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Convicted Murderer Ends 40 Day Hunger Strike: “My mom pleaded with me to stop”

September 29, 2014 Armenia, Arts No Comments
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12:09, September 29, 2014

Zaruhie Medjlumyan
Edik Baghdasaryan

26 year-old claims he’s innocent and hunger strike was a cry for a fair retrial

Ashot Shahzadyan, sentenced to twenty years for the murder of a fellow villager, told Hetq that he recently ended a forty day hunger strike after his mother pleaded with him.

All along his mother was staging a hunger strike at home in solidarity with her son.

Shahzadyan, a 26 year-old resident of the village of Ayntap, has always claimed his innocence of the charges (the attempted rape and murder of 58 year-old Gayaneh Asoyan), and argues that going on hunger strike was the only option left to get a fair retrial of the case.

Hong Kong Occupy Central protesters issue demands

September 29, 2014 Armenia, Arts, Business, Diaspora No Comments
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A civil disobedience pro-democracy movement aiming to paralyze parts of Hong Kong with a massive sit-in has issued its demands, the BBC reports.
Occupy Central says it wants the Chinese government to scrap rules outlining the election of the next chief executive in 2017.
It also wants the resumption of public consultation on democratic reforms.
Thousands of protesters are camped outside government headquarters in central Hong Kong.
Occupy Central leader Benny Tai announced the launch of the campaign to the cheers of supporters on Saturday.
A statement said that Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung had “failed to deliver on political reform”.
“We demand CY Leung deliver a new report on political reform to the central government, which must adequately reflect the demands of Hong Kong people for democracy,” it said.
“If CY Leung does not respond, we will escalate our actions.”
The movement had originally planned to paralyze the central business district on Wednesday, but organizers brought forward the start of the protest and changed the location in an apparent bid to harness momentum from student protests outside the government complex.
Student activists had stormed into a courtyard of the complex late on Friday and scuffled with police using pepper spray.
Police said they made scores of arrests including prominent student activist leader Joshua Wong.
The BBC’s Juliana Liu in Hong Kong says that, even before Mr Tai’s announcement, thousands had arrived spontaneously to support the demonstration by students.
Those outside the government buildings plan to stay until they are forcibly removed, she says.
However, some students expressed unease that their protest was apparently being taken over by Occupy Central.
“A lot of students left as soon as Occupy made the announcement they were starting their occupation,” said university graduate Vito Leung, 24.
“I think they were really forcing it. This was always a separate student movement with similar goals but different directions. I don’t think it should be brought together like this.”
The protests at government headquarters followed a week-long strike by thousands of students.
Unrest began when the Chinese government announced that candidates for the 2017 chief executive election would first have to be approved by a nominating committee.
Activists have argued that this does not amount to true democracy.
Many of those who spent the night on the streets wore plastic raincoats and goggles in case police deployed more pepper spray.Riot police stood nearby.
“The courage of the students and members of the public in their spontaneous decision to stay has touched many Hong Kong people,” Occupy Central said in a statement.
“Yet the government has remained unmoved. As the wheel of time has reached this point, we have decided to arise and act.”
At least 34 people have been injured since the protests began, including four police officers and 11 government staff and guards, authorities said.
One police officer suffered a gash after being poked by one of the umbrellas protesters are using to deflect pepper spray.

Japan’s SoftBank in talks to buy DreamWorks: source

September 28, 2014 Business, Diaspora, Film, Technology No Comments
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Japan’s SoftBank Corp (9984.T) is in talks to acquire DreamWorks Animation SKG (DWA.O), the Hollywood studio behind the “Shrek” and “Madagascar” movie hits, Reuters reports quoting a well-informed source as saying.An acquisition of DreamWorks by SoftBank would make it part of a cash-rich Japanese communications and media company that, under founder and chief executive Masayoshi Son, has shown a willingness to take big bets on combining disparate businesses.The talks were first reported by the Hollywood Reporter, which quoted an unidentified source as saying a buyout would value DreamWorks at $3.4 billion.The entertainment trade publication said SoftBank had offered $32 per share for DreamWorks, a substantial premium to the stock’s Friday closing price of $22.36.Buying DreamWorks, which is headed by veteran Hollywood producer and film executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, would make SoftBank the second Japanese technology company to buy a Hollywood studio, following Sony Corp (6758.T), which bought Columbia Pictures in 1989.SoftBank has recently cashed in on a share of its investment in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and dropped its pursuit of mobile carrier T-Mobile US (TMUS.N) in the face of opposition from anti-trust regulators in the United States.Last week, SoftBank booked a $4.6 billion gain on the share listing of Alibaba Group in New York (BABA.N). SoftBank retains a 32 percent stake, making it Alibaba’s biggest shareholder.SoftBank has significant stakes in other large listed entities, including U.S. mobile carrier Sprint (S.N), through which it had pursued a deal for T-Mobile, internet portal Yahoo Japan (4689.T) and online games maker GungHo Online Entertainment (3765.T).A SoftBank spokesman said the company had no comment on the reported talks with DreamWorks. A representative of DreamWorks could not be immediately reached for comment. 

Game is coming to its end, Armenia beating Turkey all ends up – Eduard Sharmazanov

September 28, 2014 Armenia, Arts, Diaspora, Karabakh, Turkey 1 Comment
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Vice-Speaker of Armenia’s Parliament and Spokesman for the ruling Republican Party of Armenia Eduard Sharmazanov commented on the part on the Armenian-Turkish relations in Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan’s speech at the 69th session of the UN General Assembly.According to him, the game is coming to its end, with Armenia beating Turkey all ends up.“Yes, years ago, the then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the ball was in Turkey’s court. Moreover, later Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan said that the reasonable timeframe had a deadline. And you could see that by mentioning recall of the Armenian-Turkish protocols he suggested that the deadline is gradually approaching.”With respect to the phrase “to hell with your ratification” the Armenian president used during his speech, Mr Sharmazanov said:“We do not say ‘to hell with it,’ but we say that if Turkey keeps on disregarding the positions of not only Armenia, but also the international community, it shows its disrespect not only for Armenia’s position, but also for the positions of the mediators at the signing of the protocols in Zurich. It, first of all, disregards its own political decision by setting preconditions. Moreover, the Armenian president clearly stated in New York that any bargaining over our Homeland was out of the question. The Turkish political elite are gravely mistaken if they think one fine day may come and we link the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process with the Armenian-Turkish protocols.”As regard the possibility of Armenia recalling the protocols in the foreseeable future, Mr Sharmazanov said.“I think the Armenian president’s speech in New York was a conceptual speech of a national figure and statesman. He spoke not only as an Armenian national leader, but also as president if all the citizens of Armenia because he raised the issues of not only the Armenian Genocide or Nagorno-Karabakh. He not only called Nagorno-Karabakh free and independent at that high-level venue, suggesting that there is no alternative to Artsakh’s freedom and independence, but also raised the problem of Yezidis in northern Iraq. We remember well that Armenia’s Yezidi community appealed to the Armenian president a month and a half ago, and by his step he showed he is ready to listen to each citizen’s opinion and express the Yezidi minority’s opinion at the high-level UN venue.”With respect to the statement on the return of the Sis (modern-day Kozan) catholicosate to the Armenian Apostolic Church at the Armenia-Diaspora conference too suggested that an entirely different policy was being pursued in the Armenia-Turkey relations. Commenting on the relevant discussions in Armenia, Mr Sharmazanov said:“Armenia has over recent years been for a peaceful dialogue with Turkey. Turkey’s political elite and, after being elected Turkey’s president, Recep Erdogan have shown they have not such a political will. We once more state any preconditions are unacceptable to us. And President Serzh Sargsyan’s statement is evidence that Armenia and Armenia’s authorities are masters of the Homeland and claims.Armenia has invited Turkey to take part in the commemoration of the centennial of the Armenian Genocide. As to whether the latest statements and the invitation are in conflict with each other, Mr Sharmazanov said:“No, the invitation has nothing in common with Serzh Sargsyan’s latest statement. If Turkey’s leaders come and visit the Memorial to Armenian Genocide victims, Tsitsernakaberd, it means they acknowledge the heinous crime of Genocide. That is, they do not consider the butchers and their victims equal. If they do not come, we re-state that Turkey is continuing its denial policy.”As to the Armenian side’s further steps if Turkey continues its policy, Mr Sharmazanov said:“This is under the Armenian president’s jurisdiction. Armenia’s president has proved that he is a national figure and statesman. All his political biography is evidence thereof. He will make a decision in the interests of Armenians and of the state.” 

Diabetes on the Rise in Goris: Many Patients Forgo Free Hospital Treatment Out of Embarassment

September 27, 2014 Armenia, Life Style No Comments
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12:18, September 27, 2014

Of the 930 diabetes patients now registered at the Goris Medical Center in Armenia, 96 receive insulin injections and the rest take other medicines in tablet form.

Meri Khourshoudyan, an endocrinologist, says the real number of diabetes patients is larger since many with the disease fail to register.

“I know of many cases where individuals use home remedies, often relying only on diet as treatment. Others who believe they have a problem prefer to get diagnosed in Yerevan before taking any medication, rather than registering with us and getting the meds for free,” says Khourshoudyan.

She adds that many families are hesitant to bring their sick children into the center for consultation lest relatives and friends find out.

Artsakh Ready to Hand Over Corpse of Azerbaijani Killed in July Infiltration Incident

September 27, 2014 Armenia, Arts, Azerbaijan No Comments
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00:25, September 27, 2014

The Artsakh government says it is now ready to hand over the corpse of an Azerbaijani citizen who was killed after infiltrating the border in the Karvatchar region on July 10, 2014, given that his identity has been revealed as H. Hasanov.

At the time, Artsakh authorities said they would only return the corpse of the dead man after his identity had been discovered.

After news on the incident spread, Armenian government sources said there were three men in the Azerbaijani unit.

Two were eventually captured by Armenian military forces and the third, Hasanov, was killed.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Police Detain Russian Citizen Who Spray Painted Garni Temple

September 27, 2014 Armenia, Culture No Comments
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11:20, September 27, 2014

Russian citizen Maksim Nikitenko was handed over to local authorities after defacing the Garni Temple in Armenia with spray paint yesterday morning, according to the Ministry of Culture’s HistoricalandCultural Heritage ProtectionAgency.

Evidently the man was caught in the act by Garni museum staffers who then notified the ministry’s protection agency.

Kotayk police were then called in to investigate.

The graffitist faces a fine from 50,000 – 80,000 AMD (US$122 – 196).

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Apple says bent iPhones are ‘rare’

September 26, 2014 Arts, Diaspora No Comments
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Apple has responded to claims that its new handsets are prone to bending by saying such damage would be “rare” during normal use, BBC News reported.Media outlets across the globe had reported that several iPhone 6 owners had complained of handsets becoming misshapen after being carried in trousers pockets without a case.
Several of the US firm’s rivals have also helped publicize the claims.
Apple said nine customers had told it their iPhone 6 Plus phones had bent.
In a statement the company noted that the handsets’ shells had been constructed out of “anodised aluminium, which is tempered for extra strength” and also featured stainless steel and titanium parts to reinforce the areas of the phones likely to experience the most stress.
“We chose these high-quality materials and construction very carefully for their strength and durability,” it added.
“We also perform rigorous tests throughout the entire development cycle.
“iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus meet or exceed all of our high quality standards to endure everyday, real life use.
“With normal use a bend in iPhone is extremely rare and through our first six days of sale, a total of nine customers have contacted Apple with a bent iPhone 6 Plus. As with any Apple product, if you have questions please contact Apple.”
Read more on the BBC website.

IS crisis: ‘More than 3,000′ Europeans join IS

September 26, 2014 Armenia, Arts, Diaspora, Europe No Comments
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The number of Europeans joining Islamist fighters in Syria and Iraq has risen to more than 3,000, the EU’s anti-terrorism chief has told the BBC.Gilles de Kerchove also warned that Western air strikes would increase the risk of retaliatory attacks in Europe.US-led forces have launched nearly 200 air strikes against Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq since August and on Monday began targeting IS in Syria.The UK parliament is due to vote on possible air strikes in Iraq on Friday.IS has seized large parts of Iraq and Syria in recent months.Mr de Kerchove said the number of 3,000 included all those who have been to the region, including those who have returned and those who have been killed there.Earlier this year, experts put the figure at about 2,000.Mr de Kerchove said that Islamic State’s declaration of a Caliphate in June may have played a role in drawing more support from Europe.”If you believe in this, probably you want to be part of it as early as possible,” he said.He warned that air strikes by the US and its Western allies had increased the risk of a violent response from militant Islamists against European targets.”I think we have to acknowledge that it will,” he said. 
Read more on the BBC website.

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Book Reviews

John Balian’s “Novel Approach” Brings the Armenian Saga to the Masses – An interview with John Balian by Lucine Kasbarian

Gray Wolves and White Doves cover art

Armenians often wish for a tale about the Armenian Genocide and its aftermath that would make a blockbuster film and draw attention to their cause. John Balian’s new book, Gray Wolves and White Doves (CreateSpace/Amazon.com), may be that tale.

 Largely autobiographical, this atmospheric novel is presented through the eyes of an innocent young boy trying to make sense of the world as he grows up amid repressive conditions in Western Armenia/Eastern Turkey during the 1960s and 70s.

 This fast-paced, multi-layered narrative takes readers from Hanna Ibelin’s (a.k.a. Jonah Ibelinian’s) close-knit family life in the perilous Asia Minor region of Palu to terror and tragedy while en route to Syria’s Kamishli, to a bleak existence on the mean streets of Istanbul.

New Children’s Picture Book From Armenian Folklore

Teaneck, N.J. and Belmont, Mass. –  An Armenian folktale retold by Armenian-American writer Lucine Kasbarian and illustrated by Moscow-based artist Maria Zaikina debuts with Marshall Cavendish Children’s Publishers in April 2011.

The Greedy Sparrow: An Armenian Tale is from the ancient Armenian oral tradition and culture, which was nearly obliterated during the Turkish genocide of the Armenians, Assyrians and Greeks in 1915. The author learned the tale from her father, editor and columnist C.K. Garabed, who would recite it to her at bedtime. He had learned it from his own grandmother, a celebrated storyteller from the Old Country.  The tale was first put to paper by Armenian poet Hovhannes Toumanian at the turn of the 20th century.

“We Need To Lift The Armenian Taboo”

Turkish writer and publicist Ahmet Insel labels the initiative of the Turkish Nationalist Movement Party to pray namaz on the ruins of Ani as provocation.

In an interview with “A1+,” the publicist said the initiative was supported only by a small percentage of Turks.

“They offered namaz in Ani in protest against Christian rites carried out in Trabzon and Akhtamar. The leader of the Nationalist Movement Party, Devlet Bahceli said if Christians are allowed to pray inside museums, similarly he can pray namaz in Armenian churches,” said Ahmet Insel.

The Turkish writer arrived in Armenia to participate in a book festival. Presentation of Armenian version of Dialogue sur le tabou arménien (Dialogue about the Armenian Tabou) co-authored by Ahmet Insel and Michel Marian was held during the festival.

US Media Discusses The Armenian Genocide

BURBANK, CALIFORNIA –  KFI 640, a popular news/talk radio station hosted by Bill Handel on September 23 aired a live interview with Michael Bobelian, the writer of a new book titled  Children of Armenia: A Forgotten Genocide and the Century-long Struggle for Justice

The book chronicles the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide of 1915, and recounts a people’s struggle for justice in the face of a century of silence and denial.

During the interview, which was aired during the prime morning time slot, Bill Handel addressed both the efforts within the United States to ensure that the US government appropriately acknowledges the Armenian Genocide and Turkey’s ongoing denial.

Handel, a well known and nationally syndicated radio talk show host, has discussed the Armenian Genocide during past shows.

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Commentary

China: President Takes Action Against High Ranking Corrupt Officials

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21:31, July 30, 2014

Zhou Yongkang, one of China’s most powerful former leaders, is under investigation in the highest-level corruption inquiry since the Communist Party came into power in 1949.

Under current president Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign, the party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection is investigating Zhou for “serious disciplinary violations,” as the officialXinhua news agency reports. Media has not yet, however, specified the allegations against him.

The probe is an attempt to show the length to which Xi and the party will go in order to combat abuse of power reportsThe Wall Street Journal. 

A commentary published in the officialPeoples Daily makes the point that regardless of  an official’s rank or supporters, punishment will result for violating laws or the party’s discipline. 

Armenian Gangs: Caught between an Archetype and a Cliché

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19:15, July 12, 2014

By Marineh Khachadour

“The whole thing started with a scene straight out of a mobster movie. It was around 6 p.m. when more than a dozen men from two organized crime groups opened fire on each other in a North Hollywood parking lot. Witnesses say nearly everyone was armed, and the shootout quickly went mobile. The men took off in cars, exchanging fire as they weaved through the Whitsett Avenue traffic.”

Stories such as this are not unique to Armenians in the American press, but this investigative report recently published in the LA Weekly is about Armenian Power, the Los Angeles based Armenian gang that operates in the heavily Armenian populated communities of Glendale, Burbank, and North Hollywood.

Want to Write for Hetq?

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10:24, March 14, 2014

I’m looking for freelancers who can broaden the scope of Hetq’s English edition

Arts & Culture, Commentary, Politics, Civil Society, Interviews…

Anything interesting happening in your local community you’d like to share?

Write to me with your ideas and story suggestions.

Hrant at hg.hetq@gmail.com

Source: HetqOriginial Article

For Better or For Worse: Nature Protection Ministry Proposes Amendments to Water Use Laws

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16:44, February 14, 2014

With the goal of providing a systematic solution to issues of effective use of water resources in Ararat valley, the Ministry of Nature Protection of the Republic of Armenia (RA) is proposing amendments and additions to the RA Water Code, and the RA laws on the Republic of Armenia’s National Water Program, on Licensing, and on State Tax.

The proposed legislative package has been sent to the relevant state agencies for their input.

Head of the Ministry of Nature Protection’s Water Resources Management Agency Volodya Narimanyan told Hetq, said that with this amendment package his ministry is attempting to clarify the ideas and the ambiguous commentary, as well as introduce new requirements. For example, one of the main points of the proposed amendments is if water use permit conditions are not met, the water use permit might be annulled.

2013 in Civil Society: Protests and more protests

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The struggle of civil movements this year has been comprehensive and diverse with limited success in certain fields due to unified efforts and active involvement of the civil society.

Despite the rather passive start of the year in terms of civil movements, the second half of 2013 turned out to be tense with active developments.

Some analysts believe that especially after the February 18 presidential ballot, when current president Serzh Sargsyan won a decisive victory over his opponents and was re-elected for a second term, despite the widespread poverty and atmosphere of injustice in the country, people became even more aware of the fact that is it impossible to achieve changes via elections and started practicing their constitutional rights to civil protest and disobedience more frequently.