegally occupied and confiscated by Turkey.
      Hayastan or Bust.