Forty Years on: Gourgen Yanikian and Us

Forty Years on: Gourgen Yanikian and Us

On Jan. 27, 1973, two diplomats of the Turkish Republic traveled to Santa Barbara, Calif., to meet with an individual claiming to possess Ottoman artifacts he wished to donate to the country for posterity. Mehmet Baydar and Bahadir Demir played into the hands of Gourgen Yanikian, who had planned their murder as an act at once of vengeance, of retribution, and of justice.

It is hard, as an Armenian today, to write about Yanikian without judging his actions using those three less-than-consistent characteristics noted above. Vengeance is not exactly a Christian concept, is it? Justice is ordered by a legitimate, recognized authority. As for retribution, well, it is not for no reason that “Operation Nemesis” was the name of the immense undertaking following the Armenian Genocide to do away with those responsible for that horrific crime: Nemesis is the Greek deity of divine retribution.

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