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Armenian Minister In Hot Water After Diaspora Criticism

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Diaspora Minister Hranush Hakobian has come under fire from opposition figures and even some government loyalists after declaring that Armenian communities around the world have not done enough to ease socioeconomic hardship in Armenia.

Hakobian made the controversial statement on Monday in response to renewed criticism of the Armenian government voiced by Serj Tankian, the outspoken lead singer of the U.S.-Armenian rock band System Of A Down (SOAD).

Tankian addressed tens of thousands of Armenians on Thursday as the SOAD gave a first-ever concert in Yerevan dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey. The open-air show was broadcast live by Armenian television.

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.”

Syrian Armenians ‘Desperate To Flee Aleppo’

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Ethnic Armenians remaining in Aleppo are increasingly desperate to leave Syria’s largest city ravaged by continuing fighting between Syrian government troops and rebels, according to some former members of their community now based in Armenia.

Hrayr Akvilian, a Syrian Armenian who took refuge in Yerevan three years ago, said on Monday that he and his friends are now exploring possibilities of evacuating them to Armenia without the assistance of the Armenian government and the leadership of the Aleppo community. He said they could specifically seek to raise funds needed to finance expensive journeys out of Syria.

Israel President Marks ‘Armenian Tragedy’

April 27, 2015 Armenia, Top News, Turkey No Comments
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Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin met with Armenian community leaders in Jerusalem on Sunday in a first-ever commemoration by an Israeli head of state of some 1.5 million Armenians massacred by the Ottoman Turks a century ago.

In a statement on the meeting, Rivlin’s office carefully avoided the word “genocide” in reference to the 1915 mass killings and deportations of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey. It said the meeting with the Jerusalem-based Armenian Patriarch Nourhan Manougian and other prominent members of the Armenian community in Israel marked “100 years since the Armenian tragedy.”

“The Armenian people were the first victims of modern mass killing,” Rivlin was quoted as telling them. “We do not seek to put the blame on any specific country, but rather identify with the victims and the horrible results of the massacre.”

“#TurkeyFailed because I live in Armenia, and so should you”

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15:01, April 27, 2015

By Raffi Elliott

As the world’s Armenian community gears up to commemorate the centennial of the Armenian Genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Turks, the hashtag #TurkeyFailed has been trending across Armenian social networks.

The phrase, usually followed by accounts of multi-generational survival uploaded onto the web by Armenians, is meant to empower the descendants of these genocide survivors.

As photos of survivors, and their progeny are shared and commented on, we are reminded that though 1.5 million of our grandparents were dehumanized, robbed of their birthrights, their possessions, marched into deserts and brutally massacred, yet the five hundred thousand or so who survived managed to, as William Saroyan so eloquently put it “laugh, sing and pray again”; building “a new Armenia” in the four corners of the globe.

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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Taner Akçam at New York’s Genocide Commemoration: “Without truth, there cannot be peace”

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13:02, April 27, 2015

Following is the statement made by Taner Akçam at the Armenian Genocide Centennial Commemoration in New York’s Time Square on April 26. 

On this, a day laden with great urgency and historical meaning, I would like to thank you for allowing me to appear with you and to share your grief and sorrow. 

Today does not merely mark the centennial of the annihilation of some 1.5 million Armenians; it also marks a century of denial of this crime. The Turkish government continues to deny not merely any responsibility for the horrors inflicted upon Armenian people, but even the fact that it happened at all. As a Turk, it is from this fact that my sorrow and great shame derive.

Thousands March in Istanbul – We Are Here, We Remember!

April 25, 2015 Armenia, Diaspora, Turkey No Comments
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09:09, April 25, 2015

On the evening of April 24 a crowd of several thousand gathered in the heart of Istanbul to commemorate the centenary of the 1915 Armenian Genocide.

Turkish police cordoned off an area adjacent to Taksim Square where a solemn vigil was held to remember and reflect on the destruction that befell Ottoman Armenians and to call on the current Turkish state to come to grips with its past.

Carrying photos of Armenian community leaders, who were the first to be rounded up and sent to their death, the crowd then sat in silence on Istiklal Avenue in a moment of silent vigil.

Atom Egoyan: 100 years ago today, the Armenian nightmare began

April 25, 2015 Armenia, Culture, Film, Turkey No Comments
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16:05, April 24, 2015

The following is adapted from a speech delivered outside the Ontario legislature in Toronto, marking the centenary of the start of the Armenian Genocide on April 24, 1915.

One hundred years ago, my grandparents could never have imagined the calamity that would befall them. They watched in horror as their lives were ripped away, as their families were murdered before their eyes.

The next hundred years would see an unfurling of atrocities the likes of which humankind had never before experienced — state-orchestrated murder on a scale unimaginable before the toxic combination of modern science, sophisticated weaponry, and twisted ideology. We can now understand that the Armenian Genocide should have been a warning call.

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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.