By Ara Manoogian
Seventeen years following his martyrdom in Artsakh, Armenian national hero Monte Melkonian is once again a victim of defamation. I came across a very interesting interview on Radio Open Source with an Armenian decorated filmmaker and documentarian Ted Bogosian. The subject of the interview was Ted’s vocation – seeking the truth and telling it.
Open Source Radio host Christopher Lydon introduced Ted Bogosian as a truth hound and put the ‘what is truth’ question to him (see:
As someone committed to truth seeking, I was at first thrilled to learn about an alternative experience from a prominent Armenian until I heard the following statements made by him:
“In Armenian Journey there is a very important sequence which didn’t make the cut. And that is that I started to pursue an interview with a young man of my age and background named Monte Melkonian. And Monte was born in about the same year, in the central valley of California. And while I was at Duke, he was at Berkley, and when I went to graduate school, he went to graduate school in Beirut. And he was pursuing the truth about the Genocide in his own way and he became radicalized and he went underground and started selling arms and started selling drugs and started an Armenian terrorist movement. And so while I was making Armenian Journey, he was in jail in France, for having masterminded several bombings in Europe, at Orly Airport and at Turkish embassies and other businesses, where many innocent people were killed. And so, I went to see Monte in prison, and it was quite a moment, because he thought that I was there to kill him since he didn’t know who I was and wasn’t expecting a visitor that day. But I came to start corresponding with him and came to understand his manifesto, and I realized that what he was doing was similar to what I was doing except in a different theater. And so, my battle was against the media to try to tell the story one way, and his battle was more traditional. So, that didn’t make the cut because I wouldn’t have been able to get the film on television had I presented that manifesto. But I mention it because I want to say that I think this sort of thing is in the blood not only of Armenians but of people who want to tell the truth and, that is, they’re willing to go there no matter where it leads.” (The audio fragment is at 09:16-11:36).
Having devoted over a decade of my life researching Monte Melkonian’s brief and thorny path, it was especially saddening for me to hear such irresponsible and defaming statements coming out of the mouth of a “truth seeker” such as Ted Bogosian. His statements manifest shoddiness of research, sweeping generalizations and a self-indulgent distortion of recent Armenian history.
I would like to see one single piece of evidence supporting Ted Bogosian’s claim that Monte Melkonian was a drug dealer, arms dealer and the founder of an Armenian terrorist movement, who masterminded the Orly Airport attack in France. These are the three major things against which Melkonian had been struggling with all his essence, endangering his life in the process. It was the Orly attack that catalyzed the split of the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA).
To be more specific, below I have singled out each of Ted Bogosian’s inaccurate claims. Let’s start from the most innocent inaccuracies.
T. Bogosian’s claim #1: “And Monte was born in about the same year.”
Ted Bogosian was born in 1951, whereas Monte Melkonian was born in 1957, thus not “a young man of my age,” as Bogosian is claiming.
T. Bogosian’s claim #2: “…and when I went to graduate school, he [Monte Melkonian] went to graduate school in Beirut.”
Monte Melkonian was admitted to a graduate school at Oxford, but chose to give up his academic career in favor of a trip to Beirut at the onset of the second phase of the Lebanese Civil War, when he joined the defense of Bourj Hammoud, the Armenian quarter of the city.
T. Bogosian’s claim #3: “…and [Monte Melkonian] started selling arms and started selling drugs…”
All the accounts of people who knew him, whether interviewed by me or other researchers, including those who spoke up at their own initiative, indicate that Monte was adamantly opposed to drugs, be they for use or for sale. Throughout my research, I haven’t come across any evidence of Monte being involved in arms or drug dealing.
According to one of Monte’s brothers-in-arms, once Monte, already a Commander of the Martuni Defense Region, of the newly self-declared Republic of Nagorno-Karabagh, refused Samvel Babayan, Commander of the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army, to promote an officer only because he smoked marijuana. He had even banned his soldiers from using alcohol, which was common practice in other detachments.
More importantly, Monte earned himself highly influential enemies after burning lucrative cannabis fields in a noble attempt to shut down the local drug trade. This deed was followed by a few attempts on his life. One might assume that Monte could use the proceeds from supposed drug sales to feed and equip the poorly armed fighters under his command. All evidence indicates that he had ignored any such compromise.
T. Bogosian’s claim #4: “…he [Monte Melkonian] started an Armenian terrorist movement.”
This is an outright false statement. ASALA, to which Ted Bogosian refers, was founded in 1975 in Beirut, Lebanon, during the first phase of the Lebanese Civil War by Harutiun Takoshian, alias Hagop Hagopian. This was three years before Monte arrived in Lebanon for the first time in his adult life. Monte was recruited by ASALA in 1980, after serving in an Armenian militia group in the Beirut suburb of Bourj Hammoud helping defend the Armenian population during the Lebanese Civil War.
Furthermore, based on the accounts of both supporters and opponents of ASALA, Monte played a pivotal role in the violent split of the organization in 1983 – into those who supported the despotic leader Hagop Hagopian and those who disapproved his methods of struggle exactly because it took innocent lives, as well as distracted the attention from the cause, for which the attacks were supposed to raise awareness.
T. Bogosian’s claim #5: “…he [Monte Melkonian] was in jail in France, for having masterminded several bombings in Europe, at Orly Airport and at Turkish embassies and other businesses, where many innocent people were killed.”
A sweeping generalization. Monte Melkonian was arrested and eventually charged with possession of a falsified passport and an illegal handgun in Paris on November 28, 1985. He was sentenced to six years in prison, but served only three and a half.
The Orly Airport attack, which took place on July 15, 1983, in which many innocent people were killed and wounded, was masterminded by Monte’s already arch-enemy, Hagop Hagopian, and carried out by the latter’s supporters in Paris. The only people tried for the Orly Airport attack were Varadjian Garbidjian (also spelled as Varoujan Garabedian, life sentence; released after serving 17 years), Soner Nayir (15 years), Ohannes Semerci (10 years).
Parallel to the preparation of the Orly Airport attack, inner turmoil was in progress within ASALA due to the widening gap between the members of the organization over H. Hagopian’s despotic leadership, the methods of struggle and, specifically, the implementation of the Orly attack. Monte was in the opposition wing. But despite his efforts to cancel the Orly tragedy, it was implemented, accelerating the final split of ASALA.
“If we lose Karabakh, then we will turn the final page in the history of the Armenian people,” once Monte Melkonian famously said in an interview in Karabakh. Who knows? Considering Monte Melkonian’s indispensable contribution to the overall victory of the Armenians against Azerbaijan, Karabakh war could have been a lost cause, had he been the mastermind of the Orly Airport attack and therefore sentenced to life in prison.
Melkonian was arrested twice. In his court documents there was neither evidence, nor were there allegations supporting Mr. Bogosian’s announcement regarding his participation in the attack in any form, as well as arms and/or drug dealing. It would have been convenient for the French authorities and to Monte’s enemies to find such evidence, but there was none to be found.
T. Bogosian’s claim #6: “I went to see Monte in prison, and it was quite a moment, because he thought that I was there to kill him…”
Okay, let me try to get this straight. Monte thought that Mr. Bogosian came to the prison to kill him? So, Mr. Bogosian is saying that Monte thought an Armenian-American filmmaker was going to walk into Fresnes Prison, a maximum security correctional facility, formerly a Nazi concentration camp, armed guards watching his every move, and kill him? What about checking for weapons prior to entering the facility and the multiple checkpoints before getting to the telephone booth sized visiting area that has thick glass separating the visitor from the detainee? Ted Bogosian makes it sound like Monte was in a health spa in the South of France.
I provided my arguments as accurately as I could and am willing to embrace supporting evidence that proves Mr. Bogosian’s claims. Otherwise, as a friend of mine put it, Mr. Bogosian’s interview is more like “Ted talking about Ted – not the truth.” I welcome facts, as they will enrich our knowledge about who Monte Melkonian really was. With that said, I invite Ted Bogosian to set the record straight by exchanging his recollections with evidence and facts. Otherwise a public apology from Ted Bogosian is in order.
Ara Manoogian is a human rights activist representing the Shahan Natalie Family Foundation in Artsakh and Armenia, as well as a member of the Washington-based Policy Forum Armenia (PFA)
21 Responses to “Ted Bogosian And His Untruths About Monte Melkonian”
- Soulguard Says:
April 17th, 2010 at 19:54MEC ANHATIN, MARDUN, HAYIN qarkocelov —anun dzerq chen berum, ayl eghac anunn en pghcum…
- Little prince Says:
April 17th, 2010 at 21:30Montei nmannery 1000 tarin mek en cnvum, i tarberutyn en poqr, ezhanneri voronq meceri anuny porzelov sevacnel uzum en irenc zainy lseli darznel.Shorhakalutyun chmartutyuny pashtpanelu hamar Ara jan
- Hrach Says:
April 18th, 2010 at 01:07 I have no idea who Ted Bogosian is what his intentions are, but trying to cast doubt on Monte’s God send work is tantamount to treason against Armenia. Low lives such as Ted Bogosian trying to falsely discredit Armenia’s most honored modern hero, need to find themselves a new hobby in life to get over their feelings of inadequacy.
- Yakub Says:
April 18th, 2010 at 01:09 Mah shan vordi bogosyanin
- Sam Says:
April 18th, 2010 at 04:05 mi erku angam vor qacu tak g@cen et anasunin, kartsum em, xelq@ glux@ k@ga. et tesak debilner@ lav el giten inch en xosum.
- EDITA Says:
April 18th, 2010 at 09:26 HRASHALI TSANOTASTUM ER MONTE KYANQI VERABERYAL.MONTEI HEROSUTYUNNERI MASIN KARABAGYAN PAYQARUM LSEL EM HAYRIKITS@S,BAYTS NORANOR BATSAHAYTUMNER EGAN INDZ HAMAR I SHNORHIV DZER LUSABANUMNERI.SHNORHALUTYUN.BAYTS MI BAN CH@SIRETSI DZER GRATS KHOSQERITS.AYN E,VOR MIAYN MONTEN CHER RAZMAJAKATUM,EV CHI KARELI ASEL TE,ETE MONTEN HIMA BANTUM LINER ARDYOQ KHAGHTEINQ PATERAZM@?IHARKE KHAGTEINQ,QANO VOR MONTEI PES SHAT QAJ TGANER KAYIN AYNTEGH`KRVI DASHTUM,VORONQ TOGETSIN TUN U TEGH,EREKHA EV KIN,U GNATSIN ZOHVELU HANUN HAYRENIQI,VORONTSITS MEKN EL IM SIRELI EGBAYRN ER,VOR2 HAZIV 19 TAREKAN ER.IM EGBOR PES SHAT EGBAYRNER EV HAYRER KAYIN,EKEQ CHURANANQ AYD PAST@.EV BOLORN EL GITEIN,VOR HAYRENIQI AZATAGRUM@ LINELU E IRENTS ANDZNAKAN KYANQ@ ZOHABERELU HASHVIN.PARQ U PATIV NRANTS.EKEQ CHMORANANQ NRANTS…
- pokr mher Says:
April 18th, 2010 at 17:27I applaud Ara Manoogian for taking Ted Bogosian tp task for his sweeping and incorrect generalizations of Monte Melkonian in particular and ASALA in general.Mr. Manoogian is right in tsressing that Monte, both as an individual and political/military activist adhered to a moral code that few could hope to follow themselves.
This is not to say that Monte did not believe in meting out “justice” as he saw fit. This is a voluble point on which many mighte disagree. The difference with Monte is that unlike many other he always was willing to enter into discussion and debate when appropriate.
Mr. Manoogian is correct to state that Monte would never abide trading in drugs from a moral position and because he abhorred creating dependency in others and would never place himself in such a situation.
Ted Bogosian is no “truth hound” but perhaps he is a “publicity hound”, seeking his 15 seconds of fame by misconstruing the facts of the matter.
Lucikly, no one who knew Monte would ever give such boulderdash a second thought. What is disturbing is that besides his brother Markar’s book “My Brother’s Journey” there is precious little on radical Armenian political movements during the past 30 years.
Younger generations know little about what took place in the diaspora during those tumultuous times when the diaspora “status-quo” was shaken to its core, much like what has resulted from Armenia’s signing of the Protocols.
This history needs to be written before those involved are no longer around to tell their side of the story.
The source material is out there; whether ASALA publications, foreign media coverage, and lots of correspondence between the players. Perhaps a few more years have to pass before it can all come out.
- David Davidian Says:
April 18th, 2010 at 20:53I submitted this to Open Radio. Hopefully they will print it:Boghosian’s claims against Monte Melkonian are wrong and contradict the historical record. Seeking the truth requires study and research. Boghosian provides zero proof of his claims. Simply stating unorthodox claims do not make them believable or true. Unbeknown to Boghosian he engaged in the same character assassination made against people such as Monte Melkonian who were curiously “eliminated” from the scene circa mid-1993, as their usefulness waned as the Karabakh war was ending. A excellent refutation of Boghosian’s claims can be read in: http://hetq.am/en/society/monte-14/.
I knew Monte Melkonian and still have written correspondence from him. Monte had built up many local political enemies over the course of his leadership in the Karabakh war. In fact, only a couple of weeks before he was “eliminated” he burned a field of marijuana owned by local drug dealers. He would publicly denigrate local black market-mafia leaders as opportunists leaching off the war effort, basically calling them traitors. He was a legendary figure and thus posed a Stalin-like irrational threat to certain leadership in both Karabakh and Armenia. Having known him and his philosophy, the possibility of Monte being killed off as the Karabakh war ended was a clear possibility as those in power classically consolidate their positions and the end of this war was an opportune time to settle scores.
There is no excuse for Ted Boghosian, sponsors Christopher Lydon and Open Source Radio, to have engaged in sensationalism — “Truth Hound” indeed! If Open Source Radio wanted to engage in sensationalism they could have simply invited the Turkish Foreign Minister who will tell us there was no genocide of the Armenians and “in fact” is was the Armenians who killed “millions of Muslims”.
- Kevin Says:
April 19th, 2010 at 08:09 Christopher Lydon’s wife is Armenian. He has occasionally covered the genocide issue on his radio programs, but he does not really understand Armenians or their cause.
Ted Bogosian has not been heard of for many years doing anything on Armenian issues – not that I am aware of, anyway.
This is what happens to “Armenians” in the establishment media. They sink into irrelevance,
- Liberty, Equality & Fraternity Says:
April 19th, 2010 at 10:29 Who is this Ted B, another ignorant Armenian American ? The problem with Monte and the rest of the patriotic, law abiding Armenian community is that we are too nice. That’s why the leadership in Yerevan, Vehapar and leaders of Armneian communities in the diaspora get away with murder.
- Razmik Says:
April 19th, 2010 at 10:51 Hetqic ev Ara Manukyanic xndrum em hnaravorins shat nyuter nerkayacnel mer AZGAYIN HEROSI masin mer, mer yerexaneri ev vorosh arkacaxndirneri hamar shat usaneli ev dastirakchakan klini
- LAVRENT SHUMANYAN Says:
April 19th, 2010 at 23:00 մաըդ որը չի հասկանում թե ինչ անում իզուր է ապում: ՄՈՆԹԵՆ մի ամբղջ ազգի հերոս է:
- ananun Says:
April 20th, 2010 at 19:45ՄՈՆԹԵ, ես շնորհակալ եմ քեզ եւ քեզ հետ կռված բոլոր տղաներին…Դուք ինձ ազատություն եք պարգեւել…ամբողջ կյանքովս, իմ ազատ ու անկախ Արցախովս շնորհակալ եմԱյ Բոգոսյան, անունիդ նայիր ու ամաչիր…դու նահանջել ես առանց երգի…քեզ անդրադառնալն էլ եմ ավելորդ համարում, քեզ նման տականքներ միշտ էլ ծնվում են, բայց, փառք Աստծո, դուք կործանվում եք
- ananun Says:
April 20th, 2010 at 19:49 իսկ ուր էիր դու, երբ պատերազմ էր, երեւի նապաստակի նման ծվարել էիր կանեփի թուփի տակ, հա?
- Ara Manoogian Says:
April 22nd, 2010 at 13:04I received a response from Ted Bogosian telling me “I will respond tomorrow, Ara.”Well tomorrow came and he responded to me alright, but instead of an email from Ted explaining his statements or offering an apology, I received an email from his legal counsel Jeffrey K. Techentin of ADLER POLLOCK & SHEEHAN P.C.
I won’t get into the details of the message at this time, but will just say that instead of addressing the issue of his defaming statements he made about Armenian National Hero Monte Melkonian, the email was one of those I will sue you Ara if you don’t back off letters, that I usually get from those people who know they are up the creak without a paddle and are going to lose big time. From the email, I can conclude that Ted is going to be hard nut to crack, but as Monte stated in one of the youtube videos I’ve posted of him, we can do this the easy way or the hard way. If my perfect score of bringing corrupt mafia/government figures to terms with the truth means anything, I can tell you that it will be just a matter of time that Ted will cave in and do right by everyone and can say that there is a good chance it will be much sooner rather than later.
One good thing came of this so far and that is that Ted knows that we are not happy about his defaming lies that he made about Monte and that we also know that the email address firstname.lastname@example.org is accurate, which you can feel free to send your thoughts to.
And for those of you who write to Ted and don’t heard back from him, you may want to send a copy of your message to Ted’s attorney Jeffrey K. Techentin at: Jtechentin@apslaw.comor you can telephone Jeff at (401) 427-6147. Alternatively feel free to send Jeff a fax to (401) 351-4607. According to Jeff, any further communication from me should be directed to him (for I’m sure for a hefty fee to Ted).
- Socrat Says:
April 23rd, 2010 at 10:00Ted, it looks like you are trying to make a name for yourself but you are going a very wrong way in doing this and if you are indeed a ‘truth seeker’ I urge you to go and investigate the corrupt and mafia practices of the Armenian government/oligarchs today that are destroying the future of Armenia, investigate atrocities committed by Azerbaijan in Sumgait against Armenians in the late 80’s or the Genocide of Armenians in 1915?!?!?You will do much more contribution to your nation, make a name for yourself than getting involved in defamation of a true Armenian Hero that contributed and sacrificed his life for our future!! We don’t have many modern hero’s today, one name that we have, we are proud of, name that we should cherish and protect and tell our children about, you go and insult. Today when Azeri and Turkish propaganda are intensely involved in information war and spreading lies about Armenia your actions and statements do not only go against our national interests but add more fuel to the Azeri/Turkish propaganda machine.
Unfortunately, the average USA citizen does not know and never heard of Karabakh war or Monte and all it takes is for them to listen once to this nonsense and form a wrong opinion of our Heroes and our Nation. I encourage representatives/leaders of Armenian community in USA to take this matter further through media and community and repair the damage done by this so called ‘truth seeker’.
- Garo Sernaz Says:
April 25th, 2010 at 12:04 I don’t belive that Monte Melkonian involved in arms and drug deals. He was concerned with Armenian cause and he was good military strategist and true patriot that he demonstrated his skills in Nogorno – Karabagh war.
- Misak Says:
April 25th, 2010 at 14:43 I don’t know who this Ted Boghosian and on whose payroll he is on but I had the privilege to have met Monte when he in Beirut and Armenia and he was a true Armenian patriot who gave his life for our people’s struggle not only against our external enemies but corrupt internal traitors who stood in the way of his/our just cause for self determination.
- LAVRENT SHUMANYAN Says:
April 26th, 2010 at 21:34 I have been a soldier under Monte’s command during the war.
It is not acceptable to spill dirt on a national HERO’s memory!!! We have to pay a respect to him because he gave his life so our Armenian nation can survive, so we can still have a present day!
WHat Ted Bogossian says hurts the whole Armenian nation, not just me.
Respect his memory and keep your mind and mouth free of lies!!!
- Ara Manoogian Says:
April 30th, 2010 at 06:53Ted Bogosian has posted a comment of Radio Open Source that reads:CORRECTIONS & AMPLIFICATIONS: Everything I told Open Source about Monte Melkonian related to the period ending in April 1988, when “An Armenian Journey” premiered on PBS. I did not reference Monte’s exploits after he left prison. While I still consider Monte and myself to be the “same age”, he was, in fact, 6 years younger. Monte was an undergraduate at UC-Berkeley, not a graduate student there. I could have named the terrorist movement he started: ASALA-Revolutionary Movement. Finally, while Monte was convicted of illegal weapons possession, he was not charged with selling arms or illegal drugs. (I knew him to practice healthful living habits during his imprisonment.) I stand corrected and regret these errors and omissions.
- Ara Manoogian Says:
May 6th, 2010 at 10:10For those who would like to help to get Ted Bogosian come clean and set things straight, please sign an online petition addressed to Mr. Bogosian which can be found at:http://www.gopetition.com/online/35986.html