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Monday, 28 September 2009

Yerevan diaries: cinema... Silence, please, and no mobile phones

There should definitely be a "Keep silence"; "Turn off mobile phones" signs in Yerevan cinemas, and this policy should be enforced by the administration. Yes, I know, it's easy said than implemented in Armenian circumstances, but I believe we can do it. I know, we like being social, we are emotional etc etc etc, but, come on, take a break, enjoy the experience and do not disturb others' experience.

 

The other day, someone next to me did actually answered her calls twice during Alla Pugacheva concert. And today, in the cinema, people were chatting and occasionally answering phone calls during the film, as if this is how it should be...

Yerevan diaries: Theatre poster... a kind of ‘anti-performance’

Not sure about performance part, but read the Armenian text on this poster. Amusing :)

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

“Wonderful Armenia”: Armenian pop singers in London – 1 October 2009, South Bank Centre

As part of the "Wonderful Armenia" project, Armenian Youth Forum UK presents this concert by popular among Armenian youth pop singers/musicians from Armenia: Hayk Kasparov, DerHova, Hasmik Karapetyan, Andre (former representative of Armenia in Eurovision), and Nick.

 

For details of the concert – see flyer above.

 

And here is the link to Video ad.

 

Yerevan diaries: Antic bookstore

Stalin, 4 volumes – 7 500 AMD

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Yerevan diaries: Opposition rally/march (Fri 18 Sep)

As was announced during the rally, we still have 19 political prisoners in Armenia. The mere existence of political prisoners is not only wrong per se, but also very damaging to Armenia's and its president's reputation. Come on, Serj, you know what is the only right thing to do in this regard: all remaining 19 political prisoners must be let free. We need at least some kind of closure for this shameful chapter of our recent history, and this could be that "some kind of" one.

As to the rally, it was unremarkable. Basically, Armenian opposition does not have a clear strategy of ways forward, as of now. Number-wise, as I've been told by people who were present at recent rallies, there was either similar number or slightly less. It's always interesting to listen to the opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosyan speeches, whether one agrees with his points or not. But come on, Levon, it was way too long a speech; you have to keep it shorter, 20-30 mins maximum. I completely lost my concentration towards the second half of your hour-long (or even more) speech.

Opinion: "Bloody Turk!" (by Orhan Kemal Cengiz)

Recommended reading.
***
 
I am not a religious person. I am not Kurdish. I am not gay. I am not Christian. I am not Armenian. I am not Roma. But I have spent all my life defending these people's rights.
 
I am a human rights defender. When I describe myself, I say I am a human rights defender, a lawyer and a writer. It was during my first time in London in 1998 that I realized, no matter what I do, I was a "bloody Turk" for some people. Ironically, I was working for the Kurdish Human Right Project there, and we were taking cases to the European Court of Human Rights, as a result of which I felt deeply threatened by the deep state elements in my country. When I met with the Armenian community in London, I turned into a representative of Turkey. It was the first time my "Turkishness" took precedence over all my qualifications.

Massacres of Armenians were orchestrated and organized by the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) -- which came to power through a military coup -- while the Ottoman Empire was falling apart. After these massacres and as a result of the lack of confrontation with our past, the CUP and its gangs changed their format and turned into the "deep state" in Turkey. These deep state elements continued their massacres and manipulations and drenched Turkey with blood during the Republican era. We have these deep state elements, but we also have many people fighting against them with or without knowing the history. The Ergenekon trial, in this sense, is a turning point in this endeavor in Turkey. You can think of the Ergenekon gang as the armed wing of the CUP in today's Turkey.

The massacres of Armenians were carried out by a certain mindset, by a political movement. Unfortunately, this political movement also created the official Turkish history, one in which there is no place for Armenians. And the state is in complete denial of what happened in Turkey in the past. This denial unfortunately gives strong support to a racist approach toward Turkey and its people.

I was in Toronto last year attending an extremely interesting course on genocide. For two weeks we went into all the details of different genocides that took place in various parts of the world. All lecturers gave exemplary presentations, and I felt I had really learned something. However, I also realized that there was a fundamental difference in the way in which the Armenian genocide is being handled. When we spoke about the Holocaust, we spoke of the Nazi regime; when we discussed the genocide in Cambodia, we talked about the Khmer regime; when it came to the Armenian genocide, though, we only heard the word "Turks."

Complete and blanket denial feeds complete and absolute labeling. This is a vicious circle. It is very unfortunate that some Armenians, while believing they are seeking justice, have turned into hopeless racists. They do not want to believe that there are many good people in this country. They do not want to remember that there were also Turks who lost their lives while trying to protect Armenians. They hold tightly on to this image of the "bloody Turk." Every Turk, every individual living in Turkey, is just a murderer for them.

The pathology of amnesia and the pathology of blind hatred are two sides of one coin. They both serve the same purpose: Both leave Turks and Armenians as deeply neurotic people.

In the midst of all this madness, Hrant Dink was a safe haven of reason, wisdom and compassion. He had a deep understanding of Turkey and the trauma we have been suffering for so long. He was killed because he was the hope in the face of this madness. He could have been killed by an Armenian racist. But instead, he was killed by Turkish racists, of course, under the guidance of the deep state. Dink was a bloody Turk for Armenian racists and an Armenian traitor for racist Turks. He was a dangerous figure for all who wanted to continue this vicious circle of hatred. During his funeral, we chanted, "We all are Hrant Dink." We all need to be Dink if we wish to contribute to reconciliation. I bow respectfully before his memory.

18 September 2009, Friday

Friday, 18 September 2009

Yerevan diaries: Marching 'toys' :)

Fairy tale themed event organised for children. Spotted around Opera today.

Yerevan diaries: Dashnak's 'protest'

Seat-in and 'hunger strike' no one in Yerevan takes seriously. Apologies to true believers in Dashnak's ideology, but this is the least cynical way I could come up to sum up the mood in Yerevan to describe this action.

*in photo - nationalist ARF Dashnaktsutyun against Armenia-Turkey protocols.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Yerevan diaries: Seatbelts... and more

I knew, I heard and I read it before, but you have to see it to believe it. The sight of Armenian drivers wearing seatbelts was the most striking change in Yerevan. Who knew that it would be possible to see this day coming? Even though I noticed few drivers not using it, but overwhelming majority does so. Despite stories that some taxi drivers (or those in old cars not having seatbelts) instead of wearing actual seatbelts imitate them, despite the fact that still some in Armenia do not comprehend its safety message in full, my first impressions were that for now at least this policy imposed by Armenian government works. I have to commend for that prime minister Tigran Sargsyan. When praise is due, praise is due.

And to cheer you up even more, this hilarious cartoon with an important 'safety message', via Armenian Comedy.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Yerevan diaries: Vivacell vs. Beeline

As you might have expected, my first choice of mobile phone provider in Yerevan would have been a Vivacell. I respect Ralph Yirikian, and posted few times about his charitable activities.

That’s what I did at first. I got my sim card from Vivacell. However, as I will be using my phone not only for calls/sms but also for Internet, the quality of the latter is obviously one of the important factors to determine my choice. Unfortunately, after few hours trying to get Internet mobile access via Vivacell, I gave up. It was too slow, I was effectively unable to use gmail or facebook. So... I went to Beeline, as I remembered from my past experiences that I was reasonably (for Armenian standards) satisfied with their mobile Internet. And yes, Beeline’s was much better this time too. Far from perfect, of course, but at least I now have a relatively OK-ish mobile Internet.

Sorry, Vivacell...

Yerevan diaries: Flight menu, ‘public health’ paper, mysterious Armenian in-flight-travel-non-magazines

I liked seeing three-language (English-Georgian-Armenian) menu on a BMI flight to London. This might not be something new, and may be available on other foreign flights too, but for me it was the first time to be able to read an on-flight menu in Armenian on a foreign aircraft flying to Yerevan. I have to admit, that although translation was done OK, if I were to read only Armenian version of the menu, I would have been confused as to quite a few important ingredients on offer as we do not normally use those Armenian equivalents in our every-day conversation. So this was a learning experience too :)
***
They distributed a ‘public health’ paper on board. I knew that it was related to swine flu, but almost no one including flight attendants could provide any clarifications as to what that paper was about, they just mentioned that this is for “public health”, and asked people to sign. It was very poorly constructed one-page document, which did not even ask if anyone has any symptoms or so. They simply ask for contact numbers so that Department of Health in Armenia will contact passengers in case they determine a case. No wonder, many did not fill it in, and upon arrival no one asked me to hand the paper in. Only accidentally someone noticed a paper I was holding, when passing a passport control, and was surprised that no one upstairs collected it. So much about ‘strict’ swine flu prevention measures at Yerevan airport.
***
Although I’ve heard from others, including friends, that (contrary to my experiences) Armenian magazines are available on BMI flights, I could not see any this time too. No sign of In-flight or other magazines telling passengers about Armenia, travel guides etc. If they were there, they were very well hidden indeed...

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Armenia: Lack of leadership

Personally, I do have the highest respect towards many Heritage party senior representatives, although do not share their prevalent negative attitude towards rapprochement with Turkey.

The problems and mess this party is in nowadays (its founder Raffi Hovhannisyan’s quitting Armenian parliament, expelling some of its prominent members from the party) are problems connected with the lack of leadership.

Having an image of the most honest politician in current political field in Armenia, Raffi failed to realise himself as a leader. And I am saying this with great sadness, as I did put big deal of hopes in him in past.

I was reading some comments on Facebook from my friends and friends of friends, and this comment caught my particular attention. It’s made by an extremely bright person from Yerevan, who came to my attention recently when intelligently fighting displays of homophobia on Armenian sector of Facebook.

Both him and the leaders of ARF should have rejected their mandates a year ago. They awaited too long observing the reaction of constituencies at the Protocol first, resigning next. Too much opportunism shows that Serge's policy has worked - first he lured them in, relaxed them down and then brought them to a shock. In terms of real politik, Serge is, thus, the one with leader's skills. The rest do not deserve to be called an opposition.
Too harsh? May be. But there is some truth in it.

You know what. You want to see what the REAL leadership looks like, do not bother looking inside Armenia (although Ralph Yirikian, head of Armenian mobile operator Viva Cell could be a rare excellent example), do not even bother looking through British politics. Look a bit further. Listen to and watch Obama’s healthcare reforms speech he delivered last night.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Spotted: John Lennon's "psychedelic" 1965 Rolls-Royce replica in London

I spotted it yesterday on Shaftesbury avenue, near Piccadilly circus, in London. You may read more about John Lennon's 1965 art car here.

New video evidence on police brutality during 1 Mach 08 events in Yerevan

According to A1+, this video was made by someone in Armenian police. This video is currently among key evidences of police brutality during 1 March 2008 events in Yerevan, following disputed presidential election, and in the possession of the parliamentary commission investigating the events.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Unzipped on France24 re Armenia - Turkey rapprochement

France24 did feature in past some posts from both of my blogs, but I was not aware of this one until today. (Thanks to Shant for the video!) It was made on 24 April 2009. They quoted from my post Obama, Turkey, and I. What I said back then has a particular relevance and urgency today too, in my opinion, considering new developments in Armenia-Turkey rapproachment.
Armenian side did whatever possible to do to pave the way for reconciliation despite Turkey’s official refusal to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Quote of The Day (in Russian)

«В большинстве случаев общество считает геев нетрадиционными, а порой отвергает их вовсе. Я же считаю таких людей и их отношения абсолютно традиционными. Все, что есть на земле, выбрано Богом. Что Богом создано, то Богу угодно. Общество не имеет права это осуждать. Для меня нетрадиционно отношение толпы ко всему, что не относится к толпе. Я хочу все перевернуть в этом мире и доказать, что ни один человек не в праве указывать другому, чем тому заниматься и как ему жить... Я против мнения общества, я за личное мнение каждого. Я за индивидуальность... Каждый вправе жить, как хочет», — говорит Лолита.
 
*Popular Russian pop singer Lolita. More - Unzipped: Gay Armenia