Archive for June, 2007

Forestfree Armenia Can Be Avoided

Armenia Tree Project is alarming yet another government decision to eliminate a rich and unique forest in Armenia:

Teghut, with its thousands of acres of virgin forest and rich ecosystem in Northern Armenia, is home to hundreds of species of birds, mammals, reptiles, fish and plants, including many that are registered in the International Red Book of Endangered Species.

Armenian Copper Program (ACP), with approval from Armenia’s Ministry of Nature Protection, plans to clear-cut over 1,500 acres of Teghut’s forest in order to establish an open pit strip mining operation for copper and molybdenum ore. In addition, ACP plans to create a “tailing dump” in a nearby pristine gorge, where heavy metals and other toxins from mining waste will leach into the ground and into the river flowing through the gorge, ultimately contaminating the local water supply.

An online petition is available for your signatures.

Swiss Court Affirms Genocide Denial as Racism

Turkish politician loses first appeal against Swiss racism conviction, says lawyer

June 20, 2007 Associated Press

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) – An appeals court has confirmed the sentence against a Turkish politician convicted of racism for denying that the early 20th century killing of Armenians was genocide, his lawyer said Wednesday.

Laurent Moreillon said Dogu Perincek, the leader of the Turkish Workers’ Party, lost his first appeal at a court in the canton (state) of Vaud, where a lower tribunal in March convicted and ordered him to pay a fine of 3,000 Swiss francs (US$2,450; ¤1,870).
Perincek, who was also given a suspended penalty of 9,000 francs (US$7,360; ¤5,600) and ordered to pay 1,000 francs (US$820; ¤620) to an Armenian association, had repeatedly denied during a visit to Switzerland in 2005 that the World War I-era killings of up to 1.5 million Armenians amounted to genocide.

Moreillon said Perincek would now appeal to the Federal Tribunal, Switzerland’s supreme court.

The case was seen as a test of whether it is a violation of Switzerland’s anti-racism law to deny that the Turks committed genocide in the killings. The legislation has previously been applied to Holocaust denial.

The case has caused diplomatic tension between the Alpine republic and Turkey, which insists Armenians were killed in civil unrest during the tumultuous collapse of the Ottoman Empire and not in a planned campaign of genocide.

Turkey has called the case against Perincek «inappropriate, baseless and debatable in every circumstance.  Source

Historian Applies to European Court for Turkish Penal Code

Turkish Historian Brings Struggle Against Turkey’s Article 301 to European Court

Press Release, Taner Akcam, Payam Akhavan

Montreal, QC, June 20, 2007 – Professor Taner Akçam, a Turkish
scholar and Visiting Associate Professor of History at the University
of Minnesota, filed an application today before the European Court of
Human Rights against the Republic of Turkey.

The complaint is based on the criminal investigation launched against
him earlier this year under Turkish Penal Code Article 301, for
insulting “Turkishness” by having publicly used the term “genocide”
to describe the mass murder of Armenians in 1915.

Despite its changed wording over time, Article 301 remains prominent
among the many enduring obstacles in Turkey’s path to membership of
the European Union. The same law has in recent years been the basis
for the prosecution of other leading Turkish intellectuals, writers,
journalists and academics on similar grounds. The most notable
victims of Article 301 include Nobel Prize winning novelist Orhan
Pamuk, recently assassinated Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink,
and publisher Fatih Tas.

The Court, based in Strasbourg, France, enforces the Convention for
the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. It rules
over private individuals’ complaints against human rights violations
committed by signatory States. Turkey signed the Convention in 1954.

“Facing history and coming to terms with past human rights abuses is
not a crime but a prerequisite for peace and reconciliation in the
region,” says Professor Akçam. “My goal is to help Turkey realize its
full potential to evolve into a truly free and democratic society.
This cannot happen if Turkey continues to criminalize academic
discussion.” His legal team is headed by Dr. Payam Akhavan, former UN war crimes prosecutor and professor of international law at McGill
University in Montreal. “In a world where Holocaust denial is a
crime, state-sanctioned denial of genocide is all the more
reproachable,” says Dr. Akhavan. “Limitations on freedom of speech
should apply to hate speech, not to speech against hate.”

The Court will examine Professor Akçam’s application and rule on its
admissibility within one year. If the application is declared
admissible, the Court will then encourage the parties to reach a
friendly settlement. Only if no settlement can be reached will the
Court consider whether or not there has been a violation of the
Convention. Should the Court find that there has been such violation,
it will deliver a judgment which will legally bind Turkey to comply.

Armenia, I Coming!

Today I received my tickets to Armenia from July 27 – August 15, 2007.

This is the first time I am going home after I moved to America in 2003, interestingly on July 27.  So I am visiting home exactly four years after I left.

I can’t describe how happy I am.  I will be very busy but if there is a blogger conference or something around that time I would like to meet some of our pen pals.

I will post about buying cheapest tickets to Armenia later.

Armenian Dolma for Russian Revolution

Washington Post has an interesting article on Armenian Jewish activist Gary Kasparov who has turned out to be the main opponent to Russian President Putin’s authoritarian rule.


The last part of the article reminded me of “Mrs. President,” a documentary about 47 female presidential candidates in Iran’s 2001 elections.  One important point that one of the Iranian women makes in the documentary is that all [male] heroes have either had strong mothers or strong wives.

This is, indeed, the case for Kasparov’s Armenian mother who not only feeds his son with dolma, according to Washington Post, but with political strategy as well:

His mother had a late lunch waiting, a traditional Armenian meal of dolma, soup and vegetables. Mr. Kasparov ate little as he took more calls from reporters. His mother interrupted him for an urgent interview on a local radio station. “Garry, come over here,” she said, holding up the phone in a corner of the living room. “You’re on in 40 seconds.”

Mr. Kasparov walked over and took the phone. “Now don’t speak too fast, and speak simply,” his mother said. The interview started, and she said, “Slow down, Garry, don’t get excited.”

The post also has an article on Turkish elections which largely talks about the Armenian community.

Armenia: Aryan Genealogist Blacklisted

Hetq informs that “Since 2002, entry into Armenia has been prohibited for French-Armenian ontologist and genealogist Alexandre Arord[i] Varbedian.”

In August 2003, the Department for Pardons, Citizenship, Awards and Titles, within the President’s staff, refused Varbedian’s application for a ten-year paid residence permit in Armenia. Since then, Varbedian’s three electronic tourist visa applications have been refused and, on two occasions, invitation letters from his son, Artur Varbedian, have been rejected without a reason cited.

Varbedian, a natural born citizen of France raised in Armenia, has been reportedly refused extension for his Armenian visa due to allegedly belonging to a sect, writes Hetq.

Having read most of Varbedian’s writings and attended one lecture by him in Yerevan before 2003, I know he considers himself Aryan, hence his made up middle name – Arordi (Son of Ar/Sun). 

I guess the good news is that Varbedian is surprisingly not anti-Semite (as far as I can recall).  Just the opposite, he considers Jewish culture Armenian-Aryan and apparently has no hate for them.  But the off-shoot he has supported, such as the tiny Armenian-Aryan organization, is largely anti-Semitic to an extent that, as we revealed last year, one of their leaders particpitaed in Iranian president Ahmadenijad’s infamous Holocaust denial conference.  Varbedian’s tone is still moderate and not too rhetorical. 

But I question Varbedian’s scholarship, and especially his mystic writing style (such as “…” after almost every paragraph) can get annoying.  I also don’t support the school he has created in Armenia that basically is along the eurocentric hierarchial view that western (Aryan for Varbedian) means progress and that the source of every good is in the Aryan culture.

I don’t think it is right for Armenia to blacklist Varbedian because of his beliefs.  These blacklists actually give more credit to his work by creating the mystic environment of exile that the Aryan genealogist is facing. 

Google Removes Website About Racist Celebrity

Celebrity’s operated hate website is not removed though  

An e-mail from a Blogian reader informs that Google search engine has apparently removed, a website revealing the identity of Murad Gumen – a celebrity cartoonist who has been secretly operating the anti-Armenian hate website

Just two days ago, a Google search of “Murad Gumen” listed as the third website about the cartoonist.  But an apparent lobbying by Gumen has removed the link from the Google search engine.

It is interesting that Google removes a website about a racist cartoonist, but doesn’t remove the hate website operated by the same racist pig.

Turkish-American cartoonist Gumen’s argument for his anti-Armenian hate website is that every story has two sides.  What about your “other” side, Mr. Gumen? is now for sale domain, registered by us, is on sale for a start up price of $350.  Please note it is not Urartu, but Uraratu.  I decided to sell it because I don’t have the time to develop it.

I’d prefer to sell it to an Armenian organization due to the nature of the domain name.

Inquiries can be made through [email protected] or [email protected]

Armenian Jews “Deeply Irritated”

Armenia’s tiny Jewish community is “deeply irritated,” in the words of its leadership, with an interview in the Azerbaijani media where the Chief Rabbi of Azerbaijan’s European Jews is quoted as accusing Armenia of intolerance and praising Azerbaijan for tolerance toward its minorities.

 Photo: Azerbaijan’s Chief Rabbi who says “Azerbaijan’s propaganda by an ethnic or religious minority leader [from Azerbaijan]  is taken with large trust in the world”

The letter, co-signed by Rimma Feller Varzhapetyan (Head of Armenia’s Jewish Community), Rabbi Gershon Meir Burshtein (Chief Rabbi of Armenia), and Villy Veiner (President of Menora Cultural Center) and published in full by PanArmenian, ridicules Azerbaijan’s Chief Rabbi Meir Bruk.  Indeed the Azerbaijani Rabbi is very interesting.  He is quoted as saying in the anti-Armenian newspaper that “Azerbaijan’s propaganda by an ethnic or religious minority leader [from Azerbaijan]  is taken with large trust in the world” (“Пропаганда Азербайджана представителем этнической группы или духовного лидера пользуется большим доверием в мире“) crediting his own campaign about tolerance in Azerbaijan.

Rabbi Bruk said in his interview to Azerbaijan’s Russian language Zerkalo newspaper on June 12, 2007 that “Armenia is weak spiritually and economically.”  Not surprised with seeing regular anti-Armenian “dirt” in the Azerbaijani media, Armenia’s Jewish leaders say they still cannot remain silent on the “well-paid order” their kin is obeying.

Armenia’s Jewish leadership calls “illiterate” Azerbaijani young Rabbi’s data that there are only 200 Jews left in Armenia because of the intolerance in the country.  There “are officially registered four Jewish public, religious and cultural organizations in the republic,” they write, “which are recognized by all world Jewish organizations. Here we have a working synagogue headed by the Chief Rabbi of Armenia.”

Although there is some extent of anti-Semitism in Armenia, the outcry of Armenian Jews is especially reasoned due to the outrageous intolerance of not only anything Armenian (remember the wipe out of the medieval Armenian cemetery in 2005), but the recent imprisonment and persecution of independent Azeri journalists, for example, across Azerbaijan.

The desecration of Jewish graves in Azerbaijan is of course not government sponsored.  So compared to how the Armenian culture has been wiped out in Azerbaijan by the state, yes, Jews live in a country of extreme tolerance.  They are just a bit scared to wear the star of David in Azerbaijan says the New York Times and their leaders need to do a bit of, in the words of Rabbi Burk himself, “propaganda” to fit in the anti-Armenian society. 

Here is more from the letter by Armenia’s Jewish leadership:

Doesn’t Mr. Bruk know the opinion of the European Parliament on countless violations of democratic bases and human rights committed by Azerbaijan, the continuing political and judicial prosecutions of any kind of dissent?

And of course God forbid Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh from goods that Mr. Bruk promises them in case if Armenia returns Nagorno Karabakh to Azerbaijan. Nobody here has forgotten Sumgait, Kirovabad, Baku, and Karabakh. People in other countries, including Israel too remember those “goods”.

We think that the wise Rabbi has forgotten that his and our mission is in peacekeeping and helping our countries to settle the accumulated problems on the level of popular diplomacy, and not in compressing the complex relations between the two neighbors, which are intense and without it. Our mission is not to become marionettes in the hands of certain political and financial bosses.

At the end we’d like to draw the attention of the whole European community, public and religions International Jewish Organizations that Jews of Armenia are deeply irritated at the above-mentioned article. We think that similar statements made by an official religions leader, Mr. Bruk, are of quite provocative character, they promote ethnic discord and are contrary to the tolerance policy declared by those organizations. We hope that actions of Mr. Bruk will receive adequate evaluation and condemnation.

Dollars’ Value Drops; Girlfriends Drop

I was just talking to one of my best friends in Yerevan and he was saying how the vallue of American dollar has dropped in Armenia.  After an economic affairs discussion, we started talking about girls and he joked that with this financial dollar crisis keeping a girlfriend is difficult hence his single status.

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