Sunday, 30 April 2017

Armenian News...A Topalian... What is the point of ceasefire, when it is violated! Artsakh soldier Mher F Arzumanyan killed
Armenian serviceman killed in Nagorno Karabakh

Today, at around 09:30, as a result of the ceasefire violation by the Azerbaijani forces, Artsakh Defense Army soldier Mher Felix Arzumanyan (b. 1998) sustained a fatal gunshot wound at one of the military units located in the southern direction of the Artsakh Defense Army.

As the Army reported in a released statement, an investigation is underway to uncover the details of the incident.

NKR Defense Ministry shares the grief of the loss and extends condolences to the family members, relatives and fellow servicemen of the deceased soldier, the statement added.

The Promise is on general release from 28 April.
Have you publicised to many of the people you know?
Historical drama “The Promise”: an unflinching depiction of the Armenian genocide
Due to geopolitical concerns, Hollywood had hitherto left the subject untouched
Apr 26th 2017
by N.E.G. 

THE road that an idea takes from the screenwriter’s mind to your local multiplex is besieged by obstacles political, financial and practical in nature. The average blockbuster has to contend with budget fights and studio meddling; a film like “The Promise” is even trickier to bring to the screen. A sweeping historical drama about a national tragedy, it is the sort of movie that Hollywood used to love. But for more than a century, writers and studios have turned their faces away from the story. In many ways, the film succeeds simply by exploring an event that others will not.

Taking place in 1915, “The Promise” centres on a passionate love triangle but is set against the genocide perpetrated against Armenians by officials of the Ottoman Empire. Oscar Isaac plays a humble Armenian medical student who tries to escape the massacre and save his family, while falling in love with an American dance instructor (Charlotte Le Bon) thereby earning a rivalry with her journalist boyfriend (Christian Bale). It is a stirring, if somewhat by-the-numbers depiction of heroism and survival in horrifying times, but it will not make the pantheon of great historical films. The love story is shallowly written, and the charismatic performers often wilt under the haunting scenes of systemic violence. Without a meaningful story on which to hang its historical events, the actors are left looking like vehicles for a history lesson.

Perhaps that is what the film-makers intended. “I didn’t know about the Armenian genocide before,” Mr Isaac noted . “I think, unfortunately, a lot of us in this country and in the West and all around the world have been purposefully kept in the dark about it.” Indeed, the most basic facts are in dispute. Turkey claims that 500,000 Armenians died of hunger and disease in the Syrian desert: they were being deported for supporting Russia in the first world war. Armenian survivors and their descendants place the number of dead at 1.5m, observing Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day on April 24th every year. They argue that it was a systematic killing rather than an unfortunate side effect of poorly executed policy.

Today most scholars recognise the massacre as genocide, yet many Turkish officials still do not. Because Turkey is such an important ally to the West, neither has America, Britain or Israel. On the campaign trail in 2008, Barack Obama pledged several times to reverse this policy of obfuscation , but he failed to do so once in office. This week, Donald Trump declined to categorise the events depicted in “The Promise” as genocide (though he was happy to call it “one of the worst mass atrocities of the 20th century”). America’s cultural machine is doing what its political machine will not.

“The Promise” is not for the squeamish. The slaughter is depicted with stark brutality and inarguable cruelty. Key characters are executed suddenly and without warning. A mother is shot in the head in front of her daughter. The population of an entire town is butchered in the matter of minutes, their bodies piled on top of each other beside a river. The film-makers do not use the word “genocide” until the film’s closing moments, but they do not need to: the actions are unmistakable. In one key scene, Mr Isaac’s character discovers a train full of starving Armenians, a sequence often found in Holocaust films, placing these dreadful events in moral context for the audience.

Indeed, while other genocides have found their way to the screen, politics seems to have prevented “The Promise” from making it through the typical channels. Studios are unlikely to take a chance on an expensive film that might anger government officials and geopolitical allies unless they can guarantee that it will be profitable. The film was instead independently financed by the late Kirk Kerkorian, an American billionaire of Armenian descent, who created a film company—Survival Pictures—with the express purpose of educating the world about the Armenian genocide. He sunk $100m into “The Promise”, casting Mr Bale and Mr Isaac to attract an audience. The choice of Terry George as director was inspired, too: his “Hotel Rwanda” (2004) proved that he is able to handle complex conflicts with nuance and sensitivity.

Still, when the film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2016, it did not set the festival alight. Reviews were middling, and no major distributors were interested. Open Road, a smaller company that had shepherded “Spotlight” to a best picture Oscar, picked it up, decided it wasn’t good enough for awards season, and dumped it in the spring. In its opening weekend it grossed only $4.1m, a historically low amount for a film that cost $100m to make. Insiders speculate that it could gross around $20m worldwide, which by most accounts would make “The Promise” a spectacular failure.

But “The Promise” cannot be judged in purely economic terms, as Kekorian had little interest in making back his investment. Perhaps we should not judge it on purely artistic terms either. “The Promise” doesn’t seek to break ground: it was created in order to shine light on an oft-ignored historical event, and even with mediocre reviews and middling box-office figures it is achieving that aim. One day, if the history of the Armenian genocide is officially re-written, “The Promise” will have played a part.
27 April 2017
Scotland Keeps Armenian Promise
by Alasdair Gillon 

Cinema goers in Scotland can take particular interest in The Promise , released this Friday. Directed by Terry George (Hotel Rwanda, In the Name of the Father) and starring Christian Bale and Charlotte Le Bon, Hollywood’s latest big-budget epic presents a slice of 20th century history that powerful interests have long fought to suppress: the genocide of 1.5 million Ottoman Armenians between 1915 and 1923.

A century later, the issue still divides the international community. Scotland took a stance in 2013 when MSPs from all parties officially recognised the Ottoman policy of genocide against the empire’s two million-strong Armenian population. Holyrood’s vote put Scotland on the same list as Germany, Canada, Sweden, Poland, Italy, Argentina, Brazil and 21 other countries. Armenian genocide denial is a crime in Switzerland, Slovakia and France. Other devolved and federal bodies who recognise the genocide include Wales, Northern Ireland and 48 individual state legislatures in the USA.

Yet there is an opposite list of governments who still refuse to recognise the extent of Ottoman criminality, and that list includes the UK, the USA and Israel. All three governments cite the same reason: political pressure from Turkey. For post-Brexit UK, Turkey is a ‘priority export market’ for arms sales. US President Barack Obama pledged in 2008, ‘If elected president I will recognise the Armenian genocide,’ but he broke his word, unwilling to upset a key ally. (This week, the Obama administration’s ambassador to the UN Samantha Power publicly apologised for that failure). In Israel, the issue sparks fierce controversy, not least given the clear parallels with the Holocaust, but political expediency wins out.

In Turkey and Azerbaijan, genocide denial remains official policy. Turkish nationalists have spent decades silencing debate so that most Turks are not aware that it occurred. President Erdogan has recalled ambassadors (from France and the Vatican) and heaped scorn on governments that accept the views of the International Association of Genocide Scholars and other historians. By contrast, in neighbouring Armenia, the struggle for wider recognition of the tragedy remains a pillar of foreign policy.

For Hollywood to throw its weight behind the campaign is significant. The Promise offers the Armenian genocide the full Hotel Rwanda, Schindler’s List, and the Killing Fields treatment, but with one key difference: while those films dealt with events that were globally recognised, in this case, the fight is far from over.

The wider campaign is not just conscious of the past, but forward-looking in its aims, which include calling out contemporary genocide and supporting humanitarian work globally. Last Monday, campaign leaders the Aurora Initiative for Humanity announced the finalists for the second annual Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity , an award whose judges include former Irish president and UN Comissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, actor George Clooney, New York Carnegie Corporation President Vartan Gregorian, and a string of Nobel laureates and international human rights defenders. 

The Armenian genocide sparked a mass movement of refugees, and the international response at the time, especially in the USA, gave birth to the modern humanitarian movement, according to the Aurora Initiative. They say that the history teaches us how to respond to the modern refugee crisis.

Frequently overlooked, the story of the Armenian genocide is about to receive much-needed publicity worldwide, thanks to Hollywood’s intervention. It is not just the past but the on-going battle over the legacy of 1915-1923 that is at stake. Armenian genocide recognition is a matter of conscience for some, and of strategic and cynical interests for others.

RFE/RL Report 
Czech Parliament Recognizes Armenian Genocide
April 26, 2017

In a move welcomed by Armenia on Wednesday, the lower house of the
Czech Republic's parliament has recognized the 1915 mass killings and
deportations of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey as genocide.

The Chamber of Deputies cited "the genocide of Armenians and other
ethnic and religious minorities in the Ottoman Empire" in a resolution
on crimes against humanity committed during the First and Second World
Wars. It unanimously passed the resolution late on Tuesday, the day
after worldwide commemorations of the 102nd anniversary of the
Armenian genocide.

The main sponsor of the resolution, Social-Democrat Robin Boehnisch,
chairs a Czech parliamentary group promoting closer ties with
Armenia. A deputy speaker of the Armenian parliament, Eduard
Sharmazanov, telephoned Boehnisch on Wednesday to thank him and his
colleagues for the measure

Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian hailed the resolution as a
"valuable contribution to the noble task of preventing genocides and
other crimes against humanity. In a written statement, Nalbandian also
praised Czech President Milos Zeman's position on the issue.

Visiting Yerevan in June 2016, Zeman, who has largely ceremonial
powers, said he will urge his country's parliament to "follow
Germany's example" and recognize the genocide. He spoke just days
after the German parliament passed an Armenian genocide resolution
that prompted a furious reaction from Turkey.

The Turkish government did not immediately react to the Czech vote. It
has strongly condemned the 26 other nations that have also officially
acknowledged that the First World War-era slaughter of 1.5 Armenians
constituted genocide. 

Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey
April 27 2017
Turkey slams Czech parliament resolution on 1915 Armenian killings 

Turkey on April 26 condemned a resolution adopted by the lower house of the Czech Republic’s parliament on the 1915 killings of Armenians under Ottoman rule.

“We condemn and reject in the strongest terms the resolution adopted by the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic on April 25,” the Foreign Ministry said in a written statement on its website.
“We are also disappointed by President [Milos] Zeman’s letter of April 24, 2017 addressed to the Armenian diaspora in his country with regard to the events of 1915, as it includes serious inconsistencies,” it added.

According to the statement, Zeman said in his letter that history should not be interpreted by politicians but instead analyzed and interpreted by historians.

The president therefore “contradicts his own words as he makes political assessments with regard to the events of 1915,” the ministry statement said.

“Our reaction to these political actions that openly contradict historical facts as well as the basic tenets of law has been conveyed to the Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Ankara,” the statement added.

The adopted resolution accused the Ottoman Empire of allegedly carrying out “systematic genocide” against Armenians, as well as other Christian minorities.

Turkey accepts that many Christian Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire were killed in clashes with Ottoman forces during World War I as a result of civil strife triggered in part by Armenians siding with invading Russian troops, but contests the figures and denies that the killings were systematically orchestrated and constitute genocide. It also says many Muslim Turks perished at that time.
Armenian Genocide resolution adopted in Colorado Legislature
27 Apr 2017 

The Colorado State Legislature adopted a resolution recognizing the 102nd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Members of both the House of Representatives and Senate voted unanimously to adopt the resolution at the capitol on Wednesday.

The Armenian genocide killed 1.5 million men, women, and children of Armenian descent from 1915 to 1923.

The resolution states:  “We express support for efforts toward constructive and durable relations between the country of Armenia, the homeland for the 22 Armenian people, and its neighbors, based upon acknowledgment of the facts and ongoing consequences of the Armenian genocide, and a fair, just, and comprehensive international resolution of this crime against humanity.”

Members of the Armenians of Colorado organization and the Armenian National Committee of America Western Region (ANCA-WR) attended the adoption.

Armenians of Colorado began with a group of 15 Armenian members around 1980. At least 125 families are involved in the organization today.
Taner Akcam’s finding to force Turkey to seek new ways of Armenian Genocide denial
28 Apr 2017 

Turkish historian Taner Akcam has recently uncovered a telegram, which, he says, will force the Turkish government seek new ways of denying the Armenian Genocide.

“Are the Armenians who were deported from there being liquidated? Are the troublesome individuals whom you have reported as having being exiled and expelled being exterminated or merely being sent off and deported? Please report back honestly,” reads the telegram sent from Ezrum by Behaeddin Shakir to Kharberd Governor Sabit Bey.

The document dated July 4th, 1915 consists of two parts – the actual text on top and the coded four-digit Arabic numbers on the bottom.

Taner Akcam, a history professor at Clark University in Massachusetts, says the telegram is important for two reasons. “First, it is written on a paper with the letterhead of the Ottoman Ministry of Interior. Second, separate from the text there is a decoded message on the bottom,” he said in a phone interview with Public Radio of Armenia .

The historian has compared the coding system with that of other documents from Ottoman archives and  found matches with 24 documents from the same month. The same words are coded the same way. “So there is no escape for Turkish authorities, there is no way to say these are forgeries. And this is a very crucial document in that sense,” Akcam said.

This telegram is well known in Armenian Genocide research and has been quoted in main indictments in Istanbul military tribunals. This was one of the most important evidences that helped convict Behaeddin Shakir and sentence him to death. However, most of the court materials vanished at the time and Turkey has since been building its policy of denial on the argument that the original documents from postwar military tribunals that convicted the genocide’s planners were nowhere to be found.

Taner Akcam knew the telegram was in a the archive of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem , but in the end found a film taken from the document in a private archive in New York. Thus, two stories need to be recalled to shed light on how the photo of the telegram ended up in the United States.

The Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople was representing Armenians in military tribunals and had access to the court materials.  The judge presiding over the tribunals at the time handed the materials over to the Armenian Patriarch. With the Turkish nationalists about to seize the country in 1922 the Patriarch shipped a huge package of documents to Marseille and then to Manchester for safekeeping. The materials finally ended up in Jerusalem.

“Armenian Catholic priest, Krikor Guerguerian went to Jerusalem sometimes towards the end of 1960s. He filmed the materials there and a lot of other Ottoman documents one of which was this document.  He had a private archive, which was saved and secured by his nephew,” Taner Akcham said.

Despite the crucial importance of the document, the historian does not believe it will lead to changes in Turkey’s stance on the issue in the short-term perspective.

According to the historian, the telegram is a strong evidence Ankara can hardly argue, but he’s confident that Turkey will find some excuses. He’s also confident that “Turkey will continue its denialist policy, but this will put the government in a very difficult position and will force it seek new ways of denying.”

Towards the end of the interview, Mr. Akcam emphasized one point. “As everybody knows successive Turkish governments would argue all the time that Armenian Genocide should not be politicized, that the Armenian Genocide should be left to historians. And I’m just really doing it. I’m a historian and regardless of the fact whether the Turkish government recognizes the genocide or not, I keep working on this topic, because as scholars, as academicians our job is to teach the young generation about the historic injustices, about mass atrocities in the past so that they are not repeated in the future.”

Taner Akcam believes that “it’s important for Turkey to face its history.” If Turkey faces its history and acknowledges the wrongdoing, it can develop a very good relation with Armenia and develop a democratic society,” he says.
2017 World Press Freedom Index: Armenia yields positions in terms of press freedom
April 26,2017

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has released 2017 World Press Freedom Index where Armenia is ranked 79th among 180 countries – – down by five scores from the previous report published in 2016.

“The print media are diverse and polarized, investigative journalism prospers on the Internet, but pluralism lags behind in the broadcast media. In the crucial transition to digital TV, a future space for critical broadcasters will depend on the impartiality of the frequency bidding process. The news website and the Hraparak newspaper won an important legal victory in October 2015 when the constitutional court issued a ruling upholding the confidentiality of journalists’ sources. But police violence against journalists continues and still goes unpunished. In July 2016, a dozen journalists were injured while covering the use of force to break up a demonstration,” said RSF.

Turkey is ranked 155th (-4), Azerbaijan is placed 162nd (+1), Georgia – 64th, Iran – 165th, Russia – 148th and the US – 43rd in the latest world rankings for press freedom published by the media watchdog.
Armenia ranks 84th among 138 countries in terms of intellectual property protection
April 26

In terms of intellectual property protection Armenia ranks 84th among 138 surveyed countries. Intellectual property protection is one of the aspects of the global competitiveness rating for 2016-2017, in which Armenia ranks 79th.

The global ranking was presented on Wednesday during a forum called "The Importance of Intellectual Property Protection for the Development of the Armenian Economy: Opportunities and Challenges", which was held in Yerevan and was timed to coincide with the World Intellectual Property Day. It was organized by the US Embassy in Armenia, the American Chamber of Commerce in Armenia (AmCham) and the Armenian Office of Microsoft.

Addressing the forum, the US Vice-Ambassador to Armenia Rafik Mansour said strong mechanisms for protection of intellectual property help convert innovative ideas and original projects to valuable business assets, promoting the prosperity and the fight against counterfeit goods. In his words, it also contributes to creation of many new jobs.

He said also the growing globalization and the development of technologies mean that ideas, information and products are spreading all over the world. And although this, as Mansour noted, on the one hand, is advantageous and expedient, on the other hand, it creates new challenges, ranging from illegal downloads of files to falsified goods. In the light of the above, the Vice-Ambassador stressed the importance of creating mechanisms for the protection of intellectual property.

The World Intellectual Property Day has been celebrated annually on April 26 since 2001. The event was established by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 2000 to "raise awareness of how patents, copyright, trademarks and designs impact on daily life" and "to celebrate creativity, and the contribution made by creators and innovators to the development of societies across the globe".

The 26 of April was chosen as the date for World Intellectual Property Day because it coincides with the date on which the Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization entered into force in 1970.
Sons of former Armenia finance minister sold their house in LA for $18.8 mln

The two sons of the former Armenian finance minister, Gagik Khachatryan, have sold their home in a prestigious district of Los Angeles for $18.8 million, Los Angeles Business Journal reports.

According to the documents, the 6,055-square-foot property located in Holmby Hills was owned by Gurgen and Artyom Khachatryan. The brothers bought the house for $11 million in 2010.

The six-bedroom, five-bathroom estate, which also includes a pool and tennis court, first hit the market in June 2016 for $35 million.

It is also noted that the house is not far from the famous Playboy Mansion.

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