Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Armenian News... A Topalian... Armenia sells device for monitoring reactor
Samsung subsidiary tests and buys Armenian device for 

monitoring inside plasma reactor

An Armenian device for monitoring inside plasma reactor was tested and acquired by one of the subsidiaries of Samsung.

Laboratory head of the Institute of Radiophysics & Electronics (IRPHE) at the Armenian National Academy of Sciences, Tigran Zaryan, said the aforementioned to Armenian News – at DigiTec Expo 2016 technological exhibition held in Yerevan.

The device was created to monitor the variable magnetic field in plasma reactor. It allows to see the condition of the field inside the processor and watch whether it is homogeneous enough.

Two of such devices were tested and acquired by Semes, which is the subsidiary of Samsung. “This company is a large manufacturer of plasma reactors and itself uses them in its technologies,” Zakaryan said.

In his words, IRPHE is again going to present its technology in Korea.

“Semes sent us a positive feedback, but it doesn’t yet buy additional samples. An exhibition of semiconductor technologies is held in Seoul every year; We want to demonstrate our technology there. We hope others will also take interest in it,” the scientist added.

Vestnik Kavkaza
Oct 3 2016
Sargsyan shuffles security officials (but keeps Nalbandian) 

The official reshuffle was carried out in the Armenian government today: President Serzh Sargsyan replaced the defense minister, the head of the Presidential Administration, the Security Council Secretary and the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Republic.

The head of the presidential administration Vigen Sargsyan was appointed the Minister of Defence. The vacant post of head of the Presidential Administration was taken by the Security Council Secretary Armen Gevorgyan .

Gevorgyan's office in the Security Council, in turn, was taken by the Chief of General Staff Yuri Khachaturov . The Deputy Defense Minister, Chief of the Logistics Department, Movses Hakobyan , became the new Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces.

By another decree Serzh Sargsyan re-appointed Edward Nalbandian as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia.

The Director of the Armenian branch of the CIS Institute, Alexander Makarov , speaking with a correspondent of Vestnik Kavkaza, said that the appointment of Vigen Sargsyan as the minister of Defence is in line with the radical governmental reform promised by the president. "The logic here is in the need to bring new impetus to the government, while maintaining a certain continuity. Vigen Sargsyan has worked in the committees of government agencies for a long time and could work with the issues related to the defense of the country. On the other hand, he has significant experience in administration," the expert expects.

"Another context is the constitutional changes carried out in Armenia last year, due to which the state system should work in line with a strategy of greater democracy. An appointment of a civilian, if he has a management experience and a needed experience in the sphere, is part of the path of development, which is being pursued in Armenia today, in addition to improving the management efficiency in the structure, ensuring defense of the country," Alexander Makarov added.

According to him, personnel changes after this appointment follow the same logic. "Gevorgyan is an experienced manager, which the presidential administration staff needs. Khachaturov, in turn, has professional experience in the military sphere and owns all the necessary information, related to security and defense, to lead the Security Council. Therefore, it is expected that Khachaturov's deputy became the new head of the General Staff. Security and professionalism are the issues that are fundamental for Armenia today," the expert said.

Sky Sports
Oct 3 2016
Henrikh Mkhitaryan set to miss Armenia games after 
Manchester United request 
Manchester United have asked Armenia not to call up Henrikh Mkhitaryan for their upcoming World Cup Qualifiers.

The Armenia captain has been out since injuring a thigh muscle during last month's derby defeat to Manchester City at Old Trafford.

United are hoping their £26m midfielder will be given permission to work on his fitness rather than join up for Group E games against Romania and Poland.

The club's head of medicine, Steve McNally, said in a statement to the Armenian Football Federation (FFA): "Henrikh is still undergoing late stage rehabilitation from the left thigh muscle injury that he sustained earlier this month whilst playing for Manchester United.

"In view of that I would be grateful if he could be allowed to withdraw from the national team for the forthcoming training camp and FIFA World Cup Qualifying matches in order to remain in Manchester to complete his rehabilitation."

A statement on the FFA statement said Mkhitaryan "will probably miss" the games in light of United's request.

Mkhitaryan has started just one game since joining United from Borussia Dortmund in the summer and is yet to score for his new club.

Should Diaspora Armenians Meddle in Armenia’s Affairs?
By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier 

Not everyone agrees whether Diaspora Armenians should meddle in the Armenia Republic’s internal affairs. Perhaps ‘meddle’ is not the right word, but getting involved and caring deeply about developments in the homeland should be of great interest to all Armenians, since that is their country of origin. 

Diaspora's role in Armenia was raised last month when 20 prominent Armenians, mostly from the Diaspora, issued a petition titled “Justice Within Armenia” on the website, calling on the Armenian government to implement radical reforms in the political, social and economic policies of the country. Since Sept. 19, close to 3,000 Armenians and non-Armenians from various countries have signed the petition. 

Among the initial signatories of the petition are Serj Tankian, Atom Egoyan, Arsinee Khanjian, Alex Ohanian, Chris Bohjalian, Eric Bogosian, Hasmik Papian, and Sebu Simonian. The petitioners are asking for an end to “corruption, monopolies, judicial inequality, police brutality, partisan politics, unequal rights, national depopulation, and elections tainted by fraud.” 

The signatories also stated that they stand for “the equality of all people, the fundamental preservation of human rights, direct engagement in fair and transparent elections, respect for the rule of law, fair wages, separation of powers, a free press, and advocacy for the disenfranchised.” 

The petitioners are further demanding that “Armenia’s political leaders embody integrity, accountability, wisdom, intelligence, diplomacy, compassion, effectiveness and visionary thinking in addressing the pressing needs of the people of Armenia, thereby securing an egalitarian, just and constructive path towards real democracy where every voice matters.” 

As a concrete next step, the signatories are asking Armenians from around the world to be present as witnesses and observers at next spring’s parliamentary elections in Armenia. 

One of the initiators of the petition, Canadian-Armenian actress Arsinee Khanjian, who was arrested during last July’s protests in Yerevan, circulated an open letter on the internet, calling Diaspora Armenians to action. Khanjian raised serious concerns about the current conditions in Armenia: “The country has major internal problems due to systemic corruption, nepotism and an oligarchic economy, where power and wealth remains in the hands of a few. Absence of equitable rule of law and upward social mobility combined with the suppression of freedom of speech and thought as w ell as civil liberties and rights have all further exacerbated an already intolerable situation in the Republic.” 

Not surprisingly, some in Armenia resented the petition issued by the Diaspora Armenians and urged them to move to Armenia if they are truly interested in reforming the country. 

While every Armenian should support the lofty goals expressed by the petitioners, some of their ideas are clearly wishful thinking. Not all of the proposed reforms are implemented even in the United States. But, I agree that Armenians should aspire to gradually achieve these objectives, although one has to be careful not to set impossible goals to attain, to save citizen of Armenia from further frustration and disappointment. 

In my view, Diaspora Armenians should be involved in all aspects of life in Armenia, beyond signing petitions and making suggestions from afar. They should not be mere tourists in the homeland. One way to strengthen the bond between Armenia and the Diaspora is to allow Diaspora Armenians to vote and run for office in the Republic of Armenia. As is the practice in France and some other countries, several seats should be allocated in the Armenian Parliament to Diaspora Armenians who should be more than donors of funds or “milking cows!” Although Armenia’s constitution permits dual citizenship, very few Diaspora Armenians have taken advantage of this special privilege which can create another important bond with the homeland! 

Gradually, as the rule of law is firmly established in Armenia and social inequalities become less pronounced, Diaspora Armenians will gain the confidence to invest in the homeland, which will result in creating jobs and reducing emigration. There may even be some immigration to Armenia from the Diaspora. The improved living conditions would also reduce confrontations with the authorities that could potentially destabilize the country at a time when neighboring Azerbaijan and Turkey are threatening Armenia’s security!

To make the Armenia-Diaspora relationship reciprocal, no one should resent if Armenian officials also ‘meddle’ in Diaspora Armenian communities. After all, it is of little importance who is meddling in whose turf, as long as the end result is in the best interest of all Armenians! 
Istanbul-based Armenian community to protest against
Ateshian’s infamous letter 
After the adoption of the Bundestag Resolution on the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, the General Vicar of the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople Aram Ateshian sent a letter to the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, this year in June, in which he had mentioned, “The decision that Bundestag made about the events happened during the tragic times of World War I caused regret in our nation.”

In an interview with “Aravot”, the Istanbul-based Armenian journalist, a member of the Turkish Union of Human Rights, Hrant Gasparian, noted that the Istanbul Armenian community does not “share” the view of Archbishop Aram. In his words, the behavior of the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople under the control of Archbishop Aram Ateshian is shocking, and the letter – infamous. Hrant Gasparian was in Yerevan in those days but as he says, was following the agenda and knew the types of concerns over the letter. Istanbul-based Armenian journalist has translated all the views and feedbacks available in the Armenian press into Turkish and has published it in the form of analytical articles in the Turkish press.

In particular, newspaper “Taraf” Daily published the speech of RA MP Aragats Akhoyan. The reporter says, “There was a tremor in Istanbul, we heard that after the article appeared in the “Agos” weekly and later in the Turkish “Taraf” newspaper, the posture of the Istanbul Patriarchate is a little different from the posture of Patriarchate, and some circles began to express their anxiety. And so, we have a Board of Trustees for the structures belonging to the Istanbul Armenian community, which is called Vadip. Vadip convened a meeting and wanted to issue a new statement that they are not in favor of the infamous letter addressed to Erdoğan. Then, the religious council convened a meeting and they also told that this infamous letter was written only by Vicar Patriarch Aram Ateshian and represents only his personal views.”

Hrant Gasparian added that an attempt was made to mitigate the statement of secular circles but in any case, the Armenians have responded harshly to the Patriarchate move, which was promoted by the reaction from Yerevan, the media and the presentation of all this in the Turkish language. To our observation that opinions are voiced that the General Vicar of the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople if wanted could not act otherwise for obvious reasons because the Patriarchate of Constantinople has a peculiarity, and in the case of Turkey, it is not easy to contrast the nationality and origin, Hrant Gasparian replied, “The Armenian nation is one, the reality of the Armenian Genocide is one, no matter in the Diaspora or anywhere in the world, any Armenian institution cannot solely express an opinion diverting from the truth related to historic reality and slightly mitigating it for solving its own problems and strengthening its position.

We also had such spiritual leaders in the Ottoman Empire but we also had such Patriarchs even until the years following the Armenian genocide who were signing at the end of all their official letters a sorrowing Patriarch. For example, Shnorhk Patriarchs… In other words, we had courageous patriarchs on this matter, I am not saying that they were shouting in defense of this truth but they were patriarchs who at least were preserving their positions, therefore, I do not share this view. And if there are such persons that will bypass the historical realities must soon be dismissed.”

To the question of whether stereotypes are broken in Turkey and the mindset is changed. Our interlocutor told that especially after the assassination of the “Agos” editor-in-chief Hrant Dink, people were able to more freely express their thoughts, and organize street protests in the central squares of Istanbul, also in the cities of Izmir and Ankara. To the question of whether there are advanced university circles who are ready to confront the past, Hrant Gasparian replied that the free atmosphere available some 5-6 years ago has backed off, it is not possible to speak about the freedom of university students as today there are academics in custody in Turkey, the circle of freedom of different organizations and media is compressed, everything is under control.

To our question about his attitude on the existence of a museum in Istanbul dedicated to journalists, the ethnic Armenian journalist replied that hardly it will exhibit that the first newspaper in the period of the Ottoman empire was published by Armenians but after 2010, Hrant Dink’s photograph is placed next to photos of other deceased journalists.
The Identity Awakening of Islamized Armenians in Diyarbakir
23 September 2016
Armenian and Turkish identity today
Standpoint of Turkey

 Gaffer Türkay, a member of the board of the Surp Giragos Church 
 administration in Diyarbakir

In this interview, Gafur Türkay provides an update on the recent destructions committed by the Turkish army in the historic downtown of Diyarbakir, a city which, before 1915, was home to many Armenians. He also stresses the importance the the restoration of the Armenian church of Surp Giragos in 2011, which is considered as a haven of peace for visitors and has been immediately made their own by the small community of Islamized Armenians in the area. The " Infidel Quarter " has now been annihilated. Is only left standing the Surp Giragos church whose interior has nonetheless suffered important damages. Gafur Türkay also discusses the question of Islamized Armenians in Diyarbakir and around, as well as the many identity issues they are faced with today. Finally, he lists the difficulties met by some Islamized Armenians who decide to get baptized.

REPAIR : How would Islamized Armenians living in Diyarbakır and the region describe their identities?

Gafur Türkay : For us to understand this we need to look at who those Islamized Armenians are. We are talking about third, forth generation that survived accidentally the Armenian genocide. These people who were a community with their own culture were disconnected from it, their religion changed. They were Islamized, they had no ground where they could keep their language alive and they kept living with other languages. What we call Islamized Armenians are the third and fourth generation. They were unfortunately part of assimilation for centuries. These people had to live a life that didn’t belong to them, all fragmented. They felt the need to hide their Armenian identity due to difficulties they had to face up today. The Armenian word had always been used in this country in a pejorative sense to humiliate people. They never had a chance to live with their own identity nor their own culture. In order to get rid of that “bad” Armenian opinion of people, some tried to mask their identity by praying and worshiping more than would worship a Muslim. They had to continue their lives on these territories under Muslim identity in agony and difficulty and this for centuries.

Did this situation started to change after a certain point?

Of course when you talk of a community assimilated for three-four generation, there is some type of acceptance. One feels obliged to continue life with familiarization with this religion, language and culture that don’t belong to them. When you are resigned to live in another culture, be it by force or without force, it is not that easy to consider going back to the culture of their grandfathers after a century. But there is a fact: while these people were hiding themselves, Muslims didn’t allow them to forget their identities. Let’s say in a neighborhood, there is a disagreement between an Islamized Armenian and a Muslim, the Muslim would not abstain from reminding the other one his/her identity, just for tyrannizing them. Therefore these people were Islamized and they disconnected from their own culture and they never let them forget they were Armenians. Now there are some people accepting their Armenian identity within Islam and some other fully integrated Islam. Some are in a situation where they are ashamed of being Armenian and don’t talk about Armenian identity and react whenever the subject is on table. But among those who have higher education level and those who are from left wing, there are recently some groups facing their own reality. Some of them re-appropriate or want to re-appropriate their own identity and some say “I am a Muslim but Armenian”. The assimilation process was so strong during the century that people are devastated. How many are those who got back their Armenian identity? When they ask me this, I say, “It is a drop in the lake”.

Did the renovation of Saint Giragos church in 2011 to become a place that can be visited by people change anything?

There were many historical building that belonged to Armenians centuries ago in this region. The assimilation continued with the destroying of the cultural texture. When you place a structure belonging to Armenians such as Saint Giragos at its own place, you create a huge positive atmosphere among the Islamized Armenians. People came and visited it many times; they embraced it.

This was a place for people who were in search of their identity. There were no such other places before the renovation right?

In the region and in Diyarbakır, there were no places where they could find a piece they could relate themselves with, there is a huge destruction in that sense. Saint Giragos is the biggest Armenian Church in the Middle East region. Here we talk of a place that had a serious mission in the past. During the Armenian Genocide in 1915 all Diyarbakır Armenians were killed. Those who survived from the surrounding cities found shelter in Saint Giragos. In that sense Saint Giragos is not only a church. When it was renovated, people came a lot; they embraced it.

According to your observations, what were the main needs and requests of those who went to the church, among those who got intouch with you?

Those who came there were before anything else, people who were injured with this century long devastation and we felt that they found themselves there. We heard a lot this during our conversations: “I feel very peaceful here.” When we asked them what they meant by that, they said they didn’t perceive this in a religious sense, that they found themselves there, that that was a place that belonged to them and that they made peace with themselves. When I asked them why they cried, I saw people saying, “My grandfather was baptized here, such person got married here” and grieving, remembering their roots and past.

I remember you organizing breakfasts once a month at Saint Giragos.

Some Muslim Armenian friends would not come and pray so we were organizing events with more social aspect. Once a month people would come together, a breakfast table was set. Those who were coming were not attending the religious ceremony but they were attending the breakfast. Saint Giragos was more than a church. We had a piano recital for example. Why piano? Well in the past Armenian community used to have piano concerts once a month. And also when you look at the inventory list of Saint Giragos in 1915, you’d see a piano belonging to the church. Because of such a past of the church we wanted to organize piano recitals in memoriam. A century ago they carried society’s social needs to the church. That’s what we tried to do in order to come together with the Islamized Armenians; we organized breakfasts and lunches.

You were also organizing some cultural and historic trips and started Armenian language courses. But you were saying you didn’t have enough information sources while you did those activities.

As you would appreciate, we are people that were disconnected from that culture for a century. That devastation and assimilation created such an atmosphere that on one hand we were trying to do something and on the other hand we were learning. In the past, there were in Diyarbakır many Armenian schools teaching until high school level. A century later we opened Armenian language course in Diyarbakır. We tried to learn Armenian. We organized picnics and trips. We went to Harput for instance. Why Harput? Not because we wanted to travel there, we went there because we wanted to discuss, think about the link of this place with the past. We organized another tour to Çüngüş. We visited a canyon where people were massacred during the genocide in Çüngüş. We went two years in a row to Armenia with a group of 50 people. We had the opportunity to see in person the structures in Armenia and meet with people.

Did you organize these activities according to the demands?

Let’s say we initiated it. There were some demands and some common points during the discussions, but it was mainly about what we could bring to those people disconnected from their culture, what they could see or read or experience.

Those activities have stopped as of last September 2015. Due to conflicts and curfew, you didn’t even have access to the church until recently. What is the actual situation?

We have not been able to go there or organize any event since last August. There was a program foreseen for August 15, 2015, but couldn’t be done. Due to the incidents, people from abroad could not come for the program so we had to cancel it. Since that day, due to the region’s situation we haven’t organized any activity. We are talking about a region where the curfew had been on for almost 6 months and Saint Giragos is at the heart of that region. I, myself, have been able to go inside the church for instance. But of course what we have seen there was very significant. The city was all destroyed. There were no streets, no neighborhood. All destroyed, houses, shops… We came upon a flat area. The church’s shops were destroyed. There were no damage at the main block, the roof or the bell tower; they only drilled the wall from one side. But inside the church the damage and loss are significant. For instance the place where we were selling souvenirs is devastated. Other objects, accessories, materials were either broken or disappeared or damaged. Inside the church was used as a base, they installed a stove.

The church was used as a base by the security forces?

Probably, but as it is a closed book, we can’t know who used it, who damaged it. For the moment it is entirely under the security forces control.

Can the church be reached right now?

There is still no access. We were able to go inside with a dispensation.

What kind of feelings you have when you see the neighborhood destroyed?

We have this feeling of devastation. This neighborhood was a place where Armenians lived a century ago; maybe 95% of the population was Armenian. With the church’s renovation that lifestyle was no more a memory but part of their conscious. Unfortunately nothing is left now. The church is there but all the houses that are destroyed were Armenian stone houses. Mıgırdiç Margosyan has a book named “Infidel Neighborhood” talking about this place. A friend of ours used to joke with us before all these incidents started, “The infidel has gone leaving behind the neighborhood” he was saying. Yes the infidel left already but now there isn’t any neighborhood either. People were killed a century ago and now their place had been destroyed.

Is there a development regarding the expropriation in the district of Sur including the Saint Giragos Church also as published in the Official Gazette last march?

Applications for the cancelation of expropriation have been placed and are presently being processed by the court. Various institutions made applications and as the foundation we have also applied. The court is not yet finalized. No actual action has yet been taken, so all stay as it is. However when the ministers and high officials visit Diyarbakır, they all verbally announce that the district will be restored and no party will be victim. Actually the district is totally ruined so it is hard to tell what will be restored. Again it has been verbally declared that the church will not be expropriated. When the prime minister and the ministers come to Diyarbakır, they verbally announce that places of worship cannot be and will not be expropriated.

However all these are only verbal declarations and therefore are non-binding, right?

Verbal, of course. From a legal point of view the picture is very clear, they took possession of it through the process of "urgent expropriation".

Some shops that were owned by the church which you said were demolished, were being illegally occupied by people and you were planning to take action or were already taking action to retrieve them. Now they are non-restorable and ruined let alone retrievable?

These properties were already under occupation. Now there is physically nothing left to retrieve. As it is, its land is owned by the state. The government says that they will not victimize us regarding this issue. But as of this moment we do not know what will be done.

We talked about the search of those who wanted to return to their Armenian identity. Those who want to become priests for example, what kind of difficulties awaits them?

There are some formalities and rituals demanded by the patriarchy one needs to follow. There is a 6 months religious training process. In the past, we have done two baptism by consulting the Patriarchate in Armenia. The Patriarchate has some rules. They say, "nobody needs to get baptized in Armenia beyond our knowledge". " “If there is demand", they say," We will do here what needs to be done". A person with such a request is first required to go and change the section about his/her religion as written on the ID, s/he needs to get written Christian on the ID’s religion section. In the past, a court decision was necessary for this however now it can be done at the civil registry office. These rules are normal. Patriarchate says " Why baptize someone I do not know, furthermore that person might even not be Christian?" They are right from that point of view. On the other hand, the person with such a request can sometimes also be the member of a family that has been Islamized four generations ago, a family whose identity is well known by everybody. So if a person has such a request to return to his/her original identity, this can be through following some formalities.

Can it be the problem that the faith cannot stay within the boundaries of private life in Turkey? A person, in Turkey, cannot say " let me not change the religion section of my ID but be a Christian faith in my own private life".

In the past, in the religion section of IDs it used to write " Armenian" or " Syriac". That is no more the case, now it is just written " Christian". The Patriarchate is right from their own point of view, however it is a distressed process for the people who have been disconnected from their identities for a century.

If you can have access again to the church and restart your activities, would you again consider organizing activities such as Armenian language courses? And are you getting any support from Armenian institutions in Istanbul?

We will most probably organize again such activities. We want to learn our language, our culture and everything. This issue has two aspects; first is the economical aspect. Organizing such an activity is a costly issue. However the most problematic part is to find a teacher who can live in Diyarbakır or who is available to travel regularly to teach. We are having a hard time with resolving this issue. It is difficult to bring a teacher who grew up and lives in Istanbul to Diyarbakır. The situation of the Armenian schools in Istanbul is also not very bright; the number of teachers is already not sufficient. But having such problems does not mean we will give up. We will strive to re-start the lessons.

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