Saturday, May 30, 2009

Twitter Updates from HIMA about the election, MAY 31

UPDATE: Here is the list of violations from the HAK (Armenian only)

UPDATE - Unzipped has a great list of twitter source for minute to minute election updates, as well as some of the HIMA twitters in English.

HIMA will be posting timely updates of the May 31 Mayoral elections - follow them on Twitter - I've linked up to the updates on this blog as well in the side bar.

Here's hoping for Free and Fair Elections.

Friday, May 29, 2009

May 29, 2009 Congress Meeting

LTP's Speech is available - read it here in Armenian.
The English is also available, courtesy of a1plus, here.

a1plus also has a number of other videos available on Youtube

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What, and who, is the ARF?

"Artsvik Minasyan stated that people give little to the Dashnaktsutyun, but they demand very much." (Lragir, May 26)
An interesting statement. Its unclear, in the English and Armenian articles, what this refers to exactly, and I can't find the original quote anywhere, or in the video. It seems he is referring to votes/support (not getting enough), or expecting the ARF to burden more than their share (1/8th) of the blame, or something else. What I do get from watching the video on Lragir is the sense that the ARF feels entitled - to be appreciated and revered by Armenians, to be considered free of any true or significant wrongdoing, because, after all, they are the ARF.

This is neither surprising, nor new. The ARF seems to think it is the center not only of the identity of all Armenians, but of the moral fiber of Armenians - that they are the great protectors of the Armenian people. Here is an example of an Asbarez article from May 8:
... The normalization of relations with Turkey is a historic moment []... The ARF, by reassuming its traditional, role takes center stage in this process. It becomes essentially the watchdog, the last line of defense, protecting both the future of the country and of all Armenians. As the only effective counterbalance to the present administration in Yerevan, the ARF has put the administration on notice that it will monitor the government’s actions, propose alternative strategies, and publicly evaluate the national security issues that may be adversely impacted by the direction the negotiations appear to be going.

Their claims to fame are in the past, and their actions in the present speak for themselves. As the coordinator of the Hnchagyan Party answered in a recent interview:
Q: The ARF Dashnaktsutyun, before the election, left the coalition and became opposition. What do you think, will the Dashnaktsutyun be able to be an alternative for the Armenian National Congress?

A: I think that it is even ridiculous to think about it. I don’t want to say anything bad about the ARF Dashnaktsutyun, but we all saw how the Dashnaktsutyun became opposition before each election. Though, it is strange, that after becoming opposition and leaving the coalition the Dashnaktsutyun is not ready to struggle against Serge Sargsyan’s actions and policy, which he leads in connection with Turkey. They have to prove that they are struggling for the future of Armenia. So, I think that today the political force, which would be able to compete with the HAK, lacks.

But somehow, the ARF still thinks it has the backing and foundation, the credibility, to make this statement:
“Dashnaktsutyun is ready and able to force the authorities to make immediate revisions in the current policy,” warned the statement. “Furthermore, it is ready to come to power and do that with its own responsibility.”

And this just a day after a pretty damning article in the New York Times about the ARF in Lebanon, and its decision to support Hezbollah in the upcoming elections in Lebanon. (Of course, the timing of the article itself is interesting, too). This decision raises so many questions, that if you don't agree its a problem on one level, you'll see its a problem on another. After all, the ARF is supposedly based in Armenia, right?

The fact is, they are not the party they once were.
They are not the true nor the worthy descendants of Mikaelyan, Zavaryan, and Zoryan.

Redefining Absurdity: The apparent illegality of stopping a kidnapping

So many eyewitnesses have now come forth and stated that their original testimonies were false - because they were being physically beaten or threatened - that it is new statements are no longer surprising.

And last week, eyewitness Gagik Avdalyan was forcibly taken from the courtroom by police moments before he was due to testify that his original testimony was false, and had been made after being severely beaten. He was kidnapped, essentially.

And just yesterday, eyewitness Mushegh Antonyan was supposed to testify in the case against Hakob Hakobyan, retracting his initial false statement. Policemen in plainclothes, without any ID or paperwork, attempted twice to take him away. They were blocked by opposition supporters. Antonyan was escorted by the opposition supporters to Chorrord Ishkhanutyun, where he spent the night, and was safely brought back to court today.

Here's the best part: the judge read a statement by the police stating that those who had done the blocking (opposition supporters, journalists) were illegally obstructing police work.

This makes the experiences of Joseph K and The Good Soldier Svejk look rational and logical.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Amnesty on May 28, can it be?

UPDATE- Statement retracted, or a lots and lots and lots of clarification. See the RFE/RL article (thanks to Ani for the reference).
Are any of us surprised?

In an interview with RFE (listen here, start at 5:22), Hovik Abrahamyan stated that on May 28, SS will declare amnesty. According to an article in a1plus, the ANC isn't getting too excited just yet. And, given the complete lack of transparency and trustworthiness of the current regime, and I'm not counting my chickens before they hatch, either. It's not quite clear WHO would be granted Amnesty, just the 7? All of the political prisoners? Even those who aren't actually in captivity?
And even if Amnesty is granted, will it be under specific conditions?
I am cautious, but hopeful that all of the political prisoners will be set free. I can only begin to imagine the possibilities...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

So Many Games, Just One SS - Who To Trust?

Over the past week, we've seen a number of interesting, well, let's call them phenomena.
BHK and HHK keep getting into brawls, which are potentially escalating, but there are no straight answers or straight stories, since both sides seem to be actively engaged in coverup and denial of these incidents.
The Mayoral election is heating up, and interestingly enough, of the four coalition member groups that are supposedly running separately, the BHK, at least when looking at the videos and news sources (which I admit is not the best way to judge nor is it objective), seems to have the most backing of the four. Orinats Yerkir seems almost lost in the fray. The ARF is campaigning, and not surprisingly they've made some announcements doubting the legitimacy of the government and declaring the electoral process problematic.
So are the BHK and the HHK fighting it out? Is the HHK upset that the BHK is really, actually, trying, and maybe has a chance over the HHK - that is, is this a sign of deepening rifts? Or is it a front, all make believe for those observing, those undecided, as some have suggested...
If it is for real, if the divide is growing stronger, it is of no surprise, not to anyone who has thought about it, at least. This is what happens when the ties that bind are severely outnumbered by the differences, and the tie that does bind is about maintaining or gaining power, which is a selfish principle in and of itself. When self interest, self maintenance and advancement are the driving forces, then it is no surprise that when it comes to true policy decisions (which is what voters ideally but not always follow, but can be important in certain cases, case in point the ARF and its ideology), decisions made on opinions that are not part of the ties that bind, it is not surprising that tensions arise. And this is what happened under SS.
Here I will digress. Here is where I see one of the major differences between RK and SS. Both of them made deals, dealt with people they would not have otherwise to ensure security, power. Given, RK was never quite in the position SS is in now (but is that cause or effect?). But RK thought he was in control, he thought he could manipulate and deal his way out of and around anything, with anyone, about any issue. Some might say he thought himself genius enough to twirl anyone and any country around his little finger. (Maybe he just thought he could squash them under that finger?)
But SS, SS does not think himself a genius. And RK passed on this situation, these dealings, to SS. I think, and clearly this is my opinion only, that SS is pulled in a million directions, and unlike RK, he knows he is in deep, deep trouble. Dealings are falling apart, and making new deals is not helping. And maybe, just maybe, unlike RK, he sees the problems with a touch more humanity - maybe not. But I think he must feel alone, he must feel isolated - really, who can the guy turn to? The ARF? Baghdasaryan? or will he turn to Dodi Gago, or RK? Who can he trust?
He is playing with Genocide... was it for the ARF? He is toying with NK. He is dealing with Turkey. For Turkey, Armenia is a nuisance, a pest, just one more obstacle on the way to bigger and better things. But for Armenia, Turkey is the core of so many issues - border relations, Genocide Recognition, relations with Azerbaijan in the NK conflict. And that's not mentioning the internal economic, social and political problems at home, including the impending dissolution of the coalition.
That's alot of games for one person. And, I think, he knows it.

Friday, May 15, 2009

"I refuse to sign" - Rafael Balbabyan

Another YouTube Video with a witness, who originally was pressured to give false testimony, and now is coming out with truth, and refuses to give false testimony again. Below is the rough translation


I am one of the commanders of the Shushi Squadron. After they beat me up on March 1, two citizens brought me to the hospital in a taxi. I received a blow on my head, and since then, I can’t see. Then the police took me to the Prosecutor’s office, in the condition I was in.

They began to write something, then crossed it off, then wrote again, then crossed it off again. I didn’t understand what they were writing or crossing off, who they were looking for.

I signed all those written testimonies, because I couldn’t see.

They asked about Sassoun, they asked about Miasnik.

They said I had distributed 5,000 rubles. I told them I had done no such thing.
[??] And I didn’t know anything about what was written.

And now, every day, they take me and bring me back; every day, every day, to the Prosecutor’s office, from there to the Investigators’s Office, from there to the Division. The chief of police of the Kotayk Marz came, the Deputy Chief of Police came, then the Mayor came. They all came to persuade me to accept my testimonies about Malkhasyan as a basis, ‘sign and you’ll be done with court’. I told them no, [??] … forcibly, forcibly they would take me… That’s it. They were pressuring me to sign those testimonies, in that way. I refused to sign. I refused to sign, and the next day they took my passport away from me.

I’ve told them, if you bother me again, if you bother my child again, I will commit suicide. Enough! I told them, just like that. I will commit suicide and see if I’ll be free of you, or not.

They also took my son for questioning and asked: Who are you? Who is your sister?
Who is your mother? What business is it of theirs? They’ve disturbed me psychologically. I don’t know who to talk to, how, anymore.

I’m going to ask them to return my passport. If not, I don’t know what to do…

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"This is not what we fought for... this country can't go on like this."

From YouTube a1plus:

The first few segments are witnesses describing how they had been forced and beaten into giving false testimony. Sadly, nothing new these days - that is, not the first, and probably not the last. Regardless of how many come forth, for each individual, it takes a great show of strength and courage to come forth, and publicly describe what happened.

The last segment, starting at 6:00m, is Razmik Petrosyan, former Commander of the Aparan Regiment, giving his opinion. It was passionate, and went straight to the core. And it was true. Here is a rough translation:

The worst of it, what hurts the most, with these court cases, beyond the absurdity of it, we are witnessing the degradation of the values of a entire victorious nation.
If our soldiers, people who have defended this country, fought for this country, now have to flee from their homes, or are forced to give false testimony against their military commanders and their heroes, well, then it’s already the end of the world. It doesn’t get any lower than that, in the world, I can’t imagine it. If the person who defended the nation, now himself needs to be defended, in his country, in the country that he created, then that’s already [??].
Myself, as a former fighter, I am convinced this is not what we fought for.
If suddenly our friends who perished lifted up their heads, they would not forgive us for having created this kind of country. I ask forgiveness from all of our guys who are sitting now in prison, that we have been unable to help them; those men who saved this people. And as if that’s not bad enough, that we can’t help them, we can’t even help our invalid, free-living, friends, whom by forcing and by turning invalid, they’ve forced them to give false testimony against their brothers in arms.
We’re going to clean this up, this country won’t stay like this. If we don’t clean it up, our children will not forgive us. We owe, from top to bottom, we all have our share of guilt in this. We can’t leave this country like this. I am ashamed of even just being alive. Stand up straight, straighten up. We need justice in this country, it can’t go on like this. We can’t allow ourselves to be so degraded, it is not possible to live like this.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Matthew Bryza on Nagorno Karabagh

The interview Bryza gave to Russian Echo is all over the web. A1plus, Tert, and many other news sources have excerpts in multiple languages. For those who like to see more than just snippets in English, remember that you can have Google translate the page for you. What comes out is actually pretty good - obviously not perfect, but pretty darn good. Click here for the Google translated interview.

Interviews like this make me wonder even more what is REALLY going on - or rather - convince me even further that there are decisions and dealings being made. I don't expect sensitive issues to be discussed in detail, publicly. That doesn't make sense, for any government, even legitimate ones. But when there is SO much intentional misinformation, when so many mixed messages are put forth, and no simple, plain truths are given, by what is already an illegitimate government, well, then, I at least get that sense that deals are being made, hands are being shaken, and Armenia is going to get the brunt of it in the end.

Because Sargsyan is not in control of what is going on. Nor does he truly represent Armenia. And thats a bad combination. He's not just between a rock and hard place. He's got a lightning storm above him and an earthquake below him. Odysseus had it easy (with just one Scylla and one Charybdis). But don't get me wrong, I'm not pitying him. Not one bit.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Let People Know What You Think

The website has a number of items available - hats, t-shirts and sweaters - with symbols and text in support of the ANC, HIMA, and political prisoners, in English and Armenian.

Make your voice heard, whether you are in Yerevan, Glendale, Paris, London, Gyumri, or Moscow. Or anywhere else.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Beatings Do Not a Lasting Testimony Make

The Case of the Seven may no longer exist as it was, but the multiple court cases that have resulted carry on the legacy of complete absurdity.

Sasoun Mikaelyan's case is no exception. RFE/RL reported yesterday on witness Yasha Melkonyan's statements, some of which have been in the written news. But the radio piece (May 6: 15:00 hrs: 10:30-12:56) is definitely worth listening to- here are some highlights:
Melkonyan stated that 10 days ago he was told by the prosecution what accusations he should make against Mikaelyan - that he was to say that he was following the orders of Mikaelyan on March 1, orders to attack with pipes.

In the courtroom, Melkonyan stated he did not seen any pipes on March 1, and that the only reason he ever stated anything like that was because of the injuries he sustained to his chest. After the March 1 events, he had been "invited" to the police station as a participant in the events, and had been beaten. The Chief of the Hrazdan Criminal Division of Police was among four individuals who did the beating, and were wearing masks. Melkonyan stated that during the beating he saw the face beneath the mask, he saw Sergei Margosyan (the Chief) with his own eyes.  The reason for the beating was that the times he gave did not correspond to the times on the video.

Two days ago, his home was searched by police, and 1 gram of cannabis had been supposedly found, attributed to his son. Melkonyan says this is an attempt to pressure him further to make accusations against Mikaelyan.

Melkonyan stated that the testimony was false, and apologized for them in court.

Mikaelyan expressed in court how sad it is that Freedom Fighters are being beaten, and forced to give [false] testimony against their brothers in arms.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Operation Vahan?...

Sometime within the past week, Azatutyun Radio had a story on "Operation Vahan," a new initiative by the Yerevan Police aimed at decreasing crime, I think it was. There wasn't much written about it, and still isn't. A1plus mentioned it briefly (Armenian, English) in the May 1 article about the roads into Yerevan being closed, yet again. In fact, this "Operation Vahan" was used as an excuse to check cars going into Yerevan. Vahan, for those who don't know, means 'Shield' in Armenian. I wonder who they think they're defending.
The name "Operation Vahan" made me think of the last time I heard the term "Operation" used in the Armenian context. That was Operation Nemesis. Writer Jacques Derogy dedicated an entire book, originally in French, entitled Operation Nemesis, and then in English, Resistance and Revenge, to the topic.
Interesting that in that case, the Resistance part and the Revenge part were organized by the ARF, as opposition to those who had committed crimes against the Armenian people.
I'm not sure why I made the connection. I suppose its because the term "Operation" anything implies such an organized, decisive and controlled plan, often against a large foe or force. Which makes sense if you're fighting a huge army, or have a secret plan against Ottomans. It does seem a tad out of place when it is supposed to describe a plan to decrease guns and drugs in the city/country. It seems out of place to use a term so evocative of violence to describe a program that is meant to decrease violence and crime, and to protect a people.
But, I supposed I should stop being surprised that SS's government is acting that way towards its own people. That's the Revenge part. Definitely on the opposite side than the Resistance, in this case.

[image from a1plus]

Friday, May 1, 2009

May 1 Rally - "Critical Juncture"

I haven't seen any official or unofficial numbers yet, but Lragir reported that today's demonstration had no fewer participants than those in the past. A number of articles and videos are already out - see the YouTube pages of Tert and A1plus. Onnik Krikorian has also already posted links to some of his own photos and videos, see here.

LTP's speech is out as well - here is the start:

(The Speech of Levon Ter-Petrosyan at the Rally of 1 May, 2009)

Dear Compatriots:

First, I would like to congratulate you and our entire nation on the International Day of Worker’s Solidarity, the relevance of which has particularly increased with the sad reality Armenia currently finds itself in.
Exactly two months have passed since the rally on 1 March, which is not a long period, but it has been one filled with many significant processes and events, the following four of which I want to bring to your attention:
1. The deterioration of the socio-economic situation;
2. The wrecking of the “case of seven”;
3. The deepening of the Armenian-Turkish dialogue;
4. Preparations for the elections of the mayor of Erevan.
What I will do below is attempt to present the positions of the Armenian National Congress regarding each of them in as brief a space as possible.

Continue reading in EnglishRead in Armenian
Read in Russian

[photo from a1plus]