Archive for the 'Videos' Category

“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.”

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

Turkey’s Hidden Armenians

My dial-up Internet at home is not letting me watch this, but the title and the short description are interesting enough to inform about a French TV video.

France 24, a sort of French CNN, has posted a reportage about Turkey’s Hidden Armenians:

Turkey’s hidden Armenians

Friday, April 27, 2007

After the genocide of the early 20th century, Armenian identity in Turkey has been hidden or even pushed away for fear of discrimination.

Thank you to Appo Jabarian from Armenian Life Magazine for sending an e-mail about the video

Talk about SEX

OK my title got some of you.  I meant talk about SEX SLAVERY.  

I was viewing the YouTube profile of Ara Manoogian, an investigative journalist at Hetq and a blogger who has traveled undercover to Dubai to report the human trafficking of Armenian women and children, and found out something that made me very sad – a 19-year-old female user from Armenia had posted a comment urging Ara to remove his videos about the trafficking of Armenian women and children:

| January 17, 2007

barev [hello]

Es uzum asel vor duk ANPAYMAN petkek jenjel ajt videonere hay axchikneri masin vor ‘ashxatumen’ Dubai um. [I want to say that you WITHOUT CONDITIONS should delete those videos about Armenian girls who are “working” in Dubai]

Duk petka haskanak vor da mer hayeri hamar vate.
Gitem vor jishta ajt amene u tents baner linumen.
Bajts… [You should understand that it is bad for Armenians. I know all of that is true and things like that happen. But…]
Vor tex chen linum?? [Where don’t these things happen?]
Bolor jerkirnerum ka bajts irank internetum chen denum. [These things are in all countries that they don’t post on the Internet]
Ajt videonere mer hayastani hamar vat reclame. [These videos are bad advertisement for our Armenia]

Gentrumem jenjeq!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [Please delete]

The young woman’s comment shows that human trafficking is a taboo in Armenia.  “Don’t talk about it, it makes us look bad.”

Photo from Polaris

It doesn’t make us look bad because we are organizing it, but makes us look bad because there are prostitutes among Armenians.

After all that awareness people still don’t get what human trafficking means.  Last week, when I interviewed a random lady in downtown Denver for an upcoming school-project documentary, she thought human trafficking meant “lot’s of people walking on the street.”

You say it is slavery, they answer slavery doesn’t exist. You say it is sexual slavery, “macho” men jump in and say, “wow, where?”

I guess women are the “best” audience to raise awareness about human trafficking in.  So please, especially Eastern European and Armenian women, TALK ABOUT SEX SLAVERY, let your friends know that it exists, and watch videos about Armenian women and children trafficked to Dubai. 

Trafficking is when people are tricked or forced into slavery and kept in it with threats and torture. It is not a woman’s or a child’s fault to be a human trafficking victim. TALK ABOUT SEX SLAVERY. TALK ABOUT IT.

Slavery: The Nice Solutions, and the Real Solutions

Another piece by Andy Turpin from tomorrow’s The Armenian Weekly.

WATERTOWN, Mass. (A.W.)—The anti-slavery film “Amazing Grace” opens this weekend. It tells the story of abolitionist leader William Wilberforce and his lifelong efforts that ended the British slave trade through the passing of the Slave Trade Act of 1807 (though it took strict enforcement by British officials throughout the 1830s before the slave trade was effectively curbed.) The film’s screenwriter is Stephen Knight, writer of “Dirty Pretty Things,” a story about illegal immigrant culture in Europe.

From a public relations perspective, “Amazing Grace” looks to be a thought provoking film and an adequate media send-off giving lip service to February as “Black History Month.” The producer of the film, Bristol Bay Productions, has also helped to disseminate information on the anti-slavery campaign, “The Amazing Change.” (For more information about this campaign, visit

Yet, the steps they list to fight modern-day slavery and human trafficking are limited to raising awareness, forming a discussion group, and donating to their campaign.

These are the nice solutions. These are the solutions you tell your elementary schooler. These are not the solutions, though, that save lives.

I burst this bubble not to be uncouth or condescending, but because the people who continue these acts today are virtual demons in human guise. And because these are major issues in Armenia and the Diaspora, in such places as Greece, France and Israel, not to mention every major U.S. city.

These problems aren’t hidden. They are, rather, problems that only law enforcement has jurisdiction over or enough brute force to handle.

Petitioning and letter writing are still valuable avenues to pursue, but let’s walk through the most pragmatic ways to approach the problem: Stay informed and concerned for these people. To not is to de-humanize them. We’re not speaking of “let my people go” situations. We’re speaking of dark places from the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” Read Victor Malarek’s The Natashas for background, go to the Investigative Journalists of Armenia website at, then just check the archives of any Greek or Israeli newspaper to see how epidemic the problem is.

1. When it comes to lobbying, almost all countries have laws saying it is illegal to traffic humans or enslave them. Politicians aren’t the ones in charge of breaking down doors— law enforcement agents and peacekeeping soldiers are. Write to Interpol and American UN officers to search more transport vehicles at border checkpoints, and to ask women in these zones if they are in of need protection or are crossing borders of their own free will. (This seems basic, but not all officers are trained to do so.)

This request may not always prove successful due to scare tactics used on victims or their inability to speak the language of the officer, but observing such indicated fear or linguistic inability could be a tip-off to an agent.

Also, write your local customs office or port authority official and ask to increase the number of searched cargo containers. Many victims are smuggled into countries in this way. Ships often contain hundreds of containers, but increasing the requisite search number helps the odds of saving more people.

2. Though it may seem crass to assume that you may be seen in a “gentlemen’s club” of ill repute, such establishments are often fronts for sex slavery. If a dancer seems drugged or scared, ask them about it or discretely call the police. If it is a legitimate club, the dancers will most likely be registered with the proper authorities. If not, your call may help build evidence in a case against the traffickers.

3. As for making donations, “The Poppy Project” based out of London is a growing organization that specializes in therapy and safe harbor for victims of slavery and trafficking after they are cleared by law enforcement authorities.

What makes the fight against human trafficking and slavery so difficult is the passivity of governments, citizens, soldiers and law enforcement officers who, in most circumstances, are decent people.

To that end, especially if are traveling in Armenia, show vigilance towards potentially trafficked victims that may be Ukrainian or Russian. In Armenia, institutional corruption and cultural prejudices often hamper enforcement efforts.

Likewise, if traveling in Dubai or Israel specifically, be on the watch for Armenian women that may be victims.

These are not pleasant things to write about. However, apathy of good people in the presence of evil is tantamount to complicity. With concerted efforts, ground can be gained in this struggle against that which, more than a hundred years ago, curbed a similar hell on earth for people in slavery.

6 minutes from Lark Farm

You can watch 6 minutes from the Berlin Film Festival participant Italian film “Lark Farm” about Armenian-Turkish relations here. has links about the film here.

Racism for home, tolerance for abroad

Editorial note: The entry below is an original article written by a Blogian reader who would like to remain ananymous. Readers can submit their original (unpublished in other places) work to [email protected] for consideration.

Both sides of the story

Complaining about international film depictions of the Armenian Genocide, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan’s foreign policy advisor supports a new international film about Turkish benevolence towards Jews during the Nazi era. Oddly enough, the Turkish-American production company is best known for a 2006 domestic hit film which was widely criticized as anti-Semitic.

The Turkish Daily News reports that BMH Worldwide Entertainment is filming The Ambassador, about a Turkish diplomat who saved Jewish lives during World War II.

BMH’s 2006 film, The Valley of the Wolves: Iraq, wildly successful in Turkey, was heavily criticized in Turkey, Germany, and Israel as racist and anti-Semitic. Gary Busey co-stars as a Jewish U.S. military doctor who cuts out the organs of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib and sells them to wealthy clients in New York, London, and Tel Aviv. There is no sympathetic Jewish character to balance out this portrayal, reports the Jerusalem Post.

The initials BMH stand for the company’s co-founders: Los Angeles sports promoter Bjorn Rebney; Chicago financier, Assembly of Turkish American Associations former Midwest VP and past president of the Turkish American Cultural Alliance Mehmet Çelebi; and Chicago PR/marketing executive Hüma Alpaytaç Gruaz, who is reportedly married to Rebney.

Based in Los Angeles and Chicago, BMH shares a fax number with the Alpaytac PR/marketing firm, which promotes the Chicago Turkish Festival. Alpaytac’s clients include the Turkish American Cultural Alliance and the Turkish Consulate.

Confirming official Turkish support for The Ambassador, Çelebi told TDN:

BMH Worldwide Entertainment has been working with Member of Turkish Parliament and previous President of the Federation of Turkish-American Associations Egemen Bagis, who has spent many years in the United States and is very aware of and concerned about Turkey’s image around the world. He has been a great supporter of this and other projects that will enhance Turkey’s image across the globe.

Bagis, the president of the U.S. Caucus in Turkish Parliament, had given the first clue about the project last week in Parliament. Bagis, also a member of advisory council of the Turkish Film Council in the United States, suggested,

Prominent figures of the diaspora pay Hollywood to make genocide movies. We too have wealthy people; however, we don’t have a culture of investing in Hollywood. We should also be relying on such methods and commission movies explaining Turkey’s side of the story.

Two sides to the story? Sure. Racism and anti-Semitism for domestic consumption, tolerance and harmony abroad.


The Hollywoodization – a cultural aspect of Globalization – has long established itself in the world. In Armenia, for example, you can already get an illegal copy of “Night At The Museum” with a Russian translation, while it is not even out on DVD in America yet.

Yet ask an average resident of Armenia about “Vodka Lemon,” and they will ask, “What?” Tell them it was the winner of the San Marco Prize at the 2003 Venice Film Festival in Italy and they may get interested, especially if they find out the movie was filmed in Armenia and features Armenian as one of the languages.

“Oh, that movie about Kurds?”

Yes, yes. That movie about Kurds (it is actually about every post Soviet resident) is far better than 100 Hollywood movies placed together, and will actually make you think, laugh and cry. Those of you who have not watched it yet, Simon says, do it before you die (there is a semi-rape in the movie if it is the price to make some of you interested).

Why wouldn’t they show Vodka Lemon on Armenian TV stations?

Time, Old Time

Time Magazine’s European edition has made a surprising move by spending its own dollars to distribute a free documentary on the Armenian Genocide. This was, perhaps, done to avoid anti-racist and genocide/holocaust denialist laws in Europe and also, as Artyom of iArarat has mentioned, to correct their mistake.

In June of 2005, the European edition of Time magazine distributed thousands of free copies of a supposed Turkish advertisement that included a documentary denying the Armenian genocide. Outrage around the world seemed to bring nothing at first.

Time simply published a response to a letter by saying, “TIME is an independent newsmagazine and does not endorse the views of any organization or government. We regret any offense caused by the advertisements.”

On August 1, 2005, California Courier published an article titled “TIME’s Chief Editor Claims Magazine Was Duped by Turks,” basing the story on a private communcation between TIME Inc.’s chief (now retired) Norman Pearlstine and myself, in which Mr. Pearlstine had answered me that TIME had apologized “for accepting a DVD whose contents were different from what we had been led to believe they would be.”

So what was the letter that had cought the attention? – According to the Courier, my reference to making Nazi flags.

Here is the full letter that I had received response to by Pearlstine:

I hope you have recieved the numerous complaints and
concerns regarding Time magazine's recent cooperation
with the Turkish deniers of the Armenian Genocide.

Are you ever going to respond to my letters?
Are you ever going to apologize for cooperating with
the Turkish deniers?
Are you ever going to publish an article that states
that Time has not intended to deny the Armenian
Are you ever going to admit your magazine's wrong

Oh, you are too busy to apologize, aren't you? Let me
guess! You are making Nazi flags to distribute in
Europe as a free speech, correct?


Simon Maghakyan

Pearlstine, with whom I later continued to keep private communication for at least another year, had answered me back saying,

Dear Sir,
	Your letters have been referred to the advertising department,
where they should have been sent in the first place. Editors are
responsible for stories and pictures. In addition, we have, of course,
apologized in the magazine for accepting a DVD whose contents were
different from what we had to been led to believe they would be.
	Norman Pearlstine

Interestingly, some Armenian pen pals, whom I had forwarded my letter, told me I was too harsh and yelling would not bring any good.I cannot find my very first letter to Mr. Pearlstine, but I remember mentioning the fact that Time had published a report back in June of 1960 calling Ottoman Turkey’s Talaat Pasha the inventor of genocide – “who introduced genocide to the 20th century by ordering the massacre of500,000 Armenians.”

Talaat introduced genocide by killing Armenians, you are introducing genocidel denial by spreading Turkish propaganda, I wrote.

Later Time (European edition) published full-page statements that condemned the sponsorship of the denialist campaign.

In April of 2006, Time named Orhan Pamuk (who later won the Nobel Prize) one of the top 100 influential in the world who had become “a global cause celebre” for having made a reference to “the genocide of Armenians in 1915 by the Turkish military.”

Orhan Pamuk was actually nominated for the top 100 for solely speaking on the Armenian genocide (and I think the same case could have been for his Nobel Prize award).  Harvard professor Samantha Power had nominated him by saying,

I nominate Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk. He has acknowledged his homeland’s genocide against the Armenians and nearly got himself arrested before the Turks decided their commitment to and pride in their greatest writer exceeded a commitment to killers who died almost a century ago. It could bring a cultural change. Also George Clooney, for the obvious reasons, and the students who led the divestment movement on campuses for Darfur.

Time did the right thing, and it is time for Google to do the same. As of February 2, 2007, Google lists (a website denying the Armenian genocide) as a Google sponsor when “Armenian genocide” is Googled.

Welcome to Julfa!

A self-described independent blogger from Azerbaijan and Doctor of History Vulgar Seidov is writing in Russian the circumstances under which European parliamentarians and UNESCO would be allowed to visit Djulfa (Julfa or Jugha) – the site of the largest medieval Armenian cemetery that was wiped off the face of the Earth in December of 2005:

Путь в Джульфу европейским экспертам лежит только через разрушенные азербайджанские могилы и памятники в сегодняшней Армении и оккупированных азербайджанских территориях. Только после того, как каждый до последнего разрушенный и осквернённый азербайджанский объект будет наведан, задокументирован, зафиксирован европейцами, только после этого можно будет им сказать Welcome to Julfa!

(The road to Djulfa for the European experts lies only through [the examination] of destroyed Azerbaijani graves and monuments in modern Armenia and [in] occupied Azerbaijani territories. Only after that, when the very last destroyed and desecrated Azerbaijani object is visited, documented, and noted [fixed?] by the Europeans, only after that they can be told, “Welcome to Julfa!”)

Ironically enough, Armenia has agreed to the examination of the state of Azerbaijani monuments in Armenia by European experts. During such a visit last year to Armenia and Azerbaijan, the delegation was denied access to Nakhichevan where Djulfa lies. But you don’t tell this to Azerbaijani academicians, because they know it very well.

I agree that the price to visit Djulfa should be through the documentation of all Azerbaijani objects in Armenia (although I am not sure what Seidov means by “all objects”). There are Azerbaijani monuments in Armenia, and even if they all together do not have 1% of the significance of only one of the thousands of medieval Armenian cross stones forever gone in Azerbaijan, in the words of Norwegia’s former Ambassador to Azerbaijan, “Any kind of act of destruction toward any kind of historical monument of any religion, nation or people should be condemned.”

So why not go ahead and do it? Let’s have the delegation examine the ethnic artefacts and cultural sites of both countries. Although I have not seen reports of Armenian army or authorities destroying Azerbaijani monuments, I am sure Armenia is not an angel either – especially given the fact that even Armenian monuments are neglected in Armenia.
Unfortunately, it seems that the examiniation of Azerbaijani monuments is not Azerbaijan’s real intention. They don’t care about these monuments. They just want one thing – no foreigner witness what they have done in Djulfa. And here is how Seidov, for example, makes the transformation:

Да и вообще, я думаю тема памятников исчерпала себя и и её пора закрывать.

(And actually, I think, the topic of monuments has exhausted itself and it it time to close it.)

What was the whole point of Dr. Seidov’s post if he concludes that Armenian and Azerbaijani monuments should not be of concern?

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