C.J. Walker

C.J. Walker is the author of Armenia: The Survival of a Nation, which will be reissued later this year. He is currently working on a biography of the Labour MP Oliver Baldwin.

Diary: In Erevan

C.J. Walker, 6 July 1989

Erevan, the capital of Soviet Armenia, is a city that has discovered the idea of freedom, and is haltingly putting it into practice. I arrived to be swept the same evening into one of the gigantic demonstrations that have been a characteristic of life there for the last 15 months, and in which the evidence of the people’s will was powerful enough for the situation to be beyond the control of soldiers or militia. Could this really be a Soviet city, I wondered, as the militia idled inactively, and the people shouted slogans calling for the unification of Armenia with karabagh, and for the release of the Karabagh Committee? The yerakouin, the red-blue-orange tricolour of pre-Soviet Armenia, was the dominant symbol; the Soviet flag only flew on official buildings. The spirit of defiance was palpable, and as the days passed the authorities responded, slowly and crab-wise. One could not help making comparisons with events in Peking. The Karabagh Committee is now free, and the tricolour has since been designated the national, though not the republic’s flag – an ingenious solution. But Karabagh is still separate from Armenia.’



1 April 1983

SIR: Is this plagiarism? In my history of Armenia, published in 1980, I wrote thus of the sufferings of the Armenians of Moush in 1915: ‘fingernails pulled out, limbs twisted, teeth knocked out, noses beaten down; and the wives and daughters were raped in public before their broken menfolk’ (page 211). In D.M. Thomas’s novel Ararat (1983, shortly to be issued in paperback) one of his characters...

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