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20.8.15

The Gradual Demise of Our Collective Memory

Garo Armenian
Translated by Rupen Janbazian
 
While the capital city shuts off the lights and prepares for sleep in its endless bliss of naive trust, an invisible monster lurks the city streets. It travels from avenue to avenue and from city square to city square targeting all that still stands witness to our collective memory.
And so, you wake up one morning to the sudden realization that your fate has already been sealed. You wake up and discover that you no longer have history. Someone has hijacked the soul of your city. Someone has stolen a piece of your collective identity.
One after another, everything that rightfully belongs to our collective heritage is put up for auction by a pathetic class of elites who are in control of our destiny. These very elites have already allowed themselves the right to compromise the architectural integrity of the historic Government House of the First Republic (from where the father of Armenia’s independence, Aram Manougian, masterminded the great mobilization for the Battle of Sardarabad in May 1918) and turn it into a pizza parlor. These elites have also allowed themselves the right to neglect and to cause the deliberate deterioration of Aram Manougian’s historic home on Aram Street, and now plan to refashion it to be part of Central Yerevan’s new shopping complex. These elites have privatized the Foreign Ministry’s headquarters on Republic Square, Yerevan’s Pak Shuka (indoor market), and the famous Marzahamergayin Hamalir, the city’s massive Convention Hall for Sports and Conferences located by the Tzitzernakaberd Genocide Memorial. They are the ones who have taken, over the years, huge bites out of the capital’s greenspaces and now plan to raise their malls and casinos on the last serene spaces still surrounding the nation’s Genocide Monument.
The tragedy is that there seems to be no force that can stop this monster. There seems to be nothing that can control its evil appetite.
What’s next, Mr. President? What is the next target of this insatiable monster? What historic landmark will it target next? We know that these targets are commonly referred to as “objects” (օբիեկտ) by the city bureaucrats. We also know that these objects have a soul and are meant to reverberate in the consciousness of generations to come as a living part of our national heritage. Which one of the remaining treasures will be the next victim? And who is this monster anyway that the state has, so far, been unable to subdue?

"The Armenian Weekly," August 20, 2015

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