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EU court blocks gay asylum tests

December 2, 2014 Africa, Diaspora, Europe, Film No Comments
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The EU’s top court has ruled that refugees who claim asylum on the grounds that they are homosexual should not have to undergo tests to prove it.Three men, including a Ugandan and one from a Muslim country, failed in their bids for asylum when a Dutch court said they had not proved their sexuality.EU states including the UK have been criticized for their handling of gay asylum requests.The European Court of Justice (ECJ) says they must respect human dignity.Its rulings apply to all EU member states.|The case is significant across the EU because of a surge in the numbers of sub-Saharan Africans seeking asylum in Europe this year. Most African countries treat homosexuality as a crime.The Czech authorities were criticized by the UN, EU and human rights activists in 2011 for using an erection or “phallometric” test – a practice dating back to communist times – to determine whether certain asylum seekers were gay.In its latest ruling, the Luxembourg-based court said that determining a refugee’s sexuality had to be consistent with EU law and respect their private and family life.In particular, it said that evidence of homosexual acts submitted from tests or on film infringed human dignity, even if it was proposed by the asylum applicant. Allowing such evidence could result in it becoming a requirement, the court said.While authorities could interview an asylum seeker to find out about their sexual orientation, questions could not be asked about their sexual practices.An asylum seeker’s failure to answer questions about their personal circumstances was not sufficient reason to reject their credibility. Nor was an applicant’s failure to declare his homosexuality from the start, the judges said.Treatment of gay, lesbian or bisexual refugees has become a key issue in the UK in recent months, after revelations that one asylum seeker was asked what one lawyer described as “shockingly degrading” questions.A report by the UK independent chief inspector of borders and immigration in October found that more than one in 10 interviews involved questions of an “unsatisfactory nature”.The ECJ ruled last year that gay asylum seekers who had a genuine fear of imprisonment in African countries could claim refugee status, in response to another Dutch case. 

Audrey Hepburn show announced by London’s National Portrait Gallery

December 2, 2014 Armenia, Film No Comments
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A photography exhibition celebrating the life and career of British actress Audrey Hepburn will open at London’s National Portrait Gallery in July, the BBC reports. The show will chart her rise from West End chorus girl to one of Hollywood’s most photographed stars and also document her later humanitarian work.Classic images of the Breakfast at Tiffany’s actress will be displayed alongside rarely seen family photos.It includes work by photographers such as Sir Cecil Beaton and Richard Avedon.Some of the most famous images in Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon are taken from the Oscar-winning actress’s film posters, vintage magazine spreads and publicity shots.Many were taken behind the scenes on her films, including those by photographer Mark Shaw who was given exclusive access to the set of 1953′s Sabrina for Life magazine.Other highlights include Hepburn in her Broadway dressing room when she starred in Gigi, and family shots of Hepburn performing ballet as a young girl.The exhibition also marks the 65th anniversary of Hepburn’s career-changing performance at a leading West End night-club called Ciro’s, in the same building that now houses the National Portrait Gallery’s public archive.The Oscar-winning actress’ performances in revues at the club in her early twenties helped launch her career and led to her being scouted for British films, including 1951′s Laughter in Paradise. 
 
 
 

Hetq’s ‘Listen to Our Voices’ to be Screened Nov. 26

November 25, 2014 Armenia, Film No Comments
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13:29, November 25, 2014

On November 26 the documentary film “Listen to Our Voices” produced by Hetq will be screened at the Naregatsi Art Institute in Yerevan at 1:00 pm.

The screening coincides with the compilation of the series of articles published by Hetq titled “Distorted Fates,”  which documents the stories of 11 inmates who were convicted of crimes allegedly committed with unsubstantiated—or in some cases without—hard evidence and given sentences of life in prison. The “Distorted Fates” series attempted to call attention to the flaws in the Armenian judicial system, specifically regarding deficient criminal science and inadequate investigative procedures. 

The Mayilian Song Ensemble, led by vocalist Anna Mayilian, will perform at the event.

Georgian Prez Tiptoes Around 1915 Genocide Issue: National “Coexistence” More Important

November 24, 2014 Armenia, Culture, Georgia No Comments
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14:58, November 24, 2014

During a November 21 meeting between Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili and representatives of organizations in the Georgian National Minorities Council, a representative of an organization called the Armenian Community of Georgia asked Margvelashvili if he would make a public statement to the effect that Georgia officially “shares the pain” of the country’s Armenians regarding the 1915 Genocide.

Margvelashvili replied that the Georgian authorities have always stood by all of its citizens and that they approach the emotions and concerns of all the country’s national grouping with great care.

This is what he had to say:

Albania opens Hoxha’s top secret Cold War nuclear bunker to public

November 23, 2014 Culture, Diaspora No Comments
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The massive, top secret Cold War nuclear bunker of former Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha was opened to the public on Saturday, decades after it was built by the paranoid communist regime fearing an attack by the West that never came, euronews reports.The ex-dictator’s bed, covered with a red mattress, is still in place in his bunker bedroom, with a Soviet-era radio placed on his bedside table.During Hoxha’s 40-year rule, Albania was one of the world’s most isolated countries, obsessed about an attack by the West.Now, 24 years after the fall of the regime, its countryside is still dotted by the remains of some 700,000 bunkers. Officials have said the structures, referred to as “mushrooms” by locals, were built to be indestructible and defend against an army of millions.According to informed sources, Hoxha, who died in 1985, had at least four secret refuges built for him and his family around Tirana.Built into the side of a mountain just east of the capital Tirana, the 2,685 square metre (28,900 square foot) underground shelter opened Saturday sprawls over five levels and contains 106 rooms, including a cinema.Built covertly between 1972-1978, it was designed to serve as the headquarters of the central committee and the communist assembly in the event of war.A guide at the opening described it as a “real five-star” complex.”We have decided to open everything up,” Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama after visiting the site.”The idea to build it arose after a visit (by Hoxha) to North Korea in 1964,” said defence ministry spokesperson Edlira Prendi.Until recently the giant bunker still featured on an Albanian army “top secret” list, she added.The bunker will be placed under the care of the tourism and culture ministry, and will also host a museum and an exhibition space for artists. 

Artsakh Military Launches Special Op; Retrieves Remains of Downed Helicopter Crew

November 22, 2014 Armenia, Arts, Azerbaijan, Karabakh No Comments
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11:19, November 22, 2014

The Artsakh Ministry of Defense reported today that on November 20 it successfully recovered the remains of the three crew members who were killed when their helicopter was shot down on November 12 by Azerbaijan along the Karabakh Line of Contact. 

Ever since the downing of the helicopter, Armenian armed forces were unable to approach the crash site citing constant fire by the Azerbaijani military.

The Artsakh Ministry of Defense said it launched a special operation to get to the downed helicopter.

Artsakh Defense Minister Movses Hakobyan stated that two Azerbaijani soldiers were killed during the operation.

P.S. Artsakh President Bako Sahakyan today posthumously awarded Medals of Bravery to the three crew members of the downed Armenian helicopter.

MI-24 crew recovery internationally praiseworthy act to silence enemy

November 22, 2014 Armenia, Arts, Karabakh No Comments
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The Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army’s special military operations to recover the dead bodies of the downed Armenian helicopter’s crew constituted a brilliantly organized act deserving an international attention, says a spokesperson of Armenia’s Ministry of Defense.
“Against the backdrop of the extremely large-scale counteractions by the adversary in the form of fire and other [attacks], these operations were unprecedented in character and complexity. The performance was simply brilliant in light of the non-trivial losses by the adversary, who had prepared a trap. In the couple of few days to come, we will be hearing the names of those who may naturally have died in different casualties. The Nagorno-Karabakh special forces demonstrated a striking result on their [professional] holiday. Glory to them! It was an internationally praiseworthy brilliant act silencing the black cannons,” Artsrun Hovhannisyan wrote in Facebook.
The Armed Forces of Nagorno-Karabakh had to launch special operations on Saturday to access the crash site of the downed MI-24 helicopter for pulling out the crewmembers’ bodies.
Speaking to Tert.am, the Defense Army’s Commander Movses Hakobyan said he expects the operations to raise the military’s efficiency. “A soldier of the Nagorno-Karabakh army is always in a high fighting spirit,” he said.
Tert.am’s sources say that the defense authorities of the two Armenian republics are now considering the place and the procedures of the martyred crewmembers’ funeral.The special operations by the Nagorno-Karabakh Armed Forces were a reaction to the calls voiced by the OSCE Minsk Group in a recent statement, said Styopa Safaryan, the president of the Armenian Institute of International and Security Affairs (AIISA).
“The situation is very much similar to the early-1990’s, with the international community repeatedly making calls for ensuring a humanitarian corridor for the Nagorno-Karabakh people or ceasing the military operations,” he told Tert.am, citing a corresponding resolution by the UN Security Council.
The pilots on board the crashed helicopter were Major Sergey Sahakyan, Senior lieutenant Sargis Nazaryan and Lieutenant Azat Sahakyan. All three have been honored with posthumous awards. 

Bodies Of Armenian Pilots Recovered From Downed Helicopter

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Nagorno-Karabakh’s Armenian-backed armed forces said on Saturday that they recovered, in an overnight commando raid,

Artsakh Defense Army Claims it Controls Helicopter Crash Area

November 21, 2014 Armenia, Arts, Azerbaijan, Karabakh No Comments
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11:10, November 21, 2014

Despite the fact that Armenian forces have yet been unable to retrieve the remains of the three crew members of an Armenian helicopter shown down by Azerbaijan on November 12 along the Karabakh Line of Contact, the Artsakh Defense Army  (ADA) issued a statement today that the crash site and the entire border remains under its control.

Ever since the downing of the helicopter, which was participating in Armenian military exercises, Armenian and Artsakh military officials have claimed that they cannot approach the crash site due to constant firing by Azerbaijani forces.

In its statement, the ADA says it is taking all necessary steps to prevent Azerbaijani forces from approaching the downed helicopter.

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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

Ukraine: Cops Go After Casinos, Suggest Yanukovych Connection

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21:45, December 15, 2014

Ukraine’s ministry of internal affairs has launched a campaign against illegal casinos amid fears that a large network of underground gambling dens could be providing an income source for the son of the country’s disgraced former president Viktor Yanukovych.

The new crackdown on unlawful casinos – an ongoing scourge for law enforcement agencies in Ukraine since regulation was made stiffer with a 2009 law – was launched on Dec. 8 after an announcement on Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov’s official Facebook page.

Avakov, who keeps a lively and occasionally angry Facebook commentary on current affairs, pledged to put a complete stop to the establishments within ten days; first in the capital of Kyiv, then the rest of the nation.

Yerevan Calling: A Weekly Roundup of Random Musings from Armenia

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13:05, October 3, 2014

Here it is dear readers, the debut of a weekly column I hope to maintain on a regular basis.

It’s sort of a catch-all of news snippets, irreverent commentary, and personal observations on what’s happened during the week here in Yerevan, and throughout Armenia.. Hopefully, you’ll find it interesting, if not slightly diverting.

Your comments and suggestions are welcomed.

Regards – Hrant

Oct. 2 – Protests Throughout Armenia: A Game of Numbers & Solidarity

Three separate protest rallies took place in Armenia today.

As Hetq reported earlier, business owners in the town of Sevan kept their stores and factories shut to protest changes to the so-called volume (sales) tax. Local residents flocked to the bread factory to wait on line for a loaf or two.

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