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US State Department Condemns Azerbaijan for Sentencing Human Rights Lawyer

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16:44, April 26, 2015

The US State Department has put out a statement condemning the imprisonment of human rights lawyer Intigam Aliyev and calling for his release and all others jailed for “exercising their fundamental freedoms”.

Earlier this week a Baku court sentenced Intigam Aliyev,  no relation to President Ilham Aliyev, to 7 1/2 years in prison on charges of illegal entrepreneurship, tax evasion and abuse of power. In his final testimony, Aliyev called the charges “politically motivated” due to the nature of his work.

Aliyev is a well-known human rights lawyer and government critic who has brought hundreds of cases before the European Court of Human Rights.  Upon his arrest last August, Aliyev commented: “Those who defend human rights and political prisoners and report on election fraud are considered criminals in this country. [So] I am one of those criminals.”

PEN to Give Press Freedom Award to Jailed Journalist Khadija Ismayilova

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18:34, April 16, 2015

The investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova, who was jailed in Azerbaijan in December, will be awarded the PEN American Center’s prestigious Freedom to Write Award.

The accolade, created in 1987, is given annually to writers who have been persecuted or imprisoned for their work. 39 of the writers who have been honored were imprisoned at the time, and 35 of them have since been released.

Ismayilova’s award-winning investigative work for OCCRP and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) exposed the business connections of Azerbaijan’s president Ilham Aliyev and his family, and alleged corruption in his inner circle.

European Olympic Committee Urged to Press Azerbaijan’s Crackdown on Opposition

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22:14, April 7, 2015

A coalition of human rights groups and sports organizations has claimed that human rights abuses will overshadow the European Games to be hosted by Azerbaijan in June.

In a letter sent to Patrick Hickey, the President of the European Olympic Committees, the group pressed the Committees to speak out against the Azerbaijani government’s hostile actions towards critics and the lack of press freedom in the country.

The letter says that respect for human rights by host countries is a key principle enshrined in the Olympic Charter, which the European Games is meant to uphold.

The Sports and Rights Alliance, a newly formed group responsible for the letter, includes Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Transparency International Germany, and several prominent sports organizations.

5,000 Athletes from Abroad Expected to Participate in 6th Pan-Armenian Games

March 25, 2015 Armenia, Sports No Comments
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14:10, March 25, 2015

The Armenian government today held a meeting regarding this summer’s 6th annual Pan-Armenian Games to be held in the country from August 2-13.

Pan-Armenian Games Committee President Ishkhan Zakaryan (photo right) told government officials that the games would be opened at the Hrazdan Stadium and closed with a gala concert at Liberty Square in Yerevan.

The games, which will encompass 17 types of sports, will be held in Yerevan, Gyumri, Vanadzor, Stepanakert, Ashtarak, Etchmiadzin and Abovyan.

So far, some 2,691 athletes from abroad have registered to participate in the games but the final figure is expected to reach 5,000.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Javakhk ‘Deserters’ Call on the Youth to Return and Enrich the Region

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09:01, March 16, 2015

Students enrolled in Armenian private schools in Los Angeles have been dropping 20cents every day into little collection boxes.

The coins, collected on a weekly basis, are then sent to a Javakhk assistance committee launched by the Armenian Relief Society. The student donations are finally forwarded to Javakhk.

Ashot Melkonyan, Director of the Institute of History of the Armenian Academy of Sciences, recently visited Los Angeles and spoke to students and faculty at twelve Los Angeles Armenian schools. He saw what was taking place regarding Javakhk.

Melkonyan was overjoyed to hear that 6th-12th grade students were learning about Javakhk and especially about those villages that, over the ages, have produced prominent Armenian thinkers and activists.  

International Figures Unite to Announce New Humanitarian Prize as part of 100 LIVES Initiative

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10:54, March 11, 2015

George Clooney and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel to Co-Chair Global Human Rights Award

An interview with George Clooney is available for download here

NEW YORK, March 10, 2015– The 100 LIVES initiative is launching today expressing gratitude to the individuals and institutions whose heroic actions saved Armenian lives during the Genocide 100 years ago.

The purpose of the 100 LIVES initiative is to address the issues of genocide, human rights violations and the power of positive action through three key elements:

Learning from the past by issuing a global call to unearth the untold stories of survivors and saviors from the Armenian Genocide that will be brought to life on 100LIVES.com;

Political Farewell: Tsarukyan Steps Down as Prosperous Armenia Party President

March 5, 2015 Armenia, Culture, Sports No Comments
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16:06, March 5, 2015

At a special summit of the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) held today in Yerevan, Gagik Tsarukyan said he pulling out of politics and now longer has anything to do with the party.

Tsarukyan founded the BHK, the second largest in Armenia’s parliament, in 2004 and served as president ever since.

In his speech at the part conclave, Tsarukyan said he never traded the faith of the people for personal gain or position.

“All these years I have followed one simple and human aim, to see smiles and not tears on the faces of my people,” Tsarukyan said, adding that while he would be stepping down as BHK president and quitting active politics he would continue to assist Armenia and its people.

Bayandour: Village of Budding Champions

March 4, 2015 Armenia, Sports No Comments
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22:13, March 2, 2015

The sound of children playing football on the barren field breaks the silence enveloping the village of Bayandour in Armenia’s Shirak Province.

Upon seeing visitors from the city, the kids immediately proposed that we watch from the sidelines or join the game.

When asked if they play other games beside football, Tigran and Artoush hastened to tell us about their sports victories. The two are brothers and go to Gyumri for wrestling competitions. They’ve had wins and losses and now dream of participating in national competitions.

There was no need to talk to their parents about life in the village. The boys spoke eloquently about the problems they face and the village’s socio-economic situation. To register success in sports, the boys not only need a high level of determination but also financial resources.

“The Seat Is Sweet”: What’s Holding Up Elections for a New Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople?

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10:55, March 2, 2015

The Armenian community of Istanbul believes there is only one reason why elections to appoint a new Patriarch Of Constantinople haven’t been held—Archbishop Aram Ateşyan, the acting Patriarch, does not want them to be.

“There are a thousand other little reasons why but the biggest reason is that Archbishop Aram does not want elections to be held,” businessman Dikran Altun, a member of the Armenian community of Istanbul, told Hetq. “At one time he wanted them to be held, thinking that he would get elected. But then he realized that he wouldn’t be elected, which is why he is resistant.”

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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.