Archive for November, 2010

Broken Stones – a Music Video on the Destruction of Djulfa

I got word from a friend of mine that his colleague Alexis Hirschhorn, a Belgian consultant, has made a music video commemorating the destruction of Djulfa cemetery in Azerbaijan.

Based on the footage of my The New Tears Araxes film (2006), Hirschhorn says his video is meant “to inform my non-Armenians friends of this tragedy, and on the 1915 Armenian genocide which like the destruction of Djulfa is still denied by its perpetrators. I thought it could have an impact specially now that we are nearing the 5th anniversary of Djulfa’s destruction. Also I think it was interesting for my Armenians friends to see a non-Armenian perspective on this.”

Although written and performed in French, the video has English subtitle with Spanish subtitle to follow soon.

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia – Photos of Ottoman Armenia

A Facebook group in Turkish called Once upon a time Armenians in Anatolia has photographs and postcards of new and old Armenian culture in eastern Turkey.

Gender Based Violence in Armenia Video Ad

Armenia’s Police Responds to Domestic Violence Petition

A response from Armenia’s police regarding a domestic violence petition is hopeful but confusing.

A letter addressed to me signed by the head of Armenia’s national police headquarters Eduard Ghazaryan states that the petition addressed to the Prime Minister (demanding, in part, justice in the death of Zaruhi Petrosyan, a victim of domestic abuse) has been received by Armenia’s police and forwarded to the Investigative Service within Armenia’s Ministry of Defense (an agency created in late 2008, according to an interview by the unit’s chief Armen Harutyunyan) for “discussing it in the framework of criminal case 44112310.”

The unit, according to its chief, is set to investigate crimes committed by contract-based servicemen of Armenia’s army while on duty.

Zaruhi Petrosyan’s husband Yanis Sarkisov (who killed Zaruhi with his mother)  is a contract-based serviceman in the Armenian military. But was he on duty when he murdered his wife?

At first, I took the letter as a positive sign.

It is awkward, however, that the military investigators are looking into the case of domestic violence.

They do not have, as far as I understand, any authority to prosecute Zaruhi’s other killer – the mother-in-law – neither do they seem to have authority to investigate the possibility of the brother-in-law’s involvement (two specific demands that our petition made).

“Click-to-Share Democracy” in Armenia

My newest post for Ararat Online Magazine is called Armenia’s Click-to-Share Democracy and explores the recent netivisim (Internetnet activism) boom in Armenia:


Women abused in their homes, conscripts humiliated in the military, and children abused at schools. None of the above are new phenomena in post-Soviet Armenia. But that’s the impression one gets by observing Armenia’s social networking. Day after day, YouTube videos (largely shared through Facebook) emerge depicting human rights violations, followed by societal anger, activism, and some government action.

In early September 2010, a video emerged showing humiliation of two conscripts in Armenia’s military. Within one week, and after vociferous anger floating through Armenian accounts of YouTube and Facebook, the abusive career major was arrested. Less than a month after the military video, a video interview with a young woman (and her mother-in-law) describing her sister Zaruhi Petrosyan’s two-year abuse at the hand of the latter’s husband and mother-in-law resulting in Zaruhi’s death hit the Internet. Tens of thousands watched the video; over 3,000 signed a petition, sponsored by this author, to Armenia’s prime minister, demanding justice and swift passage of domestic violence legislation. And less than a week after Zaruhi’s video, a YouTube clip showing abuse of a middle-school kid in the classroom sparked more anger — resulting in the dismissal of the teacher.

None of the above human rights abuses are new to Armenia. But until recently, Armenian citizens have heard about these instances through unconfirmed rumors — state-controlled or self-censored media wouldn’t show these videos on TV and aggressive opposition newspapers are not a reliable source either.

Read the full post on Ararat Magazine.