Thursday, April 29, 2010

Two Get Life Sentences for Murder of Nazaret Berberian
[ 2010/04/28 | 17:54 ]

Today, the Kentron and Nork-Marash District Court sentenced Petros Temiryan and Karen Dallakyan to life imprisonment for the murder of American-Armenian businessman Nazaret Berberian.

Nazaret Berberian went missing on April 25, 2009, after leaving his house in Yerevan. His body was found in a gully on a stretch of the Yerevan-Sevan highway. Police forensic experts say he had been drugged and strangled to death.

Petros Temiryan, it turns out, was a friend of the murdered Berberian, while Dallakyan, arrested in Moscow, was an acquaintance of Temiryan. The RoA Police state that a third person implicated in the murder is still on the loose but that law enforcement has prevented his leaving the country.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

20 April, 2010, 10:56 pm

Relatives of Vahan Khalafyan, 24, who died last Tuesday under questionable circumstances in the Charentsavan Police Department, are sure that the police ruling of suicide is a cover-up for his death at the hands of police.

Khalafyan along with three others was held on suspicion of burglary.

As the Police statement says, "being present at the office of the prevention department chief of Charentsavan police, Khalafyan took a kitchen knife from the shelf and stabbed himself in the abdomen.

Khalafyan was taken to the Charentsavan Medical Center by ambulance, where he died."

However, Khalafyan's mother stated that there were cross-shaped cuts on his chest, as well as two holes on his abdomen, and the whole body was covered with bruises. Yet on Saturday, April 17, RA Police Chief Alik Sargsyan stated that Khalafyan was questioned calmly in the Police department, and that no violence was committed against him.

Sargsyan also stated that Khalafyan had been stabbed only once.

In spite of the Police Chief's allegations, a criminal case on Khalafyan has been filed.

Human rights defender Arthur Sakunts, Head of Helsinki Citizens' Assembly Vanadzor Office, says he has learned that Khalafyan and others was abused by police.

"This is evidently a murder case, it is also obvious that physical violence has been committed against other people taken to the Police department, too," Sakunts told ArmeniaNow.

He also reported that they are going to follow up the developments of the case, and currently they are waiting for the conclusion of forensic examination.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ted Bogosian And His Untruths About Monte Melkonian

By Ara Manoogian
April 17, 2010

17 years following his martyrdom in Artsakh, Armenian national hero Monte Melkonian is once again a victim of defamation. I came across a very interesting interview on Radio Open Source with an Armenian decorated filmmaker and documentarian Ted Bogosian. The subject of the interview was Ted's vocation - seeking the truth and telling it. Open Source host Christopher Lydon introduced Ted Bogosian as a truth hound and put the 'what is truth' question to him (see: What I heard in response less than halfway through the interview led me to think that Ted may have misheard Christopher, thinking he had been asked 'what is a lie' or, for that matter, how to present a lie as truth.

As someone committed to truth seeking, I was at first thrilled to learn about an alternative experience from a prominent Armenian until I heard the following statements made by him:

"In Armenian Journey there is a very important sequence which didn’t make the cut.  And that is that I started to pursue an interview with a young man of my age and background named Monte Melkonian. And Monte was born in about the same year, in the central valley of California. And while I was at Duke, he was at Berkley, and when I went to graduate school, he went to graduate school in Beirut. And he was pursuing the truth about the Genocide in his own way and he became radicalized and he went underground and started selling arms and started selling drugs and started an Armenian terrorist movement. And so while I was making Armenian Journey, he was in jail in France, for having masterminded several bombings in Europe, at Orly Airport and at Turkish embassies and other businesses, where many innocent people were killed. And so, I went to see Monte in prison, and it was quite a moment, because he thought that I was there to kill him since he didn’t know who I was and wasn’t expecting a visitor that day. But I came to start corresponding with him and came to understand his manifesto, and I realized that what he was doing was similar to what I was doing except in a different theater. And so, my battle was against the media to try to tell the story one way, and his battle was more traditional. So, that didn’t make the cut because I wouldn’t have been able to get the film on television had I presented that manifesto. But I mention it because I want to say that I think this sort of thing is in the blood not only of Armenians but of people who want to tell the truth and, that is, they’re willing to go there no matter where it leads." (The audio fragment is at 09:16-11:36).

Having devoted over a decade of my life researching Monte Melkonian's brief and thorny path, it was especially saddening for me to hear such irresponsible and defaming statements coming out of a fellow truth seeker's mouth. These statements manifest shoddiness of research, sweeping generalizations and a self-indulgent distortion of recent Armenian history. I would like to see one single piece of evidence that supports Mr. Ted Bogosian’s claim that Monte Melkonian was a drug dealer, arms dealer and a founder of a terrorist movement, who masterminded the Orly operation. These are the three major things against which Melkonian had been struggling with all his essence, endangering his life in the process. It was the Orly operation that catalyzed the split of Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA). To be more specific, below I have singled out each of Ted Bogosian's inaccurate claims. Let's start from the most innocent inaccuracies.

Ted Bogosian's claim #1: “And Monte was born in about the same year.”

Ted Bogosian was born in 1951, whereas Monte Melkonian was born in 1957.

Ted Bogosian's claim #2: “…and when I went to graduate school, he [Monte Melkonian] went to graduate school in Beirut.”

Monte Melkonian was admitted to a graduate school at Oxford, but chose to give up his academic career in favor of a trip to Beirut at the onset of the second phase of the civil war and joined the defense of Bourj Hammoud, the Armenian quarter of the city.

Ted Bogosian’s claim #3: “…and [Monte Melkonian] started selling arms and started selling drugs…”

All the accounts of people who knew him, whether interviewed by me or other researchers, including those who spoke up at their own initiative, indicate that Monte was adamantly opposed to drugs, be it for use or for sale. Throughout my research, I haven't come across any evidence of Monte being involved in arms or drug dealing. According to one of Monte's brothers-in-arms, once Monte, already a Commander of Martuni Defense Region, refused Samvel Babayan, Commander of the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army, to promote an officer only because he smoked marijuana. He had even banned his soldiers from using alcohol, which was common practice in other detachments. More importantly, Monte earned himself highly influential enemies after burning lucrative cannabis fields in a noble attempt to shut down the local drug trade. This deed was followed by a few attempts on his life. One might assume that Monte could use the proceeds from supposed drug sales to feed and equip the poorly armed fighters under his command. All evidence indicates that he had ignored any such compromise.

Ted Bogosian’s claim #4: “…he [Monte Melkonian] started a terrorist movement.”

This is an outright false statement. ASALA, to which Ted Bogosian refers, was founded in 1975 in Beirut, Lebanon during the first phase of the Lebanese Civil War by Harutiun Takoshian, alias Hagop Hagopian. This was 3 years before Monte arrived in Lebanon for the first time. Monte was recruited by ASALA in 1980 after serving in an Armenian militia group in the Beirut suburb of Bourj Hammoud helping defend the Armenian population during the civil war. Furthermore, based on the accounts of both supporters and opponents of ASALA, Monte played a pivotal role in the violent split of the organization in 1983 into those who supported the despotic leader Hagop Hagopian and those who disapproved his methods of struggle exactly because it took innocent lives, as well as distracted the attention from the cause the attacks were supposed to raise awareness of.

Ted Bogosian’s claim #5: “…he [Monte Melkonian] was in jail in France, for having masterminded several bombings in Europe, at Orly Airport and at Turkish embassies and other businesses, where many innocent people were killed.”

A sweeping generalization. Monte Melkonian was arrested for possession of a falsified passport and an illegal handgun in Paris on November 28, 1985. He was sentenced to six years but served only three and a half. The Orly airport attack, which took place on July 15, 1983, and did kill and wound many innocent people, was masterminded by his already archenemy Hagop Hagopian and carried out by the latter's supporters in Paris. The only people tried for the Orly airport attack were Varadjian Garbidjian (also spelled as Varoujan Garabedian life sentence, released 17 years later), Soner Nayir (15 years), Ohannes Semerci (10 years). Parallel to the preparation of the Orly operation, inner turmoil was in progress within ASALA due to the widening gap between the members of the organization over the despotic leadership of Hagopian, the methods of struggle and, specifically, the implementation of the Orly attack. Monte was in the opposition wing. But despite his efforts to cancel the Orly operation, it was implemented, accelerating the final split of ASALA.

Who knows, the Karabagh war could have been a lost cause, had Monte Melkonian been the mastermind of the Orly airport attack and therefore gotten a life sentence? Melkonian was arrested twice. In his court documents there was neither evidence, nor allegations supporting Mr. Bogosian’s announcement regarding his participation in the attack in any form, as well as arms and/or drug dealing. It would have been convenient for the French authorities and to Monte’s enemies to find such evidence, but there was none. To support my claim, I suggest that interested individuals read The Right to Struggle, My Brother’s Road, Reality, A Self Criticism and a dozen other books.

Ted Bogosian's claim #6: “I went to see Monte in prison, and it was quite a moment, because he thought that I was there to kill him…”

Okay, let me try to get this straight. Monte thought that Mr. Bogosian came to the prison to kill him? So, Mr. Bogosian is saying that Monte thought an Armenian-American filmmaker was going to walk into a high security prison, formerly a concentration camp, armed guards watching his every move, and kill him? What about checking for weapons before entering the highly guarded visiting room? Ted Bogosian makes it sound like Monte was in a health spa in the South of France.

I provided my arguments as accurately as I could and am willing to embrace supporting evidence that proves Mr. Bogosian's claims. Otherwise, as a friend of mine put it, Mr. Bogosian's interview is more like "Ted talking about Ted - not the truth." I welcome facts, as they will enrich our knowledge about who Monte really was. With that said, I invite Ted Bogosian to set the record straight by exchanging his recollections with evidence and facts. Otherwise a public apology from Ted Bogosian is in order.

Ara Manoogian is a human rights activist representing the Shahan Natalie Family Foundation in Artsakh and Armenia, as well as a member of the Washington-based Policy Forum Armenia (PFA)

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Turkish Attorney Asks Ankara Court to Recognize Armenian Genocide

By Asbarez Staff on Mar 31st, 2010

ANKARA (Combined Sources)—A Turkish lawyer has submitted a claim to an Ankara court, demanding recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

The claim filed by attorney Bendal Celil Ezman calls on the Turkish state to recognize the crime against humanity committed by the Ottoman Turkish government during World War I, to condemn its mastermind, Talat Pasha, and rename all the streets that have been named in his honor.

This court case, which also calls for the removal of every Talat Pasha statue erected in Turkey, is the first of its kind, said Ezman, “Turkey must settle its history and past.”

Ezman is one of thousands of Turks who signed the “I Apologize” online petition launched in Turkey last year. With that campaign, Turks were apologizing to Armenians for the genocide their ancestors committed in the early 20th century.

Asked whether he feared possible counteractions he might face for filing the case, Ezman said: “If anything happens to me, it’ll be God’s will.”

The date of Ezman’s case has yet to be determined.