Tuesday, 31 March 2009
Overall, Bianet mentions of 12 Turkish Armenians who entered the municipal election race in Istanbul. Interestingly, among them, there was one mayoral candidate too. But he lost receiving only 0.8% (68 votes).
*photo - via Bianet
At the Origins of Commemoration: The 90th Anniversary of Declaring April 24 as a Day of Mourning and Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide
A special committee was formed in Constantinople, in March 1919, by a group of Ottoman Armenian intellectuals who survived the Armenian Genocide. The main goal of this committee was the organization of commemoration ceremonies dedicated to the 4th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. The committee, known as “The April 11th Board of Ceremonial Mourning” consisted of 13 members including Yevphime Avetisian, Zaruhi Galamkarian, Mari Stambulian, Perchuhi Parsamian, Miss Arpiar, Tigran Zaven, Merujan Parsamyan, Hakob Siruni, Gevorg Mesrop, Tagvor Suqiasian, Dr. Barsegh Tinanian, Shahan Perperian and Hovhannes Poghosian. Due to the efforts of these people the memory of the victims of Armenian Genocide was commemorated among the Armenians of Constantinople for the first time in 1919. Armenian writer, publicist and public figure Hakob Siruni wrote in his memoirs: “The mourning ceremony became a tradition. Since then, the 24th of April was adopted as a symbol of mourning.”
According to the committee, commemoration ceremonies were intended to be held from April 11th through the 18th, but due to the Armenian Patriarch’s illness at the time, the date was delayed by one day. Bishop Mesrop Naroian held a liturgy for the victims of the Armenian Genocide from April 15th to the 25th in St. Trinity church of Bera district of Constantinople. The Armenian patriarch of Constantinople, Zaven Eghiaian, gave a sermon. On this proclaimed “day of mourning,” all Armenian national colleges and shops in Constantinople were closed. Representatives of Saint Trinity Greek Church, RA P. Takhtadgian and others presented public statements during the ceremony.
During the afternoon, those attending the ceremony gathered Armenians moved on to the St. Trinity Armenian Evangelical Church located in the Cheshme district of the city. After the liturgy, the ceremonial mourning took place, marked with speeches, declamations and sacred music. Shahan Perperian gave the opening remarks on behalf of the Board of Ceremonial Mourning followed by representatives of the Armenian parties, including Vahan Zeituntsian and Professor H. Hakobian, Dr. Khandjian from the Doctor’s Union, Gevorg Mesrop from the Teacher’s Union along with many others. The speeches were intermingled with declamations and sacred music. A volume entitled “Memorial for April 11th” was published in Constantinople (published by - O. Arzumanian, 1919) edited by Theodik. It was published specifically for the Day of Mourning. This volume included the biographies, photos and unprinted pages of the Armenian martyrs of Constantinople and other provinces.
This initial commemoration for the victims of the Armenian Genocide in Constantinople was not the only one of its kind. On April 24, 1919, again in the St. Trinity Church in Bera, another liturgy was held for the same cause. It was officiated by the Armenian Patriarch, this time commemorating the American missionaries martyred during World War I. Representatives of the US Embassy to Turkey: Mr. Heike and Mr. Faull, a journalist from the “Times”, colonel Bennett and others brought their participation during the ceremony.
The next day, on April 25th, a similar ceremony dedicated to the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide took place in the Armenian Catholic Church at the Vatican under the approval of Pope. The entire Armenian community in Italy was present along with several Cardinals and Bishops (as representatives of the Pope), members of the Italian Government, Minister of Education M.Ludzatti, Speaker of Parliament Lombardo, Deputy Foreign Minster, French ambassador to Italy and other officials.
Since the first commemoration of the Armenian Genocide victims in Istanbul, April 24 officially was adopted as “Day of Mourning and Commemoration”.
*The Armenian Genocide Museum & Institute (press release)
Sunday, 29 March 2009
For example, I was always wondering what happened to Zara Tonikyan who was among my favourite Armenian singers back then. Unfortunately, not much is known of her, it’s still pretty much of a mystery. But I learned from the programme that she is in Belgium now performing in an unnamed club. I wish I could know which club is this so that will visit it during my upcoming trip to Brussels.
I knew that Eric (of Eric & Iza) - from popular music/entertainment interactive programme Rubicon on Public TV - is engaged and currently involved in an entertainment magazine publishing business in Yerevan. But I had no idea what happened to Iza. Now I know that Iza got married and lives in Thailand, and she sounded OK. There were brief updates and archive/current footage from some other Armenian ‘lost stars’ too, as the programme put it. (Btw, it was interesting to see a footage of very early Inga and Anush Arshakyan (in part 1), who will represent Armenia in Eurovision 2009)
Thanks to Banadzev production company for this pleasurable experience. Hope they will be consistent in keeping us updated on our past/present, and will continue providing a good quality programming touching alternative subject matters which are not touched by the mainstream.
Friday, 27 March 2009
They are pretty encouraging for Armenia, which reportedly has the lowest prevalence of alcohol consumption, smoking and drug use among teenagers of 35 European countries participating in the survey. However...
As much as I am pleasantly surprised, say, with the low smoking rates, this apparently does not get transformed into the life style changes. One recent data suggest that "with more than 70% of the population smoking, Armenia ranks sixth in the number of smokers in the world and number one in Europe." Truly, a gigantic transformation to the worse. The question is what makes no smoking teenagers become heavy smoking adults?
Below are key ESPAD results for Armenia (plus Figure, above):
Overall, alcohol and drug use in Armenia is very limited in comparison with other ESPAD countries. The key variables are all well below average, making Armenia the lowest-prevalence country in this study. Although about two-thirds (66%) of the students had been drinking alcohol during the past 12 months, less than one-tenth of them (8%) reported that they had been drunk in that period. The consumption volumes on the latest drinking day are very moderate (1.6 cl alc. 100%). Smoking is also rare, with low 30-days prevalence (7%), and the lifetime prevalence of cannabis use is low (3%). Moreover, very few (2%) of the Armenian students had used any drug other than cannabis, and non-prescription use of tranquillisers or sedatives is almost non-existent, as is use of pills in combination with alcohol.
For full comparative results of all participating countries, visit the ESPAD website.
Wednesday, 25 March 2009
Children will no longer have to study the Victorians or the second world war under proposals to overhaul the primary school curriculum, the Guardian has learned.
However, the draft plans will require children to master Twitter and Wikipedia and give teachers far more freedom to decide what youngsters should be concentrating on in classes.
The proposed curriculum, which would mark the biggest change to primary schooling in a decade, strips away hundreds of specifications about the scientific, geographical and historical knowledge pupils must accumulate before they are 11 to allow schools greater flexibility in what they teach. [...]
The proposals would require:
• Children to leave primary school familiar with blogging, podcasts, Wikipedia and Twitter as sources of information and forms of communication. They must gain "fluency" in handwriting and keyboard skills, and learn how to use a spellchecker alongside how to spell. [...]
However, over the past months I can’t recognise it. Well, occasionally I still find that fresh, different and sharp reporting, but it became more of an exception than a rule. Mostly, it is now filled with news and reports which you can read elsewhere. It takes moments to scroll down the edition, mostly glancing at the reports instead of properly reading them. Basically, I stopped ‘waiting for Fridays’, and frequently forget that the new edition of ArmeniaNow is on.
Bring my ArmeniaNow back!! I missed it...
Sunday, 22 March 2009
I am not surprised with the decision and could see this coming. Failing to agree re the united list of candidates with the ANC, this is the right decision to make. I am saddened that we won’t see Heritage party’s representatives directly contesting the election as part of the opposition alliance. However, this will diminish the damage to the reputation of Heritage party being heavily criticised from the pro-opposition side and 'supported' by pro-government forces (nothing could be more damaging to the reputation of opposition party than the latter, and the authorities know this perfectly). This will also do less harm to the opposition chances compared with Heritage’s separate participation, as the authorities won’t be able to use them (without their consent, of course) to ‘picture’ free and fair election.
Heritage have representatives in local electoral commissions, and will be important in monitoring the fairness of the process, as this issue should be above all sorts of personal and inter-party quarrels. Having relatively free and fair election in Yerevan would set an important precedent for future elections to come. Armenia needs such precedent.
*photo - via A1+ blog
Wednesday, 18 March 2009
[Unzipped: endorsed by Armenia too]
The move was the administration's latest step in reversing Bush-era decisions that have been heavily criticized by human rights and other groups. The United States was the only western nation not to sign onto the declaration when it came up at the U.N. General Assembly in December.
The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that the administration would endorse the declaration.
AFP: Washington will join 66 countries, including all the members of European Union, in backing the measure put forth by France in December, State Department spokesman Robert Wood said.
"The United States supports the UN's statements on human rights, sexual orientation, and gender identity, Wood told reporters.
"The United States is an outspoken defender of human rights and critic of human rights abuses around the world," Wood told reporters.
"As such, we join with other supporters of this statement, and we will continue to remind countries of the importance of respecting the human rights of all people in all appropriate international fora," he added.
Sunday, 15 March 2009
Ter-Petrosyan – Yerevan mayor? Clever move by Armenian opposition, and good news for democracy in Armenia
“This is almost like presidential election, it’s a political election, and winning Yerevan municipal election will amount to regime change and restoration of constitutional order in Armenia” – this would be the main message by opposition directed at electorate. Not quite the regime change, but they have a point.
No one should underestimate the importance of capital Yerevan, where almost half of Armenian population lives. Having elected by free and fair election, Yerevan mayor would become a significant political figure in Armenia to rival president.
This decision puts the spotlight towards Yerevan mayoral election to the highest possible level and importance. This would encourage Yerevan residents to take it seriously and participate in election.
If won by the opposition, this would give us hope that future parliamentary and presidential elections would be freer and fairer, at least in Yerevan, and hopefully in the country as a whole.
I cannot imagine ruling party candidate Gagik Beglaryan (nicknamed Chorni (Black) Gago) winning this election vs Ter-Petrosyan, unless election is falsified. Not only Armenians’, but also the attention of international community would be on Yerevan, and hopefully with Ter-Petrosyan contesting the election, it would be harder, much harder to falsify it again.
This would be THE test for the authorities, and the most practical chance for them to assure Armenian citizens that they want to heal the wounds of 1 March and move forward (along with the release of political prisoners, of course). This would give a chance for real dialogue between opposition and the authorities to take place in Armenia. This could be a good news for democracy in Armenia.
Friday, 13 March 2009
IWPR (Institute for War & Peace Reporting)
By Vahan Ishkhanian in Yerevan
MUST READ!! Excellent reporting by Vahan Ishkhanyan
Also - re-posted on Unzipped: Gay Armenia
The Belarusian leader's decision to stand up Ferrero-Waldner is all the more puzzling as the EU is less than a week away from a summit at which it is expected to invite a group of six ex-Soviet neighbors -- including Belarus -- to join its Eastern Partnership program.
The Eastern Partnership plan is meant to offer funds, free trade, and visa-free travel to Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, and Belarus.
The inclusion of Belarus in the partnership initiative is considered critical in Brussels, where it is viewed as a vital element in the bloc's drive to steer its neighbors away from Russia and closer to the EU. [...]
Presidential website in Armenia says:
"By the invitation of the President of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko is arriving today to Armenia on a working visit. In the framework of the visit Serzh Sargsyan and Alexander Lukashenko will discuss issues pertaining to the deepening of the bilateral interstate relations, further expansion of trade and economic relations, cooperation in the framework of international organizations and structures, as well as the means to address challenges triggered by the global and financial crisis in their national economies.The President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko will also meet with the representatives of the business circles of Armenia."
*photo - president.am
Thursday, 12 March 2009
Wednesday, 11 March 2009
Tert.am reports that this morning photos of allegedly corrupt university officials, lecturers etc. appeared at Yerevan bus stops, metro stations, universities, other busy spots. There is brief ‘bio’ of those pictured provided there. Captions of photos read “Bribe-taker”.
Police and university officials are now busy with the ‘cleaning up’.
«Կաշառակերների» նկարները փակցված են Երևանի փողոցներում
Այսօր առավոտյան Երևանի կանգառներում, բուհերի պատերին և այլ մարդաշատ վայրերում փակցված էին տասնյակից ավելի հայրենի մանկավարժների լուսանկարները «Կաշառակերներ» վերնագրով։
Բացի մանկավարժների դեմքերից, պաստառները կարճ ծանոթացնում էին «մատաղ սերնդի դաստիարակների» անցած ուղու հետ։
Ամենուր «կաշառակերների» մոտ մարդկանց բազմություն է կուտակվում։ Ոստիկանությունը, իր հերթին, հասկանալով, թե ինչ է կատարվում, շրջափակել է «Երիտասարդական» մետրոյի մոտակա կանգառը և ստորգետնյա անցումը և ակտիվորեն պայքարում է «կաշառակերության» դեմ՝ պոկելով պաստառները։
Իսկ Երևանի մանկավարժական համալսարանի ղեկավարությունը արդեն վաղ առավոտյան հասցրել է հանձնարարել լվանալ պատերը ուսանողների՝ մեծ հետաքրքրությունը վայելող դասախոսների նկարներից։ Բուհի պատերն այժմ «անվտանգ են»։ «Կաշառակերներից» միայն թաց տեղ է մնացել։
*photo and video - via Tert.am
Tuesday, 10 March 2009
On 6 March 2009, Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, participated in a meeting with young Europeans hosted by the European Parliament. Max was one of the participants.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was pretty excited by the fact that Max was wearing a T-shirt saying “I love Hillary”, so she said she simply had to take a question from him. And Max used this chance perfectly by posing a question on how the US foreign policy in the field of sexual rights and LGBT issues is going to change under a new administration.
Whatever one may think of Hillary Clinton, wearing a T-shirt saying “I love Hillary” was a very smart move by Maxim Anmeghichean, to be noticed and heard. Well done, Max, you are an inspiration for many.
Financial Times Brussels Blog called Max’s Q&A with Hillary Clinton “the best moment” of the meeting.
For details and video - see Unzipped: Gay Armenia
*photo - via Towleroad
Monday, 9 March 2009
*source of photo - Bianet
Nearly a Million Genocide Victims, Covered in a Cloak of Amnesia (The New York Times)
A devastating document is met with silence in Turkey (International Herald Tribune, the global edition of The New York Times)
By SABRINA TAVERNISE
Published: March 8, 2009
ISTANBUL — For Turkey, the number should have been a bombshell.
According to a long-hidden document that belonged to the interior minister of the Ottoman Empire, 972,000 Ottoman Armenians disappeared from official population records from 1915 through 1916.
In Turkey, any discussion of what happened to the Ottoman Armenians can bring a storm of public outrage. But since its publication in a book in January, the number — and its Ottoman source — has gone virtually unmentioned. Newspapers hardly wrote about it. Television shows have not discussed it.
“Nothing,” said Murat Bardakci, the Turkish author and columnist who compiled the book.
The silence can mean only one thing, he said: “My numbers are too high for ordinary people. Maybe people aren’t ready to talk about it yet.”
For generations, most Turks knew nothing of the details of the Armenian genocide of 1915 to 1918, when more than a million Armenians were killed as the Ottoman Turk government purged the population. Turkey locked the ugliest parts of its past out of sight, Soviet-style, keeping any mention of the events out of schoolbooks and official narratives in an aggressive campaign of forgetting.
But in the past 10 years, as civil society has flourished here, some parts of Turkish society are now openly questioning the state’s version of events. […]
With his book, “The Remaining Documents of Talat Pasha,” Mr. Bardakci (pronounced bard-AK-chuh) has become, rather unwillingly, part of this ferment. The book is a collection of documents and records that once belonged to Mehmed Talat, known as Talat Pasha, the primary architect of the Armenian deportations.
The documents, given to Mr. Bardakci by Mr. Talat’s widow, Hayriye, before she died in 1983, include lists of population figures. Before 1915, 1,256,000 Armenians lived in the Ottoman Empire, according to the documents. The number plunged to 284,157 two years later, Mr. Bardakci said. […]
Hilmar Kaiser, a historian and expert on the Armenian genocide, said the records published in the book were conclusive proof from the Ottoman authority itself that it had pursued a calculated policy to eliminate the Armenians. "You have suddenly on one page confirmation of the numbers," he said. "It was like someone hit you over the head with a club."
Kaiser said the before-and-after figures amounted to "a death record."
"There is no other way of viewing this document," he said. "You can't just hide a million people."
[…] But some of the keenest observers of Turkish society said the silence was a sign of just how taboo the topic still is. "The importance of the book is obvious from the fact that no paper except Milliyet has written a single line about it," wrote Murat Belge, a Turkish academic, in a January column in the liberal daily newspaper Taraf.
Still, it is a measure of Turkey's democratic maturity that the book was published here at all. Bardakci said he had held the documents for so long - 27 years - because he was waiting for Turkey to reach the point when their publication would not cause a frenzy. […]
"I could never have published this book 10 years ago," Bardakci said. "I would have been called a traitor."
He added, "The mentality has changed."
Sunday, 8 March 2009
International Women’s Day in Armenia: small women’s march, riot police van, 'private burial' of “Red Apple”, business as usual
Onnik Krikorian's original reporting - Burying the Red Apple
My reflections: Unzipped: Gay Armenia
*photos - by Onnik Krikorian / Oneworld Multimedia 2009 (+ The Caucasian Knot - Oneworld Multimedia Facebook Group)
My pictures from the London gallery exhibition Russian Criminal Tattoos (plus TO's review) - Unzipped Gay Armenia.
*source of pictures - Amazon
This is my favourite part: ...the voicemail message says: "This is the voice of God, I am not able to speak to you at the moment, but please leave a message."
BBC reports: An art exhibition opening in the Netherlands will allow people to call a telephone number designated for God - but they will have to leave a message.
Dubbed God's Hotline, it aims to focus attention on changes to the ways Dutch people perceive religion.
Dutch artist Johan van der Dong chose a mobile phone number to show that God was available anywhere and anytime, Radio Netherlands reported.
Critics say the project mocks those with religious beliefs.
Forming part of an art installation in the town of Groningen, the voicemail message says: "This is the voice of God, I am not able to speak to you at the moment, but please leave a message."
Although the hotline is officially launched on Saturday, the phone number has been active for the past week, with 1,000 messages left on the answerphone.
But the messages are to remain confidential and will not form part of the art project.
Van der Dong told Radio Netherlands: "I'm not a pastor, I'm an artist and I won't listen to the messages.
"It's a secret between the Lord and the people who are calling."
Exhibition spokeswoman Susanna Groot said there was no intention to offend anyone.
"In earlier times you would go to a church to say a prayer and now [this is an] opportunity to just make a phone call and say your prayer in a modern way."
Instead, the aim is to provoke debate about the priorities of modern life.
The phone line will remain open for the next six months.
Friday, 6 March 2009
Armenian human rights activist Lilit Poghosyan is chosen as the face for the EU anti-discrimination poster
For details - Unzipped: Gay Armenia
Thursday, 5 March 2009
RFE/RL: Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian bemoaned Armenia’s culture of political intolerance on Thursday, warning that failure to “radically change this atmosphere” could lead to fresh politically motivated assassinations in the country. [...]
“It is the government and the authorities that are primarily responsible for the formation of an atmosphere of solidarity and cooperation for the simple reason that we have serious state levers to form that atmosphere,” he told ministers. “We must be tolerant. We must not burn bridges of cooperation,” added the prime minister.
Sarkisian did not specify just how the Armenian authorities should go about ending their year-long standoff with the country’s main opposition alliance led by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian. He recalled that he himself was a “representative of the radical opposition” during Ter-Petrosian’s presidency.
“I consider myself guilty of many things and I ask our political opponents to forgive our mistakes, my personal mistakes,” he said without elaboration. [...]
In 1985-1986 served in the Army.
In 1993 was elected member of the parliament.
So what was he doing in 1987-1992???
His brief bio on the ruling Republican party website says that “Since 1987 worked in different branches of economy.” (???)
It is soon Women's Day in Armenia and this year women are asking for more than flowers and chocolate, they are asking for equal rights, equal opportunities and a life without violence.
The Women's Resource Center in cooperation with other NGOs is launching the activites for the Month dedicated to women's issues in Armenia.
For details - see Unzipped: Gay Armenia
Among those asked, 15% said they carry a weapon of some sort, including knives or razor blades. Many of them said they carried weapons to make them feel safe.
The survey questioned 26,000 children across the country. The commission was set up after a spate of violent attacks in Turkish schools hit the headlines.
Tuesday, 3 March 2009
Start Time: 07 March 2009 at 3pm
End Time: 07 April 2009 at 5pm
Starting point: Women's Resource Center, 34 Zarubyan Street, Yerevan, Armenia
The Women's Resource Center of Armenia with the cooperation of Utopiana, WOW and other NGOs, intends to mark the 8th of March, by performing a funeral rite and burying the “Red Apple” (to verify women’s virginity for marriage) one of the cultural traditions still popular in most of Armenia which the Center considers demeaning for women and a violation of their human rights and dignity.
Here is what Lara Aharonian of the Women's Resource Center has to say to clarify misconceptions associated with this initiative:
"By burying the red apple, we are not telling anyone to not be a virgin, because we believe that everyone has the right to choose their personal life and sexuality, as a basic human right.
On the contrary we want to express that every woman has the right to choose for herself and not be forced in the name of tradition. [...]"
For more details - Unzipped: Gay Armenia
Monday, 2 March 2009
One year ago, these days… Brutal force crushed hopes of many in Armenia who wanted changes in their country. It was a movement comprised of people of varying political/social views/backgrounds who were sick of the current state of affairs in Armenia.
Regardless of my critical opinion of some in the movement, I did support it, as I believed this was the only right choice for me considering the circumstances and alternatives. One year on, I have no regrets for my choice. I could not have done otherwise. There were simply no other channels for people to exercise their rights and hopes for democracy and human rights to arrive in Armenia.
For me, the matter of ultimate responsibility for 1 March tragedy is apparent. I do not need court cases or commissions for that. It’s Armenian authorities who bear the ultimate responsibility for all good and bad happenings in the country. It’s them who issued the orders…
Today, remembering events of 1 March 08, I’d like to express my sincere condolences to families and friends of those killed.
Despite unprecedented tragic consequences, restrictions of civil liberties, political prisoners, the movement had resulted in some important positive developments. It was an awakening for the society in hibernation for more than a decade. Number of genuine, albeit small, civil groups and initiatives were developed, particularly among youth, aimed at democratisation of our society.
For me, one of the main positive outcomes of the movement was the fact that Armenian government, authorities, started paying more attention to public opinion. To the various degree, of course, but they can no longer completely ignore it. Like they used to do pre-movement…
Still, one of the ultimate aims of the movement – free elections, key feature of democracy, seems something of a dream than a reality any time soon. Initial signs of the upcoming Yerevan mayoral (municipality) elections do not look particularly promising.
It is not surprising, therefore, that key slogans of thousands protesters who defied the ban by the authorities to mark the 1st anniversary of 1 March 08 in Yerevan were: "Free Political Prisoners", "For Early Elections", “Punish 1 March Perpetrators”, and… “No To Tax Terror”.
Previously announced opposition hiatus was partly ‘justified’ by the Karabakh conflict. The point was that Karabakh deal is imminent, and 'we do not want damaging our country’s interests and make it even more vulnerable to external pressures'. The ‘hope’ was that the authorities would sign up to the unfavourable settlement plan which would stir popular anger and... All ‘hopes’ now on socioeconomic/financial crisis, as was evident from the opposition leader, Armenia’s first president Ter-Petrosyan speech, which was remarkable by a change in rhetoric, a kind of U-turn.
There is nothing wrong with the opposition using current problems to their advantage. It may not seem ethical, but it is within the rules of game. Any opposition party would do so, whether in Armenia or abroad.
However, there is a feeling among some opposition supporters (past or present) that its leaders are lacking a clear vision on ways forward.
One more remark. While (from the opposition side) there was no ‘ours’ and ‘theirs’ divide in relation to those killed, police chief of Armenia was speaking the other day of “we also had 2 dead”, as if you could divide those who were killed on 1 March into ‘ours’ and ‘theirs’.
Sunday, 1 March 2009
March 1 Remembered: Opposition stages peaceful rally under careful guard