Armenians and Romans unite in Little Armenia

Well, sort of. As you traverse the streets of Little Armenia in Hollywood, you’ll come across many establishments serving popular Armenian dishes. One of the most popular foods is lahmajune, also known as Armenian pizza. A great place to try this baked goodness is at Sasoun Bakery on Santa Monica Boulevard and Normandie Avenue.

Sasoun Bakery (outside 1) lahmajune (Armenian pizza)

About a year ago, just a few blocks up the same street at Santa Monica and Alexandria Avenue, an authentic Italian (Napoletana, to be exact) pizzeria, DeSano Pizza, opened shop. Our recent visit really impressed us. From the outside, you’d hardly know it was a pizza joint. When you walk in, however, you see this simple industrial layout that reveals all the inner workings of a modern pizzeria; an open floor plan that let’s you see the pizza dough being made, the imported ingredients sitting against the perimeters of the seating area, and pizzaioli preparing the pies right after you order.

DeSano Pizza (outside) DeSano Pizza (inside)

They have four large brick wood-burning ovens individually named after cities in Italy along with the patron saints that watch over those cities.

DeSano pizza ovens 1 DeSano pizza ovens 2

We ordered two pies, the margherita and the desano. They were both really tasty, with a soft chewy crust, fresh toppings, and the flavors of the burn marks on the bottoms of the pizza. Yumm.

Margherita pizza DeSano pizza

Now that we’ve found Armenian pizza and Italian pizza within a few blocks of each other, our weekends will consist of eating lahmajune for lunch and strolling over for some wood baked pizzas for dinner. The empires have finally united!

Meet Ralph Yirikian – General Director of VivaCell in Armenia.

Ralph Yirikian is a descendant of a family from #WesternArmenia. His father – Cesar – was born in #Lebanon, but his grandfather came to #Lebanon from #Adana, #Cilicia. His grandfather, Mardiros, was an #orphan who was raised as a Christian in an Arab environment. He was still young when he joined the #French Army and once his military service was complete, he married a local #Lebanese woman, with whom he had three children: Sirun, Georgette and Cesar. Cesar also grew up among Christians in an Arab environment, but unlike his father, he did not know how to speak #Armenian. He would read #ArmenianHistory in #Arabic and was always curious about his culture. In #Lebanon, he married Emily Yusufi Salameh with whom they had four children: Ralph, twin brothers Pierre and Paul, and their youngest girl Mireille. To uphold his #Armenian heritage, Cesar sent his children to an #Armenian school in #Beirut: Chatalbashian High School where the children learned #Armenian, #Arabic, #English and #French. After his graduate studies at the American University of #Beirut, Ralph Yirikian continued his professional career, ending up in #Karabakh (in 2001) then in #Armenia as the General Director of #VivaCell as of 2005 where he decided to raise his own #Armenian family with Armig – his wife – and two children: Sareen and Nareg.​ #AG#AG100#AG1915#ArmenianGenocide

A photo posted by AG_Campaign (@ag_campaign) on

Meet Alejandro. 100% #Mexican. Born on #April24.

Open Letter by Genocide Scholars


President: Robert Melson (USA)
Vice-President: Israel Charny (Israel)
Secretary-Treasurer: Steven Jacobs (USA)

Respond to: Robert Melson, Professor of Political Science Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907 USA

April 6, 2005

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
TC Easbakanlik
Ankara, Turkey
FAX: 90 312 417 0476

Dear Prime Minister Erdogan:

We are writing you this open letter in response to your call for an “impartial study by historians” concerning the fate of the Armenian people in the Ottoman Empire during World War I.

We represent the major body of scholars who study genocide in North America and Europe. We are concerned that in calling for an impartial study of the Armenian Genocide you may not be fully aware of the extent of the scholarly and intellectual record on the Armenian Genocide and how this event conforms to the definition of the United Nations Genocide Convention. We want to underscore that it is not just Armenians who are affirming the Armenian Genocide but it is hundreds of independent scholars, who have no affiliations with governments, and whose work spans many countries and nationalities and the course of decades. The scholarly evidence reveals the following:

On April 24, 1915, under cover of World War I, the Young Turk government of the Ottoman Empire began a systematic genocide of its Armenian citizens – an unarmed Christian minority population. More than a million Armenians were exterminated through direct killing, starvation, torture, and forced death marches. Another million fled into permanent exile. Thus an ancient civilization was expunged from its homeland of 2,500 years.

The Armenian Genocide was the most well-known human rights issue of its time and was reported regularly in newspapers across the United States and Europe. The Armenian Genocide is abundantly documented by thousands of official records of the United States and nations around the world including Turkey’s wartime allies Germany, Austria and Hungary, by Ottoman court-martial records, by eyewitness accounts of missionaries and diplomats, by the testimony of survivors, and by decades of historical scholarship.

The Armenian Genocide is corroborated by the international scholarly, legal, and human rights community:

1) Polish jurist Raphael Lemkin, when he coined the term genocide in 1944, cited the Turkish extermination of the Armenians and the Nazi extermination of the Jews as defining examples of what he meant by genocide.

2) The killings of the Armenians is genocide as defined by the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

3) In 1997 the International Association of Genocide Scholars, an organization of the world’s foremost experts on genocide, unanimously passed a formal resolution affirming the Armenian Genocide.

4) 126 leading scholars of the Holocaust including Elie Wiesel and Yehuda Bauer placed a statement in the New York Times in June 2000 declaring the “incontestable fact of the Armenian Genocide” and urging western democracies to acknowledge it.

5) The Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide (Jerusalem), the Institute for the Study of Genocide (NYC) have affirmed the historical fact of the Armenian Genocide.

6) Leading texts in the international law of genocide such as William A. Schabas’s Genocide in International Law (Cambridge University Press, 2000) cite the Armenian Genocide as a precursor to the Holocaust and as a precedent for the law on crimes against humanity.

We note that there may be differing interpretations of genocide – how and why the Armenian Genocide happened, but to deny its factual and moral reality as genocide is not to engage in scholarship but in propaganda and efforts to absolve the perpetrator, blame the victims, and erase the ethical meaning of this history.

We would also note that scholars who advise your government and who are affiliated in other ways with your state-controlled institutions are not impartial. Such so-called “scholars” work to serve the agenda of historical and moral obfuscation when they advise you and the Turkish Parliament on how to deny the Armenian Genocide.

We believe that it is clearly in the interest of the Turkish people and their future as a proud and equal participant in international, democratic discourse to acknowledge the responsibility of a previous government for the genocide of the Armenian people, just as the German government and people have done in the case of the Holocaust.


Robert Melson
Professor of Political Science
President, International Association of Genocide Scholars

Israel Charny
Vice President, International Association of Genocide Scholars
Editor in Chief, Encyclopedia of Genocide

Peter Balakian
Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor of the Humanities
Colgate University


CodeFights startup has bright future

A startup launched by Tigran Sloyan and Aram Shatakhtsyan in 2014, CodeFights let’s individuals challenge each other in solving computer programming problems. The winner of each game, or “code battle”, earns points and moves on to more advanced levels and stiffer competition. It’s a great way for programmers to test their coding skills against one another, and it looks very addicting from the comments we’ve read from players. Based in San Francisco, CodeFights has just scored $2.4 million in seed funding. A notable backer of the startup is Raffi Krikorian, former VP at Twitter. The company even has several job opportunities in Armenia. Check out this video of co-founder Tigran Sloyan describing the concept of CodeFights.

Genocide Scholars Conference in Armenia

The International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) will hold its twelfth meeting in Yerevan on 8-12 July 2015, hosted by the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute. Director of the AGMI Hayk Demoyan will serve as Local Conference Chair.

The conference theme is “Comparative Analysis of 20th Century Genocides”.

2015 is an important year for all Armenians worldwide in terms of commemoration of the centennial of the beginning of the Armenian genocide. The Armenian genocide is sometimes considered as the first genocide of the 20th century and in many ways served as a template for subsequent genocidal crimes. 2015 is also is the year of 70th anniversary of the end of WWII and the Holocaust. Therefore, it is a significant time to analyze both crimes and all genocides of the 20th century in global and comparative perspectives.

On April 24th 2015 the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute will be opened after two years of renovation and new exhibition development. This is the first major re-opening since its inauguration in 1995. The renovated museum’s mission and exhibits will feature all genocides that occurred after the Armenian genocide. New exhibits will enable all visitors to understand the deep roots, causes, and dynamics of development and consequences of the genocide, while also offering a platform for dialogue.

The urgent need for early warning systems to prevent genocide, and efforts to revisit the basic concepts of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, are matters of pressing concern. Related questions also arise:

  • How were ideologies and religion instrumentalized for mass destruction during the 20th century?
  • What kind of interaction exists between genocidal intent and genocidal processes?
  • Who are the victims, perpetrators, bystanders and witnesses and how do we classify the relevant actors in different cases?
  • How might the comparative study of 20th century genocide help to prevent 21st century genocides and mass atrocities?
  • How might the legal consequences of the pre-1948 UN Convention “crimes against humanity” be settled?

The conference will begin with a visit to the newly developed exhibition of Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute. During the conference participants will be able to devote one day to an optional excursion to Gyumri, the city where the world largest orphanages were established by American Near East relief after the Armenian genocide and to visit Memorial to Musa Dagh Resistance in nearby Yerevan.

Attendance at the conference is open to all interested professionals and students, but presentation at the conference requires one to be a member of IAGS. For information on membership, please see


Orhan’s Inheritance by Aline Ohanesian

Los Angeles — Skylight Books (1818 N. Vermont Ave.) welcomes Aline Ohanesian on Tuesday, April 7 at 7:30pm

In her extraordinary debut, Aline Ohanesian has created two remarkable characters–a young man ignorant of his family’s and his country’s past, and an old woman haunted by the toll the past has taken on her life.

When Orhan’s brilliant and eccentric grandfather Kemal–a man who built a dynasty out of making “kilim” rugs–is found dead, submerged in a vat of dye, Orhan inherits the decades-old business. But Kemal’s will raises more questions than it answers. He has left the family estate to a stranger thousands of miles away, an aging woman in an Armenian retirement home in Los Angeles. Her existence and secrecy about her past only deepen the mystery of why Orhan’s grandfather willed his home in Turkey to an unknown woman rather than to his own son or grandson. Left with only Kemal’s ancient sketchbook and intent on righting this injustice, Orhan boards a plane to Los Angeles. There he will not only unearth the story that eighty-seven-year-old Seda so closely guards but discover that Seda’s past now threatens to unravel his future. Her story, if told, has the power to undo the legacy upon which his family has been built. Moving back and forth in time, between the last years of the Ottoman Empire and the 1990s, Orhan’s Inheritance is a story of passionate love, unspeakable horrors, incredible resilience, and the hidden stories that can haunt a family for generations.

Aline Ohanesian’s great-grandmother was a survivor of the Armenian Genocide. Her history was the kernel for the story that Ohanesian tells in her first novel, Orhan’s Inheritance. Ohanesian was a finalist for the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Fiction and “Glimmer Train”‘s Short Story Award for New Writers. Born in Northridge, California, she lives and writes in San Juan Capistrano, California, with her husband and two young sons. Her website is

The event takes place on April 7 at 7:30pm.

Please visit link to the event:
Skylight Books is located at 1818 N. Vermont in Los Feliz (cross is Franklin), 323-660-1175.