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U.S.-Armenian Rock Band Marks Genocide Centennial In Yerevan

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The Armenian-American hard rock band System of a Down (SOAD) marked the centennial of the Armenian genocide late on Thursday with a first-ever concert in Yerevan that attracted tens of thousands of people.

The free concert in the city’s central Republic Square closed SOAD’s latest “Wake Up the Souls” tour dedicated to the memory of some 1.5 million Armenians massacred by the Ottoman Turks during the First World War.

Despite nonstop rain, the world-famous California band led by Serj Tankian kept the mostly young crowd electrified for almost two and a half hours with its hits popular in Armenia. Tankian and the three other SOAD musicians are Americans of Armenian descent who have used their worldwide fame to raise international awareness of the 1915 genocide.

Armenia ‘Still Committed’ To 2009 Accords With Turkey

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Armenia would swiftly ratify its U.S.-backed normalization agreements with Turkey signed in 2009 as soon as the Turkish government drops its preconditions for their implementation, according to President Serzh Sarkisian.

In an interview with a group of foreign reporters, Sarkisian downplayed his decision last month to withdraw the two Turkish-Armenian protocols from the Armenian parliament because of Ankara’s refusal to unconditionally ratify them.

“It was a political message and it does not presuppose any legal consequences because I did not withdraw Armenia’s signatures from the protocols,” Sarkisian said in remarks publicized by Panorama.am on Thursday.

Putin Reaffirms Russian Recognition Of Armenian Genocide

April 23, 2015 Armenia, Top News, Turkey No Comments
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Russian President Vladimir Putin has described the 1915 Armenian massacres in Ottoman Turkey as genocide ahead of his participation in Friday’s official ceremonies in Yerevan to mark the 100th anniversary of the tragedy.

“April 24, 1915 is a sad date connected with one of the most appalling and dramatic events in the history of humankind: the genocide of the Armenian people,” Putin said Wednesday in a written message to participants of an event in Moscow dedicated to the genocide centennial.

“One century on, we bow our heads in memory of all victims of this tragedy which our country has always perceived as its own pain and calamity,” he said.

Obama Criticized By U.S. Jewish Group

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An influential Jewish-American lobby group has criticized U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision to again avoid publicly using the word genocide to honor some 1.5 million Armenians massacred by the Ottoman Turks.

In that regard, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) also commended Pope Francis and the European Parliament for reaffirming their recognition of the Armenian genocide last week.

“We regret that the U.S. has indicated, at least as of now, that it will not recognize the Armenian genocide during commemoration events this week,” the AJC executive director, David Harris, said in a statement on Wednesday. “This decision is particularly troubling in light of President Obama’s remarks (as a senator) in 2008, when he spoke poignantly about the Armenian genocide.”

Turkey Slams Austria, Warns Germany Over Armenian Genocide Recognition

April 23, 2015 Armenia, Top News, Turkey No Comments
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Turkey on Wednesday strongly condemned Austria for recognizing the 1915 Armenian genocide and urged Germany, another First World War-era ally of the Ottoman Empire, not to do the same this week.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said it summoned the Austrian ambassador in Ankara and told him that a corresponding declaration adopted by the Austrian parliament “will leave permanent stains on Turkish-Austrian friendship.” It also announced that the Turkish ambassador in Vienna has been recalled “for consultations.”

“It should be known that Turkey and the Turkish nation will not forget this slander uttered against their history,” the ministry said in a statement issued in response to the declaration. “It seems that Austria, with whom we fought on the same side during World War I … has also fallen prey to the efforts of some circles bent on manipulating perceptions, in complete insistence in ignoring the humanitarian and concrete initiatives of Turkey.”

Sarkisian Speaks Against Genocide Denial

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President Serzh Sarkisian criticized Turkey for refusing to acknowledge the 1915 Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire as Armenia hosted an international forum on crimes against humanity on Wednesday.

The Global Forum Against the Crime of Genocide, which brought together about 600 participants from over 50 countries, began its work in Yerevan as part of events dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the mass killings and deportations of Armenians.

“Genocide denial is fraught with inciting a new xenophobic wave and is often accompanied by intolerance and justification of the already committed crimes of genocide,” Sarkisian said in a speech at the conference. “In case of strong international pressure, denial acquires a seemingly softer yet equally dangerous nature or is dissolved in history revision campaigns.”

Obama To Again Avoid ‘G-Word’

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After a reportedly heated debate within his administration, U.S. President Barack Obama has decided to again refrain from calling the 1915 Armenian massacres in Ottoman Turkey a genocide in an annual statement expected later this week.

Obama will at the same time send a high-level U.S. delegation to Friday’s official ceremonies in Yerevan that will mark the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide.

The White House announced late on Tuesday that the delegation will be headed by U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and comprise four members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Obama Not to Utter the "G" Word

April 22, 2015 Armenia, Turkey No Comments
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14:00, April 22, 2015

President Obama’s Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes confirmed to Armenian American reps, during a White House meeting on April 21, that the president has chosen not to use the term “genocide” in his April 24th statement marking the worldwide centennial of this crime.

“President Obama’s surrender to Turkey represents a national disgrace.  It is, very simply, a betrayal of truth, a betrayal of trust,” said ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian. 

“With the world’s attention drawn this April 24 to worldwide Armenian Genocide Centennial commemorations, President Obama will, tragically, use the moral standing of our nation not to defend the truth, but rather to enforce of a foreign power’s gag-rule.  He has effectively outsourced America’s policy on the Armenian Genocide to Recep Erdogan,” said Hachikian.

Update: Two Suspected Human Traffickers Arrested over Mediterranean Boat Disaster

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23:18, April 21, 2015

Italian authorities have arrested two suspected human traffickers thought to have been involved inthe case of a migrant vessel that capsized in the Mediterranean on Saturday, killing more than 800 migrants.

The Guardian reportsthat the men in custody are allegedly the captain, a Tunisian national, and a crew member of the ship, a Syrian national, who now face charges of reckless homicide.

The survivors of the wreck arrived in Catania, Sicily, late last night, at which point the two men were taken into custody.Red Cross tents and other volunteers awaited the other survivors.

Kate Bond, a writer for theUN Refugee Agency, said: “One survivor told UNHCR staff that there were children aboard the boat. So far, none of them have been found, although search-and-rescue operations at the site continue.”

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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.