Tuesday, 28 January 2014

FATHER FRANK’S RANTS - Fighting for God: right or wrong? - Jihad & the State

Rant Number 571         28 January 2014

‘Shall I go to fight jihad in Syria, Father?’ Funny question to put to a Christian priest. Yet I was asked it. By a boy – I shall call him Yusuf. British, born and bred. What shall I say?
A Socrates, I imagine, would take Yusuf on a long, moral cross-examination. Show him at last that he does not really know what he thinks he knows. What jihad really is, etcetera. Alas, I am no Socrates. Nor am I a Muslim scholar. I could only tell Yusuf what I think.
First, jihad – a struggle or effort in the way of God - is certainly a key duty in Islam. There are of course many types of jihad. By the pen, by word, by money and so on. But military jihad, armed fighting is what is at issue. Most scholars would say that jihad cannot be fought against fellow Muslims so here is a difficulty: ‘Yusuf, the Assad followers are also Muslims. Why jihad against them? Or is it the Syrian Christians you wish to target?’
Yusuf has a pat answer: ‘The Christians there are few – they don’t matter. The dog Assad’s butchers are no true Muslims. They are Nusairis, Alawites, kuffar, people outside Islam. Ibn Taymiyya issued a fatwa against them centuries ago. It is legal to do jihad against them. Especially when they kill true Muslims.’
Reference to Ibn Taymiyya shows up Yusuf’s ideology: Wahhabi-type Islam. Hardly the most enlightened. Still, love it or hate it, it counts many adherents. But a word Yusuf used strikes me.
‘Legal? You are British and the British government cracks down on jihadis who return from the Middle East. It claims they are terrorists.’
‘It is a lie! It can’t be terrorism to protect the defenceless from a murderous dictator! Anyway, my first duty is to Islam. I am British OK but Muslim first.’
Whether British subjects (I like the old-fashioned word) fighting jihad are terrorists, I will bypass. But Yusuf’s question is genuine: are duties to the state always supreme for a believer? Or can they sometimes be overridden by obligations to the Creator?’
St Peter had no doubts. He declared: ‘We must obey God rather than men.’ (Acts 5:29) Affirmed indeed before the Jewish high priest, the highest authority of Judaism. There is no dilemma: the primary duty for a Christian is to God. Caesar, civil power, can only come second.
Observe however how Peter’s stance concerns the freedom to confess Jesus Christ, not about going out to slay other human beings. So the context is very different. Nonetheless it is clear that Caesar is not equal to God. State authority can never be absolute over a religious conscience. To equate God and Caesar would be blasphemy - to assert that the state is divine. Tantamount to belief in two gods. And to exalt that phoney divinity, a man-made creation, the state, over the One True God. La samaha Allah!
Christians taking up arms to defend the faith against a wicked state – absolutely inconceivable? Not quite. In 1927 a ferocious persecution broke out in Mexico, spearheaded by the fanatically anti-Christian and atheist President Calles. Episode alluded to in Graham Greene’s novel, The Power and the Glory. Oppressive laws were enacted against any church activity and education. Sacred buildings profaned and vandalised. Priests persecuted, forbidden to wear clerical garb and many murdered or jailed. At last bands of faithful peasants rose up in spontaneous revolt. Even female battalions were formed, waving the banner of St Joan of Arc. (Right on, girls! That’s my kind of feminism!) Their battle-cry was ‘Long live Christ the King!’ They were named ‘Cristeros’. Fighters for Christ. Of course, the state had overwhelming fire-power and the brave Cristeros were largely exterminated. Some regard them as martyrs, however – I certainly do.
Suppose a young English Catholic had gone to fight for Christ the King in Mexico, in scrupulous obedience to his conscience and to church teaching, would the British authorities have termed him a terrorist? Arrested and detained him on his return? Don’t know but…does it matter? A Christian must obey God rather than men!
It seems unlikely a returning Englishman from the Mexican war would have gone on to blow up 10 Downing St. Hence, the analogy with young jihadis back from Syria is rather imperfect. I read that Teresa May is so worried about the fiery chaps that she is using powers under the Royal Prerogative to bear on suspected British jihadis. Dodgy but…you - Christian, Muslim or whatever - wouldn’t fancy another bloody 7/7 in London, would you?
Remarkable how sundry lefties and progressives and even some Islamists like to invoke a comparison with the 1936-39 Spanish civil war. A popular cause with European intelligentsia. Militants from many countries flocked to join the international brigades. Are foreign fighters in Syria like them? Nope. Muslims who fought in Spain were serving under General Franco, ‘the bad guy’ in that conflict. Moorish troops - among his most loyal units. Little wonder because they were battling against the Republicans, including communists, anarchists, atheists and freemasons – not quite beloved folks in Islam.  
Back to Yusuf. I ask how his family would feel. Father and brother are on his side, mum a little less. (La mamma e’ sempre la mamma, a softie, as Italians say.) I also remind him of the less sanguinary kinds of struggle in God’s way. ‘Why don’t you fundraise for medical supplies, aid to refugees… ?’ His large brown eyes glaze over. That was no good. In Yusuf’s case jihad has to mean war.
Then ‘Have you discussed this with your Imam?’ I inquire. He nods assent. An online Imam, apparently – the most unreliable type. ‘Why don’t you give another a go?’ I give him the email of a good scholar known to me. He takes it and goes away.
What now?
Got to pray for Yusuf. That God’s will for him be done.
Revd Frank Julian Gelli

Copyright © *Revd Frank Gelli

USA Armenian Life #1400 --- How Can Benefactors Meet Armenia's & Diaspora's Many Needs?‏

Issue #1400 | January 27, 2014

How Can Benefactors Meet Armenia's & Diaspora's Many Needs? Read More
Armen Hovhannisyan buried with military honors Read More

ICRC representatives meet with Armenian POW Read Here

Armenian Sergey Nikoyan killed in Kiev riots Read More

Hovhannes Gabuzyan - Armenian Rapid Chess Champion Read More

Euro 2016 qualifying: Armenia in fourth pot Read More

Armenian, Azeri foreign ministers meet in Paris Read More
Sherman condemns soldier’s deathRead More
Media pressure increases in ArmeniaRead More
Karabakh Telecom continues to improve and expand its network Read More
Regarding Syrian Armenians’ Crisis
Read More

The Guardian introduces memories of Armenian Genocide survivor Read More

Armenian killed in Aleppo bombing Read More

Birth rate in Nagorno-Karabakh has increased by 25% Read More 


Armenians appeal Hollande on Genocide recognition in Turkey Read More

Azerbaijan hysterical about Karabakh's participation in Spanish fair Read More

Copyright © 2014 USA Armenian Life. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, 26 January 2014


Տ.Վահան.Եպս..Յովհաննէսեան,.Հայրապետական.Պատուիրակ.եւ.Առաջնորդ The Right Revd Bishop Vahan Hovhanessian, Primate and Pontifical Legate
Issue4, Volume 5 26 January, 2014
THEOPHANIA THIS SATURDAY The Agia Sofia Cathedral of the Greek Orthodox Church in London will be the host of the first Choirs’ celebration of Theophany. Uniting a number of churches with different backgroundsto celebrate the Theophany of the Lord Jesus Christ. This vesper-like service, organised by St Kyrel Trust, will be held between 19:00 and 20:30 in the Greek Cathedral Agia Sophia, Moscow Road. The service will be made up of six parts highlighting different aspects of Theophania:the revelation or shining of God, generally referring to the manifestation of the Trinity in the Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ. Each part will be led by a choir from a different church – Armenian, Coptic, Greek, Maronite, Roman Catholic and Syrian in their traditional music and language, followed by a reading from the bible (in English). Theophaniais an open door event, which will be attended by the Primates of the Churches.
The hope of this service is to be an annual event with different themes, and to be a small step in bringing uBnAityDtAoRthAeKChINurcOhX. IFt wOaRsDChrist’s prayer that all of us be one, as He is one in the Fat
The Primate Office is happy to announce the organization of the second Badarak in Oxford on
23); let us also have this as our prayer throughout the service.
Saturday, 22 February, 2014. HG Bp Vahan Hohvanessian, Primate, will celebrate the Badarak, at Pembroke College Chapel (Pembroke College, Oxford, OX1 1DW)scheduled to commence at 5:00pm, and deliver the homily. Thanks to the leadership of Very Revd Fr Garegin Hambardzumyan,the Oxford Armenian community has already organised a church choir and petritioned the Primate to appoint a Mission Parish Council to prepare the path for the establishment of a permanent Parish in Oxford. If you or someone you know lives in or near Oxford please e-mail the contact info to the Primate’s Office (0208 127 8364 or –mail: primatesoffice@armenianchurch.co.uk). Refreshments after the celebration of Badarak are organised by the volunteers at Oxford and by the Armenian Studies and Armenian Society of Oxford University. Click here for the online flyer.
her (John 17:20-
As in last year, the Primate issued an appeal at the beginning of Advent for raising much needed funds to support the operations of the Primate’s Office which supervises all the programmes and ministries of the Armenian Church under the supervision and direction of the Primate. This is the only time during the entire year that the Primate turns to our faithful for direct support of the Primate’s Office and its programmes. HG Bp Vahan Hovhanessian, is grateful to all those who supported us. “It is only through generous donations of faithful Armenians and friends that our Church will be able to continue offering the various programmes we managed to offer this year, and to create new ones in the future, reaching out and supporting as many Armenians as we can,” said His Grace the Primate adding, “On behalf of all those who benefitted and will benefit from our programmes, and on behalf of our committed volunteer team at the Primate’s Office, I sincerely thank you for your support and generosity.” Click here for a list of the donors.
Thirty Four people have signed up to join in the fourth Annual Pilgrimage to the Holy Land,
which is organized by the Primate’s Office to take place on 6-14 June, 2014. In order to help the
pilgrims who have already signed up, HG Bp Vahan Hovhanessian, Primate, is inviting all those
who participated in the previous pilgrimages as well as those who have signed up for this year’s
forthcoming pilgrimage to attend an Orientation session scheduled for Friday, 21 February in
the Nevart Gulbenkian Hall at 7:00PM. The orientation will be an opportunity to those
participating in the forthcoming pilgrimage to ask questions and enquire about the details of the
various aspects of the Pilgrimage. Participants in the Orientation will also receive hadnouts with
important information about the pilgrimage including a detailed itinerary and important contact
information. The Primate’s Office regrets to inform our readers that due to space limitations at
the hotels and on British Airways, we will no longer be able to add more pilgrims.
Primate’s Office of the Armenian Church of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland is happy to announce the creation of the Summer Internship Program which is designed to provide a practical learning opportunity and experience for college students or recent graduates in different administrative fields to help them build necessary administrative skills that are transferable to other work environments.
The unpaid work experience will help them set a
solid foundation for their professional endeavour. Maximum two applicants will be chosen for
the Summer Internship Programme, which will offer the intern opportunities for developing
skills and gaining experience in computers, videography, communications and outreach. The
interns will also get opportutnities to attend meetings of the Primate’s Office staff and Parish
Councils. For information please click here. To apply, please contact the Primate’s Office.
As part of the Continuing Education Ministry of the Primate’s Office, HG Bp Vahan Hovhanessian, Primate, will be offering a course on the theology and spirituality of our Divine Liturgy, Badarak, on Monday evenings starting Monday, 17 February. The course will meet in the St Sarkis Church, Monday evenings at 7:00pm, and is offered free of charge. Those interested to attend, are encouraged to register as soon as possible, as space is limited. The course will be a great opportunity to discuss questions such as why do we celebrate Badarak every Sunday? Why is an hour or so long? Why do I Have to go to Badarak when I can pray anywhere? and other questions. Registered members will receive printed notes of each session. Make an effort to join us and ask all the questions you wanted to ask about this central celebration of our faith. Those interested to sign up for the course are requested to contact the Primate’s Office via e-mail or telephone: 0208 127 8364.
The Primate’s Office, Hye Doon, 25 Cheniston Gardens, Kensington, London W8 6TG – 0208 127 8364 – primatesoffice@armenianchurch.co.uk
The St Sarkis Church Parish Council is holding a Cake Sake and Bric-a-Brac this Sunday 26th January to raise funds for the Syrian Armenian Relief Fund. If you have any unwanted gifts from Christmas or any good quality unwanted bric-a-brac, the Parish Council kindly ask that you donate such items for the sale. Also, the Parish Council is looking for talented bakers who are willing to donate some cakes for the sale. Those who are interested in making gift and cake donations please contact the St Sarkis Church Parish Council by email: stsarkisparish@armenianchurch.co.uk or tel: 020 7937 0152. Most importantly please join us on Sunday, 26 January and support our effort in raising funds to help our brothersand sisters in Syria. For an electronic copy of the flyer please click here.
ANNOUNCEMENTS: FR AREN IN ST SARKIS: The Very Revd Fr Aren Shaheenian will be the guest celebrant of the Badarak at the St Sarkis
Church in London. By the invitation of Fr Shnork Baghdasarian, Pastor, Fr Aren will celebrate the Badarak and deliver
the homily of the day. The faithful will get to meet Fr Aren during the Fellowship Hour in the Nevart Gulbenkian Hall. BIBLE STUDY GROUP: The Bible Study group will meet this Thursday, for the regular study session, which will take
place at the Nevart Gulbenkian Hall at 7:00pm. All are welcome. . FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: The Primate’s Office has prepared a list of Frequently Asked Questions
(collected from different people and parish council members), which is published in a document accessible by clicking
here. Please send your questions or comments to the Primate’s Office. YOU CAN SUPPORT THE CHURCH WITHOUT DONATING MONEY: If you shop online, then you can go to the
easyfundraising website below and choose “Armenian Church Trust UK” as the cause you want to support. Shop, as you usually do. The website will donate a small percentage of the money spent on the purchahse to our Church. It is very easy: 1) go to easyfundraising.org.uk; 2) sign up for free; 3) Choose the “Armenian Church Trust” as the cause you want to support; 4) shop as much as you want. Nobody will know what you purchased or from where. Easyfundraising will simply transfer a small percentage to the Church. To try it, click here.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

LATEST ISSUE: Friday 24 January‏ Gibrahayer e-magazine (info@gibrahayer.com)Add to contacts 10:03

Read the latest issue - Friday 24 January
by clicking here: www.gibrahayer.com
► Syrian Kurds declare autonomy
► “Buradayiz Aghparig”
► Legendary Ararat Football Club arrive in Cyprus
► Armenia is Azeri land says Aliyev
► In case of war the Armenian flag will be hoisted in Baku
► A junior sergeant killed in Karabakh combat
► Russia forms helicopter squadron for Erebuni base
► For the benefit of our Armenian schools in Greece
► Remembering the founding fathers of Melkonian
► Film: "Ashes and Phoenix" on Lepsius to be shown at Goethe Institute
► Gibrahayer Calendar
► Turkish Cypriot artists hear about Turkish Lyceum 
music master Vahan Bedelian
► Raquel Welch in Cyprus – through the lens of Artin Anmahouni
► Ashdjian, Minasyan & Aynedjian sweep four titles in 
Cyprus National tennis championships
► Armenian fans of the week
► Images from Homenetmen - AYMA Ball
► Sevan Malikyan exhibits in Gloria Gallery
► Community Album - Archbishop Makarios III visits Magaravank
► Destination North Cyprus! What about Stepanakert?


Friday, 24 January 2014

Loussapata - The Dawn - 33-ՐԴ ՏԱՐԻ, ԹԻՒ 1017 ՇԱԲԱԹ, 25 ՅՈՒՆՈՒԱՐ 2014

To subscribe/unsubscribe & all communications E-mail to: loussapatz@gmail.com
ISTANBUL / HURRIYET DAILY NEWS -- The crowd marched to the front of Armenian weekly Agos, where Hrant Dink was murdered in broad daylight by a 17-year-old ultranationalist in 2007. DHA Photo
Tens of thousands gathered in Istanbul to mark the seventh anniversary of the killing of Turkish- Armenian journalist Hrant Dink on Jan. 19.
The Friends of Hrant Dink organization, estab- lished in memory of the late journalist, called for a march starting at 1:30 p.m. from Taksim Square, which ended with a homage to Dink in front of the Agos newspaper’s office building in the Pangaltı neighborhood of Şişli.
Police took tight security measures around Istanbul’s Taksim Square and closed Gezi Park, which was the site of massive resistance against the government last summer, ahead of the commemoration.
The crowd marched to the front of Armenian weekly Agos, where Hrant Dink was murdered in broad daylight by a 17-year-old nationalist in 2007.
At 2:56 p.m., mourners observed a minute of silence for Dink, after which Gülten Kaya, the widow of late singer Ahmet Kaya, took the microphone. Kaya commemorated not only Dink, but also those who were killed dur- ing the Gezi Park Resistance last year. “We are here not only to remember Hrant, but also Ethem [Sarısülük], Ab- dullah [Cömert], Medeni [Yıldırım], Ahmet [Atakan] and those who died in the Gezi protests,” Kaya said. “You have left mothers and fathers devoid of their children. Sons of this country were shot with treacherous bullets. How can we forget how many homes were broken?” she said.
“What is your truth? This is 2014: You are carrying guns in your trucks instead of peace, democracy and hu- man rights,” Kaya added, addressing Turkey’s security forces.
Dink, the highly esteemed former editor-in-chief of weekly Agos, was murdered in broad daylight in front of his newspaper’s building on Jan. 19, 2007ü by a 17-year-old Turkish nationalist. The triggerman, Ogün Samast, was convicted of premeditated murder and sentenced to 22 years and 10 months of prison after a two year-trial.
The marchers chanted the slogan “Buradayız Ahparig!” (a half-Turkish, half-Armenian slogan meaning “We are here, brother"), “For Hrant, for justice,” and “We are all Armenians,” in front of the Agos office. A popular chant from the Gezi Park protests, “Everywhere is Taksim, everywhere is resistance,” was also heard.
After the rally ended, the crowd marched to Taksim.
In a controversial apparent gesture, a number of traffic police officers assigned to the area were photographed wearing white caps. On the day of the murder, Samast was wearing a white cap, which later became an infamous symbol of the incident and a badge of pride among ultranationalist fascists.
Ertuğrul Günay, a former member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), asked Istanbul Gov. Hüseyin Avni Mutlu, who became the subject of mass revilement last year due to perceived lies surrounding the police's often brutal conduct during the Gezi Resistance, over Twitter who had ordered the police to don white caps.
A small group of Trabzonspor supporters also attracted attention, carrying a banner that read "We have not forgotten" in honor of the slain journalist; Samast and those involved in instigating the murder were based in Trab- zon, and the Black Sea side's supporters are infamous for their ultranationalism. During the march, the Trabzonspor supporters chanted "Trabzonspor is here, where are the gangs?"
The Dink murder case remains unsolved, with the court ruling that it was not a result of an organized crime to the dismay of Dink’s family and supporters. The ruling was mde despite serious claims that a number of civil serv- ants linked to the “deep state” were “indirectly” involved.
The acquittal of top suspects was ultimately overturned by the Supreme Court of Appeals and many key sus- pects charged as instigators of the murder, such as Yasin Hayal and Erhan Tuncel, are currently being retried.
The organizers of the commemorative march also denounced the trial process, accusing the state of protecting those responsible for the murder.
IN TORONTO By Raffi Bedrosyan -- www.armenianweekly.com
On Jan. 19, the Toronto Armenian com- munity gathered to commemorate the 7th anni- versary of the assassination of Hrant Dink. More than 500 people filled the Armenian Gen- eral Benevolent Union Centre to capacity, with standing room only. The keynote speaker was renowned Turkish journalist and author Hasan Cemal, who also happens to be the grandson of Cemal Pasha, one of the three leaders of the Committee of Union and Progress (Ittihat ve Terakki), which planned and perpetrated the Armenian Genocide in 1915.
Mgrditch Mgrditchian was the master of ceremonies. After a beautiful rendition of Sari Aghchig and Cilicia by young soprano Lynn Anoush Isnar, Raffi Bedrosyan, one of Hrants friends, introduced Hasan Cemal. Bedrosyan explained that Hasan Cemal worked for many years (until 1992) as the editor-in-chief of the Cumhuriyet daily, the official mouthpiece of the Kemalist state and the defender of the denialist official version of history related to the 1915 events. Hasan Cemal then moved on to Sabah newspaper, the newspaper with the largest circulation at the time, as editor (until 1998), and then to Milliyet until March 2013, when he had to resign under pressure from Prime Minister Erdogan for criticizing the anti-democratic policies of the government. In recent years, Hasan Cemal got influenced by the writings of journalist Hrant Dink and historian Taner Akcam, and started questioning the veracity of the state version of history. As a result, he went through a gradual intellectual transformation, until he reached the conclusion that those events were indeed a genocide. In 2008, the year after Hrant Dink was assassinated, he went to Armenia and visited the Genocide Memorial, placing flowers there for Hrant and all the past genocide victims, sharing their pain. In 2012, he wrote a book titled 1915: Armenian Genocide in Turkish. The book, explaining his personal evolution, became a bestseller.
In his speech, Hasan Cemal stressed the need to separate personal family history from general history. He gave examples as to how he had to distinguish between his grandfathers actions versus his stand against the genocide, and his dramatic meeting in Yerevan with the grandson of one of the planners of Cemal Pashas assassination in Tbilisi in 1922. Hasan Cemal also explained the long journey he had to go through from having a captive mind, based on the state version of history, to an emancipated or liberated mind, after seeking and finding the facts and truth about the 1915 events. Cemal stated that a small but fast increasing segment of the Turkish civil society has already started to acknowledge the truth about the genocide, and urged the Turkish state also to face its past and acknowledge and apologize for the 1915 events.
After his speech, there was a short discussion session among Hasan Cemal and two Zoryan Institute represent- atives, president Kurken Sarkissian and Executive Director George Shirinian, moderated by Raffi Bedrosyan, about the significance of building a common body of knowledge regarding the historic facts of 1915, in order to be able to have meaningful and constructive dialogue toward reconciliation between Turks and Armenians.
The Toronto commemoration was another proof that Hrant Dinks legacy lives on and gains more momentum every year, both within Turkey and in all four corners of the world, with demands of truth and justice to prevail for the 1.5 million Armenians plus one.
Cemal (L) and Bedrosyan
NEWS.am -- Sezgin Tanrikulu, Vice-Chairman of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), submitted a written pro- posal to the chairmanship of the country’s parliament.
Tanrikulu proposed that a street in Istanbul be named after Hrant Dink, Vatan daily of Turkey reports.
The proposal requires that amendments be made in the Istanbul Municipality Law, whereby a street in Istanbul’s Sisli district can be renamed after Dink
The CHP had made such proposals in the past, too, but the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) members had objected to these proposals.
The participants in the remembrance event, which is annually held on the anniversary of Dink’s murder, symbolically remove the Ergenekon Avenue sign and replace it with the Hrant Dink Avenue sign.
Hrant Dink, the founder and former chief editor of Agos Armenian weekly of Istanbul, was killed on January 19, 2007 in front of the Agos office. The ongoing trials into Dink’s murder, however, have not yet exposed those behind this assassination.
NEWS.am -- Turkish nationalists hacked the website of Agos newspaper the day following the seventh anniversary of Hrant Dink’s murder.
The hackers posted a photo of Kemal Ataturk and left an in- scription: “Happy is one who says I am a Turk”, Radical newspa- per reported.
Hrant Dink, the founder and former chief editor of Agos Ar- menian weekly of Istanbul, was killed on January 19, 2007 in front of the weekly’s office. The ongoing trials into Dink’s murder, however, have not yet exposed those behind this assassination.
YEREVAN -- The Armenian military will retaliate against Azerbaijan for the latest killing of an Armenian soldier on “the line contact” around Nagorno-Karabakh, Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian said on Wednesday.
Ohanian spoke of an unprecedented upsurge in ceasefire violations there as he and top Armenian army gener- als attended the state funeral of Sergeant Armen Hovannisian.
Karabakh’s Defense Army said that Azerbaijani “sabotage groups” attacked its positions on Monday at two different sections of the “line of contact” around the territory. In a statement, the army said its soldiers repelled the simultaneous attacks.
Sergeant Hovannisian was shot dead in the firefights, added the statement. Karabakh President Bako Sahakian posthumously awarded Hovannisian a medal the following morning.
Hovannisian, 19, received full military honors while being laid to rest at the Yerablur military cemetery in Ye- revan. Scores of ordinary Armenians also took part in the funeral procession.
“For the past two days tension [along the frontline] has been at a peak level,” Ohanian told reporters after the ceremony. “Gunshots fired by the enemy are numerous. There have never been so many gunshots before. Clearly, they are worried about retaliation.”
“There will definitely be retaliation. We will choose the right moment ... We will respond to every provoca- tion,” he said.
Ohanian referred to the dead soldier as a national hero, saying that Hovannisian and a dozen of his comrades fought back an Azerbaijani commando raid on Karabakh Armenian frontline positions on the night from Sunday to Monday. The minister claimed that the Azerbaijani forces suffered “severe losses” in the assault.
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry has denied that any deadly fighting took place there. The ministry said on Tuesday, though, that four Azerbaijani soldiers were seriously injured in non-combat incidents “in the frontline zone.” It announced the following day that another soldier died of heart failure.
The Armenian military and observers say that Baku routinely underreports its combat casualties, attributing fa- talities to other causes.
YEREVAN — Several thousand people ral- lied in Yerevan’s Liberty Square on Saturday to protest against government’s pension reforms.
The controversial reforms, which went into effect on January 1, envisage five percent salary deductions for the pension funds. The amended provision of the pension law is mandatory for all individuals born after January 1, 1974. The re- forms have spurred a wide public discount.
Not only citizens receiving low wages, but also many young professionals in high-paying jobs, such as in the information technologies sec- tor, appear unhappy with the new legislation that the government believes is the only alternative to today’s so-called “generational solidarity” system in which senior citizens get their pensions at the expense of so- cial payments provided by employed citizens.
The civil initiative called Dem.Em (I’m Against) as well as four minority factions in the Armenian parliament, including the Armenian National Congress, Heritage, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation and the Prosperous Armenia Party, denounced the measure and demanded that the Court recognize it unconstitutional when it starts consideration of their claim later this month.
The crowd began chanting the slogans ‘Victiory’, ‘I am Against’ to open the rally.
David Khazhakyan, an activist of the civic group, stated. “With united efforts, we can reach a solution. No one apart from us will be the first to raise the problem. We have raised it, so will lead it to victory,” he said, adding that the group has now embarked on active efforts to make the country constitutional.
The activist described the campaign as the society’s conscious choice to protect its dignity. “The law is for the human being, not vice versa. So the human being has to be at the heart,” he added.
“Provocations at the border hinder the negotiations on the peaceful settlement of the Karabakh conflict,” Ar- menian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian told a press conference today. He noted at the same time that the ne- gotiations should continue as there is no alternative to peace talks.
Nalbandian said there are five statements and three principles on the settlement of the Karabakh issue, and the Armenian side continues the efforts towards the resolution of the conflict on the basis of the corresponding state- ments and principles, he said.
According to Minister Nalbandian, Azerbaijan distorts the texts of international statements, thus trying to cre- ate illusions among the society.
The Head of the Armenian Mission to the OSCE, Ambassador Arman Kirakosyan delivered a speech at the OSCE Permanent Council on January 16.
The Ambassador presented the priorities of the Armenian side during the Organization’s activity in 2014. Re- ferring to Swiss Foreign Minister, OSCE Chairman-in-Office Didier Burkhalter’s speech, Ambassador Kirakosyan agreed with the Swiss side that it’s necessary to draw lessons from history.
The Ambassador noted that the Ottoman Empire perpetrated the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians under the cover of the World War I. A new security system was established after the war based on the realization of the right of peoples to self-determination, which gave birth to many of the OSCE member states. The principles of peace, security and the self-determination of peoples were later reflected in the Helsinki Final Act.
Ambassador Kirakosyan welcomed the intention of the Swiss presidency to contribute to the reinforcement of confidence-building measures in the Karabakh conflict zone. He noted that the measures could turn effective if the authorities and the civil society of Nagorno Karabakh were involved.
The Armenian side expressed support to Switzerland’s aspiration to help the Minsk Group Co-Chairs and un- derlined that conflicts should be solved only within the framework of negotiating formats. Arman Kirakosyan at- tached importance to the message of the Swiss presidency that it’s necessary to exclude violence, reinforce the ceasefire and respect the commitments.
The Armenian side also stressed the importance of the Swiss experience in contributing to peace and reconcili- ation through mediating efforts and voiced hope that the Swiss presidency would work in a transparent and unbi- ased manner. Ambassador Kirakosyan wished success to Switzerland in its responsible mission in 2014.
The Russian military said on Friday that it is pressing ahead with plans to beef up its troops stationed in Armenia with roughly two dozen combat helicopters.
A statement by Russia’s Southern Military District said that the squadron of Mi-24 and Mi-8 helicopter gunships will be deployed there this year. It said they will have “a wide range of tasks in avia- tion support for troops and transportation of personnel of the Russian military base through the Republic of Armenia.”
The statement gave no precise dates for the deployment, saying only that the Russian Air Force has already selected pilots and tech- nical personnel for the aviation unit. It said the pilots are currently engaged in flight training at a military airfield in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don.
The helicopters are to be deployed at the Erebuni military air- port just south of Yerevan in line with an agreement reached by Rus- sian and Armenian officials in April 2013. The Armenian government gave the formal green light to the deploy- ment in November. It allocated two plots of land to the Russian military base in Armenia which will be used by the helicopter squadron. They are located in and around the Erebuni facility that currently hosts both Armenian and
Russian warplanes. The helicopters will mark a further widening of Russian military presence in the South Caucasus state. The
Russian base headquartered in Gyumri has already been bolstered with heavy weaponry, reportedly including bal- listic missiles, in recent years.
Russian President Vladimir Putin underlined the base’s significance for Moscow when he started an official visit to Armenia from Gyumri in December. “We are planning to reinforce our positions in Transcaucasus,” Putin declared there.
Azatutyun.am -- Armenia accused Azerbaijan on Monday of sabotaging fresh peace talks planned by international mediators after an Armenian soldier was killed in Nagorno-Karabakh in what military authori- ties there called an Azerbaijani armed incursion.
Karabakh’s Defense Army said that Azerbaijani “sabotage groups” attacked its positions overnight at two different sections of the “line of contact” around the disputed territory. In a statement, the Armenia- backed army said its soldiers repelled the simultane- ous attacks.
One of the soldiers, Sergeant Armen Hovan- nisian, was shot dead in the firefights, added the statement. Karabakh President Bako Sahakian posthumously
awarded Hovannisian a medal the following morning. The Karabakh military claimed to have inflicted “considerable human and material losses” on the enemy. The
Azerbaijani side reported no casualties, however. What is more, the Defense Ministry in Baku denied any skirmishes on the Karabakh frontline. “The report dis-
seminated by the Armenian press is a provocation and disinformation,” it claimed in a statement cited by Regnum. The incident was discussed by Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian and his Karabakh Armenian counterpart, Karen Mirzoyan, at a meeting held in Yerevan. “The ministers described the Azerbaijani attacks as yet another manifestation of provocative and irresponsible policy and an attempt to obstruct negotiations between the Armenian
and Azerbaijani foreign ministers planned for this week,” read a statement released by Nalbandian’s press office. Official Yerevan signaled no plans to cancel those talks. Foreign Ministry spokesman Tigran Balayan told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that Nalbandian has so far made no changes in his work schedule be-
cause of the latest ceasefire violations. Nalbandian and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov were due to meet in Paris before the end
of this month to try to build on progress that was reportedly made by the conflicting parties late last year.
NEWS.am --The parties to Karabakh conflict are to say the final word on Nagorno-Karabakh, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said.
“We believe the two sides should agree. And the meeting between Pres- ident Aliyev and Sargsyan in November in Vienna was somehow reassur- ing,” Lavrov said during the Tuesday press conference.
The presidents were generally satisfied with their conversation and agreed to continue the discussion at the level of the foreign ministries and personal dialogue. Lavrov noted that Russia together with France and the United States is trying to help establish a dialogue.
There are co-chairs’ offers that are on the table deposited in the OSCE. These recommendations are not rejected by the parties, but they require extra effort to come to an agreement in principle how to solve this regional prob- lem.
“We will provide assistance, but let me stress again the main thing is the parties’ agreement with the principles that will form the basis of the settlement. We will not do the job for them. But we encourage both sides. Together with the Americans and the French we are ready to offer some ideas for consideration of Baku and Yerevan,” Lavrov said.
Asked about presence of NKR representation at Armenia’s Embassy in Russia, Lavrov said he has no infor- mation.
STEPANAKERT/NEWS.am -- After conducting an unsuccessful diversionary infiltration attempt, the adver- sary continues to intensively violate the ceasefire in all directions at the line of contact between the Karabakh- Azerbaijani opposing forces.
On Monday and the early morning hours on Tuesday alone, the Azerbaijani armed forces breached the cease- fire agreement around 240 times in virtually all directions of the line of contact.
During this time, more than 2,000 shots were fired in the direction of Armenian positions, and by way differ- ent types of small- and large-caliber artillery weapons.
The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) Defense Army vanguard units, however, took necessary steps to sup- press the adversary’s aggression, and they continued to confidently carry out their military turn of duty along the entire length of the front line.
NEWS.am -- The flag of Azerbaijan can really—and even should— appear in Nagorno-Karabakh, but solely on the roof of the embassy of that country.
The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) President’s press secretary Davit Babayan told the aforesaid to Armenian News-NEWS.am.
Babayan commented on the statement by chairman Bayram Safarov of the “Azerbaijani Community of Nagorno-Karabakh” NGO, according to which, “The tricolor flag of Azerbaijan will wave in Nagorno- Karabakh.”
“The flag of Azerbaijan should wave on the roof of its embassy in Nagorno-Karabakh, and we consider this to be the shortest way to settle
the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict. “In our turn, we stand ready to allocate a place for the embassy in Shushi, [capital city] Stepanakert, or some-
where else where we see fit,” Babayan noted. But he added that if Safarov means to say that the Azerbaijani flag can appear in the NKR as a result of war,
he is sadly mistaken. “In case of war, the Karabakh tricolor [flag] will appear in [Azerbaijani capital city] Baku, atop the President’s
Office and on top of all important institutions [in Azerbaijan],” Davit Babayan concluded.
MOSCOW -- The Armenian government has formally completed the sale of its remaining 20 percent stake in Armenia’s natural gas distribution company to Gazprom, giving the Russian gas monopoly full ownership of the vital utility.
Energy and Natural Resources Minister Armen Movsisian and Gazprom Chairman Alexei Miller signed a cor- responding agreement in Moscow late on Thursday.
“As a result of the deal, Gazprom will raise its share in the ArmRosGazprom (ARG) closed joint-stock com- pany to 100 percent. The enterprise will be renamed Gazprom Armenia,” the Russian energy conglomerate said in an ensuing statement.
“This deal fully corresponds to the spirit of strategic cooperation between Russia and Armenia,” the statement quoted Miller as saying. “Gazprom has always been and remains a reliable partner of Armenia,” he added.
The deal stems from a package of Russian-Armenian energy agreements that were signed during President Vladimir Putin’s December 2 visit to Yerevan. They defined the basic terms of the share acquisition and set the price of Russian natural gas for Armenia at almost $190 per thousand cubic meters.
The new tariff, which will be valid for the next five years, is well below international gas prices currently ex- ceeding $300 per thousand cubic meters. Russian officials have attributed the price discount to Armenia’s plans to join a Russian-led Customs Union.
The Armenian government ceded its minority share in ARG in payment for a $300 million debt to Gazprom, which it incurred as a result of secretly subsidizing the Russian gas price from 2011-2013. In return for writing off the debt, Gazprom was also granted 30-year exclusive rights in the Armenian energy market.
Armenialiberty.org -- A Turkish man was arrested in Armenia on Saturday in connection with one of the larg- est ever seizures of heroin in the world reported by Armenian law-enforcement authorities.
The National Security Service (NSS) said that Armenian customs officers discovered on Friday as much as 927 kilograms of the Class A drug in a heavy truck that crossed into Armenia from neighboring Iran. It said the truck driver, a Georgian citizen identified as Avtandil Martiashvili, was arrested on the spot.
In another statement issued later on Saturday, the NSS said it also arrested in Yerevan a Turkish national who it believes is “one of the organizers” of the unprecedented drug trafficking operation. It claimed that the 40-year-old man, Osman Ugurlu, planned to smuggle the huge heroin consignment from Iran to Turkey via Armenia and Geor- gia.
Ugurlu prepared a “specially-fitted cache” in Turkey for that purpose several months ago, according to the NSS. “The investigation is continuing,” added the NSS statement.
The security agency, which is the Armenian successor to the Soviet KGB, did not clarify whether it will seek to cooperate with relevant Turkish authorities in the probe. Armenia and Turkey have no diplomatic relations.
The huge drug bust is by far the most serious instance of heroin smuggling into Armenia ever reported by law- enforcement authorities. Their previous record was set in late 2010. The Armenian police claimed to have confis- cated at the time 7 kilograms of heroin smuggled by Armenian and Iranian citizens.
Iran is thought to be the main source of drug trafficking in and through Armenia. Dozens and possibly hun- dreds of Iranians have been imprisoned in Armenia on corresponding charges over the past two decades. According to Armenia’s Office of the Prosecutor-General, at least 25 of them were repatriated in 2012-2013 to serve the rest of their prison sentences in the Islamic Republic.
The issue was high on the agenda of talks held in Yerevan last April by Iran’s Prosecutor-General Gholam- Hossein Mohseni-Ejei and his then Armenian counterpart Aghvan Hovsepian. They signed a memorandum calling for joint Armenian-Iranian efforts to combat “transnational crime.” Speaking to journalists, Mohseni-Ejei blamed Afghanistan, Iran’s eastern neighbor, for the use of Iranian territory as a major transit route in the international drug trade.
YEREVAN (Arka) -- Armenia’s education and science minister Armen Ashotyan proposed on Friday that the official name of the country – the Republic of Armenia – be changed to the Republic of Eastern Armenia.
Historically, Armenia has been divided into Eastern and Western Ar- menia, Eastern Armenia being part of the Persian Empire until the begin- ning of the 19th century, before it became part of the Russian Empire. Part of Eastern Armenia later became the First Republic for two short years be- fore it was seized by the Bolsheviks to become the Soviet Armenian Re- public. In 1991, it was proclaimed as the independent Republic of Armenia.
Western Armenia is now part of Turkey. Its population was annihilat- ed by the government of Turkey in 1915-1923 in the first genocide of the last century. Ashotyan’s argument for his proposed name change is to convey the reality of the Armenian nation: that Armenia is not whole without Western
Armenia. Ashotyan, who is deputy chairman of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia, first came out with this pro-
posal in 2005.
YEREV AN/NEWS.am -- Skiers Sergey Mikayelyan, Artur Yeghoyan, Katya Galstyan, and alpine skier Arman Serebrakian will represent Armenia at the 2014 Winter Olympics to be held in Sochi, Russia.
Armenian Ski Federation Secretary General Gagik Sargsyan told the above-said to NEWS.am Sport.
“The session of the Federation chairmanship was held on Tuesday, during which the names were decided for the two wildcards which the International Federation had provided: [They are] Katya Galstyan, Ar- menia’s champion in women’s10 km freestyle, and alpine skier Arman Serebrakian.
“The International Federation had given us four spots, two of which our athletes Sergey Mikayelyan and Artur Yeghoyan had achieved by ranking. The other two Olympians will head to Sochi on wildcard.
“We chose the Olympians by the results of the Armenian championship that was held in Tsaghkadzor [city] between January 13 and 16,” Gagik Sargsyan said, in particular.
Armenia has to submit the names of its four Olympians to the international federation no later than January 27.
YEREVAN/NEWS.am -- The body of renowned conductor Aram Gharabekian will be brought to Armenia by the end of the week, the Ministry of Culture news service informed Armenian News-NEWS.am.
As per the news service, once Gharabekian’s body is transferred to Ar- menia, the session of the Armenian governmental commission, which is set up in connection with Gharabekian’s passing, will be convened to decide on the details of the funeral and burial service for the famous Armenian conductor.
Aram Gharabekian, who was former Director of the National Chamber Orchestra of Armenia, died suddenly, on January 11 in the United States, at the age of 58.
JERUSALEM (ArmRadio) -- In July of 2013, Israel’s official Holocaust memorial and institute, Yad Vashem, recognized Armenian citizen Harut- yun Khachatryan’s humanitarian efforts during the Jewish Holocaust of World War II and honored him with the Jewish state’s title of “Righteous Among the Nations.” An award ceremony for the Khacha- tryan family by an Israeli delegation will take place in Yerevan on Feb. 4, during which a certificate of the “Righteous Among the Nations” will be handed to the family of the Armenian hero.
For more than three years the Raoul Wallen- berg International Foundation, along with a number of other projects, has been involved in the identifica- tion of those Armenian heroes who displayed exceptional courage during World War II and saved the lives of those who were in the clutches of death.
The Hall of Names at the Yad Vashem memorial in Jerusalem
The organization’s meticulous research work brought forth results. Thanks to the efforts of a RWIF volunteer, Artiom Chernamoryan, the story of this Armenian hero was revealed and the official awarding ceremony took place in Yerevan on Sep. 12 at the Presidential Palace of the Republic of Armenia with the participation of the President of Armenia Serz Sarkisian, founder of the Raoul Wallenberg International Foundation Baruch Tenembaum from New York, vice-president Daniel Rainer, and volunteer Artiom Chernamorian from Israel, as well as many accred- ited ambassadors and members of the Government of Armenia.
During the official ceremony, Tenembaum awarded a “Raoul Wallenberg Centennial Medal” to the grand- daughter of Harutyun Khachatryan, Anna Khachatryan, who had provided the whole family archive to the founda- tion and along with the volunteers supported to reveal the story of the Armenian hero. Tenembaum solemnly awarded a “Raoul Wallenberg Centennial Medal” to the president of Armenia Serz Sarkisian on behalf of all Ar- menian heroes.
RWIF is a global non-profit organization with a primary mission to research, preserve and spread the legacy of Raoul Wallenberg and other brave men and women, who saved the lives of persecuted people during the Jewish Holocaust and other conflicts. This mission is supported by the leaders of more than 300 countries and Nobel Prize laureates. One of the honorary members of the foundation is Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now famously known as Pope Francis.
Chairman of the Raoul Wallenberg International Foundation, Eduardo Ernekian, and founder Baruch Tenem- baum send their congratulations to the Khachatryan family and promise to do everything possible to shed light on the stories of more Armenian heroes.
Two Marines from the Marine Corps’ elite special operations unit will be awarded the Navy Cross this week for heroism during an insider attack in Afghanistan in 2012, Asbarez reports.
Staff Sgt. Sky Mote and Capt. Matthew Manoukian will posthumously receive the military’s second-highest honor Saturday, Jan 18, at the headquarters of Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command’s (MARSOC) West Coast battalion at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
According to MARSOC releases, both Marines were deployed to Afghanistan with 1st Marine Special Opera- tions Battalion Aug. 10, 2012, when they began to receive heavy fire from an Afghan police officer in their tactical operations center.
Badly wounded, Mote, an explosive ordnance disposal technician, exposed himself to more gunfire in an at- tempt to draw attention away from his fellow Marines and distract the shooter.
“In his final act of bravery, he boldly remained in the open and engaged the shooter, now less than five meters in front of him,” MARSOC officials said in a release. “He courageously pressed the assault on the enemy until he received further wounds and fell mortally wounded.”
Meanwhile, Manoukian, who was the commander of the special operations team that came under attack, saw gunfire from an AK-47 tearing through walls of the operations room and quickly acted to direct his Marines to safe- ty, exposing himself to gunfire as he did so, officials said. He put himself between the shooter and other Marines, drawing enemy fire and allowing them to get to safety.
“Outgunned, Manoukian continued to engage the enemy until he fell mortally wounded to the shooter’s over- whelming fire,” the release reads.
Manoukian, of Los Altos Hills, Calif., was 29 at the time of the attack. Mote, of El Dorado, Calif., was 27. Another 1st MSOB Marine, Gunnery Sgt. Ryan Jeschke, 31, of Herndon, Va., was also killed in the attack.
According to MARSOC officials, Mote and Manoukian will be the third and fourth members of MARSOC to receive the Navy Cross.
Armenian violinist Sergey Khachatryan has been named the winner of the Credit Suisse Young Artist Award. The announcement was made in Vien- na by the jury, which is chaired by Lucerne Festi- val’s Executive and Artistic Director, Michael Haefliger, after the candidates auditioned for them in the Vienna Musikverein, The Art Journal reports.
The award comes with a cash prize of 75,000 Swiss francs – one of the highest awards in the field – and also involves appearing in concert with the Vienna Philharmonic as part of Lucerne Festival in summer. The concert will take place on 13 Septem- ber 2014 under the direction of Gustavo Dudamel.
Sergey Khachatryan was born in Yerevan, Ar- menia. In 2000 he won the prestigious Jean Sibelius Violin Competition in Helsinki and, in 2005, first prize at the Queen Elisabeth Music Competition in Brussels. He has performed with such internationally acclaimed orchestras and conductors as the Berlin Philharmonic, the Orchestre de Paris under Andris Nelsons, the Bamberg Symphony
under Jonathan Nott, the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Boston Symphony. He has appeared frequently with the Philharmonia Orchestra in particular. His plans for the current season in- clude concerts with the Rotterdam Philharmonic under Yannick Nézet-Séguin and with the Vienna Symphony un- der Markus Stenz. In June 2013 his most recent CD, of violin sonatas by Johannes Brahms, was released on the
label Naïve.
Yerevan -- The Hayastan All-Armenian Fund’s To- ronto affiliate continues to provide assistance to Artsakh schools previously supported by Toronto’s Armenian community. Recently, on the occasion of the New Year, students of Shushi’s Daniel Ghazaryan Music School were presented with new uniforms, which were donated by a diaspora family of expert tailors. In addition, winter clothes and shoes were gifted to a total of 165 school- children in the Martakert Region’s Mataghis village and the Martuni Region’s Spitakashen community.
Toronto-affiliate chair Migirdich Migirdichian, who has been serving on the Board of the Ghazaryan Music School for over a decade, expressed great pride in the achievements of the school’s gifted students — in- cluding their participation in numerous music festivals and competitions, at many of which they have won top priz- es and awards.
Since 2002, the Armenian community of Toronto has provided financial support for the establishment, renova- tion, and advancement of several educational institutions in Artsakh. In 2006 and 2010, it sponsored the construc- tion of the Mataghis school and the Spitakashen school, respectively; between 2002 and 2011, it supported the ren- ovation of classrooms, the construction of a boiler room, and the installation of a heating system at the Shushi Mu- sic School; and in 2013, it donated 15 violins and brass instruments to the latter institution.
NEW YORK -- According to the World Report 2014, released by the Human Rights Watch (HRW), President Serzh Sarkisian was re-elected in February and the ruling Republican Party dominated Yerevan munic- ipal elections in May amid reports of “voter harassment, vote-buying, misuse of adminis- trative resources to favor incumbents and police unresponsiveness to citizens’ com- plaints.”
The report of the New-York based hu- man rights watchdog released this week says as of October 31, the Helsinki Citizens’ As- sembly Vanadzor office had reported 29 noncombat army deaths, including 7 sui- cides. Local human rights groups have doc-
umented the Defense Ministry’s failure to investigate adequately and expose the circumstances of noncombat deaths and to account for evidence of violence in cases where the death is ruled a suicide.
Ill-treatment in police custody persists and the definition of torture in Armenian law does not meet internation- al standards, as it does not include crimes committed by public officials. Authorities often refuse to investigate alle- gations of ill-treatment or pressure victims to retract complaints. Police use torture to coerce confessions and in- criminating statements from suspects and witnesses.
In terms of freedom of press, the report says Armenia has diverse print and online media, but broadcast media lacks pluralism; for example, only one of Armenia’s 13 television stations carries live political talk shows. Interna- tional election observers noted the media’s “selective approach” in covering post-presidential election develop- ments, notably limiting views critical of the conduct of the election.
Violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity by both state and non-state actors are serious problems. Bureaucratic restrictions prevent people with terminal illnesses from accessing strong pain medications.
World Report 2014 is Human Rights Watch’s 24th annual review of human rights practices around the globe. It summarizes key human rights issues in more than 90 countries and territories worldwide, drawing on events through November 2013.
By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
Peter Balakian, Professor of Humanities at Colgate University, recently wrote a thought-provoking commen-
tary, titled: “A Broken Connection: The Armenian Financial Community and the Making of Culture.”
In his article, Balakian deplores the Armenian-American community’s failure to support a proposed Armenian
Genocide exhibit at the Illinois Holocaust Museum, on the eve of the Genocide Centennial in 2015.
The exhibit, “The Shadow of Mount Ararat: The Armenian Genocide,” would have been in display not only at
the Illinois Holocaust Museum -- the second largest such institution in the United States -- but also throughout the
country, and possibly in Europe and South America.
Balakian expresses his disappointment that the Chicago Armenian community could not raise the necessary
$600,000 to fund the project, resulting in the cancellation of the planned exhibit. In his view, this incident “reflects
a larger failure of the Armenian community in the United States to create culture, by which I mean: to use financial
means to conceive and engineer cultural production.” Balakian believes that Armenian-Americans “have almost
nothing to show in the domain of cultural production and representation in the mainstream.” With few exceptions,
“Armenians have created no mainstream cultural foundations, museums, [and] performing arts centers.”
Balakian complains that “the Armenian financial community has not been able to bring to fruition one feature
film about the Armenian Genocide or other aspects of Armenian history.” He quotes a Jewish scholar who told him:
“There seems to be a disconnect between the Armenian business community and the Armenian arts community; the
business people don’t see that investing in the arts is investing in the core continuity of Armenian civilization. In-
vesting in the community’s culture should be understood as a celebration of the life of Armenians past and present,
something that the Turkish perpetrators tried to extinguish. This is certainly the philosophy of a lot of Jewish in-
vestment in Jewish arts. It’s a ‘f-you Hitler’ attitude.”
While I share Balakian’s concerns, I would like to express some additional thoughts regarding this important
1) Most Armenian benefactors prefer to contribute and attach their names to tangible brick and mortar pro-
jects like churches and schools rather than more abstract endeavors such as public relations and the arts. Yet, eve-
ryone should realize that wealthy Armenians are entitled to spend their hard-earned money as they see fit. It’s their
money and they decide how to spend it!
2) The needs of the Armenian Diaspora and the Armenian Republic are so massive that it is practically impos-
sible for even generous benefactors to satisfy everyone’s demands.
3) There are no established mechanisms to prioritize the community’s need and assess their merit. Benefactors
and charitable organizations are bombarded with requests to fund movies, publications, artwork, aid to Armenia,
monuments, memorials, churches, schools and orphanages. Few benefactors have the time and expertise to judge
the quality and utility of the proposed projects in so many diverse fields.
4) Projects are sometimes funded not on merit, but on the basis of the personal relationship between the donor
and the recipient. It could boil down to who is doing the asking!
5) Even though Armenians are quite generous in supporting their community organizations, the requests often
outstrip the available funds. One cannot name a single category of needs that receives adequate funding, including
social, cultural, religious, political, athletic, and humanitarian activities. Can anyone say that there are sufficient
funds to:
-- Print all the books that are worthy of publication?
-- Digitize ancient manuscripts and other valuable archival materials before they are lost forever?
-- Produce professionally-made movies and documentaries on the Armenian Genocide and other topics?
-- Fund Genocide Centennial projects?
-- Provide funds for electing political candidates who endorse Armenian issues?
-- Support concerts, art exhibits, museums, medical, scientific, and countless other worthy projects?
-- Meet the basic needs for the survival of Syrian Armenians, and the poor and needy in Armenia, Artsakh and
the Diaspora?
Donors could certainly do more to support the seemingly endless needs of Armenians worldwide. However, a
mechanism must first be established to prioritize the various needs, judge their merit, and make a professional
presentation to potential donors. Finally, after the donation is made, periodic reports on the progress of the project
must be given to the donor, demonstrating that the allocated funds are being properly spent to accomplish the prom-
ised objectives.
Who: What: When: Where: Contact:
AGBU and the Kololian Foundation The Depopulation Crisis in Armenia International Speaking Tour Wednesday, February 05, 2014, 7:30PM AGBU Alex Manoogian Cultural Center, 930 Progress Avenue, Toronto
Salpi Der Ghazarian, Chapter Coordinator, agbutoronto@bellnet.ca, Tel: 416-431-2428
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TORONTO – The Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) in collaboration with the Kololian Founda- tion is hosting “The Depopulation Crisis in Armenia,” an international speaking tour. The DEPOP Research Group will present its findings from “The Depopulation Crisis in Armenia” research report, which was funded by the Ko- lolian Foundation of Toronto.
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