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The tiny Welsh Armenian community of Cardiff were targeted with a despicable racist attack on Holocaust Memorial Day (January 27). The new Armenian Genocide Monument (which was erected by the community under the leadership of John Torosyan in November ) was desecrated in the early hours of the morning before important ceremonies were held today to Commemorate the Holocaust,and to remember Hrant Dink. The ornate Armenian Cross on the monument was smashed to bits by persons unknown using a hammer, which was left at the scene of the crime.

Turkish protesters disrupt Holocaust and Hrant Dink Commemorations

One of the Welsh Armenians said: "This is our holiest shrine. Our grandparents who perished in the Genocide do not have marked graves. This is where we remember them" Eilian Williams of Wales Armenia Solidarity said that he blamed the so-called "Committee for the Protection of Turkish Rights", under the leadership of Hal Savas for the crime. We shall repair the cross again and again no matter how often it is desecrated. We also challange the UK government and the Turkish Embassy to condemn this racist attack.

The Holocaust commemoration was a gesture of friendship by Welsh Armenians towards the Jewish and Roma communities During the Prayers for the Holocaust victims, the said Turkish Committee used a loud-speaker to disrupt proceedings. Finally Martin Shipton, chief reporter for the "Western Mail" the national newspaper of Wales gave his tribute to Hrant Dink (also representing the National Union of Journalists). The Turkish protesters also disrupted his speech.

Armenian Genocide Kaghakatzi

The tiny community of genocide survivors and their descendants living in the Armenian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, has taken a bold and determined step toward ensuring that their unique place in the history of this immortal city, is not irretrievably lost.

With the perennially relentless threat of assimilation and attrition dogging their footsteps, the "Kaghakatzis" - literally, city or native dwellers - are caught up in a brain drain that could, they fear, make their decreasing number dwindle even further.

Community leaders voice their fears more bluntly. "What we are facing is extinction and oblivion," they say.

Kaghakatzi Armenians are a genealogical oddity: every single member of the community is related to everyone else in the community, either directly or indirectly. Takoug Khatchadourian (nee Kevorkian) is the sister-in-law of the famous composer Ohan Durian. But she is also the aunt (on the fatherís side) of Hagop Hagopian (originally Hovsepian). That makes Hagopís sons and daughter kin to Durian.

At their peak, the Kaghakatzis numbered in the thousands. Now they are down to a few hundred.

But this tiny enclave whose members have been making their home in the cobblestoned alleys of the Old City for centuries, have enriched the variegated tapestry of Jerusalem with their blend of unique culture, their traditions, their arts and crafts, their cuisine.

For generations, many of the houses in the Armenian Quarter would have been inhabited by the same family. The slipshod nature of the Ottoman art of masonry is evident in the meter-thick earth walls and the ramshackle foundations. Little allowance has been made for sunlight and ventilation and the wall plaster cakes continually, as the walls shed their whitewash under the onslaught of humidity.

The houses are blessed twice every year (at Christmas and Easter) by the parish priest, "and that is perhaps what helps to make them safe and habitable," quips one resident.

The Kaghakatzis have played, and continue to play, a leading role not only in maintaining and perpetuating, the Armenian presence in the Holy Land, but also in helping to make this world a better place to live in.

"True, we occupy a coveted niche in the history of the Old City, but unless we take prompt measures to preserve our entity, our history will no more be known," community leaders warn.

With the timely launch of the enterprising Kaghakatzi Family Tree Project, this threat of extinction will hopefully be safely removed, project organizers say.

The project has so far collated genealogical details of over 800 Kaghakatzi Armenians from among the members of the score of leading "clans," relying mostly on personal reminiscences and recollections.

But the years may have shrouded some of these in obscurity.

The organizers pin their hopes on validating their data by tapping the vast archives of the Armenian Patriarchate of St James, which date back some centuries.

"Old birth, death and marriage certificates would be our principal source of information," say the organizers.

And old family photographs.

The organizers concede that there are plenty of gaps in the Kaghakatzi family tree database that need to be filled.

"For instance, we may have the name of a grand-grandmother, but no one remembers her maiden name, or the date of her birth," they note.

The information gathered so far is housed in a main computer database that will make it possible to print out or display pages of selected branches of the tree or an "all-in-one" showing the whole sprawling network of relations, in an Adobe Acrobat (PDF) file.

A secondary, backup computer database using different software, has also been created.

A unique domain name for the project has now been registered and the project enshrined on the internet at:

The initial, modest family tree project begun last year has been growing by leaps and bounds. The organizers note that the website will not only host the family tree of all the Kaghakatzis, but also their history and way of life, and a record of their achievements, and will include photos, artwork, anecdotes, traditions, proverbs, cuisine, etc.

"We need all the help and support we can get," the organizers note.

"This is a labor of love, and we try to keep expenses to an absolute minimum, " they say.

"However, we do need to constantly update the software and hardware, pay our internet service providers, and so on," they add.

"And we need more genealogical data. Without the help of contributions from every single living Kaghakatzi, wherever her or she may be, we cannot hope to complete the record and make this vital community project succeed," they point out.

They invite anyone possessing information of any nature on the Kaghakatzi Armenians to contact them at


Pix caption: Kaghakatzi Armenians having a ball - half a century ago.

Special from Arthur Hagopian, Jerusalem

Source: AZG Daily #017, 01/30/2008
Writer: AZG News
 Date Added: Wednesday January 30, 2008 09:07:23 

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