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European Court Opens Hearings On Armenian Genocide Case

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Amal Clooney, a world-famous lawyer, urged the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) not to give the green light to public denial of the 1915 Armenian genocide on Wednesday as she represented Armenia in a high-profile case involving a controversial Turkish politician.

Clooney pointed to “overwhelming evidence” of the World War One-era slaughter of some 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Turks at the start of hearings in Strasbourg on an appeal lodged by Switzerland and backed by Armenia.

The case stems from a 2007 Swiss court ruling against Dogu Perincek, the leader of a small Turkish nationalist party who branded the Armenian genocide an “international life” during a lecture tour in Switzerland. Perincek was fined by the court in line with a Swiss anti-racism law that bans any act of denying, belittling or justifying genocide. The ruling was upheld by the Swiss Federal Court.

Russian Military Intervention ‘Unnecessary For Armenia’

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The Armenian army is strong enough to contain Azerbaijan and maintain the Nagorno-Karabakh status quo without Russia’s direct military intervention, Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian insisted on Tuesday.

Ohanian said that Armenia will therefore not appeal to the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) for assistance in the face of what it calls growing ceasefire violations by Azerbaijani forces. “The Armenian army has proved that it is a constantly improving and developing force and I don’t think that these outbreaks of tension could force us to appeal to the CSTO,” he told a news conference.

“We are now prepared for any action and, if need be, we can turn the Line of Contact [around Karabakh] and the adjacent enemy territory into a hotspot which [the enemy] wouldn’t make sense of,” he said, echoing threats voiced by President Serzh Sarkisian on Monday.

Turk Sentenced In Armenia’s Biggest Drug Trafficking Case

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In the largest drug trafficking case in Armenia’s history, a Turkish man arrested in Yerevan a year ago has been convicted of smuggling 850 kilograms of heroin into the country and sentenced to 19 years in prison.

A court in the southeastern Armenian town of Goris also gave this week a 17-year prison sentence to the Georgian driver of a heavy truck in which Armenian customs officers deployed on the Iranian border found the Class A drug.

Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) announced the separate arrests of the driver, Avtandil Martiashvili, and Turkish citizen Osman Ugurlu in January 2014. The NSS described Ugurlu, 41, as “one of the organizers” of the unprecedented drug trafficking operation. It said the drug was hidden in the truck’s “specially-fitted cache” installed in Turkey.

Armenian Prosecutor Questions Russian Arrest Of Gyumri Murder Suspect

January 22, 2015 Armenia, Top News, Turkey No Comments
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Russian border guards were obliged to hand over a Russian soldier suspected of slaughtering a family in Gyumri when they captured him on Armenia’s frontier with Turkey last week, Prosecutor-General Gevorg Kostanian said on Thursday.

Kostanian again defended Armenian law-enforcement authorities’ response to the shock killings as he was grilled by angry lawmakers during parliamentary hearings in Yerevan.

Opposition deputies present at the hearing faulted the authorities for the fact that the fugitive soldier, Valery Permyakov, ended up in Russian military custody after allegedly killing the seven members of the Avetisian family on January 12. Russia’s refusal to hand him over to Armenian investigators sparked angry street protests in Gyumri last week.

Putin Vows Justice In Armenian Family Massacre

January 18, 2015 Armenia, Top News, Turkey No Comments
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Signaling concerns over unprecedented anti-Russian protests in Gyumri, President Vladimir Putin reportedly assured his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian on Sunday that Moscow will help to punish those responsible for the killing of six members of a local Armenian family.

According to official Russian and Armenian sources, Putin telephoned Sarkisian to “once again express condolences to the relatives of the victims and the entire Armenian people” in connection with the slaughter allegedly perpetrated by a Russian soldier.

“The president of Russia expressed confidence that all necessary investigative actions will be taken within shortest time frames and that all the guilty will receive punishment envisaged by the law,” read a statement released by the Kremlin.

Translator of Şafak and Pamuk: “There definitely won’t be any miracles come this April 24”

January 17, 2015 Armenia, Culture, Diaspora, Turkey No Comments
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00:05, January 17, 2015

Hetq talks to Arpi Atabekyan, who translated Elif Şafak’s The Bastard of Istanbul and Orhan Pamuk’s My Name is Red from Turkish to Armenian.

The two Turkish writers, prosecuted for “insulting Turkishness” by raising the issue of the 1915 Armenian Genocide today mainly reside outside of Turkey for safety reasons.

Those Turkish writers who speak and write about the Armenian Genocide are subjected to harsh criticism within Turkey. In your opinion, does the actions of such intellectuals impact on Armenian-Turkish relations, and if so, to what degree?

I’d say that there isn’t much of an impact on politics, but that such actions influence society. Politics for me is a straight line. If a political party has adopted a line and has its own agenda, then the opinions of a writer won’t have much impact on politics.

Irish Photographer Probes “Lost Landscapes” of Armenian Diaspora Exiles

January 17, 2015 Armenia, Culture, Diaspora, Turkey No Comments
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11:37, January 16, 2015

“Armenian Family Stories and Lost Landscapes” is Irish documentary photographer Helen Sheehan’s second exhibition in Turkey.

“In my work, I constantly cover minorities which have become marginalized and thus do not warrant attention,” she told Hetq.

The exhibition displays photos taken in Diyarbakir (Digranagerd) that bridge the gap between the memories of Armenian descendants of that town and the people now living in those places.

In May of last year, Sheehan showed her photographic sound pieces inside the restored Armenian Church of St. Giragos in Diyarbakir.

The photographer’s interest in Armenia themes started when she was a teacher at the Mkhitarist Seminary school in Venice in the 1990s.

President Serzh Sargsyan responds to Turkish President’s invitation letter

January 17, 2015 Armenia, Turkey No Comments
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19:39, January 16, 2015

In response to Turkish President Recep Erdoğan’s invitation to take part in the events commemorating the centenary of the Battle of Gallipoli to be held on the 24th of April this year President Serzh Sargsyan has sent a letter that reads as follows:

“Honorable Mr. President,

I have received your invitation to participate in the commemoration ceremonies marking the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli.

Indeed, World War I is one of the terrific chapters of history of humanity, claiming millions of innocent lives and aborting destinies.

Turkish Media Crackdown Prompts EP Concerns

January 17, 2015 Armenia, Europe, Turkey No Comments
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00:10, January 17, 2015

Attacks on media freedom by the Turkish government are the subject of much concern within the European Parliament (EP), according to a document detailing members’ concerns over crackdowns on journalists, especially those covering corruption issues.

According to an EPpress releasedated Jan. 15, members from all EP political groups have condemned recent aggressive state actions aimed at suppressing journalists.

These actions include the recentarrestsof journalists covering the aftermath of a 2013 corruption probe which involved evidence against former ministers of the ruling AK Party. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had called the corruption probe anattempted coup, and issued agag orderto prevent its coverage.

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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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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.