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US Must Sanction Officials Behind Human Rights Abuses in Azerbaijan, says NGO Open Letter

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18:49, April 14, 2015

Azerbaijani officials linked to human rights abuses should be subject to targeted sanctions by the United States, according to an open letter signed by a group of non-governmental organizations, former diplomats and activists.

Theletter, addressed to US Secretary of State John Kerry and published by Freedom House, calls for concrete measures in place of statements of concern about from Western leaders.

It argues that stronger ties between West and the government of Azerbaijan should only be pursued if the state turns its back on authoritarian practices. It urges Secretary Kerry to impose visa bans and freeze the assets of those responsible for the country’s “deteriorating human rights situation”.

Armenia Rejects Turkish Criticism Of Pope

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Armenia has dismissed Turkey’s angry reaction to Pope Francis’s public description of the 1915 Armenian massacres in the Ottoman Empire as “the first genocide of the 20th century” which was voiced during a landmark Mass at the Vatican.

Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said Francis delivered an “important message of solidarity and support to the Armenian people” when he marked the 100th anniversary of the genocide in St. Peter’s basilica on Sunday. The pontiff also expressed support for international efforts to prevent new crime against humanity, Nalbandian said in written comments released on Monday.

Nalbandian attended the unprecedented Mass along with other members of a large Armenian government delegation headed by President Serzh Sarkisian. The top clergymen of the Armenian Apostolic Church, leaders of Armenian Diaspora organizations as well Armenian Catholic faithful were also in attendance.

Romania: 73 Syrian Migrants Discovered Hidden in Furniture Truck

April 13, 2015 Armenia, Europe, Turkey No Comments
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19:32, April 13, 2015

Border authorities discovered 73 Syrian migrants packed into the back of a furniture truck on Saturday as the driver tried to cross the Romania-Hungary border.

According to the Associated Press, the truck was bound from Turkey to France when Romanian customs officials stopped the Turkish driver at the Nadlac border crossing. Reports said there were 74 people in the truck, including 73 Syrian nationals and one Iranian, aged from 12 to 41.

The group could face charges for crossing the border illegally, while the driver is suspected of trafficking migrants.   

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees reports that there are four million Syrian refugees dispersed worldwide, including nearly 1.8 million Syrians registered in Turkey.

Turkey Condemns Pope Over Armenian Genocide Remarks

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Turkey accused Pope Francis of distorting history and fuelling “growing racism” in Europe late on Sunday after recalling its ambassador to the Vatican in protest against his latest recognition of the 1915 Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu condemned as “inappropriate” Francis’s remarks made during a Vatican mass dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the World War One-era slaughter of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians.

“To read these sorrows in a one-sided way is inappropriate for the pope and the authority that he holds,” Davutoglu said in televised comments cited by the AFP news agency.

According to the Anatolia news agency, Davutoglu charged that the pontiff contributed to “the growing racism in Europe” by ignoring the suffering Turks and other Muslims during the First World War.

Armenian Leaders To Attend Papal Mass On Genocide Centennial

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Pope Francis will mark on Sunday the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey with a mass that will be held at the Vatican in the presence of President Serzh Sarkisian and the top clergymen of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

In another gesture to Armenia and its worldwide Diaspora, Francis will also bestow the prestigious Catholic title of “Doctor of the Church” on St. Gregory of Narek, a 10-11th century Armenian cleric renowned for his religious writings.

The pontiff will concelebrate the mass in the Armenian Catholic rite in St. Peter’s Basilica with Patriarch Nerses Bedros XIX, the Lebanon-based leader of the Armenian Catholics.

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EU Helps Syrian Refugees In Armenia

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The European Union has allocated about $500,000 in economic assistance to ethnic Armenians from Syria who have taken refuge in Armenia after the outbreak of the bloody conflict in the Middle Eastern state.

About 13,000 Syrian Armenians live in their ancestral homeland at present. Most of them are struggling to survive in a country that has long suffered from high unemployment.

The EU assistance announced on Thursday is geared towards those refugees who would like to set up their own businesses. It will take the form of logistical and material support and counselling to be provided by the Armenian Red Cross Society (ARSC).

Dashnak Leader Defends Oppositionists’ Arrests

April 10, 2015 Armenia, Top News, Turkey No Comments
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A leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) on Friday effectively justified the arrests of six leading members of another, more radical opposition group that plans to stage sustained anti-government protests in Yerevan.

Armen Rustamian again condemned the Founding Parliament movement for scheduling the start of its campaign for April 24, the day when Armenia will mark the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey. He said the planned rallies could help Ankara deflect international attention from the centenary commemorations in Yerevan that will be attended by many foreign dignitaries.

“I have the impression that Zhirayr [Sefilian] and his comrades themselves wanted to be arrested,” Rustamian told a news conference. “It was always clear that all this [Founding Parliament activity] will lead to that and that linking any action with April 24 could meet with a corresponding response from corresponding bodies.”

Dutch House of Reps: Armenia and Turkey Must Reach Agreement on 1915

April 10, 2015 Armenia, Turkey No Comments
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15:26, April 10, 2015

The Dutch House of Representatives overwhelmingly adopted a decision yesterday underscoring the importance of Armenia and Turkey reaching an overall agreement regarding their history.

The decision states reciprocal understanding regarding the events of 1915 is essential for relations between the two countries to progress.

The decision concludes by hoping that events in the Netherlands and elsewhere commemorating the centennial of the Armenian Genocide will assist in establishing respect between the two communities and calls on the Turkish government to reenergize its efforts to find, along with the government of Armenia, possible points of conciliation and closer ties.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Arrested Oppositionists Formally Charged

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Armenian law-enforcement authorities on Thursday pressed criminal charges against the leaders of the Founding Parliament opposition movement arrested in advance of its planned anti-government protests in Yerevan.

The group’s top leader, Zhirayr Sefilian, and two other senior members — Varuzhan Avetisian and Garegin Chukaszian — were formally charged with “preparing mass disturbances” during the upcoming officials ceremonies to mark the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey. They will almost certainly be remanded in pre-trial custody.

Armenia’s Investigative Committee is due to level the same accusations against the three other Founding Parliament figures detained on Tuesday. One of them could also be charged with illegal arms possession.

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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.