Thursday, April 30, 2009

Did the Ombudsman eat some Spinach??

More youth were attacked last night, and another reporter was beaten. These are not new occurences, unfortunately.
The former Chief of Police Hayk Harutyunyan stated today that the demonstrators at the French Embassy last March were "aggressive," the violent means used by the Police were justified, and those who organized those demonstrations are too blame. This was also not surprising, but new nonetheless.

What was both new and surprising was the Ombudsman's behavior. He condemned the beating of the youths and the beating of the journalist. Not only that, but as per Lragir:

Ombudsman Armen Harutunyan, who took part in the session of the commission, said that he had been near the Embassy of France on that day and he had not seen any aggressive crowd there, noting that maybe he and the Chief of the Police attended different manifestations. Hayk Harutunyan asked whether it could not be assessed as aggression the actions of the ralliers who took the trams and made barricades of them closing the central streets.
“As a lawyer, let me tell the other lawyer, that the rights for self-defense and possessive rights should be based on natural rights. If it contradicts the natural rights, so the possessive rights and their interpreters are wrong”, in answer to Hayk Harutunyan stated the Human Rights Defender Armen Harutunyan.

Maybe the Ombudsman is starting to turn around. Could it be?
Has he been eating his spinach?

Monday, April 27, 2009

If beating them up doesn't work, just "remove" them...

Pictures are from a1plus

According to both an HAK statement and an a1plus article, youths who were distributing flyers about the upcoming May 1 Opposition demonstration were attacked by individuals dressed in civilian clothing, who physically assaulted the youths, and destroyed their flyers. They also kidnapped one of the youths. The cars that were driven by those doing the assaulting, as well as some of the violent individuals themselves, are said to have been caught on camera. Not only that, but some of these violent folks are preliminarily thought to be members of the civil department of the criminal division. The cops, nearby, didn't do a thing, even when asked to help.
The A1plus article adds that the kidnapped youth was Armen Gevorgyan - after getting beaten up in the car, he somehow got away, and ended up near the Haykakan Zhamanak office.
I'm hoping someone will post any videos up on YouTube, and that there'll be more photos tomorrow.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The ARF may truly leave the coalition, really, truly...

UPDATE: The ARF has left the coalition (hetq, lragir, and others have relevant articles).

Both Lragir and Azatytyun Radio have reported over the past day or so that the ARF did not take part in the Security Council Meeting, since they are considering leaving the coalition. Apparently we'll hear more on the (final?) decision in the next 24 hours.

I must say, despite what it may seem, I think leaving the coalition would be a bold step, and not an easy one, and one I would not completely scoff at. It would take at least some degree of strength.

But let's be real here. This situation, where they are almost forced to leave, is of their own making. Leave, or stay part of a coalition that has accepted discussion with Turkey without precondition. Stay, and be completely ridiculed, having lost in the only fronts that have mattered to the ARF for the past 40 or so years. Leave, and be what, part of the opposition?

But they could stay and do what they have done for so long - explain away, justify. Here is the argument which I have heard so often, and would not be surprised to hear if they can't pull themselves away: We have decided to stay in the coalition to try to guide it, pressure it, mold it to the best that we can, in the direction which we know is the right one for the Armenian people. The coalition, SS, have made decisions we do not agree with, but as long as we have a chance to work from within to make a difference, we will.

Of course, the teeny modicum of respect they may gain in my eyes if they do leave the coalition (now working our way up to zero from the negative), is nothing compared to the almost bottomless pit of damage they have caused to the Armenian nation over the past 20 years, including but not restricted to their lack of support for an independent Armenia when the time came, lack of tangible support during the war, and last but not least their initial decision to join the coalition in the Spring of 2008.

We'll know soon enough, unless they keep dragging it on and on.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Yerevan: April 24, 2009

Both from A1plus YouTube Channel (a1plusnews)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Why is the ARF so upset... now? And whose failure is it...?

Just last week, the ARF threatened to leave the ruling coalition in Armenia. And just today, they harshly criticized the policies of SS regarding recent developments in Armenian-Turkish relations. In fact, judging by the picture, they seem furious. Why is that? Here's a thought...

For years, the identity, ideology, and policy of the ARF has been anti-Turk with Genocide recognition as a prerequisite for developing relations with Turkey, and focused on Genocide recognition. And to no small extent: the ARF has made a policy of criticizing (not always politely or constructively) individuals and organizations that did not share the same exact priorities. After Independence in 1991, and through the war years, the ARF was critical of the Government of Armenia for a multitude of reasons. Not the least of these was that the Government did not base its policies on the ARF policies of anti-Turkish sentiment and Genocide Recognition. At a time when the country was just finding its ground and fighting a war -- trying to find enough wheat for the daily needs of its citizens and trying to maintain supplies for her active military -- the ARF basically demanded that what was best for the survival of the newborn country be supplanted by the ARF's ideology. This type of behavior has been consistent in the recent history of the ARF, in all dimensions -- from expectations to how Armenia should be run, to how it attracts and molds its members, and the identity which it instills in them. And so it was not surprising that in the Spring of 2008, after having paired up with RK for a number of years already, the ARF took the opportunity to join the ruling coalition of SS.

During the past 6-8 months, with Genocide Recognition as a possibility, the ARF has been acting like the king of the pride. However, just as so many have warned for so long, when the economic, political, and/or military situation of Armenia is so precarious, nothing comes free. Genocide recognition became predictably entangled in border talks, NK resolution, and by implication, the present day political situation - weakening Armenia's stand in all of those areas, and strengthening nothing. Pushing for recognition, which as always was spearheaded by the ARF, has severely complicated every other problem that Armenia faces today and in the near future. Just like so many who have been criticized by the ARF warned.

And now, the Turkey-Armenia talks may be moving forward, and recognition by the US may or may not happen, not to mention absolutely no prerequisite recognition by Turkey. Even if Obama does recognize the Genocide, much harm has been done. Its (almost) moot whether or not the US recognizes the Genocide of the Armenians - and it doesn't really matter if it happens now, or in five years. It doesn't change what happened then, and it doesn't fix what's happening now. In fact, it may be making it worse -- tit and tat always come together. Not only that, but there may be (gasp)relations between the government the ARF is a part of, and Turkey - without Turkish recognition

In their blind pursuit, the ARF also cheapened the Genocide: the strategic, mass annihilation of our grandparents, and their families. The ARF managed to cheapen this by insisting it be put in on the table in spite of everything that has been happening. So what does the ARF have left?

So now they scream bloody murder. If the mayoral elections aren't fair, we're pulling out, they say. Well, we all know the ARF says that most, if not all, elections in the past 15 years have been marred with inconsistencies. How would these Mayoral elections suddenly be perfect? This is only meant to provide the ARF with a new role, since they abused their old one.

Now they have paved a way out, a way to save face. And why do they need this? Why do they need a new role? Because they can no longer function within the coalition, it seems. Things are not being done the way they want them done, and the issues they push are only causing more harm in the greater picture. And so they become discontent - discontent stemming not only from shame, is my guess, but anger. Did they not get a big enough piece of the pie? What did SS deny them?... something, but I don't know what.

These patterns and inconsistencies are obvious to those who are not members of the ARF, and who think - that qualification is important. Many diasporan Armenians identify the ARF as the epitome of an Armenia identity, therefore anything the Central Committee, or their school or church, puts forth must be truly Armenian. But international organizations, governments, and independent thinkers and observers know otherwise. Who remains as their audience, then? Their own masses and themselves, to whom they are trying to appear internally consistent. And they are, the ARF is internally consistent, provided the examples are chosen very, very carefully.

As usual, the ARF is just trying to keep its options open. Trying to keep power wherever it can. Trying to maintain its agenda, whatever it truly is.

And what of the value of Armenian life, now, or in 1915. I can imagine, in fact I know, that my grandparents and greatgrandparents would not sacrifice present day lives, human rights and democracy in Armenia today, for recognition by any government (what does recognition mean, or change, when compared to what it may be traded for)? Their lives, just like the lives of Armenians now, are not up for trade.

UPDATE AND CLARIFICATION: The ARF made the statements 4/22 when they were not yet aware (it seems) that a 'Roadmap' was agreed upon by Turkey and Armenia. Now the ARF has issued an even angrier condemnation, now that news of the 'Roadmap' has spread.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Alik Arzumanyan's trials... and tribulations...

I first drew and uploaded this picture on April 17, 2008. Just over one year later, it's still relevant.

The two new court sessions of Alik Arzumanyan and Suren Sirunyan leave so many questions to be answered, the least of which why there has been such minimal media coverage of the sessions. The most important questions, of course, are about the complete absurdity, ridiculousness, and inanity of many of the witnesses so far.
In the first court session, only 3 of the 5 witnesses showed up (total 15 planned). The first two had nothing negative to say about Arzumanyan (from the Opposition)- the second one (Tigran Hakobyan) said he was saddenned that trials such as these were taking place in today's independent Armenia. The prosecutor stated that there were discrepancies between Hakobyan's pre-court and court statements - but the defender pointed out that such discrepancies didn't exist. In fact, in the 8page statement that Piloyan (the prosecutor) read, neither Arzumanyan nor Sirunyan were mentioned once.
The third witness was surprising to say the least. Even the radio commentators were completely surprised by that witness, and the court audience laughed through some of his testimony and answers (Tert even published that it was obvious that this witness had psychological problems). He stated that opposition leaders had been places and made speeches where it is known they absolutely weren't (LTP, Nikol Pashinyan, Arzumanyan)- according to this witness, LTP was out speaking to the public (at the Myasnikyan statue) on March 1, when everyone knows he was under house arrest, and that Arzumanyan definitely amde a speech when it is known he didn't. When confronted with that fact, the witness was totally surprised and confused. And while he stated the written testimony was his, he couldn't understand or define two of the words that were in his "own" testimony. He admitted to having been paid to work for the government, in March 2008 and prior to that.
The second court session was on the 17th, and there was a similar replay of events. One of the witnesses' account completely fell apart - she said she had seen the looting, but couldn't say where she was standing at the time. Then it turned out she was 500 meters away. Then she finally said she couldn't see it well at all, only from far away. She was over a month off in saying when she gave her original testimony to the police (March 3 vs April 29). She couldn't say what time she had seen Arzumanyan at the statue, or what he had supposedly said as she couldn't hear because she was too far away, with many inconsistencies in her story. She then stated she couldn't really remember since it was over a year ago, she has been sick for three years, and she had been in two comas since then.
A different witness revealed that Alik Arzumanyan had asked him to rent a place in town so some of the opposition leaders could gather there. Another witness pointed out that he had been asked to bring a portable heater from work to the tents - but when it didn't work, he took it back. As was pointed out on the radio segment, whether any wrongdoing has been done by Arzumanyan was not addressed on April 17th -he has not been charged with asking for a heater, or having a meeting. One of the witnesses stated he had been taken in with some other men, beaten up, and been told what to write in his statement.
April 20th was the third session. Again, the two witnesses in court today noted that it had been over a year, and they didn't remember things too well. One of the witnesses didn't recognize Arzumanyan at all, and had left the Myasnikyan statue early. She also stated she had seen Nikol Pashinyan at the statue, at a time when it is known Pashinyan was not there. Multiple other inconsistencies were noted as well (including the witness' incorrect description of Sirunyan's appearance and timing), very similar to the ones pointed out on the previous days. Beglaryan (one of the witnesses) stated that she did not write the statement, and that others had written it based on what she had said. The other witness said he had written the statement, but what he had said was altered to sound more literate/articulate.
Don't get me wrong. I don't completely blame these individuals. In fact, I'm not sure I really blame them at all. No one should be put in a position where they have to chose between putting bread on the table and making false statements. As the witness on April 15th pointed out when asked if he is paid by the government/works for them: I need to make a living, don't I? They are just pawns of the government, victims, in a way, of a government which seems to be preying on the sick (the second one had disability of the second or third degree), and the poor. Both of whom they helped create, and continue to create. Which, I suppose, will provide the present banditocracy with even more pawns to manipulate as they continue to oppress the people even more.
Which brings me to my main questions.
Why isn't this being covered more in the press?
Ten of 15 witness to be called have already testified at this point, with many of the major points highlighted above. I don't know the court and justice systems too well in Armenia. But you'd think the prosecution would be able to bring forth at least one witness who can see, remember, hear, or make some type of sense, if their case had any credibility at all. Which it doesn't.

April 15 Azatutyun Radio link: 5:17 to 11:15 minutes

April 17th Azatutyun Radio link: 5:17 - 11:47 minutes

April 20th, 19:00: 2:50- 10:08

Tert article April 15

RFE/RL in Armenian April 20

The Return of Armen Sargysan??? From Where to Where....

Hraparak published a short story on April 16th that this man, formerly many things but now known as a businessman in the UK, may be up for being the next Prime Minister. I haven't seen much else about it. The story published is below, and highlights the important role Armen Sarsyan has played in SS's political career - more specifically, that most of SS's pre-election projects were successful because of Armen Sargsyan:

Չի բացառվում, որ մոտ ժամանակներս Հայաստան հրավիրվի նախկին վարչապետ Արմեն Սարգսյանը, որը պատրաստվում է երկրորդ անգամ ստանձնել այդ պաշտոնը: Արմեն Սարգսյանը հսկայական կարողությունների տեր գործիչ է, ապրում եւ աշխատում է Բրիտանիայում: Սերժ Սարգսյանի նախընտրական պրոյեկտների մեծ մասը հաջողություն են ունեցել հենց այս մարդու շնորհիվ, ՄԻԱԿ կուսակցությունը Սարգսյանի հորինածն է, բարձր է նաեւ նրա միջազգային հեղինակությունը: Բրիտանահայ մեծահարուստը վերջին անգամ Հայաստանում եղել է կես տարի առաջ՝ հոր պատվին կառուցած "Սուրբ Վարդան" մատուռի բացման եւ օրհնության կապակցությամբ: Վարչապետի այս փոփոխությամբ, ըստ նախագահամերձ մեր աղբյուրի, Սերժ Սարգսյանը փորձելու է թուլացնել ներքաղաքական լարվածությունը, միաժամանակ՝ շոշափելի միջոցներ ներգրավել համաշխարհային ճգնաժամին դիմակայելու համար:

Friday, April 17, 2009

Pashinyan: On How Armenia is Getting Stronger

Pashinyan recently wrote a piece, posted in Haykakan Zhamanak and his webpage, that really caught my eye. Here it is:


In his last press conference Serge Sargsyan heralded the people of Armenia with the news that even if it turns out that Turkey turned Armenia like a little screw, it won’t really be a problem, because Armenia will come out of it even stronger than before. The coalition forces chimed in, saying: “Ah, the whole world will know that Armenia is prepared to establish relations with Turkey without preconditions.”

Actually, up till now, the world wasn’t aware, actually the world hadn’t even realized, that the closed border between Armenia and Turkey first and foremost harms Armenia, turning it into a courtyard with two walls. And now, with this statement, the world will think that it is Armenia that has blockaded Turkey. This piece of “news” will run international headlines, announcing: “Hear this, oh, you people of the world, Armenia was ready to lift the blockade against Turkey with no preconditions, but that ungrateful Turkey didn’t take advantage of the golden opportunity. And so now, because of Turkey’s immature politics, Armenia has won a diplomatic victory and is stronger because it’s suffocating Turkey.”

Absurd! Totally Absurd!

When we follow Serge Sargsyan’s thoughts, it becomes clear that in Armenia, Haylur-ism has become state ideology. Now, let’s look at what Serge Sargsyan is saying from this perspective. He says that it’s possible that the authorities in Armenia might be wrong in calculating their games with Turkey. But, he insists that even if that’s the case, Armenia will just become stronger. So, now we know that miscalculation is the number one weapon of Armenia’s foreign policy. You miscalculate, you get more powerful, then you miscalculate again, and you get even more powerful, then you keep miscalculating, and you get much more powerful.

In your opinion, how did Armenia submit not just Azerbaijan, but all of her enemies, to diplomatic genocide during the years of the Kocharyan-Sargsyan rule? Of course, but of course, because they miscalculated! Just between us, miscalculation is a weapon you can’t control because if you calculate correctly, your opponent can figure out your miscalculations. If, however, you miscalculate, your opponent can’t figure it out. Idiocy is an immeasurable and unpredictable asset. That’s why, in current politics, the honorable Knights-- Sir Edik Nalbandyan and Sir Vardan Oskanyan--are in the Super Directorate of Armenia’s current foreign policy. They can make the kinds of miscalculations that even the failing graduates of the school for morons will not be able to understand!

But we digress too much! We were speaking of Haylurism and maybe it’s appropriate to explain its uniqueness. For example, frosts are possible in Armenia, but there’s nothing to worry about, because even if frost hits the crops, they will only bloom and develop because of it. Emigration out of Armenia is becoming alarming, but there’s really no need to be concerned about it because the more people leave Armenia the more the number of voters will be. Crime statistics are going up, but one should only be happy, because the State is honest with its own people and does not hide the Truth. The economic crisis has reached Armenia, but that should give us all reason to be happy because we finally know that even we, poor slobs, are part of this world!

Just think, we had almost lost hope because when people all over the world were happy, Armenians were miserable. Now, the economic crisis has made a lot of people miserable, and we finally measure up to international standards. And so what if Armenia’s economy collapses, we’ll just come out of it stronger, because the most powerful people are those who have nothing else to lose.

And that is the Serjandakan strategy to make Armenia more powerful!

[photo from]

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Playing Games and Promoting Brotherly Love

There are some serious games being played, and I fear that in the end it will be Armenia who loses out. Its not clear who is in control of what, or whom. But what is clear is that somehow SS has managed to do something none of the Presidents of an Independent Armenia since 1991 have done so far, he seems to have brought Azerbaijan and Turkey closer together. Who says he isn't a peacemaker? Take a look at some of these goings on...

After all of the hype of the Armenia-Turkey border, (including the entwinement of both Genocide recognition and NK resolution into the hype), it seems the talks are falling apart. Not surprising. On April 10, Baku set forth its set of three conditions for Turkey's normalization of relations with Armenia (Hurriyet article).

1. Armenian Forces should withdraw from five of the seven regions around NK
2. The Southern region of Lachin, below the corridor, should be returned
3. Turkey must have access to the Lachin corridor (see my old post re Lachin)

That's quite the list. And 5 days later (Hurriyet), several members of Turkey's parliament made clear their allegiance to Azerbaijan; And Erdogan is now saying that the NK issue must be resolved before further progress in Turkish Armenian relations. Did no one think of this potential snag prior to the talks about normalizing relations? Are these the criteria set forth in the secret meetings last year, that SS thought he would be able to pull off so readily (remember SS thinking he would be able to dictate a settlement to NK), and now has not been able to? If so, given SS's inability to produce promised results, is the publication of these criteria a show of frustration from the Azeri side, or is it part of a plan (of which SS is aware) for forcing NK and the Armenian people to agree to a deal, which he signed last year?
But, fret not. On April 15, SS came out and said that "Kharabagh cannot enter Azerbaijan's territory." So don't worry, he's clearly in control.

And what about PACE? They seem to keep delaying and delaying (sounds like a familiar tactic used by the courts in Armenia). Once again, after all the hype about the Co-rapporteur report in March of this year, and what it meant, and what it would mean when it was presented to PACE this April, guess what? This Armenian issue is not even on the schedule to be discussed in April - thanks Colombier and Prescott. Take a look at the Draft Agenda for the April meetings. There is an open spot at 10:30 am one of the days for any emergency issues, but that's it. And in fact, if you look at the specific Monitoring Committee Reports website, the next time the Armenian issue is noted to be likely to be discussed is "2010, First Part Session." Mr. Arman Grigoryan, who has represented the ANC/Opposition in the past to PACE, has commented on this lack of inclusion into the April PACE meetings, and is apparently going to visit Strasbourg soon to see what is going on.

More hype, more distraction, more collapse, more confusion and misinformation, more time passes, more collapse. Maybe SS is distracting not only the people of Armenia, but himself. Hoping that the long, painful, car ride of his presidency will just go by more quickly if he can play games and distract himself.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Why Now?

UPDATE: you can hear Ghalamkaryan's interview with RFE/RL from April 11, at 7pm (19:00) here. The interview is from about4:20 to 6:10.

As both Unzipped and HNazarian have pointed out, and RFE and Hetq have reported, Karo Simidyan and Aramazd Ghalamkaryan had their apartments searched by police, and were taken in for questioning earlier today. Both, it seems, have been released, though Ghalamkaryan's computer is still being questioned, and he has to return for further questioning on the 17th of this month. As per the Hetq article, Mr. Simidyan's son is said to be friends with Pashinyan, as is Ghalamkaryan, who runs his own pro-opposition blog (

I wonder why this is happening now. Pashinyan has been on the run for over a year, and his writings have been published for just as long. Interestingly, there was another first the other day when among those taken in for questioning to the police station was Levon Zurabyan - who is usually the one negotiating with the police. Tensions seem to be rising, but why now? Is it the upcoming demonstration on May 1, the Mayoral elections on May 31? Is the persistence of protesters on Northern Ave striking just the wrong cord with the authorities?
Maybe it means something that the first four stories on RFE/RL (in Armenian) on 11 April were the following:

1.The Apartments of Nikol Pashinyan's Friends are Searched
2.R. Erdogan "The Kharabagh problem has to be solved first"
3.S. Sargsyan "The ball is in Turkey's Court"
4.L. Zurabyan "The key to success is activism"

Things just don't seem to be going the way they were supposed to for Sargsyan and Co. Or maybe Sargsyan was just playing a game with Turkey, and border talks, and Genocide talks, and he never took any of it seriously other than for show, just like he has been playing a game with Armenia, and (supposedly) caring about the people of Armenia has been a charade.

Regardless of what is causing these new patterns, something seems different, and its still not clear why SS decided this was the time to make a more publicly visible search for Pashinyan, if that's what it is.
What it definitely is, is intimidation. As is taking in Zurabyan, who is generally seen as the negotiator and peacemaker at the demonstrations, as is what the authorities did tonight: taking 4 minors in for questioning from Northern Ave while not allowing them attorneys - who were forced to wait outside. The a1plus report states they were taken around 8pm, 2 were released around 10pm and the other 2 around 1am.

How do you remind people that you're in control? You strike at the young, the old, and the peaceful; at those who keep the fire burning and those who spread the news.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Ombudsman spoke, but what did he say?

The Ombudsman gave a lecture and answered questions yesterday at the University of Michigan. I hope the University will make the video available online, which you can be sure I will post. While his lecture was interesting, he kept it short to be able to answer questions, to which his responses (or lack thereof in some cases) were much more interesting. Here are some highlights of questions, and issues that were brought up.

-He feels it is important to have a strong opposition, as it is with a strong opposition that governments (in general) can be pushed toward democracy. He feels strongly that it his his job to point out the problems in both sides.

-He does feel there is freedom of press in written and web-based media. But not in television media.

-When the different techniques of the government versus the opposition were pointed out, including the beatings of opposition journalists, the Ombudsman's answer was vague. He pointed out how he can only comment on these occurrences. There was no further discussion of the significance of this government strategy of intimidation and violence.

-He strongly feels the judicial system is not independent in Armenia.

-While some of today's Opposition in Armenia works via good mechanisms, some do not. He likened some of the oppositions mechanisms to blackmail, and cited pressures on himself, Raffi Hovhanissyan, and at least one of the Co-rapporteurs of PACE (I think it was John Prescott). He feels some of the Opposition just want to replace those in power with themselves. [He conveniently did not make reference to his own request for increased security for himself and his family about a year or so ago].
However, when pushed to give true, specific examples, he could not do so.

-He felt himself and his office could not follow ALL of the trials occurring in Armenia now, so he had made the decision to make statements about them at the end of them.

-There was a recurring theme that his position is not a political one, it is a legal one. This was the reasoning given as to why he cannot use the term "Political Prisoner." It was also the reason that he feels he can not make things happen, he can only comment on them.

-When asked about the most recent activities on Northern Avenue, especially the "misunderstanding," he said these things, unfortunately, happen in Armenia. Nothing more.

-When asked if he thought the trials and judgments of Jhangiryan and Ashot Manukyan were fair, he said he had been out of Armenia for a while, and did not know the final conclusions. [Jhangiryan's trial ended March 23, Manukyans ended in December, with the Appeal within months of that]

-He stated: "I try to not be involved in the policy of the government and opposition. I only try to present their attention to their mistakes, which in my opinion they are doing…[] from the point of view of huamn rights and democracy…"

-He noted that he has answered more questions about the oppositions at that Q+A session than he had in Armenia. He usually avoids answering questions about the opposition because they are part of the checks and balances, and he is a mediator, he is in between the government and the opposition.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

In the Shadow of Border/Genocide talks, Bazaz and his troupe strike at human rights again... literally

A1plus is reporting that one of their reporters was beaten up earlier today on Northern Boulevard, that was reported to have been just minutes before 8:30 pm Yerevan time. The reporter, David Jalalyan, was apparently beaten up by the now infamous Chief of Patrol Division Robert Melkonyan, who through his numerous appearances has come to have a nickname, Bazaz.
It is also known at this time, through articles and Press Releases from the Armenian National Congress, that around 6pm, 11 individuals were taken by police forces from Northern Boulevard, including Levon Zurabyan, who is the coordinator/spokesperson for the ANC. For those who don't remember, he is often the one dealing directly with the police/security forces, trying to get permission for demonstrations. It seems at least Zurabyan has been released at this time, as per the most recent A1 plus article (in Armenian only so far). As per that last A1plus article, Zurabyan has been set free.
Below is the list of 11 individuals taken in by the police.
I wonder if the staunch supporters of human rights at Civilitas can see all of this happening on Northern Boulevard. Or were their lights turned off, just like those at the Foreign Embassies on March 1-2.

Vahagn Gevorgyan
Gevorg Boyajyan
Mariam Poghosyan
Alla Sardaryan
Svetlana Mikayelyan
Valentina Mirzoyan
Arayik Mirzoyan
Anahit Grigoryan
Armen Tovmasyan
Levon Zurabyan (now thought to be set free)
Ashot Tatevosyan

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Monday, April 6, 2009

Nalbandyan says No Preconditions - not Genocide, not NK, no nada... Really?

A1plus has run a short story on Nalbandyan's recent comments:

"The normalisation of Armenian-Turkish relations should have no preconditions and it is with this mutual understanding that we have been negotiating with the Turkish side," said Armenia's Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian in reply to the recent statements of some Turkish officials.
Normalisation of the relations has no linkage to the resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh problem and has never been a subject of negotiations towards the normalisation of Armenian - Turkish relations.
It has been said many times, and I want to stress it again, that the normalisation of Armenian-Turkish relations can never question the reality of Armenian Genocide.

Where is the internal consistency in this statement? Genocide is not a precondition, but normalisation can never question the reality of Armenian Genocide? Each of the sentences seems to try to satisfy a different group applying pressure, whether its Turkey, the ARF, or western countries trying to "help solve" these issues. These are nice statements, maybe, but not connected to each other, or to any reality. For just one example of what I'm talking about, see the transcript of Erdogan's statement at Chattham house, just one post ago.

Funny, the LTP administration tried to separate Genocide recognition from present day politics. It was Kocharyan who brought it back into the picture, thus gaining the support of the ARF, whom he kept in his back pocket, and the identity-confused Spyurk. Now, the lives and rights of present day Armenians continue to be oppressed, the economic situation is in crisis, and we're going in circles about NK-Genocide-border issues, and it seems (to some) the way out is to do a swap (funny, sounds like something Kocharyan tried to do with Meghri back in the day). Recognition of the Genocide has become a bartering tool, it has become demeaned to a poker chip thrown into a pile. I know that isn't the intention of the ARF, but that's where we've landed.

UPDATE: Hurriyet Article:
Armenian FM expected to arrive in Turkey late afternoon
ISTANBUL – The attendance of the Armenian Foreign Minister at the Alliance of Civilizations summit has become a mystery after he failed to board a flight from Yerevan Sunday night as expected.
"His strong language in his statements to Interfax news Sunday denying that the Karabakh issue is not related to establishing relations between Turkey and Armenia were interpreted as a reaction to Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s statements.
Turkey will not lift its blockade of Armenia unless the country fulfils Turkey’s preconditions regarding the Karabakh issue and the international recognition of the Armenian claims regarding the 1915 incidents, Erdogan said in London Friday during the G20 summit."

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Solution to the Genocide Issue Has Certain Other Connections

Armenian-Turkish relations, border politics, and Genocide recognition have been intertwined ever since independence in 1991.  Back then, the LTP administration thought a key factor to developing an economically and politically stable Armenia was the solution of the NK war.  To that end, Genocide recognition, Hay Tad, was put on the back burner.  The border remained closed, except for a few instances here and there (which are of great significance but a whole different story).  During the 1990's, the ARF was critical (to put it nicely) of the LTP administration for even thinking about trying to have some type of relations with Turkey, considering this type of thought a type of blasphemy.  Of course, the ARF is the same group that despite years of dreaming of a free and independent Armenia did not rejoice at the 1991 independence; despite a  history, name, emblem and oath which imply and swear to protect Armenia, mustered fewer than 10 Diasporans to fight in the war and is thought to have "lost" money which was meant to go toward the war effort; and who today sits in the ruling coalition, grabbing on to whatever power it can, while intermittently tossing out weak criticisms of the government's decisions that sound more like suggestions.  And even today, when there is so much discussion about potential border opening without Genocide recognition, the ARF still cannot bring itself to make a strong statement that might jeopardize whatever power they may have. As per a recent A1+ article, Manoyan said the ARF is not against the border opening, but "we are getting ready to release a document to prevent the possible dangers of that." Phew. But I digress. 

With all of the recent comments and opinions about all that may or may not happen this month vis a vis Genocide Recognition, and the Turkish border, and how the fact that these are now linked to NK, as well as the criticism (or lack thereof) of the current unacceptable political situation in Armenia, I thought it might be worthwhile to post the transcript of what Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan said regarding Armenia on his April 3 Speech to Chattham House. The full speech and the Q+A which followed are available at the Chattham House website. The section on Armenia was actually in the Q+A section (minutes 11:50-16:13), where all of the questions were posed at the beginning, and then the questions answered collectively by the Prime minister.

Now, next to Iraq, Israel, Syria, and the Co-chair added immediately, Armenia to that triangle, so let me make a general assessment. Well, Turkey does not have any animosity or any hatred towards anybody. But there are certain circles who have, and feed these feelings against us. In the international arena, we have never, never accused anybody of genocide, be it real or so-called from the past. But the Armenian Diaspora unfortunately is doing exactly that for years and years. They are underlining the fact that there has been a so-called genocide in Turkey. This is not something that we can accept, something that has not taken place. In 2005, I wrote a letter to President Kocharyan and I said, this is an issue that needs to be investigated by historians. I said, let historians, legal experts, archeologists, sociologists examine this issue, let them prepare a report, and let us politicians then decide on the basis of this report. However he never answered my letter. But now, a positive process has started, as you know, on the occasion of the national football team game in Armenia, the President of our Republic went to Armenia and then they came together again on an occasion in Washington, then I met Mr. Sargysan in Davos. Our Foreign Ministers are constantly talking to each other, at lower levels the bureaucrats, technocrats are in contact. We want to solve this problem. But that solution has certain other connections. For instance, there has been for the last 17 years the Minsk troika working on this issue, composed of United States, Russia and France. What are they going to solve the problem of Nagorny-Kharabagh, which is a problem between Azerbaijan and Armenia. As long as that problem is not resolved, it is not possible for us to adopt a healthy decision. But we have still taken certain steps as a preparation of the way, and we are trying also to prepare the region for this development. We are talking to our Azeri friends, we are talking to our Armenian friends. But we tell them, Russia, France and the United States, they should accelerate their work, and they should conclude that work so that they can facilitate our hand. We established the Caucasian Cooperation and Stability Platform, and we are working on that. We are working on a geographical basis: Russia, Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia. Five countries belong to that platform. Russia has serious problems with Georgia, for instance, how can they come together? In the same way as Turkey will come together with Armenia, for instance. Because we want a world based on peace, where the neighboring countries do not hate each other, do not fight with each other. And, even for two years we have been elected to the Security Council of the United Nations, and so we have a responsibility in that framework as well.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Ombudsman Armen Harutyunyan is visiting the US

According to A1plus, Mr Harutyunyan will be visiting the US on a State Department sponsored trip, and having meetings related to Human Rights. On April 9, he will be giving a lecture and subsequent discussion in Michigan, and apparently its going to be webcast live. So, for the first time, those of us who have only ever seen the small snippets of him from YouTube will get to see so much more.
Not only that, but the Press Release (English, Armenian) mentions that viewers can send emails during the talk, of questions they want to ask the Ombudsman.
It's a little frustrating that it will be midnight or so Armenian time when the webcast will be live. But I don't see why questions can't be emailed in advance, and maybe they'll make the video available afterwards as well.  

Wouldn't it be great if the webcast was shown Live on large screens around Yerevan, or shown on television, on April 9th? But I suppose if the freedom to do that existed in Armenia, the Ombudsman wouldn't be visiting the US to "have meetings" about Human Rights.

So many questions to be asked, especially as there seem to be increasing tensions between the Opposition and the Ombudsman. So many questions...

See the Press Releases above for more information.
The email to send questions to is:
The site for the Live Webcast is: