Thursday, March 27, 2008


I came across a site which looks to be a confessional of the late Vartkes Barsam, a man I knew and respected.

Vartkes died of cancer in September of 2006.

According to this site, Vartkes tells of a murder that the “newly-elected” President of Armenian Serj Sarkissyan committed a few years back.

The death was reported as a heart-attack, possibly the same kind of heart-attack Antranik Markaryan had last year (both most probably drug induced).

I contacted someone who was close to Velik and that person told me that a half-hour prior to Velik’s untimely death, Sarkissyan and three other people paid an unexpected visit to the laser institute to see Velik.

A half-hour after Serj and company left, Velik was discovered in his office dead.

What a tragedy to loose one of our top scientists. And for what? So Serj would not be found to have profited millions of dollars from the sale of the institute?

We not only lost Velik, but we also lost the institute, which was in the process of producing lasers for medical, manufacturing and military, just to name a few of the once classified projects. All of Velik and the institute’s work came to a grinding halt after his death. There were also the well paying jobs and economic gains for Armenia it provided that are now lost.

Just to get an idea as to who Velik was and why he is worthy of our respect, you should know that Velik was the one behind the building of a machine that helped us big time to win the war against Azerbaijan. Thanks to him, the Artsakh Armenians had a blinding laser in their arsenal near the end of the war that without a doubt saved the lives of many of our freedom fighters and allowed us to gain the upper hand on the Azeri’s, bringing their fighters literally to their knees.

All I can say is SHAME ON YOU MR. “PRESIDENT”!!!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Open Letter from the Wives, Mothers, and Sisters of Victims of Political Persecution in Connection with the 2008 Armenian Presidential Election

We are writing this letter as the wives, mothers, and sisters of those citizens of the Republic of Armenia who have been subjected to illegal measures by the authorities in connection with the February 19, 2008 presidential election, during the pre-election process, at the time of the election, and in the days since then.

These measures include violence, brutality, kidnapping, unlawful detention, home searches without any legal justification accompanied by extensive damage to property, and the arrests of our husbands, sons, and brothers, almost all on similar charges: “Criminal actions against the state with the aim of overthrowing the government.”

We believe that these arrests have been purely political in nature, given that the detainees are members of political parties, proxies of opposition candidates, or participants in the peaceful demonstrations held by the democratic opposition.

The measures taken by the authorities are in contradiction to national law and are incompatible with international norms and obligations undertaken by the Armenian Government. They are acts of political persecution aimed at destroying democratic opposition, and as such represent a gross violation of human rights.

We call upon the European Union, the Council of Europe, and the United States of America to organize an independent and impartial investigation of all of the cases connected with the February 19 presidential election, including both the killing of innocent people and the arrests of our family members. Finally, we note with alarm that these arrests are continuing to this day.

With respect and in hope of support,

Melissa Brown
Wife of Alexander Arzoumanian, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, former Representative to the United Nations, director of the Levon Ter-Petrossian Central Campaign Headquarters, arrested on March 10, 2008.

Anna Hakobyan
Wife of Nikol Pashinyan, Editor-in Chief of Haykakan Zhamanak, representative of the Aylantrank Civil Initiative, member of the Levon Ter-Petrossian Central Campaign Headquarters, in hiding since March 1, 2008.

Marine Harutyunyan
Wife of Grigor Voskerchyan, former deputy head of the National Security Service, head of the Levon Ter-Petrossian Abovyan Campaign Headquarters, arrested on March 8, 2008.

Lusine Hayrapetyan
Wife of Suren Surenyants, Republic Party board member, arrested on February 25, 2008.

Mariam Karapetyan
Mother of Karapet Rubinyan, former Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, former Chief of Staff of the President, deputy head of the Levon Ter-Petrossian Shengavit District Campaign Headquarters, arrested on March 1, 2008

Anahit Kirakosyan
Wife of Ashot Manukyan, head of the Armenian National Movement Lori branch, head of the Levon Ter-Petrossian Lori Campaign Headquarters, arrested on March 1, 2008.

Anush Mesropyan
Wife of Sasun Mikaelyan, National Assembly Deputy, member of the Spirit Challenge NGO, arrested on March 12, 2008.

Nelli Mnatsakanyan
Wife of Grigor Harutyunyan, political secretary of the People’s Party of Armenia, in hiding since March 1, 2008.

Anush Petrosyan
Wife of Masis Ayvazyan, Armenian National Movement board member, Levon Ter-Petrossian Campaign Headquarters regional coordinator, arrested on March 1, 2008.

Tamara Piloyan
Wife of Mushegh Saghatelyan, member of the Spirit Challenge NGO, former head of the Interior Ministry Detention Center Department, head of the Levon Ter-Petrossian Ani Campaign Headquarters, arrested on March 1, 2008.

Marine Poghosyan
Wife of Aram Sargsyan, Chairman of the Republic Party, member of the Levon Ter-Petrossian Central Campaign Headquarters, in hiding since March 1, 2008.

Dzovinar Samsonyan
Wife of Hovhannes Ghazaryan, Armenian National Movement board member, Levon Ter-Petrossian Campaign Headquarters regional coordinator, arrested on March 1, 2008.

Aida Sardaryan
Wife of Aram Manukyan, Armenian National Movement board member, head of the Levon Ter-Petrossian Arabkir District Campaign Headquarters, in hiding since March 1, 2008.

Ruzanna Sargsyan
Wife of Smbat Ayvazyan, Republic Party board member, former Minister of State Income, Levon Ter-Petrossian Campaign Headquarters regional coordinator, arrested on February 24, 2008.

Susanna Sargsyan
Wife of Davit Matevosyan, former Meghri Police Chief, member of the Levon Ter-Petrossian Central Campaign Headquarters, arrested on March 1, 2008.

Laura Selvyan
Wife of Gagik Jhangiryan, former Deputy Prosecutor General, former Military Prosecutor, arrested on February 23, 2008.

Lilit Simonyan
Wife of Levik Khachatryan, Armenian National Movement board member, Levon Ter-Petrossian Campaign Headquarters regional coordinator, arrested on March 1, 2008.

Hasmik Sinanyan
Wife of Vahagn Hayotsyan, Armenian National Movement executive secretary, Levon Ter-Petrossian Campaign Headquarters regional coordinator, arrested on March 1, 2008.

Ruzanna Sukiasyan
Wife of Khachatur Sukiasyan, National Assembly Deputy, head of the Levon Ter-Petrossian Yerevan Campaign Headquarters, in hiding since March 1, 2008.

Tamara Tapaltsyan
Mother of Aram Karapetyan, Chairman of the New Times Party, arrested on February 24, 2008.

Inga Torosyan
Wife of Davit Arakelyan, head of the Levon Ter-Petrossian Kentron District Campaign Headquarters, arrested on March 1, 2008.

Edita Yeghoyan
Wife of Ararat Zurabyan, Chairman of the Armenian National Movement, former Head of the Kentron District Administration, member of the Levon Ter-Petrossian Central Campaign Headquarters, arrested on March 10, 2008.

Tsoghik Zakaryan
Wife of Yerjanik Abgaryan, Armenian National Movement board member, former head of RA Customs Service, Levon Ter-Petrossian Campaign Headquarters regional coordinator, arrested on March 3, 2008.

March 18, 2008

Death of an Archbishop (Cont'd)

Monday, Jan. 29, 1934

Waving banners inscribed DEATH TO THE MURDERERS, a mob of more than 1,000 Armenians surged and shouted in front of Manhattan's Homicide Court one day last week. To be arraigned were seven men accused of stabbing to death huge Archbishop Leon Tourian, primate of 130,000 souls in the Armenian Apostolic Church in America, before the altar of Holy Cross Armenian Church on Christmas Eve (TIME, Jan. 1). The mob lusted to get their vengeful hands upon the seven, but 75 mounted police charged into the street, drove them back. From nowhere, a patrol wagon whizzed up, out of which seven trembling Armenians were hustled into court. Promptly their case was adjourned.

Meanwhile the murder of Archbishop Tourian continued to cause violent repercussions wherever there were Armenians to line up for or against the Tashnag, Armenian ultra-nationalist party. Tashnag members were supposed to have drawn lots to pick the Archbishop's killers. In Boston a noisy anti-Tashnag mass meeting was held. In Philadelphia, 500 members of St. Gregory's Apostolic Armenian Church took possession of the building, guarded it in relays night & day, ousted their hot-eyed pastor, Rev. Bassig Sarkisian. They charged that in defiance of the orders of the Catholicos, supreme head of the Armenian Church, he had refused to hold 40 days of mourning for the Archbishop.

Using deadly force against your enemy is one thing…

After the March 1st killings, I’ve been trying to better understand where this Armenians killing Armenians have come from and how anyone can feel justified committing such a horrific act without a fair and legal trial?

I just read a book called Murder at the Alter, which was written by Terry Philips.

On Christmas Eve morning in 1933, the head of the Armenian Church of America, Archbishop Ghevont Tourian, was stabbed to death with a double-edged butcher knife as he began Sunday services in New York. The murder was said to be in reaction to the Archbishop’s opposition and later removal of the Armenian flag of the first republic of Armenia (which was no longer) hanging over his head as he was to speak at a festival on June 1, 1933 in Chicago. The Tashnag Party (ARF) were said to be the ones who planned and carried out the murder. Subsequently, nine of their members stood trial, two of which were sentenced to death, five given sentences of 10 to 20 years and two were released.

Years following the murder, there were and maybe still are people out there that feel the murder was a justified act of terror and what happened to Archbishop Tourian, he had coming.

For those of you who decide to read this book, as painful as the first 100 pages can feel, as you may feel the story going astray, by all means keep on reading it to the end, since the official story I heard growing up as a kid was missing many of the important details, since for the most part they were unknown to most. Though I will not tell you what the missing part of the story I knew are, these new revelations may shock you, as they clearly document a consistent ARF policy which can go as far as death to those who don’t agree with the views and policies of the ARF.

I will hope that those in the ARF who are in power will read this book and start to think about reconciliation, change in policy and even an apology to the surviving members of the Tourian family, who even after the murder, were threatened, harassed and ridiculed by ARF members and/or their supporters (see:

I would like to add one thing for those of you who read this book. When you read about who really killed Archbishop Tourian (someone I believe was never punished), I can say that one of the ARF attempts to kill my grandfather used a similar method in 1929.

One thing our family share with the Tourian family is that we too were threatened and harassed by what I can only describe ignorant cowards who can’t think for themselves and only follow orders from their demented leaders.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Kocharian Warns Opposition Against More Protests

20-03-08 16:53

President Robert Kocharian said Thursday that he will not prolong the state of emergency in Yerevan but warned that Armenian security bodies would not hesitate to break up more anti-government demonstrations planned by opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian.

Kocharian also effectively dismissed international calls for an independent investigation into the March 1 clashes between riot police and thousands of Ter-Petrosian supporters demanding a re-run of the February 19 presidential election.

The violence, which left at left at least seven opposition supporters and one police officer dead, led to the imposition of the 20-day state of emergency. All rallies and other public gatherings in the capital were banned as a result.

Kocharian said the Armenian authorities will not sanction rallies for “some time” even after the expiry of emergency rule on Friday. “People who shot at law-enforcers [on March 1] are still at large, there is no guarantee that the same people will not try to organize various provocations or shootings at the next rally and then blame that on the police,” he told a news conference.

The Armenian parliament approved this week a government bill that will make it easier for the authorities to prohibit anti-government protests. They will now be able to do that by citing threats to “state security, public order, public health and morality” reported by the police and the National Security Service. Ter-Petrosian has dismissed the amendments as unconstitutional.

Kocharian warned the opposition leader, who had served as Armenia’s first president from 1991-1998, against staging unsanctioned street protests. “I forbade the police from taking any steps [against opposition demonstrators] before the events of March 1, but will now demand that they take strict measures,” he said, adding that he is determined to restore stability in the country before handing over power to Prime Minister and President-elect Serzh Sarkisian on April 9.

Ter-Petrosian says that the authorities themselves instigated the worst street violence in Armenia’s history by breaking up his supporters’ non-stop sit-in in Yerevan’s Liberty Square and then firing at thousands of people who gathered elsewhere in the city center later on March 1.

Western powers have also questioned the official version of events, with the European Union and the Council of Europe urging the authorities in Yerevan to agree to an “independent investigation” of the bloodshed. Thomas Hammarberg, the Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights, suggested last week that such an inquiry be conducted by a special commission of prominent Armenians “trusted by the public.”

Kocharian insisted, however, that Armenian law-enforcement bodies and the Office of the Prosecutor-General in particular are independent and competent enough to investigate the deadly unrest. He said they can only agree to international experts’ involvement in their ongoing investigation that has resulted in mass arrests of opposition leaders and activists.

Both the EU and the United States have expressed serious concern about the unprecedented government crackdown. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Daniel Fried reiterated those concerns on Thursday, saying that Armenia should "pull itself together and get back on a democratic path."

"We welcome the lifting of the state of emergency, but there are other problems and these need to be addressed,” Fried told RFE/RL. “People who have been arrested for rioting and violent actions, that's one thing. But people who have been arrested for more questionable reasons need to be let go, there needs to be normalization, there needs to be a dialogue with the opposition.”

“Look, this is a troubling situation for all of Armenia's friends,” he said.

Kocharian effectively dismissed such calls, saying that law-enforcement authorities have been quite lenient towards opposition protesters. He argued that some 800 people were detained in connection with the March 1 events and that only just over a hundred of them are currently under arrest pending trial.

Washington threatened last week to “suspend or terminate” $236.5 million in economic assistance which it promised to provide to Armenia under its Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) program. The money was due to be spent on the reconstruction of Armenia’s battered rural roads and irrigation networks.

Kocharian claimed to be untroubled by the possible termination of the five-year aid package, saying that the Armenian government will find other sources of funding for the rural development projects, if need be. “If they make such a decision we will look for other ways of fully implementing that program,” he said. “I have no doubts that we will find those ways.”

Kocharian also downplayed U.S. President George W. Bush’s failure so far to congratulate Sarkisian on his hotly disputed victory in the presidential election. Kocharian said he himself was congratulated by Bush only after being sworn in for a second five-year term in office in April 2003. That, he said, did not prevent Armenia from recording higher rates of economic growth and “cooperating effectively” with the United States in the following years. “So maybe it’s a good sign,” he told journalists jokingly.

In fact, Bush stopped short of congratulating Kocharian on his equally controversial reelection and cited instead serious irregularities that were reported during the Armenian presidential election of February-March 2003. “In a spirit of friendship, I share the disappointment of the OSCE and others who have observed that Armenia missed an opportunity to make an example of a democratic election,” Bush said in an April 2003 letter to Kocharian.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Worried about the Future

I’ve been away from this blog since the birth of our son Alex.

It’s been a wonderful experience to see our son grow and grow so fast. He had doubled in birth-weight before he was 3 months old and at his rate of growth, could triple it in no time. He has been for the most part sleeping through the night for over a month and really understands most everything that is going on around him and who is who.

Since the March 1st morning attack on the peaceful demonstrators in Yerevan, I have been watching closely what is going on and as to reactions from all walks of Armenians around the world. For this reason I’ve had very little sleep for the last 20 days, since what I have observed starting on March 2nd and up until now is very disturbing.

For one thing, in Armenia for the most part, it’s business as usual. I witnessed this same type of indifference following a slew of fraudulent elections starting as far back as 1996; the 1996 use of the military to put an end to a demonstration apposing Levon’s blatantly fixed re-election; the October 27, 1999 Parliament killing; the April 13, 2004 violent crackdown on peaceful demonstrators and of course now we have the use of excessive force on the peaceful demonstrators on the morning of March 1, 2008, followed by a larger protest that ended up in the killing of at least 8 people by what I believe was a special military unit (see the video clip below).

All of what I've referenced above was in the best case scenario denounced by many, but in the end, indifference, "national unity" and memory loss smooths everything over and life went on as normal, just like it seems to be for most in Armenia and the Diaspora today.

And of course since this is the way it always seems to ends, then it also happens again, as the criminal element that got away with it the last time thanks to us not protesting and standing to their illegal acts, learns that there is no punishment for their actions. Oh and I can tell you that if there is a next time, it won't stop at 8 deaths, but would dare to guess it will top 100 (not to say that in reality we didn't come close to that number on March 1st, seeing that there are still people unaccounted for and knowing this government if they killed those people, they will try to cover that up too).

The one thing that really concerned me was the recent Joint Statement from a number of leading Armenian organizations, including the Church (mine included) that denounces what happened on March 1st, and in the last sentence recognizes the recent fraudulent elections, which were the cause for March 1st, as legitimate. These kinds of stances can only further divide us. I for one believe in my religion, but question our Church leaders who if I were them, would have kept my mouth shut and only after the dust settled would I take any concrete stance, especially if I'm going to approve of an election which the many Armenians and the international community is questioning.

Until we embrace reality and stop kissing the asses of the criminals who have hijacked our nation (Levon included) and demand that they serve the people who they have elected themselves into office to serve, Armenia will not become the stable country we need for it to be so it will have a promising future that we all can be proud of.

I am really concerned that if we don’t shake off this denial that clouds our vision, my son’s generation is going to have much more serious problems to deal with when we pass the nation off to them, that is if there is a nation to pass on to them.

For those of you who are wondering what else I have been up to for the last few months, I can now tell you that I've joined a think-tank called Policy Forum Armenia and have been writing reports for the human rights chapter of our semi-annual state of the nation report.