Monday, March 31, 2008

Free Armenians call for civil disobedience and boycott.

The following is a translation of an extraordinary document, one of the many extraordinary documents coming out of Armenia today. It is signed by "Free Armenians," and it is basically a call sent out to the Armenian people, exhorting them to engage in acts of civil disobedience. It's amazing for several reasons. First, it is an international call to all Armenians, in Argentina, in Russia, in Iran, in France, in the US, and so on, and one that by-passes all mediums and organizations that heretofore have made such appeals and addresses Armenians--directly. To put it plainly: This isn't the ARS asking Armenians to donate money; it's the "Free Armenians" calling on all Armenians to take charge of Armenia's fate--directly--and institute real democracy--not World Bank democracy, not a democracy with "a few irregularities, but passable," but real Democracy.

To boot, in citing Thomas Jefferson and Henry David Thoreau, and in making its argument, it places itself squarely in the liberal humanist tradition, the one that gave the world the democratic revolutions of 1789, 1830, and 1848 that swept through Europe and met, unfortunately, their tragic fate in Armenia. Accordingly, one can say that this call constitutes an echo of the "shot heard 'round the world," heard again in Armenia. And it has, after all, been a part of Armenian discourse for about 250 years, ever since Shahamir Shahamirian published Nor tetrak vor kochi hordorak, or New booklet called Exhortation, in 1772. It was an exhortation to revolution, and, wouldn't you know it, Shahamirian and his ally, Joseph Emin, were shut down by the then Catholicos, Simeon Yerevantsi, who told the khojas in Isfahan and Madras to stop supporting them. Will history repeat itself (not rhyme, repeat)? We'll see.

Meanwhile, it is increasingly becoming undeniable to me that we seem to be on the cusp of an Armenian Renaissance. The presence of a firm opposition in Armenia and other political activities elsewhere, coupled with a nascent aesthetic born out of the traditional Armenian aesthetic, all suggest the stirrings of a deep anticipation of a cultural flowering. In a certain very particular sense, even the presence on the scene of people with the cruel, oppressive, and thoroughly corrupt audacity of a Kocharian suggests it, too. But we'll get to that. First, the translation of The Call to Civil Disobedience, itself evidence of a coming Armenian Renaissance.



CALL TO CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE MADE TO ALL ARMENIANS


"That government is the best that governs the least."
Thomas Jefferson.

In 1849, Henry David Thoreau made a call for civil disobedience in one of his essays, asserting that people should not allow governments to rule over their conscience or oppress it. People must also not allow their toleration and civil obligations to become a means for the government to use them as tools for an unjust purpose.

The civil rights of the Armenian people have been violated for centuries, both by the governments of other countries and by their own governments and prelates, down to the 21st century and beyond. Either through tyrannical coercion or because of the behavior of their own governments, Armenians have abandoned their fatherland and relocated to every nook in the planet.

The Armenian has throughout history struggled in the name of the collective and individual right to live freely and with dignity in Armenia, in a manner that is mindful of all of his human, civil, and ethnic rights. However, he has not met with any palpable success because of the fear instilled him by tyrannical forces, iniquities that were put into practice, oppression, as well as the crimes of conspiring native Armenians.

Now the time has come for the Armenian to live, put into effect, and bring into the light of day "civil disobedience," meaning "disobedience of the government," and to win his personal freedom from the oppression and fear of other powers and Armenia's government.

However, it is an individual decision that must be made by each Armenian to join the multitudes during the execution of acts of civil disobedience, in order to show the government that the power to rule comes from those--who no longer wish to be made into slaves and used as instruments for an unjust end.

In order for free Armenians to gain their freedom from these oppressors and in order for them to change the fate imposed upon them, they must unite under this noble principle. We call on you to follow the following rules of civil disobedience:

1. "Do not simply wait passively for the opportunity to vote for what is just. Voting for justice is just as ineffective as wanting justice. What is called for is to be just in practice. This does not mean that you have a responsibility to give your life to the cause of justice, but that you have the responsibility to not do what is unjust and to not give injustice your practical help."

2. Whenever any government becomes the crusher underfoot of the fundamental rights of the people, the people's duty is to "change or eradicate" it.

We call on all free Armenians across the world to stop paying their membership dues, monetary gifts, and donations to all organizations that send that money to the present Armenian government. Instead, we advise them to send the same amounts, even larger amounts of money and aid,--directly--to the people living in Armenia's cities and villages.

Money and aid should not be sent to The Armenia Fund, the Armenian Assembly of America, the Armenian National Committee, Armenian Relief Society, all political parties known to you, and all remaining organizations that in a direct manner support the Republic of Armenia's oppressive and criminal government.

We call on all free Armenians to live peacefully and express disobedience toward the government and its forces, starting from the rank-and-file police to the unelected president, without fighting, without coarse language, profanity, efforts involving payments, or violence--to not yield to [the government] through any type of bad behavior, large or small. Cancel your participation, membership, and investment in all of these parties, organizations, and government institutions that tyrannize the free Armenian people.

We call on all free Armenians to refuse to help promote, in their daily lives and finances, the enrichment and growth of the criminal government that is at the service of oligarchs. We exhort you to, through your virtuously lived lives, uproot this immorality that has poured into every sphere of our lives.

We call on all Armenians to unify in the effort to create a civil public, whose elevated consciousness will decisively institute its own way of life, a just public, and a free country.

ARMENIAN BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF THE WORLD, BEGIN CARRYING OUT IN EARNEST YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO PRACTICE CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE TODAY. HELP OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS LIVING IN ARMENIA BE FREE. SOONER OR LATER ARMENIANS WILL WIN THEIR FULL CIVIL RIGHTS, WHICH THEY DESERVE. BUT THOSE WILL NOT BE GAINED WITHOUT SACRIFICES, AND THEY WILL NOT BE GAINED WITHOUT CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE DIRECTED AGAINST ALL THOSE WHO HAVE TRADITIONALLY AND HISTORICALLY KEPT ARMENIANS ENSLAVED TO FEAR AND ENSLAVED THEIR MINDS.

-FREE ARMENIANS
MARCH 21, 2008.

[Emphasis in the original]

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Lilit speaks of her husband's death on March 1st


This is the story of the death of Davit Petrossian, as told by his wife, Lilit. It's a tragic story. It reminds me of a folk song, North Country Blues, where the narrator is a woman left destitute by her brother and husband in a decrepit mining town. David Petrossian was not a miner, of course, and neither did he leave her voluntarily, but the loss and the feeling of abandonment are the same. This story is a very personal story. I'm translating it because I think it is important to get to know the real people, the real lives, the real stories of the real people going through these difficult, difficult times.

The chance bullet found the chance passer-by

[During the gatherings of early March] Lilit, wife of David Petrossian, victim of the tragic events that took place near the French embassy on March 1st, still in shock over her husband's death, put her sorrow to one side, and declared through the PA system that announcements were being made regarding the political views of her late husband and the circumstances surrounding his death that had nothing to do with the reality of the situation. The talk and false rumors that have followed those events have turned her life into a nightmare. Lilit has uniformly maintained that David never went to any meetings, was never a political activist, and was never a sympathizer or supporter of any political forces. "He was truly an innocent victim, because he wandered unto the scene of the event purely by accident," she maintains.

Davit Petrossian resided at Maltia-Sebastia neighborhood's 102/1 Gagarin street. He lived there with his wife and 13 year old son, Varoujan. He was a goldsmith by profession and had a small production shop in the Gold market on Khorenatsi street. "He used to finish work late, and the 67 trolley arrives infrequently at that time of night, [so] he would often walk to Prostpect in order to take one of the many trolleys that stop there." Lilit has trouble surmising what happened: Did David decide to walk to Prospect with forethought or by accident on that day? The manager of the market has said that shortly before the events on that day a loud explosion took place that shook the market. That sound was of a gas explosion that took place in one of the cabins neighboring "Ayrarat Cinema-Theater," whose loud resonance frightened even the workers in the gold market. Alarmed, they decided stop working and go home immediately.

"At exactly what time they stopped working, and when did he arrived at the scene of his fate, I don't know. The office of Armenia's chief prosecutor is conducting an investigation. I don't know too much about what happened. I only know that, because of the explosion, everyone left early. I want to declare openly, while taking full responsibility for my words, that David did not care a whit about either the government or the opposition. Even while watching television at home, he would not watch the news," recalls Lilit, adding that she, herself, did follow television news programs, but David would always get agitated over his wife's interest in politics.

She recalls, "He used to come home from work and say, 'Sweetheart, I'm tired, change the channel and let's watch a movie. I don't have the patience for politics.' And I would jokingly tell him, 'David, why are you so aloof from politics and disinterested when it comes to those topics? Doesn't what goes on in the world interest you?' He would answer, 'Dear, know this well and always remember it: I am your government, and these hands are the ones that take care of you. If Levon, Paulus, Serj, or Petross takes the seat of power over there, he isn't going to take care of you--I am.' He would say, 'Don't worry. Whatever is going to happen, will happen.' He always had that attitude."

On March 1st, David called Lilit in the evening and let her know that they'd finished work early [in the market] and that he wanted to call his friends and invite them over to their house, so they could have a little get-together on the occasion of his purchase of a new television set, just to mark the event [This having a get together over the purchase of a television set is not a matter of crass materialism, but another sign of the poverty that ordinary Armenians endure]. After her husband's call, Lilit began preparing for receiving guests.

"I prepared the food and began to wait. Two-three hours passed, and he still wasn't there. I called him and told him, 'David, what happened to you? Where are you?' He said, 'Ay, Lil, bad things are happening here.' Truth be told, he put it that way so that I would not become worried, become frightened. He said, 'It looks like bad behavior... a bit of a dangerous situation has been created here.' He was putting it as mildly as possible. He said, 'I want to see if Arsen is around.' Arsen is a close friend of his, who works for the police department. I didn't realize the gravity of the situation and went back to waiting for him to return," recalls Lilit, whose worries then began to increasingly intensify, because, by 22:00 [10 PM], David had stopped answering his phone. She says she doesn't remember David ever failing to answer her calls, yet, later on that night, David had already become unreachable. Alarmed, Lilit called Arsen who, upon learning that David was looking for him, was livid.

"He angrily told me, 'What do you mean he's looking for me? Find him and tell him to come home. Terrible things are happening here. Let him not come near.' And I became terrified, because I knew that, if Arsen had gotten that angry, it was doubtless that very serious things were going on. At midnight my heart was ready to burst from fear. A deep unease, a bad presentiment was haunting me," recalls Lilit, who at that hour of the night decided to go to the Gold market to look for David. Her son, Varoujan, insisted that he go with his mother to the market to look for his father. When she reached the station, she ran into her neighbor, Zakar Hovhanessian (who was likewise killed that day). Zakar asked where she was going at that late an hour, and with her son.

"I was so full of fear and worry that I began to cry. I explained that David was nowhere to be found and that I wanted to go look for him. He said, 'Lilit, calm down. I have David's number. I'll keep calling him, and once I find him, I'll call you. Take the child and go home. We're going to go now. When I find him, I'll call and let you know.' Then he turned around, got in a taxi, and went up toward Leningrad," recalls Lilit, saying that she, nevertheless, didn't return to the house with her son, but decided to go [look for David]. She recalls that on that night at that hour no taxi driver was to be found that would agree to take her near the gold market, arguing that terrible things were happening there.

"Whomever I would hail would tell me, 'Are you crazy? Don't you know that things are all mixed-up over there?' I was going weak at the knees from fear. I tried to convince them by saying, 'Take me as far as you are willing to go. We'll walk the rest of the way.' " One taxi driver, seeing Lilit's terrified state, agreed to take her up to Kiev street, where she disembarked and walked with her son down toward the center on Baghramian. She says, "All around me I saw tanks, soldiers, smoke, fires, armies... I had never seen anything like in my life. I was thinking to myself, 'Where have I come? What is happening?' It was past midnight. I was yelling out of fear, 'David! David!' I was watching the soldiers and the tanks. I was in a state of shock. Those scenes and and my not knowing where David was had driven me into a state of complete insanity."

The ambulances and firetrucks stationed next to SAS supermarket jarred Lilit. But then she all of a sudden came to a standstill--stood firm and attentive. "A frightening silence took over inside me. The fact that I had my son woke me up, because--I had entered a war zone with my child. My uncle's daughter lives nearby, on Saryan. I called her and said, 'Sus, I'm here, but I am very frightened for the child.' She said, 'I was just calling you to see how you are.' It seemed a bit awkward because she didn't know where I was, what had happened, that I was there. She said, preparing me psychologically, 'Lil, dear, why don't you come over to our house.' I started out and on the way thought about the things that she'd told me. I called her again, asking whether she had any news about David. She said, 'No. Be calm and come,'" recalls Lilit, who upon arriving at her cousin's house found out that, in spite of everything [meaning they told her they didn't have any news], they did have news about David. Susanna wasn't able to tell Lilit everything she knew about what had happened to David. She lied to her, saying that he'd been beaten by "Dubingas." They left for Markarian hospital immediately, and during the trip, Sussana, in order to prepare Lilit [for the news], lied to her again, saying, "They shot David in the leg."

"We entered the hospital. They confirmed that they had a patient by that name. Truth be told, he's never been to the doctor. Whenever he's gotten sick, I've given him his injections and taken care of him. At the hospital, I asked them, 'Please, take me to him. He needs my help. He doesn't trust doctors.' We waited for the doctor for a long time. My nerves couldn't take it. I screamed for the doctor to come. For their part, they didn't know how to break the news to me. We went up to the doctor's office. All of a sudden, the doctors filed in one by one, closed the door, and stood in a line in front of the door. No one was able to speak, and I was about to explode.

"The doctor says, 'They've shot David, from the back, and hit his kidney.' I say, 'Have you removed his kidney? We need a donor, then. I'll donate mine. What are you waiting for?' I say, 'Is he in shock? I want to see him.' They say, 'No.' In their eyes is a coldness, a transparent quality. I can't read any of their faces. I say, 'Is he in a coma? He'll come out of it.' They say, 'He won't come out of it...' I screamed out in pain, and that scream still echoes in my ears at night." Lilit bit-by-bit remembers what happened in the hospital. Driven "insane" by the news of David's death, she tried to throw herself out the window, but the doctor's had foreseen and prepared for that, too. "My son screamed, 'Go ahead, throw yourself out the window, so I'll be left with no one at all.' Those words woke me up like a shock of cold. I was banging my head against the walls like a person who has lost her mind, but..."

The doctors informed Lilit that, after the operation, David had not come out of the coma and had died. He'd lost too much blood. His internal organs--his liver, his diaphragm, his lungs--had been torn to shreds by the bullet. "I felt like I wanted to die, but I was unable to die. I was in agony. That atrocity, that pain, that event beyond words... I don't want to live anymore," says Lilit and bursts into tears, because, she was able to control herself throughout her telling of this whole story, but...

Lilit is hurt because untrue stories are being told about her husband: "They say he used to always go to meetings, that he was an activist, but that's absurd. He was never interested in politics. They've written that we live in a hut, but does a jewler live in a hovel? Simply put, he is an innocent victim," says Lilit, who asks that what she has to say about her husband be printed.

"David was an amazing man. Cheerful by nature, kind, friendly, and good, good, good, limitlessly good... He had a unique outlook on life. His sense of indebtedness and desire to help and support the people around him would never leave him be. It used to always seem to him that he was not going to be able to do everything that he wanted to do for the people around him. A life with a meaning, and a death that is meaningless. Yes, meaningless, because revolution and politics in general not only never had a place in his life, but he, as an individual, had nothing but contempt for those things. He used to say, 'Whoever grabs the seat of power, it is all the same. The provider for this family is this pair of hands.' And he would proudly motion with his hands, occupied by the art of the goldsmith and accustomed only to work. With those hands, out of fine metals, out of gold and silver, he would fashion only crosses and cast miniature statues of Jesus, because that was work that to him was extraordinarily satisfying. That was also a means of expressing his peace-loving and noble nature, I think. On that ill-starred day on March 1st, before going to work, David gave me violets as a gift for the first day of Spring. He worked that whole day affixing miniature statues of Jesus to crosses, and it could not have possibly crossed his mind that in a few hours time he would merit the same fate: crucifixion at the hands of miscreants. The chance bullet found the chance passer-by. Ultimately, he fell victim to the irrepressible conflicts between mankind's filthy idols."

(Original Armenian at 168 Hours, via nazarian.)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Proof of arrests, beatings, firings.

Lest anyone think that Pashinian below is exaggerating the situation in Armenia when he says that people have lost their jobs, been arrested for no reason, and so on, here is a report from the institute for war and peace reporting based in the UK documenting such cases. Note that the 135 figure is the one given by the state: It's the wolf saying how many sheep it's eaten---an unimpeachable source, to be sure.

Excerpt: Among 135 people in detention are two members of parliament, Myasnik Malkhasian and Hakob Hakobian, and former foreign minister Aleksandr Arzumanian.

Former prime minister Aram Sarkisian, the head of the opposition Republic Party, was accused on March 25 of organising unauthorised demonstrations and attempting to seize power. He is not in custody but is not being allowed to leave the country.

On March 26, Arshak Banuchian, the deputy director of Armenia’s ancient manuscripts institute, the Matenadaran, and a former colleague of ex-president and opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian, was detained on charges of disturbing public order.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Pashinian: Let's make them have to continue "tightening the bolts."

This first week after the lifting of the state of emergency in Armenia has seen a resurgence of peaceful protests, and the authorities have, of course, done everything possible to repress them: The police, in riot gear, don't allow people into Liberty Square, in particular, and, generally, are all over key parts of the city of Yerevan. The authorities can "legally" do this because--a day--before the lifting of the state of emergency they were able to get parliament to pass a bill that makes it easier for Kocharian & co. to implement repressive measures against non-violent protesters on the grounds that they are potentially "dangerous." On top of all this, in a gesture made in monumental bad taste, of the kind that only goons can manage, Kocharian & co. are going to hold a military parade in Liberty Square on April 9th--the karasunk (40th day anniversary)--of those who were killed by the government on March 1st. That's how Sarkissian is going to start his presidency, over the dead bodies of peaceful protesters.

The opposition continues to resist. What they have been doing this week has been to hold daily, themed "walks," zbosankner, so, for example, the theme yesterday was chess: everybody brought out their chessboards and started playing chess on the streets, which, come to think of it, would hardly constitute a contrast with daily life in a country like Armenia, but, in any case, today everybody went out with a book and started reading their favorite passages for 15 minutes. Below is the translation of a communique from Nikol Pashinian, Ter-Petrossian's right hand man, laying down the general strategy.


Whenever Robert Kocharian and Serj Sarkissian talk about the repressive measures they've instituted, they characterize the process as "tightening the bolts." In other words, when they want to say that new repressive measures must be taken, they say, "the bolts need to be tightened." When the movement headed by Armenia's first President, Levon Ter-Petrossian, first began, Kocharian and Sarkissian, according to many, remarked to people around them that, "No problem. Later on, we'll tighten the bolts a little more, and that will be the end of the matter."

They used this type of expression to refer to Armenia's first president for the first time on October 26, 2007, in order to calm their disgruntled allies after the assembly (of LTP supporters). And the criminal-ocracy has had to tighten the bolts continuously ever since Levon Ter-Petrossian's first assembly. During this time, tens of thousands of people have received threats, been subjected to arrests, and many have lost their jobs and at least eight people--their lives. The state of emergence was the pinnacle and most outstanding example of "bolt tightening." But they have had to "tighten the bolts" even beyond that, by monitoring people's [protest] walks in the center of Yerevan with baton-wielding, shielded police and by further arrests. In other words, the criminal-ocracy is continuing to tighten the bolts of the government machine [car].

And so, what do we need to do, my fellow citizens of Armenia? We must not allow the pair an exit out of this process of "tightening the bolts," because as long as you are tightening the bolts, you can't drive the car. Moreover, bolts have a tendency to split, to break. That happens when you tighten them beyond the degree to which they can be tightened. The Serjo-Kocharianic bolts have arrived at that point, and in order for them to split, it is necessary to force them to continue the business of tightening. How?

Most Important of all, of course, are the daily walks in the vicinity of Freedom Square. This is a fundamental task that we all need to carry out.

Second, small actions need to be organized. The production of DVDs [these are produced by the LTP camp and distributed to people as a kind of alternative to state TV] must continue, in order to provide the public with objective, visual news and information.

To put it succinctly, the criminal-ocratic pair must be [made to be] obliged to continue with the "bolt tightening" process. In a complimentary fashion, the above-mentioned actions will aid in the preparations for the big assembly, the date and time of which Levon Ter-Petrossian is deciding. And while he is deciding, each of us must keep Kocharian and Serj in a "bolt-tightening" state.

Struggle, struggle until the end.

Nikol Pashinian

[Emphasis in the original]

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Kocharian: On calls for an independent investigation into 3/1.

Watch Kocharian, erstwhile hoodlum turned professor of international law, twist logic so beyond recognition that it would make a 12 year old Indonesian contortionist cry. As the interview below with Ter-Petrossian (Pt. 4) shows, the arrested "protesters" that Kocharian is talking about are none other than most of Ter-Petrossian's entire staff. Kocharian's "generous" assessment that they shouldn't be taken to the Hague to withstand trial is just about the most preposterous thing I've heard [because, of course, it goes without saying that they shouldn't be tried: they're innocent, and he, the one "magnanimously" granting them lenience, is precisely the one who needs to be tried at the Hague for killing peaceful demonstrators]. The press conference took place today, March 20th.

Question: Mr. President, among the announcements made by European organizations, as well as in the Heritage party's discussions, mention is made of independent investigations. What is your opinion about these announcements?


Answer: When announcements are made about an independent investigation, I get the impression that Europe and the Republic of Armenia understand that terminology a little differently. In the Republic of Armenia, no body is more independent than the Office of the Prosecutor General (OPG). The President nominates, a prosecutor is elected through council, and no one can change the elected prosecutor for six years. According to the Constitution, the OPG is the only body that can appear as the plaintiff (accuser) on behalf of the state. When they say "independent investigation," just who or what body is going to be carrying out that investigation? And who or what body is going to go to court with accusations? There is no other institution in the Republic of Armenia. Aside from that, a special investigative body has been created that is not beholden to the police, is independent from the Prosecutor General, and is now investigating that case. From the perspective of internal independence, those bodies are directly protected by the laws and by the Constitution. We do not have other institutions. Because the clashes were mainly between the military police and the demonstrators, the examination is being carried out by that independent body, and that examination is being supervised by the Prosecutor General. This is that model foreseen by the Constitution which we have today and which, in fact, harmonizes with the European models.

What can we do to raise confidence? We are in need of independent experts brought in from the outside. And we are already doing this: the OPG has already appealed to a number of organizations for the purpose of inviting independent experts. This is necessary for us, too. There are eight victims, and we, too, want independent experts to confirm or offer alternative opinions regarding the cause of those deaths. The inviting of experts does not contradict our procedure or statutes. The expert's opinion is going to be included in the criminal case and enter the courtroom.

The trials are, of course, going to be open [trials], and there can be no doubts on this account. [The following sentence seems to have been mistranscribed because it doesn't make any sense, at least to me. The mistranscription might--not--have been accidental, however, especially at this crucial point in his "reasoning." Here, I've translated the sentence with the ungrammatical parts preserved and rendered them in light yellow, the same color as the person responsible for them.] There is the European Court's civil bodies realize that if they end up not having enough evidence, then that case will ultimately go to the European Court, and the European Court will exculpate that person or those people and fine the government. In that sense, our system is reliable. It is a different matter whether it is possible to, like always, try to plant the seeds of distrust in the system through speeches and newspapers.

When the Europeans say "independent investigation," what they understand is "Parliamentary investigation," but that never replaces the examination of a criminal case. These exist on different planes. Criminal cases can only be examined by bodies suitable to them. A random person can't come out of nowhere and investigate a criminal case. That is not possible because the prosecutor needs to later enter the courtroom with that criminal case and defend the accusation. Who is going to go in that case? A criminal case must proceed according to its own proper way. A time may come when a parliamentary committee, too, is formed vis-a-vis the criminal case, in order to later investigate [the matter], but this is a totally different investigation, not an investigation of a criminal case. Generally speaking, in international relations there take place criminal tribunals, which are created through special resolutions; a special body is formed and goes to court. I don't think that our protesters and our rioters need to be taken to The Hague [Doh!!] or other places to be judged according to international procedures: these are not [commensurate] crimes and not on that scale. Usually, [such hearings are held] in cases involving ethnic cleansing, ethnic conflicts, genocides, and similar crimes.
(original Armenian here. Scroll down to last question on 3/20/08 page)

News item: AGO is coming.

Note: This is What Levon Ter-Petrossian is talking about when he says that Armenia doesn't have the resources to support a dictator the way Iraq did. Robert Hussein and Serj Jong-il must be feeling pretty stupid right about now.

3/19/08 Yerevan-Brussels. The Council of Europe's Cabinet of Ministers' AGO Group [aka, Monitoring Group for Armenia], headed by Per Sjogren, the Ambassador of Sweden, will arrive in Armenia on March 30th. The members of the group will meet with the leaders of Armenia. AGO Group's mission is to monitor responsibilities assumed before the Council of Europe.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

LTP -- Armenia can't support a dictator the way Iraq could -- 3/11 Interview: Pt. 4

Mr. President, the representatives of international organizations are constantly visiting Armenia. Later, we are treated to two different news stories. International newspapers say something totally different, while our newspapers announce that they came, congratulated Serj Sargsyan, then left. What consequences can that have?

That is a matter of belief. Whoever wants to believe in Serj Sargsyan's propaganda, believes it; whoever else wants to believes the international public. It seems to me that that shows us what kind of state we are dealing with. [The Kocharian camp is] truly putting people in an uncomfortable position. People come and talk to them about something; once they leave, they use those people's names to make this or that kind of announcements. Even conflicts... Are you familiar with Bryza's announcement today? I don't know what kind of conversation he had with them, but I can tell that there is the trace of a personal offense there, as well. They've said something and done the complete opposite. That is what I see in this announcement.

What consequences could that have?

We are going to arrive at the era of Brezhnev, when our people are not going to believe anything coming from the official television programs, or they are going to understand from it the opposite. They are going to say something, and the people are going to believe the opposite. We are going to come to such a situation.

As things stand today, a brainwashing process is underway where the people, or, rather, a large portion of the people who do not have access to the internet, are convinced by that information and believe what is broadcast on official channels. Considering the large numbers of those who have been detained, do you believe that, if it becomes possible for the people to assemble, the people will do so?

Brainwashing is not a new thing, of course: This government has been busy doing that for ten years. And the alternative to it was very weak: Three-four newspapers with a total circulation of 15-20 thousand were holding out against 17 television broadcasting companies. What became alternatives were our general gatherings and CDs. They became quite a serious alternative. We will use those, too, if the assemblies are not allowed. We will reach the people with them. And the people like it... It's already become a part of the culture. They even demand it with, "So where is our movie?" Brainwashing never yields results. It is not possible to fool the people through brainwashing. They would have been able to fool the people if the events of these last six months had not taken place, however.

I find, I don't know whether you agree with me, that today we have a totally different public, a different people, than we had six months ago. I consider this our biggest gain. With my sympathizers, with my team, we have performed a miracle. We have created a new public, a public of citizens, a public that is cognizant, an intellectual public with whom [the Kocharian camp] will have to settle [its] accounts, like it or not. Yes, they might try to neutralize us through arrests. That is the most critical question today. The arrests are continuing at the same pace. Those arrests have an exclusively politically repressive nature. In reality, no participants in the clashes have been arrested; only political figures have been arrested.

Seventy percent of ANM's [LTP's party] administration has been arrested, and some of them are in hiding. Of my core staff, three have been arrested and three are in hiding. All of the directors of my territorial headquarters have been arrested. All of those people who have been active during these elections have been arrested. The world understands this, and [the Kocharian camp is] not going to be able to get out from under this. The more they arrest, the harder their job is going to become. It occurs to them: Will they close their eyes? No. The political prisoner is a very small category today. There are political prisoners in very few nations in the world. The age [of the political prisoner] has passed, and Armenia doesn't have the resources it takes. [emphasis mine]

Iraq was able to close its borders for 20 years: it had oil, it had rice, it had [cooking] oil, it had butter; it did not need anybody and could be a dictatorship. Armenia doesn't have those resources: To realize political persecutions, smash underfoot human rights, create such violent electoral conditions, and--at the same time--be dependent upon the rest of the world--It won't last. Armenia doesn't have the resources to institute a dictator. It might be a temporary party for [the Kocharian camp]. But I don't think that they're partying right now.

I am certain that Robert Kocharyan and Serj Sargsyan are far more worried than any of us, because they understand what they have done and for what they have rendered themselves accountable. Blood has been spilled. Alot of blood has been spilled. They very well bear the weight of the accountability for that blood. Yes, very violent elections have taken place. The OSCE reported its observations of those elections in its second report. If you add up the reports of all of the elections from 1995 to 2007, they do not amount to such a damning report. These are clear facts that [the Kocharian camp] can not ignore. The sooner the government recognizes this and refrains from making the situation worse, the better.

After March 1st, we have taken no steps that would make the situation more critical. All of their steps, however, are incessantly toward a crisis. These arrests... They constantly talk about dialog, but do everything to thwart it.

LTP -- Kocharian's firings; accusations -- 3/11 Interview: Pt. 3

What is your estimation of Kocharian's speech about Armen Harutiunian?

I don't want to make an estimation. You make an estimation. Robert Kocharian has this type of personality. Here is a man [Harutiunian], who's working, who has a responsibility; when he tells [Kocharian] something unpleasant, the next day he might disappear. Jahangirian made an announcement, and they relieved him of his work a minute later, and on the following day they detained him. Ten diplomats made announcements and they were immediately fired; if that weren't enough, they even prevented them, in violation of the Constitution, from speaking out. Had Armen Harutiunian not made such an announcement, he could have worked for a full hundred years. Larissa Alaverdian said a couple of things before that--and that was that. Now if you say something tomorrow, it will be the end of the matter for you, too. Kocharian demonstrates on a daily basis that which I have been trying to demonstrate for five months.

What do you think is the solution to this state of affairs?

When it becomes possible, we will have our assembly, and we will speak with the people.

So, today, you see only general gatherings as the solution?

Go ahead and suggest other means. I said: through the newspapers, through general gatherings; if they allow us on television, through television. I've said that, too, once. I told the mediators: "If you don't want a popular assembly, please, give me the means to speak to the people for half-an-hour a day; that is better for me. Not every day, even--Let me speak an hour-and-a-half with the people each week through a direct (?) broadcast. What do you want? You say that you don't want masses to gather; fine, neither do I; the people don't deserve it; I will speak to them at home." I've said so.

The government is trying to make announcements through various officials saying that you are the one responsible for the events of March 1st.

One would think that they can accuse me. Through accusations, they wiped-out 20 million people in Siberia. But neither I, nor the entirety of this movement, have any responsibility for these clashes and incidences of violence. That is the most elementary thing: they will, of course, try to ascribe [the violence] to us. It will work out; we aren't afraid of that, either. I have said that no one can accuse me of having violated any law. For five months [no laws] were broken at all. Yes, after February 21st we had unannounced general gatherings. If this merits punishment, then I am ready to bear that punishment. Do you know what the punishment for that is? A $300-400 fine. Gorbachov fined me twice in '88.

Mr. President, did you forsee the course of events before the beginning of the general gatherings?

No, I did not foresee such a thing, and I have said in one of the assemblies that, based on reason, I could not imagine that such a thing is possible. Robert Kocharian is an out-going President, and he absolutely did not need to get involved in something like this, and Serj Sargsyan, for his part, was an incoming President--he did not need to initiate his five year tenure with this. I've approached our nation using rational categories; it can be said that, here, I was wrong. Our nation is far more inclined toward violence than it was possible to judge it [to be] with those categories. Take note that I was wrong. My impression of these people has been more favorable than is warranted.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

LTP -- What's next? -- 3/11 Interview: Pt. 2

Mr. President, the Constitutional Court (CC) was virtually the last legal court in Armenia where it was possible to dispute the results of the election. What legal measures are you planning to take now?

There aren't any. The European Court does not accept any work regarding the reconsideration of the results of presidential elections. But there are other questions that may be raised, say, about the defense of human rights, citizens' rights--people who have voted and had their votes demonstrably stolen from them. It is possible to petition the CC with many other issues.

Mr. President, doesn't the fact that they forbade a demonstration mean that the government wants to lead resistance efforts into an impasse?

Of course. What else could it mean? It means just that. We will now apply for the following day, for March 22nd; let them refuse again; we'll apply for March 23rd.

And would it be possible to hold the demonstrations outside of Yerevan?

Yes, that is possible, but today we are living in a type of nation... Our camp applied in Edjmiatzin, and, there, too, they were forbidden. They said that [Gyumri TV] does not broadcast widely, though the state of emergency does not extend beyond Yerevan.

Are you going to hold unsanctioned demonstrations? If they keep denying you [the license to legally hold a demonstration], what will you do?

How long are they going to deny us? They cannot deny us to that extent. They will find another way. Clearly put, they will extend the state of emergency. They need 20 days, so that there are no demonstrations until April 9th [date of inauguration]. We are not planning on holding an unannounced demonstration. It will be announced, and we will hold it.

Mr. President, can you make it concrete whether you are going to continue to struggle for new elections to be held, and, if so, through what means?

I have now one way to prevail: the opportunity to hold demonstrations will manifest, and the newspapers will reopen; we will use the newspapers, use the demonstrations, and all lawful means to have contact with the people and talk--just what we have been doing for the last five months. In five months, our camp committed not one transgression. So many marches took place, so many demonstrations. In all those marches and demonstrations, not one car was damaged, not one window broken. How did it happen that the people all of a sudden changed overnight? One thing happened: They raised the cudgel over the people. Then, flash demonstrations took place. They gathered near the French embassy, out came provocateurs, and a process was initiated that went out of controlability. But I am certain that that process was being "miraculously" controlled by the government. Even today, I am 100% certain, if announced and approved demonstrations are held, and the government does not raise the cudgel, there will be no disruptions of public order.

And now about what I am going to tell the people. I am going to tell them that I don't accept the legitimacy of this government, and I am going to explain. If it is corruption, then corruption; if it is a violation of human rights, then its a violation of human rights. It's a political struggle. New possibilities will open up, say, elections, local and parliamentary; we must struggle against this government by all means: civil, justifiable, distinct--unyielding resistance. We will suffer no coercion to change our beliefs or the object of our will, and no one can force us to change our minds, even through statutes. That is my right. That which has to do with apolitical tension, we do not subscribe to it. I consider apolitical, physical contact--violence and the like. We have never subscribed to things like that, and neither are we preparing to.

LTP -- The Court's cesspool around Sargsyan -- 3/11 Interview: Pt. 1

Levon Ter-Petrossian: "I pity Serj Sargsyan"

Armenia's first President, Levon Ter-Petrossian, who is presently under house arrest, held an interview at his house in the evening of March 11th. Below we [Paykar newspaper] present the questions directed to him and the answers, with abbreviations.


[Levon Ter-Petrossians opening statement:] My having not held an interview sooner might be a bit puzzling, but I was waiting, first, for the decision of the Constitutional Court. I waited an additional three days until I received the decision in writing. I could not speak until that decision was in my hand. Now I've made an announcement about that decision:

"On March 5th, I invited the Constitutional Court's (CC) attention to two legal questions. According to article 78.1 of the Electoral Code, the Prime Minister could be officially registered as a presidential candidate of the Republic of Armenia under one condition--having the status of active President of Armenia. Because he did not have such a status, his registration is unlawful. Moreover, according to article 53.1 of the Constitution: 'The Republic's Presidential elections shall not to be held during a time of war or state of emergency.' 'Presidential elections' means the entire electoral process, starting from the declaration to the end of the time alloted to contestation--that is the decision of the Constitutional Court. Therefore, because the sessions of the Constitutional Court (CC) have taken place under those types of conditions, the elections cannot be considered valid or legal."

David Harutiunain, the representative of the Defense, registered in the courtroom his objection to these questions raised by my side. Thus, the CC had both the Plaintiff's and the Defense's opinions regarding article 78.1 of the Electoral code and article 53.1 of the Constitution; hence, the court was obligated to express its approach to those [articles] and arrive at a suitable resolution, which obligation it, amazingly enough, did not meet.

This means one thing. In order to avoid arriving at a legal impasse or creating an uncomfortable situation for itself, the CC avoided acknowledging the existence of even the least objectionable founding arguments that put the legality of the recent elections into question. But by preferring to avoid those founding arguments, the Court brought further dishonor and disgrace upon itself--demonstrably acknowledging implicitly the illegitimacy of the past election and opening-up a cesspool under Serj Sargisyan's legitimacy. I've entitled this announcement this way: "The Constitutional Court has encircled Serj Sargisyan's legitimacy with a cesspool."
(original Armenian here)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Ter-Petrossian: "They would have killed me."



via Unzipped via Zhamanak via Kommersant

Former Presidential candidate Levon Ter-Petrossian has expressed his dissatisfaction with the behavior of the European observers. In an interview given to Kommersant newspaper he asserted that Europeans would not abide in Europe that which they abide in Armenia.

"Let me ask a clear question: If 50 of Mrs. Clinton's supporters or 50 of Mr. Sarkozy's supporters were arrested, what would happen in the United States or in France? There, such a thing is not possible; here, however, it is possible. The Europeans would not allow such a thing over there, but they are allowing it over here. If there are standards, then those standards apply to everybody. What is unacceptable in Europe must not be acceptable here. For that reason, we are dissatisfied with the position that the observers have taken," said Levon Ter-Petrossian.

"This is what is thought: The Europeans arrive, and they make illegitimate elections legitimate. The OSCE and the European Council are our organizations; we are one of their qualified members. Our governments have responsibilities with regard to them, but they likewise have responsibilities with regard to our citizens, and we demand that they meet those responsibilities," argued Armenia's first president.

In response to Kommersant's question, what would have happened if on March 1st Levon Ter-Petrossian had not stayed at his house, but had gone to the protesters gathered near the French embassy, the former presidential candidate replied, "What would have happened? [Kocharian & co.] would have killed me. That is just what they needed. Then they would have attributed it to whatever hooligans. They would have said several people disgruntled by me killed me. And that would have made the situation much more vitreous," concluded Levon Ter-Petrossian.
(Original Armenian here)

Bruce Tasker: A Boon to Armenians

If you want to know what has been going on in Armenia, then, fortunately, there's a man who has uncovered the financial dealings and shady political shenanigans that have resulted in the corrupt Armenian government that--kills its own people.

As Tasker has pointed out, there is no record of any Armenian government killing its own people. It has never, ever happened. March 1st was the first time. Just think about that a minute. It is a real, serious tragedy, this Kocharian government.

It is a diseased government. The Kocharian government must go. If the government killing its own citizens hasn't convinced you, then the hard facts in Tasker's detailing of government corruption will:

http://better-not-wb-the-wb.blogspot.com/

Best of luck to Bruce Tasker. It is difficult to exaggerate the monumental importance of his work. Hopefully, mainstream Armenian newspapers will find their courage and publish his findings.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Ruben Hakhverdian: We should mourn the death of our government

I came across this at unzipped, which is where you can find the Armenian original. Ruben Hakhverdian is a very well known musician. An Armenian Leonard Cohen of sorts, and certainly one of my favorites.

...........................................................................................................

Ruben Hakhverdian

"The government fired on the people and entered history in that way. It is incomprehensible to me how they will to govern this country. In reality, to put it mildly, the people do not like this government.

"If not the beginnings of a revolt, the events of March 1st were a collective act of protest on the part of the people that were treacherously repressed by the government. The student protests in France likewise ended with blazing stores and looting, but, there, no one died, because the nation in question is civilized (whereas I'm not even sure whether our nation is a nation at all)... Everything that went on is regrettable. That day should be declared a day of mourning; to boot--we must mourn for our government. Ultimately, the government died on that day," declared Ruben Hakhverdian, the Dashnak-friendly singer and Armenian household name, at club "Hayeli" yesterday and continued, "Robert speaks as if he is the president of some very wealthy nation. He is the president of the world's most underdeveloped nation; to boot, the poorest nation's wealthiest president. Our government, in the duration of 15 years, killed the dream dead in our youth. Their [Government officials'] precious children have big businesses and study abroad; making money through the means available to us, however, is a different matter. And who will judge them, when they are the judges... Our children do not have a future here. It is true that I harbor a personal sympathy toward Robert Kocharian; in any case, there was movement in the first five years of his presidency. When they say no incendiary devices were used during the goings-on of March 1st, it is a lie. It's a pity: When I saw, on television, the young and "promising" Armenian reporters asking our leaders those truly insipid questions after the events, I was ready to tear my hair out, because not one of them asked, for example, "Mr. Kocharian, what businesses do you have? Is it true that Mrs. Bella is a shareholder of the hospitals? Is it true that your son controls the Armenian cell-phone sales monopoly?" And so on. Today we believe rumormongers more than the news media. Instead of asking such questions, they were accusing Levon Ter-Petrossian... and the people had not come out for Ter-Petrossian, but against this unjust government. To tell the truth, I don't believe that eight people have perished. I have friends who were at the scene of the events who can very well distinguish between automatic shots and sniper shots. One my friends told me that a sniper shot someone, and his brain spilled out under his feet... Such things would happen in Latin American dictatorships."

In response to a question from Hayotz Ashkharh whether it isn't necessary, perhaps, for intellectuals to send out a call for toleration, Hakhverdian countered, "Whom and what do you have in mind when you say intellectual? Do any of those people remain? The last intellectual that I knew was Rafael Ghazarian."

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Eyewitness Account of March 1st -- Part 3

The authorities/oligarchs that started this storm didn't think to send large numbers of ambulances there, send Erebuni's reanimobiles [Russian for "rapid car," I think, so probably "ambulance"]. So what ought to these people answer for? My civilian's attitude that started with the lady who had fainted changed purely to the attitude of one who has taken Hippocrates's oath.

I asked V. and G. whether I could be of any help. They said they had everything under control. I took off. I spoke to D.. I asked him what was going on. He said things were tense where he was. They called me from home, alarmed, for the umpteenth time. I decided not to go there [back to the demonstrations] anymore with my filthy clothes. I came home thinking about D. and N.. My cell phone ran out of batteries on the way.

At 22.30 hrs., Kocharian declared a state of emergency--for 20 days.

I spoke to D., and it became clear that looting had started and that the police had fallen back. I asked them to please go home, since it was not worth dealing with looters. At 3 in the morning, Levon had urged his supporters by telephone to disperse. Later, I was convinced by many things that the looting had been provoked. Among those, the kadrs [Russian for "stills," I think] presented by the police showed people leaving out of stores with cases, without focusing on their faces. Very relaxed. So where had the police gone to then? Or was the guy who took the photographs really so courageous [Armenian: "eaten bear's meat"] that he hadn't minded taking pictures of marauding looters who would have murdered the lone photographer upon spotting him?

Moreover, I know eyewitnesses who saw the protesters arguing with them, asking them to stop looting.


P.S. Today, Kocharian made the rounds of the palaces of the wounded police, wishing them good health. Yet he again neglected the wounded civilians. Are they not humans to you, Mr. Kocharian? And you to them?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Eyewitness Account of March 1st -- Pt. 1

I'm still getting used to the dynamics of Blogger. Part 1 disappeared, so here I'm re-posting it. Scroll below for Part 2.

My translation:

Our Filthy March 1st
Azat Hay's blog (via nazarian)


That Saturday night began for me with a call from G.A., who was very sick and for that reason had been unable to spend the night at Freedom Plaza. I learned from him that, in the early hours of the morning, while it was still dark, the police had tried to attack the people sleeping in their tents. Later, they launched a second, more resolute onslaught, beat those who resisted and stuffed them in their cars. They surrounded Levon, but he did not resist (how could he resist?). He is said to have said, "Please, if you have any basis [for arresting me], go ahead and arrest me." Kocharian's lead adjutant, himself, sat Levon in the car and drove him to his house. Here he was put under house arrest (so that no harm would come to him, as if). A number of protesters were able to successfully escape, and the majority of them gathered near the French embassy. A call was simultaneously made to gather at 15.00 hrs. at Freedom Plaza, and if that was not permitted, to gather at Sakharov Plaza. But because the beatings continued at the plaza of France, it was decided to gather there.

The scene of the event: near the statue of Miasnikian, a dense gathering of about 200,000 [!] people (some say more, but I can't vouch for this) surrounding the statue. The plaza in front of the Mayor's building, the park behind the statue, the surrounding area--all full. The street was closed on two sides with trolleys and buses with flat tires. It became clear that it had been the protestors who had thus barricaded the street, in order to protect themselves against the attacks of the police and others. During the clashes that had erstwhile taken place in the morning, the residents had successfully appropriated 3-4 police shields. The PA system was hooked up and Nikol Sarkissian and Aram Pashinian began to speak. They called for a strengthening of their [the gatherers'] positions using all possible means, without damaging anything, they called on people to be calm and unemotional, and they demanded Levon's release. Sometime before that, Levon had made an announcement from his house regarding the events that had taken place. We decided to return. Dn., Nn., An. and I went to A's house.

When we returned, everyone was listening to Radio Liberty (whoever is unaware, let me say that these days it is the only more or less normal news medium. All broadcasting companies are the government's; Yerkir Media is the Dashnaks', and occasionally a bit more objective. Out of all radio broadcasts, Liberty is the only one operating that lives up to its name; the situation is a bit better on the internet: There is A1Plus and other functioning written sources). We learned from Radio Liberty that which we already knew through the testimonies of eyewitnesses, made complete through certain details.

During this time, [the people] had further strengthened the positions. There was an overturned Vilis [a Soviet jeep, I think] on the road to the circus; during the morning's beatings, it had been driven into the crowds and run over two people, after which, it is said, the driver was beaten and ran away. Who blew-up the Vilis, however, we didn't find out. I want to specifically emphasize that calls were being made in the statue's plaza not to do any damage to private property. Let me adduce two direct quotes from Aram Sarkissian's "speech": "Hey, kid! Hey, kid, get down from there. Get down!" (A youth had climbed up the lean-columns of a building being built in front of the Mayor's building and was throwing down pieces of wood: Many people had armed themselves with pipes and wood from this construction site in general.) "If you're not a provocateur, then get down. I'm appealing to the people and elders around him: Put some sense into him." The young man climbed down. We heard another such episode, in the distance. Someone had approached a car in front of the Mayor's building, perhaps trying to damage it. Someone said, "What are you doing? Kill him like an animal right this minute! We said, Do not touch any private property!" I'm guessing they got rid of him, but I don't know.

We began to notice some stirrings in Republic plaza. It appeared that we were surrounded in that direction by armed forces; dense, helmeted formations were showing up. Our friends, including A.n. who had turned up in that part of the plaza, were telling us about that as well. We learned that a large amount of military equipment was being amassed near the Fish store. There wasn't much information about Levon; they were not allowing him to come. K. had called in the morning from Karmir and said that they were being mobilized. They called D. and told him that the militia of Kubatlu was on its way here.

At that moment a hullabaloo was rising in the direction of Zakian. The formations with shields were beating their shields with their clubs and making noise. We saw M. and the other guys. He said if the situation became impossible, we should escape toward Zakian and from there to his brother's office, moving in-between buildings. It was then that I saw someone with a molotov cocktail. Whence these youths? Where are the nation's keepers? More fairy tales about Manvel, as if he was going to arrive with his army to protect the people. They fired tear gas several times. Then they started throwing noise grenades. Tracer fire. They were trying to scare us. And we were yelling, "Turks, get out of here!" We understood, nonetheless, that there were not but Armenian youths on the other side; whose agenda they were advancing, however, I don't know. An ambulance came into the plaza, turned, and left.

During this tumultuous noise-bombardment, a women fell ill. She was probably around 55-60. I approached. She was out of her senses. She had an accelerated pulse. I gave her a couple of gentle slaps, and she came to, but she was very weak and her awareness, murky. She said her name, A.. It turned out that her son was with us. We laid her on the pedestal of the statue. One of our colleagues (I didn't recall her identity then, but her face was very familiar) had put a Validol [a kind of sedative, I think] in her mouth. I'd already told N. to call 103 [Armenian 911, but for ambulances, only]. The woman began shivering. Her mamrar [?] was cold. I took off my jacket and threw it under her. There was no news of the emergency response. Out of nowhere some people brought a stretcher. We put her on it and ran her across the park toward Zakian. I put on my jacket, content that the phone was in its place and not lost. There, we came across 3-4 private cars. I yelled, Any of the owners of these cars around? One of the cars budged, and we transported her and her son to the hospital.

We turned back to Miasnikian's statue, noticing four stretchers on the way that the ambulance must have left behind before taking off. We hadn't arrived yet when we heard three people yelling "Doctor! Doctor!" in our direction and running after us. One of them was a 16-17 year old with an eye wound. It was a bloody, dirty wound. Someone cleaned the wound a little with a soaked handkerchief. We grabbed the kid by the arm and headed back to Zakian through the park. Again I yelled, Who's got a car? We noticed a foreign car with a young man and a young woman inside, and a beautiful flower bouquet in the back seat. I said, We have to go to the hospital. But the young man had already understood. We transported the wounded youth with his brother in the back seat.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Eyewitness Account of March 1st -- Part 2

Our Filthy March 1st
Azat Hay's Blog (via nazarian)


Right then they brought another wounded person. We put him in the car, and it took off. At the intersection of Zakian and Grigor Lusavorich, violent clashes were taking place. They brought over a severely wounded, bleeding youth on a makeshift stretcher. We started looking for a car. We stopped a truck. I sat inside with the wounded young man. I called D. but apparently he was too far away. We heard an ambulance from afar. We got out and entered the "Raf" ambulance. Somehow we got going through the violent commotion outside.

Suddenly, I saw what had happened to the wounded one: they'd opened up his head; large chunks of brains had fallen out. I tried to say something to my colleague sitting in the front, but she didn't want to hear it. I asked for sterile bandages to put pressure on the cut-up chunks; his sister, who was sitting with me, gave them to me, while avoiding looking at the patient. Maybe they were scared.

Suddenly, they stopped: there was yet another wounded person. Inside, the doctor sitting in the front and the sister said that we can't [pick up another person], but I insisted, because I had no hopes for the victim that we had. We picked him up and he somehow managed to sit beside me. His name was S.. He had a head wound, but it wasn't very serious. On the way he spoke to his relatives on his cell. Mine was ringing, too, but I didn't want to answer with my blood-covered hands. I'd put the cell in my pants pocket. They couldn't decide which hospital to drive to. The road to the hospital they'd decided on was closed.

By that point, I'd become convinced that the one with the head wound was dead. I insisted that we drive to the first hospital. We arrived. They were dealing [with arriving patients] too slowly, until I yelled a few to times for them to open the the door for the other patient from the outside so we could get out. Then, the 25-26-year-old's cell-phone went off; it played a hilarious rabiz [down home] tune. We took the other to patient acceptance. V. was there, organizing. I saw a doctor whom I know. He recognized me, but I didn't let on. Then I saw A. whom they'd called.

There was an 18-19 year-old military policeman at the arrivals area; he looked fine, as if there was nothing wrong with him; I couldn't figure out what his ailment was. I was washing up at the arrivals area when they put on the seat next to mine the policeman's baton and defensive equipment, telling the secretary, "These are the boys' equipment. I'm leaving them here."

I saw A. through our clinics' connections. He asked me, "What were you doing there?"

-"I was trying to help to help the people out, our brothers and sisters."

-"You have to answer for you politics. It's because of you that..."

-"What do I have to answer for? That I transported patients? Helped people?"

-"If you did it as a doctor, then fine, thank you," he answered in a softened manner.

-"If you could try to send ambulances there. People are getting wounded and staying there."

-"Where?"

-"At the Zakian/Grigor Lusavoritch intersection."

I answered him and thought, He really doesn't know where that is.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Paykar! -- Intl. Women's Day Protest -- Boycott in Avan

3/10/08

#12. March 1st was a Day of Slaughter
On March 8th, International Women's Day, several tens of women dressed in black gathered in the courtyard of Yerevan's Saint Sarkis Church.

In spite of the announced state of emergency, after lighting candles in the church, they filed out toward Leo street. The women used black ribbons to tie flowers to trees. "Here, on the night of March the 1st, they literally destroyed the people. We have at least eight victims: That was a day of slaughter. For the Armenian woman, there exists no holiday, until we clean off of ourselves that blood of innocence," said the action's participants and called on women around the world to join them through similar actions.
(Armenian original here)

#10. They're Boycotting.
The residents of Yerevan's Avan district have announced a boycott campaign against the "Milena" taxi service.

The owner of this service is a member of the Republican party and before the presidential election was trying to preach in favor of Serj Sarkissian with white flags affixed to his taxis. On February 19th, the residents of Avan district were transported by this service's cars to voting areas to vote for Serjik. They have uniformly decided to no longer use "Milena" service and prefer to use another service.
(Original Armenian here.)

Paykar! -- Constitutional Court an "Obliging Tool"

3/8/08

#2. The Constitutional Court Publicizes its Decision
The Republic of Armenia’s Constitutional Court (CC) today announced its decision regarding the request to cancel the results of the 19th of February Presidential elections.

The first President of the Republic of Armenia and presidential candidate Levon Ter-Petrossian and the people’s party head, Tigran Karapetian, had approached the CC and asked that it consider the results of the election null and void. From the beginning of the deliberations of the CC and judging from the carriage of the members of the court, it was obvious that that body had long forgotten the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia and justice. But the pick-pocket can never be called a—criminal—until he picks a pocket.

Therefore, when the CC like an obliging slave did its job and denied recognizing the calls to consider null and void the declaration of Serj Sarkissian as president, it was no big surprise. It was long clear to everybody that the CC does not, in practice, decide anything and that the members of this body are the obliging tools of Armenia’s highest authority. Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court’s, Gagik Harutunian’s, boldness sufficed merely for him not to be the one who makes the decision public. He had transferred that act of great responsibility to Hrand Nazarian, who went ahead and read the Court’s decision. The proof that the content of the Courts decision was disgraceful, to put it mildly, we consider to be likewise obvious, because no one can present a falsehood as the truth.
(Original Armenian here.)

Friday, March 7, 2008

Paykar! -- An Eye for an Eye -- Struggle Will Continue

3/6/08

#1. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth
[note: title in classical Armenian, or Grabar].
SYNOPSIS: An unnamed source from the Ter Petrossian camp says that members of the movement are collecting information on those individuals in the sitting government who are acting to oppress activists. The same is being done with regard to those who are aiding the movement. The unnamed source adds that these individuals must understand that in a short while they are going to be receiving their just comeuppance.
(Original Armenian here.)

#2. The struggle will continue.
The Russian paper Vremya Novostey yesterday published an article about the situation in Armenia. The article specifically notes that despite the fact that the government’s declared state of emergency gives it a distinct advantage, the situation in Armenia continues to remain unforeseeable. The article notes that the opposition is preparing for the resurgence of demonstrations immediately after the end of the state of emergency is announced on March 21st. The author states that the possibility is not being denied that the demonstrators might loose interest in the struggle by the 21st and return to their regular lives. It is indicative, however, that in making that supposition, the author simultaneously emphasizes that, in contrast to the opposition’s earlier protests that would come to an end after being dispersed by the police, this time the movement is being headed by the charismatic Levon Ter-Petrossian, whose rallies in the 1980s were able to bring about the downfall of the Soviet government in Armenia. Vremya Novostey writes that even is Serj Sarkissian successfully takes over the presidency in April, it won’t make a difference and his rule will not meet with peace because it has had its genesis in bloodshed and 52% of the vote, the reality of which figure is in doubt.
(Original Armenian here.)

Paykar! -- Agent Provacateurs Sighted March 1st

3/6/08

#17. Provocateurs would emerge from behind police lines.
Many of the residents of Grigor Lusavoritch street, who witnessed the events that took place there during the night of March 1, have reported how groups would emerge from police lines, throw rocks and molotov cocktails at the stores, then calmly return back through the police.

The residents bear witness that the same group that had attacked the Mayor's office of Yerevan emerged from police lines--while the police "kindly" opened up a path for them--and returned back behind police lines later. The same happened with regard to attacks on other targets. The most comical thing is that there are passages (?) in the police records wherein it is clear how those men who "looted" Lphik Samo's store calmly walked past the police with their booty in hand, without any of the police trying to interfere or stop them. Too boot, before the "Yerevan City" oligarchs' operation, not only had the main portion of the store's inventory been removed and transported to a different location, but there are testimonies that the remaining inventory, removed from the store after the operation, was taken with their cars to a different location, likely to their storehouses, while a small portion was taken by "Lfik"'s bashibozuks (criminal vets, ruffians) and dumped into police cars, so that they could use it later to make trouble for the participants in the protests.

Employees of the "Yerevan City" chain of stores belonging to National Assembly deputy Samvel Aleksanian, "Lfik Samo," bear witness that the main portion of the inventory of Mashtots Avenue's "Yerevan City" had been emptied prior to the attack on that store on the night of March 1st.

In other words, the "looting" of "Lfik"'s store had been planned beforehand, and the owner with his bashibozuks had transported the goods found there somewhere else and allowed only a small portion of the inventory to be "destroyed." In eyewitness accounts of the "looting," witnesses have identified the looters of "Yerevan City": the very same employees of the store who with metal pipes in their hands smashed up their employer's store left and right. That is to say, in the case at hand, there is no doubt in people's minds that the destruction of "Yerevan City" was organized by the oligarchs, themselves, while the operation was realized by their bashibozuks.
(Original Armenian here.)

Maiden Post

Armenaker Kamilion, or "the Chameleon that eats Armenians," is named after a late 19th century Armenian newspaper published abroad. It has its genesis in the events that took place in Yerevan, Armenia, on March 1st, 2008.