The Armenian community

4A - Greta Baracchi, Nicole Berton, Eleonora De Rossi, Fiorenza Furlan, Sheela Michieli

VENICE AND THE ARMENIANS

Exchanges between Armenians and Venetians date back to 1250, when Venetians merchants established first a commercial base and then a military outpost in Ajaccio (Cilicia).

Later the Armenians as well obtained sites of their own in Venice (there still are a calle, an archway and a church).

Milestone of their culture was the opening of an Armenian printing shop in Venice, where in 1512 the first Armenian book was published. Later there were as many as 18 Armenian printing shops and in some schools Armenian was taught for the apprentice typographers. Such initiative was due to commercial reasons; Armenian books printed in Venice were exported to the Armenian communities spread around the world. Commercial enterprise made Venice an important centre of Armenian culture as, for many centuries, the people did not have their own independent state (from 1375 to 1918 the Armenian territory had been divided among three empires, the Ottoman, Russian and Persian).

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At the beginning of 1700 various priests of Armenian rite, under the guidance of Mechitar, were given the island of St. Lazarus, which is now called "San Lazzaro degli Armeni". This island has witnessed the flourishing of printed texts: vocabularies, newspapers, magazines and books.

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ARMENIAN GENOCIDE AND WWII

The Armenians never knew the reasons of their genocide although it is clear now that the main reason was economical, their territory being rich in oil.

One million and five hundred persons were killed by their own fellow countrymen.

Among the survivors, some were able to escape to other countries others tried to establish their own Republic. In 1948 many refugees tried to go back to their fatherland but many others remained in the countries where they had began a new life.

Today the Armenian Republic has 1/10 of its original territory.

ARMENIA UNDER THE USSR AND TODAY

During the soviets and until the 80s the standard of living and the state of culture in Armenia were excellent. With independence things changed dramatically and it took some time before standards could improve again. Government now favours exchanges mainly with the Armenian communities abroad.

Turkey-Armenia and Turkey-Curds relations

Turkey still does not admit of the Armenian genocide. Article 301 of the Turkish constitution states those who mention the Armenian genocide can be condemned up to three years imprisonment. After the Armenian genocide the Curds had to undergo a similar tragedy. Until recently it was a crime to speak Curd. It must be mentioned though that one citizen out of three is Curd and 3.5 million Curds inhabit Istanbul shanties.

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