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No to Plunder, No to Maidan

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13:30, June 26, 2015

 By Markar Melkonian  

Whether or not the demonstrators understand it, they are repudiating the generation of pro-Western leaders who long ago set the stage for the privatization of the energy sector in Armenia—and of the public transport system, agriculture, and pensions, too.  

No Soviet-era poster of square-jawed mechanics marching arm-in-arm with women in overalls could better depict the struggle of the have-nots against the haves than did yesterday’s smart phone photos of demonstrators on Baghramyan Avenue in Yerevan. 

Teenagers and 20-somethings lock arms in a nightlong vigil.  A young woman stands up to a phalanx of shields and cops in full battle dress.  Protesters huddling against a water cannon give the cops “the finger,” while others pull themselves under the prow of an armored van, too close for the water cannon to hit them. 

Cheap Imports Remain Main Challenge to Armenia’s Textile and Clothing Manufacturers

June 25, 2015 Armenia, Turkey No Comments
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12:52, June 25, 2015

Armenian produced 544 million AMD (US$1.151 million) worth of textiles in 2014 and 7.334 billion AMD ($15.5 million) worth of clothing.

In comparison to 2013, this reflects a 2.9% drop in textiles and a 16.1% increase in clothing.

Textile production in the first four months of 2015 amounted to 134.5 million AMD ($ 284,600) and 1.980 billion ($4.189 million) AMD in clothing.

Light industry comprised some one-third of the economy in Soviet Armenia. After the collapse of the Soviet Union the textiles and clothing production sectors saw declines of up to 60-70%

Light industry was also a major employer – some 115,000 people or 25-30% of the labor market.

Turkey: Journalist Investigated for Criticizing Erdogan

June 25, 2015 Armenia, Europe, Turkey No Comments
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17:46, June 25, 2015

A US-based correspondent for the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet may be facing libel charges after writing a book that criticizes Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Istanbul’s chief prosecutor is investigating Tolga Tanis, who is based in Washington, after Erdogan’s lawyer Ahmet Ozel filed a petition accusing him of undermining the reputation of the president.

It appears to fit in with a fresh wave of legal activity by the embattled Turkish president, who has attempted to sue dozens of journalists and activists for damage to his reputation.

According toHurriyet, Ozel claimed that the book contained false information that “could undermine the reputation of, and provoke the public against” his client.

Turkey: Smugglers Caught With Cesium, Gems On Georgian Border

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19:59, June 23, 2015

Border guards at the Sarpi checkpoint between Turkey and Georgia Friday detained two Georgian nationals for allegedly carrying 1.2 kg of cesium, a highly radioactive substance that can be used to build “dirty bombs.” 

The suspects were also carrying a mercury-like substance, and nine gemstones in their luggage. The pair were caught after setting off the alarm on an x-ray body scanner.

Turkish press reports that the confiscated materials have a market value of roughly US$ 2.5 million. Dirty bombs work by disseminating radioactive material like shrapnel over a wide area.

Cesium can also used for scientific, industrial, and medical purposes. The seized chemicals were delivered to the Turkish Atomic Energy Authority.

Armenia or Turkey? Laklakian Family from Aleppo Faces Difficult Choice

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10:15, June 22, 2015

Gayaneh Sargsyan

Kevork Laklakian left Syria two years ago.

Ever since, he’s been foundering as to where to resettle – Armenia, Istanbul, or even back to Syria.

In 2013, Kevork, a knowledgeable auto repairman, went to work at a Yerevan repair shop.

“I was getting 15, 000 dram every week. It wasn’t enough to cover all my expenses, rent and other things,” Kevork says.

A few months after relocating to Armenia, Kevork’s family moved to Istanbul from Syria. The family advised him to come to Istanbul as well and Kevork regarded it as a viable option. So he left Armenia for Turkey and went to work.

Azerbaijani Journalist Threatened for Working for the Istanbul-based Armenian Newspaper Agos

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11:08, June 22, 2015

Fatih Gökhan Diler

Due to serious threats against her, Arzu Geybullayeva, a reporter who edited news from Azerbaijan for Agos has been forced to leave Azerbaijan.

Agos talked to her during a recent visit to Turkey. She says she still hasn’t unburdened herself of the pressure. Geybullayeva has even been deprived of visiting her birthplace.

“I wanted to be in Baku for the European Games. But my friends advised against it. You know that many reports have now been arrested in Azerbaijan. It’s very possible that when I cross the border the police will plant drugs in my bags and charge me with trafficking. Considering all this, I have opted not to travel to Baku.”

Tough Battle: Preserving Armenian Cultural Legacy in Turkey

June 22, 2015 Armenia, Culture, Turkey No Comments
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11:14, June 22, 2015

Emre Can Dağlıoğlu

Due to neglect and other dangers, the cultural legacy of Armenians throughput Turkey faces destruction.

On the other hand, there are certain positive developments that have been registered.

While Turkey’s Ministry of Culture has renovated a number of historic sites, they are just a tiny fraction of what remains.

To preserve the Armenian cultural legacy, various international and Turkish organizations are working towards this end.

One of the important unions working in this direction is the Armenian Village and Armenian Assistance Union of Sassoun, Bitlis, Batman, Moush, Van, Istanbul, and elsewhere.

Turkey Slams Belgian PM Over Armenian Genocide Recognition

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Turkey has condemned Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel for publicly recognizing the 1915 mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide in the wake of similar statements made by Pope Francis and other world leaders.

“This statement of the Belgian Prime Minister is inconsistent with historical facts and incompatible with international law,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a weekend statement.

Addressing Belgium’s parliament on Wednesday, Michel said the World War One-era slaughter of some 1.5 million Armenians “must be viewed as a genocide.”

Michel thus echoed a resolution that was passed by the Belgian Senate in 1998. Successive Belgian governments have until now avoided using the word genocide with regard to the Armenian massacres, however.

Questioning the Family Narrative: Turkish Photographer Asks ‘Did we really flee from Armenians’?

June 20, 2015 Armenia, Europe, Turkey No Comments
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16:56, June 20, 2015

Emin Akpinar, a 32 year-old Istanbul based freelance photographer, is a man on a mission to fill in certain questionable aspects of his family’s history.

While born in Ankara, Emin traces the major gap in his family’s history to 1925 and Erzincan (Yerzinga).

As the family narrative goes, and one he’s heard repeated since a child, the family was forced to flee Erzincan to Kırşehir in central Anatolia because Armenian were massacring people and burning villages in Erzincan.

“My family doesn’t know much about its past and I’ve only heard this about our past, a story based on what my uncle recounted. So I started to ask my father questions about this,” Emin told Hetq.

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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.

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.