Archive for May, 2007

“Internet Video: Making the Local Global”

The largest circulating worldwide Armenian Magazine, AGBU, makes mention of my film on the Djulfa destruction in its current, April 2007, issue.  

Titled “Internet Video: Making the Local Global,” Hrag Vartanian’s article tells of the videonet revolution and its Armenian connection. 


One veteran filmmaker, Ted Bogosian, was approached by Hollywood bigwig Danny DeVito to be part of a new movie portal called Clickstar ( Run by actor Morgan Freeman’s company and sponsored by Intel, Clickstar was launched last December. It allows users to have a more flexible movie experience by offering the ability to download movies either to rent or own, 24 hours a day.


With a brief note on Hetq’s “documentary on human trafficking from Armenia to Dubai” and an interview with freedom fighter Monte Melkonian, the article talks about the platform that has unintentionally provided to often hate videos denying the Armenian genocide.  At the same time, the article reveals a hypocritical gesture by YouTube censoring videos that “insult Turkishness.”

YouTube is quoted as saying the video giant will “remain committed to working with authorities in Turkey to address any concerns that they may have,” given a recent ban of YouTube by Turkey after a Greek video “insulted” Turkey’s founder Ataturk by calling the latter homosexual (the video was removed by YouTube).

As a reminder, the previous issue of AGBU magazine had an article on Armenian blogs that mentioned this blog in a few paragraphs.  The author of both articles, Hrag Vartanian, has recently set up his own interesting blog that has BoingBoing-like posts in addition to unique entries on Armenian issues

If the chance for abuse on YouTube is possible, others are utilizing the service for cultural or social activism. One Armenian blogger, Simon Maghakyan, posted a short documentary about the 2005 destruction of the medieval Armenian cemetery of Djulfa in the Azeri-controlled region of Nakhijevan, The New Tears of Araxes-a story he was the first to spotlight on his website,

“It took two months to create, and I had no idea how to make a video,” Maghakyan says. “I received financial help from a non-Armenian foundation to purchase the satellite image used in the video. A scriptwriter helped, and I had someone lend a hand with the soundtrack.” Since its posting it last December, the five-minute video has received 8,000 views on YouTube and an additional 1,000 views on Google video-a competing site.

“There has been lots of feedback,” he explains. “The strangest response I received was from someone in Turkey who wrote in broken English that he or she accepted the Genocide and was sorry. I was surprised because the film didn’t deal with that at all.”“[Online video] is a powerful tool delivering messages and even conventional media is referencing YouTube,” Maghakyan says. “But there is still a prevalent idea that online videos aren’t as credible as videos in the library.”

Armenian Elections “More White Than Black”


Photo: Members of the election committee count ballots at a polling station during parliamentary elections in Yerevan. Western observers on Sunday said parliamentary elections in Armenia were the fairest yet in the ex-Soviet state, now set to be run by a coalition of parties close to the current government that swept the vote.(AFP/Karen Minasyan)  

Hailed as the first democratic election in Armenia’s 15-year-old independence after breaking up from the Soviet Union, the results of the parliament votes are in:

5 parties have received the number of votes needed to enter the National Assembly. These are the Republican Party of Armenia, the Prosperous Armenia Party, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Party, the Country of Legality Party and the Heritage Party.

Cartoon, showing political party slogans saying “we are the best” in several different ways, by Pavel Jangirov from

Although pro-government Republicans and Prosperous Armenia party have led the polls, western observers are saying the elections generally met international standards.

They still say there were isolated instances of double voting and falsification of results, but overall it was an improvement from previous undemocratic elections.


Photo: Armenia’s Prime Minister Serzh Sarksyan listens to a journalist’s question after casting his ballot during a parliamentary election in Yerevan May 12, 2007. REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili (ARMENIA)

A local, foreign-born Armenian blogger served as an observer of the vote and was shocked by the fact that “Everything went so smoothly, I can’t tell you.”

It was parliamentary elections yesterday, and I got the chance, thanks to the “It’s Your Choice” NGO and Transparency International, to be a full-fledged elections observer! Well, me and lots of other people, including a number of Diasporan-Armenians, but I guess I was a bit over-excited, because, honestly, at the end of the day, I think it’s pretty cool…


Well, it was awfully tiring, but I have to say I was terribly impressed, and felt proud, because, before going in as an observer, I was expecting to see the most khaydarag, utterly ridiculous things as usual, and I was even looking forward to a nice fight with the authorities, but things went so smoothly, it was so clean, so just… I mean, I’ve been hearing reports from elsewhere, and the Lord alone knows what we are to expect in the next few weeks in terms of accusations and rallies, but all I know is, I have not lost my faith in the Armenian people and democracy, as I expected I would.

Meanwhile, it is not too encouraging (at least for me) to see that an oligarch widely known as “stupid” got to the second place with 15.1 percent votes.  It is not impossible that he actually earned the votes, but it kind of shows that the Armenian society is not, how should I say, very different from the rest of the world. I guess if George W. Bush got reelected in America than Dodi Gago could easily get 15.1% in Armenia…

Overall, from my personal conversations to friends and relatives in Armenia I was surprised (in a very nice way) with the high turnout and interest of voters. One cousin, for example, who barely turned 18 went and voted early morning. I don’t care who she voted for, but she still voted! My sister and her husband voted for different political parties, and I felt I lived in utopia when they calmly discussed on the phone why and how they voted for different parties (one opposition; one pro-government) and were not upset with the other’s choice at all. I hope more Armenian women become independent and eventually participate not only in voting, but also in being voted in.

Even my 4 ½-year-old niece was involved in the elections and lobbied, I should note unsuccessfully, her Mom to vote for a particular party that she liked (I am glad she can’t read my blog yet).

I guess we all should be glad that another country in the world is becoming more democratic. Maybe Armenia’s future is much brighter than we think it is. 

My new film: Human Trafficking in Colorado

Today, in 2007, there are more slaves in the world than 200 years ago. Modern slavery is known as human trafficking and it is the fastest growing global crime.

Produced by two other University of Colorado students and myself in Spring 2007, “Rocky Mountain Slavery: The Story of Human Trafficking in Colorado” gives the picture of sex trade in the Centennial State.

An undercover investigator, an elected official and other community members share with us information about this heinous crime that most Coloradoans are not aware of.

An ordinary citizen in downtown Denver thinks human trafficking means “lots of people walking on the street.” We find out that there are, indeed, “lost of people” in trafficking, but they are not walking on the street at all. They are isolated, beaten, raped and dehumanized in the most unimaginable ways.

To watch the film at, go to

I am not alone…

I found out I am not alone in doing it… I don’t think it is bad for my health and actually my family doesn’t mind me doing it… I just sometimes have double thoughts about it… Maybe I should stop… But I can’t…. I don’t want to…

I was doing it in Canada all the time… And my friend Vartan was doing it too…

This film is decidated to all those who are suffering from boratomania:

Three journalists fool an entire army?

A new article in Russian at RealAzer, the newspaper that broke the news about three Armenian journalists arrested in Nakhichevan, says the Armenian journalists have apparently escaped Nakhichevan and are not arrested.

For those of you who know Russian can read the article at  It says how the entire Azerbaijani army and police were mobolized in Nakhichevan to find the female journalists.  Many locals have been arrested and interrogated for allegedly helping the Armenian journalists.  I will read over the article again and post other details later.

Azerbaijan: Lack of “Armenian noise” = no arrests

Citing absence of “Armenian noise” as proof apparently ignoring this blog’s entry, officials in Azerbaijan are denying reports that three female Armenian journalists have been arrested in Nakhichevan, reports Russia’s Regnum News.


Representatives from Azerbaijan’s cabinet Ministry of Interior told Regnum the reports by “Realni Azerbaijan” (whose editor was sentenced to 2 ½ years last month by an Azerbaijani court) are false, because the Russian TV that the journalists supposedly work for is not talking about arrests, Armenia is not making noise and local human rights NGOs in Nakhichevan are silent.


According to the report by “Realni Azerbaijan” mentioned in this blog, three foreign female journalists were arrested by the local police in Azerbaijan’s Nakhichevan exclave after a villager overheard them talking Armenian.  The villager who tipped the journalists in was instructed by the police to say that the journalists were Russian and not Armenian.


The identities of the reportedly arrested journalists remain unknown at this time.  I tried calling the local prosecutor’s office in Kergerli region yesterday, where the arrest took place, but the phone number – found on an official Azerbaijani website – seemed disconnected.

Three Armenian Journalists Arrested in Nakhichevan

Three international female journalists have been arrested in Nakhichevan after a local villager overheard them talking in Armenian, reports Realni Azerbaijan Russian-language online newspaper on May 5, 2007.


Map of Azerbaijan showing Kangarli rayon

Map of Azerbaijan showing Kangarli rayon

Courtesy of 

According to the accounts of villagers from Shakhtakhti (region of Kengerli), three journalists from a Russian TV visited Nakhichevan and convinced local villager Aleksper Asadov to guide them to the “Albanian church” of the village for a report on ancient historical monuments.


During videotaping the church, the journalists, according to Aleksper Asadov, started talking in Armenian.  Asadov informed the villagers who soon contacted the local police.  After the journalists were arrested having left the church, Asadov was instructed by the police to say that the journalists were not Armenian but Russian.


According to Realni Azerbaijan, whose editor was sentenced to 2 ½ years in jail last month after visiting Nagorno Karabakh (a disputed region de facto part of Armenia, de jure part of Azerbaijan) and challenging official’s Azerbaijan’s accusation that Armenian forces killed and mutilated several hundred Azeri civilians of Khojaly during the war of the 1990s, the news about the Armenian journalists has spread all over Nakhichevan. The identities of the three female journalists remain unknown.

Nakhichevan is an exclave of Azerbaijan between Armenia and Iran.  According to eyewitness reports, the rich Armenian culture there has been reduced to dust and the few survived Armenian monuments have been proclaimed “Albanian.” The recent act of vandalism against Armenian heritage was the complete destruction of the largest medieval Armenian cemetery on Earth in Southern Nakhichevan’s Djulfa district in December of 2005 that was videotaped and made available on the Internet. European Parliament members were barred by Azerbaijan from visiting the site where the cemetery (now converted to a military rifle range) existed.


The international community has recently accused Azerbaijan for persecuting journalists.  Two Azeri journalists were jailed for “insulting Islam” just last week.

A Shameful Act Wins Award

Turkish historian Taner Akcam’s A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility book has won the Minnesota Book Award for General Nonfiction, reports Star Tribune.

Blogian photo: Taner Akcam talking about his book in Denver’s Mizel Museum on April 15, 2007

For his take on Turkish history, Taner Akçam has been prosecuted, jailed, exiled, detained, threatened, maligned, vilified and harassed. On Saturday, the visiting University of Minnesota professor won a Minnesota Book Award for “A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility.”

Judges for the 19th annual awards called it a “pioneering work” and “scrupulous account of Turkish responsibility for the killing of close to 1 million Armenians” and praised Akçam and his publisher, Metropolitan Books, for “challenging the country’s 90-plus-year denial of intentional genocide.”

Honorary Woman!

I did not make it to Time’s 100 this year but I have made it to something much better and honorable – I was given the title of Honorary Woman!

My International Women’s Resistance professor told the only three guys in class that we have done enough to be considered Honorary Women.

I sounded a die heart conservative the first weeks I walked into the class, so imagine how much I have changed to receive the honor.

The Time 100

The 2007 “100” list of Time Magazine that lists 100 people around the globe who shape the world includes Armenian Jewish activist Garry Kasparov:


Garry Kasparov

Illustration for TIME by Mark Ulriksen

Garry Kasparov

Garry Kasparov

Garry Kasparov likes to say he has been in politics all his life. In the Soviet Union, the nation in which he grew up, chess was a way of demonstrating the superiority of communism over the decadent West, and a chess prodigy was inevitably a political figure. Kasparov never dodged that fate; when he took on and eventually defeated Anatoly Karpov, the darling of the Soviet chess establishment, in 1985, his image as a prominent outsider—Kasparov is half Jewish, half Armenian—was fixed.

Kasparov’s status has been maintained in post-Soviet Russia. His organization, the Other Russia, a coalition of those opposed to the rule of President Vladimir Putin, has held a series of demonstrations, often broken up by the police. For Kasparov, Russia today, dominated by a combination of huge energy enterprises and former security apparatchiks (such as Putin), is a betrayal of those who dreamed of democracy in the early 1990s.

Putin’s foes are fragmented and run from old-fashioned nationalists to modern liberals; Kasparov, 44, insists he is just a moderator, not a leader, of the movement. But by giving a voice to those who believe that Russia can develop in a way different from the authoritarianism that seems always to have been its fate, the retired grand master shows that he has not yet made his last move. LINK

Now a short quiz.  Who, from the listed, is not in Time’s 100:

a. Hillary Clinton

b. Barack Obama

c. George W. Bush

d. Osama Bin Laden

e. Leonardo Di Carpio (however it is spelled)

f. Borat

AND THE ANSWER IS…. George W Bush!

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