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Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Merry Christmas, à la police.am

Have to say, for once I enjoyed watching police-made video. Regardless of who was pictured there, I liked that they felt the need for PR by putting a “human face” on to Armenian police. And it's pretty entertaining to watch.



Now if only what I see on the video I can observe in real life too. That would truly be a Christmas miracle.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Tweetathon, march, “wall of shame” - Armenia marks International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

Tweetathon
To raise awareness of this year's 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence campaign and of gender-based violence in general, a group of civil society organisations are planning a Tweetathon this Friday, 25 Nov 2011. Friday is the first of the 16 Days and the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

To participate in the Tweetathon, please join the conversation by using the #16days hashtag. Here are a few suggestions via Women’s Resource Center and PINK Armenia:
"This Friday is #IDEVAW and the start of #16days2011. Join the #16days tweetathon on 25 Nov to spread awareness about #GBV & #VAW" 
"Today is #IDEVAW and the start of #16days2011. What can we do to combat #GBV & #VAW all year? Share your thoughts using the #16days hashtag" 
"Happening now: #16days tweetathon. Check out what people are saying about #GBV & #VAW and join the conversation! #IDEVAW #16days2011" 
"#FollowFriday: the #16days tweetathon! #GBV #VAW #IDEVAW #16days2011 #FF"

March
Few stats via Women’s Resource Center, Armenia:
1 in every 3 women experiencing domestic violence around the world are also subjected to sexual assault.
In the first semester of 2011 there were 10 registered legal cases on trafficking in Armenia; 8 are related to sexual trafficking of women.
In Armenia, women are still getting abortions based on gender choice (favoring male fetuses over female). The gender ratio has reached a scandalous level and organizations are getting worried.
In Armenia, we have 131 deputies and only 11 among them are women.
Poverty strikes women the most; globally 70% among the poorest are women.
In Armenia, we have 18 ministers, among them only 2 are women.
In the world, 95% of victims of domestic violence are women.
No one will be protected against violence if we stay silent!
In Armenia, approximately 1 671 012 of the population is female.
You have 1 671 012 reasons to join this march to stop violence against women and girls on 25 November!

Street action "Wall of shame" 

(Unzipped: reminds me in concept my Hall of Shame)

Women's Rights Center organises a street action called "Wall of shame" in the framework of 16 Days of Activism. During the action a poster demonstrating husband’s violent behavior towards her wife (the scene is caught by their little daughter) will be presented in the center of the avenue. Papers and pens will be distributed to the passersby, who may express their feelings and comments on that picture. It is anticipated that the picture will be covered with different comments of the passersby until the end of the action.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Barbaric destruction of what remained from old Yerevan continues

...and now it's a turn of my very favourite part of downtown Yerevan - buildings on Arami street. Instead of preserving what little remained from old Yerevan, those in power systematically destroy it.

Activists organised a chained protest action last night in an attempt to prevent such act of barbarism (and I am using here the mildest possible word).



Via CivilNetTV: Արամի 30 հասցեում գտնվող "Էդեն" սրճարանն այսօր փակվում է. շենքը ենթակա է ապամոնտաժման: Այս կապակցությամբ մի խումբ ակտիվիստներ հավաքվել էին շենքի մոտ` արտահայտելու իրենց բողոքն ու կոչ անելու պահպանել պատմական շինությունները Երևանում: Ադրինե Գրիգորյանն իրեն շղթայել էր շենքին: Նա ցանկանում էր ընդգծել, որ մենք պատմության մի մասն ենք ու պարտավոր ենք տեր լինել մեր արժեքներին:

*Thanks to Ditord for the link to the video.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

"Building the [Soviet] Revolution"... sort of... in London

(Never built) Tatlin’s Tower was re-created to mark "Building the Revolution: Soviet Art and Architecture 1915-1935" exhibit at the Royal Academy of Arts in London.
[...] Its official title was Monument to the Third International (the revolutionary congress of that name had taken place in 1919) and it was intended to mark the Soviet revolution in Petrograd (St Petersburg) in much the same way that the Eiffel Tower was built to commemorate the French Revolution in Paris – a century after the event. Tatlin’s Tower would have stretched right across the River Neva.

This monument was intended as a conference and administration hub, as well as a propaganda broadcast centre and all-purpose symbol for international revolution. Talking of revolution, buildings slung within its armature would have rotated at different speeds (a year, a month, a day) making it not only a huge metaphor but also the world’s largest perpetual calendar.

Never built, Tatlin’s Tower passed into mythology. It has been a potent symbol for both the Left and for those artists and architects influenced by Russian Constructivism: Richard Rogers RA, Zaha Hadid RA and Anish Kapoor RA all acknowledge it. [...]

These "building the revolution" posters can be seen all over London.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Exposed: racism and 'blood purity' part of ideology of Armenia ruling Republican party?

Thanks to a Facebook friend of mine, I did something I have never done before (or never had any desire whatsoever to do). I looked at the library of ideological publications produced by Armenia's ruling Republican party. In particular, one ‘fundamental’ and pretty 'mind-blowing’ publication. Trust me, that was more than enough for me. What I read there is disgusting, and believe you me, "disgusting" is an understatement.

It's a publication about ‘foundations’ of Armenian family and gender roles (published by Republican party in 2002 and available under the “library” section of their official website).


It uses N-word to refer to black people and 'justifies' the notion of 'purity of blood' calling for no mixed marriages in order to preserve... yes, that very same 'purity of blood' + more racist rant. I am not even going further into their 'defining' of gender roles etc. If this is not a Nazi and racist ideology, then what is it?

For a country with European inclination, or in fact for any country, this is an appalling display of what should have no place in modern world, let alone as part of the ideology of ruling party.  I wonder if Armenia president and PM, as party leaders, are aware of these ideological 'pearls' and whether they share what is supposedly part of their own party ideology? Either they should immediately ditch them from their 'library' and distance themselves from what was expressed in this and similar party publications or people associated with the Republican party risk putting shame on themselves and on Armenia's reputation.

Just to illustrate the point, below are only few extracts from the “Armenian Family” (“ՀԱՅ ԸՆՏԱՆԻՔ” - AM) publication (Republican Party of Armenia, Yerevan 2002):

Երբ մի քանի տարի առաջ ժառանգաբան Նվարդ Քոչարին հարցրեցինք, թե արդյոք ինքը համաձայն կլիներ, որ հայը, օրինակ, նեգրի հետ ամուսնանար, նա պատասխանեց.

- Եթե ընտրեց, ամուսնացավ, այո, համաձայն եմ: Կարեւորը որ նա հայկական միջավայրում ապրի եւ հայանա: Ինչ վատ կլինի, եթե նեգրի երաժշտականությունը, ռիթմի զգացողությունը ներմուծվի:

Թե ինչպես պիտի նեգրը հայանա, նույնիսկ երեւակայությունը թույլ չի տալիս պատկերացնել: Իսկ որ հայերս երաժշտականության բնածին պակաս ունենք եւ ստիպված պիտի ուրիշից ներմուծենք, շատ անլուրջ է:

Ներկայումս խառնազգի ամուսնությունները մեզանում (լինի Հայրենիքում, թե Սփյուռքում) առավելապես կատարվում են հաշվենկատորեն, երբ, բարեկեցիկ կյանքի ակնկալիքով, շատ հայեր “ամուսնանում” են եվրոպացիների, ամերիկացիների, արդեն` նաեւ պարսիկների, արաբների հետ:


Արյունախառնության կողմնակիցները գտնում են, որ իբր խաչասերումից առաջացած սերունդն ավելի ոժեղ և խելոք է լինում: Դժվար թե: [...] օրինակ, մուլատների մոտ ակնհայտ են մտավոր պակասությունները:

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

"От перемены мест слагаемых..." - re: so called sackings and resignations in Armenia ruling circle

In case you have a (even the tiniest possible) thought that what's being happening now - number of high profile reshuffles, including police chief and speaker of the parliament - may somehow positively or negatively impact your life or that of your country... It will be the same. Nothing has really changed. A bit better, a bit worse, doesn’t much matter. This reshuffle has a very specific internal meaning and importance. Internal in terms of power reshuffle within the ruling party and administration in the run-up of the elections.

Have a look at the ‘new’ police chief who replaced the 'old' one. It’s the same guy who instead of tackling root causes of violence in the army (as deputy MoD), started blaming everything on... 'foreign-sponsored groups' who has been voicing their concerns re status quo in the army, threatening with 'legal actions', a claim repeated afterwards by the minister himself. I am not even going into details of his 'heroic' track record. You may have thought that Alik was the worst possible choice for police chief. Think again. It’s very difficult to decide who is better here: Alik or Vova? “Better” is not the word to be used. It’s from worse to worse. 

In its essence, it’s all about elections, loyalty, although have to be honest, I am not entirely sure that Vova Gasparyan (new police chief) is any less or more loyal than Alik Sargsyan (now former police chief).

But above all, its about their perceived ability to “secure" winning the upcoming election. What the word “secure” means in Armenian election context, no need to explain. It’s pretty self-explanatory.

Ironically, now ex-speaker Hovik Abrahamyan (nicknamed "muk" - AM for mouse) will be heading - yet again - the election HQ of the ruling Republican party. Some say this was his ‘punishment’ for alleged alliances with (pro-Kocharyan) Prosperous Armenia party and ex-president Kocharyan himself. Who cares?

There is an expression that describes what's being happening perfectly. I do not know why but I like saying it in Russian: От перемены мест слагаемых сумма не меняется.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Halloween: Picture of the Day

Among the all Halloween-themed pictures I've seen today, this one strikes me the most.


*Sex workers wearing skeleton masks gather in Mexico city for a procession to remember their deceased colleagues, in particular those violently murdered in the past few years, two days before the Day of the Dead festival when Mexicans pay homage to family and friends who have died. Photograph: Carlos Jasso/Reuters (source: The Guardian)

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Member of "Army in Reality" group Lala Aslikyan is detained

UPDATED: Lala Aslikyan has been released (see comments section for reports in English)

Breaking news (AM only):

 
ՀԱՂՈՐԴՈՒՄ

2011թ. հոկտեմբերի 27-ին ՀՀ կառավարության շենքի մոտ պետք է տեղի ունենար Հայաստանի զինված ուժերում մահացած զինծառայողների ծնողների և “Բանակն իրականում” նախաձեռնող խմբի հերթական ակցիան` զինծառայողների սպանությունները բացահայտելու և գործերի քննությունը պատշաճ կերպով
վարելու պահանջով: Ոստիկանները թույլ չեն տվել, որպեսզի ակցիան կայանա նախատեսված վայրում և բռնություն են կիրառել զինծառայողների ծնողների նկատմամբ` հրմշտելով նրանց և խոչընդոտելով խաղաղ հավաքի անցկացումը: Ակցիայի մասնակիցներն արձագանքել են` արտահայտելով իրենց վերաբերմունքը ոստիկանների բռնությունների նկատմամբ:

Ոստիկանները, բռնի ուժ կիրառելով ցուցարարներից մեկի` “Բանակն իրականում” քաղաքացիական նախաձեռնության անդամ Լալա Ասլիկյանի նկատմամբ, նրան տեղափոխել են ՀՀ ոստիկանության Երևան քաղաքի վարչության կենտրոնական բաժին:

ՀՀ ոստիկանության Երևան քաղաքի վարչության կենտրոնական բաժնի մոտ, որտեղ հավաքվել են մի խումբ քաղաքացիներ` պահանջելու ազատել Լալա Ասլիկյանին, կրկին տեղի է ունեցել միջադեպ. ՀՀ ոստիկանության Երևան քաղաքի վարչության կենտրոնական բաժնի փոխոստիկանապետ Արայիկ Պետրոսյանը փորձ է արել մեքենայով վրաերթ կատարել ցուցարարների ուղղությամբ և հարվածել ԱԺ պատգամավոր Զարուհի Փոստանջյանին:

Արդեն կես ժամից ավել է Լալա Ասլիկյանի փաստաբան Ռոբերտ Ռևազյանը կանգնած է ՀՀ ոստիկանության Երևան քաղաքի վարչության կենտրոնական բաժնի մուտքի մոտ և նրան թույլ չեն տալիս մուտք գործել ոստիկանության բաժին: Մոտ 20 ոստիկան կանգնած են ոստիկանության բաժնի մուտքի մոտ, իսկ 30-ը ավելի հեռու` խոչընդոտելով ցուցարարներին մոտենալ ոստիականության բաժնի շենքին:

Friday, 21 October 2011

Open letter to Orange Armenia re: homophobic short story shortlisted for their annual book prize

For Armenian version, see Unzipped: Gay Armenia

For more background info, read: #Fail: Homophobe writer shortlisted for Orange Armenia book prize 2011

***
Dear Orange Armenia,

We wish to express our concern with one of the entries of the Orange Book Prize.

For the 2011 Orange Book Prize, as noted on Orange Armenia's official website, 130 creative works were submitted to the contest, 79 of which were in the short story category. The jury of "professional readers," according to Orange Armenia's description, selected 11 out of the 130 entries submitted, one of which — Paruyr Santrosyan's "Hours Before [Being Given] the Death Penalty" — contains hatred toward homosexual people. The author in his work, in particular, complains that the Republic of Armenia guarantees equality for all, including homosexual people, adding that if he were talk about homosexual people, he would be forced to do so using profanities.

We would like to express our concern to the aforementioned. Orange Armenia is one of those reputable companies in Armenia that embraces Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), acknowledging that it has a responsibility to the public, and always tries to uphold its reputation at the pan-Armenian and international level, which France Telecom also attempts to do on local, national and international platforms. Expressing a malevolent attitude toward marginalized groups and minorities through Orange Armenia, we believe, is first and foremost detrimental to the company itself. Apart from the fact that Orange Armenia might lose the trust of many of its customers and sustain losses on a PR level, this is also dangerous for Orange Armenia's LGBT customers and employees, because the author of this work affronts LGBT people and tramples their dignity. According to its website, France Telecom–Orange is "committed to ensuring transparency, quality and security for all its customers," while promoting diversity and equal opportunity for its employees: "France Telecom-Orange has a duty to set an example by promoting equal opportunity and combating all forms of discrimination."

It is incomprehensible how Orange Armenia allowed a story to participate in the contest and to be selected out of 79 entries in this category by a jury of "professional readers" which spreads hate toward a marginalized group — in this case, homosexual people. Would it be permissible, perhaps, for a story to be included in the contest that spread the same message of hate towards, for example, Jewish people or people of a different skin color or any number of other marginalized communities?

Considering the aforementioned, we would like to suggest that Orange Armenia issue a statement reaffirming its unbiased and impartial approach toward its LGBT customers (also potential LGBT customers, which it might lose due to homophobia) and toward marginalized groups, in line with the company's own policies and Article 14.1 of Armenia's Constitution which guarantees equality for all, irrespective of personal or social circumstances (in this case, irrespective of an individual's sexual orientation). In particular, we ask that the aforementioned short story entry be removed from the competition.

We look forward to receiving your response.

Respectfully Yours,

Public Information and Need of Knowledge NGO (PINK Armenia)
Mika, author of the blog "Unzipped: Gay Armenia"
Women's Resource Center of Armenia
Sexual Assault Crisis Center, Yerevan
New Generation NGO
Guarantee Center for Civil Society NGO
World Independent Youth Union NGO
Society Without Violence NGO
Haykuhi Margaryan
Hamo Sargsyan
Narek Harutyunyan
Anna Grigorian
Armen Ohanyan
Tufenkian Foundation Women's Support Center
Diana Muradova
"Young Professionals Caucasus"
Ginosi.com LLC
____
originally published here

Sunday, 16 October 2011

PR and propaganda fail in the face of reality in Armenia army

Yes, tragic incidents in the army happened in the past too. Yes, we may not have realised their full extend in the past due to lack of publicity. There might be some truth in such statements, but they cannot be used to justify the appalling reality of violence and abuse in the Armenian army that tend to turn into routine statistics of non-combat deaths as part of daily news headlines.

3 deaths + “incidents” in 5 days... Plus all those soldiers who were killed or ‘suicided’ over the past year or so... This is an indication of endemic problems of violence and bullying in our army and lawlessness on all the levels of military management and beyond that, without addressing properly and comprehensively, unsurprisingly getting worse and worse... And a reflection of complacency towards violence in our society where machismo still rules.

Ironically, even now state propaganda machine tries blaming “foreign sponsored NGOs” and human rights activists for damaging army’s reputation and its military and psychological capabilities with their criticism, publicity and demands. So it’s not murders or ‘suicides’ of soldiers but publicity surrounding those incidents and demand for answers and responsibilities that damage Armenia’s security and defense?!

We may do the most impressive breathtaking military parades for propaganda purposes. But any propaganda or PR exercise fail spectacularly when facing such realities.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Armenia crushed Macedonia 4:1 in a perfect display of team spirit at Euro 2012 qualifier




*pictures - by PanARMENIAN Photo

After a decade of post-Soviet malaise, Armenia national team started showing up a type of professional and exciting football that I love.

Below are pictures of 5 players of the day. But the real heroes of the day - Armenia national team as a whole. See their faces here.

And if there was a contest for 'comment of the day', the prize would go to a friend of mine Sylvie K. who commented under my Facebook status:
“this makes me believe in miracles - that we CAN succeed in a TEAM sport...not just in CHESS”.
And perhaps the most hilarious tweet of the day (AM) ;))
Աղջիկ լինեի, կամ գեյ, էսօր մեր սաղ թիմին կտայի
@8731





Thursday, 6 October 2011

Steve Jobs...

I surrendered to Apple. I did it voluntarily, and have not regretted since.

I use Mac. I use iPad. I use iPhone. You inspired me.

Your vision changed the world on so many levels. It changed my world too. The way I use technology. The way I interact with others and myself.

THANK YOU!

Rest in peace...

In front of the Apple store, Regents street, London

***
Steve Jobs

1955 - 2011

Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor. Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple.

http://www.apple.com/stevejobs

Saturday, 1 October 2011

‘Sex bombs’ as new ‘weapons of mass distraction’ in Armenia?

This erotic show, or whatever it was, reportedly was staged at the Northern avenue to ‘coincide’ with the opposition rally at the nearby Liberty sq. in Yerevan. Some claim that the authorities started using sex as a ‘weapon of mass distraction’ :))
Not surprising that regime used sex (half naked women in black/red lingerie) to try to distract from Liberty Square
@tzitzernak
Whether this is the case or not, the coincidence is hilarious.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Bullying by haircut: Outrageous lawlessness by head teacher at one of Yerevan schools

I am speechless. A truly outrageous incident has happened today at one of 4th grade classes in a Yerevan school named after Daniel Varuzhan. Head teacher has forcibly cut children’s hair because apparently she didn’t like their haircut. She later ‘explained’ it by an expression of “motherly joke” from her side. This incident has got reported and gained publicity thanks to journalist parents. It’s currently being investigated by educational authorities.

How many similar or more outrageous incidents go unreported, one may wonder?!



Pictures and reporting by Gagik Shamshyan. Original source: news.armeniatv.com



Այսօր՝ սեպտեմբերի 26-ին, Երևանի Դանիել Վարուժանի անվան թիվ 89 դպրոցի մի խումբ ծնողներ բողոքում էին դպրոցում տեղի ունեցած միջադեպի փաստով:

Ինչպես news.armeniatv.com-ին հայտնում է ֆոտոլրագրող Գագիկ Շամշյանը, նշված դպրոցի 4-րդի «Գ» դասարանի դասղեկ Գայանե Թանգյանը ստիպողաբար դասարանի՝ թվով 9-ը տղա երեխաների մազերը կտրել է:

Ծնող Ալլա Մկրտչյանը մեզ հետ զրույցում բարկացած պատմում էր. «Ես իմ երեխային առավոտյան մաքուր ուղարկել եմ դասի, իսկ դասղեկը բռնել, տղայիս մազերը կտրել-այլանդակել է. ու տենց մի քանի երեխաների: Ինձ էլ ասում է, թե՝ ում ուզում ես բողոքի, լավ եմ արել, դա իմ օրենքնա»:

Դասղեկ Թանգյանը, ով չցանկացավ նկարահանվել, իր արարքը պատճառաբանում էր, թե մայրաբար կատակ է արել: Երևանի քաղաքապետարանի հանրակրթության վարչության պետ Գայանե Սողոմոնյանը մեզ հետ զրույցում, դատապարտելով կատարվածը, ասաց, որ կատարվածի մասին ինքն արդեն տեղյակ է, և մեղավորները ենթարկվելու են խիստ պատասխանատվության:

Իսկ մի քանի ծնողներ էլ ասացին, որ Գայանե Սողոմոնյանի զանգից հետո Թանգյանը ոտուձեռ էր ընկել ու խնդրում, որպեսզի աղմուկ չբարձրացնեն, թե չէ հանրակրթության վարչությունը իրն «օդ կհանի»:

*Thanks to @kornelij for the info.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Picture of the Day: marching priests (Armenia Independence Day)

This is by far THE Picture of the Day for me. This is unlike anything you may ever seen. Hilarious is an understatement here. This picture shows so many things on so many levels... If only we had Armenian Almodovar, this would become a masterpiece...


*source of picture: PanARMENIAN Photo / Tigran Mehrabyan

Saturday, 17 September 2011

#Fail: Armenia Junior Eurovision selection show promotes Dolphinarium

Tonight I decided to watch the Armenia selection show for Junior Eurovision, but I turned it off instantly as soon as they started promoting Dolphinarium.
I boycott today's #Armenia Junior #Eurovision selection show as they promote Delphinarium #fail
This is what Public TV in Armenia promotes among younger audiences. A major #fail.


To Shut Down the Dolphinarium: Armenian Environmentalists Ready to Go to International Courts

[...] The government ministry is being accused of inaction with reference to the newly constructed Nemo Dolphinarium in Yerevan’s Komitas Park, which environmentalists have been demanding be shut down.

[...]...Armenia does not have the necessary conditions or suitable climate for dolphins to live.

“We also presented arguments by different experts and environmentalists in Armenia testifying the fact that Armenia does not have the means to keep dolphins” [...]

“We wanted [them] to conduct monitoring, to check the conditions, the dolphins’ health — but they refuse.[...] Only on the telephone, a woman answered our questions and said that the pool is not [full] of ocean water, they only make additions, the dolphins’ health is rarely checked because experts [have to] come in from other countries” [...]

*source of picture and selected extracts above - Epress.am

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Yerevan Diaries: night people, sex and rock... and losers

Instead of editorial

One of the reasons why I like Yerevan at night is because all those սուտի նամուսով Armenian men and women, boys and girls are at home, sitting in front of their computers or TVs and judging others’ life OR back to sleep after yet another sex-less day. Because they are afraid of night. Night has different rules (or no rules). Rules for those who enjoy living.

Because in reality they [“սուտի նամուսով”] would love to do what others - who they judge - do with their lives, but they are afraid or fail at doing so. In fact, what they NORMALLY do would be considered much-much worse according to the same books or dogmas they use to judge others. They quite enjoy it. Then, they return to their ‘perfect’ lives, back home, and continue living... not their lives, but others’. Continue living lies.

And, yes, they are very bad at sex. They have close to “0” sex skills. And they are jealous of those, who are good at it. They want to kill ‘em.

There are two very different Yerevan: day-time and night-time. I suppose, it's obvious which one I prefer.

That’s why I absolutely loved my night outs in Yerevan. And I loved the rock concert at Liberty sq (Opera) as part of Summer Music Festival.

“Take me downtown
Take me underground” -


crowd was singing along with the Danish rock group.


That was quite a change from usual rabiz or cheap pop happenings going on there (latest example). The atmosphere was electric, free, good weird.

For a moment, I felt like Yerevan turned into one of the European capitals. I was in an alternative reality in Yerevan. The reality I prefer and will choose for instead. The rest is for losers.