Saturday, 21 May 2016

Armenian News... A Topalian... We have Garo Paylan in the Turkish Parliament

We have our hero in the Turkish Parliament, Garo Paylan 
whose parliamentary immunity together with with other 
HDP members has been rescinded (see last article). 

But just listen to this from a courageos Kurdish MP 
confronting nationalist AKP members including the 
Speaker of the House. [1] 

Iran Daily
May 15, 2016 Sunday
Azerbaijan to conduct drill ahead of Nagorno-Karabakh talks

Azerbaijan on Sunday announced joint military exercises with Georgia
and Turkey, plans which are likely to raise tensions with neighboring
Armenia a day before talks in Vienna over the breakaway region of

The territory, which lies inside Azerbaijan but is controlled by
ethnic Armenians, has run its own affairs with heavy military and
financial backing from Armenia since a separatist war ended in 1994.

A cease-fire agreed on April 5 after an outbreak of fighting has been
violated every day, say locals.

"To increase the combat capabilities and combat readiness of the
Azerbaijan, Turkey and Georgia, we deemed it worthwhile to carry out
joint military exercises," Azerbaijani Defense Minister Zakir Gasanov
said on Sunday.

It was not immediately clear when the exercises, which have also taken
place in past years, would be carried out.

A spokesman for the Armenian Defense Ministry did not comment on the
implication of the exercises for Nagorno-Karabakh peace process.

Several soldiers, from both sides, have been killed in exchanges of
fire since the cease-fire was declared.

Both the Azeri and Armenian presidents, as well as diplomats from
Russia, the United States and France, will meet in Vienna on Monday to
discuss the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh. 

Irish Mirror
May 16, 2016
Children's European Championship in Kung Fu ends in chaos 

as adults brawl with bars and poles in ring
By Kelly-Ann Mills

The shocking scenes were caught on camera as people used bars and
poles to attack each other

This was the moment a children's kung fu competition ended in a mass
brawl as adults piled into the ring.

The brutal scenes took place at the European Championship in Kung Fu
being held in the Ukrainian city of Lviv.

As the footage shows, the brawl started when two youngsters in the
ring from Armenia and Azerbaijan refused to stop battling it out
despite the bell being sounded.

It was a semi-final match and 12-year-old Armenian David Petrosyan was
about to win, when support staff from the Azeri athlete ran into the
ring and joined in.

Then about around 50 men started fighting, using bars and poles to
attack each other.

Even the President of the Kung Fu Federation of Europe, Nikolai
Matulevskiy, ended up being hit, apparently by a member of the
Azerbaijan team when he was trying to hide the Armenian athlete
Nikolai Matulevskiy behind him.

The fight escalated quickly, moving from the fighting ring to rest of
the gym, with some of the people using sticks and poles to fight each

The fight was eventually stopped by security guards.

The team from Azerbaijan has been disqualified for inappropriate
behaviour at the competition. 

The Economist
May 19 2016
Nagorno Karabakh: A squalid little war
Twenty years on, Azerbaijan and Armenia are fighting in 
the same trenches
May 21st 2016

THE road to Agdam, a small town that was once part of Azerbaijan, runs
out abruptly and turns into a front line. Soldiers walk nervously
along the mound of earth that separates Azerbaijan from
Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory controlled by Armenia since the
two countries fought a war in the early 1990s. That war left at least
20,000 dead and a million displaced. Most of the conscripts are
younger than the conflict, and have seen Armenians only through a slit
window in a machinegun redoubt.

The conflict has been simmering ever since, and in early April it
erupted again. Azerbaijan’s well-equipped troops staged an offensive,
retaking a couple of hills. Total deaths, on both sides, were
estimated at 200. But the psychological effect of the“four-day war”,
as it is now called in Azerbaijan, vastly exceeded the military gains.
Baku was filled with national flags as crowds celebrated Azerbaijan’s
first “victory” since the humiliating defeat 20 years ago.

“Psychologically, it was like Stalingrad. It proved that we can
achieve victories,” says Fariz Ismailzade, a vice-rector of ADA
university in Baku. Many were furious that Azerbaijan’s army stopped
after Russian interference.

Russia is both a mediator and a party in the conflict: it has military
bases in Armenia and sells arms to both sides. The standoff allows
Moscow to keep the entire region on tenterhooks. “Had it not been for
Russia, we would have probably settled the conflict by now,” says
Elkhan Shahinoglu, the head of the Atlas Political Research Centre in

Both Azerbaijan and Armenia are weary of Russia. Serzh Sargsyan,
Armenia’s president, shunned a Russian invitation to come to Moscow
for talks with his counterpart in Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev. Armenia,
meanwhile, was angry that Russia did not back it fully in the clash.
Instead Mr Aliyev and Mr Sargsyan met in Vienna on May 17th, along
with the foreign ministers of Russia, France and America, and agreed
to hold more substantial talks next month.

Turkey, Iran and Russia all have interests in the South Caucasus, and
none wants a full-blown war. But the patriotic euphoria in Azerbaijan
and Armenia may not be entirely controllable. In the Caucasus emotions
often run too hot for reason to prevail.

RFE/RL Report 
Armenian Catholics Look Forward To Papal Visit
Satenik Kaghzvantsian

The spiritual leaders of Armenia's Roman Catholic community hailed on
Thursday Pope Francis's upcoming visit to the country as a recognition
of and strong support for its Christian heritage.

Francis is scheduled to arrive in Armenia on June 24 on a three-day
trip that will underscore the Vatican's growing links with the South
Caucasus state and the Armenian Apostolic Church. He will visit the
Armenian genocide memorial in Yerevan, attend an ecumenical service in
the Armenian capital's central square and hold an open-air mass in

Armenia is home to tens of thousands of Catholics following
traditional Armenian religious rites. They are concentrated in the
northwestern Shirak province, of which Gyumri is the
capital. Thousands of other Armenian Catholics live in Georgia's
Javakheti province bordering Shirak.

Archbishop Rafael Minasian, the head of the Armenian Catholic Church
in Armenia, Georgia and Eastern Europe, said his community is looking
forward to the papal trip.

"We, the Armenian people, have proudly kept our Christian identify for
many centuries," he said in remarks posted on the church's
website. "Over the centuries this identity has resulted in millions of
martyrs who sacrificed themselves for Christ."

"As head of the Catholic Church, the Pope is obviously looking to
appreciate our Christian testimony. We are honored to see such a
tribute to our nation and our martyrs," added Minasian.

Armenia -- A prayer service in a Catholic church in Yerevan.
In Minasian's words, Armenia's Catholic clergy also views the trip as
an opportunity to personally thank Francis for publicly recognizing
the 1915 Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey.

Father Hovsep Galstian, a spokesman for the Armenian Catholic
congregation, expects the Pope to also bring a "message of peace to
the region" following the recent escalation of the Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict. He noted that Francis will visit Azerbaijan later this year.

Another Gyumri-based Catholic priest, Father Grigor Mkrtchian,
stressed the importance of the Pope's decision to visit Armenia's
second largest city and hold a mass there. He said the decision is
related to not only Gyumri's status as the center of Armenia's
Catholics but also the city's grave socioeconomic problems.

"As a poor-friendly Pope, he decided to come here and stand with the
people of this poor region," Mkrtchian told RFE/RL's Armenian service
( He expressed hope that the resulting international
media spotlight will serve as a catalyst for economic betterment in
the poverty-stricken city.

Mkrtchian also predicted that at least 20,000 people will attend the
Papal mass in Gyumri's central square slated for April 25. He said
they will be joined by more than 3,000 Catholic pilgrims from abroad.
Turkey Warns Germany: Do not recognize Armenian Genocide
May 19, 2016

The Turkish government has cautioned Germany against classifying a
century-old Ottoman Empire campaign to deport and kill Armenians as

The warning made on May 18 comes two weeks before the Bundestag, the
lower house of Germany’s parliament, is set to discuss the topic.

“Speaking about it without historical or legal proof is nothing other
than a misuse of political power,” said Turkish presidential spokesman
Ibrahim Kalin, as quoted by DPA, adding that the issue has actually
been put to rest, but is “continually put on the agenda again and
again under different pretexts.”

On May 9, one of the Vice Presidents of Bundestag, Claudia Roth,
remembered that Ambassador of Turkey to Germany, Huseyin Avni
Karslıoğlu, warned Bundestag about the draft bill on Recognizing the
Armenian Genocide and responded “We don’t accept it. I hope the groups
in parliament won’t obey Turkey once again and the draft will be
accepted as planned.”

The German government is set to vote on the resolution on June 2
whether to officially condemn the displacement and killings of
Armenians during the Ottoman Empire as genocide.

Armenia and about three dozen other countries refer to the deaths as
genocide, a designation Turkey has routinely disputed when the
question comes up in other countries.

More than 1.5 million people of the Christian minority were estimated
to have been killed during the Armenian Genocide in 1915. As the
successor to the Ottoman Empire, Turkey acknowledges some of the
killings, but vehemently denied 
Discussion on Armenian Genocide at European Parliament

A discussion on the Armenian Genocide will be held at the European
Parliament on May 31.

The discussion titled “Armenian Genocide, Recognition & Restoration of
Cultural Heritage, Legal and Political Aspects” will be hosted by
member of the European Parliament Charles Tannock, European 
Armenian Federation for Justice & Democracy reported.

The panelists are human rights barrister Geoffrey Robertson, Professor
of International Relations Ove Bring, Turkish human rights lawyer Cem
Safuoglu and journalist Guillaume Perreir. 

First Armenian woman reaches top of Everest
May 20, 2016 

On Friday, May 20, at 8:00 am Nepal time, IrenaKharazova became 
the first Armenian woman to conquer Mount Everest,
Mountain Tourism and Rock-Climbing Federation of Armenia reports.

Kharazova climbed to the highest point on the Earth as a member of a
Russian team headed by Alexandra Abramova, who summited Mount Everest
for the seventh time.

According to Kharazova, the expedition to Everest can’t be compared
with any of her previous trips either in terms of the duration or the
psychological and physical difficulty.

This was sent as background information relating to Boris Johnson MP
who won the New Statesman £1,000 prize for ridiculing Erdogan in
a poem to assert the right of freedom of speech.

Boris Johnson great-grandfather was a Turkish journalist named Ali Kemal. Ali Kemal Bey (1867 – 6 November 1922 ) was a liberal Ottoman journalist , newspaper editor , and poet [1] who was for some three months Minister of the Interior in the government of Damat Ferid Pasha , Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire . He was murdered (lynched) during the Turkish War of Independence .

Kemal Bey is the paternal grandfather of the British politician Stanley Johnson and great-grandfather of the former Mayor of London Boris Johnson , British Member of Parliament Jo Johnson , and journalist Rachel Johnson .

On 4 November 1922 , Ali Kemal was kidnapped from a barber shop at Tokatliyan Hotel in Istanbul , and was carried to the Asiatic side of the city by a motor boat en route to Ankara for a trial on charges of treason. On 6 November 1922 , the party was intercepted at İzmit by General Nureddin Pasha , then the Commander of the First Army which was aligned with Mustafa Kemal Pasha . Ali Kemal was attacked and lynched by a mob set up by the General with sticks, stones and knives, and hanged from a tree. His head was smashed by cudgels and he was stoned to death. As described by Nureddin personally to Dr. Riza Nur , who with Ismet Inönü was on his way to Lausanne to negotiate peace with the Allies , "his blood-covered body was subsequently hanged with an epitaph across his chest which read, "Artin Kemal"". This bestowal of a fictitious Armenian name administered a final indignity to the victim. [13]
Al-Ahram Weekly, Egypt
May 14, 2016
Garo Paylan: Turkey's voice of the voiceless

After the attack on an Armenian MP in the Turkish parliament, the
Istanbul Human Rights Association has urged that action be taken
against any similar attacks, writes Nora Koloyan-Keuhnelian

After videos on social media went viral the past weeks showing
fisticuffs breaking out between Turkish parliamentarians as they
fought over a proposal to lift immunity from prosecution, Istanbul’s
Human Rights Association’s Committee Against Racism and 
Discrimination has complained to the speaker of the assembly 
demanding that such actions not be repeated.

During the fighting MP Garo Paylan representing the Turkish-Armenian
community and a member of the Kurdish HDP Party was attacked. Paylan
has been the target in recent weeks of verbal and physical attacks by
members of the ruling Turkish AKP Party as a result of his free
expression of his views on democracy, tolerance and human rights.

The letter, addressed to Ismail Kahraman, said that “this act of
racism against Garo Paylan under the roof of the Grand National
Assembly of Turkey violates international conventions signed by the
Turkish state that prohibit racism and discrimination.”

“Article 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights prohibits
discrimination in no uncertain terms. The Republic of Turkey has also
signed the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action of 1993 that
obligates signatory states to take precautions against racism.”

“The United Nations International Convention on the Elimination of All
Forms of Racial Discrimination, which Turkey has also consented to
adopt, dictates the signatory states’ obligations regarding the
prohibition, investigation, punishment, denunciation and compensation
of the victims of racist acts,” the letter said.

The “AKP MPs yelled ‘Armenian bastard’ and ‘ASALA’s child’ at Paylan,
which is the very definition of racism,” Turkish human rights activist
Ayse Gunaysu told Al-Ahram Weekly. “In order to continue its denial of
the Armenian Genocide the Turkish establishment is keeping public
hatred against the Armenians alive and at times even escalating it,”
she added.

Genocide denial, she said, was “like an atmosphere – a climate that
embraces the lives, of victims and perpetrators alike.” She added that
she used the word victims, “because Armenians living in Turkey have no
alternative but to ‘tolerate’ denialism. It becomes a way of life.
Throughout the history of the Turkish Republic, any crisis in the
country fuels racism against Armenians.

In the construction of Turkish identity, Armenians are 
systematically turned into a collective enemy that binds the 
Turkish nation together,” Gunaysu said.
Just days before Armenian Genocide Commemoration Day during a session
of parliament Paylan condemned the murders and suggested forming a
committee to investigate the killings of Armenian intellectuals in
1915. In his address, he read out the names and displayed the
photographs of those who had been killed, arrested or exiled during
the genocide.

He also condemned the fact that places in Turkey are named after the
organisers and perpetrators of the Genocide. “Can you imagine going to
Germany and walking down an avenue named after Hitler,” Paylan asked,
ending his speech with the words “may God bless their souls” in the
Armenian language.

Paylan, born in Istanbul in 1972, was elected to the Turkish
parliament in June 2015 on the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party
(HDP) list. He is an activist who struggles for Armenian and minority
rights, and he has also supported the rights of Turkey’s Kurds. The
AKP has one Armenian MP, Markar Esayan, as does the CHP (Republican
People’s Party), Selina Ozuzun Dogan, both of whom were elected last

Although Armenians have distanced themselves from the 
Turkish state’s ongoing war against the Kurds, the security 
forces’ hostility towards the Armenians is still obvious. 
“They are supposed to guarantee the rule of law. In reality, 
they violate all the laws – national and international,” Gunaysu 

The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) has raised its voice
in support of Paylan. On 5 May, US State Department deputy
spokesperson Mark Toner answered a question from ANCA on Paylan’s
safety by saying that though he did not have details of the case, a
“member of any political party who is being harassed or beaten or
detained in any way would be of concern to us.” The question came as
ANCA has called upon US Ambassador to Turkey John Bass, in an open
letter, to publicly voice official US concern regarding the safety of

“We are troubled by Toner’s assertion that he was unaware of the
violence and threats against Garo Paylan,” executive director of ANCA
Aram Hamparian told the Weekly, as it had been the subject of major
media coverage.

“Toner has been asked about it during a press briefing. There’s no
excuse for further silence, particularly in the light of the US
government’s shameful record of inaction regarding the threats against
the life of [Turkish Armenian journalist] Hrant Dink in the past,”
Hamparian asserted.

ANCA has set up a petition for people to call on the US State
Department and the international human rights organizations, Amnesty
International and Human Rights Watch to raise their voices in defence
of Paylan.

“I share the urgent concerns voiced in this letter and call upon each
of you to take a public stand against those who would silence Paylan,”
the petition read.

However, Gunaysu said that while “Armenian diaspora organisations are
condemning Turkey’s violations, such petitions may have an adverse
effect as Paylan could be associated with the ARF [Armenian
Revolutionary Federation] Party and other hate figures in Turkey, and
consequently the hostility against him could rise even though the ANCA
has every right to draw attention to the situation.”

“As for the Turkish public, regrettably human rights organisations’
efforts attract little attention, because the mainstream media never
covers such efforts and they remain unknown.”

Although nine years have now passed since the assassination of Dink in
the streets of Istanbul, last week’s fighting in the Turkish
parliament has raised fears that Paylan could face a similar fate,
particularly as he has vowed to carry on Dink’s work.

“Prior to the political assassination of Armenian journalist Hrant
Dink in 2007, far too few voices were raised in his defence.

Despite all the warning signs and many public appeals the US
government did not utter a single official word about the serious
threats to his life. It was only after Dink’s murder that it found its
voice, condemning a murder it had done little to prevent. Let us draw
the right lessons from this shameful record and act now before it is
too late,” concluded the ANCA petition.

The Turkish government also has an obligation to protect Paylan as a
Turkish citizen. “It should do everything possible to guarantee his
safety. But it is not in its tradition to do so. Only international
pressure can have an influence on what is going on in Turkey,” Gunaysu
told the Weekly.

Last week prominent Turkish journalist Can Dündar, editor of the
newspaper Cumhuriyet, was sentenced to more than five years in prison
after surviving an attack by a gunman who had attempted to assassinate
him outside a courthouse in Istanbul.

“Dündar, escaped an assassination attempt, but remember that Dink and
Sevag Şahin Balıkçı, who fell victim during his military service in
2011, were murdered. There are also dozens of Kurdish journalists in
jail now, and others who were killed during the army’s operations in
Kurdish towns and districts. There is a lot of interest in Dündar’s
case, but very little in the persecution of the Kurdish journalists,”
Gunaysu said.

The letter addressed to the speaker of the Turkish parliament also
said that “you partake in these crimes by excluding this racial
targeting from your agenda, not denouncing it, not imposing sanctions,
and not declaring that you prohibit such acts. You have first
responsibility for Paylan’s security since you are the head of 
the legislature in which he has been targeted. You are responsible 
before the world and before history.”

The Istanbul Human Rights Association invited the speaker of the
parliament to fulfill his responsibility, denounce the acts against
Paylan, and declare that he was against racism and would apply
sanctions against those committing racist assaults under the roof of
the parliament.

Turkish denialism is still widespread among the wider Turkish
population. “The vast majority believe that what the state says 
is true. So there is deep-rooted racism, at times open and 
aggressive, at times covert and subtle, against the Armenians 
and other non-Muslim groups,” Gunaysu said, adding that this 
was nevertheless the first time that such hatred had been 
displayed in parliament.

“What is particularly shocking is that no investigation has been
announced of this racist attack, and no one has been called to 
account for it,” Ayse Gunaysu, the Turkish human rights activist 
and member of the Committee Against Racism and Discrimination, 


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