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Kardashian for Kessab: Armenian-American socialite tweets appeal for embattled Syrian town

March 31, 2014 Armenia, Turkey No Comments

Top American socialite and television star Kim Kardashian has joined tens of thousands of fellow Armenians in cyber space in condemning the recent attacks by Islamic militants on the town of Kessab in northwestern Syria, at the border with Turkey.

The onslaught by al-Qaeda-affiliated armed bands penetrating from Turkish territory resulted in the seizure of the mostly Armenian-populated community, driving hundreds of local families from the area and calling into doubt continued Armenian presence there.

“Please let’s not let history repeat itself!!!!!! Let’s get this trending!!!!” wrote Kardashian on Sunday.

The celebrity with more than 20 million followers on Twitter continued: “If you don’t know what’s going on in Kessab please google it, its heart breaking! As an Armenian, I grew up hearing so many painful stories!… Praying for everyone.”

U.S., Russia Voice Concern Over Embattled Armenian Town In Syria

March 29, 2014 Armenia, Top News, Turkey No Comments

Amid their continuing row over the situation in Ukraine, both the United States and Russia have issued statements expressing concern over the fate of an Armenian-populated town in Syria that has been under attacks by Islamic militants in recent days.
During a daily briefing in Washington on Friday U.S. Department of State deputy spokesperson Marie Harf said the United States is “deeply troubled by recent fighting and violence that is endangering the Armenian community in Kessab, Syria, and has forced many to flee.”
More than 600 ethnic Armenian families had to flee their homes in the town situated in the northwest of Syria after armed bands reportedly affiliated with al-Qaeda penetrated from nearby Turkish territory and seized the place after clashes with Syrian government troops. The Armenians took refuge in Latakia, some 60 kilometers to the south of their community.
“There are far too many innocent civilians suffering as a result of the war. All civilians, as well as their places of worship, must be protected. As we have said throughout this conflict, we deplore continued threats against Christians and other minorities in Syria,” she said. “And as you may have seen from the readout of President Obama’s conversation with Pope Francis yesterday, they discussed among other things the plight of minorities, especially Christians, inside Syria today.”
The U.S. Department of State representative also referred to some statements issued by groups fighting in Kessab saying that they will not target civilians and will respect minorities and holy places. “We expect those commitments to be upheld. The United States will continue its steadfast support to those affected by violence in Syria and throughout the region, including Syrian Armenians. We have long had concerns about the threat posed by violent extremists, and this latest threat to the Armenian community in Syria only underscores this further,” Harf said.
This statement by the U.S. official was followed by a remarkable exchange with a reporter attending the daily briefing.
One question said: “According to reports in Turkey, the Foreign Minister Mr. Davutoglu planned a provocative act inside Syria so Turkey has the excuse to invade Syria. Do you want to comment on this?” After clarifying whether the question referred to an alleged phone conversation and getting an affirmative answer, the deputy spokesperson replied: “As I said yesterday, I don’t have anything for you on alleged calls or conversations that are out there among Turkish officials.”
“But Mr. Davutoglu…said that the tape is genuine.” To this statement Harf replied: “Again, not for me to comment on those allegations that are out there.”
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia also disseminated a statement on Friday expressing concern over the attacks against the Armenian-populated town of Kessab conducted with the support of artillery and heavy materiel. It strongly condemned the acts of terrorism and other crimes against civilians, clearly stating that tank guns were applied from the territory of Turkey.
“The seizure by extremists of the town of Kessab elicited a broad response in Armenian communities throughout the world. A demonstration took place in front of the UN office in Yerevan with the demand for the persecution against ethno-confessional minorities by illegal armed units to be put an end to in Syria. Simultaneously, the leadership of the Republic of Armenia expressed its gratitude to the Syrian government for the defense of the Armenian population,” the statement of the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
“The impression is that more vigorous activities by extremists are aimed at preventing the resumption of intra-Syrian negotiations, depriving the Syrians of the possibility of a political and diplomatic settlement, thwarting the process of Syria’s chemical demilitarization. Such a scenario is inadmissible,” it added.
Earlier this week a delegation of Armenian-American organizations, including the Armenian National Committee of America, and religious representatives held meetings at the U.S. Department of State, urging the U.S. government to take immediate action “to end the vicious onslaught on the historically Armenian town of Kessab.”
The delegation said “the United States has a unique responsibility to protect the citizens of Kessab especially since a large proportion of them have American families desperately seeking to provide protection and refuge for them.” It submitted a series of requests for prompt U.S. action.

A number of pro-Armenian senators and congressmen also sent letters with similar contents to the U.S. Department of State and President Obama.

Syrian presidents receives Armenian lawmakers, Kesab situation discussed

March 28, 2014 Armenia, Turkey No Comments

A six-member Armenian parliamentary delegation visiting Syria on a fact-finding mission concerning the situation of ethnic Armenian evacuees from Kesab, a small Armenian community on the border with Turkey, were received by the country’s President Bashar al-Assad on Thursday.

The delegation headed by MP Samvel Farmanyan conveyed to the Syrian leader a message from President Serzh Sargsyan in which he expressed condemnation of the terrorist groups fighting in Kesab with the backing of Turkey.

The Armenian president also thanked the Syrian state for the efforts it is making to protect all of its citizens.
President al-Assad reportedly voiced his appreciation of President Sargsyan’s position. He said that terrorism posed a threat of fragmenting a region that has been historically characterized by cultural and social diversity.

Khanty-Mansiysk chess tournament: Levon Aronian and Vladimir Kramnik draw

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FM: Yerevan taking necessary steps to help Kesab Armenians

March 27, 2014 Armenia, Turkey No Comments

Armenian envoys are taking necessary measures to address the situation of Armenians from Kesab in Syria, Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said in parliament on Wednesday.

Armenian envoys are taking necessary measures to address the situation of Armenians from Kesab in Syria, Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said in parliament on Wednesday.

During a question-and-answer session, he reminded that President Serzh Sargsyan had instructed relevant government bodies to do their best to render assistance to the Armenian population of Kesab, a town in the northwest of Syria that was recently attacked by Islamic militants penetrating from the territory of Turkey.

Little Armenia, New York

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15:26, March 27, 2014

By Bhavna Patel

Near Manhattan’s Murray Hill lies a go-to spot for Hindi movie rental shops, paan vendors and grocery stores catering to the South Asian community. There, the aroma of Indian spices waft through doors and on to the streets of Lexington Avenue, near East 28th Street, a neighborhood informally termed “Curry Hill.”

By 2000, Indians became the third-largest population of foreign-born residents in America, many of whom settled near Murray Hill, a district which lies between East 34th Street and 42nd Street, through Madison Avenue and East River. The area is named after the mercantile Murray family who, in the mid-1700s, migrated to New York from North Carolina and briefly, Pennsylvania. Since then, the area has experienced many cultural transitions.

The Anti-Defamation League’s Deceit Helps Sink a Judgeship

March 27, 2014 Armenia, Europe, Turkey No Comments
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16:10, March 27, 2014

By David Boyajian

After two fair and lengthy hearings, the eight elected members of the Massachusetts Governor’s Council, in a 4-4 tie vote on March 5, refused to confirm attorney Joseph Berman to be a Superior Court judge.  It was a defeat for Governor Deval Patrick, who had nominated Mr. Berman.  But the Council took its responsibilities seriously and rendered a well-considered judgment.

Councilors voiced many concerns about the nominee.  Foremost was a lack of truthfulness.

Berman, under oath, was asked three times whether he had requested anyone to lobby the Council to advance his nomination.  Each time, he replied no.

Yerevan Protest Calls on U.N. to Censure Turkey on Kesab

March 26, 2014 Armenia, Turkey No Comments
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15:19, March 26, 2014

A small number of demonstrators gathered outside the UN Office in Yerevan and demanded that the international organization to censure Turkey for its role in the recent assault of Syrian rebel forces on the Armenian populated community of Kesab.

The protesters argue that Turkey, by militarily assisting the rebels, is complicit in the forced eviction of the populace and the consequent plunder of Armenian property in the Kesab region.

Photos by Hakob Poghosyan

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Fierce fighting raging in Syria’s Latakia governorate, near Turkish border

March 26, 2014 Armenia, Diaspora, Turkey No Comments
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Fierce battles raged March 26 in Syria’s coastal Latakia province near the Turkish border, days after rebels seized a frontier crossing, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.On March 25, the rebels captured a hill known as Observatory 45, which strategically overlooks opposition-held areas of Latakia, the historic heartland of President Bashar al-Assad’s clan and his Alawite sect of Shiite Islam.The latest fighting raged around Kassab, home to the border crossing seized at the weekend, as well as Observatory 45 and Samra, also captured by rebels this week.According to Omar al-Jeblawi, an activist on the ground, the army was retaliating with heavy shelling including air strikes near the Turkish border.”There is heavy shelling on Kassab, using tanks and planes,” Jeblawi told AFP by phone. On March 23, Turkey downed a Syrian jet which Ankara said had violated its airspace. Damascus described the downing as “a flagrant act of aggression”.The Observatory and opposition sources said the army has deployed a large number of fighters to battle the rebels, including pro-regime National Defense Force militiamen.A rebel fighting the army said the clashes in flashpoint areas of Latakia were fierce. “There are thousands of (opposition) fighters ready to strike back against the army,” said the rebel, who identified himself only as Samer.Nearly half of Syria’s population has been displaced by the three-year war and more than 146,000 people have been killed.

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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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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.

Armenian Foreign Policies 2013: Customs Union, U-turn on EU accord, Karabakh, Turkey, regional developments


2013 became a milestone year for Armenia not only in its foreign, but also domestic politics. After nearly four years of negotiations with the European Union over the signing of an association agreement on September 3 Armenia unexpectedly announced its intention to join the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

This decision has had its influence not only on Armenia proper, but also on the processes elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Inspired by Armenia’s decision, Russia stepped up its pressure on Ukraine, which suspended the process of signing of the Association Agreement with the EU one week before the Vilnius summit of Eastern Partnership. As a result, on November 29 such agreements were initialed only by Moldova and Georgia.

Heritage reshuffle: Postanjyan becomes new leader of parliamentary faction


Zaruhi Postanjyan has been elected new head of the opposition Heritage faction in parliament. The change comes after Ruben Hakobyan announced his decision to resign as faction leader earlier today.

Talking to media in parliament Hakobyan said Heritage Party leader Raffi Hovannisian had been notified about his move well in advance. He left questions about reasons for his step without commentary, only saying that he had decided to step down as faction leader before the recent scandal around Postanjyan in the wake of her controversial question to President Serzh Sargsyan about his gambling habit at the PACE plenary session in Strasbourg on October 2.