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.


Ani said...

Thanks, Tzitzernak. Since Lragir doesn't link properly, I found that story via Armtown, and will append it here.

On February 6 the reporters asked the members of the Orinats Yerkir Party’s faction if it is true that the party’s leadership led by Arthur Baghdasaryan traveled to Dubai and stayed at a five-star hotel there, and if yes, what the purpose of the visit was. The leader of the OYP faction Heghine Bisharyan said the information is true, and the visit was a recurrent meeting of the OYP with the Armenian community. In other words, the Orinats Yerkir Party went to Dubai to meet with the Armenian community. Heghine Bisharyan said they have had such meetings in France and Germany. According to Heghine Bisharyan, the expenses were not covered by the government. Bisharyan also hinted that other political forces which have organizations outside Armenia go abroad but nobody asks them where they go, what they spend, and the Orinats Yerkir Party openly speaks about its activities. Perhaps encouraged by these words, the secretary of the OYP faction Hovanes Margaryan revealed more about these activities. He stated that the OYP delegation led by Arthur Baghdasaryan, the leader of the OYP, left for Dubai on their salary. “We bought tickets on our salary and went there to set up our organization there,” Hovanes Margaryan stated. It follows from his words that the Orinats Yerkir Party sets up NGOs abroad which share their ideas, the first two ones were set up in France and Germany, and the third was set up in Dubai. By the way, Hovanes Margaryan said the organization in Germany is headed by his cousin, who is his namesake, Hovanes Margaryan.

Those are certainly nice "salaries," especially when the economy is doing so well...

Aziz 55.5 said...

What is so interesting in Dubai is the posh dinner table. Looking at that table the participants looked very well fed.I don't think anyone on that table was watching their diet.
I could not help myself wondering...what are the prisoners being fed in Armenia throughout the prison system:political prisoners or otherwise.
How can I find out?
Thank you.

Aziz 55.5 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

The Center

Here is an interesting question.

Where is the center of the Armenian world?

Once, long time ago, when there was no Armenian state, it was thought to be a future Armenian state.

Some thought it was Paris or Boston, in the 1920s and 1930s.

Then it was Beirut, in the 1950s to the 1970s.

Then there was an Armenian state, and that was not it, apparently.

It is now decided. The center of the Armenian world is Dubai.

This is where Kocharian, president of Armenia for the last 10 years, the brother of the current president, and one of the Armenian Catholicosses, Aram I of Cilicia, decided to hold a banquet to decide to support the activities of “Most Armenian” political party, Dashnaktsutyun, mainly Genocide recognition and anti-Turkish and anti-Azerbaijan activities.

In an interview with the Armenian Reporter, a representative of the Dashnaktsutyun argued that the banquet was held in Dubai because it was easy to get visas for the participants. Dubai. Now, that is globalization for you.

The representative had a difficult time explaining why the party was not focused on populating Karabakh and its attendant problems. The Reporter did not ask and the representative did not volunteer to release information on how the funds from past fundraising efforts have been spent or what exactly the party wants to do with the funds collected by this one. Now that is real globalization funds that float. There may have been some accounting if the funds had to be spent on projects dealing with real people and immediate problems.

“Genocide recognition is a matter of national security,” explained the representative of the party. Apparently Karabakh and people living there are not.

Ani said...

Lragir has a follow-up article and a suggestion today:

So, maybe in the nearest future the OYP supporting organizations will be created, for instance, in Acapulco, Sharm El Sheikh, Hong-Kong and in other beautiful and fascinating places of the world in the framework of the Armenian communities. There is no need to worry, these are just opportunities for the leaders of the OYP to justify their visits to these communities. It is not a threat at all, it is just a pleasure that the status of a ruling party gives and which is necessary to relaxing amid the national security concerns.

sevenontrial said...

Aziz 55.5 asked:
I could not help myself wondering...what are the prisoners being fed in Armenia throughout the prison system:political prisoners or otherwise.
How can I find out?
Thank you.

Prisoners eat (and share) what their families bring to the prisons once a week. Prison administrators say that meals are provided, but as far as I know, few prisoners accept them.

Anonymous said...

what is in dubai?
money laundering,
and i don't understand what was the aim of that banquet and fund raising
too many activities and too little results
what a wa ste of money it would be, if they really managed to raise $ 5 million, God only knows where that money is going to be spent