Monday, 8 August 2016

Summer Olympic Games Rio...Armenia = 33 athletes
31st Summer Olympic Games open in Rio: Armenia 

represented by 33 athletes – Video
06 Aug 2016 

RFE/RL Report
Russia `Not Imposing' Peace Deal On Armenia, Azerbaijan
August 05, 2016

Russia is not trying to force Armenia or Azerbaijan to accept a
compromise solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, President
Vladimir Putin insisted on Friday.

"I want to emphasize that we are not trying to impose any prepared
solutions on Azerbaijan and Azerbaijan," Putin told the official
Azerbaijani news agency AzerTag in an interview. "The parties should
agree and find mutually acceptable solutions on their own, without
external pressure."

"The ultimate goal of the settlement must be an agreement that would
not make either side a winner or a loser and would involve mutual
concessions beneficial for both sides and clear to public opinion in
both Azerbaijan and Armenia," he said.

In Putin's words, a viable compromise on Karabakh should be based on
an "optimal balance" between the internationally recognized principles
of territorial integrity of states and peoples' right to

Peace proposals jointly made by Russia, the United States and France
over the past decade call for such a compromise. They envisage
Armenian withdrawal from districts around Karabakh in return for a
future referendum on the disputed territory's status.

Putin spoke to AzerTag ahead of his visit to Baku where he will meet
on Monday with Presidents Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan and Hassan
Rouhani of Iran. He is scheduled to receive Armenian President Serzh
Sarkisian in Moscow on Wednesday. The talks are widely expected to
focus on the Karabakh conflict.

Russia took the lead in international efforts to revive the Karabakh
peace process after halting four-day bloody hostilities around
Karabakh that broke out in early April. Putin hosted face-to-face
talks between Aliyev and Sarkisian in Saint Petersburg on June 20,
fueling media speculation that he is pressing the two sides hard to
iron out their differences.

The Russian president also insisted that Moscow is not keen to
"monopolize" the conflict's mediation despite its "decisive" role in
the Armenian-Azerbaijani ceasefire agreed in April. He said it is
continuing to coordinate its efforts with the U.S. and France, the two
other co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group.

In early July, Putin telephoned U.S. President Barack Obama to brief
him on the results of the Armenian-Azerbaijani summit in Saint

Media Release
August 4, 2016

An urgent call for our Diaspora to demand democracy and 
human rights in Armenia. 

While many foreign and outside entities had appealed for a non-extreme response to the extreme actions taken by an armed group at the Yerevan police station, the Diaspora largely remained silent.

By contrast, the rulers in Armenia have engaged in wholesale mass arrests and detention of anyone they suspect as the opposition, including peaceful protestors exercising their constitutional right to assemble, whether to appeal for moderation or express their grievances against government policies and practices.

The Armenian Diaspora at large has not adequately spoken out against these government actions. At this point, it is difficult to fathom the motivations for such silence.

Could it be the belief that we, in the Diaspora, have no business interfering in internal affairs of a foreign country—except when it comes to the Karabagh question and Armenia-Turkey relations? Or is it the notion that it's the Armenian government's job to serve the needs of its people—except when it comes to the sick, the needy, the poor, the military, elderly, public schools and children?

Only the ruling elite seem to have their needs addressed while living lavish lives supported by ill-begotten funds sheltered in the names of family members and off-shore shell companies.

Recently the Catholicos of All Armenians himself thought it appropriate to condemn the violent acts of these "Daredevils", but he has not condemned the injustices perpetrated by the ruling party against the flock-- such as systemic election fraud and gross human rights violations, including unleashing the over-aggressive police and infamously brutal thug brigades.

Many community leaders in the Diaspora have acknowledged, behind closed doors, that it's no secret to them that Armenia is severely corrupt, but they could not speak truth to power because it might have compromised the good work they were doing to instill "hope for a better future" among the people—except when that hope was for a clean government that evens the economic playing field, allows for free and fair elections, and insists on an independent judiciary and Rule of Law. Perhaps they considered those minor issues compared with poverty and hunger. Yet we all have witnessed on many occasions that the people were not protesting against poverty and hunger but demanding democracy and human rights.

So while we were patting ourselves on the back for working to instill hope, our silence and hypocrisy were killing that hope, rendering much of our time, money and efforts in Armenia futile and ineffective--posh hotels, fancy restaurants and high tech "showcase" schools notwithstanding.

Most of us thought time was the cure for Armenia's ills and that somehow, magically, the leaders would come to their senses and live up to the promise of the new Armenia. Yet two decades is long enough to prove that corruption only breeds corruption, leading to a failed state and cynical society that has nothing left to lose. As John F. Kennedy wisely admonished, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."

If we are truly honest, it may already be too late to overcome the high stakes and perilous road ahead. Yet, if ever the Diaspora had an opportunity to show its true mettle, the hour has come.

All who recognize this crisis point, should urge our community representatives and organizations, charitable, religious and political, to publicly decry those responsible for the rampant abuses of human rights and dignity and support those that seek electoral reform and an accounting of unlawful police tactics.  The former would include the public inspection of voter lists, and a meaningful investigation of violations committed during last December’s constitutional referendum and those who have to date blocked such an effort.

We should no longer consider the alternative an option—that is, trying to preserve a fabricated and false sense of law and order that cripples Armenia’s ability to meet challenges at home and at the border while inciting civil violence.

Taking a clear stand on the side of human rights and justice won't instantly solve the deeply entrenched problems that plague the country. But it's a first step in a new direction, that, if made courageously, wholeheartedly, unequivocally and boldly, will instill hope among the people as never before.

They've been waiting for us to answer their call but, as we've witnessed from recent events, they can't wait forever.
Armenian Bar Association
Justice Armenia
Professor Simon Payaslian
Charles K. and Elisabeth M. Kenosian
Chair in Modern Armenian History
and Literature, Department of History,
Boston University

Anny Bakalian, Ph.D.
Associate Director of MEMEAC,
The Graduate Center, CUNY

Policy Forum Armenia
Armenian Scientists and Engineers Association (AESA), NY-NJ Section

Vahe Berberian (USA)
Painter, Author, Playwright, Humorist

Ara Dinkjian (USA)
Musician and Composer

Armenian Renaissance - New York Chapter
Armenian Renaissance - Los Angeles Chapter

Vicken Cheterian (Switzerland)
Writer and University Lecturer

Vahe Tachjian (Germany)
Chief Editor of Houshamadyan

Nora Armani
SR Socially Relevant Film Festival NY,
Founding Artistic Director

Vicken Tarpinian (France)
Singer and Composer

Garo Ghazarian, Esq.
Dean & Professor of Law
Peoples College of Law
Los Angeles, California

Maro Matosian
Women’s Support Center

Nurhan Becidyan (USA)

Berc Araz (USA)

Rafi Hovsepian
President, New York Armenian
Students’ Association
Adjunct Instructor, New York University

Mario Yazidjian (USA)

Harout Chatmajian (USA)
Actor, Director and Community Activist

Ara N. Araz (USA)
Armenia: Arbitrary Detentions, Brutal Beatings
August 6, 2016 

Authorities Round Up, Detain Protest Leaders

(Yerevan, August 6, 2016 ) – Armenian authorities have arbitrarily detained dozens of people linked to the ongoing, largely peaceful, protests and beaten many of them, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities also have pressed unjustified criminal charges against numerous protest leaders and some participants and denied them basic rights of detainees.

“The Armenian authorities’ response to Yerevan’s largely peaceful protests has been excessive and cruel,” said Jane Buchanan , associate Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The tense atmosphere at some protests is no justification for detaining people arbitrarily, beating them, and bringing disproportionate criminal charges against them.”

There have been protests in Armenia’s capital, Yerevan, almost every night since July 17, 2016, after a group of armed men from a radical opposition group seized a Yerevan police station, killing one policeman and taking several hostages. Before the gunmen surrendered on July 31, public support for them and disaffection with the government grew into a wide protest movement in Yerevan.

The protests have been largely peaceful, with isolated incidents of violence by some protesters. Police in some cases responded to protests with excessive force and with large-scale arbitrary detentions. Human Rights Watch interviewed victims of arbitrary detention and police beatings, witnesses to the detentions and abuse, and lawyers for many of those detained.

Police beat many detainees, in some cases severely, and in some cases did not allow them to get prompt medical care for their injuries. For example, on July 18, police detained a 26-year-old activist, Andranik Aslanyan, at Yerevan’s Liberty Square and severely beat him and two other men in the back of a police van. Police kicked, punched, and beat Aslanyan on the head, face, back, and legs, spat on him, and rubbed his face on their boots to humiliate him. He was then held for three hours before being taken to a hospital even though he, and others, asked for and needed immediate medical attention.

Armenia’s Special Investigative Service has opened investigations into the police behavior, and these investigations should be swift, thorough, and lead to accountability for police who engaged in unlawful conduct, Human Rights Watch said. The Special Investigative Service told Human Rights Watch on August 3, that it has also opened investigations into the police actions on July 29, as well as into the police behavior on other protest nights, and that investigators have not yet identified any suspects or made any arrests among law enforcement agencies.

Police have detained hundreds of people since July 17, but law enforcement authorities have not publicly disclosed exactly how many people were detained, where they were held, how many have been released, or how many are under arrest and facing criminal charges. The Armenian Ombudsman’s Office told Human Rights Watch that authorities detained at least 220 people from July 17 through 30, and brought criminal charges against approximately 45 of them.

Police can detain protesters who commit acts of violence or violate public order laws. But detention is considered arbitrary if it does not comply with the legal framework for detention and is not based on the person’s specific behavior but instead is a response to the person’s legitimate exercise of rights or freedoms guaranteed under international law.

In some cases, police held detainees for up to 12 hours without documenting the detentions. Under Armenian law, police have three hours to prepare a detention record or release the detainee. In at least two cases, police held groups of people – in one case more than 100 people – for longer periods in a gymnasium on a base belonging to interior troops.

The authorities released many detainees without charge. Of the approximately 45 in pretrial detention, many face criminal charges for allegedly “organizing mass disorder,” which carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison. In some cases, authorities have brought, or threatened to bring, charges against political activists for illegal weapons possession. In two of the cases, detainees claim that police planted the weapons on them.

Authorities denied many detainees their basic rights, including prompt access to a lawyer of their choosing and the opportunity to inform a relative of their detention and whereabouts. In some cases, people searched desperately for their relatives before finding out they had been detained. Among the vocal protest leaders facing charges of organizing mass disorder are Andreas Ghukasyan, an opposition politician, and Hovsep Khurshudyan, David Sanasaryan, and Armen Martirosyan, all senior members of the opposition Heritage Party. The men’s lawyers told Human Rights Watch that the primary basis for the charges in all cases is police testimony. Witnesses and the men’s lawyers told Human Rights Watch that the police beat Ghukasyan and Sanasaryan in detention and denied them basic medical care.

On August 1 and 2, courts ordered the four leaders be held for two months in pretrial detention, ruling that each is a flight risk and would hinder the investigation or commit another crime if freed on bail. The men’s lawyers said that investigators did not provide the court specific facts to support the need for custody, but simply stated all possible legal grounds for denial. Without explanation, the judges rejected all defense motions to release the men, referring only to the gravity of the crime and envisaged sanction for it.

In determining whether to authorize a person’s detention, human rights law requires the judicial authorities, at a minimum, have enough evidence to establish a reasonable suspicion that the person committed an offense. To justify pretrial detention, the European Court of Human Rights, whose rulings are binding on Armenia, has repeatedly clarified that a court needs evidence of specific facts and personal circumstances relevant to the accused justifying pretrial detention, and cannot rely on “general and abstract” reasons for detention.

“The authorities have presented no meaningful grounds for holding these four protest leaders,” Buchanan said. “They should be released immediately on bail, pending the outcome of the investigation and a fair trial.”

The authorities have also denied the men the opportunity to make phone calls and to have family visits, claiming that contact with family members or others could compromise the investigation. Under Armenian law, detainees have the right to one phone call per week and one family visit every two weeks.

Under Armenian law, the crime of “organizing mass disorder” requires that the disorder be “accompanied with violence, pogroms, arson, destruction or damage to property, using fire-arms, explosives or explosive devices, or by armed resistance to the representative of the authorities.” Charging leaders and participants of the July 29 protests with this crime is unjustified and disproportionate, given that, although at times tense, the demonstration was largely nonviolent, Human Rights Watch said. Such over-charging, when the facts on the ground do not support them, appears intended to intimidate protesters and deter them from exercising their rights to freedom of _expression_ and assembly to demonstrate against the government, rather than any genuine effort to uphold law and order.

The majority of those in pretrial custody are at the Nubarashen pretrial detention facility, which has a significant overcrowding problem. An independent expert with a monitoring group that, under the auspices of Armenia’s Justice Ministry, observes conditions in facilities for detainees and prisoners, told Human Rights Watch that the facility’s capacity is 840 inmates, but in January, it held 942 detainees. Excessive use of pretrial detention following the recent protests and dozens of new detainees may exacerbate overcrowding. One lawyer reported that his client, detained on July 20 in relation to the protests, is held in a cell with 14 inmates sleeping in shifts because there are only 12 beds.

Armenia is a party to multiple human rights treaties, including the European Convention on Human Rights and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, that require it to ensure effective investigations and appropriate prosecutions and punishment of officials responsible for serious violations of human rights, including ill-treatment.

“The authorities’ detention of protest leaders and denial of basic detainee rights are unjustifiably punitive and seemed designed to send a message to others that public _expression_ of discontent can carry tremendous risks,” Buchanan said.
Armenian doctor’s fertility center closed down as part of state 
of emergency
Baruyr Kuyumciyan 

Founded and directed by surgeon Aret Kamar, Istanbul Fertility Center is closed down as part of state of emergency on the ground that the center is connected to Gulenist terrorist organization.

A decree having force of law was passed as part of state of emergency and 3 universities and 140 schools, 150 associations, 15 foundations and 4 medical centers have been closed down on the ground that they "belong to, are connected or in communication with" Fethullah Gülen's organization.

On July 25, Istanbul Fertility Center, which was founded and directed by surgeon Aret Kamar, was seized and closed down after the inspection carried out by officials from ministry of health, district governor’s office and treasury. The reason was center’s alleged support to so-called “parallel structure” of Gulenists.

Stating that he is Armenian and Christian and has nothing to do with Fethullah Gülen, Aret Kamar said: “We have absolutely no connection with that organization. However, since our center is closed down by the decision of cabinet, we cannot take any legal action.” “I am Armenian and Christian and have nothing to do with Gulenists”

Aret Kamer founded this fertility center 11 years ago and he is the senior partner with his 61,5% share. Speaking to Agos, Kamar stated: “They closed down the company. They need evidence for the alleged support in order to close down the company. I have been auditing and our financial consultant has been checking. This company hasn’t sent money to any association or foundation.”

Answering our question whether some partners are Gulenist, Kamar said: “Other partners are Faruk Bener with 25% share and Nahit Karabeyoğlu with 13,5%. We are all doctors. Our center has been very busy and we have no time to engage in such activities. It is obvious that I am not a member of such an organization and I don’t about my partners’ relations. How can I know what they are doing in their private life? I am the founder and the senior partner of this company. It is unacceptable to close down the whole center because of the activities of an individual. Besides, there is no evidence of such an activity.” Everything was liquidated within a few hours

Kamar told about what happened: “Our center is closed down upon a single report from the intelligence service. They confiscated the properties and medical equipment. They left nothing. They took the cash in the center. They did all these without any investigation. They came on Saturday morning and completed the process by midnight.” Confidential records of 40,000 patients are taken

Stating that the center has been operating for 11 years and treating an average of 200 patients in a day, Kamar said: “They took confidential records of 40,000 patients and this was the saddest part. They don’t have the right. Also, they transferred the embryos to Koç University.” Kamar said that they have been trying to contact to authorities, but they have nothing else to do.

The Times
6 August 2016
Extract on New Players in the Premier League 

Henrik Mkhitaryan
Midfielder, 27, £26.3 million 

One ion the most exciting players in Europe last season for an e
exhilarating Borussia Dortmund tam, capturing the 27-year-old is 
something of a coup for a side who cannot, for all their glamour, offer 
Champions League football at present. If he settles quickly he will 
be a substantial threat for Mourinho"s team,
Ara Vartanian arrives in Mayfair
The new Ara Vartanian store in Mayfair
Sarah Royce-Greensill
29 JULY 2016 

Entering Brazilian jeweller Ara Vartanian ’s new boutique on peaceful Bruton Place, just off Berkeley Square, is like crossing the threshold of a particularly chic gentleman’s club. Walk past a vast, curving wall of corrugated concrete and you’ll find a dimly-lit showroom full of low-level mid-century furniture, vintage turntables, model cars and the odd bottle of whisky. Designed in conjunction with Estudio Tupi Architects, with whom Vartanian has worked on his boutiques in Sao Paolo and Rio di Janeiro, there’s a strong focus on Brazilian designers and iconic design. 

Ara Vartanian boutique in MayfairThe boutique features a hand-carved concrete wall and a bespoke Brazilian wood desk designed in conjunction with artist Hugo Franca 

“Everything in here is vintage stuff that I collect – apart from this,” Vartanian says, gesturing to the enormous centrepiece: a table the jeweller designed alongside artist Hugo França, fashioned from a 1,000-year-old tree root found in Bahia, and complete with a rock crystal leg protruding through the top. “I wanted to recreate my environment in Brazil here in London,” Vartanian explains over a Fleetwood Mac soundtrack. “We sell jewellery too!” 

A nd what jewellery. Born in Sao Paolo to a family of jewellers, Vartanian began his career as a gemstone buyer; in 2000 he started designing “by chance”. ‘Edgy’ is an over-used word but it’s the one that most readily comes to mind for what have become his design signatures: inverted diamonds, enormous Octopus rings spanning two or three fingers, and his popular Hook earrings which appear as if crawling out from behind the tragus. 

Over 350 of these pieces can be found in the new boutique, the most show-stopping one-offs displayed in deep, concrete-backed display cabinets; including a sprawling pair of emerald and trillion-cut diamond earrings (above) worn by one of Vartanian’s biggest fans, a certain Ms Kate Moss – whom we can thank for his new London presence. 

“I met Kate about five years ago; she asked me to design a ring for her. She came to my showroom in Brazil and saw all my stuff and said to me ‘are you crazy? You have to bring your stuff to London, what are you doing over here?’” Vartanian explains. “Two years later she threw a dinner for me here and invited 25 of her friends and since then it’s just been me getting a feel for the city.” 

That ‘feel’ included scouting out the perfect location: the garage portion of Baron Maurice Saatchi’s former home. This is the first time it has been converted into a retail space, and the transition hasn’t been without its challenges: not least that six-tonne concrete wall, which was hand-carved following a method used in 1920s Brazilian construction. “I was always a fan of London because of the aesthetics of the city; I couldn’t see my brand anywhere else,” says Vartanian. 

There’s certainly a rock’n’roll aesthetic to many of his designs: a fierce-looking marquise-cut yellow diamond held in between the fingers by an army of white diamond stones; a brushed white-gold choker resting a rare Paraiba tourmaline in the centre of the clavicle; a long pendant of rich pear-cut tanzanite suspended on inverted black diamonds. 

“I said right at the beginning, if I’m going to do jewellery I’m going to do it with my own aesthetic – I can’t do something that the rest of Bond Street or Madison Avenue does,” says Vartanian. “Right from the beginning I started turning diamonds upside down because they deserve to be inverted: they’re beautiful on the reverse side too. I designed my first three-finger ring with an 11-carat diamond sort of as a challenge; I dared someone to buy it. It was beautiful, and a woman did buy it, which gave me more courage to use my aesthetic.” 

It’s far from style over substance, though. Rare stones form the starting point of every design – the rarer and more challenging, the better, Vartanian says, pointing out a pair of mismatched inverted diamond earrings, one of which features gobstopper-sized beads of iridescent opal. This pair, like the majority of Vartanian’s earrings, features the hook fastening, which has a function above its aesthetic appeal. “The hook perfectly distributes the weight so you can make 20g earrings and they won’t pull the woman’s earlobes. They also help to disguise that part of the ear, for older clients who have worn heavy earrings so much that their ear has started to droop,” he explains. 

Drag your eyes away from the showpieces seen on the likes of Naomi Campbell and Penelope Cruz, and you’ll find drawers of so-called ‘entry-level’ pieces more suitable for the budgets of mere mortals: including some almost classic engagement and cocktail rings, and Vartanian’s soon to be iconic Shark rings. As befits the boy’s den vibe, men aren’t left out: he has designed a range of escapulario necklaces, complete with the Union Jack at one end and Saint George at the other to commemorate his new home. “Kate’s boyfriend Nikolai has one; but she always wears it,” he says. Much like the boutique itself, it may purport to be one for the boys, but just try and keep the girls away. 

Ara Vartanian, 44 Bruton Place, London W1J 6PB

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