Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Beyond Absurdity...

UPDATE: Lragir has published an article outlining several more inconsistencies from the forensic exam.

This is just absurd.

In addition to the numerous signs of violence on his body, the autopsy findings on Artak Nazaryan reveal that there was a hole caused by a gunshot in his tongue.

This would mean that he place the muzzle of the rifle under or in front of his tongue, which seems counterintuitive for someone who is alone, committing suicide.

It does seem completely consistent with the theory that the muzzle was forcibly put in his mouth.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Constitution? What Constitution?

I was just looking something up in the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia. As I opened the page, I saw this:

Հոդված 1.
Հայաստանի Հանրապետությունը ինքնիշխան, ժողովրդավարական, սոցիալական, իրավական պետություն է:

(Transl from Foreign Ministry) Article 1.
The Republic of Armenia is a sovereign, democratic state, based on social justice and the rule of law.

(Transl from Presidential Website) Article 1.
The Republic of Armenia is a sovereign, democratic, social state governed by rule of law.

I wasn't sure if it even made sense to read what came after that...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"These things don't happen in the Armenian Army..." Really?

This is what is wrong with the recent responses of the Seyran Ohanyan's Ministry of Defense. They put the cart before the horse, and deny the obvious and known. Now, I'm not sure they're as bad, or at least as obvious, as Alik Sargsyan's Police Department - I say I'm not sure, I just don't have enough information - but that's not really saying much. What am I talking about? Let's take two recent occurrences - 1)the death of Artak Nazaryan and 2)the recent YouTube video.

In the case of the first, Artak Nazaryan's mother set out, in a well balanced, both logical and emotional public letter to Seyran Ohanyan, her specific concerns and doubts regarding the investigation into her son's alleged suicide. His response was just published on Lragir in Armenian here. The english is not available, but for those interested the google translation is understandable, and here is the summary:

Paragraph 1: You have doubts about the criminal investigation, you think it is flawed
Par 2: I am sorry for your loss. Under article 110 paragraph 1 and article 375 paragraph 2, Captain Hakob Manukyan is being charged.
Par 3: 3 others are charged with Article 358, paragraph 2, point 3
Par 4: This issue is important, continues to be investigated, is under my direct supervision, a detailed investigation has been ordered so that those guilty can be punished and so that such things do not happen again
Final Par: I am ready to have a private meeting with you, and have the head of the investigation answer your questions in my presence

A couple of things are missing for me here: an acknowledgement or validation of her detailed concerns regarding the serious flaws in the investigation, and a sense of transparency regarding the outcome. That is, why does it have to be a private meeting? Additionally, and maybe I'm just being picky, but really, I would have expected more with regards to a sense of loss, a sense of loss for the family, for the army, and for the entire country. And if the investigation is not complete, how do you already "know" it was suicide (and how did you "know" it was suicide so soon)? I have to say, its not a good response, but its not utterly horrific. Somewhere in there I think I see a glimpse of a shred of concern - but honestly, I can't tell if this is real, or they just have a writer who has some sense of what to write.

On to #2. The video which was pulled off of YouTube and DailyMotion, but then reappeared with some restrictions on YouTube. Some bloggers posted it after downloading, and apparently were criticized for it - parts of Ara Manoogian's comment on Unzipped's blog (both of them posted the video):
What is even more disturbing to me is how many people are demanding that this be covered up and not made public...[]
I have received threats of violence if I don't remove the video in private messages, have been called a trader and for the most part I am seeing the majority of the over 350 comments to be in favor of removing the video since it will scar our reputation...[]
I will also add that I have been contacted by the MoD media department, who have clearly stated their commitment to find the man in the video and have even gone so far as asking for my help to do this.

Likely due to the massive publicity the video attained, the MoD published a response on the website, here in Armenian. Again, the offical English is not available, but the google translate version is pretty good, and here is a summary:

Paragraph 1: Footage was put up on YouTube showing young men in Armenian Army uniforms being abused. The quality of the footage is low, so the faces aren't clear, and Armenian words can't be made out
Par 2: But since the soldiers are wearing Armenian uniforms, the public is upset.
Par 3: The MoD strongly condemns the preparation and dissemination of such materials which are intended to denigrate and blacken the reputation of the Armenian Army.
Last Par: The MoD is investigating the authenticity of the video, and aims to identify those pictured on the video, and the authors of the video, to punish those committing the violence

And there it is again - it seems to be they're trying to cover all their bases, but have their priorities backwards. If it is not authentic, why talk so strongly about identifying and punishing those in the video? And if it is authentic, why is production of the video such a horrible thing - yes it is embarrassing and demoralizing, but everyone knows its happening, and this seems to be the only recourse left. In the end, it seems to be the only way to bring these issues to light, and ultimately strengthen the army. If they're not sure yet, then state that, with a few more if/then statements. Honestly, I feel the priority here should be addressing the fundamental problem, not condemning the besmirchment of the army. [Unzipped has a good translation and discussion regarding this in the comments section of the relevant post]

So, maybe I'm not being fair, and MoD is really just trying to play it safe on all counts. Nope, that doesn't work, from News.am (my emphasis):

Commenting on the Youtube video demonstrating harassment of soldiers, allegedly in the Armenian army, the Minister stated he does not believe such things happen in the Armenian army. He pointed out that experts are now studying the video. “If we find out such a thing really happened, the one guilty will be punished severely. Unfortunately, we have not yet been able to find that man,” the Minister said. He also stressed that those who put the video on Youtube will be punished as well.

Aaaakh, Seyran, Seyran...

Translation of the Criminal Code is from Legislation Online:
[Article 110. Causing somebody to commit suicide.
1. Causing somebody to commit suicide or make an attempt at a suicide by indirect willfulness or by negligence, by means of threat, cruel treatment or regular humiliation of one’s dignity, is punished with imprisonment for the term of up to 3 years.
Article 375. Abuse of power, transgression of authority or administrative dereliction.
1. Abuse of power, transgression of authority or administrative dereliction, if these acts were committed for mercenary or group-interest motives, by a commander or official, and if these inflicted essential damage, is punished with imprisonment for 2-5 years.
2. The same acts which negligently caused grave consequences, are punished with imprisonment for 3-8 years.
Article 358. Violence against the commander.

1. Battery or other violent actions against the commander related to the performance of his military duties, is punished with disciplinary battalion for the term of up to 2 years, or with imprisonment for the term of up to 5 years.
2. The same actions committed:
1) by a group of persons;
2) by using weapons;
3) causing grave or medium-gravity to health, or other grave consequences]

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Open Letter To Seyran Ohanyan, from the Mother of Artak Nazaryan

[The following is copied and pasted directly from online sources English, Armenian:Արտակ Նազարյանի մոր բաց նամակը Սեյրան Օհանյանին,
with a typographical correction done on September 13]

Hasmik Hovhannisyan, mother of contract soldier Artak Nazaryan who died on July 27 in the military unit of the Mehrab village, Tavush Marz, has written an open letter to Minister of Defense Seyran Ohanyan. We present that letter in its entirety below:

At 7:00 AM on July 27th, according to the official version, my son Artak Nazaryan ostensibly “committed suicide.” I maintain that my son could never have done such a thing. He believed in God, he had a Father Confessor, he was a member of the Holy Trinity Fraternal Order up until he received his orders from the Ministry of Defense and began to work. For him, God’s laws had become flesh and blood, and he clearly knew that not only murder is a sin, but suicide, as well, and for that greatest of sins the punishment would be horrible.

I know that to speak of higher spiritual values is ludicrous for you.

They killed my son. They killed him in a premeditated manner and in calculated, cold blood. They eliminated from their path the light that perturbed them, the good and the honest. Such animals are evil and are the product of an atmosphere of impunity. They are not ordinary murderers; they are traitors to the fatherland who brutally kill and obliterate the officer who defends the border.

To hide the traces of their brutality, they elevated his body above the 300-meter position, placed him in the enemy’s line of sight, relying on the shots of enemy snipers. But the Turks realized that if the officer leaning there was not already killed, then he was half dead, and the Armenians needed a pretext to blame the enemy side for the death of the soldier killed by their own hands. But having been proven wrong in their calculations, and to put an end to the problem of the half dead officer, they placed the barrel of the automatic weapon in his mouth, and fired. Rather than calling a doctor, helping him, washing his innumerable wounds before killing him—and with that easing their guilt—they went to the very end.

It is not known by whose order such people were being protected, from the beginning, hiding the obvious murder under the shroud of “suicide.” Those working in that direction, by deliberately distorting evidence, supposedly push the work forward in the name of the Armenian Army. They, too, are traitors to the nation and the fatherland. And with that action, they are casting down even further the pride of the army, putting a stamp of blood and shame on the army and on the brow of its leadership.

The only way to wash off the blood and shame is through a fair investigation, which from the beginning has suffered serious shortcomings.

They did not lift fingerprints from my son, according to them, before his body cooled; they worked without gloves; the house where my son lived was not sealed off. Ten days after the incident a search was conducted at his house, from which my son’s 2010 diary was not found. Nothing was said about the seized material. I don’t know whether the military bag and winter jacket he took with him this time still exist, or not.

My son’s body was sent to Yerevan completely naked. Where are my son’s military uniforms? I have put stitches on those uniforms with my own hands and know them well; perhaps they are going to exchange them. There would be numerous marks left on the uniform from a brutally committed murder.

To preserve the body, they asked us for 40 kilograms of ice. It wasn’t enough that a horrific crime, which has no name, had been committed. And after all that, to ease out of their guilt, they wanted to send him home in a closed casket; and only after my begging and pleading did they fix his face, covering it with a ton of makeup, bringing him home on the 29th, at the end of a work day. Already at that time there were worms in his nose, for which we invited a doctor. He cleaned his nostrils of the worms and sealed them with special fluids.

The next day, on July 30th, we buried him. His body was in a horrible state. This is evidence that the event did not happen on July 27th, but earlier, on the night of the 24th. Where was his body placed until he was moved to Yerevan, and why? There was not going to be an autopsy at that place, they only acted that way to take off his clothing, a favor for some people.

One of the pallbearers of my dead son’s body was the battalion commander. He was untroubled, and spoke as though nothing had happened. He was that commander about whom my son had spoken with his father, saying, ‘Father, there are two individuals after me, the political officer and the battalion commander, especially the latter.’

All the necessary information which should have helped to solve the case has been deliberately delayed, which speaks to the fact that the case is being led, purposefully, in another direction to cover up for the beastly army commanders who stick close to their feeding troughs, and for the battalion commander who told my husband who had gone to receive my son’s body, and in the presence of relatives, that my son was a weak officer.

To my husband’s question as to who was the first to see the body, the political officer answered that he had, and that supposedly he had found a suicide note in my son’s pocket and had kept it.

The note was discovered two days after my son’s house was searched, and his house was searched ten days after the incident. Investigator Madatyan hastily sent off the forged note found for examination. That forged note isn’t worth a penny for me, based on its content; it was written after the murder.

My son’s notebook, which I don’t know if was stolen from his house or, according to their version, taken from his pocket, was ripped apart like my son’s body. They had removed all of the pages and left only three dated pages and one torn page where the word “suicide” had been forged. They didn’t show us the original; how many secrets the original would have revealed…

Does the person about to commit “suicide” climb 300 meters, torment his own body, smash his own head and teeth, fire into his own mouth and not on the bestial torturers?

Mr. Minister, a question arises: How is it that a 30-year-old young man who had graduated from the Faculty of Oriental Studies of Yerevan State Institute, being inexperienced in the filthy dealings of the military of which you are well aware, and who had treated the soldiers of the battalion as his own brothers, who loved the Lord, would forget all and commit suicide?

Why do you not, the head of the entire system, although they say even of you that you are a feeble minister who has no say in anything, want to cleanse the army and the entire structure of the blood and filth, and truly punish the guilty? If that task is beyond your capabilities, then you too, like my son, should commit “suicide” and leave a genuine note saying that as a high-ranking military man, you are ashamed to have such a corrupt Armenian army.

So then, all those who wittingly or unwittingly participated in the murder of my son—beginning with the commander who issued the order and whom you relieved of his responsibilities rather than arrest; the soldiers who witnessed the incident; those who instigated the fight; those who committed the actual violent acts; those who held his arms down; those who bashed his head in (i.e., the political officer, as a result of whose assault, if my son didn’t die, was rendered unconscious and left in that condition for days on end until they could decide what to do next); the inspector; those who moved his body and whose crude fingerprints were left on the broken arms of my son, ending with those who have buried the system in corruption and whose hands are stained not only with the blood of my son, but also of many other youths like my son—you should make all of them stand before a tribunal not as ordinary criminals but as traitors to the fatherland, traitors for whom there is no sanctity except their bellies. In times of war, traitors to the fatherland are shot by a firing squad.

Mother of Nazaryan, Hasmik Hovhannisyan
In a postscript in the letter sent to Seyran Ohanyan through the online newspaper Lragir.am Hasmik Hovhannisyan has also noted: “I wanted to send this letter to you directly, but convinced that such letters are never read, I preferred to publish it in the press so that you would be forced to read it.”

[The picture is used with permission]

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Brothers and Sisters, Sons and Daughters

I found this excerpt online. Obviously not regarding Armenia, but it may as well have been written for Armenia today. I don't have much to add, for now...

"My patriotic and heroic Countrymen, my honourable Brothers and Sisters, my brave Sons and Daughters… The aim of our movement is civil disobedience. For six long years we have been facing persecution and oppression. Our calls for resumption of democracy have been ignored, our workers have been imprisoned and sentenced to death. Enough is enough. We appeal to all the bus owners to take their buses off the roads, to all the railwaymen to stop plying the trains. To the policemen we say: follow the example of your brothers in Dadu and do not shoot innocent people who are your brothers. Do not be frightened of this movement. It is for our people, for our poor, for our children so that they do not live in poverty, hunger and disease. Struggle for your Parliament, for you Government, for your Constitution so that the decisions are taken for the poor people and not for the junta and its stooges…”

...though I'd be interested to know if anyone guessed the source.