Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Picture of the Day

No, it's not what you think. Apparently, this sign in Boston (USA) refers to boats :)

*via Queerty (via The Times)

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Two newspaper editors to be prosecuted for disturbing the peace

Reporters Without Borders condemns the arrest of two opposition newspaper editors - Nikol Pashinian of Haykakan Jamanak and Shoger Matevossian of Chorrord Ishkhanutiun - along with some 10 supporters of former President Levon Ter-Petrosian during an opposition march in Yerevan on 23 October.

After being freed the next day, the two journalists learned at a press conference given by the police that they are to be prosecuted under articles 258 and 316 of the criminal code for “disturbing the peace” and “violence against an official.” The charges carry a maximum sentence of a month in prison and a fine equivalent to 50 times the minimum monthly wage.

“We call on the Armenian authorities to drop the charges against Pashinian and Matevossian and to show more tolerance towards opposition journalists,” Reporters Without Borders said.

According to the Yerevan Press Club, the police confiscated the camera of photographer David Jalalian of the newspaper Haik when he went to the police station where the opposition members were being held. The camera was finally returned but some of his photos had been deleted by the police.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Ter-Petrosyan's comeback

It’s official now. Levon Ter-Petrosyan will run for presidency in upcoming Armenian elections. [selected blog reports, video and photos - here, here, here and here] I wrote about my thoughts of him before. Now it’s time for updates.

Number-wise, the rally could be considered a success. Even if it’s 10 000, it is still good, taking into account apathy of population and all sorts of efforts by current administration against the rally and Levon & co. Based on various sources and friends’ impressions who attended the rally, atmosphere-wise it was also a successful day for Levon. There was optimism and good energy around during that rally.

His tone was calmer and speech - more solid than the one on 21st September, when he first declared his presidential intentions. He looked very arrogant on the 21st.

In fact, if I were to meet Levon, I would say to him: “Do not be arrogant. It does not suit you.” You were first elected as people’s president. You were ‘one of us’ – well, at least that’s how the majority perceived you. However, in few years you became arrogant, kind of self-isolated and intolerant to dissent voice. I quite like the fact that you were holding meetings with various political parties, even those that you shut down during your term of presidency. However, I’d like to get assurances that the practice of political dialogue will continue if you were to be elected as President.

You keep criticising current administration for their inability to solve Karabakh problem. Fair enough. However, your plan was not any better. You rightly repeated that under any solution Karabakh cannot be a part of Azerbaijan again. But you supported a plan that did not give any clear indication as to what will happen to Karabakh status. Karabakh is one of the key issues and you have to spell out more clearly your vision.

When you criticise current regime of being corrupt, you are becoming a very easy target to counter-claims. Unless you come clean for the past, it won’t be easy for you to re-gain electorate’s trust and move forward to present and future. There were lots of speculations before the rally that you may acknowledge your mistakes and say “Sorry” to people who trusted you and then felt betrayed by you. Your vague ‘apology’ during infamous forced resignation speech in 1998 is not enough. May be yesterday was not a right time to do so, but you have to do it in coming months... People won’t forget your mistakes, but they will appreciate your frankness.

To be honest, while I am glad that it seems we are to witness an exciting presidential campaign, there is something inside me that makes me feel worry. Call it intuition or whatever, I have those weird feelings that something bad may happen. Too much is at stake to those who are in power now if they to lose it via democratic elections. On the other hand, Levon came out to win, and any other outcome will not be ‘acceptable’ to his supporters. I hope nothing bad will happen, I really do. I hope we won’t witness violence and blood. I feel unease... I want to get rid of these feelings, but I do not know yet how...

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Condoleezza Rice Confronted by "Blood-Stained" Anti-war Activist

Thanks to guys from Towleroad for this excellent post

Anti-war protestor Desiree Anita Ali-Fairooz of the Code Pink organization was detained on Wednesday after confronting Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at a congressional hearing.

As Rice approached the podium, Farooz placed blood-colored hands in her face and shouted "war criminal" before being escorted form the chamber along with several other activists.

Reuters reports: "Capitol Police said later five people were arrested, including Ali-Fairooz, who was charged with disorderly conduct and assault on a police officer. She was also charged with defacing government property for smearing the red paint from her hands on the hallway wall outside the hearing room. The other four protesters faced disorderly conduct charges."

Halloween, of course, is next week, but in the Bush administration it's scary all year.

* X-posted from Towleroad

... And now read Onnik Krikorian's post Condoleezza Rice: Drop Armenian Genocide Bill

Sunday, 21 October 2007

The power and value of Armenian capital

"International experts assess the Armenian capital, the combined Armenian capital of the world to be equal to $100 billion. When I told about this to a group of Armenian businessmen in Moscow, they smiled, these Armenian businessmen in Moscow smiled after hearing this figure, and said this much money they had themselves. (Laughter). I told about this to [...] a prominent businessman in the United States and the United Kingdom, and he said it's not true, it should be at least $300 billion.

Let it be not $300, not $200, let it be $100, OK? If we could attract at least 1% of these resources every year to Armenia, then within a short period of time there will remain no social problems in Armenia."

Armenian PM Serj Sargsyan, speaking to LA Times editorial board

P.S. He needs money, he needs investments. Fair enough.  If we could attract at least 1% of these resources every year to Armenia, conditional to democracy and human rights, then within a short period of time...

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Telegraph: The Armenian Genocide (more than a book review)

Helen Brown of British Telegraph newspaper reviews A Shameful Act: the Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility by Turkish-born sociologist and historian Taner Akçam. Here are two passages from her review The Armenian genocide:

"Akçam – who obtained political asylum in Germany in the 1970s after receiving a 10-year prison sentence for involvement in a student journal, and now teaches in America – has sought out documents from around the world. He has hunted down the memoirs of foreign missionaries and ambassadors and the telegrams sent by the perpetrators to make a solid case for the genocide having been planned and orchestrated by the Turkish Nationalist party."

"We in the West must face our own responsibility. We read how, after 1920, the British abandoned their demand for the war criminals to be punished, and many of those responsible found their way straight back into the "new" Turkish government."

Related and worth reading
Salon - Genocide: An inconvenient truth
Time magazine - The U.S. and Turkey: Honesty Is the Best Policy

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Naked saviour

Apparently, seeing naked Belgian fan on the field was too much of a distraction for Armenian football players, who were leading the game but completely lost it afterwards (3:0). Smart move, Belgium! ;)

Armenian Genocide resolution "unlikely"

It seems that Bush + Turkey & co 'succeded' again. A number of House members panicky withdrew their support as co-sponsors of the resolution. To get majority seems unlikely now, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may be forced to shelve or postpone it. I felt kind of disgust when read the news (below, via iararat). They used us or got used and then threw away... as usual. Pure 'moral dimension' in politics.

No other source of information confirmed this yet, but it seems likely to be true...

ABC News' George Stephanopoulos reports: "According to Congressional and Bush administration sources, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is now unlikely to bring a resolution which would label the deaths of Armenians in a conflict more than 90 years ago as "genocide".

Pelosi, as recently as Sunday on "This Week", has repeatedly said she would call the controversial but nonbinding resolution for a vote despite the opposition of the Bush administration and warnings that it could damage U.S. relations with Turkey.

President Bush called Speaker Pelosi on Monday night and asked her to pull the bill. But Congressional sources say that Pelosi is telling House members that she will not bring the bill to the floor without majority support.

At least seven House members have withdrawn as co-sponsors of the bill and several more are expected to follow. Key Pelosi ally Rep. John Murtha, D-Penn., is also lobbying against a vote.

Key House members continue to canvass members but don't expect a vote this year."
Nancy Pelosi: earlier statements (AP)

"I've been in Congress for 20 years, and for 20 years people have been saying the same thing" about the timing being bad, she said. Turkey was seen as having a strategic location in the Cold War as well as the 1991 Persian Gulf War and the current Iraq war.

"Why do it now? Because there's never a good time and all of us in the Democratic leadership have supported" it, she said.

"It is a statement made by 23 other countries. We would be the 24th country to make this statement. Genocide still exists, and we saw it in Rwanda; we see it now in Darfur," she told ABC's "This Week" in an interview broadcast Sunday.

“Some of the things that are harmful to our troops relate to values -- Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, torture. All of those [are] issues about who we are as a country,” Pelosi said. “And I think that our troops are well-served when we declare who we are as a country and increase the respect that people have for us as a nation.”

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Larry Gagosian - 2nd most powerful man in art world in 2007

Larry Gagosian topped the annual list compiled by Art Review magazine in 2004. Back then Art Review called him "the world's greatest art businessman." Since then Gagosian remained on the 2nd place in annual power rankings. He is the world famous art dealer of Armenian origin. He has galleries in NY, LA and London.

2007 Art Review Power 100
(with last year's ranking in brackets)

01. François Pinault (1) - French billionnaire; owns Christie's auction house

02. Larry Gagosian (2) - art dealer, US

03. Sir Nicholas Serota (3) - director of Tate galleries, UK

*picture via BBC

Monday, 15 October 2007

Hate for free ;)

Beware, all you Facebook fans! No, it’s not my new motto, it’s Hatebook.

“Hatebook is an anti-social utility that connects you with the people YOU HATE.”

Now you can “upload blackmail material or publish lies, get the latest gossip from your enemies and friends, post photos and videos on your hate profile, get hate points for disturbing people who live, study or work around you”. And all these – for free! As they say, “Everybody loves to HATE”. Do not say I did not warn you ;) x

*via TechCrunch: “A well-executed Facebook parody site called Hatebook has stepped in to provide (temporary) misanthropes with a place to air grievances about everything they hate. Hatebook looks and functions much like Facebook, except with an evil twist for everything. The color scheme is hellish red, profiles include a section called “Why I’m Better Than You!”, and members can create “Hate Albums” that consist of photos and descriptions of things they hate.”

“But don’t play around with Hatebook too much if you are concerned about privacy, because all messages (”junkmail”) are viewable by all other users, and there are no privacy controls.”

However, “With the development of the Facebook platform, we are even seeing these efforts made within Facebook itself , with the Enemybook app. Why hate outside of Facebook, when you can hate within it?” – asks Mark Hendrickson of TechCrunch.

*image via TechCrunch

Saturday, 13 October 2007

SOAD’s “Screamers” at front-line of Armenian Genocide recognition campaign

Carla Garapedian, the granddaughter of [genocide] survivors and a Los Angeles native, is scheduled to travel to Washington next week to screen her new documentary about the genocide, "Screamers," for members of Congress. Earlier this year she was summoned for a private screening of the film, which features Armenian Los Angeles rockers System of a Down, with David and Victoria Beckham in Beverly Hills.

via LA Times

Genocide: Why It Matters

CBS News reported Wednesday on a documentary called Screamers which follows the Grammy-award winning band System of a Down in its campaign to raise awareness of the Armenian Genocide.

Serj Tankian, lead singer of System of a Down told CBS about how his grandfather's father and uncles were taken away to labor camps and never seen again. "We're all lucky to be here," he said of the band. "We all know the truth of what it means to feel genocide on your skin. ... It makes it easier for us to empathize with other injustice around the world."

A video from CBS's Early Show with Serj Tankian, broadcast on October 10, 2007, is available here

via The Raw Story

According to the European Armenian Federation , the film “Screamers”, co-produced by BBC, is to be screened also in European Parliament. This event will be a tribute to Hrant Drink, Armenian journalist in Turkey, who in January 2007 was assassinated in Istanbul because he advocated for his country’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

The European Armenian Federation announced that 29 countries will be represented in the Second Convention of European Armenians to be held in European Parliament, Brussels, 15-16 October 2007.

Friday, 12 October 2007

Hrant Dink's son sentenced for father's speech

Forget global politics, here is Turkey's real 'response' to Armenian Genocide recognition. This individual example perfectly shows that, although century-long, Armenian Genocide issue is very current and in a sense never ended in Turkey, taking different forms.

Apparently, I was overly 'optimistic' in my last post in support to Agos newspaper, speculating that Turkish court will not press charges. Why? Yes, yes, Turkey's 'European aspirations'... I wonder what EU's reaction will be? Or is this also "not right time"? It never is, isn't it?

"It's a judicial scandal", says Ozlem Dalkiran, who followed the trial for the Helsinki Citizens Assembly, a European human rights group.

BBC's Sarah Rainsford has more...

Reporters Without Borders today voiced “outrage” at a one-year [suspended] prison sentence against the son of murdered journalist Hrant Dink, Arat Dink, editor-in-chief of the weekly Agos, and his editor Serkis Seropyan, using the same law under which his father had been prosecuted.

A court in the Sisli district of Istanbul found Arat Dink and Serkis Seropyan guilty of “insulting Turkish identity” for publishing an interview in Agos which Hrant Dink gave to Reuters in 2006 in which he termed as genocide the massacres of Armenians from 1915-17, remarks for which Hrant Dink was prosecuted at the time. [and later murdered]
At one of the hearings, Arat Dink repeated his father's words, saying: "If someone keeps asking me, '[...] tell me, was it a genocide, how would you describe it?', then I cannot deny myself. I cannot deny my history and identity. I said the same thing before and it made the front pages in Turkish newspapers, but no trial was opened. Because at that time there was no operation going on to show me my place..."
Seropyan had said: "I appear as the newspaper owner. If we needed to collect signatures against 301, I would do the same thing again today."

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Despite pressures and despite Bush, US Foreign Affairs Committee approved Armenian Genocide bill

Was watching live US Foreign Affairs Committee debate. Despite enormous pressures and despite Bush, they approved the bill, and now it reaches US Congress for final vote.

House speaker Nancy Pelosi re-affirmed her support for the resolution that recognises Armenian Genocide.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer said Democrats plan to bring an Armenian Genocide resolution to the House floor before they leave on Nov. 16 for the Thanksgiving recess.

P.S. (1)
According to Jewish sources, seven of eight Jewish members on a U.S. Congressional Committee voted for a resolution to recognize the Armenian genocide. The only Jewish member to vote against was Robert Wexler, who cited among other reasons Turkey's close relationship with Israel. Others cited Holocaust remembrance as a reason for their votes. Jewish congressmen who supported the resolution included the Committee chairman Tom Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor in Congress.
In an interview with BBC news channel, Hratche Koundarjian of the Aegis Trust, a Genocide prevention organisation based in the UK, said that after the final Congressional approval, Britain will remain the last major Western power to yet acknowledge Armenian Genocide as such. He expressed hope that British parliament will follow suit.

P.S. (2)
Not that there is need to prove, but still... 'classic' Bush:

George W. Bush, Man of Principle

February 19, 2000:
The twentieth century was marred by wars of unimaginable brutality, mass murder and genocide. History records that the Armenians were the first people of the last century to have endured these cruelties. The Armenians were subjected to a genocidal campaign that defies comprehension and commands all decent people to remember and acknowledge the facts and lessons of an awful crime in a century of bloody crimes against humanity. If elected President, I would ensure that our nation properly recognizes the tragic suffering of the Armenian people.

October 10, 2007:
I urge members to oppose the Armenian genocide resolution now being considered by the House Foreign Affairs Committee. We all deeply regret the tragic suffering of the Armenian people that began in 1915. This resolution is not the right response to these historic mass killings, and its passage would do great harm to our relations with a key ally in NATO and in the global war on terror.

Serj Tankian - Saving Us

Director: Kevin Estrada

This is the 3rd single and music video from "Elect the Dead" solo album of Serj which will be released 23 October.

1st single and music video "The Unthinking Majority" - here

2nd single and music video "Empty Walls" - here

Call to Support Agos Newspaper

The trial of Arat Dink and Sarkis Seropyan under Article 301 continues on 11 October

Amazingly, even after his murder, Hrant Dink (via his son) and Agos newspaper are still being 'tried' in Turkey under the now infamous article 301. Precisely the same article  they were accused of campaigning against. An article which is now a world-wide symbol of state-level oppression of freedom of expression. I do not expect any real charges as a result of these proceedings. It would be too much for survival of Turkey's 'European aspirations' image, which is being badly damaged by the only fact of this trial.

Via Turkish press freedom network Bianet:

The Say Stop to Racism and Nationalism Initiative (DurDe) [Turkey based] has called on people to support the Agos newspaper on 11 October, when its editor Arat Dink (the son of murdered journalist Hrant Dink) and licence holder Sarkis Seropyan attend a hearing at their continuing trial at a penal court in Sisli, central Istanbul.

The trial concerns news items on Hrant Dink's recognition of an "Armenian genocide"  and a campaign opposing Article 301, precisely the Article they are being tried under.

[inverted commas, as in original - I suppose, they were afraid of being tried under the same 'offence', if put Armenian Genocide without that punctuation business. On the other hand, it is no longer unusual to see in Turkish press non-comma references to the Genocide. Still, inverted commas in relation to Armenian Genocide are BBC website's official policy, although over the last week or so I noticed (formal or informal) loosening of that policy.]

Condemnation of Article 301 and Hrant Dink murder trial

In a press statement, DurDe stated that Article 301 needed to be abolished, the murder of Hrant Dink needed to be solved, and racists needed to be brought to justice. The second hearing in the Hrant Dink murder case, which took place on 1 October, was called "shameful".
"The court has not given permission to investigate the police officer who took part in the planning of a murder and whose telephone conversation has been listened to by the whole of Turkey. A police officer who said about Hrant, 'If he's snuffed it, he's snuffed it' is now working next to the former Trabzon Chief of Police. Both have been protected and rewarded."

[A similar statement was issued earlier by Reporters Without Borders. What is important here is that the call is coming from within Turkey's civil society.]

Friday, 5 October 2007

Reporters sans frontières - coffins in Paris for slain Russian journalists; cover-up attempt in Istanbul at Dink's murder trial

Eighteen coffins line Paris human rights plaza in homage to slain Russian journalists on first anniversary of Politkovskaya murder

Reporters Without Borders staged a ceremony today at the Trocadero human rights plaza in Paris to mark the first anniversary of Novaya Gazeta reporter Anna Politkovskaya’s murder in Moscow, displaying photos of Vladimir Putin and Politkovskaya alongside 18 coffins representing the 18 journalists killed in connection with their work in Russia since Putin became president in March 2000. Putin’s photo was embellished with the insignia of his French Legion of Honour award. More...

Call for all relevant evidence to be incorporated into Hrant Dink murder file

Reporters Without Borders is outraged by reports of the disappearance of evidence in the investigation into the murder of Turkish-Armenian newspaper editor Hrant Dink. The second hearing in the trial of Dink’s alleged murderers was held before a court in the Istanbul district of Besikta on 1 October.

The press freedom organisation also regrets that the trial judge rejected its request to be formally registered as a civil party in the case on the grounds that it was not directly affected by the murder of Dink, who was gunned down outside the Istanbul office of his newspaper, Agos, on 19 January. More...

*picture by AFP

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Global Day of Action for Burma

Saturday 6th October

If you are in London:

London March and Rally
Assemble at Tate Britain at 11.00am, nearest tube Pimlico.
March to Trafalgar Square for a rally at 12.45pm.

For worldwide locations:

*via Rhiannon (tablaqueen)
also The Armenian Observer Blog

Monday, 1 October 2007

Staying in power 'our' way

In Central Asian states it is quite a 'norm' that President is elected for life (Turkmenbashi phenomenon). Something very similar we recently evidenced in Azerbaijan: father Aliyev 'passed' his presidency to son Aliyev. But everyone knows that these are not democracies. No surprises then.

Slightly different phenomenon of 'exchange in power' (= staying in power even after my terms of presidency passed) is developing in countries with certainly higher level of democracy.

Not a long time ago there were intense speculations that after current Prime Minister Serj Sargsyan become a new President of Armenia, current President Robert Kocharyan may be appointed as his Prime Minister. This was neither denied nor confirmed by Kocharyan who kept saying that he would not be the youngest pensioner of Armenia. This scenario seem less realistic now, taking into account changing political situation. To be honest, I completely forgot about it until today...

Reading today's news: Russia's current President Putin did not exclude the possibility of becoming a future Prime Minister of Russia.

It was hard to imagine that President Kocharyan would feel comfortable working as Prime Minister under Serj Sargsyan; even harder (much harder!) to imagine that President Putin would work under anyone else's presidency, however loyal that anyone may be. There are various speculations as to the reasons of these announcements... We have to wait and see, or speculate further...