The Armenian community of Los Angeles was fortunate to hear Haigaz Alvartsyan speak on the current situation in Javakhk. The "Javakhk Fund" Committee of the ARS Western USA Regional Executive invited Alvrtsyan–a philologist from Javakhk–to Los Angeles–and organized events over the past weekend to inform the community on the conditions in Javakhk and the overall state of the Armenia’s living there.
Alvrtsyan called on all Armenia’s to financially and morally support their brethren in Javakhk–which was a historic region of Armenia located in Georgia today. The Armenia’s of Javakhk are prepared to leave their land–if their living conditions (social–cultural–economic–political) do not improve. Alvrtsyan said assistance from the Diaspora will help counter this threat of emigration.
Haigaz Alvrtsyan has also visited Fresno–and will visit the community in San Francisco. His tour of California will be followed by trips to the communities on the East Coast and in Canada.
The ARS Central Executive has organized events throughout its regions. Los Angeles was the first to hold these gatherings. The first event was a fund-raising reception at the Armenian Society of Los Angeles Center on Friday–March 30. The master of ceremonies for the evening was "Javakhk Fund" subcommittee chairwoman Haigoush Kohler. Speakers included ARS Regional Executive chairwoman Maro Chalian Read–Haigaz Alvrtsyan–and Prelate Bishop Moushegh Mardirossian.
The second event was a public gathering at Hoover High School in Glendale on Sunday–April 1–which was attended by Prelate Bishop Moushegh Mardirossian and representatives of the ARF Western Region Central Committee. The master of ceremonies was Mako Mgrdichian. Representatives from the Diocese and the Armenian Evangelical Church were also present.
Both events featured cultural programs and video presentations on Javakhk. Mako Mgrdichian spoke about the ARS and its activities. She called on all Armenia’s to reach out and help the Armenia’s of Javakhk without complaining. Calls for assistance being made from historic Javakhk should not go unheard. Helping the Armenia’s of Javakhk is a duty belonging to all Armenia’s.
Haigaz Alvrtsyan–who is also a professor at the State University of Fine Arts in Yerevan–mentioned the fact that many Armenia’s do not realize Javakhk is the homeland. Alvrtsyan presented a historical background of the region–and said there are many documen’s in Armenian historiography that acknowledge Javakhk being an important historic province which was at times detached from Armenia. Javakhk is one of the nine regions that make up the Gougarats state of Greater Armenia. According to Movses Khorenatsi and other historians of the time–Javakhk was a part of the Armenian kingdom–following which it was placed under Armenian and Georgian rule.
In the 10th century–King Smpat I of the Pakradouni Dynasty–united Javakhk and the entire state of Gougark to Armenia. With the decline of the Pakradouni Dynasty–part of Gougark fell under Georgian rule. From the 12th to the 14th centuries–the Zakarian family governed Javakhk–with Tmpgapert as its capital. In the 12th century–Javakhk became part of the Armeno-Georgian Empire–after whose weakening Javakhk declared its independence under the leadership of Atapeg Sarkis. This independent Armenian Republic was recognized by Georgian leaders and had its own currency–army and constitution.
In 1928–the Russian General Baskevitch–annexes Javakhk to the Tiflis state of the Russian Empire. Following the Russo-Turkish war the Russia’s hand over Erzerum to Turkey–with a provision that Armenia’s living in Erzerum–Moush and Khnous be transported and settled in Javakhk. And the Turks who had settled there immigrate to Erzerum and the surrounding areas. Today–a significant portion of Javakhk’s population is Armenian–mainly from Erzerum.
One of the important dates of note in Javakhk history is 1918–when the Turks invaded Alexandrapol (Gyumri)–cutting Javakhk from Armenia–during the disastrous era following the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. At this time–the local residents of Javakhk undertook a massive resistance movement–however–due to lack of materials the locals retreat–with a promise from the Turks that the local Armenian population would not be harmed. But–due to treason by the Georgians–the Turks invade the region of Akhalkalak and massacre its Armenian population. With the Sovietization of Armenia in 1920–Javakhk was attached to Georgia and Artsakh to Azerbaijan.
Thus–it is understood that Javakhk is part of historic Armenia and comprises the former regions of Akhalkalak and Bogdanovka–with a population of 120,000 of which 110,000 are Armenian. Today–the upper and inner portions of Javakhk–along with several bordering Georgian regions–make up the Samtskhe-Javakhk region of Georgia–with a population of 200,000–of which 150,000 are Armenian. Akhaltskha is the state’s capital. Javakhk is viewed by Armenia as the natural continuation of the Ashotsk and Amasia districts of Armenia.
The region of Javakhk is filled with large and small Armenian architectural sites–churches and ancient monumen’s. Today–Georgians are stopping at nothing to claim or destroy those sites–in order to erase all signs of an Armenian existence. An agreement between Georgia and Turkey–allows the settlement of Meshkheti Turks in Javakhk–in an effort to neutralize the Armenian identity of the region and to rid this historic portion of Armenia from its indigenous Armenian population.
Alvrtsyan stressed the strategic importance of Javakhk for Armenia’since it is Armenia’s road to the Black Sea. Without this important road–Armenia will find itself isolated from the outside world. Haigaz Alvrtsyan called on all Armenia’s to assist Javakhk to stabilize its economy–renovate its schools so that conditions in Javakhk can improve. According to Alvrtsyan–today there exists 120 Armenian villages and towns throughout Javakhk–with two cities populated mostly by Armenian and one city with Armenian and Georgian inhabitants.
Prominent Armenia’s such as Ashough Jivani–Yervand Kochar–Hamo Ohanjanian–Terenig Demirjian–and Rouben Darbinian were all born in Javakhk. Closing remarks were made by Prelate Bishop Moushegh Mardirossian who urged community members to make their voices heard to the Armenian of Javakhk.
The national anthems were sung by Hovig Krikorian who was accompanied by pianist Antranig Mouradian. Also singing was Anahid Shahnazarian. A performance featuring traditional Armenian instrumen’s was also held with doudoukists Roupen and Vartan Haroutounian and dholist Henrik Avoyan.