Press Releases > press releases > launch ceremony (2010)

The Bolsahay Cultural Association of Montreal
2855 Victor Doré
Montreal, Quebec H3M 1T1
Phone: 514 337 0831
Contact: Oskan Hazarabedian
Phone: 450-688 2772


World premier launch of Theodik’s HUSHARTSAN’s
First bilingual (Turkish-Armenian) edition

On April 19, 2010, a world premier book launch was held in the Aram-Khatchaturian Hall of the Bolsahay Cultural Association of Montreal. It was Theodik’s HUSHARTSAN’s («Յուշարձան Ապրիլ 11-ի» = Memorial to April 11) first bilingual (Turkish-Armenian) edition (Editor: Dora Sakayan). The book was prepared for publication in Montreal and was printed in 2010 in Istanbul by the «Belge Publishers» (Publisher: Ragip Zarakolu). The publishing expenses were defrayed by a group of Montrealers, most of whom were originally from Istanbul.

The first edition of HUSHARTSAN appeared in Istanbul in 1919. It was written by Theodik (Theodoros Lapchindjian) and was the first book to commemorate the Medz Yeghern (Great Disaster), today more commonly referred to as the Armenian Genocide. The 130 page long book consisted of 2 sections: The biographical section included biographies and photos of 761 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders from Istanbul and other provinces who on April 11, 1915 (April 24, 1915, according to the modern calendar) were rounded up, deported or brutally killed. These 761 martyrs were people of such diverse standing as writers, journalists, clergy, doctors, academics, teachers, jurists, etc. The literary section included the heart-wrenching memoirs of the few Armenian intellectuals who miraculously survived.

The new and bilingual 2010 edition of HUSHARTSAN was published in commemoration of the 95th Anniversary of the Great Disaster. This edition of HUSHARTSAN is dedicated to the memory of Hrant Dink, the Armenian journalist who was slain in Istanbul in January 2007. It consists of 3 sections: The first and introductory section (70 pages) is entirely new and includes articles devoted mainly to Hrant Dink. The articles appear in three languages: Turkish, Armenian and English. In the following two sections, the entire original of Theodik’s HUSHARTSAN is presented on facing pages in Turkish and Armenian, which makes the book accessible to both Turkish and Armenian readers. Also new in the 2010 edition is a bilingual index of the names of the Armenian martyrs. The original 130 pages of HUSHARTSAN now totals 340 pages.

The publisher Ragip Zarakolu was a special guest at the premier launch. Invited to Montreal for the occasion, his flight included a stopover in Toronto, where on April 16, 2010, the Toronto Cultural Bolsahay Association — with the authorization of its sister association in Montreal — conducted a preliminary launch of this edition.

Aram Khatchaturian Hall in Montreal was filled to capacity with various leaders and representatives of the Armenian community of Montreal. Master of ceremonies, Ms. Ani Armenian, welcomed all present, particularly Mr. Ragip Zarakolu, describing the special guest as “the very courageous journalist and publisher, the fighter for freedom of speech and social justice in Turkey, the man who was instrumental in the creation of the bilingual HUSHARTSAN.” Ms. Armenian added: “It is for all of us gratifying to know that the 2010 edition of HUSHARTSAN, although published in Turkey, was prepared for publication in Montreal. This endeavor is unprecedented as it is the result of a close collaboration between Armenian and Turkish intellectuals.” She then introduced Professor Sakayan and called her to the podium.

In her opening speech, Sakayan briefly recounted the history of HUSHARTSAN, tracing the book back to its origins. She then described the difficulties encountered due to the complexity of this project, including translation problems, political ramifications, geographic distance between Montreal-Istanbul, etc. Sakayan thanked all those who participated in the project: His Eminence, Bishop Bagrat Galstanian, who was the first to promote HUSHARTSAN, Mr. Oskan Hazarabedian for organizing the fundraising, and those who assisted with various languages: Hakob Chakryan with Turkish, Vrezh-Armen Artinian with Armenian, and Harry Dikranian with English. She expressed specific thanks to Mrs. Maro Manavian who not only assisted with the layout and design but also remained with the project until the completion of the camera-ready copy.

It was Hrant Dink’s dream, Sakayan said, to see this book made accessible to the Turkish people. It was a book he had wanted to translate into Turkish himself, publish and wave in the face of denialists of the Armenian Genocide. Sakayan detailed the many ways the information in the new volume would impact the Turkish reader, especially the younger generation of Turks from whom the historical truth of the Armenian Genocide has been withheld. This book would become the weapon par excellence to defy today’s Turkish apologists and to prove that the Armenian Genocide was a premeditated and well-organized state program.

A very moving 4-minute slideshow with Hrant Dink’s photos and background music from Lacrimosa of Mozart’s requiem, followed. The next speaker, Montreal lawyer Harry Dikranian — also a recognized activist regarding Genocide recognition in Canada and abroad — focused on Theodik’s biography. Theodik himself had been subjected to forcible deportation and jail, but miraculously survived. Coming back to Istanbul, he decided to compile biographies of the elite intelligentsia of Armenians who lost their lives in 1915. Dikranian described Theodik as a man who loved books and who, despite his difficult, at times tragic life, contributed greatly to Armenian historiography. He was known for his series “Everybody’s Almanac”, chronicling the everyday life of Armenians in Turkey. Theodik had published 19 yearbooks (1907-1929). However, Dikranian concluded, HUSHARTSAN was Theodik’s most important work.

Mr. Ara Garmirian, a longstanding and highly esteemed member of the Armenian community of Istanbul in Montreal, thanked Prof. Sakayan and Ragip Zarakolu for their initiative to develop the new edition. Mr. Garmirian gave an overview of the 2010 HUSHARTSAN, focusing on Zarakolu’s introduction in the book. Speaking about the disappearance of both the book and the Memorial stone HUSHARTSAN, he gave the audience a reminiscence of his early years in Istanbul: “As children of that neighborhood we used to play in the Armenian cemetery at Taxim, and I don’t remember ever having seen a memorial stone for the martyrs of April 11. That means that it must have been destroyed very early on.” He then went on to say: “There are many other questions that remain unanswered: How could Theodik’s book HUSHARTSAN disappear so mysteriously? Why was the Arabic script of the Ottoman era replaced with Latin letters? Why did Turkish history books hide the Great Disaster from the young generations? These questions are crucial, particularly for an Armenian who has lived in Istanbul.” Mr. Garmirian gave lavish praise to Ragip Zarakolu, the advocate for free speech and human rights, for republishing the book in Istanbul. Finally, he said: “Show me a Turk who would say: Publishing HUSHARTSAN had become a passion for me.” Garmirian expressed hope that, slowly but surely, things would change in Turkey, and that soon a new and greater Memorial stone would be erected there.

Ms. Ani Armenian invited Prof. Dora Sakayan to introduce the honorable guest. Not without emotion, Sakayan said: “It is an honor for me to introduce to you Ragip Zarakolu, the man of inexplicable, ineradicable optimism who believes that he can win the fight for freedom of expression from within Turkish borders, and not from the outside. Who, in spite of perpetual harassment, continues his strife for reform in his country and with unwavering conviction says: ‘... Not for the Armenians or any others – but for the citizens of Turkey, to become a real democratic country, we must face certain realities’. (...) Sakayan then concluded her introduction by saying: “For thirty-three years, Zarakolu has been translating and printing books that break the barriers of silence instilled by the Turkish Government about the Genocides of the Christian minorities in Turkey, Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians alike. What an accomplishment! 38 publications translated from Greek, over 45 from Armenian into Turkish! There are more to come. And now, the bilingual edition of the book HUSHARSTAN, which he calls the highlight of his publishing career. Mr. Zarakolu is indeed an unsurpassed and unique democratic literary hero of our time.”

The renowned Turkish publisher Ragip Zarakolu was received with unanimous applause from the audience. He thanked Prof. Dora Sakayan and Maro Manavian and said: “I was very much afraid that we would not succeed in publishing this book. But we made it! It was a miracle that the lost book reappeared, now also in Turkish, as it was a miracle that Theodik stayed alive.” Speaking about present-day developments in Turkey, Zarakolu observed some progress. For instance, on the occasion of the 95th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, a Symposium was planned this year on April 24 in Ankara, and that Mr. Zarakolu, too, would participate. However, he said, it is a shame that the Turkish government perpetuates the annihilation of historical remnants in the country, and pursues an official policy of Turkification of names, mainly toponyms. After his speech, Zarakolu answered questions related to the book.

Throughout the event, the names and photographs of the Armenian victims of 1915 were displayed on the screen with Armenian liturgical music playing in the background. Accompanied by pianist Khatchatur Ghazaryan, soprano Hasmik Gasparyan touched the hearts of all in the audience by performing two songs, Anduni and Groong by Komitas. And there was a stunned silence in the hall when Nareg Kazarian magnificently read selected poems by Ruben Sevag, Siamanto, and Daniel Varuzhan. Book signing followed with Publisher Zarakolu and Editor Sakayan. Among the many activities commemorating the 95th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, April 19, 2010 was indeed a memorable evening at the Bolsahay Cultural Association of Montreal.

Recent Updates

Press Release 2012:
Book launch of Western Armenian for the English-speaking World, A Contrastive Approach in Yerevan State University, Armenia.

Press Release 2012:
Dora Sakayan awarded Honorary Doctorate Degree at Yerevan State University, Armenia.

Press Release 2010:
World premier launch of Theodik's HUSHARTSAN's first bilingual (Turkish-Armenian) edition in Montreal.