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Freedom House Reports: Free Press is Weakened in the Balkans, Backsliding in Azerbaijan

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22:26, April 29, 2015

Only one in seven people in the world live in a place where coverage of politics in the media is robust and journalists can work without legal and economic problems, according to a report released by Freedom House today.

The human rights organization said this year marked a ten-year low in media freedom around the world, which it attributed to an increase in restrictive media laws and the difficulty of access for journalists to certain areas of the world due to violence.

Human rights organization Freedom House assessed the press freedom of 199 territories and countries around the world over the last year. They evaluated journalists’ capacity to operate in each jurisdiction and studied the nature of their interactions with governments and businesses. Each country or territory is labeled free, partly free or not free.

Serbia: Police Arrest 15 on Suspicion of Human Trafficking

April 29, 2015 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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16:35, April 29, 2015

Serbian police have arrested 15 alleged members of an organized people-smuggling group.

Authorities believe the suspects, aged between 20 and 55, smuggled more than 200 refugees from Syria, Iraq and Pakistan into the European Union (EU) through Bulgaria and Serbia from the beginning of 2015 to the end of March.

The Serbian intelligence agency monitored the group for months, finding that it was formed and operated in the regions of Bosilegrad, Vranj, Vladicin Han and Doljevac. Police say traffickers charged people up to € 1,000 to be transported across the Bulgarian and Serb borders.

The suspects, whose names have not officially been released, were brought to the prosecutor’s office in Belgrade for further investigation.

Russia Stands By Armenian Genocide Recognition

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Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev reaffirmed Russia’s recognition of the 1915 Armenian massacres in the Ottoman Empire as genocide on Tuesday after Turkey’s angry protests against the use of the term by President Vladimir Putin.

“These days we remember the victims of one of the most dramatic events in history — the genocide of the Armenian people,” Medvedev said in a letter to his Armenian counterpart Hovik Abrahamian. “We mourn those who died a century ago as a result of mass repressions in the Ottoman Empire.

“There is and there can be no justification for crimes against humanity. It is everyone’s duty to preserve the truth about that that appalling tragedy and to do everything to ensure that the horrors of the past are never repeated anywhere.”

Erdogan Blasts West, Russia Over ‘Armenian Lies’

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has decried the latest recognitions by France, Germany, Austria and Russia of the 1915 Armenian genocide and criticized the United States for nearly doing the same.

In another angry speech delivered on Saturday, Erdogan also reiterated his view that the rulers of the crumbling Ottoman Empire were right to force its Armenian subjects out of their homes.

“While we were struggling to give a peace message to the world, countries, such as Russia, France, Germany, Austria, took the side of enmity, hatred and grudge by supporting an allegation based on the lies told by Armenians,” Erdogan told members of a Turkish business association,

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US State Department Condemns Azerbaijan for Sentencing Human Rights Lawyer

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16:44, April 26, 2015

The US State Department has put out a statement condemning the imprisonment of human rights lawyer Intigam Aliyev and calling for his release and all others jailed for “exercising their fundamental freedoms”.

Earlier this week a Baku court sentenced Intigam Aliyev,  no relation to President Ilham Aliyev, to 7 1/2 years in prison on charges of illegal entrepreneurship, tax evasion and abuse of power. In his final testimony, Aliyev called the charges “politically motivated” due to the nature of his work.

Aliyev is a well-known human rights lawyer and government critic who has brought hundreds of cases before the European Court of Human Rights.  Upon his arrest last August, Aliyev commented: “Those who defend human rights and political prisoners and report on election fraud are considered criminals in this country. [So] I am one of those criminals.”

Raffi Hovannisian Welcomes EPP President Joseph Daul

April 25, 2015 Armenia, Europe No Comments
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11:18, April 25, 2015

Yerevan—Heritage Party chairman Raffi K. Hovannisian received European People’s Party President Joseph Daul and his delegation at Heritage headquarters here today, April 25.

Daul and Hovannisian discussed projected developments on the heels of the centennial of the Armenian Genocide, Armenia’s domestic situation and the issue of political prisoners, prospects for its further cooperation with the European Union, regional security and foreign policy challenges, as well as the active initiatives of the Heritage Party within the EPP family framework.

Raffi Hovannisian was joined by Heritage vice chairman Armen Martirosian, the party’s international secretary MP Zaruhi Postanjian, and press secretary Davit Sanasarian.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Turkey Condemns Russia For Armenian Genocide Recognition

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Turkey on Friday strongly condemned President Vladimir Putin and the State Duma for reaffirming Russia’s recognition of the 1915 Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire but stopped short of recalling its ambassador in Moscow.

“We reject and condemn the labelling of the 1915 events as ‘genocide’ by the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, despite all our warnings and calls. Such political statements, which are flagrant violation of law, are null and void for Turkey,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The ministry charged that Russia itself is guilty of mass killings committed in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia over the past century and has no moral right to accuse other states of genocide.

Turkey’s Erdogan Defends 1915 ‘Relocation’ Of Armenians

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan again offered on Friday his condolences to the descendants of Armenians killed in the Ottoman Empire a century ago one day after justifying their mass deportations ordered by the regime of “the Young Turks.”

“I once again respectfully commemorate all the Ottoman Armenians who lost their lives amid the conditions of the First World War and extend my condolences to their children and grandchildren,” he said in a written message that was read out during a memorial service for the victims held at an Armenian church in Istanbul.

“I sincerely share your pain. Please rest assured also that our hearts remain wide open to the grandchildren of the Ottoman Armenians all around the world,” read the message cited by “Hurriyet Daily News.”

Serzh Sargsyan – ‘Our struggle does not end in 2015 – it will just enter a more mature phase’

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11:19, April 24, 2015

On the morning of April 24, the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet has published an extensive interview with RA President Serzh Sargsyan.

- As a politician who has invested great efforts into the process of reconciliation between your country and Turkey, what scenario you would dream of having on April 24 Remembrance Day this year?

I believe one such option would be giving tribute to the innocent victims of the Armenian Genocide jointly with the Turkish President on the hill of Tsitsernakaberd, and proclaiming from the Memorial to the whole world that we join our efforts in condemning the crimes of genocide of the past thus preventing the possible recurrence of genocide and other crimes against humanity.

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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

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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.

Commentary

Capitalism Run Amok Is Just Plain Capitalism

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16:37, January 17, 2015

By Markar Melkonian

The source of Armenia’s misery and humiliation, we often hear, is not capitalism per se, but rather “gangster capitalism,” “a broken system,” “capitalism run amok.”

The goal for the future, then, is to “fix the system,” to reform capitalism, to make it more like regular, pure, genuine Free Enterprise, the kind of capitalism that works. But what if Armenia’s actually existing capitalism already is genuine capitalism?

An economist once observed that the only existential meaning of “enterprise” in the term free enterprise is “whatever capitalists happen to be doing at the time”–and “free” is the accompanying demand that they be allowed to do it.

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.