Thursday, March 30, 2006

All-Armenia Fund built NKR hospital privatized by high ranking officials


May 10, 2009

Stepanagert, NKR –
On May 9, 2009 the Nargono-Karabagh office of state property, privatized the hospital found in the city of Martagert, which was built from funds donated by the All-Armenia Fund, Inc. which were collected during the 2005 Telethon as part of the Martakert Regional Development plan.

The deal was finalized behind closed doors, during a national holiday and was reported by reliable sources that the new owners include former president of NKR, Arkady Ghoukasian and former first lady of Armenia, Bella Kocharian, both of who own hospitals in the Republic of Armenia which were privatized under similar questionable deals.

The hospital was donated to the people of Martakert, who prior to the modern facility, were being treated in a hospital that was severely damaged from the war, suffering among others, aerial missile attacks and looting.

The NKR government justified the privatization the modern facility due to back taxes which were owed from as far back as 1970, the time when the original Soviet-era regional hospital was established.

The 2 million drams investment pledged by the new owners to be paid out over the next 50 years, include $750 which will pay all back taxes.

During a protest to appose the sale of the Martakert hospital, one protester, a veteran of the Artsakh liberation war said, “It’s very sad for me to see such a beautiful hospital which was intended as a gift from our bothers and sisters in America to fall into the hands of criminals who have no interest in helping the people and are only interested in getting rich from our misfortunes.”

The deal resembles the $5 million cold storage facility donated by the AGBU following the 1988 Armenia earthquake, which was privatized to high ranking official due to back taxes, as well as the main Yerevan general hospital which in 2005 was privatized by a group of officials, including former president of NKR Arkady Ghoukasian, ignoring a formal protest from the Japanese government who had donated million of dollars of equipment to said hospital.

Los Angeles Based Architect Designs Karabakh Hospital

Armenia Fund, Inc.
111 North Jackson St. Ste. 205
Glendale, CA 91206

T | 818-243-6222
F | 818-243-7222
E |

Contact: Sarkis Kotanjian
For Immediate Release
March 29, 2006

Los Angeles, CA - On March 6, 2006 Armenia Fund Western U.S. Region led a hospital reconstruction team to the war-torn Martakert region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The purpose of the site visit was to formulate architectural and engineering plans for the new regional healthcare facility. The project will be funded through donations collected at the 2005 Telethon as part of the Martakert Regional Development plan. In addition, a number of long time benefactors in the western U.S. region adopted specific departments of the hospital for reconstruction.

Arturo Fribourg, a Los Angeles based architect, specializing in public works and health care facilities was a part of the team visiting the hospital. Fribourg will provide the conceptual design of the hospital. His plan, among others, will address several programmatic issues facing the hospital. Upon completion of the design phase, Karabakh-based architect Mamikon Farsian, will adapt the program to local construction and medical codes and will prepare the reconstruction program drawings, in accordance with Fribourg's plan for the hospital.

Prior to his departure to Armenia, Fribourg worked with Dr. Alina Dorian, senior program manager at the UCLA Center for Public Health and Disasters, to map out the problems and initial plans. Dorian, who is currently in Karabakh, is part of the team as the public healthcare advisor. She will prepare the region's healthcare program and will oversee the development of a modern healthcare administration.

Built during the early 1970's, the Soviet-era regional hospital has deteriorated due to a lack of proper maintenance. Recently, the hospital was severely damaged from the war, suffering among others, aerial missile attacks and looting. The renovated hospital will incorporate the vital aspects of a western standard hospital to meet the healthcare needs of the region.

During the visit to Karabakh, Fribourg met with H.E. Arkady Ghoukasian, President and H.E. Anoushavan Danielian, Prime Minister of the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh. President Ghoukasian thanked Fribourg for embarking on this challenging project and pledged full support for the proper and timely completion of the project. Led by Armenia Fund Inc.'s Executive Director, Sarkis Kotanjian, the team also met with Health Minister Dr. Zoya Lazaryan and Chief Administrator of the Hospital Dr. Sergei Ohanian to learn about immediate and long term healthcare needs of the Martakert Region as well as daily problems facing the hospital.

According to the schedule, at the end of April, all architectural renderings and design schematics will be completed, paving the way for a full-scale reconstruction during the late spring months of 2006. The project is expected to be completed within the next 12 - 18 months, factoring in the pause of construction during the harsh winter months. Upon completion of construction, Armenia Fund will place modern medical furniture and state of the art equipment designed to meet regional healthcare demands. Currently, Armenia Fund is working on obtaining special grants and in-kind donations from major healthcare providers throughout the United States. For more information on this project, please visit

Armenia Fund, Inc., is a non-profit 501(c)(3) tax-exempt corporation established in 1994 to facilitate large-scale humanitarian and infrastructure development assistance to Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh. Armenia Fund, Inc. is the U.S. Western Region affiliate of "Hayastan" All-Armenian Fund. Tax ID# 95-4485698

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

25th annual conference of the American-Turkish Council (ATC) in Washington

The Wayne Madsen Report
March 28, 2006

The split between traditional conservatives and neo-conservatives was extremely apparent at the 25th annual conference of the American-Turkish Council (ATC) in Washington. Originally established as a carbon copy of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), ATC not only emulated AIPAC in its lobbying strength on Capitol Hill and in the executive branch, but strategically allied with it on a number of issues common to both Turkey and Israel. These included support for Operation Desert Storm and military cooperation between Israel and Turkey. However, with the U.S. invasion of Iraq without Turkish support, all that has changed.

Past recipients of ATC awards are a "Who's Who" of the neo-cons, neo-libs, and their supporters of which Washington, DC is teeming with infestation: Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney, Richard Holbrooke, Al Haig, Eric Edelman, Newt Gingrich, William Perry, William Cohen, Tom Lantos, and Marc Grossman. Another award recipient was Princeton Professor Bernard Lewis (who once compared Iraqi con artist Ahmad Chalabi to Kemal Ataturk).

The ties between ATC and the neo-cons are still relatively close, but the neo-con rhetoric is frosty about Turkey's Islamist-oriented government. Yesterday morning, ATC hosted a panel in which several leading neo-cons laid blame for the current state of U.S.-Turkish relations on the Ankara government. Marc Grossman, a former U.S. ambassador to Turkey and the recently-retired Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs (who is now a senior Vice President for the Cohen Group of former Defense Secretary William Cohen and whose name has come up as one of the possible sources of Valerie Plame Wilson's CIA identity to Dick Cheney's office), said that chilled U.S. relations with Turkey are based on the Iraq and Iran issues. He said, "Turkey needs to support the creation of an Iraqi government regardless of March 1, 2003 and the steps taken to get rid of the dictator." Agreeing with neo-con policy analyst Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Grossman said it was "too bad Turkey did not participate more robustly with the U.S. in Iraq." Pletka said that the rhetoric from Ankara on Syria and Iran "will set the U.S. at odds with Turkey." Pletka emphasized George W. Bush's "Freedom Agenda" in the Middle East in the wake of "911," an agenda that targets Iran and Syria as much as Iraq.

US-Turkish relations: "Golden Age" of Turkish-Israeli-neocon cooperation is over

Dr. Coner Cagaptay, the Director of the Turkey Program with the Israeli-supported Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), said there is no longer synergy between the U.S. and Turkey because of two major reasons: a shift in Turkish public opinion regarding the United States and a gap in foreign policy relations between the two countries. As is typical with the neo-cons, they do not blame Bush for this turn of events. Cagaptay said the current Turkish government has "done a bad job of explaining U.S. policy and motives" to the Turkish people. He iterated that Turkish foreign policy is "pro-status quo" and the Bush administration is "pro-dynamic change."

The bottom line is that the "Golden Age" of U.S.-Turkish relations are over unless Turkey accommodates the neo-con new world order. However, what the neo-cons fail to understand is that Turkey's decision to avoid the U.S. military misadventure in Iraq was due to the wishes of the democratically-elected Turkish Parliament. In typical neo-con fashion, these dangerous right-wingers only agree with democracy when votes go their way. If not, they demonize the new government (as is seen currently with the Hamas government in Palestine and the government of Mahmoud Ahmedinejad in Iran). The Turkish government has been placed in the same category by the neo-cons.

It is one thing to alienate the Turkish civilian political establishment. But it is quite another to create friction with the Turkish military -- the traditional guarantor of Kemal Ataturk's secular constitution and check on Islamist tendencies. However, relations between the Bush administration and the Turkish military establishment have also grown chilly. Murad Dural, the chair of the defense committee of the Turkish-US Business Council (TAIK), criticized the U.S. in the wake of 911 for pursuing isolation in defense matters. He said it created the "impression that the U.S. only looks out for its own." A major bone of contention is the production of some 100 U.S. Joint Strike Fighters for Turkey at a cost of $100 billion, excluding the maintenance contracts. Turkey's defense ministry and General Staff complain this deal, as well as others, treats the Turkish defense infrastructure as a nuisance and not as a full partner. Turkey is looking for equal treatment from the United States. One senior Turkish military officer said if full treatment is not forthcoming, Turkey is prepared to look elsewhere for jet fighters and Russia was not ruled out, especially if it produces fighters, as is planned, that are fully interoperable with NATO standards.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Human Traffickers Convicted in Vanadzor

On March 17, Arusyak Melkumyan, a notorious Vanadzor pimp, was sentenced to four years in prison by the Court of First Instance of Lori Marz, Judge Barik Grigoryan presiding, on charges of human trafficking. Her partner in crime, Kalipse Hovhannisyan, was sentenced to two years.

In Vanadzor, the 51-year-old Arusyak Melkumyan is known as Karine and considered to be the area's most powerful madam. Karine, who is married with no children, keeps girls in her house, selling their services to men, and sends them abroad to work as prostitutes as well. She has two prior convictions for human trafficking; the first time she was sent to prison for a year, and the second time she was released in a state amnesty.

Karine is known for her cunning and treachery. Once there were serious accusations that she was involved in trafficking in children, but there was insufficient evidence to launch a criminal case to investigate the allegations.

For eight years Karine's main business partner has been 56-year-old Kalipse Hovhannisyan.

Investigators discovered that Kalipse Hovhannisyan had come to Vanadzor following a phone call from notorious Dubai pimp Narine Khachatryan. Kalipse was supposed to recruit good-looking women who were divorced or had financial troubles. Staying as a guest at Karine's house, Kalipse suggested that she could make a lot of money recruiting girls. Karine passed the lucrative proposal on to Anzhela Tzatinyan. In August of 2003, Anzhela brought Karine a girl named Anna.

Facing serious financial troubles, Anna's mother had agreed to send her daughter to Turkey, to work for high wages as a babysitter or housemaid. Anna, under the escort of Kalipse and Angela, departed from Yerevan for Moscow. There she was met by Sevak Simonyan, Arayik Martirosyan, and Arayik Aghajanyan, who provided her with a forged passport and sent her to Dubai.

Several days after Anna left, her mother, I.P., visited Karine and met Kalipse Hovhannisyan, who told her that Anna was in Dubai. Anna's mother demanded that her daughter be brought back, but Kalipse persuaded her not to say anything, reassuring her that her daughter was safe. When Anna's mother spoke with her on the telephone, she understood that her daughter was being threatened and could not speak freely.

Anna worked as a prostitute in Dubai for a year, under the control of Narine Khachatryan and supervised by Lilit Hambartsumyan. Finally, to escape from her bosses, Anna surrendered to the Dubai police. Five months later she was deported to Armenia. Her mother found out what was going on in early 2005, while her daughter was being detained in a Dubai jail.

Anna is now preparing to get married. Her future husband doesn't know her story, and the girl is in an extremely tense psychological state.

According to prosecutor Armen Boshnagyan, a senior investigator with the Office of the Prosecutor General, the victim understands that the main criminals are Angela Tsatinyan and Narine Khachatryan, who are wanted by Interpol. However, Anna also emphasized that Karine and Kalipse are not innocent.

Police prevent the trafficking of an underage girl to Dubai

A preliminary investigation determined that Kalipse Hovhannisyan's business with Dubai pimp Narine Khachatryan was not restricted to tricking Anna into prostitution.

In a closed hearing in Lori's Court of First Instance, Kalipse Hovhannisyan had been found guilty of sending underage Anush to Dubai as well. In 2003, Vanadzor resident Gayane Matinyan had suggested to her neighbor's daughter that she go to work in Turkey with Gayane's parents, who were already working there. Anush, 17, bought a ticket to Turkey and gave her passport to Gayane to get a visa. Later, she found out that she was instead going to Dubai and why. She refused at first, but Gayane threatened to spread rumors about her and ruin her reputation. Anush agreed, to avoid humiliation. A visa was issued by an official whom investigators have been unable to identify. However, the police found out about their plans in time, and the ring did not manage to transport the girl to Dubai.

Investigators discovered Anush was to be transported to Dubai with the help of Kalipse Hovhannisyan.

Narine Khachatryan, 33, Anzhela Tsatinyan, 32, are wanted by Interpol.

Judge Barik Grigoryan sentenced Arusyak Melkumyan (a.k.a. Karine) to four years in prison, taking into account the state of her health—she has a second-degree disability. Kalipse Hovhanisyan was sentenced to two years in prison. I her case, the court took into account the fact that she had no prior convictions, and also was in bad health, having suffered a heart attack and lung inflammation while in jail in Abovyan.

Naira Bulghadaryan / March 27, 2006 / Hetq Online

Monday, March 27, 2006

USC Cancels Forum For Genocide Deniers

By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier

Every year just before April 24, a number of high-ranking Turkish officials rush to the United States to lobby against a pending presidential declaration or congressional resolution on the Armenian Genocide.

This year is no exception. Five Turkish ministers and other senior officials are coming to Washington, D.C., this week to attend the annual conference of the American Turkish Council. Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, who had planned to attend, may not be there due to an ear infection. Gul had scheduled meetings with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, U.S. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, and leaders of what the Turks call "the Jewish lobby" in Washington.

More importantly for the Armenian-American community is the U.S. tour of two infamous genocide deniers, retired Ambassadors Gunduz Aktan and Omer Lutem. The former was a member of the infamous Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission (TARC) which collapsed after he demanded a study by an independent third party which, to his dismay, found the "events of 1915" to be genocide.

Aktan and Lutem took their "dog and pony show" on the road last week, starting from Columbia University in New York. Their announced topic was: "Minorities in the Ottoman Empire." This was a misrepresentation of their denialist agenda for the sake of gaining undeserved academic credibility. Here is how the "Turkish Press" reported Lutem's explanation in his talk for the mass murder of 1.5 million Armenians: "Armenians were not deported. They were merely relocated in different parts of the empire. Some of them died during the transfer."

A couple of days later, their show reached the shores of the Potomac. Aktan and Lutem spoke at the Rayburn House Office Building on the topic of: "The Armenian Allegation of Genocide: Law, Psychology and Politics." The public announcement of their talks shamelessly alleged: "most experts believe that the Armenian case does not constitute genocide," not naming a single such expert. In reality, the overwhelming majority of genocide and holocaust scholars have repeatedly gone on record confirming the facts of the Armenian Genocide. The Turkish announcement also asked the following false and misleading question: "Why did the UN Subcommittee on Human Rights reject the 1985 Whitaker Report that defined the Armenian case as genocide?" The truth is the exact opposite. The UN Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities -- which is the correct name of the UN panel -- accepted a report in 1985 in which the Armenian Genocide was classified as genocide. This writer participated in the deliberations of that panel in Geneva, Switzerland.

The next day, the two showmen took their performance to their adoring fans at the Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA). Aktan was quoted by the Turkish Daily News as saying: "If the U.S. Congress approves [a resolution] on the genocide allegations or if U.S. President George W. Bush uses the term 'genocide,' this would certainly have a political impact on Turkish-U.S. relations." Amazingly, Aktan was reported as making the following accurate observation: "it was impossible to convince Armenians that the killings between 1915 and 1917 were not genocide."

On March 24, the Defense Minister of Turkey Vecdi Gonul spoke at the Beverly Hills Hotel, while several thousand Armenians joined by Cong. Brad Sherman protested his appearance. When asked to acknowledge Turkey's dark past, Gonul told his audience: "these are Armenian claims, and there is nothing to acknowledge." Meanwhile, the touring two-ring circus composed of Aktan and Lutem arrived in Los Angeles, home to the largest Armenian community in the United States. The local Armenian population was prepared to "welcome" them during their planned lecture at the University of Southern California on March 26, the same way they greeted the Turkish Defense Minister two days earlier. However, there was no confrontation between local Armenians and the two Turkish deniers. Officials at USC Center on Public Diplomacy, the sponsor of the event, cancelled the program after being alerted by the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), USC students and community leaders of the offensive nature of the planned Turkish talks.

"Genocide denial is a form of hatred and bigotry and it is outside the purview of accepted standards of civil discourse within the academic community. It is deliberate misrepresentation of fact and a scientific fraud which must not be tolerated by the University," wrote Steve Dadaian, the Chairman of ANCA - Western Region, in a letter to USC officials. Dadaian questioned whether USC would sponsor a lecture during which neo-Nazis would deny the Holocaust. . He pointed out that providing a forum for making false statements violated USC's Code of Ethics.

USC cancelled the event for a very simple reason. According to a USC official, the Turkish Consulate in Los Angeles had misrepresented to the USC Center on Public Diplomacy the nature of the proposed event which was supposed to be "on Turkish Civil Society and prospects for improving relations with the Armenian community," and not on "genocide allegations," as it was subsequently publicized. Judging this latter topic to be "completely inappropriate," USC pulled the plug on the event.

It is not surprising that Turkish officials are now twisting the situation around and misrepresenting the cancellation as an infringement on freedom of expression. Turkish diplomats should be the last ones to complain about the lack of freedom in the United States given the fact that their country violates the most basic rights of its citizens on a regular basis.

Now Engin Ansay, the Turkish Consul General in Los Angeles, has a serious personal problem. Instead of being able to impress his superiors in Ankara for having provided a platform at a prominent academic institution in the heart of "Little Armenia" for the denial of the Armenian Genocide, he had two senior diplomats in his office far away from home with no place to speak. Consul General Ansay can complain as much as he wants, accusing "the powerful Armenian lobby" for subverting his government's denialist agenda, but in reality he has no one to blame but himself for this fiasco. It won't be surprising if he were to be recalled for mishandling the visit of these retired diplomats.

Turkish officials should learn from this experience the following valuable lesson -- genocide deniers are not welcome anywhere, particularly at a distinguished academic institution like USC!

Friday, March 24, 2006


Armenian National Committee of America
888 17th St., NW Suite 904
Washington, DC 20006
Tel: (202) 775-1918
Fax: (202) 775-5648

March 22, 2006
Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
Tel: (202) 775-1918


-- Confidential Cables from 1970s Provide Insight into U.S.-Turkish Cooperation in Seeking to Prevent the World Body's Recognition of Crime against Armenian Nation

WASHINGTON, DC - A series of formerly classified State Department cables, recently made available through the National Archives and Records Administration, provide first-hand insights into the cooperation during the early 1970s between the U.S. and Turkish governments seeking to block the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the United Nations.

"These files provide new insights into the depths to which our own government has sunk in its complicity with Turkey's denial of the Armenian Genocide," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "Knowing that sunshine truly is the best disinfectant, we welcome the release of these documents and value the growing public awareness of the internal mechanics of our government's immoral and short-sighted policy of denial - an increasingly untenable policy that is destined to collapse under the growing weight of its own lies."

Commenting on Turkey's efforts to delete reference to the Genocide in a Human Rights Subcommission report, the Secretary of State wrote in a March 1974 cable to the U.S. Mission to the U.N. that:

"Dept [State Department] appreciates Turkish concerns on Armenian Question and agrees that subject should be handled even-handedly. Para [paragraph] objected to by Turkish del [delegation] reads as follows: Quote: Passing to the modern era, one may note the existence of relatively full documentation dealing with the massacres of the Armenians, which has been described as "the first case of genocide in the twentieth century" unquote.

Apparently seeking to avoid the international criticism it would face for openly supporting Turkey's outright efforts to delete this passage, the State Department advised the U.N. Mission to present its opposition on procedural grounds:

"We would like to support the Turks and Dept [State Department] therefore concurs in USDEL [U.S. Delegation to the U.N.] suggestion that we inform Turks we willing to speak in support of procedural proposal to urge rapporteur to assure evenhandedness in study. We do not think it would be appropriate to request the rapporteur simply to delete the offending para [paragraph], although we would not oppose deletion if other dels [country delegations] indicate support for Turkish position."

In March of 1974, the U.S. Embassy in Ankara wrote to the State Department outlining its rationale for opposing the U.N.'s recognition of the Armenian Genocide. Among the reasons cited were:

"[...] Another reason is that the Turks are apprehensive that this year's commemoration of the Armenian massacres by Armenian communities throughout the world will be on a more impressive scale than in the last few years."

"[...] In addition, at a time when we are trying to persuade the Turks to exhibit some appreciation of our position on the opium issue, we would like to be able to show some understanding for a position on which Turkish emotions have characteristically run high."

In a March 1974 note following the support expressed by the U.S. for the Turkish position, the U.S. Mission informed the Secretary of State that:

"Turk del [delegation] warmly thanked U.S. del [delegation] for support following our intervention."

These files also provide insight into the early efforts by the Turkish Government to obstruct U.S. legislation and prevent other constitutionally-protected efforts by American citizens to work toward the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. In an April 1973 cable, the State Department wrote to the U.S. Embassy in Ankara

"It clear GOT [Government of Turkey] would like USG [U.S. Government] to halt all Armenian demonstrations, and indeed other Armenian activities which are hostile or offensive to a close ally."

In a second cable, also from April of 1973, the State Department reports that it has responded to Turkish concerns in the following manner:

"We pointed out that peaceful demonstrations could probably not be prevented, but expressed belief that with adequate policing, they could be stopped from getting out of hand."

A June 1974 cable reports on protests raised with the State Department by Turkey's Ambassador, Selcuk Esenbel, over a recently introduced Armenian Genocide Resolution. Under-Secretary of State Joseph Sisco dismissed the legislation, according to the cable, explaining to Ambassador Esenbel that the "resolution must be seen as part of normal domestic electoral politics."

Despite Turkey's efforts, the United Nation has established a record of recognizing the Armenian Genocide:

* In 1948, the United Nations War Crimes Commission invoked the Armenian Genocide "precisely . . . one of the types of acts which the modern term 'crimes against humanity' is intended to cover" as a precedent for the Nuremberg tribunals. The Commission stated that "[t]he provisions of Article 230 of the Peace Treaty of Sevres were obviously intended to cover, in conformity with the Allied note of 1915 . . ., offenses which had been committed on Turkish territory against persons of Turkish citizenship, though of Armenian or Greek race. This article constitutes therefore a precedent for Article 6c and 5c of the Nuremberg and Tokyo Charters, and offers an example of one of the categories of 'crimes against humanity' as understood by these enactments."

* In August 1985, after extensive study and deliberation, the United Nations SubCommission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities voted 14 to 1 to accept a report entitled "Study of the Question of the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide," which stated "[t]he Nazi aberration has unfortunately not been the only case of genocide in the 20th century. Among other examples which can be cited as qualifying are . . . the Ottoman massacre of Armenians in 1915-1916." This report also explained that "[a]t least 1,000,000, and possibly well over half of the Armenian population, are reliably estimated to have been killed or death marched by independent authorities and eye-witnesses. This is corroborated by reports in United States, German and British archives and of contemporary diplomats in the Ottoman Empire, including those of its ally Germany."


Thursday, March 23, 2006

It was genocide

March, 22 2006

JOHN EVANS IS THE U.S. ambassador to Armenia, as of this writing. But he probably won't be for long. Evans, a career diplomat who was selected to receive an American Foreign Service Assn. award last year for his frank public speaking, irked his superiors at the State Department by uttering the following words at UC Berkeley in February 2005: "I will today call it the Armenian genocide." For that bit of truth-telling, Evans was forced to issue a clarification, then a correction, then to endure having his award rescinded under pressure from his bosses, and finally to face losing his job altogether. What happened in Armenia in 1915 is well known. The Ottoman Empire attempted to exterminate the Armenian population through slaughter and mass deportation. It finished half the job, killing about 1.2 million people. Yet the State Department has long avoided the word "genocide," not out of any dispute over history but out of deference to Turkey, whose membership in NATO and location between Europe and Asia make it a strategic ally.

It is time to stop tiptoeing around this issue and to accept settled history. Genocide, according to accepted U.N. definition, means "the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group." Armenia is not even a borderline case. Punishing an ambassador for speaking honestly about a 90-year-old crime befits a cynical, double-dealing monarchy, not the leader of the free world. Turks point out that their Ottoman ancestors considered it treason to side with Russia at the outbreak of World War I, as many Armenians did. But the massacres were also fueled by Muslim animosity toward a Christian minority. When then-U.S. Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire Henry Morganthau protested the bloodletting, he received a telling response from Mehmed Talaat, the interior minister in charge of the anti-Armenian campaign. "Why are you so interested in Armenians anyway? You are a Jew, these people are Christians," Talaat said. "Why can't you let us do with these Christians as we please?"For Armenians who escaped the killing and came to this country, inadequate recognition of their history is crazy-making. Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank), whose district includes the heart of the Armenian diaspora, keeps introducing a bill to officially recognize the genocide, only to see congressional leadership quash it each year, under pressure from the State Department.Some nations, thankfully, are stepping where Congress fears to tread. The European Parliament last year passed a nonbinding resolution asking that Turkey acknowledge the genocide as a precondition for joining the European Union. The Turkish government, typically, was infuriated, yet it still desperately wants to join the EU. One day, the country that was founded as a direct repudiation of its Ottoman past will face its history squarely, as part of a long-overdue maturing process. Some day before then, we hope, the State Department will too.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Dear Friends,

It is welcome news that PBS is planning to broadcast Andrew Goldberg's "The Armenian Genocide" documentary on April 17, 2006. However, we are immensely hurt by the news that this will be followed by a 25 minute long discussion by a panel that includes two genocide deniers.

We are confident that the Armenian Genocide scholars will present a superb scholarly case, but we strongly feel that debating the Armenian Genocide is akin to arguing about the Jewish Holocaust in order to project a sense of "balance". Would PBS ever contemplate such a program?

A petition against the insulting PBS panel discussion was launched a few weeks ago which has already been signed by more than 16,000 individuals. As of now, several major PBS stations have already dropped the post-show panel. However, there are many other PBS stations that are still undecided. Your signature CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

You can help STOP the government of Turkey stifling honest free speech in America through dishonest, fraudulent 'free' speech.

Please click on the link below and sign the petition:

If you have already signed the petition, please forward this e-mail to everyone in your e-mail address book.

14:09 20/03/06

On March 18 about 20 demonstrations were expected to take place in Berlin, about 1500 policemen had to do overtime work to protect the demonstrators from indiscipline.

Turkish nationalistic organizations had planned a great demonstration on March 18 in concern with 85th anniversary of death of taleat pasha. And about 4 million Turks living in Germany were to "take their flags and come to Berlin" to take part in "the great event of the year" in order to prove that the Turks are "innocent" and that there was no Armenian Genocide in Western Turkey.

That impudent announcement infuriated even Berlin Police and the demonstration was banned. Yet, the slimy organizers got the right to hold the demonstration by a Court resolution. On March 16 the police appealed to Berlin-Brandenburg Departmental Court with the demand to ban the demonstration as "taleat pasha" was one of the main organizers of Armenian Genocide".

Yet the Supreme Court of Democratic Germany couldn't uphold the claim and passed a resolution rather important for the Armenians: "Allow the demonstration on a strict stipulation: any poster, speech, picture or opinion denying the Armenian Genocide will be condemned by 189 article of Criminal Code (reviling of memory of victims)."

About 1700 participants of the demonstration on March 18 were watched by the police from Urania to Charlottenburg. They demanded from the demonstrators to show all the posters and pictures. Turkish demonstrators demanded that the Bundestag should call beck the resolution of July 16, 2005 according to which Germany adopted the fact of Armenian Genocide.

On the other hand the German Right Extremists (NPD) had organized a demonstration of protest against the Turks. They warned the Turkish demonstrators with posters and appeals like "No Parisian situation in Berlin", "Berlin is a German city".

German Left Party (PDS) had also surrounded Charlottenburger Chlosschtrassen as a sign of protest against Turkish demonstrators.

Christian Democratic and Christian Social (CDU/CSU) parties condemned Turkish nationalists strictly.

It should be mentioned that the demonstration turned in favor of the Armenians. As it is known, demonstrations were held in French cities Lion and Marsalis. And here the French defended the Armenian Trial.

The procession of Turkish nationalists organized in Lion had a dramatic end. Yet, French (!) demonstrators stood on the way of the Turkish demonstrators and the police had to use tear-gas to calm the demonstrators.

Monday, March 20, 2006



In Stepanakert the survey "Corruption and Conflict in the South Caucasus" was evaluated. The survey, which was funded by International Alert, is based on the results of surveys conducted in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Nagorno Karabakh, Abkhazia and South Osetia. The initiator of the survey, Natalia Merimanova stated that the aim was to study the impact of corruption on the settlement of the conflict and vice versa, the impact of the conflict on the rate of corruption. The initiators had also tried to find out the difference between the rates of corruption in recognized and unrecognized countries.

The survey revealed that people in all these countries insist that governments are always corrupt. And if the government is corrupt, it cannot be legitimate, and therefore it cannot have a positive impact on the peace settlement. On the other hand, corrupt governments prefer a status quo to resuming war.

Valery Balayan, the head of the cultural center Avanduyt, said the rate of corruption in Karabakh is too high due to several reasons. The businessmen participating in the debate said it is difficult to run a business in Karabakh without breaching. If a businessman is not giving a bribe, it means he has good connections. It was mentioned that there is no equity in business.

The Scottish benefactor Robin McLarry, working at the Rehabilitation Center of Stepanakert, participating in the debate, said many international organizations, including Disaporan Armenian organizations he had turned to refused to work with the governments of Armenia and Karabakh because they are corrupt. These organizations prefer working with individuals.

The participants of the debate concluded that traditions of corruption persist in the entire post-Soviet space and are modernizing, acquiring a "democratic" form. Although there is legislative basis for equal competition, those who want to run a "clean" business, leave Karabakh for other countries.

The participants of the debate set forward proposals to involve the civil society in the struggle against corruption. First, it is necessary to have independent mass media. It is also necessary to extend legal information to people and to involve the civil society in law making.

The survey has been translated into English, and soon will appear in Russian.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Campaign to stop human trafficking to Dubai

Problem: Thousands of women and children are trafficked into Dubai each year and forced into prostitution. Many of the local hotels are voluntarily, or involuntarily instrumental in this trade.

Campaign Goal: That the Dubai government;

1) Require that hotels in the city sign and implement the ECPAT Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism, supported by UNICEF and the World Tourism Organization ( This would mean that hotels would have to train staff to recognize and stand against such links to exploitation.

2) Require hotels to display awareness raising materials explaining to tourists and business travellers what human trafficking is, how to recognize the victims of trafficking, and warns of the consequences of being complicit with this crime.
3) Remove the licenses of hotels which persistently allow links with human trafficking to continue.

French and Turkish protesters clash in demo crash

Sat 18 Mar 2006 11:15 AM ET

LYON, France, March 18 (Reuters)
- French youths protesting against a new employment law ended up in an unexpected clash with Turks demonstrating against an Armenian memorial when their separate marches crossed paths in this eastern city on Saturday.

Riot police used water cannon to separate the two groups after about 2,500 Turks opposed to the construction of a memorial in the city centre to Armenian victims of a 1915 massacre attacked the demonstrating youths, police said.

The Turks, waving Turkish flags and holding up posters saying "There was no Armenian genocide," reacted after youths denounced them as "fascists" and yelled "go home!", police said.

Both sides pelted each other with missiles and engaged in fist fights, they said, adding that some youths protesting the employment law were apparently of Armenian origin.

Turkey rejects charges that it massacred 1.5 million Armenians living in the then Ottoman Empire in 1915.

Many of the survivors fled to France, which now has an influential Armenian minority of about 300,000. After a long campaign by them, the French parliament passed a bill in 1998 officially recognising the killing as genocide.

The protest against the new employment law was one of many marches across France on Saturday aimed at putting pressure on the Paris government to withdraw the measure that allows employers to fire workers under 26 more easily.

The conservative government introduced the law to encourage reluctant employers to take on new staff and help combat unemployment, which among young people is double the national average of 9.6 percent.

Talaat Pasha Action Authorized by Berlin City Administration

18.03.2006 00:50 GMT+04:00

500 Turkish public and political figures as well as members of youth organizations of Azerbaijan will depart for Berlin to take part in the Talaat Pasha Action to be held in March 18. The Berlin City Administration authorized the march to be held by leader of Cypriot Turks Rauf Denktash. Security measures have been undertaken. The rally participants will condemn the "Armenian terror", commemorate Talaat Pasha and protest "transformation of losses of three nations in 1915 into the Armenian Genocide."

To remind, the other day people in Paris, Marseilles and Valance protested the Talaat Pasha Action in Berlin. They stressed the inadmissibility of Turkey policy of denial and noted that "such Turkey has no place in the democratic world."

Israeli Scholar Called Events in 1915 Armenian Genocide

18.03.2006 01:59 GMT+04:00

"The deportation in 1915, in my opinion, was a genuine genocide, and it was widely covered by the world press, despite Ottoman state's efforts," Israeli historian Yair Auron stated at of New Approaches in the Turkish-Armenian Relations conference at Istanbul University. Auron emphasized that within that period many newspapers in Palestine covered the issue of the Armenian Genocide. "We can clearly see it by studying publications of that time. I studied well memoirs, sources and I conceive that what happened to Armenians was a genocide," the Israeli scholar stated. Auron's statements outraged some participants of New Approaches in Turkish-Armenian Relations conference. However, organizers of the event said tolerance should be displayed to any opposite opinion, the Marmara Istanbul newspaper reports.

Saturday, March 18, 2006


AZG Armenian Daily #049, 18/03/2006

Armenian Genocide

Europe Assigns 600.000 Euros

The March 9 sitting of Eurimages foundation of the Council of Europe took a decision to assign 600.000 euros to famous Italian filmmakers Paolo and Vittorio Taviani brothers to shoot "The Larks' Hamlet" feature film dealing with the Armenian Genocide. All members of the foundation's jury except for Turkish one voted for the decision. This foundation that supports European film production has 32 member states.

According to the Foreign Affairs Ministry of Armenia, French chairman of the foundation Jacques Toubon resolutely backed this decision in his speech and accused Turkey of the Genocide calling it a historic fact. Despite dissatisfaction of the Turkish representative and official Ankara, the jury's opinion remained unchanged.

By Tamar Minasian


AZG Armenian Daily #049, 18/03/2006

Despite the ban of the Berlin Police against "Talat Pasha rally," Turkish nationalists held a gathering in the German capital. Turks were forced to change the rally site as the Armenian community of Berlin had already occupied the site. Turkish Zaman newspaper wrote on March 16 that the rally gathered 15 members of the Turkish Workers' Party and Kemalist unions. The rally failed as a result of squabble between TWP and Kemalists.

Moreover, the Armenians of Berlin together with the Assyrian community organized their own rally carrying posters "No Hailing of Genocidal Turkey in Germany", "Armenians and Assyrians Jointly Condemn Turkey for the Genocide." The Turkish rally participants, Zaman writes, observed a minute's silence in memory of Talat.

The rally was initially planned to take place on March 18, and the organizers threatened to enroll 5 million strong Turkish community of Europe. Its staging 3 days earlier allows us to assume that the Turks attempted to evade the Berlin Police's decision.

By Hakob Chakrian


12:27 17/03/06



The circumstance of non-responding to the applications in advance addressed to you gave grounds to suppose that they didn´t reach the addressee, consequently choosing the way of turning publicly to you by the open letter, we hoped to express our anxiety concerning illegal actions, had committed towards the company "Royal Armenia" and its heads. As a result of machination of a group of managing officials at the customs state committee of the Republic of Armenia /hereinafter CSC/ on 10.03.2005 criminal legal proceedings were instituted towards the company "Royal
Armenia"; and during the seventh month of the criminal case investigation, joint owner of the company Hakobyan Gagik and vice director Ghazaryan Aram were arrested on 11.10.2005 and had been under arrest for about 5 months. Analyses of one-year criminal case and five months arrest of the latter revealed that not an objective investigation complying with criminal proceedings law of RA was held but a criminal terror, which was carried out by the investigator Marukyan Mnatsakan in favor of carelessness towards all the arguments and written evidences of the company and arrested officials, declaring them false without analyzing to the extent of attempts to qualify the whole economic activity of LLC "criminal" within the period of the last six months. While all the incriminating proclamations, made by Bedrossian Vache, USA citizen, declared as "victim", by the investigator´s own free will had been accepted as a gospel truth and he had kept the people arrested on the grounds of it. The investigator who was the first responsible for ungrounded arrest, made all the efforts for justifying his illegal actions and fabricated accusations concerning the arrested. We understand that some customers stand under his back, however we find that law must operate in Armenia, consequently availability of the customers doesn´t release the investigator from an obligation to act objectively, lack of which is unspeakably tremendous.

Actually the company "Royal Armenia" as well as Hakobyan Gagik and Ghazaryan Aram were punished for non-implementation of illegal requirement made by corrupted managing officials at CSC, however the funny side of a situation is that the latter were accused because formerly Hakobyan Gagik, refusing the high-ranking customs officials, denied to execute. According to the hypothesis of preliminary investigation, Hakobyan Gagik had been accused in fraud as well, which became apparent in debts to Bedrossian Vache, USA citizen, and refusal from returning the debts, however in reality Bedrossian Vache, USA citizen owed money to Hakobyan Gagik and at these circumstances the label fraudster suited Bedrossian Vache, USA citizen. The applications sent to you, containing details of the above-mentioned and written evidences were handed over the President´s Staff of RA in time, consequently we ask to become familiar with them in order to make sure in the pointed out.

Taking an opportunity we want to recall to the address of CSC, during the meeting at the beginning of year you expressed your negative treatment: for clearance of various customs values of imported identical goods with similar provisions, as during the last 2.5 years the company "Royal Armenia" had been considered as one of the victims of such illegal actions made by the customs officials. For the first time the company "Royal Armenia" stated about it at press conference, held on 26.07.2004, revealing corruption disclosure available at the base of customs values "games", established for imported coffee by CSC. As a result the corrupted high-ranking customs officials has been unpunished up to day and continue to hold profitable offices, and the fathers of corruption together instituted criminal legal proceedings towards an innocent person, revealed "imprudence" while expressing his loudly addressed opinion concerning the corruption. We also remember that the instruction given by you to the head of CSC during the meeting at the beginning of year, to punish all the officials, which bear responsibility for establishing wrong
customs values in 2005. Let us point out that over two months passed after meeting, but nothing was said about execution of your instruction by the head of CSC.

Proceeding from the above-mentioned we ask your cooperation for termination of illegal actions, carried out towards the company "Royal Armenia" and its heads as well as for releasing innocent people in criminal-legal sense.

Thanks beforehand
"Royal Armenia" JV LLC
Director /signature/ Toni El Labaki
Lawyer /signature/ Minasyan Gevorg
March 14, 2006

/Seal of "Royal Armenia" JV LLC/

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

DP World Unveils Port Operation Sale Plans

When reading the following story, the question comes to my mind if something like the Bush family or their friends could have a share in DP? This could also be the reason why Bush prevented the UAE from being sanctioned for trafficking, as they should have been.

It also seems that the traffickers (the UAE), who Bush himself has said the in the past that profits from their illigal acts have been found to support terrorist and now the way the story reads, have already had in control of American ports for some time. What a mess and you have to ask if supporters of terrorist who target America have not already put in place WMD on American soil?

By TED BRIDIS, Associated Press Writers

WASHINGTON - A Dubai-owned company said Wednesday it plans to sell all its U.S. port operations within four to six months to an unrelated American buyer and laid out new details about how it plans to pursue the sale under pressure from Congress.

DP World said that until the sale is finalized, its U.S. businesses will be operated independently. The announcement was the first time DP World described its plans for the U.S. operations as a "sale" and indicated it would retain no stake in them.

"An expedited sale process is under way and with the cooperation of the port authorities and joint venture partners, it is expected that a sale can be agreed within four to six months," the company said in a statement.

DP World said it will provide information about its business to "interested parties," which it did not identify, and said it will assess offers based on what it described as "value, deliverability and the continuity of management, employees and customers."

The new disclosures by DP World responded to questions raised since its announcement last week about how it intends to transfer to an unspecified American company all the U.S. operations it acquired when it bought London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co. for $6.8 billion.

The British company handles significant operations at ports in New Jersey, New York, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia — plus lesser dockside activities at 16 other ports in this country.

DP World has said those U.S. operations are worth roughly $700 million.

"This is the first time we have gotten clarification that the intent is for full divestiture," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. "While I still have to look at the details, it looks now like they have fleshed this out in far greater detail," said Schumer, who said he was assured "the process be open and fair and quick."

"That is very good news. That's what we have been seeking from the beginning," he said.

At the White House, moments before DP World's announcement, spokesman Scott McClellan said company executives had earlier promised to transfer their U.S. businesses, "and it's important that they fulfill the commitment that was made."

"They have expressed that they are fully committed to doing so, and the Treasury Department said that they would work with them on implementing that decision," McClellan said.

DP World said until the sale is complete, its U.S. operations will be managed independently by P&O Ports North America Inc., the wholly owned U.S. subsidiary of the British company it bought.

Since DP World's announcement last week, Republicans and Democrats alike in Congress have questioned whether the company planned a full divestiture or whether it would retain some stake in the U.S. operations.

DP World said previously that its decision last week was based on an understanding it would be given time for an orderly transfer and that DP World will not suffer economic loss.

But until Wednesday, it had steadfastly declined to clarify its statement or the timing of any possible sale. Leading congressional critics threatened repeatedly to intervene if DP World's plans fell short of a full divestiture of its U.S. operations.

DP World said Wednesday it hired Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. of New York as its financial adviser for the sale. It also hired a prominent New York law firm, Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, for legal advice and said it will continue relying on the Alston & Bird LLP law and lobbying firm in Washington for help with U.S. regulatory issues.

President Bush had strongly defended the ports deal, saying the United Arab Emirates is a valuable ally in the fight against terrorism.

Many lawmakers, both Republicans and Democrats, pointed to the UAE's role as an operational and financial base for hijackers in the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and said they opposed allowing a company owned by a foreign government to run operations at ports vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

Questions about the divestiture intensified during the weekend, when Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said DP World could be permitted to operate and manage some U.S. ports if no suitable American buyer were found and if the Bush administration determined there were no security risks.

But Sen. John Warner, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said during the weekend, "the deal is over" and said the company's intent "looks like in every respect a total divestiture."

Warner, R-Va., has acted as an important go-between for DP World and the administration. He previously announced the company's offer to submit to an unusual, broader security review over the deal and then last week, in the full Senate, announced its decision to transfer its U.S. operations.

DP World previously agreed it will not control or manage any of the U.S. port operations it acquired until May 1 or until the outcome of the unusual, broader security investigation into the ports deal by the Bush administration.

That review is pending.

PBS Co-Chief Program Executive Defends Decision to Provide Air-Time to Genocide Deniers

WASHINGTON, DC – The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) today called a response from PBS Co-Chief Program Executive Jacoba Atlas on the ongoing controversy surrounding a misguided panel featuring Genocide Deniers “dismissive” and “unacceptable”, urging PBS to meet with ANCA representatives to resolve the growing controversy.

ANCA National Board Member and Western Region Chairman Steve Dadaian first contacted PBS’ Atlas on February 14th, asking for a meeting to discuss the largely taxpayer funded public television system’s plan to air a 30-minute roundtable discussion featuring known genocide deniers Justin McCarthy and Omer Turan. The panel would follow a one-hour documentary, titled “The Armenian Genocide,” by Andrew Goldberg of Two Cats Productions, to be made available to PBS affiliates nationwide on April 17th.

While no meeting date has yet been set, Atlas’ February 24th response restated PBS’ affirmation of the Armenian Genocide. “Implicit in PBS’ decision to accept THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE for distribution is its recognition that the overwhelming majority of historians and news organizations affirm that the genocide took place,” stated Atlas.

The letter continued, however, justifying the distribution of the genocide denial panel, stating that “Most Americans do not understand what happened to Armenians; too often news organizations have ignored this part of world history. We strongly believe in the power of truth to come through in debate. We strongly believe in the ability of the American public to discern that truth.”

Atlas dismissed comparisons to running a denial panel following a documentary on the Holocaust, stating, that “With all due respect, the comparison is not entirely analogous. Germany has fully accepted responsibility for the Holocaust, paid reparations, made apologies, met with survivors and teaches about it in its schools. As you know, this is not the case with the Armenian Genocide.”

The ANCA’s response, issued by Dadaian earlier today, takes to task PBS’ flawed arguments. Referring to Atlas’ “dismissive” response as “unacceptable,” Dadaian again asked for an opportunity to meet with Atlas and outlined the community concerns.

In reference to the argument that Turkey’s ongoing refusal to accept its past somehow forces a panel discussion featuring deniers, he asked if the same standard would be applied to a documentary on Darfur. “Following the logic of your decision, the next time Frontline does a documentary on Darfur, will you be providing the Sudanese government or its surrogates a forum to deny that what is being committed there is genocide?”

The ANCA letter went on to note that “earlier this year your network broadcasted ‘Hidden Turkey’ a ‘cultural and historical’ piece which presented a sanitized version of Turkey's history without once mentioning the Armenian Genocide or even the presence of the Armenian people on those lands for over 2,500 years until 1915. Why then, being a network which knows the truth, did you not follow that show with a panel discussing the Armenian Genocide and how 1.5 million Armenians disappeared from those lands?”

Dadaian restated the basic tenet that “There can be no tolerance for giving a national stage to those who choose to deny the Armenian Genocide for the sake of political expediency just as there would be no tolerance to providing a forum to those who would deny the Holocaust or any such horrific crime.”

The complete texts of the PBS letter to the ANCA and the ANCA response are provided below.

Media controversy surrounding the misguided PBS decision continues to grow, with the Washington Post, New York Times, LA Times, Glendale News-Press and Agence France Presse providing continued coverage of the story. Two PBS affiliates -- Los Angeles KCET and Mountain Lake PBS in Plattsburgh, NY -- have already pledged not to give Genocide deniers air-time refusing to run the PBS round table. A New York Times report that New York’s affiliate, WNET, would run the round-table, elicited a protest in front of their headquarters on Saturday, led by NY Congressman Anthony Weiner and joined by the local Armenian National Committee and other Armenian American organizations. The protest was reported by the Associated Press and received local television coverage.

The ANCA WebMail campaign continues to grow as thousands of concerned viewers from across the U.S. send letters to PBS urging them to drop the denialist panel. Most recently, the ANCA WebMail campaign was featured on multi-platinum, Grammy-winning band “System of a Down”s website. Individuals interested in adding their voice to the campaign can do so by visiting:

An on-line petition campaign, started by Armenian Tidorts, currently has over 14,000 signatories. To participate in the petition campaign, visit:

Monday, March 13, 2006

March 10, 2006

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
U.S. Department of State
2201 C St, NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Rice:

I am writing to express my extreme disappointment with the reports of the State Department’s decision to withdraw Ambassador John Evans from Armenia. Based on mews reports, I am outraged that the State Department is recalling Ambassador Evans as retaliation for statement he made in recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

I am sure you are aware of courageous public statements Ambassador Evans made last year in response to a question about the tragic events that began in 1915, “I will today call it the Armenian Genocide.”

Ambassador Evans is an expert on the subject. He has studied the history of Armenia, and based on his substantial studies of the issue, he was willing to go on the record and define the systematic extermination of 1.5 million Armenian men, women and children as genocide.

To this day, the Republic of Turkey refuses to acknowledge the fact that this massive crime against humanity took place on soil under its control, and in the name of Turkish nationalism. Unfortunately, some 90 years later, the U.S. State Department continues to support Turkey’s denials despite all evidence to the contrary.

It is simply unacceptable for this administration to continue to penalize the ambassador for his comments. Ambassador Evans did a courageous thing; his statements did not contradict U.S. policy, but rather articulated the same message that this Administration has sent to the public. The only difference in this case is that Ambassador Evans assigned a word to define the actions taken against the Armenians.

This was a refreshing break from a pattern on the par of the State Department of using evasive and euphemistic terminology to obscure the full reality of the Armenian Genocide. Ambassador Evans pointed out that, “No American official has ever denied it,” and went on to say that, “I think we, the U.S. government, owe you, our fellow citixens a more frank and honest way of discussing this problem.”

I do not believe it is possible for any Ambassador to Armenia to function with any credibility if he does not recognize the genocide. Any representative of the United of States on the ground in Armenia is faced with countless occasions where the genocide is discussed or commemorated.

It is simply wrong for the State Department to punish Ambassador Evans for statements he made that are factually correct. Acoordingly, I am asking you for an explanation as to why Ambassador Evans was removed from his post.

I am outraged that the U.S. State Department is now penalizing ambassadors for telling the truth. This is the wrong message to send to the world. I look forward to a timely response from your office.


Member of Congress


Sixth District of New Jersey


CONTACT: Andrew Souvall or
Heather Lasher Todd
(202) 225-4671

March 9, 2006

U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) issued the following statement this afternoon in response to news that Dubai Ports World would divest itself of its U.S. holdings, which included the potential operation of six U.S. ports.

"Dubai Ports World made the right decision today in pulling out of this questionable deal. However, Congress still needs to approve legislation that I sponsored in the House that will prevent our ports from being owned or operated by foreign governments.

"It's still up to Congress to investigate why the Bush administration approved the deal without going through the proper channels. Congress should also amend the law to ensure that these decisions are no longer made in secret backroom meetings."


Iran says 13,000 arrested in anti-human trafficking drive

AP Worldstream; Mar 11, 2006

Iran has over the past year arrested some 13,000 foreign nationals attempting to illegally cross into neighboring nations, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported Saturday.

It said the foreigners mostly came from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

They were detained while attempting to cross into Turkey with the intention of moving on to Western Europe, according to Gen. Hasan Karami, police chief of Iran's northwestern Azerbaijan province, which has borders with Armenia, Turkey and Iraq.

The news agency's report also said that a total of 25 human trafficking rings have been uncovered by police over the past year.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Committee Investigates Hetq Report
March 6, 2006

On February 23, Edik Baghdasaryan, chairman of the Investigative Journalists of Armenia, was summoned to the Office of the Prosecutor General to provide explanations to a committee set up to verify published findings by investigative journalists.

An excerpt from US State Department report on trafficking published on February 1, 2006:

(See Department of State Releases 2005 Trafficking in Persons Interim Assessment):

On February 16, Prosecutor General Aghvan Hovsepyan met with the deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy, Anthony Godfrey, and the head of the embassy's political department, Cindy Doel. The details of the US State Department report and prospects for future cooperation, were discussed at the meeting.

From the website of the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Armenia (

"Despite the fact that the anti-trafficking department at General Prosecution has been in existence for a relatively short time, the embassy finds that the results it has achieved are satisfactory and values the involvement of RA General Prosecution in the process. As a future objective, other agencies and law enforcement organizations should be involved.

"Regarding the implied claims in the report about corrupt prosecution officials it is necessary to take steps as soon as possible to verify the validity of these claims.

"Also during the meeting the sides expressed hope that the prosecution will increase its efforts in the fight against trafficking, and that as a result Armenia will be removed from the list of countries that need to be monitored.

"Armenia's Prosecutor General once again emphasized that he finds unacceptable corrupt behavior on the part of any prosecution official."

The day after the meeting, the prosecutor general ordered the creation of a new committee to investigate media reports. "Using articles published in several Armenian news sources, in particular the NGO Investigative Journalists, as a starting point, the committee should investigate the possibility of the illegal involvement of prosecution and border guard officials in trafficking." The order also mentions that these articles were used in the US State Department report.

Among the members of the committee are head of the Prosecutor General's Office's anti-corruption department Mihran Minasyan; head of the department of organizational supervision Gagik Avetisyan, senior assistant to the prosecutor general Hovhannes Stepanyan, vice president of the National Assembly's organizational supervision committee Gegham Gasparyan, and assistant to the head of the Armenian Government's Supervisory Service Ashot Sedrakyan.

In 2005, Hetq published the results of a year-long investigation in the United Arab Emirates.This investigative series has recently come under the scrutiny of the prosecutor general's new committee. (See also Desert Nights) On February 23 rd , Investigative Journalists chairman Edik Baghdasaryan met with its members.

"Our reporting was researched. The committee asked me to provide video tapes we made in Dubai, on which pimps and victims of trafficking provided the names of prosecution officials. I refused to hand over those tapes because it would threaten the safety of the people on the tapes. I signed a document stating my refusal. I also stated that there was a connection and if there were to be a criminal investigation, it would be possible to achieve results. I answered various questions from the committee members. I had the impression that the committee was really determined to establish the truth. Nevertheless, until their findings are published we cannot say why the committee was created in the first place. We also discussed the lenient sentences given to pimps, and their early release from prison," Baghdasaryan said.

Baghdasaryan also noted that the committee's files include a Radio Liberty interview mentioning the names of different prosecution officials who have visited Dubai.

Kristine Barseghyan

See also: Law-Enforcement Officials Cleared Of Human Trafficking

A Priceless Demonstration Banner in Yerevan.

Cheney Roasted at Gridiron Club Dinner

By DARLENE SUPERVILLE, Associated Press Writer
Sun Mar 12, 12:04 AM ET

President Bush headlined the annual Gridiron Club political press roast Saturday night, but Vice President Dick Cheney was the main target of the humor.

Cheney's well-publicized Texas hunting accident last month, drew ridicule from the press corps and all the speakers, including the president.

Bush pointed out that the vice president's full name is Richard B. Cheney.

"B. stands for bulls eye," Bush said to laughter from the hundreds of reporters and officials from the administration and Congress. The press, Bush joked, blew the matter way out of proportion: "Good Lord, you'd thought he shot somebody or something."

Cheney, who sat at the head table, laughed along with most of the jokes.

Bush said that while pundits speculate about whether Cheney or White House political adviser Karl Rove run the government, it's another person who actually pulls the strings. Cheney, Bush said, tells him what to do but Cheney's wife, Lynne, tells the vice president what to do.

"Lynne, I think you're doing a heck of a job. Although I have to say you dropped the ball big time on that Dubai deal," he said, in a joke about the controversial ports deal.

Lynne Cheney was the Republican speaker and opened by saying that because she came late in the program "the hunting jokes have been used."

The Democratic speaker was Illinois Sen. Barack Obama who sang a parody, "If I Only Had McCain."

His song alluded to a recent spat with Sen. John McCain (news, bio, voting record) over ethics reform. Obama was the lead Democrat on the issue, which has been a signature cause of the Arizona Republican.

Democrats didn't have an easier time than the Republicans and were mocked for being in disarray over their party's message and strategy, its position on the Iraq war and even whom to field for president in 2008.

"What do we stand for? We don't know. What's our platform? We ain't sure. All we know is Dubya's got it wrong," reporters sang, using a nickname for Bush.

The travails of House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California also came in for a ribbing.

"This job is a zoo, I don't have a clue," a reporter sang. But then "Dubya messed up with the ports. I don't know why, but thank you, Dubai."

Bush made his fifth appearance and speech at the white-tie dinner.

Reporters dressed as sick chickens for a bird flu skit, as the Incredible Hulk to poke fun at Sen. Ted Stevens (news, bio, voting record), R-Alaska, who likes to wear a Hulk tie while waging fights in the Senate, and as Cheney hidden behind a Darth Vader mask.

Founded in 1885, the invitation-only Gridiron Club is the oldest organization for Washington journalists. It exists only for the annual dinner.

Now in its 121st year, the Gridiron claims to "singe, but never burn."

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Bush: Ports Deal Collapse May Hurt U.S.

By JENNIFER LOVEN, Associated Press Writer

President Bush said Friday the collapse of the Dubai ports deal could hurt U.S. efforts to recruit Mideast governments as partners in the worldwide war on terror.

Separately, in what may have been an aftershock to the failed transaction, a new round of trade talks between the U.S. and the United Arab Emirates was postponed.

On Thursday, Dubai-based DP World backed away in the face of unrelenting criticism and announced it would transfer its management of port terminals in major U.S. cities to an American entity.

Bush struck a defiant tone Friday with the Republican-led Congress whose new willingness to buck him has taken its most dramatic form with the ports controversy.

The president said he was open to improving the government's method of reviewing such transactions, but he insisted his administration's approval of the deal had posed no security risk — and that the reversal could have the opposite effect.

"I'm concerned about a broader message this issue could send to our friends and allies around the world, particularly in the Middle East," said Bush during an appearance before a conference of the National Newspaper Association. "In order to win the war on terror, we have got to strengthen our friendships and relationships with moderate Arab countries in the Middle East."

The United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is a part, is just such a country, Bush said.

Dubai services more U.S. military ships than any other country, shares useful intelligence about terrorists and helped shut down a global black-market nuclear network run by Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan, the administration says. This week, though, the State Department's annual human rights report called the UAE's performance "problematic," citing floggings as punishment for adultery or drug abuse.

The president said he would now have to work to shore up the U.S. relationship with the UAE and explain to Congress and the public why it's a valuable one.

"UAE is a committed ally in the war on terror," he said.

En route Friday to a presidential inauguration in Chile, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice echoed Bush. The failed ports deal "means that we are going to have to work and double our efforts to send a strong message that we value our allies, our moderate allies, in the Middle East," she said.

Thursday's action spared Bush an embarrassing showdown, which he seemed likely to lose, over the veto he had threatened of any attempt by Congress to block the transaction.

After weeks of questions from lawmakers of both parties about whether giving a state-owned company from an Arab country control of significant port operations could increase terrorist dangers, the silence from Republicans on Friday was telling. The only statements came from Democrats who sought to keep the issue alive.

Sen. Charles Schumer (news, bio, voting record), D-N.Y., a chief critic of the Dubai deal, said lawmakers needed more detail on DP World's planned divestiture. It wasn't clear which American business might get the port operations, or how the U.S. entity would be related to the Dubai government.

"Make no mistake, we are going to scrutinize this deal with a fine tooth comb," Schumer said.

And the Democratic Party planned a mobile billboard in Memphis, Tenn., where GOP activists were gathering for a weekend conference, accusing Republicans of standing in the way of providing enough funding for port security. "Republicans owe the American people answers as to where they really stand," said party spokesman Luis Miranda.

Republicans, too, have said the deal's end does nothing to address the nation's continuing vulnerability at its ports, where the vast majority of shipping containers are not inspected. In fact, work continued on Capitol Hill on two fronts: reworking the process under which the government approves foreign investment and boosting port security.

Senate Homeland Security Chairwoman Susan Collins, R-Maine, promised a committee vote by the end of April on legislation to strengthen cargo inspections and port security. Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Calif., was readying a nearly identical measure for the House. Both bills have Democratic co-sponsors.

There were some signs the president's worries about the impact abroad were warranted.

Analysts said the developments could make cash-rich investors in the Persian Gulf, where there is the widespread belief that the furor was rooted in anti-Arab bias, wary of high-profile investments in the United States.

And the latest round of negotiations on a new free-trade arrangement between the U.S. and the UAE, scheduled for Monday in the United Arab Emirates, was postponed.

Both sides hastened to dispel speculation that the delay was the result of the ports controversy.

Neena Moorjani, spokeswoman for U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman (news, bio, voting record), would not directly address that question, but said it's not unusual for delegations to need more time to prepare. A UAE official said there was no connection, and that working groups would continue discussions by phone.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Dubai Firm Backs Out of U.S. Ports Deal

By LIZ SIDOTI, Associated Press Writer

A Dubai-owned company abruptly abandoned its plan for managing operations at six U.S. ports Thursday, defusing an election-year showdown between President Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress over an issue that had become a political land mine for the GOP.

"DP World will transfer fully the U.S. operations ... to a United States entity," H. Edward Bilkey, the company's top executive, said in the surprise announcement that seemed to spread relief throughout the Capitol and the White House. It was unclear which American business might get the port operations.

Just hours earlier, Republican House and Senate leaders privately told the president that Congress was all but certain to block DP World's plan. Under pressure from a disapproving public, a House committee overwhelmingly voted against it Wednesday. The leaders told Bush the Senate would inevitably do the same, despite his threats to veto any legislation killing the deal.

The company's announcement gave Bush an out. He now doesn't have to back down from his staunch support of the United Arab Emirates-based company or further divide his party on a terrorism-related issue with a veto.

The White House expressed satisfaction with the company's decision.

"It does provide a way forward and resolve the matter," said Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary "We have a strong relationship with the UAE and a good partnership in the global war on terrorism, and I think their decision reflects the importance of our broader relationship."

Administration officials expressed surprise at the outcome. White House officials said the decision was the result of conversations between Congress and the company, and that senior administration officials were not directly involved in the talks.

Sen. John Warner (news, bio, voting record), R-Va., said "upper levels of both governments" worked toward the result, including Sheik Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and emir of Dubai, who "advised the company ... that this action is the appropriate course to take." DP World's statement indicated that Sheik Mohammed made the decision.

After weeks of controversy the end came unexpectedly and quickly.

Hours after congressional leaders delivered their warning, Warner, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, read the company's announcement on the Senate floor.

It was unclear how the company would manage its planned divestiture, and Bilkey's statement said its announcement was "based on an understanding that DP World will not suffer economic loss."

Even critics of the deal expressed cautious optimism that DP World's move would quell the controversy surrounding that company's plan to take over some terminal leases at six major U.S. ports held by the London-based company it was purchasing.

Congress, typically a slow-moving operation, moved at lightning speed to try to block the deal, underscoring the deep concern over it and the anger about the White House's unwillingness to listen.

"This should make the issue go away," said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn. Added Warner: "To me, that statement put an end to all of this."

The two senior senators backed the Bush administration on the issue and they had been privately urging the company to give up its quest, Republican officials said on condition of anonymity.

"The devil is in the details," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., echoing other lawmakers in Congress.

Rep. Peter King (news, bio, voting record) applauded the decision but said he and others would wait to see the fine print. "It would have to be an American company with no links to DP World, and that would be a tremendous victory and very gratifying," said the New York Republican, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

The company on Thursday finalized its $6.8 billion purchase of Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co., the British firm that through a U.S. subsidiary runs important port operations in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia. It also plays a lesser role in dockside activities at 16 other American ports.

The plan was disclosed last month, setting off a political storm in the United States even though the company's U.S. operations were only a small part of the global transaction. DP World valued its rival's American operations at less than 10 percent of the nearly $7 billion total purchase.

Republicans denounced the plan, furious that they learned of it from news reports instead of the administration. They cited concerns over a company run by a foreign government overseeing operations at U.S. ports already vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

Democrats also pledged to halt the takeover and clamored for a vote in the Senate. They sought political advantage from the issue by trying to narrow a polling gap with the GOP on issues of national security.

After the company's announcement, the Senate indefinitely postponed a vote on a Democratic move to block the deal.

Bush defended the deal, calling the United Arab Emirates a strong ally in the war on terror and pledging to cast the first veto of his presidency if Congress voted to interfere.

Senate Republicans initially tried to fend off a vote, and the administration agreed to a 45-day review of the transaction. That strategy collapsed on Wednesday with the 62-2 vote in the House Appropriations Committee to thwart the sale.

Thursday, March 09, 2006



Ever since last year, when John Evans, the U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, during a tour of the Armenian American community, broke rank with his superiors and publicly acknowledged the Armenian Genocide, there have been persistent stories circulating about his possible recall.

Last year, during a public gathering at the University of California at Berkeley, Amb. Evans courageously said: "I will today call it the Armenian Genocide…. I informed myself in depth about it. I think we, the US government, owe you, our fellow citizens, a more frank and honest way of discussing this problem. Today, as someone who has studied it … there’s no doubt in my mind [as to] what happened…. I think it is unbecoming of us, as Americans, to play word games here. I believe in calling things by their name." Referring to the Armenian Genocide as "the first genocide of the 20th century," he said: "I pledge to you, we are going to do a better job at addressing this issue." Amb. Evans also disclosed that he had consulted with a legal advisor at the State Department who had confirmed that the events of 1915 were "genocide by definition."

Within days of making these statements and after complaints from Turkish and Azeri officials to the State Department, Amb. Evans was ordered by his superiors to issue "a clarification" in which he said that "misunderstandings" might have arisen as a result of his earlier comments. He said that he had used the term "genocide" in his "personal capacity."

The very next day, Amb. Evans was further embarrassed when he was ordered to issue "a correction" to his "clarification," amending the words "the United States policy on the Armenian Genocide" to "the United States policy on the Armenian tragedy." The Turkish press reported that the State Dept. had forced him to make this "correction," after receiving complaints from Turkey’s Ambassador to Washington.

Several months later, under pressure from the State Department, the American Foreign Service Association took the very unusual step of rescinding a "Constructive Dissent" award that it had decided to grant Amb. Evans during a special ceremony that was to be held at the State Department on June 17, 2005. It is highly ironic that Amb. Evans was deprived of a "dissent" award for deviating from official U.S. policy! Around that time, he was abruptly summoned to Washington, D.C. by his superiors for consultations.

After months of uncertainty, it now appears that the rumors about his possible dismissal have finally become reality. The State Department recently finalized the decision to recall him. According to reliable Armenian governmental sources, Amb. Evans informed high-ranking Armenian officials last week about his departure in the coming months, pending the Senate approval of his likely successor, Richard E. Hoagland, who is currently the U.S. Ambassador to Tajikistan. Knowledgeable U.S. sources in Washington have confirmed to this writer that Amb. Evans was being recalled because of his candid remarks on the Armenian Genocide. Neither the Ambassador nor the State Dept. has made any public comments regarding these developments.

It is noteworthy that during a hearing before the House International Relations Committee last month, Cong. Adam Schiff (Democrat of California) asked US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice several pointed questions regarding Amb. Evans. Cong. Schiff asked that Secretary Rice explain in writing if the State Dept. played any role in the reversal of the decision to grant Amb. Evans the "dissent" award. Cong. Schiff also asked the Secretary State to assure the House Committee that the Department of State has not taken, and will not take, any punitive actions against Amb. Evans for speaking out about the Armenian Genocide. Secretary Rice has not yet responded to these questions.

Amb. Evans has taken a principled stand for which he is sacrificing his diplomatic career. Even if it is too late to reverse the State Dept.’s decision, Armenians in general and Armenian-Americans in particular need to express their objection to the State Department’s punitive action against a distinguished diplomat for telling the truth about the Armenian Genocide.

Unless Armenians take a strong stand, they would be sending the wrong signal to the U.S. government that the Armenian Genocide is not an important issue for them! If they remain quiet on this occasion, never again would another U.S. diplomat dare to speak up on the Armenian Genocide, knowing full well that he would jeopardize his career and no one would care.

Write to your congressional representative and send a complaint to the Secretary of State at: Click on "contact us" and then click on "send a message to the Secretary of State."

Make your voices heard loud and clear!

By Harut Sassounian; Publisher, The California Courier

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Department of State Releases 2005 Trafficking in Persons Interim Assessment
06 March 2006

The Government of Armenia has made modest progress in its efforts to combat trafficking; a number of planned government initiatives have yet to be fully implemented. Armenian officials did begin to implement elements of the National Action Plan and increased the number of prosecutions under the anti-trafficking statute, but the government's record on victim protection remained mixed. Regrettably, the government did not take any proactive steps to address allegations of trafficking-related governmental complicity and corruption.

Government officials appeared in various media to provide interviews and to address the dangers of trafficking; both the frequency and effectiveness of anti-trafficking programming increased. During the first 10 months of 2005, nine criminal cases were initiated under the anti-trafficking statute, with additional cases filed in November and December. The rate of law enforcement referrals to shelters appears to be on the rise; however this number remains disproportionately low with only thirteen victim referrals in 2005, nine of which accepted shelter and assistance. Although prosecutors' awareness of trafficking improved, the government made limited progress in training the judicial sector. Poor treatment of a victim during a recent court proceeding further illustrated the urgent need for sensitivity training to reduce victim-blaming and stigmatization in Armenia. Allegations of possible prosecutorial and border guard complicity in trafficking remain uninvestigated by the government. Notably, a government official, who has been frequently criticized by victims and NGOs for trafficking complacency, remains in his position within the Prosecutor General's anti-trafficking task force. The accusations made against this government official are widespread (

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Molly Corso 3/03/06

High unemployment and rampant poverty are driving large numbers of Georgians into trafficking schemes, according to experts at a recent conference on trafficking in Tbilisi organized by the Council of Europe. While local anti-trafficking activists note a new sense of government determination to address the issue, victims’ fear of police and bureaucratic roadblocks are hampering efforts to reverse the trend, they say.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that at least 500 Georgian women fall victim to trafficking every year. According to data from known cases, the majority of trafficking cases concerning Georgian women involve Turkey. One local non-governmental organization that took part in creating a government anti-trafficking action plan, People’s Harmonious Development, contends that 75 percent of the 800-1,200 people who cross into Turkey each day from Georgia eventually extend their stay with month-long visas. Of that number, the NGO believes that half – 300 to 450 – are trafficking victims.

A lack of statistics means, however, that the figures are largely a guessing game. Marc Hulst, the counter-trafficking program officer at the IOM mission in Tbilisi, states that there is no way of knowing exactly how many victims exist. "We believe the cases that come to the attention of police are the tip of the iceberg," Hulst said.

Given Georgia’s high unemployment rate and rampant poverty, experts fear that those numbers can only increase. The majority of trafficking victims are young (most are between 18 and 35, though some as young as 14 have been trafficked to Turkey as sex workers), female and come from poor families. But with only an estimated 20 percent of the Georgian working age population receiving wages - and average monthly wages hovering around $70 according to the latest data – even highly educated Georgians are at risk from the dangers of trafficking as they take their job searches abroad.

One IOM trafficking hotline operator who identified herself as Keti stated that nearly every trafficking victim with whom she has spoken over the past seven years went abroad in search of a job. "Everything starts with promises for work. . . They don’t have another thought, they just want to work," she said in an interview in July, noting that one case involved a classically trained musician. "[W]ho needs a musician today [in Georgia]? There are doctors, engineers who here can’t do anything…they are looking for work."

Hulst believes there are several reasons why it is so difficult to trace trafficking victims, including a lack of victims coming forward and vital information lost in bureaucratic channels both in Georgia and Turkey.

According to Tamar Tomashvili, head of the human rights unit at the general prosecutor’s office, which oversees Georgia’s fight against human trafficking, a mere handful of cases involving alleged trafficking were investigated in 2005.

Difficulties in obtaining information from Turkish police makes it difficult to prosecute traffickers, Tomashvili charged at a February 22-23 conference held by the Council of Europe in Tbilisi. Last year, she stated, Georgian authorities received only three responses to 10 requests for information.

However, some experts believe that Georgian officials carry equal blame. Police do little to fight traffickers within Georgia, they say. "They really need to investigate cases," said Khatuna Chitanava, the project coordinator for the No Trafficking in Persons program at the Georgian Young Lawyers Association. "I cannot say they are not working, but they are waiting for victims to give testimony. They need to be pro-active." She noted that there have been instances of police knowing about suspected traffickers, but taking no steps to investigate their activities.

Border crossings are another obstacle for law enforcement. According to the Turkish delegation at the Council of Europe conference, the majority of Georgian trafficking victims enter Turkey legally; the crime occurs once they are on Turkish soil. Hulst noted that in the past Georgian and Turkish border guards had not been trained to identify potential victims. Ongoing training sessions are expected to correct that problem.

Victims themselves also pose a challenge for law enforcement officers in prosecuting perpetrators, observers note. When Georgian trafficking victims come home, commented Sven Holdar, the human dimensions officer at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Tbilisi mission, "they are not going to NGOs; they are going home."

Fear of the police is common, said Usha Nanuashvili, head of the Human Rights Information and Documentation Center [HRIDC], which works with trafficking victims in Tbilisi. "They are afraid because in the law enforcement bodies there is no such thing as guarantees for witnesses," Nanuashvili said, noting that HRIDC and other organizations have received threatening phone calls warning them off cases involving trafficking. Nanuashvili asserted that members of law enforcement bodies are involved in trafficking operations, but would not name specific cases.

The IOM’s Hulst noted one recent case handled by the IOM and the Georgian Public Defender’s Office that had allegedly involved police officers as traffickers. The victim, from Kyrgyzstan, refused to stay in Georgia, where she had been victimized, to press charges, he said. "She told us that the person [who held her] was a police officer," Hulst said. "She didn’t want to cooperate with the police… everyone believes that, at least in the past, the police officers were involved directly as pimps, or providing protection for pimps."

The Georgian Ministry of Interior Affairs did not respond to repeated requests for an interview. Despite repeated attempts, EurasiaNet also could not reach anyone in the general prosecutor’s office for comment.

Khatuna Madurashvili, a trafficking expert with the United Nations Association in Georgia, comments that shame as well as distrust of the police prompts victims’ reticence. "In our society, rehabilitation of the victims is [considered] shameful. No one wants to admit that any family victim or any friend is a victim of trafficking," Madurashvili said. "We need an education program to show that it is not shameful and that there will be a worse outcome if they leave [the problem alone]."

Observers give mixed assessments of the government’s willingness to tackle trafficking.

In December 2004, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili signed a presidential decree for a two-year action plan against trafficking that outlined objectives ranging from job skills training to psychological therapy for victims. But more than a year later, the plan is already lagging behind schedule.

According to the plan, by the end of 2005 an anti-trafficking interagency commission within Georgia’s National Security Council should have begun to set up shelters for victims, create labor migration agreements with other countries and provide for free health care, in addition to other services. Today, however, there are still no government-run shelters for victims and anti-trafficking legislation remains under consideration in parliament. No labor migration agreements exist between Georgia and other countries.

One former interim secretary of the commission placed the blame on inadequate funding. "Our action plan was approved only at the end of 2004 and it was impossible to provide for budget finances in the central budget. There are no special funds for activities in the budget," said Alexander Nalbandov.

Georgia’s 2006 budget makes no mention of funds for anti-trafficking measures. But the GYLA’s Chitanava believes that the real question is not whether the government has the funds to help, but if it is willing to spend them on trafficking.

"If the government wanted to, it could fund it," she said, noting that the ministry of health has already promised to use funds from its budget for trafficking victims, even though they were not previously designated for this purpose.

The IOM’s Marc Hulst, however, notes that the anti-trafficking action plan itself is nothing new: the Georgian government also issued a strategy against trafficking during the administration of former President Eduard Shevardnadze, he said, but nothing came of it. "On paper it looks good," Hulst said in a July interview. "[However] many things need to be implemented and correctly implemented…I think the government still depends too much on NGOs and international organizations to do this work."

While NGOs wanted to help the government fulfill the action plan, they were locked out of the process, commented Nanuashvili. "When we started monitoring [the action plan] this year we sent some letters to authorities, state agencies. There was no reply," he said in July.

Better luck occurred with the Canadian government, he added. In February HRIDC, with assistance from the Canadian embassy in Turkey, started a new program to educate disadvantaged women, including trafficking victims. According to Nanuashvili, the program, which will include job skills and intensive English language training, will begin within the month and is equipped to help 14 disadvantaged women in the capital and 14 in the eastern region of Kakheti.

The Georgian Young Lawyers Association has also looked abroad for help. Under a three-year program with the US Agency for International Development, the NGO is opening a women’s shelter for trafficking victims in the Black Sea coastal town of Batumi, not far from the Turkish border. The shelter, now under construction, is slated to open in late spring with facilities for 10 victims at a time.

Nonetheless, despite their complaints, both Chitanava and Nanuashvili are optimistic that the government will make progress in 2006 in combating trafficking. Nanuashvili notes improved access to trafficking information, at least in Tbilisi, and Chitanava has noticed greater interest among government officials.

According to Chitanava, now that the anti-trafficking commission has moved to the general prosecutor’s office, there are signs that the issue is a priority. However, she is still cautious. "Tamar Tomashvili [head of the human rights unit at the prosecutor’s office] is meeting experts on the issue and she is really listening," Chitanava said.

But the real problem – poverty – may prove a tougher obstacle to overcome. The more jobs there are in Georgia, the less willing Georgians will be to take the risk and go abroad, noted Chitanava. "The government has to start thinking about how to improve the situation," she commented.

Editor’s Note: Molly Corso is a freelance reporter and photographer based in Tbilisi.