Tuesday, September 27, 2005

NPR Audio Story & Interview

Hagop from healthyescape.com blogged about todays NPR coverage on this past weekends Turkish Armenian genocide conference and an interesting audio-interview with the ANC’s Raffi Hamparian. I totally agree with Raffi, it’s all about educating the masses and making people aware of this early 20th century crime and injustice.

audio Turkey's Past Report (5:30)

audio Genocide Interview (2:55)

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Hetq Online Blocked

I just received this affecting email from a concerned Martuni or Bust reader from the U.A.E.

Dear Ara, I'm writing from the U.A.E. Just wanted to
inform you that Etisalat the government Internet
services provider here has blocked people from
accessing the website www.hetq.am. This is indicative
of the depth of government involvement in this

I'm a foreign resident of U.A.E and have grown up in
this environment. I myself, at a young age fell victim
as a customer of this sex market. This has a terrible
impact at all levels of society. You cannot expect
young men to fight their hormones, its the sex market
that needs to be shut down. U.A.E's divorce rate is
now at 46%, families are being destroyed, young
teenage boys are going to prositutes. And then there
is the suffering of the prostitutes themselves. You are working towards a great cause. All the best and good wishes.

Like many concerned social justice advocates, I loath the fact that a pro-humanitarian outreach news websites such as HETQ.am is being tactically blocked by a so-called Pro-Western Persian Gulf republic. A democratic state is not suppose to work like this. However unsettling this reality is, receiving emails like this from inside the U.A.E. is a positive step for real concrete social truthfulness.

We have a collective crisis in our homeland and now abroad, an indisputable social virus that is being unraveled by a small, very dangerous and highly organized Armenian/Arab crime syndication. We can’t do this alone, so get the word out and voice your critical opinions on this traffic issue to your respective community leaders. Together we can rid this social evil once and for good.

Friday, September 23, 2005

A Night of Truth for Southern California's Armenian American Community

On Thursday, September 22nd at 7:30 PM, a private screening of "Desert Nights", the groundbreaking documentary film prepared by HETQ
(www.hetq.am) Online Investigative Journalist Team of Armenia was debuted with smashing success.

Dozens of Armenian Diaspora community leaders and activists packed the ANCA Western regional office in Glendale to watch the 48 minute film, that exposes the phenomenon of human trafficking of Armenian girls and women from their homeland to the United Arab Emirates by a dangerous and highly organized Armenian/Arab crime ring.

Memebers of HETQ's original investigative team were present to discuss their activities and role in combating this heinous human rights violation.

Follow HETQ's anti-trafficing activities here:

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A Dubai Pimp Is Dead

HETQ.am [September 19, 2005]

Last week, Anahit Malkhasyan (nicknamed Debr Ano), a Dubai pimp originally from Echmiadzin, was killed in a car accident on the Dubai-Sharja highway. Malkhasyan was driving a rented Honda; there were no passengers in the car. Since Malkhasyan was in possession of the passports and documents of the eleven Armenian prostitutes that worked for her, the women are now beyond official supervision (see: Why Pimps Don't Get Punished, Part II). The circumstances that led to the accident are not yet clear; it cannot be ruled out that it was organized. Anahit Malkhasyan was an important figure within the Dubai sex trade.

Her body was transported to Armenia on September 17.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Pan Armenian News


16.09.2005 07:39

/PanARMENIAN.Net/ As PanARMENIAN.Net came to know from the U.S. Embassy's press center, on September 15, the U.S. Embassy donated three computers to the Office of the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Armenia. A small donation ceremony was held during which Deputy Head of the Investigative Department and Head of the Anti-Trafficking Division of the Office of the Prosecutor General Marsel Matevosyan signed the grant agreement.

Friday, September 16, 2005


It seems that yesterday there was a car accident in Dubai, which took the life of the notorious pimp and trafficker of Armenian women and children, Echmizine Ano.

I am very saddened by this tragic accident, as Ano was one of the traffickers I had personally seen when I was in Dubai and had current information as to where she and her victims were living. I was hoping that Ano would soon stand trial in a court of law for her crimes against humanity, which has ruined the lives of hundreds of women and children.

I guess it’s now up to a higher power to judge Ano for what she has done on earth and He will decide where she will be serving out her sentence.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

An Interview with Raffi K. Hovannisian

Raffi Hovannisian was born in Fresno, California, in 1959. He graduated with a BA in History and Near Eastern Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and earned an MA in International Law and Diplomatic History from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, studying the foreign policies of Communist countries and writing his thesis on American diplomacy and the Republic of Armenia. He later studied at the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C., where he was awarded with a Doctor of Law degree.

In 1989, he founded the Armenian Bar Association and in 1990, moved to Armenia with his family, becoming the director of the Yerevan office of the Armenian Assembly of America. In 1991-92, Raffi K. Hovannisian served as the first Minister of Foreign Affairs of the newly independent Republic of Armenia.

Hovannisian founded the Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS) in 1994 and, in December 2001, established the National Citizens' Initiative with the purpose of realizing the rule of law and overall improvements in civil society in Armenia. In 2005, he was elected Chairman of the Heritage political party.

This interview was conducted on 9 September 2005 in Yerevan, Republic of Armenia. It is part of continuing research for an article on the possible role of the Armenian Diaspora in democracy building in the Republic of Armenia.

ONNIK KRIKORIAN: Although you're now a citizen of Armenia, when everyone thinks of Diasporan involvement here, they almost always think of you. Given the positions you have held and the organizations you have founded, do you think that the Diaspora has a role to play in democracy building in Armenia and if so, should it?

RAFFI HOVANNISIAN: That's a very contemporary question with immediate implications for the Armenian nation and the challenges it faces in this century. Traditionally, the Armenian Diaspora, which is a product of great national tragedy over the centuries, has assumed a secondary role in terms of nation-building in Armenia and the development of democracy, human rights and a sound, modern nation-state.

By and large, in the post-Genocide era, the Diaspora and its communities and institutions were involved with rebuilding, regrouping and creating new families in new lands in order to first become organized communities, and then movers and shakers. Armenian communities have been driven more by the security and survival of the nation and state, in both its Soviet and post-Soviet manifestation, than by the actual quality of that nation-state.

I think that the time has come, and that it has long passed, for the Armenia Diaspora, or rather the Diasporas that are manifold and diverse throughout the world, to take an active interest in the quality of present-day Armenia. Without the forging a democratic, rule-of-law state that distinguishes national interests from partisan play, and that builds a society based on the absolute liberty of the citizen as well as the valuable role he or she assumes in the homeland, it will be difficult to talk about the realization of national aspirations and ultimately, national security.

As we are about to mark the fourteenth anniversary of Armenia's independence, we know that we have many failings that cannot be blamed on historical enemies such as the perpetrators of the Genocide or their progeny. Many of the issues that plague Armenia today are internal. The questions, as well as the answers, come from within, and I think that this requires not only civic engagement and a new paradigm of participation from the Republic of Armenia and its citizens, but also from those compatriots of ours who, by force of history or contemporary choice, have found themselves living abroad.

It is here that parallel with traditional concerns of survival and humanitarian assistance in a country with a 50 percent poverty threshold, as well as traditional concerns such as recognition of the Armenian Genocide and other important national and historical issues, the Diaspora, whether as an organized collective or as a bouquet of individuals participating on a variety of levels, must take an active interest in the democratic development of Armenia. That means a right of voice, a right of participation, and a linkage between the quality and scope of Diasporan participation and the rediscovery of Armenia's democratic credentials.

When I had the honor of representing Armenia in the international arena during the first year of our sovereignty, the circumstances were perhaps unique because against all odds, our generation had borne witness to the rebirth of Armenia for the second time in the same century. God would not give us a third chance and so we knew that we had to make things happen through a proactive foreign policy, the deepening of democracy, and the realization of all those nice slogans that are on virtually everyone's lips these days, regardless of whether they're in government or opposition, and even if they don't quite live by those same benchmarks and values themselves.

Why was that time different? Because it was a time of great romanticism and great euphoria driven by Armenia's natural revival. The general perception among our international partners, particularly in the West, was that Armenia was the democratic standard bearer of the region. Unfortunately, because of the way we comported ourselves, the movement that began as a legitimate quest for liberty and self-determination, decolonization, and civil rights for Armenia and Karabakh, began to retreat and recede after the declaration of independence.

Ultimately, through a series of very bad and shameful elections and other violations of individual and collective rights, we lost that democratic advantage. Hence, I think that while citizens and the body public of the Republic of Armenia have a primary role to play in the establishment of a national, democratic Armenian state, the role of the Diaspora is critical not only in helping Armenia make it over the geopolitical divide that it faces today, but also in confronting the mentality and overcoming the abyss in which we find ourselves.

Here too, in order to complete the analysis, one must expect that it is imperative that the Diaspora as a whole, and as a concept that is composed of different sub-cultures, organizations, institutions and individuals, lives up to the same measures of democracy, accountability and transparency that we expect from the Republic of Armenia.

OK: If the Diaspora was to involve itself by supporting the process of democracy building in Armenia, what could it do?

RH: It's not really for me to enlighten our compatriots in the Diaspora who are committed Armenians as well as devoted citizens of the states in which they reside, but I would think that the standard of participation, the criteria of vigilance, as well as a critical dialogue must be brought to a higher contemporary and professional level where emotion and compatriotic passion have their place, but where the abiding benchmark is the long-term stability, development and security of Armenia.

That is, it should be based on a final commitment that is quantifiable and qualifiable by specific criteria such as freedom, democracy and the rule of law.

You've lived in Armenia for many years so you know that this not only requires a leap of faith but also a lot of hard work because Armenia's problems with corruption and graft as well as with conflicts of interest are system-wide, nation-wide and can be found in every single domain. They descend vertically from the presidency all the way down and that's why, I repeat, the creation of a civic society is important. So too is the consolidation of democratic forces, an end to alienation and apathy via the empowerment of Armenian citizens, and ultimately, a change from the top so that the average Armenian citizen can look up to the leaders they eventually elect.

So far, Armenian leaders have not been duly elected, and citizens have not been able to look to them as examples of law-abiding, tax-paying citizens and therefore, as a model for Armenian families, businesses and citizens across the board to follow. I repeat, this is the key issue that faces us today, and in that common quest I think the Diaspora has to reinvent itself, reassess its priorities and the way it approaches Armenia. In the Diaspora, as in Armenia, there is plenty of dilettantism and amateurism, personal intrigues and parochial interests, and the use and abuse of Armenian issues for less than national purposes.

Here, I think, there is a need to link commitment to Armenia with the nature and quality of its leadership without, of course, jeopardizing that half of the Armenian population which needs humanitarian assistance. There needs to be a distinction between daily humanitarian support which comes to the Republic of Armenia regardless of who is in government and a requisite developmental partnership that has certain stringent standards set not only by organized groups but also by benefactors and individuals who are given to personal relationships.

This is a model very difficult to break because as you know, because of our special and not always happy history, we have our good measure, and sometimes an overdose, of partisanship in the Diaspora, which finds its reflection in how those partisan groups relate to, and take positions on, issues and developments in the Republic of Armenia.

Because this is the case, and we can analyze Armenia from the first Republic through the Soviet period to the Ter Petrosian and current administration, you can see how different segments of the Diaspora have changed their positions depending on the identity of the government and of the opposition at a given time without necessarily referring to the standards, programs and qualities that are necessary for Armenia and its leadership, whoever it might be. We have not had an approach from the Diaspora which is blind to personalities, unfortunately, and I think that ultimately, this needs to change.

In both Armenia and the Diaspora we need organizational and systemic approaches that are not necessarily neutral to the role of character and personality but which can subsume those preferences to an overriding compendium of ground rules that will help Armenia achieve democracy. This will be impossible unless, as a prerequisite, the Diaspora and its institutions achieve that very same democracy.

OK: Since 2003, when there were many problems with the presidential and parliamentary elections, do you think that the Diaspora is slowly beginning to realize that it should be concerned with issues such as the democratization of Armenia? As a second part to that question, can Diasporas take on that role? Maybe the Armenian Diaspora will turn out the same as the Jewish Diaspora, for example. Is it changing and if it hasn't, why would it be different from other Diasporas anyway?

RH: First of all, while a comparison with the history and contemporary demeanor of the Jewish Diaspora, or the Irish Diaspora which is a more appropriate comparison for Armenia, is a very productive concern – and we certainly have a lot to learn from such comparisons – I think that Armenia needs to forge its own formula for relations with its Diaspora. For that, Armenia needs to be a self-confident, inclusive, outward-looking country that truly believes in itself and its people, not only in rhetoric but also in reality.

It must take its rightful place in the region and the world and make its pivotal contribution to contribute in terms of culture, economy, politics, civilization and security in the new epoch.

Until such time, in the prevailing situation where under the rubric of national interests you can find a complete web of private transactions and policies for personal benefit, it is the realization that Armenia has not developed over the last 14 years to become a true Republic that sees the Diaspora as its partner and as an asset and guarantee for its security and development in the 21 st Century. I don't think we've come to that realization yet, but I'm convinced that we're on the threshold of a national democratic transformation.

We need that quantum leap for Armenia and the Armenian nation the world over. I, along with others who are similarly situated and who believe that there is a direct correlation between how just you are in your domestic demeanor and how effectively you are able to pursue foreign policy objectives, will continue in the months and years ahead to struggle for that national transformation.

We've graduated beyond the last century and its mindset by which we naively thought we could knock on the world's door and demand justice on issues close to us historically and correctly without ourselves possessing those same stringent standards of justice, respect for the law, and civil and human rights in our own living nation-state. These are interlinked imperatives and against this background, the Diaspora has a lot of re-thinking to do.

It is almost impossible to generalize the Diaspora into one category. There is a multiplicity of opinion in the Diaspora, as there is in the Republic of Armenia, so one can't say in a contemporary setting that the Diaspora thinks this or should be doing that. There is a broad array of opinion and that's how it should be. Sometimes, unfortunately, that diversity of opinion lends itself to partisan posturing and taking positions on Armenian issues that are based more on one's stance and ambitions in one's own community [in the Diaspora] rather than on the actual merits themselves, or even what they mean for Armenia and the Armenian people.

The Armenian Diaspora will continue to be a multifaceted potential partner for Armenia and there will always be a healthy diversity within. However, it is to be hoped that this necessary competition of opinions and options will finally be translated into value-based, systemic solidarity with Armenia and its democratic development. But for that, Armenia needs to move beyond its “smallness” and its incapacity to create national institutions based on citizen participation rather than exclusion.

Armenia needs a guaranteed system of law, rights and democracy that respects and doesn't violate the fundamental freedoms of the citizen at every step.

Both in terms of a direct connection between Armenia's domestic track record and its foreign policy aspirations in favor of a qualitatively new synergy for Armenia-Diaspora relations, the case has been made. The question is whether our generation will be able to meet the challenges and close the deal with courage, creativity, foresight and relevance in our era. The jury is still out on this matter.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Unfortunately among those suffering from the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina is the Armenian community in Louisiana.

Thankfully, there has been no loss of life among the local Armenian families. However many of them lost their houses and businesses.

Check out this link:

Friday, September 09, 2005

Armenians Arrested in Dubai

[September 5, 2005]

Susana Sukiasyan (a.k.a. Grpo Suso), a Dubai pimp who had been sought by the Armenian police, was arrested in July, along with ten women who were worked for her. According to our sources in the Dubai police force, Sukiasyan's arrest was unconnected to her involvement in the sex trade.

Every Armenian pimp in Dubai has a man who is both her lover and her protector. For Sukiasyan, S. played that role. Recently S. was arrested for possessing false documents while visiting one of Suso's girls, N., in the Dubai jail where she was being held. In the Emirates, the police photograph prison visitors and check their database to see whether they are suspects in any crimes. The police found out that two days earlier, S. had been captured on security cameras stealing gold jewelry from two stores. The police released the girl they had arrested, and followed her to Grpo Suso's rented apartment, where they confiscated the stolen jewelry and arrested the Armenian prostitutes, Grpo Suso, and her lover, S.

In the UAE, the law stipulates sever punishment for this type of crime; Susana Sukiasyan is doing everything she can to get deported to Armenia.

In all likelihood she will succeed, and she and her girls will be deported to Armenia in the near future. Here, she will be arrested, and sentence to a year and a half in prison. She will be released after six months, free to continue her activities with a new passport. At any rate, this is the usual scenario. For instance, Lusine Hakobyan was released a put on probation in July (See also: No Payback for the Pimp) Both the prosecution and the court pointed to mitigating circumstances—she has a young child and a sick mother (although evidence of her mother's illness was never presented in court). Twenty days after she was released, Hakobyan left for Dubai, where she has resumed her illegal activities.

We were informed by the public relations department of the Armenian Foreign Ministry that five women and one man have been deported from the UAE to Armenia in 2005, and two others are awaiting deportation. The women were all working under the supervision of Anahit Malkhasyan (a.k.a. Debr Ano), a pimp from Echmiadzin. Malkhasyan is being sought by the police in Dubai, although our prosecutors know where she is. She was interrogated twice in Dubai. In August, she sent for and received five new girls, soon after the four other prostitutes who had been working for her were departed. One of these girls told us that all of the newcomers are from Yerevan, and one of them is underage. That means that either their passports were faked in Yerevan or a tourist agency took care of their problems. Interestingly, Debr Ano is building a huge villa in Echmiadzin.

The man who was deported, whose name is Alik, is currently being held by the Armenian police. He plays a big role in the Dubai sex trade, but that's another story.

The US State Department has published a report on trafficking that points to the United Arab Emirates as an end destination for traffickers. Apparently there too, as in Armenia, there is a need to demonstrate that an unwavering fight against the crime of human trafficking has begun.

Edik Baghdasaryan
Why Pimps Don’t Get Punished, Part III

[September 5, 2005]

(See also: Why Pimps Don’t Get Punished I, Why Pimps Don’t Get Punished II)

Siranush Musayelyan, recruiter. From the village of Lusagyugh, near Echmiadzin. Sentenced twice before.

“On September 29, 2004, Marietta Musayelyan called me and told me that she would be in Armenia in several hours. I couldn't respond, since she immediately hung up the phone and I was amazed at her arrogance, since she was wanted by the police and she knew it. Three days later she called me again on my mobile and we met. Even though she was wanted by the police, we saw each other regularly, and once Marietta even came with many guests to do matagh [a traditional animal sacrifice]. During that time I was interrogated on numerous occasions, but following Marietta's request I did not tell you that she was in Armenia even though I was prepared to do that to help the investigation.”

-Excerpted from a statement by Siranush Musayelyan, November 11, 2004

Siranush Musayelyan's reply to Investigator Khachatryan's question regarding Marietta Musayelyan's plans in Armenia

“According to Marietta, her prostitutes in Dubai ran away from her and didn't give her any money, so she came back to Armenia. She also wanted to see her kids and rest a bit. She didn't give a specific date, but she wanted to leave for Oman via Turkey without telling law enforcement officials.”

Marietta Musayelyan

“They remained in Dubai till September 23, which was my departure date from Dubai, and continued to engage in prostitution. All the girls who came to me, or more correctly were sent to me, arrived in Dubai via Moscow, that is they flew from Yerevan to Moscow, where Araik Aghajanyan or members of his gang (Sevo, Avo, and others) would meet those girls based on the information I had given to Araik before (name, last name, middle name, and clothing and appearance, which I had found out from recruiters by phone) and take them to the apartment they rented. After that I would send $2,000 to Araik for every girl. Then they would make fake Russian passport for the girls, which they used to go to Dubai. I should add that Araik would give me the details in the fake passports and then Omar, a UAE citizen, would make them visas, which I would fax to Araik, and then he would buy Moscow-Dubai plane tickets.

“I want to mention that in 2002 I wanted to go to Dubai, but in the beginning of that year I was deported from Dubai under the name of Marietta Muradyan and consequently, I couldn't return to Dubai under the same name. Therefore, in April 2002 I had a fake marriage; that is, I registered at the Wedding Bureau with Albert Musayelyan, Sirush's brother, after which I received a new passport with a new family name and I freely departed for Dubai. My marriage to Albert was fake; I never had any relations with him. I want to add that the marriage was registered in Echmiadzin's Wedding Bureau.

Question: When, from where, and for what reasons did you enter Armenian territory?

“On September 24, while you [investigators] were still in Dubai, although I had promised that I would come to Armenia and surrender to law enforcement officials, I didn't. Instead, the very same day I took a plane to Istanbul, from where I took a bus to Armenia and entered the country through customs at Bagratashen. To my amazement, even though I was wanted by the police, I freely entered Armenia, even though the customs officers checked my passport and related information. If I am not wrong, I entered Armenia on November 29.”

-Excerpted from a statement by Marietta Musayelyan, November 8, 2004

Although Marietta Musayelyan has been wanted by the police for two years now, she freely enters and exits Armenia. That means that our border guards are just standing at their posts, doing nothing to stop criminals.

From 2002 to 2004, according to the criminal files, recruiters in Armenia sent sixteen Armenian women to Marietta Musayelyan. The following are excerpts from the statements these women gave during their interrogation in Dubai on September 18, 2004, in the presence of Marietta Musayelyan.

A.G (a.k.a. Teacher), Vedi.

“I studied in the Department of Mathematics and Informatics at Kh. Abovyan Institute in Yerevan, and graduated in 1993. After graduation I worked as a mathematics teacher in middle school. In 1991 I married and had a daughter. In 2000 I was laid off and couldn't find another job. To take care of my family, I decided to go to Dubai and work as a prostitute.

‘I work as a prostitute for Marietta of my own will. At this time, I do not wish to go back to Armenia, and I can return whenever I decide to since Marietta has never created any problems for me. I give the money I earn every day to Marietta, and at the end of the month we do the calculations. Every month Marietta or I send $200-$300 to my mother.”

K.T, the village of Haghartzin, Tavush Province. Has an eighth-grade education.

“I lived in Dilijan. I married in 1991. We had three children, who now live with my mother. Since neither my husband nor I had a job, I decided to go to Dubai and make money working as a prostitute.

“I give the money I earn everyday to Marietta, from which she sends $100-$200 every month to my mother in Dilijan. Besides that, according to our agreement, rent, food, clothing and other expenses are subtracted from the money I earn, and the rest is divided between me and Marietta. It is my desire to be a prostitute; nobody forced me to become one. Marietta doesn't treat me or the other girls badly, and I am a prostitute since I don't have any other way of earning for living…”

A.S., Yerevan.

“I lived with my mother, sister and brother at the aforementioned address. None of us worked…

“My parents don't know that I'm a prostitute in Dubai. I told them I went to Moscow to work as a waitress and I ask you to not tell my parent about my current situation.”

K. Kh., refugee. Born in 1972.

“When I was a baby, my parents abandoned me and my sister, and we stayed in the orphanage in Gavar until we were of legal age. In 2000 I came to Yerevan and was accepted at the college of business law in Yerevan. After three years I graduated and worked in a store and then at Kodak. I was renting an apartment in Yerevan and I couldn't afford to buy one on my salary. I decided to go to Dubai, make some money and buy a one room apartment in Yerevan.”

A.K., Yerevan.

“My mother knew that I was going to Dubai to make money as a prostitute. In the Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow I was met by Sevo, a dark-skinned skinned, Uzbek-eyed man. It should be noted that in the Dubai airport Marietta took from us both the fake Russian and Armenian passports explaining that we might lose them. From that day to the present I have lived without a passport in the apartment rented by Marietta, and every day I do prostitution and give all the money I earn to Marietta. Of this money, in the seven months that I have been here, Marietta has sent only $700 to my mother. I didn't write a contract with her and I don't have any complaints against her, but I want to work one month on my own and return to Armenia so I can buy an apartment.

M.G (a.k.a. Baby). Born in 1985. When she arrived in Dubai, she was eighteen and eight months pregnant – See also Desert Nights)

“Marietta treats me like a mother; I'm very happy with her and of the money I make every month, I send some to my sister in Yerevan. I do not wish to return to Yerevan, unless I'm deported. It's really good for me here. Marietta takes care of me, helps me in every way. I'm happy that I make money as a prostitute and that I live very well. I give the money I earn to Marietta; we subtract money for rent, food, clothes and the rest we divide between ourselves.”

These women spoke in the presence of their pimp. The investigators didn't ask them any questions; it seemed they didn't want to find anything out. The enslaved women behaved as if they were happy with their life, and especially with their boss, Marietta Musayelyan. The Abovyan prison was also pleased with her, and has requested in court that the notoriously cruel Dubai pimp Marietta Musayelyan be released before her prison term expires, after serving only seven months, to once again resume her illegal activities.

Edik Baghdasaryan, Aghavni Yeghiazaryan

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Court upholds citizenship for Armenians in Turkish Consulate plot

9/6/2005, 10:00 p.m. ET

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that a judge did not err in granting U.S. citizenship to two Armenian men convicted more than 20 years ago of planning to bomb the Turkish Consulate in Philadelphia.

The decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ends a long struggle by Viken Hovsepian and Viken Yacoubian, who plotted to bomb the consulate in retaliation for the massacre of Armenians by Turks in 1915. The Turkish government denies a massacre occurred.

The men, who have been out of prison since the early 1990s, now have doctorates, have renounced violence and volunteer many hours a week in the Los Angeles Armenian-American community, said Mathew Millen, an attorney who helped handle the immigration portion of their case.

Federal law currently forbids convicted terrorists from becoming citizens. But anyone convicted of an aggravated felony before November 1990 can be granted citizenship if they have been "of good moral character" for five years prior to their application, Millen said.

"They both renounced violence as a means of achieving any kind of political end," Millen said by phone. "They both have Ph.D.s and they had a lot of witnesses who talked about their activity in the community" at their immigration hearing.

The federal government fought the citizenship application, contending the men lied on certain portions of their applications. The 9th Circuit affirmed Tuesday a lower court opinion that the alleged "lies" were actually misunderstandings or oversights.
"We accept the court's ruling, as we do with any ruling," said Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles.

The men were in their early 20s when they and two others were arrested in 1982 after authorities tape-recorded them planning the bombing. Authorities at the time said they were linked to the Justice Commandos of the Armenian Genocide.

Hovsepian was sentenced to six years in prison in 1984, while Yacoubian was sentenced to three years in prison and 1,000 hours of community service.

Yacoubian is now principal of the Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School in Los Angeles' Little Armenia and has obtained a doctorate in counseling psychology from the University of Southern California, according to court documents.

He declined to comment when reached by phone at the school. His attorney, Michael Lightfoot, did not immediately return calls Tuesday.

Hovsepian is now a hedge fund manager and speaks to youth groups about his experience and the importance of nonviolent protest, said his attorney, Barry Litt.
"He's a very different person than the person he was in the early 1980s," Litt said of his client. "He's a contributing member (of society)."

Tuesday's decision marks the end of a complex case that began almost as soon as the men were released from prison.

The men applied for citizenship in 1997 but then sued to have their cases decided by a federal judge when immigration officials didn't rule on their applications within 120 days, Millen said.

In 2001, the same judge who presided at the men's 1984 trial opted to administer the oath of citizenship after reviewing their files.

But last year, the 9th Circuit ordered U.S. District Judge Mariana Pfaelzer to reconsider the case after including in her review evidence from the bomb plot, which had previously been under seal.

Pfaelzer again ruled in favor of citizenship, saying the men had "completely reformed," but the federal government appealed on grounds the men lied in portions of their applications.

The FBI has said the bomb plot, in which five sticks of dynamite were flown to Boston, could have killed thousands of people

| 20:33:26 | 07-09-2005 | Social |

Today the resident of Noubarashen Andranik Pogosyan periodically visited the office of the community head candidate Mher Hovhannisyan and community head's office. In the morning he had gone to get his old-age pension but could not as he had no passport.

"I don't know, there is a kiosk in the park, I gave it to them, and they gave 5000 drams to me and said that Mher must be elected. I will give them their money and demand my passport back", he complained in the community head's office, that is to the opponent of the candidate who had bribed him.

The present community head Robert Asatryan is one of the candidates for the post. The other candidates are wrestling coach Mher Hovhannisyan and member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Kamo Berberyan.

We caught no cases of bribing in Mher Hovhannisyan's office, but there was a queue of people with passports. There were women who had 4-5 passports in their hands. When we tried to take a photo of the room, the head of the office Vardan Haroutyunyan took immediately took the women out of the room.

"The strong are always blamed in suchlike business. The strong cannot give electoral bribes and cannot take passports, we do not follow that technique", said Vardan Haroutyunyan. By the way, he considers the information about the electoral bribes the result of the black PR of their opponents, mainly that of Robert Asatryan, who "did not organize a single youth event in his 22 years of activity".

Robert Asatryan informed that he "never said anything bad about his opponents", and he learned about the taking of passports when the residents of the community asked him to solicit for them to get their pensions without passports, but he was told that it is not possible. The head of the old-age pension fund Varazdat Kirakosyan claimed that "We do not have the right to give the pension without the passport and the social card". As for how many people have been deprived of the pension because of the absence of passports, he did not know.

BY the way, the pensioner said that this is the first time they are requested to show their passports. "I came here and learned that they will not give the pension without documents, whereas up to now I always got it with my social card", said Hasmik Araqelyan who had gone home and brought her passport. The other citizens in the queue claimed the same.

Sept 7, 2005

YEREVAN, SEPTEMBER 7, ARMENPRESS: The consular section of the US embassy in Armenia said 8,218 Armenian citizens asked for permission to travel to the USA in the first eight months of this year, but only 3,545 were given non-immigrant visas, the rest of applications were rejected.

It also said the number of Armenians who were allowed to travel to the USA in the first 8 months of this year grew 10 percent from a year ago.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


YEREVAN, SEPTEMBER 5. ARMINFO. In 2005 the Sevan Sugar Plant has sold 1,500 tons of sugar in the home market against 650 tons in 2004.

The company's director general Armen Arakelyan says that their production is sold to 5-6 local producers - Zovq, Artashat Cannery, Euroterm (producers of Noyan juice). Arakelyan notes that by the end of this year the company is planning to start sugar export but refuses to say whereto.

He says that the plant buys raw materials in Brazil. In 2005 the company has imported 2,000 tons of raw materials against 900 ton in 2004. Arakelyan says that the production growth is due mainly to the plant's continuous operation.

The State Commission for Economic Competition Protection reports that the 97.% of the Armenian sugar sales are in the hands of the Astghatsolq Ltd owned by MP Samvel Aleksanyan. The Sevan Sugar Plant is the only sugar producing company in Armenia. The Customs Service reports that 100,000-120,00 tons of sugar is imported into Armenia each year.