Thursday, 9 April 2015

Armenian News...AT...

Der Voghormia sung in Akgdamar Church 



The British TV channel BBC has made reportage from Nagorno Karabakh
Republic. Rayhan Demytrie, the reporter tells about the life of
a family living in the village Madagis, not far from the line of
contact with Azerbaijan. They live in a constant fear that Azerbaijan
may reactivate military operations.

As the article has it, fourteen-year-old Karen hides the stump of his
left hand in his pocket. His mother, Ludmila Bagdasaryan-Mirzoyan,
says that two years ago Karen found a live anti-aircraft shell in the
garden. The relic from the 1990s war with Azerbaijan exploded in his
hands. Ludmila often contemplates what the consequences of another
war would be.

"If there is another war, we will suffer, my children will suffer.

[Azerbaijan's forces] won't care whether we are guilty or not, they
will just think that we are Armenians and we have no right to exist,"
Ludmila says.

According to the reportage, after the collapse of the Soviet Union
Karabakh war broke out. An estimated 30,000 people were killed from
1992 to 1994. Despite a ceasefire of 20 years, the area is heavily

It is also noted that Nagorno Karabakh has its own government,
universities, even an international airport, though in reality
Karabakh is isolated from the outside world. The airport sits empty
as the civil planes risk being shot down by Azerbaijan. Besides,
it is noted in the reportage that the children in the schools of NPR
are taught self-defense not to repeat Karen's mistake.

As the second part of the reportage has it, the Armenian inhabitants
of Nagorno Karabakh call themselves citizens of the Artsakh Republic.

The territory has its own flag, an international airport, police
and armed forces, although regular Armenian soldiers serve on the

It is stated in the article that Nagorno-Karabakh is isolated.

Financially and militarily it depends on Armenia. Its subjects hold
Armenian passports. And the international airport stands empty,
because Azerbaijan has threatened to shoot down any planes.

As the article reads, peace negotiations mediated by the Minsk Group,
under the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE),
have seen little progress.

"The first goal of the mediation is to keep the peace process alive
and the second goal is to prevent war," says Richard Giragosian,
director of the Regional Studies Centre, a think tank based in the
Armenian capital, Yerevan.

Frustrated by the lack of a diplomatic solution, Azerbaijan's
leadership has threatened to retake the territory militarily. Oil-rich
Azerbaijan has spent billions of US dollars on modern weaponry. And
most of the arms are supplied by Russia. That is deeply unpopular with
Armenia. It counts Russia as its strategic ally, and hosts Russia's
only military base in the region.

"We are concerned that Russia, for all sorts of reasons, is selling
weapons to Azerbaijan. The problem is not the quality of the weaponry,
but the fact that an Armenian soldier standing at the border knows
he could be killed by Russian weapons," the Armenian President,
Serzh Sargsyan, said at a recent public forum in Yerevan.

The territory's de facto foreign minister, Karen Mirzoyan, says
that without their inclusion in the peace process, there will
be no resolution to the conflict. "When you withdraw NK from the
negotiation table, it's very easy to say that it's not a conflict for
self-determination, it's just a territorial problem and it's very
easy to show Armenia as an aggressor. But in reality this conflict
is about self-determination," he told the journalist.

The demining organization HALO Trust fellow Yuri Shahramanyan told
BBC correspondent that their main goal is to prevent accidents.

"One of the main challenges is accessing minefields in Nagorno
Karabakh. There are hardly any roads, sometimes the roads have not
been used for more than 20 years, in winter some roads are covered
with snow, with mud and it's impossible to drive. Karabakh is quite
mountainous and most of high grounds, hills and mountains have been
used as military positions. Normally armies would lay defensive
minelines in front of the positions and this is one of those,"
Shahramanyan said adding that they had cleared over 400 minefields,
and they had got another 127 to clear.

"Last year there was an increase of accidents. There have been 8
accidents, involving 11 casualties, of which two people have been
killed. It's quite difficult to raise funds for Nagorno Karabakh
because Karabakh is unrecognized republic. It will be free of mines
one day and if there's more funding available, we'll be able to make
it free of mines even earlier," Yuri Shakhramanyan highlighted.

Click for the BBC news item on Nagorno Karabakh Armenia and 
Azerbaijan's 'frozen' conflict

Another incident between an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man and an Armenian
seminarian was registered in Jerusalem.

On Saturday evening 17-year-old ultra-Orthodox Jew spit at an Armenian
seminarian. The Armenian community of Jerusalem confirmed the reports
for Armenian

As a result of a scuffle, the Jewish teen was hospitalized with head
injury. The Armenian seminarian was detained by police. 
6 April, 2015

YEREVAN, 6 APRIL. The Saint Giragos Armenian Church of
Diyarbakir celebrated Easter. As "Armenpress" reports, the Turkish
service of BBC prepared a special report on the festive mood and
ceremonies at the Armenian church.

The BBC reporter mentions that eggs are painted on one side of the
church, and the pastry for Easter is made on the other side. Semiha
Demir, 57, who had come to help prepare for Easter, said his two
grandfathers were Armenian, but had converted to Islam.

The reporter also mentions that the expression "My grandfather was
also Armenian", is very common in Diyarbakir, as well as in the
nearby regions. One of them is Knar, who was baptized four years ago
and was busy preparing the eggs. "I am from Sasun. My grandfather
was forcefully converted when he was 17. His name was Chuchan, but
he became Abdurrahman," Knar said, adding that her husband has also
been baptized and has returned to his Armenian roots.

Ayten Ekij, one of the participants, also shared her story and
mentioned that even though she is one of the grandchildren of
survivors, the Turks weren't able to eliminate them.

The reporter mentions that there are currently very few Armenians
living in Diyarbakir and that 50 of them have returned to their
Armenian identity. Sargis Eken, 78, is the only one who was born and
raised as an Armenian in Diyarbakir. He has health problems, and even
though he had promised to come to the church to celebrate Easter,
he hadn't been able to keep his word.

After the Holy Mass at the church, the painted eggs and Easter pastries
were handed to the attending guests.

Daily Sabah, Turkey
April 6 2015

Akdamar Island in eastern Turkey's Lake Van is under threat of a
boom in the rabbit population. A significant rise in the number of
rabbits poses a danger to the eponymous church, the sole structure
on the small island.

Turkish authorities have resorted to setting up traps to capture them
alive to curb the population rise which is damaging both vegetation
and the walls of the church.

Rabbits, dropped on the unpopulated island years ago, quickly
propogated. A delegation of academics, environmental activists
and animal activists, as well as local officials have examined the
situation and prepared a report, citing that the boom is a risk for
the island. The report also points out the need to diversify the local
almond tree population and reparation of fences to prevent human
access to local birds' breeding grounds to protect the environment
on the island.

"We decided to decrease the number of rabbits and bring balance to the
ecosystem. It will be through mechanical means, by setting up traps.

It is difficult to tackle such a rise and we expect that our efforts
will continue throughout summer," Associate Professor Lokman Aslan
from Van's Yuzuncu Yıl University, who was a member of the delegation,

Akdamar is home to Church of the Holy Cross, a 10th century Armenian
church, which was reopened after restoration in 2007. It hosts an
annual mass every year with participation of the Armenian Orthodox
community of Turkey and Orthodox Armenians from other countries.

The church is a popular destination for Turkish and foreign tourists
especially in the summer. Local authorities recently announced that
the work has begun to improve landscaping of the island and a new
pier was constructed on the island.

Interfax, Russia
April 6 2015

Over 30 Armenian peacekeepers are taking part in the United States
Saber Junction army drills 15 in Europe.

The U.S. Embassy in Yerevan told Interfax on Monday that the Armenian
peacekeeping unit comprising of 36 servicemen came to Europe
on April 3. The purpose of the exercises to be held in Germany,
Lithuania and Romania is to prepare servicemen for joint operations,
the Embassy said.

In all, over 5,000 servicemen from 17 countries are engaged in the

The Armenian servicemen have been attached to the practicing force
under a memorandum of mutual understanding signed by the Armenian
Defense Ministry and the U.S. Army.

RFE/RL Report
Armenian Ombudsman Slams Police, Courts Over Rights Abuses
Anush Mkrtchian ## Naira Bulghadarian

Armenian law-enforcement agencies and courts remain the principal
source of serious human rights violations in the country, Ombudsman
Karen Andreasian said in his annual report released over the weekend.

The report alleges 167 "systemic problems" which the human rights
defender believes led to abuses suffered by thousands of Armenians at
the hands of various state bodies in 2014. It says that the security
apparatus and judiciary were responsible for the most serious of those

As was the case in his previous reports, Andreasian singled out
widespread ill-treatment of criminal suspects in pre-trial custody. He
accused state prosecutors and a law-enforcement agency subordinate to
them, the Special Investigative Service (SIS), of continued failure to
investigate torture allegations. He also faulted Armenian courts for
routinely accepting confessions made by defendants under duress.

Local and international human rights organizations have long described
police torture as the most serious form of human rights violation in
Armenia. The practice seems to be continuing unabated despite repeated
government pledges to tackle it.

Zhanna Aleksanian, a human rights activist and writer, said torture
frequently results in the imprisonment of innocent people charged with
serious crimes. "These abuses are never investigated and punished,"
she said, backing the findings of Andreasian's report.

The reports covers a wide range of other areas of concern, including a
controversial pension reform initiated by the government, problems
with healthcare, irrigation and even the protracted reconstruction of
Armenia's northern regions devastated by a 1988 earthquake. It also
addresses hazing and other chronic abuses in the Armenian armed
regularly causing deaths of conscripts.

Andreasian noted that while the number of non-combat deaths in the
army ranks continued to fall in 2014 the Armenian military is still
not doing enough to prevent them. It also criticized as flawed and
incomplete criminal inquiries of some of those cases conducted by
military investigators.

Reacting to the report, the Defense Ministry in Yerevan said that on
Monday the criticism is "on the whole" legitimate. "We keep working
and reforming the armed forces," the ministry spokesman, Artsrun
Hovannisian, told RFE/RL's Armenian service ( "In-depth
systemic reforms require some time."

Hovannisian added that the ministry will continue to cooperate with
the ombudsman's office in combatting army crimes. 

Bangkok Post
April 7 2015

Band perform at Wembley Aren on 100 April

LOS ANGELES - One hundred years after the mass killings of Armenians,
US band System of a Down is taking the fight for remembrance beyond
politicians to the world's music fans.

The Los Angeles-area hard rockers, who have sold more than 40 million
albums since the mid-1990s, are of Armenian descent and are preparing a
European tour to culminate in a public concert on April 23 in Yerevan,
the band's first performance in Armenia.

System of a Down's goal is one for which Armenians have campaigned
for decades -- with limited success -- for the world to recognize
the killings of some 1.5 million people in 1915 in the waning days
of the Ottoman Empire as a genocide.

Turkey, born of the ashes of the Ottoman Empire, has vehemently denied
a systematic effort to wipe out Armenians.

Turkey puts the death toll at 500,000 and pins the blame on the chaos
of World War I and starvation.

"We don't have the lobbying power that the Turkish government has. We
only have the stories of our surviving family members," drummer John
Dolmayan told AFP.

"That is why after 100 years -- or 150, or 200 years -- the truth is
going to come out," he said.

Band members acknowledged many concert-goers are foremost drawn to
the music but said they were heartened by the number of fans who
learned about 1915 through System of a Down.

"We do the best we can not to be preachy," Dolmayan said. "You can't
make people listen to you, you can't make them agree with you, but
you can provide them with a source of information that they can take
and explore."

Vocalist Serj Tankian said that the tour -- dubbed "Wake Up the Souls"
-- also had a broader purpose of raising awareness of how major human
rights abuses remain rampant 100 years later.

He pointed to the killings of Yazidis, Christians and other minorities
by the Islamic State movement -- including in parts of Syria that
witnessed bloodshed in 1915.

"It's very ironic that bodies are being buried right over the bones
of our ancestors in the same desert," Tankian said.

The United Nations adopted the Genocide Convention after World War
II, but Tankian noted that there was still "no executable agreement
among major powers that if a genocide occurs, all bets are off and
we should stop dealing with that country."

- Tense anniversary -

System of a Down said that the free concert in Yerevan's Republic
Square -- on the eve of what Armenians mark as Genocide Remembrance
Day -- would be band's longest-ever, with a set of 32 songs.

The band members said that they hoped some Turkish fans would come,
stressing that their grievances lay with the Turkish government rather
than people.

For the European tour, which includes sold-out arena shows in Britain,
France and Germany, System of a Down plans a three-part video montage
that, in part, will ask whether the cautious reaction to killings of
Armenians emboldened Nazi Germany to order the Holocaust.

US lawmakers have repeatedly introduced Armenian genocide resolutions
but successive administrations have intervened for the sake of
keeping relations with Turkey, a NATO ally and major player in the
Islamic world.

President Barack Obama has walked a fine line by standing by a
statement he made before his 2008 election that described "genocide"
without reusing the term.

- Personal for band -

System of a Down has not released an album in a decade and had not
been planning to tour, but the centennial is deeply personal for
the musicians.

Dolmayan, who was born in Lebanon, recalled learning at an early age
about how his great-grandfather was killed.

"I used to get very angry. Now that I understand all the politics,
my anger has disappeared and a sick, disgusting feeling replaced it,"
he said.

Tankian, whose grandparents were survivors, said that the cause turned
him into an all-round activist. System of a Down has previously spoken
out against the Iraq war and for environmental protection.

"In the United States -- a democracy, where I grew up -- I said, hang
on, why is the government shying away from the genocide word? How
many other genocides are being put aside because of politics or
political capital?" 

RFE/RL Report
Sarkisian Again Defends Eurasian Union Entry
Emil Danielyan

Armenia will eventually benefit from its recent accession to the
Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) despite increasingly
suffering from knock-on effects of Russia's current economic troubles,
according to President Serzh Sarkisian.

In an interview with the Russian TV channel Rossiya-24 aired late on
Monday, Sarkisian insisted that membership in the EEU opened up "good
prospects" for the Armenian economy. "We are becoming part of a 170
million-strong market and that is a very good achievement for a small
country like Armenia," he said.

"The functioning of the EEU, based on uniform, transparent and
civilized rules, will only help to improve the well-being of our
people," he added.

The economic situation in Armenia has actually worsened since the
country formally joined the EEU in early January. Recent months'
dramatic depreciation of the Russian ruble has sharply reduced the
real value of vital remittances from scores of Armenians working in
Russia. It has also hit hard Armenian exporters of agricultural
products and beverages traditionally oriented towards the Russian

The World Bank said last week that economic growth in Armenia this
year will fall far short of a 4 percent target set by the Sarkisian
government in late 2014. The head of the bank's office, Laura Bailey,
forecast a 2015 growth rate of only 0.8 percent. She warned that even
this projection could prove overly optimistic in case of a
deeper-than-anticipated crisis in Russia.

Sarkisian acknowledged the fallout from the Russian recession. But he
would not say just when Armenia can overcome it and draw significant
benefits from the EEU membership.

Speaking in Yerevan on March 31, a senior official from the EEU's
Moscow-based executive body argued that Armenia would have suffered
from Russia's current woes even it had not joined the EEU. Tatyana
Valovaya said the trade bloc is a long-term project that will
eventually prove beneficial for the South Caucasus state.

Russia and the EEU's two other founding members, Belarus and
Kazakhstan, accounted for less than a quarter of Armenia's foreign
trade in 2014. Many observers in and outside Armenia believe that
Sarkisian's unexpected decision in 2013 to join the bloc primarily
resulted from strong Russian pressure, rather than economic

In an April 1 report cited by Reuters, the World Bank forecast a
protracted recession in Russia, citing the impact of Western sanctions
and low oil prices. In its baseline scenario, the bank expects the
Russian economy to contract by 3.8 percent in 2015 and a further 0.3
percent in 2016.It considers Russia's medium-term growth prospects to
be dim.

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