Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Corrupt Former Judge Voices Support For LTP



It seems that Levon Ter-Petrosian has attracted the support of former judge Pargev Ohanian. If you recall from my interview with Onnik, there is mention of corrupt practices by judge Ohaian which reads:

OK: Is this the problem, then? Is the law not functioning correctly or are sentences for trafficking simply too light?

AM: The law contains provisions to hand down heavy sentences to traffickers but the legal system is not functioning correctly. I was present at the trial of five traffickers in Armenia last August and as far as I am concerned, Judge Ohanian and the prosecutor failed to do their jobs properly. These individuals should have received sentences of at least ten years but when Gulnara Shahinian, an expert on trafficking, presented the judge with details of Armenia’s international obligations to prosecute those guilty of trafficking, he instead insisted on prosecuting them with old Soviet laws that carried lighter sentences of only two years.

Though I don't think LTP has a chance to win, if he does for some reason come back into power, you can be sure that the "justice" we will see is not the kind of justice we are in need of. If Ohanian is a reflection of the type of people LPT will surround himself with to fix our problems, then we can't expect too much change if LPT wins, nor will we see our problems go away.

Fired Judge Voices Support For Ter-Petrosian


RFE/RL Armenia Report - 12/25/2007
By Astghik Bedevian


A recently dismissed judge who was behind one of the most sensational acquittals in Armenia's history expressed support on Tuesday for Levon Ter-Petrosian and said he is ready to campaign for the former president's victory in the forthcoming presidential election.

Pargev Ohanian, who was controversially fired by President Robert Kocharian two months ago, said he believes Ter-Petrosian's return to power represents an opportunity to combat widespread `injustice' reigning in the country. `I sympathize with Levon Ter-Petrosian and forces supporting him,' he told RFE/RL in an interview.

Ohanian was relieved of his duties as district court judge in Yerevan on October 16 upon the recommendation of the Council of Justice, a presidentially appointed body overseeing Armenia's judicial system. The council recommended his ouster as a result of disciplinary action takenagainst him by the Judicial Department, another government-controlled body monitoring the work of Armenian courts. The department found serious violations of Armenian law in his handling of two dozen criminal
and civil cases.

The punitive action has been widely linked with Ohanian's July 16 decision to acquit and free the owner and a top executive of the Royal Armenia coffee packaging company who had been arrested on controversial fraud charges two years ago. The arrests came after they publicly alleged high-level corruption in the Armenian customs. Ohanian's ruling, which reportedly angered Kocharian, was a rare example of an Armenian
court defying the government and prosecutors.

Armenia's Court of Appeals overturned the acquittals on November 29, sentencing the Royal Armenia owner, Gagik Hakobian, and the company's deputy director, Aram Ghazarian, to six and two years in prison respectively. Both men insisted on their innocence and appealed to the higher Court of Cassation.

Ohanian would not say just how he can contribute to the Ter-Petrosian campaign. `Frankly speaking, I don't consider myself a politician,' he said. `I'm more of a fighter for justice.'

Ohanian denied that he decided to back the opposition presidential candidate because of having lost his job. `There has always been injustice and I have always felt sorry for it,' he said. `I think that my mission is to fight against injustice. At the risk of sounding indiscreet, I continue to consider myself a judge who constantly fights
against injustice.'

Ohanian's own track record was far from perfect in that regard, though. He was among those Armenian judges who sentenced in 2003 and 2004 hundreds of participants of opposition demonstrations to up to 15 days in prison. Local and international human rights groups strongly condemned the so-called administrative detentions, forcing the Armenian authorities to scrap the Soviet-era practice.

Ter-Petrosian, meanwhile, appealed to his loyalists on Tuesday not to bow to what he described as `psychological pressure, intimidation and threats' by the police. In a written statement, he said scores of them have been illegally summoned to police stations across the country and told to stop campaigning for him over the past two months.

Ter-Petrosian said they should show up for interrogation only if they receive written summonses from law-enforcement bodies. `In case of receiving summonses, photocopy them and send their copies to offices of our Movement,' he said. `If you like, you can consider this my first and, as yet, unofficial decree.'

Monday, December 24, 2007

Family accuses insurance company of causing teen's death

NBC News Transcripts
December 22, 2007 Saturday
SHOW: Saturday Today 7:00 AM EST NBC


ANCHORS: AMY ROBACH, LESTER HOLT

REPORTERS: PETER ALEXANDER


AMY ROBACH, co-host:

And now to a family mourning the loss of their teenage daughter and accusing her insurance company of causing her death. NBC's Peter Alexander has more.

PETER ALEXANDER reporting:

Just hours after Nataline Sarkisyan's death, her family spoke out, heartbroken and angry.

Mr. KRIKOR SARKISYAN (Nataline's Father): These Cigna people, they cannot make people's decision if they going to live or die.

ALEXANDER: For three weeks, 17-year-old Nataline, a leukemia patient, was hospitalized and in a coma. Her health insurance company, Cigna, refused to pay for the liver transplant she desperately needed, claiming it wasn't covered and experimental. On Thursday, dozens of protesters, including nurses and friends, rallied outside the company's offices, convincing Cigna to reverse course. Nataline's mom broke the news.

Nataline's Mother: Cigna just approved us.

ALEXANDER: But by then it was too late. Nataline died that night.

Mr. MARK GERAGOS (Family Attorney): Cigna Health Corporation Enhanced Coverage LinkingCigna Health Corporation -Search using: News, Most Recent 60 Days
Company Profile literally, maliciously, killed her.

ALEXANDER: Geragos called Cigna's actions callous and criminal, claiming the company took Nataline off its transplant list twice. He's now pushing prosecutors to consider manslaughter or murder charges.

Krikor Sarkisyan says his only daughter was his angel. After her death, the Armenian immigrant says he, his wife and their son slept in a single bed and wept.

Mr. SARKISYAN: I have a pain. I don't know when it's going to go away. It's never going to go away. They took my daughter.

ALEXANDER: Just before Thanksgiving, Nataline's brother donated bone marrow to help his sister.

Mr. BEDIG SARKISYAN (Nataline's Brother): I never lost hope for her. I swear to God I thought she was going to come home.

ALEXANDER: In a short statement, Cigna offered its deepest sympathies to Nataline's family.

TEXT:

"Our deepest sympathies are with Nataline's family. Their loss is immeasurable, and our thoughts and prayers are with them. We deeply hope that the outpouring of concern, care and love that are being expressed for Nataline's family help them at this time."

ALEXANDER: On her Web site, a friend wrote, "Rest in peace, sweetheart. If you only knew how many people fought for you." For TODAY, Peter Alexander, NBC News, Enhanced Coverage LinkingNBC News, -Search using: News, Most Recent 60 Days
Company Profile Los Angeles.

ROBACH: And now once again, here's Lester.

LESTER HOLT, co-host:

Thanks, Amy.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Start of a new life

The birth of our son Alex can be described as nothing less than the most amazing things I've ever been a part of.

After seeing what I saw, I can say that anyone who gives birth is very brave. I don't know what other women experience, but know in the last 2 hours, my wife was in major pain. Before we got to the hospital, I told my wife that if she said anything bad about me or snapped at me when she is birthing our child, I would fully understand. I also knew that there was a very good chance at her lashing out, since she had decided she would not allow any pain killers and wanted our son to be born as nature intended. Only at one point did my wife talk when really hurting and she said that it really hurts and I don't blame you for my pain. I was like wow.

Anyway, from what I've been told, to pass a 3.7 kilo baby on the third push is very good. We were warned before she started pushing that it could take a while and without pain killers given before we start birthing, could be very hard for my wife.

On the third push and when Alex just about jumped into the hands of our doctor, I could see that my wife almost instantly felt relief.

The clean-up process was quite quick and within the first 10 minutes, he had his eyes open and he was taking things in. Though they say that babies can't see when they are first born, Alex looked to be making eye contact with me and my wife.

We have a long road to go before things level out and though I was ready for sleepless nights, Alex seems to be a very mellow baby and for someone who is almost 2 days old, he does not seem to mind sleeping 7 hours at night and for the most part feeds every 3 to 4 hours during the day. The first newborn I raised fed every 2 to 3 hours and also was kind to me, letting me sleep at night.

For the next month, I'm going to be taking a break from logging since I'm going to need a little bit more time for my family. If there is any downtime, I may post a relevant news story that is of interest to me.

Monday, December 10, 2007

It's a Boy

On December 10, 2007 at 2:17 a.m. our first son Alex Manoogian made his grand entrance into the world. He came in at 3.7 kilos and 49 centimeters long. Alex's mother was a real trooper and without any pain killers birthed him natural. And though we were lead to believe that it was going to take 24 hours, from the time we got to the hospital and finished the birth, 9 hours had passed. Anyway, I just came home to get a few things and take a shower. I have to head back to the hospital. It may be some time until my next blog so keep checking in.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Why are they not in jail?

The following story is very interesting, as it clearly states that the RA President Robert Kocharyan knows good and well of what LTP’s government did when in power was criminal and punishable by law.

So the question is to President Kocharyan is, if you are such a great leader of our nation and defender of our people, why have you not gone after half of the people from the LTP government, put them behind bars and reclaimed what they have stolen?

I can tell you this much without sounding like I trying to cook up some conspiracy. What LTP did that should have landed him and half his government in jail, Robert Kocharyan and 99% of his government has been doing since they took power almost 10 years ago.

If you ask me, Levon and Robert both belong in jail, side by side. The reason why we have not seen this, nor will we see this when Serzh gets elected is that they are all the same people and if one gets tossed in jail for things they all do, those that go to jail will drag the rest down with them.


ROBERT KOCHARIAN: "ANM BETRAYED THE KARABAKH MOVEMENT, IT IS READY TO FORGET ABOUT THE GENOCIDE AND MAKE ARMENIA AN ADJUNCT OF TURKEY"

Mediamax
December 6, 2007

Yerevan /Mediamax/
. Armenian President Robert Kocharian stated that he knowingly did not give political assessment to the activity of the ex-ruling party Armenian National Movement (ANM) and to the former authorities.

Mediamax reports that the Armenian President said this, answering the questions of the readers of "Golos Armenii" newspaper.

"I really avoided giving such assessments, but I made my stance clear: I did not want to continue the Soviet tradition, when each new leader started from the criticism of the former leader. I believed that it was necessary to demonstrate the result, and the people, seeing the difference itself, would give an assessment. There was no persecution for the ANM figures. Otherwise, half of them would be in prison till now for large thefts. Vano Siradeghian [Ex-Minister of Internal Affairs] is in investigation for organization of murders. I avoided this topic for 9 years, until Levon Ter-Petrosian himself and the ANM provoked these discussions", Robert Kocharian stated. (Ara's note: A former RA Prosecutor General’s Office employee, who worked for the United Nations a couple of years before being forced out of the UN, told me in 2005 that they know where Vano lives in Dubai, “but we have no need to arrest him…” )

"Today I say it openly, that the ANM abused the confidence of the people. ANM collapsed the country's economy, turning Armenia into one of the poorest countries of the world. ANM came to power on the wave of the Karabakh movement and betrayed it. ANM is devoid of national ideology, it is ready to forget about the Genocide and make Armenia an adjunct of Turkey. By the way, I am not saying anything new. All this has been stated for hundreds of times, I just avoided these assessments. Of course, this does not concern everyone - sometimes professionals, who tried to do something to improve the matters, were appointed to various positions", Armenian President stated.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

GAS SUPPLY OF ARMENIA TO BE DISCONTINUED ON DECEMBER 8-11

Noyan Tapan
Dec 7, 2007

YEREVAN, DECEMBER 7, NOYAN TAPAN.
The gas supply of Armenia will be discontinued on December 8-11 with the aim of carrying out scheduled repair and restoration work on the North Caucasus - Transcaucasia gas main-pipeline. NT was informed by the PR service of ArmRusgazprom company that no-break gas supply of the country's consumers will be ensured at the expense of gas stored in the Abovian underground gas depot.

STATEMENTS ON RESUMPTION OF WAR ARE NOT TRUE

KarabakhOpen
07-12-2007 12:22:37


Recently various opinions have been voiced on the Karabakh settlement. In Karabakh they think a crucial stage in settlement has started. The Azerbaijani side thinks probability of war is 100 percent. It is also said that only one of ten issues of settlement on the table of the talks has not been agreed on. The Armenian side says the last issue is the status of Karabakh. Baku says the status of Karabakh was not discussed at all.

The representative of the ARF Dashnaktsutyun Artsakh Central Committee Davit Ishkhanyan thinks no breakthrough is expected in the upcoming year because in 2008presidential elections will be held in the OSCE Minsk Group countries, the U.S. and Russia, and "they will focus on their internal problems."

Davit Ishkhanyan told Karabakh-Open.com the statements of the Azerbaijani officials on the resumption of the war and no discussion of the status of Karabakh is part of the Azerbaijani diplomacy which uses the opportunity for political pressure. He thinks those statements are not true. The political activity of Turkey makes him think so, as well as the recent meeting of the foreign ministers of Armenia and Russia who said war is unacceptable.

The representative of the ARF Dashnaktsutyun Artsakh Central Committee thinks the Armenian side should insist on the participation of Karabakh in the talks as a full-right member. As to the stance of Azerbaijan on the status of Karabakh, Davit Ishkhanyan thinks it should not be a guideline for the Armenian side because Nagorno-Karabakh has existed de facto for a long time now, and it needs only a de jure recognition.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Dubai police make biggest prostitution bust

Wed Dec 5, 2007 2:05am EST

DUBAI (Reuters) - Dubai police have arrested 170 suspected prostitutes from East Asia in the biggest crackdown on sex networks in the Gulf Arab emirate, newspapers reported on Wednesday.

The police also arrested 12 suspected pimps and 65 people seeking to buy sexual services, when they stormed 22 covert brothels in a synchronized raid on Saturday, Gulf News reported police chief Dahi Khalfan bin Tamim as saying.

"Dubai Police have many crackdowns on prostitution which are not announced in the media. However, it is important in the light of the activities being carried out by these networks to show there are crackdowns," it quoted bin Tamim as saying.

Bin Tamim said the move came after the United Arab Emirates -- a seven-member federation including oil exporter Abu Dhabi and Dubai, a regional tourism and trade hub -- passed a law to combat human trafficking.

"We started following up these networks and cases have been referred to the public prosecution, but this is the biggest case," he said, urging women "duped into working for such networks" to contact the police.

The UAE enacted a law in November making human trafficking punishable by life imprisonment, and has set up a state body to combat trafficking.

Foreign workers and expatriates make up over 80 percent of the 4 million population of the UAE.

The United States has criticized four Gulf Arab allies, including the UAE, as some of the world's worst offenders in permitting human trafficking.

Dubai authorities smash vice ring

Police in Dubai say they have smashed a major vice ring, arresting 247 people in raids on 22 alleged brothels.

A total of 170 prostitutes and 12 pimps, mostly from China, were arrested along with 65 clients of various nationalities, local press said.

The police chief said such raids were a frequent occurrence but were not usually announced to the media.

In March, UAE police announced they had deported about 4,300 prostitutes from Dubai during 2006.

"It is important in the light of the activities being carried out by these networks to show there are crackdowns and there are efforts by police," said Lt Gen Dahi Khalfan Tamim in quotes reported by Emirates Today.

He added that the move came after the United Arab Emirates passed a law to combat human trafficking.


"We cannot tolerate this kind of behaviour that is against human moral ethics and our religious beliefs," he said.
Dubai is considered to be the most liberal of the seven-emirate group, with a booming sex industry.

Anti-trafficking campaigners say Dubai authorities often turn a blind eye to prostitution for economic reasons.

Foreign workers and expatriates make up over 80% of the 4 million inhabitants of the UAE, and men outnumber women by about three-to-one.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/middle_east/7128990.stm

Published: 2007/12/05 14:02:35 GMT

Dubai Police Crack Prostitution Ring

December 6, 2007

By BARBARA SURK

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP)
— Dubai police have announced a crackdown on a large prostitution ring, which human rights activists welcomed on Wednesday as a long-awaited move against the human trafficking rampant in this wealthy Gulf city.

Police said that they had conducted a series of simultaneous raids Saturday on suspected brothels, landing 247 suspects in jail in the emirate's biggest anti-prostitution sweep to date.

"The police have been working on this one for a long time," Police Chief Dahi Khalfan Tamim told The Associated Press, describing a year of surveillance on 22 villas licensed as massage parlors in several neighborhoods across this bustling regional business hub.

In a press conference Tuesday, Tamim said that the Dubai government has "declared war on human trafficking."

"It's about time we can say the word 'trafficking' out loud," said Sharla Musabih, a human-rights activist who runs a local shelter for abused and trafficked women. "There's still a lot to be learned, but after seven years of trying to convince the police that these (women) are victims of trafficking, my heart sang when I heard the police chief say that," she said.

Musabih added she has dealt with 400 victims of trafficking over the last six months.

The raids picked up 170 suspected prostitutes, 12 men believed to be their pimps and 65 alleged customers, all of whom have since been referred to the prosecutor-general to be charged, Tamim said.

Prostitution is illegal in the Emirates, a federation of seven semiautonomous states, but widespread in Dubai and particularly obvious in certain luxury hotels.

"Human trafficking is a big problem here and all over the world," said Khalid Ahmed Omer, a legal adviser to Dubai police, explaining that "foreign gangs" run prostitution rings in Dubai and "bring girls with them from their countries."

In its annual "Trafficking in Persons Report," the State Department listed the Emirates as one of the places most plagued by "involuntary servitude and commercial sexual exploitation."

"There are women who are brought here by force and we try to do everything to protect them," Omer said.

Women who are found to have been forced into prostitution will most likely be deported to their countries of origin, Omer said, adding that those who brought them will be held accountable.

Human trafficking is punishable with life imprisonment or, if the victim is less than 15 years of age, the death penalty.

"Trafficking is not just about prostitution," Musabih. She said that recruiters often promise women from poor countries a better life in the Gulf.

"They sell everything to pay their way here and to work, only to be dumped in a strange city where they face abuse and have nowhere to go," Musabih said.

Women who are forced into sex work were usually promised work as domestics, she said.

The Emirates and other Gulf countries have been repeatedly criticized by Human Rights Organizations for not doing enough to stop global human traffickers, who move 800,000 people across international borders each year.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The time is nearing

These last 10 days have been very challenging for my wife. We are in the home stretch of her pregnancy and she is now to the point that she can’t move too well.

According to the due date we were given, we are less than a week away from parenthood.

Though I would love to share with you all the daily happenings of life with a baby, I already know from my energy level now and what little time I now have to write (which is not much to speak of), my postings on MOB will be an occasional blurb and relevant new stories that I hope will interest you.

What is really bad is that the last 3 months of my wife's pregnancy has wiped me out. We have not slept much in 3 months as the baby keeps kicking all night and of course it would not be fair for me to have her suffer alone, so when the baby kicks her and she wakes, she kicks me and I wake. I guess that's a fair deal.

This will be the second time I care for a newborn. For those of you who have gone down this road, it really does wipe you out. The first time I was well rested and after a little over 2 months, I was wiped out and ready to sleep for a couple of weeks. At that time I was given a break, since my cousin adopted the baby I was caring for. What is bad this time around is that I'm going into this wiped out, so who knows where things will stand in a couple of months and if our baby will be the angel the first one was, who did sleep 7 hours a night starting the 2nd week? And as far as I know, thing can get harder after the 2nd month of life. In fact I hear from some people that it can get harder for 18+ years. I sure hope this baby goes easy on my wife and I.

Anyway, the next posting you will be reading I believe will be the birth announcement of our first born and I hope for the sake of my wife that will be soon.

FIRST YEREVAN-STEPANAKERT AND STEPANAKERT-YEREVAN FLIGHTS WILL BE LAUNCHED

KarabakhOpen
04-12-2007 12:08:44


The airport of Stepanakert will be reoperated by autumn 2008, President Bako Sahakyan said in yesterday's news conference. "Most people we met confessed they do not visit Karabakh often because no planes fly there."

He said he has invited specialists from the Department of Civil Aviation of Armenia and they have already made a conclusion.

The president said as of today the airport of Stepanakert can receive only helicopters. He said soon the available equipment will be installed. The rest of equipment will be brought from Gyumri where the airport has been modernized recently for international flights. New equipment costs millions of dollars, therefore old equipment will be installed in the airport Stepanakert of Stepanakert.

There will be no international flights for the time being because the permission of Azerbaijan is required for that. "For the time being, we will launch Stepanakert-Yerevan and Yerevan-Stepanakert flights. Air travel will help revive not only tourism but also life in the country," the president said.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

DOLLAR IS "ROLLING BACK"

A1+
[05:02 pm] 26 November, 2007


The dollar has been "rolling back" since last week.

Nevertheless, despite the ongoing revaluation of the dram prices keep on hiking in Armenia. A1+ has conducted a poll to know our citizens' opinion on currency frustrations.

Most of the respondents state they can hardly survive nowadays. They change $100 per 30.000 drams while once $100 was equal to 55-60.000 drams.

"Prices keep increasing day by day. People are in utter despair," Karine Aslamazian says.

Some officials enrich their personal budget with the sums earned by people's honest sweat.

According to Karen Kalantarian the dollar devaluation was planned beforehand. He had asked his son working abroad to send no more money as the dollar is priceless in Armenia. "I had better starve than send to pot the money earned by the sweat of my son's brow."

"This is the least of the evils. Things will still worsen," most of the respondents said.

To note, today the exchange rate was 290 drams per a dollar.

AZERBAIJAN RATES POSSIBILITY OF WAR WITH ARMENIA 100%

PanARMENIAN.Net
27.11.2007 13:14 GMT+04:00

/PanARMENIAN.Net/
Azerbaijani Defense Minister Safar Abiyev thinks that conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan is very likely. "While Armenia keeps occupying Azeri lands the possibility of war reaches 100%," Abiyev told a news conference in Astana after a regular session of the CIS Ministers of Defense, RIA Novosti reports.

Since conclusion of armistice on May 12, 1994, hostilities have been stopped and peaceful talks have been held in the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chaired by Russia, United States and France represented by Yuri Merzlyakov, Matthew Bryza and Bernard Fassier respectively.

"THE FORTY DAYS OF MUSA DAGH" TO BE SHOT IN HOLLYWOOD

armradio.am
27.11.2007 10:30


Turkish Akcam reported that the Armenian Diaspora in Hollywood Is completing the preparations for shooting a film based on Franz Werfel's "The Forty Days of Musa Dagh," one of the most remarkable works on the Armenian Genocide.

According to the newspaper the Kurdish authorities that have invited more than 30 most famous Hollywood actors to Northern Iraq, wish to shoot the "Peshmerga" film about the life of Kurdish leader mullah Mustafa Barzani.

According to the same source, the actors involved in the shooting of the films include Mel Gibson, Omar Sheriff, Antonio Banderas and Sylvester Stallone.

The "Foundation for the Struggle Against Baseless Allegations of Genocide" (ASÄ°MED) has begun an e-mail campaign to try and dissuade actor Mel Gibson from playing a role in the film on the Armenian Genocide.

WHY ARTSAKH ENERGY DOES NOT GENERATE PROFIT?

KarabakhOpen
26-11-2007 10:39:48


"The NKR government is dissatisfied with the activities of Artsakh Energy. In 2006 the losses totaled 500 million drams," said Prime Minister Ara Harutiunyan in a consultation with people in charge of the energy network on November 22. Artsakh Energy does not generate profit, it sustains losses. "It is absurd to have such a network and sustain losses," the prime minister says, the Azat Artsakh reports. The prime minister says it is all due to indifference and chaos. He says if there are people who use electricity and do not pay the bills, the wrongdoers will be punished. He also says the government will clamp down on people who were involved in dissipation of money. The prime minister thinks the way out is to organize the water power plant of Sarsang as a separate company and privatize the transmission network. Currently the activities of Artsakh Energy in 2003-2006 is being checked. He said the energy sector should be made attractive for investors. In the closed consultation later the government studied the preliminary results of activities of Artsakh Energy in 2007, the Azat Artsakh reports.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

ALTERNATIVE CANDIDATE WAS NOMINATED

Lragir, Armenia
Nov 24 2007


"And in this situation we need to make a deciding move and name an alternative candidate," the leader of the People's Party Tigran Karapetyan addressed his fellow partisans during the conference on November 26. According to him, this situation is that the struggle involves the former and the present government, and the other candidates have been government at one time, one way or another. Is it progress, Tigran Karapetyan asks?

Tigran Karapetyan's party made the "resolved" decision and nominated their party leader for the president of Armenia. Earlier Tigran Karapetyan had stated that he is against both the former and the present. He thinks the former government planted the present evil.

Tigran Karapetyan asks what money the political forces spend. Do they spend their own money, the leader of the people's party asks? It turns out that it is the greatest evil when they try to bribe their people with others' money. Meanwhile, it turns out that they do not bribe, they work, all the time. In other words, they care about people and Tigran Karapetyan was nominated as one who cares about people.

CONFERENCE OF PEOPLE'S PARTY NOMINATES TIGRAN KARAPETYAN PRESIDENT

In today's conference the People's Party nominated its leader and the president of ALM Holding Tigran Karapetyan as president of Armenia.

Addressing the conference, Karapetyan explains his home political vision: we are nominating an alternative candidate which has never been part of government in the past.

DONATIONS OR GOVERNMENT PROPAGANDA?

By James Hakobyan

Lragir, Armenia
Nov 24 2007


We may state that the remote villages of Armenia and the region of Martuni of Karabakh will be saved. The annual telethon of Armenia Fund raised over 15 million dollars or dollars of pledges which is an unprecedented sum for the telethons. They will be saved just like the region of Hadrut, the region of Martakert, as well as North-South motorway were saved for which the previous telethons have raised money. As to how Hadrut, Martakert or North-South were saved, those who wish can visit Karabakh and have a look at them. The manifestation of this salvation is not merely the footages which are shown on the responsible TV channels how the Supreme Commander-in-Chief dedicates the fresh section of North-South and a smooth and clean road is shown. In reality, perhaps it would be better to show footages of those sections of the new road which are ruined after only a year. Or the sections which were not built although three or four years ago they stated to have raised the money necessary for the construction of the road. If these sections were televised as well, the picture would be full.

The same is about the reconstruction of Martakert and Hadrut which were launched with considerable delay and at a slow pace. For a Diasporan who donates money for these programs, the questions about what has been done should be as important as the questions about what has not been done. Why are these programs delayed or slowed down?

Isn't the reason that sums are pledged but are not transferred in the course of the year because the goal is not to raise money but to imitate donations to turn this pan-Armenian action into a means of propaganda for the governments of Armenia and Karabakh? Or isn't the reason for delaying or curtailing programs the steep depreciation of the dollar due to which the money becomes less hour by hour before it is spent? For instance, the value of 15 million dollars raised on November 22 decreased by 10-15 percent between November 22 and November 26. Meanwhile, the money is still on the way, it is just about to "leave" the house to serve the homeland. In other words, over this period the skillful money and loan experts of the homeland will manage to convert 15 million to 10 million at best.

It is clear that in this case it is impossible to maintain the schedule of programs because when money raised for Martakert is not enough, it is necessary to wait for the money raised for Hadrut, which means that Hadrut should wait for the money raised for Martuni, and all the three need to wait until North-South is finished.

Certainly, a possible way is that some people in Armenia wait for a while and let the exchange rate of the dollar remain in the state they have left it. They could do this self-sacrifice for the sake of the reconstruction of Karabakh or the remote villages of Armenia.

Especially that it takes them so little - they need to maintain the exchange rate of the money that others give. However, this self-sacrifice seems unlikely, and the more pan-Armenian money is collected, the greater the intra-Armenian appetite becomes.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Monte Melkonian’s 50th year of his birth.

Today is Monte Melkonian’s 50th birthday. For those of you who don’t know who Monte is, most of the people living in Artsakh will tell you that he is the reason we still have a country.

Monte was born in Central California on November 25, 1957. He died on June 12, 1993 in battle.

For those of you interested in learning more about Monte, click here.

Artsakh Television reports on Southern Kashatagh

Friday, November 23, 2007

Children of Armenia Fund Raises $3.5 Million From its Annual Gala Evening

October 31, 2007 07:00 AM Eastern Time

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--
Children of Armenia Fund (COAF) is pleased to announce that it raised a record $3.5 million from the 2007 Save a Generation Awards Dinner, held Friday, October 19, at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York. The money raised will be directed at reversing the ongoing impoverished conditions affecting significant numbers of children in rural Armenia through COAF’s Model Village program.

“Due to the tremendous ongoing commitment from our donors, COAF is able to implement significant projects that dramatically improve the conditions of rural Armenian communities especially in the areas of health, education, infrastructure as well as social and economic development,” said Garo H. Armen, PhD, founder and chairman of COAF. “With the money raised from the gala, COAF can continue executing a broader, sustainable revitalization program that has the potential to impact a combined population of 17,000 – of whom nearly 5,000 are children.”

COAF hosted more than 350 guests for the annual gala event. Sherry Lansing, Oscar-winner of the Humanitarian Award in 2007 and former chairwoman of Paramount Pictures, delivered the keynote address in the context of an interview hosted by Lesley Stahl, a 60 MINUTES correspondent and Charlie Rose, Emmy award winning journalist. Ken Davitian, co-star of the critically acclaimed 2006 blockbuster, BORAT, was master of ceremonies.

The COAF annual awards dinners have raised more than $8.5 million since 2001, placing funding emphasis on the Model Village project, the first such program ever to be undertaken. The project has been recognized by international aid agencies, such as the United Nations Development Programme and the World Bank, as an exemplary template of sustainable development throughout the world.

About COAF

Founded in 2000, the Children of Armenia Fund is an independent, nonprofit, nongovernmental organization (501(c)(3). COAF seeks to reverse the impoverished conditions affecting significant numbers of Armenia’s children by revitalizing Armenia’s villages and implementing projects that provide immediate and sustainable benefits to children and youth.

KIRO MANOYAN: ARMENIAN AND KURDISH TERRITORIES WILL COME OFF TURKEY SOONER OR LATER

PanARMENIAN.Net
22.11.2007 17:43 GMT+04:00

/PanARMENIAN.Net/
Armenian people should know and exercise their rights, especially as because there are all essential mechanisms for that, historian Rafael Hambartsumyan said during an international conference titled "Foundations and ways of implementation of Woodrow Wilson's arbitration award."

Problems existing between Turkey and Armenia can be transferred from political to juridical level, according to him.

"Woodrow Wilson's award has juridical power since it has no period of limitation. We should press for affirmation of the arbitration award status and then for restoration of our rights in Western Armenia. It's quite real," said ARF Bureau's Hay Dat and Political Affairs Office Director Kiro Manoyan. In his opinion, implementation of Woodrow Wilson's arbitration award will become a precondition for establishment of normal relations with Turkey. "Syndrome of Sevres is already observed in Turkey. It means that confidence in legitimacy of current borders wanes. Armenian and Kurdish territories will come off Turkey sooner or later," he said adding that Armenians should be ready to take back what belongs to them, Novosti Armenia reports.

November 22, 1920 President Woodrow Wilson signed the Arbitration Award marking the Armenian-Turkish border.

Besides, the Treaty of Sevres divided the Ottoman Empire in mandated territories. Palestine and northern Iraq with Mosul and Kirkuk areas went over to UK, Cilicia was passed to France. The mandate on Western Armenia was offered to the U.S., however, Congress refused to ratify it. Meanwhile, the Arbitration Award has no period of limitation and can't be appealed in international courts.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

GOVERNMENT APPROVES NEW VISA PROCEDURE FOR FOREIGNERS

ARMENPRESS
Nov 16, 2007

YEREVAN, NOVEMBER 16, ARMENPRESS:
The government approved Thursday (November 15) a new procedure for approval and registration of invitations extended by Armenian citizens to friends and relatives abroad for visiting Armenia.

The new procedure stems from a new Law on Foreigners approved by parliament last February.

Head of passports and visas department of the police, Ms. Alvina Zakarian, said after the government session that every Armenian citizen and foreigners with residence permit have the right to send invitations to any person to visit Armenia.

The application is to be submitted to the appropriate police station. Police in turn asks by electronic mail the National Security Service to approve or deny the application. Alvina Zakarian said only persons regarded non grata are banned from visiting the country.

Under the new procedure, the amount of state due paid for invitation's registration has been cut from 12,000 Drams to 5,000. The new procedure has prolonged also the term of staying in the country from previous 21 days to 120 days.

A foreigner must apply for prolongation of his or her visa two days prior to its expiration, otherwise they will face administrative penalties. They will have to pay 500 Drams for every extra day of staying in Armenia.

Alvina Zakarian said the changes were made to facilitate the arrival of foreigners in Armenia and help boost tourism.

22M 830 THOUSAND DRAMS ALREADY RAISED BY TWO DAYS' RESULTS OF PHONETHON HELD IN ARMENIA AND ARTSAKH

Noyan Tapan
Nov 16, 2007

YEREVAN, NOVEMBER 16, NOYAN TAPAN.
22m 830 thousand drams (nearly 71.3 thousand USD) has been already raised by the results of the phonethon held between November 14 to 16 by the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund in Armenia and Artsakh. As Noyan Tapan correspondent was informed by the Fund's Public Relations Department, their employees and volunteers phoned to nearly 2000 enterprises.

It was also mentioned that the European phonethon is still underway. It will finish on November 18.

Friday, November 16, 2007

OPPOSITION INSISTS ON GOVERNMENT HAND IN ACTIVIST'S BEATING

By Ruzanna Stepanian and Karine Kalantarian

Radio Liberty, Czech Rep.
Nov 16 2007


Opposition leaders allied to former President Levon Ter-Petrosian on Friday stood by their allegations that Thursday's severe beating of one of their youth activists was the work of the Armenian authorities and police in particular.

President Robert Kocharian dismissed the allegations and ruled out any political motives behind the beating.

Narek Galstian, the 20-year-old leader of the youth wing of a Diaspora-linked pro-Ter-Petrosian party, was hospitalized with serious injuries after being assaulted by unknown individuals in the northern outskirts of Yerevan. The attack two place two days after Galstian and another young activist of the Social Democrat Hnchakian Party (SDHK) were detained by police while posting anti-government leaflets in the city center.

"Haykakan Zhamanak," a daily newspaper staunchly supportive of Ter-Petrosian, wrote on Friday that the chief of the Yerevan police, Major General Nerses Nazarian, personally hit and bullied the two men at a police station in the capital. The claim was echoed by Lyudmila Sargsian, the SDHK chairwoman, and Ter-Petrosian.

Speaking at a rally in Yerevan later in the day, Ter-Petrosian demanded Nazarian's immediate sacking. He said failure to fire him would mean that Kocharian and Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian were "behind the beating."

Galstian has not publicly claimed to have been ill-treated in police custody, saying only that police officers only told him to stop disseminating leaflets slamming Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian. He says he was also warned against publicizing the very fact of his detention.

"We did not want to name these names," Sargsian told a news conference. "But remaining silent about that would now be a crime."

"The fact that a police general does not shy away from beating 19- and 20-year-old young men and even trying to stuff a leaflet into their mouths and force them to eat it ... shows that this is a police state," she said.

The SDHK leader again alleged that Galstian's beating was ordered by the government. "Nowadays police will not take any action without orders from above," she said. "I link [the beating] to the highest echelons of power." "They thereby tried to scare the youth," she added.

Similar allegations have been made by other influential opposition forces not aligned with Ter-Petrosian. Parliament deputies from the opposition Zharangutyun party on Thursday demonstratively walked out of a parliament session in protest against what they described as an "act of political terror." "This act of terror is a direct continuation of other repressions against political figures in Armenia and vivid proof of the fact that violence against political opponents is an integral part of the Armenian authorities' work style," Zharangutyun said in a statement.

Kocharian, however, asserted that the authorities had no hand in Thursday's assault because Galstian is too young and little-known to pose a threat to his and Sarkisian's rule. "As always, whatever happens to anyone in the run-up to elections is linked with politics," he told reporters after inaugurating a newly built boulevard in downtown Yerevan. "I personally never heard about that lad. I didn't know that there is such a political figure."

"I don't think he was of interest to anyone [in government,]" added Kocharian.

The Armenian police, meanwhile, likewise denied any involved in Galstian's beating which Ter-Petrosian allies say is part of broader "repressions" unleashed by the authorities against their supporters.

They point, among other things, to the ongoing government crackdowns on a wealthy businessman close to Ter-Petrosian and a regional TV station that broke ranks to air a September 21 speech by the ex-president. The latter is expected to be Sarkisian's main challenger in a presidential election scheduled for February 19.

Monday, November 12, 2007

GOOD YEAR FOR AGRICULTURE, DEPARTMENT HEAD SAYS

YEREVAN, NOVEMBER 8, ARMENPRESS: Head of an agricultural ministry department, Garnik Petrosian, said today although late spring frosts `decreased' the overall amount of expected apricot, plums and cherries by 36,000 tons, late ripening fruits-apples, peach, pears and others- are abundant.

He said overall 235,000 tons of fruits have been gathered, more than in 2006. Wine-growers have gathered over 220,000 tons of grape, by 20,000 more from a year ago.

He said some 70,000 tons of grape will have been procured by 23 big and small local wineries. Some was sold and the rest is being stored for winter sales.

According to him, a total of 700,000 tons of vegetables have been gathered so far. Some 800,000 tons are supposed to be gathered overall.

Armenians sold this year 900 tons of apricot, 500 tons of cherry, 2000 tons of grape and 500 tons of peach to Georgia and Russia.

Petrosian said Armenian framers have gathered also 437,000 tons of grain crops and 570,000 tons of potato.


###

You bet it was a good year. That is for the people selling the harvest for a price that is more than twice as much as last years prices. You would think that if there was a increase in production, then the prices would go down.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Shooting near the Gomidas open-air market?

Tonight while writing an e-mail to Garbis and Onnik, I heard what sounded like multiple shots from a shot-gun between our house and the Gomidas open-air market.

It seems that there have been quite a few of these shootings in the area that we live when in Armenia, one recent shooting resulting in the death of the chairman of the Union of Hunters of Armenia, who was a big time Mafia leader that I had once investigated for selling U.S. tourist visas with the help of one of his hunting buddies, the U.S. Ambassador (prior to John Evans).

CHAIRMAN OF UNION OF ARMENIAN HUNTERS KILLED

Noyan Tapan
Nov 8, 2007

YEREVAN, NOVEMBER 8, NOYAN TAPAN
. The chairman of the Union of Hunters of Armenia Sayat Davtian was shot by some unknown persons at Yerevan's Arabkir market at about 7 p.m. on November 8. Law enforcers are examining the scene of the crime at the moment.

So, I added to my e-mail to Onnik and Garbis: “Hey, as I was writing this, there was a bunch of shooting going on in the direction of the restaurant we were at yesterday. Could this be the continuation of the killing from yesterday?”

Garbis responded: “The sounds you heard were the fireworks that are launched from the roof of Cafe Planet when you pay $200. Pretty cool, huh? ;)”

And I was thinking that this was a possible revenge shooting in response to Sayat’s murder.

Only in Armenia can you pay $200 to scare the daylights out of the people in the neighborhood, who didn’t have a clue as to the wonderful entertainment the Café Planet offers their clients.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Kocharyan’s answer to LTP

Yesterday on television, President Kocharyan rebutted Levon Ter Pedrosyan’s recent statements when he announced his candidacy for president of Armenia.

Kocharyan in his usual manipulative way to twist reality and talked about how he received a country that was in a demolished state, which was brought to its low point by LTP.

Kocharyan talked about how the country has had noticeable growth and things in Armenia today are prospering, this he credited himself for. He also made mention of the growth of the national budget and the increase in money that is flowing in Armenia.

The reality Mr. President is that most people in Armenia are living as a result of money that is coming from those who have left Armenia to find work abroad in order to support their family and very few are able to live a dignified life from income generated in the country.

A reality stated by LTP is that over a million people (those sending the lion share of money to their families so they can survive) have left the country since Kocharyan and his criminal clan has come to power.

All I can say is that LTP is not the answer to fixing the problems we are facing today, nor is Serj Sarkisyan the answer. The big question that should be on our minds is will it be Serj or Levon and what are we going to do to make sure we sustain the lest damage from their criminal activities?

Traffic and Bridges

I’m really not understanding why we are building bridges in Yerevan? Take a good look at what they are building on Gasyan Street.

I’m not sure how this bridge will help alleviate traffic problems, but will say that it looks to me like the bridge they are building is going handle one lane of traffic in each direction, which might increase traffic problems rather than alleviate it.

Knowing that it is the Kocharan government that has decided on the construction of bridges in Armenia, I will guess that some people including Kocharyan are making millions on these projects.

What makes things worse is that due to the construction and lack of traffic control, Armenia is plagued with almost constant traffic jams.

Tonight as we were taking a taxi ride home, traffic slowed at Papazian Street and came to a grinding halt near the tax office, where they had closed off the street to traffic that was going in the direction of he open market.

To add insult to injury, the other street that goes passed the street closure is Kochar and according to the taxi driver, it too was closed (though knowing taxi drivers in Armenia, who I’ve noticed are a little bit less than honest, could have been just trying to get the minimal fare of 600 Dram for driving 1 kilometer). A bit frustrated and not wanting to drive all the way back to the center of the city and then up Monument, we paid the 600 Drams, walked a block and then sat in another taxi that took us to our destination in the tune of another 600 Drams.

These very unorganized closers, which there should have at very least been a detour posted somewhere is just another indicator of the lack of competence of those leading us today. Incompetence has and is evermore common place in leadership in Armenia and Artsakh today. As long as we continue to tolerate it, illogical and unnecessary projects will continue in our nation for the decades to come.

The price of life in Armenia on the rise

What currency is increasing in value, but in the open market is loosing value?

Today in Armenia the price of a loaf of bread is 120 Dram. Last week is was 110 Dram and a month ago was 100 Dram.

Yes, the price of wheat has increased, but you have to ask yourself why it has shot up and is on the rise? I’m not sure, but I’m sure our leaders and the mafia who controls the price of wheat can give you a clever answer to justify the increase.

The woman that sells bread at the Gomidas open air market told me that she or the people that bake the bread are not to blame for the price increase and said that it is our leaders who are doing everything to make life unbearable so we will all leave. They are the ones to blame. She went on to say that she left once and went to Russia, but life for Armenians like her is not better there and she does not feel that she has any other place to go and will stick around to see how things work out.

The price of Georgian Khachaburigs also went from 100 Dram to 120 Dram. That one I don’t get since the amount of flour used is nothing close to what goes in a loaf of bread. Anyway, that’s the new price and we will just have to live with it and hope that when the price of flour goes down, the price of Khachaburigs will also decrease, though I will bet you with 10 to 1 odds that it will stay where it is and only continue to rise since that’s a very common Armenian business practice.

This year most fruits and vegetables are more expensive than last year. The price of fish is also up from last year.

All these increases don’t make sense being that the Dram is more powerful, supposedly.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

BUYING VOTES

There is a whole slew of “talent” contests on Armenian television these days and most of them are based on how many votes people cast via Short Message Service (SMS) text messages. Of course to make matters worse, there is no limit on how many votes you can cast since each message received, someone or some entity tied to the contest receives revenue from. This results in too many cases of the non-talented contestant with lots of friends or money, buying their way into first place over the real talents who deserve to win. The end result is we have a bunch of untalented persons flooding the television and radio airwaves, setting the standard for music that our children will grow up hearing and thinking is good, when in fact is crap.

Yesterday’s “International Star” music talent contest was very disappointing for me, not so much because our music guru Nick was eliminated, but because it finally became clear to me that the word “talent” in Armenia has little to no meaning. This I’m not say holds true only for the arts, but almost every area of life here, especially politics and government.

Tata Productions/Armenia TV’s “International Star” music talent contest has not at all been about making a “star” out of talented people if you ask me, but as I stated above, about how many of your friends, family and business associates you can get to buy you into stardom, while the real talents are left frustrated, demoralized and wondering how they were suckered into participating in a contest that was not a contest about talent, but a contest of how one can manipulate the system to feel they are talented, while the real talents we have in Armenia waste their time and talents trying to get ahead, not understanding that it’s not about talent, but about being the highest bidder to win.

What makes “International Star” offensive for me is that Armenian TV, a station that has financial support by a Diaspora Armenia, supports knowingly or unknowingly such an unfair contest that is does not promote culture, but lowers the standards of the arts so that when Armenians compete in the international arena, we are left not leading, but standing on the sidelines wondering why we lost?

In my book, in a real talent contest, the contestants are judged by a jury of professional artists and not determined by how many votes were purchased. I guarantee you that if you give the materials from “International Star” to music professionals, they will tell you who purchased their way to the top and who are the real talents.

I guess I should not be surprised as to what happened and I warned Nick that it was clear to me early in the competition that his declining contract offers of the organizers and subsequent song assignments to sing songs that didn’t compliment his real talents, would deprive him of votes and was going to get him eliminated, as it did in the end.

The reality is that this competition is not going to hurt Nick from moving forward, since before he entered in this competition, the doors to the international entertainment world were opened for Nick and a very successful music company that produces and sell the type of music that Nick is gifted with were and are waiting to review, consider Nick’s work and hopefully sign him. There are also 3 other major labels I have access to present Nick’s materials to, one of which I’m almost certain will sign him, though I would really like to get him signed to the label that is waiting for Nick’s demo.

I had given Nick’s earlier and what I would call his more primitive works compared to what he has recently produced to a few non-Armenian persons in the music business and only got back positive feedback. Of course, as can be expected, the Armenians in the music business I’ve shared Nick’s materials with were impressed, but negative as to the outcome of his possible signing with a major label, since they have tried and failed. One Armenian producer from L.A. told me before hearing the materials that we can getting signed by a major label will probably not happen, saying this even before he heard any of the materials.

The following is message I got two months ago from an associate of mine I knew from my days when I worked for a recording studio. This person himself is a very talented studio musician and has a gift for spotting real talent:

Nick is amazing!

As a teacher of music, I am extremely impressed and if you're looking for harmonicanalysis, I can give you that too.

Basically, I have lots to say about Nick's music but my opinion doesn't matter. You've got the bull by the horns (a major label) and I hope you and Nick don't blow it.

Over 30,000 garage bands in Los Angeles alone would love to be signed to a record deal with a major and you're closer than 99% of them. GO FOR IT with everything you've got!

Don't hesitate to call my cell phone whenever you're discouraged dealing with the music business since I've experienced all of the bad (dozens of great talented artists who never came close to a deal) and the 1 record business success to my credit (White/Margitza signed to MCA Records in 1987).


I owe you big time, so don't offer me anything and I won't have to worry about "splitting" anything.

If Nick gets signed THEN gets produced (although I think his masters are finished if you want my opinion), the next 3 layers after production: marketing, radio/touring and hopefully [platinum] sales are the toughest.

You both better be in awesome shape to deal with the intense stuff but as you already know, timing is everything. Go for it Ara!

Sincerely yours,
Simon

Anyway, we should know in the next month as to who Nick will be signed with and on his way to working in the international world of music.

WHAT ARE CHILDREN READING AND WATCHING?

Panorama.am
12:55 27/10/2007


A round table took place in Moscow House in Yerevan within the framework of 3rd international festival of children's films. The round table ran under the title: "What are children reading? What are Children watching?" Guests from Russia, France, Armenia, as well as public and non-governmental organization representatives were present at the round table.

"Today our children are watching American war films, detectives. What can it give? Only aggression. These are the films that our children are educated on," Art Head of Rolan Bikov Foundation Nelli Aliolova told a correspondent of Panorama.am. The participants also noted that by the invasion of television into the daily life, children are cut off from books and literature.

THE WORLD WOULD BE A BETTER PLACE IF WE ALL WERE ON THE SAME PAGE

The following story is long, but worth the read.

For me it not only sheds light on understanding the root of Genocide, but more importantly touches on indifference people have towards fellow humans on every level.

For those of you out there in the civilized world who are waiting for your calling to do the right thing by your fellow human, read this story and than act accordingly.

As the story states, care deeply, share generously and help willingly.



'IT'S A SHORT WALK FROM BULLYING TO GENOCIDE'; BARBARA COLOROSO TALKS ABOUT ETHICS, DEEP CARING AND DOING THE RIGHT THING WHEN THE BURDEN IS HEAVY



Ottawa Citizen, Canada
Oct 28 2007
Final Edition

BYLINE: Louisa Taylor, The Ottawa Citizen

SECTION: THE CITIZEN'S WEEKLY; Pg. B6

LENGTH: 1521 words


Parents have turned to Barbara Coloroso for thoughtful and caring advice on raising children since the publication of her first book, Kids Are Worth It, in 1994. Since then she has written about understanding and preventing bullying, and later nurturing ethics in children. In her latest venture, Extraordinary Evil: A Brief History of Genocide, Coloroso explores the roots of genocide. Examining three genocides of the 20th century -- of the Armenians by the Young Turks, the Jews in the Holocaust and the Tutsis in Rwanda -- Coloroso draws a line from the bully in the schoolyard to the killer with a machete.

Coloroso will be Ottawa on Nov. 5 as the keynote speaker for Holocaust Education Week.

You're known as a trusted source of parenting advice, beginning with Kids Are Worth It and later your work on bullying. You've said you were surprised when your editor suggested you write a book on genocide, so surprised in fact that you dropped your glass.

I was just stunned -- we were celebrating this other book (Just Because It's Not Wrong Doesn't Make It Right, on ethics) and it was the last one I was ever going to write. I needed a long break. I don't like to write, it's not a fun thing for me. Speaking is what I love to do.

But I've studied genocide since the late '70s. It has been my own personal interest. If you go back to Kids Are Worth It you'll see quotes from Viktor Frankl and Primo Levi -- but it was never a public thing.

I walked the rabbit-proof fence in Australia, I went to death camps in Europe. And when I was working in Rwanda, my editor asked what I was doing there, and I told her I was working with orphans from the genocide.

Why did you go to Rwanda?

I asked Stephen Lewis if there was anything I could ever do for him and he said 'Go to Rwanda.' He put me in touch with a group in Toronto called Hope for Rwanda ... so I travelled with them and they introduced me to a group of orphans and then to the Tumerere Foundation. They work with child-headed households and orphans.

A professor asked if I would come and talk to the new teachers in Butare, which was then the University of Rwanda's education school. A large number of the Hutu staff there killed the Tutsi staff and a large number of the students were complicit in the deaths of their Tutsi classmates. He wanted me to talk about schoolyard bullying, on a campus where people slaughtered one another.

All I had with me was the little cartoon bully circle from the bully book, and I was embarrassed when I handed it out. Here was a bunch of survivors from the genocide who were going to be teachers, and there were Hutus in the group as well. It was an uneasy peace.

I handed it out, apologized and said "Let's start with how it's a short walk from bullying to genocide."

I didn't get very far before the survivors started to list on the chart where the UN fit, where Romeo Dallaire fit, where Oxfam fit, where their neighbours fit, where church leaders fit. It made sense to them.

I was struggling with the ethics book at the time and that lecture was an "aha" moment about three virulent agents -- hating, hoarding and harming. If we can look at the antidotes, then perhaps we will have a foundation for ethics, an ethic rooted in deep caring, where you teach kids to care deeply, share generously and help willingly, instead of harming other people with lying and cheating and stealing.

If you're raising children who are more willing to help one another because it's the right thing to do, then I think you are raising an ethical child who will stand up for values and against injustice and who will do the right thing when the burden is heavy, when that girl asks all the other girls not to sit by the new girl.

You say it's a short walk from bullying to genocide. Do you mean bullies grow up to be perpetrators of genocide, or genocide is the same forces at work, with deadly consequences?

It can be both, but it's more often the latter than the former.

Although, bullies tend to be leaders. In order to be a bully you have to have leadership skills. The sad things is, look at Hitler -- he was a bullied bully. So was Stalin. We ought to be tuned in to angry people who treat other people with contempt. So it's possible for a leader to be a bully, but more possible is the climate and culture of mean that is created in a political environment. It's a system of behaviour that's learned from childhood -- you have to be taught to have contempt for somebody. You have to learn that somebody is less than you, that somebody can be put outside your circle of moral concern.

... When I was in Rwanda, somebody said it doesn't start in school, and one survivor raised her hand. She was shaking and she said "Yes it does. When I was in Grade 2, the teacher told all the snakes to stand up and move to the other side of the room, and we did it, because we knew we were snakes." And kids called them cockroaches and snakes on the playground.

It was very easy then to get a political party with hate radio, and for people to become very fearful of them. Hitler said "the Jews are going to take over the world." The hate radio of the Hutus said the Tutsis are going to come and kill you. And what is it that the Christian right here says about gays? They're going to make your children gay and take over our schools and destroy marriage. It's the same fear-mongering.

You focus on three genocides that fit the United Nations definition of genocide, but there is much disagreement about other events, such as the famine in the Ukraine, that don't meet that definition.

Some people say the definition needs to be narrowed, some say it needs to be expanded. I was at a conference recently, where genocide scholars were ripping into each other -- you're making it too general, everything's a genocide -- you're making it too specific, the Ukrainian famine ought to be included.

I go back to bullying, and then I have to add on top of it where it is a political group or a party in power that has decided one group, for whatever reason, needs to be destroyed. We're looking in the Congo right now at the genocide of women. We've never made the gender leap in genocide. Women are being so horribly butchered in the rapes that are being committed, butchered to eliminate women. We have to take stock of that.

The definition of bullying has come under attack in some quarters, because some people think all bullying is conflict. The majority of anti-bullying programs have as their foundation conflict resolution.

Conflict is normal, natural and necessary -- it's two of us fighting over something.

Genocide is one-sided -- I'm out to get you and you didn't have to do anything for me to have contempt for you. We can build up fears and say you're going to take over our schools, you're dirty, filthy, you're a snake, but the reality is you're a human being. Once I make you an "It," I can do anything to you.

The scary thing is when it's in our schools, we can work on it, when it's in our community we can work on it, but when it's an entire government that shuts itself off from the rest of the world, the international community has to be gutsy enough to step in and not ask permission.

We say never again, then it happens again.

And again and again. We don't have the will to stop it. We have our self-interest at stake. Look at this genocide resolution (proposing that the U.S. Congress acknowledge the Armenian genocide). We're worried right now about what the Turks will do to us if we even acknowledge a genocide. So if we stepped in some place to stop a genocide, oh my goodness, we might lose our oil! Human beings should be at the centre of our choices, not "What's in it for me?"

What reaction have genocide scholars had to your book?

Mixed. From the survivors, which means a lot more to me than any scholar, I get overwhelming support and thank you. I'll take that.

I'm not a genocide scholar and never pretend to be.

What will you be talking about in Ottawa?

I'll be drawing the connection between bullying and genocide.

What's next for you?

My next book is on the power of good -- immersing myself in the people who are witnesses and resisters and defenders. I find it hard to believe the resilience of people who have been so horribly hurt, because even listening to their stories and being immersed in it took a toll on me.

But I met some Hutu children who had rescued a Tutsi family without their parents knowing because their parents were off looting during the day.

I talked to a man who had rescued people during the Holocaust when he was 17, and didn't know the people he was rescuing. When asked why he did it, he shrugged his shoulders and said "That's how we were raised." I keep hearing that comment.

On the bully circle, that's the people on the very top, the antithesis of the bully. Why do they do what they do? I want to find out what kind of environment we can create to make that more the norm than not.

I'm looking forward to it, because I don't know the answer.

Coloroso will be in Ottawa on Nov. 5 at Sir Robert Borden High School at 7 p.m. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for students and must be reserved by calling (613) 798-4696 ext. 236.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Let us not forget our past

The following is a very important article of Levon Ter-Petrosyan's announcing his candidacy for President of Armenia.

If you read the article in full and you know our history from independence to LPT's resignation, many of the things that LPT is accusing the present day government of, he himself was responsible for carrying out during his time in office.

His mention of the people electing him as the person they want to lead them will only happen if he does so as he did last time he was "elected" when the election was rigged and then the people protested the outcome and he called out the army to put a stop to the protesting populous, which was unconstitutional.

In the last two paragraphs when he refers to the "...thousands of lower-ranking judicial and low enforcement officials who are honest and conscientious professionals." and the forgiving statement about "Samvel Babayan in the liberation of Artsakh, restoration and strengthening of the Armenian state", turning a blind eye to all the criminal offenses they need to answer for, which are not quite as bad as the criminal offenses that LPT himself and his clan had committed in the past and should have to answer for, tells me that if LPT is elected, there is nothing that will change in the Armenian government and common people will feel just as alienated as they do today, or as LTP put it so eloquently, we will have "a government which treats its citizens like aliens, and is a disgrace for the Armenian people".

If you ask me, LPT's candidacy is just a scheme to make people feel as if they have some choices in who to elect, but the fact is that if the choice is between Serj and Levon, then there is no choice, since they are the same.


FIRST PRESIDENT SAID TO RUN IN THE ELECTION AND OPENED THE BLACKLIST

Lragir
Armenia
Oct 26 2007


The first president of Armenia Levon Ter-Petrosyan who addressed the rally on October 26 announced that he will be running in the presidential election. "You may believe me or not. It does not worry me. I believe that the main problem of Armenia today is not the personality of the future president of Armenia but the prevention of the reproduction of this regime because it is a vicious government, a government which treats its citizens like aliens, and is a disgrace for the Armenian people," Levon Ter-Petrosyan said. He repeated what he had stated in his address on September 21 that he will support any activist who will emerge and prove able to solve this problem. If not, Ter-Petrosyan says there is nothing else to do but to fulfill the will of people. "Frankly speaking, I was inclined to make a decision on the eve of the election process. However, the recent acts of violence against my supporters, as well as the immense energy of this rally urge me to make a decision immediately. Therefore, I am stating now that I will be nominated as president of the Republic of Armenia," Levon Ter-Petrosyan stated. He says since he has already announced he will be a presidential candidate, it means his status is going to change abruptly as a political activist. "Therefore, let the policemen surrounding us listen to me attentively - any act of violence against my supporters or attempts of intimidation by the tax service will be viewed as a criminal violation of the right of the citizens to vote, and will be conveyed to both our society and the international organizations. Let every policeman, community head or taxman keep in mind that an act of violence against the constitutional rights of citizens is a crime, and sooner or later they will be responsible before the law," Levon Ter-Petrosyan said.

Besides, the first president said a list of people using force against people is being made, and it will include everyone who misbehaves. Levon Ter-Petrosyan said the list already includes the head of the Police of Yerevan Nersik Nazaryan, his deputy Sashik Afyan and deputy chief of the police Ararat Mahtesyan. "The heads of two communities of Yerevan are contending for appearing on my list, whose names will or will not be announced in the upcoming rallies, depending on their behavior," Ter-Petrosyan stated. its opponents.

After the definition and structured revelation of the government Levon Ter-Petrosyan touched upon the moral, psychological, political, economic, social consequences of the rule of this regime, which has turned Armenia into an "outcast", the population is impoverished, even though the government is demonstrating tiger bounces through juggling of statistics. "However, research by serious economists shows that these indices are false, and the annual growth in reality is hardly 3-4 percent. What is the secret of appearance of those two-digit numbers? It turns out that there is no secret. The figures of the economic growth are direct correlation with the dynamics of remittances," Levon Ter-Petrosyan says, adding that it means if the Armenian economy develops, it develops outside Armenia. "At the expense of the muscle energy of hundreds of thousands of Armenian migrant workers in Russia," Levon Ter-Petrosyan says. He also spoke about black economy because, according to him, black economy is one that is out of the control of the government. "It is found everywhere, even in the most developed and legitimate countries.

Meanwhile, the ruling system in Armenia is so organized and powerful that nothing avoids its control, even a proprietor who earns 200 dollars. In other words, all kinds of criminal economic activities are carried out by it. Consequently, it is not black economy but flagrant robbery, extortion, and two budgets accrue in Armenia, one is the official budget, the other is in the pocket of the government.

In addition, calculations show that the second is much bigger than the first," Levon Ter-Petrosyan says. He says, however, he does not think the government, which comprises conscientious professionals, provides false data to the government. Levon Ter-Petrosyan believes that the data are initially correct but they are distorted before offering to the society. According to him, the judicial system also serves the government, and recent evidence is Justice Pargev Ohanyan's punishment who dared to make a decision on acquittal.

However, Levon Ter-Petrosyan points out that he does not mean thousands of lower-ranking judicial and low enforcement officials who are honest and conscientious professionals. "They are also humiliated and insulted by the regime like the rest of people. They are not expressing their feelings because of the lack of an alternative, but they will unanimously join the surge of popular movement. The same is with the police, like in 1988, during the national movement," Levon Ter-Petrosyan says. Nevertheless, Levon Ter-Petrosyan said this criticism and attitude gives him pain because both Robert Kocharyan and Serge Sargsyan were his personal and military friends not a long time ago. "Personalities whose names should be out down in the modern history of the Armenian people.

Their behavior after 1999 cannot erase or cast a shadow on them, as well as the undeniable and considerable role of Samvel Babayan in the liberation of Artsakh, restoration and strengthening of the Armenian state. My tough statements do not aim to defame or condemn them, and are out of sheer necessity to prevent the reproduction of the regime," Levon Ter-Petrosyan stated. He even said Robert Kocharyan and Serge Sargsyan will stand a chance to keep their good name in the history of independence of Armenia if they leave the political arena voluntarily. The first president also stated that his attitude is not due to their Karabakhi origin. "If they deserved, they would be welcome to rule in Armenia for one hundred years, like their ancestors, the Hetumians from Artsakh who ruled the Kingdom of Cilicia for 150 years," Levon Ter-Petrosyan says. He condemns all efforts to tap a wedge between the Armenians of Karabakh and Armenia, describing them as unfair and dangerous. "Therefore, I will be trying my best to prevent this mindset from spreading and becoming rooted. Especially that 99 percent of the pillars of the government system created by Kocharyan and Sargsyan are Armenians of Armenia rather than of Karabakh," Levon Ter-Petrosyan says.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

ARMENIAN POLICE ARREST SUPPORTERS OF LEVON TER-PETROSYAN

Azeri Press Agency, Azerbaijan
Oct 24 2007


Armenian law-enforcement bodies arrested the oppositionists calling people to rally.

APA reports that editor-in-chief of Haykakan Zhamanak newspaper Nikol Pashinyan, Democratic Fatherland party leader Petros Makeyan, Conservative Party leader Mikael Hayrapetyan, editor-in-chief of Fourth Power opposition newspaper Shoher Matevosyan and some others are among the detainees.

They delivered leaflets calling people to participate in rallies to support Armenia's first President Levon Ter-Petrosyan.

There was a confrontation between the oppositionists and the police.

20 were injured as a result of it. The detainees were released after they gave a written undertaking not to leave the country.

Ter-Petrosyan's supporters will hold a sanctioned rally in Yerevan on October 26.

Levon Ter-Petrosyan, Stepan Demirchiyan and Aram Sarkisian are expected to deliver speech. The ruling party organized a free concert with participation of Armenian stars in Yerevan Republic stadium on the same day.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE: TURKS ARE NOT THE OTTOMANS

arminfo
2007-10-25 14:07:00

ArmInfo.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged US lawmakers to drop an Armenian 'genocide' resolution, warning of the strategic fallout on sensitive ties with Turkey, Thomson Financial News reports.

'This is a very delicate time with Turkey,' she told the House of Representatives Foreign Relations Committee, which voted two weeks ago to label the Ottoman Empire's World War I massacre of Armenians as genocide.

'We have extremely important strategic interests with the Turks,' Rice said, appealing to the House as a whole not to vote on the controversial resolution.

'This was something that was a horrible event in the mass killings that took place, but at the time of the Ottoman Empire. These are not the Ottomans,' she said of the modern-day Turkish state.

Rice on Tuesday held talks with Armenian Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan, and she told the House panel that she had urged both the Armenians and Turks to work together on bridging their historical differences.

'But I continue to believe that the passage of the ... Armenian genocide resolution would severely harm our relationships with Turkey,' the secretary of state said.

NATURAL GROWTH TOTALED 694

KarabakhOpen
25-10-2007 16:28:28


1619 children were born in Karabakh January to September, which is up by 41 compared with the year 2006. The rate of death totaled 925, which is down by 8 compared with the same period of the past year. Over the past three quarters the natural growth totaled 694, which is up by 7.6 percent compared with the past year's index.

Over the past nine months 494 marriages were registered, which is up by 100 compared with last year. The rate of divorce went decreased by 4 and totaled 85.

VARDAN OSKANIAN IS CONVINCED THAT RECOGNITION OF ARMENIAN GENOCIDE BY U.S. IS INEVITABLE

Noyan Tapan
Oct 25, 2007

YEREVAN, OCTOBER 25, NOYAN TAPAN.
The recognition of the Armenian Genocide by U.S. Congress is inevitable. RA Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian gave assurance at the October 25 press conference. Attaching importance to the adoption of Resolution 106 by the Committee on Foreign Affairs of U.S.

Congress, the Minister expressed the hope that it will be discussed at the plenary sitting of House of Representatives.

"They say that it is not time yet, but I am just convinced that the moment will come and the Congress will recognize the resolution on Armenian Genocide," V. Oskanian said. According to the Minister, judging by the responses in the U.S., "in case of a correct moment from American point of view, this resolution will be unanimously adopted."

V. Oskanian considered as positive the circumstance that even the American Congressmen, who are against the resolution's adoption, consider the issue only from point of view of security and do not deny the historic fact of the Genocide. "We overcame that approach of denial and the Turkish party has an occasion for anxiety," the Minister said.

V. Oskanian also touched upon his meeting with the Turkish Foreign Minister held lately. According to him, the Armenian party does not consider that meeting as part of the process aimed at establishment of bilateral relations, as today there is no such process between Armenia and Turkey and such meetings will be held only if necessary.

USA OFFERS ARMENIA TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE IN 2008 PRESIDENTIAL POLLS

Mediamax
Oct 25 2007
Armenia

Yerevan, 24 October:
During a meeting with Armenian Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan on Tuesday [23 October] in Washington, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expressed on behalf of the US government readiness in case of necessity to assist the Armenian authorities in the solution of technical problems while organizing the presidential elections of 2008.

As Mediamax was told in the press service of the Armenian government, the sides discussed a wide circle of issues, including the process of the Karabakh conflict settlement, the relations of Armenia with the neighbours, issues of energy and security, as well as the participation of the Armenian military in international peacekeeping operations.

Touching upon the topic of Nagornyy Karabakh, Serzh Sargsyan and Condoleezza Rice stressed the importance of acceleration of the negotiation process. As the Armenian prime minister noted, the militant statements of the Azerbaijani authorities do not promote the activization of the peace talks at all.

Tuesday evening Serzh Sargsyan also had a meeting with the leadership of the Armenian Assembly of America (AAA).

Friday, October 26, 2007

POLICEMEN BEAT REPORTER YESTERDAY

Lragir
Oct 23 2007
Armenia


In an incident involving policemen and the participants of the march at the intersection of Abovyan and Koryun Streets the special operations personnel injured Gohar Vesiryan, reporter of the Chorord Ishkhanutyun. On October 24 Nichol Pashinyan, a member of the Alternative Initiative stated this October 24 who says he witnessed how the red berets hit the reporter. Nichol Pashinyan says he feels ashamed for the people who wear a uniform with the emblem of the Republic of Armenia and beat women.

Nichol Pashinyan was also injured. His face is swollen from punches.

The eleven participants of the march who had been detained by the police got different injuries, Nichol Pashinyan says. Some of them, including Nichol Pashinyan, were referred to the forensic doctor but he stated that they are not going to be examined by the doctor.

The policemen and the participants of the peaceful march clashed when the policemen approached about 30 participants of the march and asked to stop the action organized to inform the public about the rally on October 26 and hand out their megaphones. The policemen had nothing to offer in return for the demand to give legal grounds for their demand. Instead, the participants of the march offered their legal right which, however, was not taken seriously by the police. The policemen continued to demand to hand out the megaphone but the participants of the march did not give up. Afterwards the police used force.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Climate Changes in Martuni

A few of months ago, I got a call from someone interested in purchasing a very large scoop for a bulldozer that I've had sitting in front of my stone factory that I had purchased as a spare for a bulldozer I sold a few years back. Today's going rate for such a part is $500.

At that time in July, my truck driver Lavrent and I went down to get the part ready for pick-up and discovered that this 2 ton scoop was not where we left it and all that we found was a bare spot of soil with no grass on it, where the scoop had been months easier.

We asked my guard where the scoop was and he told me that there was no such part and in the three years he had worked for us, he had never seen such a thing where the bare spot of earth that was the size of the scoop now exists.

I told him I would give him time to think about where the scoop my have gone and until such time that he has an answer, I would withhold his pay.

Well in the last month, my guard has come to me for his pay and I've asked him if he found my scoop? Of course up until now, his answer has not changed.

Today, I visited my local police station to report the missing scoop and a detective drove out with me to the stone factory where the bare patch of earth is and my guard who was sticking by his story was sleeping 10 meters away.

The detective asked the guard where the scoop was and he again told his story of there never being such a scoop and justified the bare spot of a piece of tin having been on the ground. We gave my guard a ride down to the police station for questioning.

At the station, the guard again stuck to his story, to which the detectives there understood that what he was staying just didn't add up.

They asked the guard if someone was threatening his that he was not willing to tell who came and took the 2 ton scoop, which even if 20 people came, could not lift it up on a truck and it was clear that it had not been dragged away. The guard stuck to his story.

The detective told me that I could return to what I was doing and they were going to keep the guard at the station a bit to get to the bottom of things.

I went home and on the way, ran into my former general manager. I told her what had happened and she just shook her head and told me that she is a witness to the scoop being there when we hired him and said that she really does not understand why people lie and how things in Martuni have really changed over the years for the worse.

I will say that the recent elections for mayor here were a very good indicator as to the new climate of things and people really have changed in a way that is not cohesive for the development of a civil society.

I'll pay a visit to the police station tomorrow to see if there are any developments. I'm also going to find myself a new guard for the factory.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Changes in Martuni...

We are kind of over the shock of the elections in the city of Martuni for mayor.

We thought that my wife's uncle Artyom was going to win for sure based on 1,400 people who told us that they were going to vote for Artyom. In the end Artyom only ended up with less than 700 votes coming in 3rd.

There were 4 people running, the person who came in second was Artyom's aid, Azizyan, a man I can only describe as uneducated, unlucky in almost everything he does, never seeming to pick the right road to take and on top of this owing money to the bank and many many people. He once borrowed from me 20,000 dram for a month, but it took him 3 years to pay me back.

The reason why Azizyan ran we later found out was not only was he being backed by the Dashnag's (they always seem to back up someone who if elected they can later on try to control, thus someone who is uneducated in this case was their choice). On top of this, the commander of one of the bases in Martuni, said he and the former police cheif and present day director of the electric company would back him and make their people vote for him, but later on had their people vote for the mayor who ended up winning. The commander and head of the electric company did this to split the votes that Artyom was to get and it worked. If Azizyan didn't run, Artyom could have got 1,500 votes.

So who is our new Mayor? His name is Nelson and he is a businessman who has a small wine factory, a real working stiff who underpays his workers and in many cases was found working his own fields since no one was willing to work for slave wages that were many times paid late. He is also uneducated and can be controlled by those who got him into office. During his visits to schools, the electric company and other gatherings to present his plans if he is elected, he claimed to have an income far less that what he has, only claiming to have a family income of 2,300,000 dram, which for his family of 8, would provide about $65 a month per person. The reality is that he has an income of 10 times that, but only pays taxes on the lesser amount. He also claimed that he donated $15,000 to the construction of the memorial to the people who died in the Artsakh war with Azerbaijan. The fact is that he donated 250,000 dram (about $750).

Anyway, I saw Nelson yesterday at his office and the guy I have seen for the last 10 years working his crop was wearing a suit. I asked him if he had problems with the feel of a suit, which though I didn't say it, really didn't look good on him at all. He said that if it was not raining, he would be wearing his working clothes so he could go out and work in the city to make things better.

Artyom has had 3 job offers since the elections and I'm guessing that there is a good chance that next year they will appoint him regional minister of Martuni.

As for the commander and head of the electric company, word is that there are people at the top who did not like their divide and concur tactics to get their man elected. As a result, I've been told that the head of the electric company will be removed and there is a good chance we will be seeing a new commander in Martuni.

One other sad note. Night before last we had a car crash in the center of the city. It seems that a drunk driver hit the gas instead of the brake and ended up hitting the wall of the theater building, killing the two people in the car and leaving another is very bad shape.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES ACT ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING

HULIQ, NC
http://www.parliament.am/
Oct 15 2007

Armenia's parliament adopted a bill on Thursday aiming at identifying and saving human trafficking victims on airplanes before take off

The National Assembly of Armenia passed the Anti-Human Trafficking on Air Act on Thursday requiring notification to all air passengers about the threatening high number of women and children being transported from/through Armenia by traffickers for sexual exploitation purposes without the passengers' knowledge or consent before airplanes take off.

The notification process will include distribution of brochures in three languages (Armenian, Russian and English) to all passengers shortly describing human trafficking and asking passengers to let the attendant know they are in danger at any time during/before the flight and they will be guaranteed safe evacuation and persecution
of their traffickers.

Before the airplane takes off, a video-recording or an attendant will announce in three languages (Armenian, Russian and English) that if there are any children on the airplane who are traveling with somebody else's passport they are at high risk of being raped and abused in the countries of their destination. They will be also given additional two-minutes of presentation about how to identify human trafficking. The passengers will be told if they have a slight doubt they may be a victim of human trafficking they will be in safe protection after notifying an attendant. Two unidentified enforcement agents, trained to combat human trafficking, will be on the flight to help the victims before the plane takes off or after it arrives or to interfere during the flight if absolutely needed.

"Even if this Act saves one life it will serve its purpose," said Raffi Hovhannisyan, an American-born Armenian legislator who sponsored the bill. "It is time to fight the horrible abuse of already oppressed women and children from poor and unprotected families who are treated like animals after being tricked into human trafficking."

Armenia is not only a resource for human traffickers, experts say, but also a transit country for other victims of eastern European and central Asian origin. The victims, often from single-mother families, are told they will be working in restaurants and cafes in rich Middle Eastern or European countries. Once they get to their destinations, they are beaten and forced into prostitution serving dozens of men every day against their wills.

A handful legislators who voted against the bill expressed concerns for the funding of the project. But several Armenian NGOs and charity organizations vowed to contribute to the project. "We will do everything in our power to support the fight against human trafficking in Armenia," said a spokesperson for the U.S.-based Cafesjian Foundation.

Armenia's President Robert Kocharyan signed the bill into law the following day, expressing his admiration for the legislature'sreadiness to combat modern day human slavery. "The Armenian leadership can have no moral leadership in the fight for Genocide recognition if it ignores the sexual exploitations and physical and psychological tortures of women and children at the hands of human traffickers."

The sponsors of the Act still expressed concerns about a fabricated news item posted on Blogian.net and republished by other websites several months ago announcing the passage of a "bill combating human trafficking" claiming Armenian parliament's official website as the source. The webmaster of Blogian.net, an Armenian-American student, had deliberately fabricated the story with hopes that Armenia's leadership and parliamentarians would finally start thinking about ways to fight human trafficking.

"I am glad Blogian.net brought the inevitability of this issue to our attention ," Hovhannisyan said, "But I thought I was dreaming when I read the news attributing statements to me I had never made - not that I didn't wish I had made them in the first place."

Several Armenian-American groups also denounced Blogian.net for "misleading tactics" and "spreading lies in uncivilized ways."

Saturday, October 13, 2007

THE ROAD TO RECOGNITION PASSES THROUGH JERUSALEM

By Anshel Pfeffer

Ha'aretz, Israel
Oct 11 2007


"The Turks are not the only ones who believe the way to Washington passes through Jerusalem," says Archbishop Aris Shirvanian, director of Ecumenical and Foreign Relations for the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem. "We also know that this alliance is very important, and the day Israel recognizes the Armenian genocide, the U.S. administration will, too."

The almost mystical belief that Israel and the Jewish lobby have the power to sway votes on Capitol Hill is sometimes reminiscent of the conspiracy theory in the style of the protocols of the Elders of Zion. This is probably the one thing the Turks and Armenians have in common in their historic war over the recognition of the Armenian
holocaust.

The archbishop was not surprised that Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan chose this week to act in Jerusalem against U.S. Congress' decision to recognize the genocide.

"Recent statements in the U.S. led the Turks to suspect that the Jews and Armenians were collaborating to pass the law in Congress. They know the Jews in the U.S. have close ties with Israel, so they are pressing the government here as they have in the past," he says.

There is no escaping the Armenian holocaust in the narrow streets of the Armenian Quarter in Jerusalem's Old City. Posters on every wall call on people to remember it and a new monument in the Theological Seminary's yard is to be inaugurated on memorial day on April 24.

The memorial features a large Armenian cross and six smaller ones, representing the West Armenian districts where the slaughter took place during World War I.

But Shirvanian and the 20,000 Armenians living in Israel know that the way to the recognition of their holocaust is still long and paved with disappointment. They also understand that remembering their massacre has become a cipher in the complex equation of global politics.

It includes strategic American and Israeli interests in conflicts with Syria and terrorism, Turkish national pride, concern for Istanbul's Jews and relations between minority groups in America.

There is little place for history or justice in such an equation.

One example is the decision of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai Brith six weeks ago to recognize the Armenian massacre as genocide.

The statement followed ongoing pressure by Armenian communities that argued that an organization that fights racism cannot ignore another nation's genocide.

A few months ago, a controversy erupted in the organization and the ADL's New England branch director, who sided with the Armenians on this issue, was fired. This led to contributors' pressures on the ADL and finally director and chairman Abraham Foxman announced that the ADL was changing its position.

The Turkish rage following the move was not directed at the ADL's offices in Washington but toward Jerusalem. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan called President Shimon Peres and asked him to intervene. Peres contacted Foxman who promised to issue a new statement saying that the matter was merely semantic and that the ADL objected anyway to a resolution proposal in Congress.

The Turks knew they could depend on Peres. Five years ago, when then education minister Yossi Sarid said at a remembrance ceremony for the Armenian massacre that it would be taught as a subject in Israeli schools, then foreign minister Peres leaped to disassociate Barak's government from the statement. He rushed to Ankara and stated that Israel regarded the Armenian affair as "a disaster" but not genocide.

"We sent him a letter of protest and he didn't reply," says Archbishop Aris. "Since then, we haven't had any contact with him."

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/911630.html