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Press freedom suffers setback in Armenia, according to Freedom House

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The latest press freedom index, published by the international human rights watchdog Freedom House, has rated the Armenian media “Not Free”, recording a slight setback in the country compared to last year.
In the report entitled, Freedom of the Press 2014, Armenia ranks the 134th in the list of 197 world countries. Its score is 62 in the index (instead of the 61 in 2013). 
Turkey, which has the same score, ranks as the 42nd country this year. Russia and Azerbaijan are also among the “Not Free” states, with 81 and 84 points, respectively. The authors have pointed out to the deteriorating situation with the freedom of press in the country. Iran, with 90 points, has shown the poorest record in the region. The situation is better with Georgia which has been classified as a “Partly Free” country with 47 points.
Media freedom hits decade low, according to the Freedom House website. The authors have attributed the situation to the Arab Spring that saw dramatic developments in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia.
“The year’s declines were driven by the desire of governments—particularly in authoritarian states or polarized political environments—to control news content, whether through the physical harassment of journalists covering protest movements or oth¬er sensitive news stories; restrictions on foreign reporters; or tightened constraints on online news outlets and social media. In addition, press freedom in a number of countries was threatened by private owners—especially those with close connections to governments or ruling parties—who altered editorial lines or dismissed key staff after acquiring previously independent outlets,” reads the document.
The full report can be accessed here. 

Hovhannes Manukyan appointed Armenia’s minister of justice

Armenian News

21:44 • 30/04
UK government backs UK launch site plan for space tourism

21:28 • 30/04
Prosperous Armenia MP responds to ruling party spokesman’s statement

21:21 • 30/04
Wooden VW Beetle made by Bosnian pensioner

20:38 • 30/04
How man will land on Mars: Nasa video reveals steps needed to transport humans to Mars by 2030s (video)

20:25 • 30/04
Opposition MP explains reasons for his self-nomination to post of Armenian parliament speaker

19:23 • 30/04
Aramais Grigoryan appointed Armenia’s minister of nature protection

19:14 • 30/04
Hovhannes Manukyan appointed Armenia’s minister of justice

19:04 • 30/04
Yervand Zakharyan appointed Armenia’s minister of energy

18:55 • 30/04
‘Compulsory’ component to be removed from law on funded pensions – premier

Aramais Grigoryan appointed Armenia’s minister of nature protection

Armenian News

21:44 • 30/04
UK government backs UK launch site plan for space tourism

21:28 • 30/04
Prosperous Armenia MP responds to ruling party spokesman’s statement

21:21 • 30/04
Wooden VW Beetle made by Bosnian pensioner

20:38 • 30/04
How man will land on Mars: Nasa video reveals steps needed to transport humans to Mars by 2030s (video)

20:25 • 30/04
Opposition MP explains reasons for his self-nomination to post of Armenian parliament speaker

19:23 • 30/04
Aramais Grigoryan appointed Armenia’s minister of nature protection

19:14 • 30/04
Hovhannes Manukyan appointed Armenia’s minister of justice

19:04 • 30/04
Yervand Zakharyan appointed Armenia’s minister of energy

18:55 • 30/04
‘Compulsory’ component to be removed from law on funded pensions – premier

Turkish top court rejects appeal for lifting May Day ban

April 30, 2014 Armenia, Diaspora, Turkey No Comments
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Turkey’s top court has rejected an individual appeal to overturn the government’s ban on celebrating May Day at Istanbul’s iconic Taksim Square, Hurriyet Daily News reported.
The appeal was filed to the Constitutional Court on April 24 by lawyer Sedat Vural of the Ankara Bar Association, arguing, “Refraining from violating the freedom of assembly and expression is an obligation.”
In its ruling published in the April 30 edition of the Official Gazette, the court rejected the appeal on the grounds that “appeal mechanisms had not been exhausted,” saying the appeal is “inadmissible” and was made with unanimity.
In his appeal, Vural cited Article 34 of the Constitution, which covers the right to hold meetings and demonstration marches.
“Everyone has the right to hold unarmed and peaceful meetings and demonstration marches without prior permission. The right to hold meetings and demonstration marches shall be restricted only by law on the grounds of national security, public order, prevention of committing of crime, protection of public health and public morals or the rights and freedoms of others. The formalities, conditions, and procedures to be applied in the exercise of the right to hold meetings and demonstration marches shall be prescribed by law,” reads Article 34.
Nonetheless, weeks before May Day, several governmental officials, including Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, had already declared their objection to using Taksim Square for this year’s May Day demonstrations.
The court, which has recently issued rulings that had sparked vivid reactions from the government, sparking a row between its president, Haşim Kılıç, and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Read more here.

Zabel Yesayan’s Book on Armenian Massacres in Adana Now Published in Turkish

April 29, 2014 Armenia, Europe, Turkey No Comments
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12:28, April 27, 2014

Translator Kayuş Çalıkman Gavrilof: “The Turkish state always nurtures my pessimism”

The first Armenian documentarian, Zabel Yesayan’s Among the Ruins (1911) was published in Turkish a month ago after being translated by Istanbul-Armenian Kayuş Çalıkman Gavrilof.

The book — now available in Turkish bookstores — tells the story of the massacre of Armenians in Cilicia in 1909, which occurred months after Turkey entered the Second Constitutional Era. 

During that time, under the cover of the Constantinople Patriarchate, Yesayan visited Adana with the aim of establishing an orphanage. During the three months she stayed there, she described what she saw, including the families of victims of the massacre. She wrote letters to her husband about her emotions, asking him to keep the letters because “they might be needed.” And in 1910, she wrote the book based on these letters of emotions and testimonies. The book was published a year later. 

‘Last Armenians’ of Diyarbakır tie the knot after 60 years of waiting

April 28, 2014 Armenia, Turkey No Comments
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Diyarbakır’s recently restored Armenian Church Surp Giragos has been the witness of a very special wedding, the “yes, I do” of two octogenarians, pronounced after long overdue by some 60 years, the Hurriyet Daily News reports. With the tuxedo, the groom Bayzo, 87-years-old, reverenced as “the last Armenian” of Diyarbakır for being the dean of what remains of the southeastern city’s once significantly large community. With the traditional dress, his three years younger bride Sarkiz, from the province’s district of Silvan, also the hometown of the acting head of the Armenian patriarchate in Turkey, Aram Ateşyan.The couple could have been celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary, instead they will content themselves to experience the excitement of newly-weds after 60 years of a reluctant concubinage.“I did not want to die unmarried,” said Bayzo right before the ceremony, apparently moved. He then explained that most of his Armenian friends chose to leave the country, but now the city is looking after its Armenian cultural heritage – one example is the restoration of the Surp Giragos church, which had been the nexus of the community.“I wanted this marriage so much and I feel so blessed. May God give such a happy day to everyone in their life,” he added.Gülten Kışanak, the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) co-chair who was elected Diyarbakır mayor during the March 30 elections was present to conduct the office, also homage the couple, expressed her wish that they can be an example for the youth.“This is no ordinary marriage. We are witnessing the immortal love of two people who have not consummated their love for each other. They have succeeded in their struggle to remain standing in this land with the power of their love,” Kışanak said.But the couple had no intention of letting long solemn talks overshadow their wedding and celebrated just like any young newly-weds. Surrendering to cheers, Bayzo stepped onto Sarkiz’s foot, a gesture meant to signify who will be the head of the household. Sarkiz, for her part, threw her bouquet to a crowd of unmarried women half a century her junior.Yervant Bostancı, the famous old master of Armenian descent who decided to return to Diyarbakır late last year after 20 years of self-imposed exile, played Armenian, Kurdish and Turkish songs, adding more symbolism to a marriage providing Armenians the feeling that Diyarbakır can become their home once again.

Report: Turkey’s Armenians suggest Erdogan for Nobel Prize

April 28, 2014 Armenia, Europe, Turkey No Comments
Armenian News

A number of representatives of Turkey’s Armenian community have suggested that the country’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan should be given the Nobel Prize for his efforts to make peace between Turks and Armenians.

Bedros Sirinoglu, the leader of the Armenian congregation in Turkey, in particular, has expressed his thanks to Erdogan for his recent speech about the “incidents during the First World War in 1915, in which many Armenians lost their lives in clashes with Turks towards the fall of the Ottoman Empire,” according to worldbulletin.net.

Describing Prime Minister Erdogan as a leader who has responded to all of the Armenian communities’ requests, especially in regards to the return of confiscated community-owned properties, Sirinoglu said that Erdogan’s words of condolence was a “first” in Turkey.

German president arrives in Turkey, to visit German troops

April 27, 2014 Diaspora, Turkey No Comments
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German President Joachim Gauck arrived in Turkey late yesterday as he kicked off a four-day visit to Turkey, the Hurriyet Daily News reports. The president will meet today with German soldiers deployed to operate Patriot missile defense systems in the southern province of Kahramanmaraş, where 300 German soldiers have been deployed along with two units of Patriot defense systems and a tent city built for Syrian refugees.Germany, the Netherlands and the United States supplied ground-to-air missile batteries, which Turkey requested after a series of cross-border shellings from Syria in 2012, including an attack that killed five civilians.Gauck will also hold meetings with President Abdullah Gül and Prime Minister Recep Erdogan on April 28.Accompanied by his wife, the federal Cabinet’s first-ever minister of Turkish origin, Aydan Özoğuz, and Turkish and German ambassadors, Gauck tasted the famous Maraş ice cream at the hotel he is staying at late April 26 and used a cleaver to cut it.German President Joachim Gauck watches traditional ice cream show in Kahramanmaraş. AA Photo

Armenian, Turkish Protestors and Supporters Once Again Face Off on Armenian Genocide Recognition Day

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10:07, April 25, 2014

Armenian and Turkish protestors and their supporters once again organized simultaneous demonstrations outside the Turkish Embassy in Washington, D.C., on April 24, the day of the recognition of the Armenian Genocide.  

Zabel Sapunjyan says for 44 years she’s been living in the US and coming to these protests. She is protesting the governments of Turkey and the US because it is her belief that Turkey continues the crime it committed nearly a century ago in Kessab today, whereas the US government, specifically US President Barack Obama reneged on his promise made to the Armenian people and did not recognize the Armenian Genocide (he once again used the term “Medz Yeghern” in his message). 

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Featured Books

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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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


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.