Thursday, February 26, 2009

Message from Pashinyan, February 25

from February 25, 2009
My Dear People,

The year of March 1, 2008 is coming to an end.

Today, first and foremost, with our minds and our souls, we are with the families whose beloved sons, brothers or husbands became victims of March 1. Today, we ask of God that the souls of at least 10 victims rest in peace.

But March 1 is not a day of mourning. March 1 is the first day of spring of citizenship. On that day, the citizen of Armenia declared his/her decision to be the master of his/her own country, his/her decision to live a dignified and lawful life and proved that his/her can protect his/her rights with his/her own hands. This is a pivotal moment in the history of the Third Republic, when the people of Armenia loudly proclaimed that if the state does not serve the security and well-being of its own people, the Constitution and the Law of the land, the citizen will force the state to do so. This is the resolution that now complements our civic consciousness, regardless of who stands at the helm of the state at a given moment.

This is the only resolution that can ensure the evolution of Armenia’s statehood, its growth and continuation. We should be guided by these principles.

It goes without saying that we feel guilty about the deaths of at least 10 victims, but that feeling of guilt should propel us to action, to a more consequential and willful struggle. We should do everything for the creation of an Armenia where the hooliganism and permissiveness, the abuse, impudence and illegality of the authorities, and attempts to confiscate the will of the people will be nipped in the bud. We should create an Armenia that doesn’t crave the blood of its own children. The guarantor of such an Armenia can only be the people, the citizen who understands that he is the supreme authority and master in his own country and can realize that authority.

We have said “No” to the hooliganism of oligarchs and the permissiveness of the authorities; we have said “No” to public apathy and fear. We owe it to our children to bequeath them a dignified life and reality.

We are loyal to that which we owe our children and nothing can stop us in our path. Nothing can stop us. We will struggle till the end and are whole-heartedly committed to that struggle.
And therefore,

Long live the Republic of Armenia,
Long live Freedom,
Long live our children who will live in a Free and Happy Armeni

In sum, I want to call on all the citizens of Armenia to actively and resolutely participate in the public meeting of March 1 called by the Armenian National Congress.

Our struggle cannot be stopped. Our struggle is inevitable. Struggle, Struggle to the end.

Nikol Pashinyan
February 25, 2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Is that an about-face, or what?

Now, I haven't seen anything on the ANC website, or in the news, about this whole CREW thing. And maybe its not related. Maybe its just more and more internal strife trying to work itself out.  But RFE/RL had a radio interview yesterday with Manoyan, and now the story in English.  Manoyan's tone seems to have changed, at least that's my feeling.  Where's the urgency? The criticism and refusal to engage in discussion with Turkey?  The quotes below don't do the interview justice, but here they are: 
“Opening the border and establishing diplomatic relations alone would not prevent the genocide’s recognition because Armenia is not committing itself to renouncing the process of genocide recognition,” Giro Manoyan ...told journalists. 
“Other calculations may lead the U.S. government to say that let’s solve this issue not this year but next year,” said Manoyan. “[Obama] did not pledge to do that on next April 24. He pledged to do that during his presidency.” 

Monday, February 23, 2009

Genocide and Ethics, Past and Present: ANCA, ARF and CREW

On February 18, a Washington D.C. based organization called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) announced that it was filing a complaint against the ANCA-WR and the ANCA Endowment Fund with the Department of Justice (DoJ), the IRS, the Clerk of the House and the Secretary of the Senate, for violating their status as charitable organizations, the Foreign Agents Registration Act and the Lobbying Disclosure Act.
The letter to the authorities points out the following. The ANCA is registered as a tax exempt organization, and as such, cannot participate in political campaigns. The ANCA and the ARF are, in fact, tightly associated, and as they are a foreign political party, their agents need to register with the DoJ, which they have not. And, as a lobbying group, they have not registered, as required, with the Clerk of the House or the Secretary of the Senate. All of this is supported by direct quotes from publications of the ARF and the ANCA, and as you can imagine, many of the higher ups in these groups. You can see the full news release, the letter to the authorities, and some of the "exhibits" at CREW's website.

It would take quite a bit to convince me that this is a coincidence. That as pressure mounts on SS, from a plethora of internal and external issues in Armenia and NKR, and as talks between Turkey and Armenia accelerate, suddenly an organization like CREW, which has never before addressed an issue that wasn't completely US based (at least from my perusal of their 19-page list of press releases since 2003), suddenly takes an interest in the ARF and ANCA.

Now, I am no fan of these organizations. But this looks like it's politically motivated, especially since the Genocide recognition bill has been activated. And whom does it benefit? Well, obviously anyone who is against Genocide recognition. That includes many Turkish political organizations. Who else?

I wonder if having the bill pass would distract the Diaspora enough that SS could then latch onto it, take advantage of the jubilation that would result and try to muster more support for himself from the Diaspora.

Or, is the potential recognition of the Genocide severely disrupting his plans, whatever they may be, whether they involve Turkey directly or indirectly. Might he and his cronies derive some benefit from this type of intervention?

I don't know who is behind this, and I'm sure there's a lot more to it than what I've outlined above. For CREW, which purports to be about ethics, it sure seems ironic that they are using their principles to fight a group trying to promote recognition of a Genocide. There are endless numbers of other national and international issues they could have picked, why this one?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Aram and Anna, Part 6

Anna: As soon as he is finished saying that… There were some, many went, we could hear, people were

taking off scaffolding to use for self defense.


Aram: The announcement was, anything we have access to, any self defense we can think of, there were benches in the park, it was very specific,… we can break it up and use it for self defense, and young people proceeded to do that. Until then you couldn’t see one metal stick.


Anna: it was after that that the 55.5 thing happened.


Aram: So people, young people were gathering, walking among the crowds, with metal sticks, all kinds. Construction metal, ... the word was we are not moving from this area, that’s it, we’re not.

keep reading here

Friday, February 20, 2009

Going Once, going twice.... Bjni goes to Nemets Rubo...

It is confirmed that Ruben Hayrapetyan, aka "Nemets Rubo", bought Bjni. He defends this action, saying he saved the factory from shutting down, that he is helping prevent job loss, and that he is legally buying something the government put up for auction. And he is not going to fire anyone for any differences of political opinion. He also states he wasn't forced into buying Bjni, nor is he on the outs with "Dodi Gago" - who had recommended that buyers stay away from the auction of Bjni - as apparently there are rumors to that effect. I'm not so sure what to make of all of that, especially the justification he uses that Sukiasyan initially acquired the plant in an "immoral" way, so the Sukiasyan family has no room to object. 

But, this may be the best part (lragir):

As to the money needed for buying the Bjni factory, Ruben Hayrapetyan is amazed that one can think he did not have enough money to buy Bjni. Ruben Hayrapetyan wonders how he can work for so many years and not have money.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Residents of Gyumri Make their Voices Heard

Aired on RFL Radio Liberty on February 11, 2008 at 15:30 (segment starting at 9 minutes and 10 seconds into the broadcast)
Re: Inhabitants of Gyumri react to the anticipated rise of gas prices on April 1.


First Woman: Bread is expensive! Food supplies are expensive! Gas is expensive!…
until when? Until when? It’s just not possible!...and there are no jobs!...except for a few teachers and doctors and those working in city hall, people are unemployed…
this will end up in a social uproar and the people will not stay calm like this!
People will get organized and revolt. They won’t just stand by and let them do as they please.

Reporter: You mean they won’t be patient….?

First Woman:…the cup of patience will run over and people will resort to revolution…

Second Woman: They’re killing the people…what else can you do when your children are hungry and starving…

Third Woman: There are no jobs. Show me a job, and I’ll work. If they know there are no jobs, they know that people can’t pay, why do they raise prices? People can’t buy bread…how can they raise the prices? …People will rise and say we just can’t pay…This is no place to live because there’s no leadership.

First Man: The social situation is getting more complicated; it’s terrible, especially for people in the third tier. And 70% of us are in that category…

Fourth woman: It’s been said that whatever people say, it always happens. So we expect anything to happen.

Reporter: Do you think this will bring social unrest?

Fourth woman: It could; it could. The government is after the poor people, they’re after people who can barely earn their daily bread…they’re after them…

Second Man:…this government used to criticize the ‘dark and cold’ years, that there was no electricity, no gas… But the people lived comfortably…we used gas and electricity for free. And now, this government has put the people in a vice and keeps squeezing them. I don’t know what will happen. Armenia will be empty soon… We now see everything clearly. People have no way of making a living… They (the government) go to the European Council and tell them everything is good here. Sure, it’s very good!!...
They won’t help people to progress… They are the servants of the people who elected them and not the people servants to them.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

SS, Dodi Gago, and experiments in burning holes by staring...

Barkavach Hayastan had their yearly gathering - its on youtube, and worth taking a look at - 
A couple of observations - 
Dodi Gago looks as though he is performing experiments in burning holes into the back of SS's head...
SS is speaking very slowly, very deliberately, very carefully. Now, I get nervous myself with speaking to lage crowds. But, if I generally agree with what I'm saying, and don't think that minor variations from a pre-scripted speech may result in serious consequences, I don't speak THIS slowly... 
That's in stark contrast to Dodi Gago, who, once he starts talking, goes a mile a minute and doesn't lift his eyes from the paper....

And a question:
Does it really fit protocol that the President of the Republic of Armenia walks in together with Dodi Gago?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Post- PACE interview with Grigoryan

Late last week, after the PACE debacle, I was searching for an explanation as to what really happened at the PACE meeting. Arman Grigoryan (one of the two, along with Levon Zourabyan who had represented the Opposition at PACE) gave an interview to, which gives at least some explanation. Below are the first two questions, and the last question, translated. I especially liked the last paragraph.
[photo is from a1plus]
Thursday 5 February 2009. Interview with Arman Grigoryan.
“Serge Sargsyan hopes to do that which Robert Kocharyan succeeded in doing for ten years,” thinks Arman Grigoryan

Q: Mr. Grigoryan, you were recently in Strasbourg to represent the Armenian National Congress at the winter session of PACE. What were the results of your meetings with European officials? What were your impressions? What was the general mood among the Europeans after you presented your documents?
A: It’s still too early to speak about concrete results, but that after meeting with us European officials are a little better informed about the situation in Armenia then they were before, is undeniable. In the beginning, Mr. Zurabyan and I were a little surprised at how little PACE delegates and certain officials knew about the situation in Armenia, but it soon became clear to us why that shouldn’t surprise us.
We should consider a few factors. First, that PACE is not a body that works continuously. The delegates of that organization gather in Strasburg a few times a year for sessions that last less than a week. They deliberate on many issues at each session, and due to the lack of time they have a very superficial image of most of the issues. And because they physically are not able to discuss all of the issues in depth during those sessions, they are forced to rely on the information provided to them by the co-rapporteurs. For that very reason the institution of the co-rapportuers can’t be overestimated at PACE. This is especially true in cases when the issue is not at the center of the international media; and Armenia is one of those cases.
Second, we tend to see PACE as a non-political organization whose principal mission is the defense of certain legal norms and principals. Unfortunately, that is not so. In reality, political considerations influence the decisions of PACE. There has been much talk on this, so it’s not necessary to discuss it further.
Third, like many other organizations, PACE is limited by certain regulations and can function only within the limits of those regulations. I emphasize this especially for one reason: it is considerably difficult for PACE to have relations with extra-parliamentary opposition groups, regardless of how the degree of popularity that opposition enjoys in its country. This places us before serious obstacles. I should mention, though, that those obstacles have been overcome at least to some extent, and from here on we should put more effort in that direction. Especially now that we better understand the ‘kitchen’ of that organization. The disposition of European officials will depend at least in some part on the intensity and quality of that effort.

Q: Mr. Grigoryan, in fact the Armenian authorities got a carte-blanche with resolution 1643. In your opinion what factors influenced that decision?
A: I don’t agree that the Armenian authorities got a carte-blanche. Of course it is deeply worrisome, especially the fact that in this resolution the term ‘political prisoners’ is absent. It is also worrisome that the resolution was based at least in part, on that ridiculous decree whereby a large number of political prisoners were supposedly freed. The co-rapporteurs had either lost their way or that for whatever reason they didn’t find it expedient to seriously look into it. At any rate, the new resolution has clear demands and a mechanism to be stricter with the authorities of Armenia in the event that no palpable and positive changes are implemented by April. In particular, we received certain assurances that the authorities in Armenia will have serious problems if they don’t reconsider criminal codes 225 and 300. They also assured us that the co-rapporteurs, besides promises, also received guarantees that those changes will take place. Our initial reactions, including mine, were much more negative because we were all comparing it to the December 17 document accepted by the Monitoring committee. But it seems to me that we had misunderstood the essence of that document. The basic purpose of that document was to get the authorities in Armenia to come to their senses, rather then the implementation of every threat in the document. At PACE, in general, they are very negatively inclined toward applying sanctions because Armenia is really not the only country where the authorities have earned sanctions. For that very reason, PACE tends to avoid applying sanctions to any country so that it won’t have to do the same to other “worthy” delegations.


Q: What do you think about the policies of the administration of the newly elected president of the United States, President Obama? What policies will the United States pursue in its relations with Armenia?
A: The policies of the United States will not undergo serious changes, either in the southern Caucasus or in general. The policies of the United States never undergoes radical changes as a result of a change in the administration. More, in the basic principles of foreign affairs there is no difference between the upper levels of the Republican and Democratic parties. The differences are basically of a rhetorical or at best, tactical nature. With regard to US policy towards Armenia, under Obama, as before him, that policy will basically be ancillary to the evolution of the dynamics of its rivalry with Russia in the Caucasus. If that rivalry deepens and gets sharper, nothing good awaits us.
I am also worried about future developments in the US-Iranian relations. Omaba is making certain careful attempts to ease the tension with Iran. But to reach real results in this area, he must be able to overcome extremely intense resistance from certain internal interest groups, which will not be easy at all. From the point of view of Armenia’s interests, I don’t expect anything good. Nor do I expect anything good in the event these relations deteriorate, which I don’t exclude.
Of course, the dangerous aspects of US policy towards Armenia could have been eased considerably, if the Armenian American organizations had made it a priority. Sadly, those organizations are much more interested in, let’s say, whether the senate in New Hampshire will accept the resolution on Genocide recognition than Armenia’s security and strategic interests.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Armenia, Turkey, Azerbaijan...

[update below] Thanks to the most recent post on Aramazd's blog, I saw the Hurriyet article today on Turkey's involvement in negotiations - which led me to discover the flurry of articles published just today on this issue. There must be some serious "misunderstandings" given the spike in the number of articles, all reporting different news about the negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and Turkey's role in them. This seems to be part of the smokescreen that has been around since SS came to power. Some-one, or -ones, are lying through their teeth, and have been for a while. Here are some titles, most self explanatory - more to come later.

Azerbaijan-Armenia agree on Turkey-led Nagorno-Karabakh plan Hurriyet
Sarkisian claims Armenia `not afraid of war" Azernews online
OSCE rep cites `good possibility` for Garabagh settlement in 2009 Azernews online
Armenian expert: "If hostilities resume in the Karabakh conflict area, threatening Armenia, it may use collective forces"
Armenian Foreign Ministry: Turkey does not act as a mediator in Nagorno Karabakh conflict settlement Regnum English

And just in case the complexities of the present situation within Armenia, and the ties between Armenia-NK, Azerbaijan-Armenia, Turkey-Armenia, Azerbaijan-Turkey weren't enough, in the present day, it seems the Genocide is involved in this, too...from Hurriyet Feb 10

Babacan said talks with Armenia included the events of 1915, asking for support to the dialogue between Turkey and Armenia.

Oh, and BBC online reported this, sound familiar? He was shot in the head:Azerbaijan air force head killed

[photo from the web:]

UPDATE: Thanks to Ani for the update... Hurriyet has added some paragraphs that counter some of what the Turkish articles have said so far, which is interesting on its own - see the first comment (by Ani) for those NEW paragraphs

Monday, February 9, 2009

Ashot Manukyan's case to go to Appellate Court on Wednesday

Ashot Manukyan, one of the political prisoners who was sentenced to five years imprisonment for organizing an “illegal” demonstration and allegedly throwing a rock at a policeman’s foot, will have his case heard this Wednesday in Appellate court.
He was offered a way out – in exchange for waiving his Appeal, he would receive a suspended sentence, and then parole. He declined, stating he had committed no crime, and would follow the law.
I hope the best for this case, but fear the worst. Why do they not want him to appeal? And how/why was he given the date for the Appeal so quickly? These make me dubious of any honest or law-abiding intentions the system may have. But maybe I’m being too cynical, I hope so.

From what I remember this was a Criminal Court Case. Which means the Appelate case is in the Criminal Court System, too. See here for the link to the website. Unfortunately, the contact information for the Criminal Court Appellate Judges is not listed, but their names and information are listed, in Armenian only, here.

I continue to be, well, repulsed by the fact that some of the ruling political parties pursue recognition of the Armenian Genocide, yet refuse to address, and only keep adding to, the present massive injustices occuring against Armenians in Armenia today.
In fact, as the Opposition is publicizing and planning a Demonstration for March 1 this year, the so-called government is trying to block it, both bureaucratically, and by intimidating people, one by one. As Haykakan Zhamanak reported on February 6th (loosely translated):

Arman Mousinyan of the Armenian National Congress stated that the authorities are trying to make deals with people, if the latter refrained from participating in the public meeting planned for March 1. "There are facts," he said, "that they are offering money to people, and even jobs, in return for not participating in the planned meeting and staying away from activism."
The police are using 'preventive' methods, by which they're trying to convince people not to participate in the public meeting. And, for some days now, representatives of the police are continuing to invite especially members of the People's Party of Armenia (PPA) to "friendly chats." Spokeswoman for the PPA, Ruzan Khachatryan reported that if earlier they (the police) tried to convince their party members not to show activism and refrain from participating in the March 1 meeting orally, now, the authorities are trying to collect promises with signatures.
Mrs. Khatchatryan has mentioned earlier that this is by now a common occurrence for them.
Some days ago, the police tried to invite Samvel Abrahamyan, an activist of the ANC in the Arabkir region to a "friendly chat." Two functionaries of Arabkir went to Abrahamyan's house, but not finding him at home, left their telephone numbers and left a message that their chief wanted to speak with Abrahamyan. The latter did not go because the police had not produced a summons.
Our question of whether such measures might force him to refrain from participating in the upcoming March 1 gathering, Abrahamyan considered simply funny.

As Zourabyan responded (heard on RFE/RL the other day), when asked if they might change the date of the upcoming March 1 planned Demonstration, that would be like asking to change the date of commemoration of April 24.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

What's so interesting in Dubai?

A comment by Ani got me interested in all that's happening in Dubai, and Unzipped has already picked up on what may be just one half of the story.
The Armenian Reporter just published a story about a huge ARF fundraiser, done in Dubai, on January 31, which raised about $5 million dollars. Top guests at this banquet included Gagik Tsarukyan (Dodi Gago - head of Prosperous Armenia Party), Hrant Margaryan (ARF), and Levon Sargsyan (brother of SS, who sent a congratulatory word). Almost half of the money was donated from Armenia, 40% was from benefactors in the Middle East and Europe. The smallest amount pledged was $5000, which was the price of a plate, so I don't know if that's included. Other high up ARF-ers were there too, including of course Giro Manoyan. Interestingly enough, the Armenian Weekly doesn't mention the other ARF members there, despite the fact that they are Ministers in the government: Arsen Hambardzumyan, Spartak Seiranyan, Aramayis Grigoryan. To get that information, you have to go to Azad Hye. From what I know, and I may be wrong, those three are non-Diasporan Armenians. So no surprise there that the Armenians, from Armenia, who are Ministers in the government, are not mentioned in the Diasporan Armenian ARF paper. Oh, and Aram I was there, too. And yes, the topic was Hye Tad, Genocide recognition, unification of Armenians around Genocide. Not a word, as far as I can tell, about the current situation. What will these people do if the Genocide is recognized? Who will they be? ...
But wait! Who is missing. Weren't there four in that picture with the champagne? There were. Where is Artur Baghdasaryan? Well, he's not mentioned in that trip to Dubai. But he did go to Dubai, somewhere within days of that banquet. He stayed in a five star unnamed hotel, which his staff is trying now to explain and to fervently clarify that flight and hotel expenditures were NOT from the government budget. Apparently Orinats Yerkir is setting up satellite locations, which it sounds like they may already have in Germany and France, and the newest one will be in Dubai. The purpose being to share their ideology. Well, it does seem like Baghdasaryan may already have connections in Dubai, from his 2004 trip. I am glad the expenditures were not from the government budget - how did he and his colleagues end up with so much money?
So, in some form or another, all four of them were in Dubai, at just around the same time. So what's in Dubai?
I haven't quite figured that out yet. Lots of business dealings, thats for sure. When I searched it on the web, I did find that the International Bank of Azerbaijan just launched its first representative office in Dubai last November. I'll tell you what else is in Dubai, a huge human trafficking operation, with Armenian women and sexual exploitation. Hetq has run a series of articles on it, very much worth reading.
For a government that recently made statements about its commitment to ending Human Trafficking, and with such a poor track record for Human Rights, and Women's Rights, they sure were quiet about the sex trafficking of Armenians in Dubai. Better not to stir things up, and move forward with the agenda, right?

By the way, take a look at the hotel where they had this banquet. The cheapest you can book a room for one night is $400. I've never understood that about fundraisers - if your really want to raise money, then find a moderately priced, minimal place, and put the extra money that people would have used to pay for hotel rooms towards your actual fundraising goal.
Don't worry. In true Diasporan form, the names of the donors will apparently be published soon. This time I'm glad - I'd love to see who's on that list.

Friday, February 6, 2009

That really narrows it down...

The descriptions given by eyewitnesses of the man who killed Deputy Chief of Police Gevorg Mheryan on February 3, 2009, resulted in the following description being put out by the Police: an individual around 40 years old, well-built, with black hair and eyes, 177-180 centimeters tall (5'9 1/2" - 5'11").

That is one of the most useless descriptions I've ever heard. I think that describes 90% of the men in any given Armenian family. Given the murder occurred in the dark, I wonder if it could have been a woman, though I assume the depiction of a man is based on certainty from the eye witnesses. At least the certainty of gender cuts down the potential suspects by 50%, which is more than can be said for the rest of the description.

Though I have to say I can't blame them too much. It would be extremely difficult to describe the variations of the facial characteristics of most Armenian men, especially in the dark.

[relevant article and photo can be found on Aravot and reported on RFE, the 15:00 report from February 6)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Letter to and from Nikol Pashinyan, translated

A letter to Pashinyan, and his response, were recently posted on Pashinyan's website. Here's the translation:

A letter from Hayk

I think I will address you as Mr. Pashinyan. This is already my third message to you. You didn’t answer the first two. I hope, however, that you will not leave this one unanswered. PACE perhaps did what most people expected. Yet I, for one, wished from the bottom of my heart, that they would deprive these authorities, or this state, as it were, of their right to vote, and even more, that they would apply sanctions. But Friday came sooner than Saturday. Everything happened just as it was intended to happen.

On the evening of February 29 my wife was saying to me: “Hayk, what have you found on Liberty Square that you don’t have at home?” I told her: “Tomorrow we’ll all go—I, you, my sons and my yet unborn daughter, and you will see what I have found there.”
Do you know that deep in my heart, I couldn’t believe those ten days, everything that all that was happening to us, in Yerevan; or, was I was afraid that all of that—I mean the feeling of Freedom and feeling worthwhile—would end all too soon.

You know, only at Liberty Square, and not even at home, did I feel so HUMAN. But it seemed that in a single second, by the wish of a single person, everything came to an end, was erased and disappeared.

Do you know that you and I met on March 1 near Myasnikyan’s statue? We even exchanged a few words. You may not remember, but at that time you thought I was—how do they say it?—an instigator. I was saying that those animals, armed with machine guns, are waiting to ambush us. That day I was crying as I never have before. I don’t know why. No, I think I was crying for Armenia, because it was dying. And now, after PACE’s slavish decision I am convinced that the Armenia I dreamt of is no more; that it died. I don’t know, but it seemed like a collection of meaningless sentences. But quite honestly, I no longer have the wish to live in this country, where the authorities will now be allowed to do everything; in a country where the likes of Edvard Sharmazanov announce that PACE’s decision was the victory of democracy in Armenia; where those who speak of democracy attain power with guns.

Nikol, these people will never leave by their own free will. Convince me that I’m wrong.
I hope this time you will answer me. At any rate, let me tell you that I believe, I believe that we will WIN.

Nikol’s answer:

Dear Hayk, my dear brother, don’t you dare despair. Forgive me, but I say it again—don’t you dare despair, don’t you dare despair. I don’t accept the nostalgia for the 10 days on Liberty Square because, despite the fact that those were such dazzling days, they are already in the past. We should not fill ourselves with memories of a romantic past but with the will for the future. We have a purpose, in the form of a Free and Happy Armenia, and we should have the manhood to actualize that purpose. I am convinced that we do.

Dear Hayk, Nelson Mandela served 28 years of a life sentence in prison. During that time what he did was serve that sentence, which he did, without any hopes for a victory. He won because of one thing only: he did not surrender, he did not despair. Of course these authorities will not cede power by their own free will; they would go only because of our own will. And for that to happen, we must have the will.

By the way, this web page was launched in early January. Since then, I’ve received around 100 questions, but of those who wrote, no one asked about the expected deliberations at PACE. Only in one question, I think, there was a passing reference. That made me very happy because it means that people see that which should be done within their own selves. At the same time, I liked the fact that despite your despair, you finished your letter with faith in our victory.
Faith and will—these are our issues. Each one of us must nurture in him or her that faith and that will. Yes, the former Armenia is no more; you’re right. In the period following March 1, a new Armenia is being shaped, and now, at this moment, at each moment, I, you and the other, forecast the kind of Armenia that is being shaped. We decide that in ourselves. I understand all your feelings, but I say to you that you owe it to your children; you must bequeath to your children the kind of Armenia where they feel free and wholesome.

Paying this debt to our children is above all other feelings, above despair or excitement. This is a task, this is a mission, this is a duty that rests on our—yours and mine—shoulders, and we must carry that burden without complaints, and without any complaints dedicate ourselves to that mission. Again I say, the issue is not about that which is taking place in the internal political life, but what is taking place within each one of us. To win the political struggle, we must first win over the struggle being waged within ourselves. We must allow to grow and nurture in ourselves, our will and our resoluteness, and cleanse them of our melancholy, our despair and lack of trust, just as the harvest is cleansed of weed.

Forgive me for thinking you were an instigator on March 1. And let me add that I have answered your earlier questions. It’s just that because of the large number of questions, it has been difficult to answer them all within the deadlines expected by their authors.

Be well.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Mr. Oskanian's interview...

Lragir posted an interview with Mr. Oskanian, mostly about the report that Civilitas published at the end of 2008, but there are some personal notes as well.

Now, Mr. Oskanian does say that "March 1 is one of the most tragic pages of our recent history." And thats all there is specifically about that day, those victims, about that tragedy.

He also states, "The facts that we have are there – that we have political activists who have been behind bars since March 1, who in the opinion of many are there for political reasons, that the trials and the general political environment around these cases is a matter of serious concern for the public and for the international community." And that's all there is about political prisoners.

But, hold on. Here's what is most important to Mr. Oskanyan:
"I had expressed my personal concern about these events months ago. The situation at PACE was the basis of my concern. Armenia was threatened by the loss of voice in that body. That alone worries me a great deal."
This is was is the BASIS of his concern. There may be many pro-oppositionists, including myself, who would like PACE to sanction Armenia, and one of the criticisms there is that Armenia should not be searching for external intervention, but should solve its own problems - which I agree would be ideal. But my main concern is not PACE - PACE is a mechanism. The main BASIS for my concern is the lack of fundamental freedoms in Armenia, lack of Democracy, and Political Prisoners.
And even if you want to argue that by not sanctioning Armenia, PACE holds more power by holding the axe over the authorities heads - even then the argument stands. The concern should be the lack of change, the continued violence and intimidation. The concern should be that authorities have not changed enough to warrant moving that axe away from their heads.

Specifically of interest to me was that he states that he could "express [his] opinion on any matter" precisely because he had made the decision to leave government, even before the events of March 1.

If that is the case, why is he, even to this day, so careful about his wording, about whom he offends, and how "balanced" he is. There is always a balancing game that is played in politics. But no independent, pro-democracy, pro-human rights institution or individual has the viewpoint, or even the cautiousness, that he does in his language. In fact, a number of government-employed individuals, Parliamentarians within, Ambassadors outside, of Armenia, and others, lost that positions and their livelihoods because they spoke out against what was happening. Mr. Oskanyan has apparently already said he was leaving, so he could say what he truly believed... and what did he say that was so outspoken??

I guess he doesn't want to burn any bridges.... or at least a specific few... with those who hold the power...

[picture is from the lragir article]