Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Armenia PM: the end of cool

I have a confession to make. When Tigran Sargsyan was appointed PM, I was pleased as he was the most intelligent, well educated, seemingly pro-Western person in the cabinet. And he had a good taste in number of things. Ocean apart from the likes of Galust Sahakyan & co that ruling Republican party is so full of.

I am not going to provide a critical review of his years as head of the government. He looks pretty organic when he plays the music. He looks pretty awkward and out of place when he tries playing ‘macho’ (example).

Unfortunately, he will be remembered most as a PM who turned church related mourning days into national holidays.

Needless to say that being a VIP member of the Republican party whose ideology (if I may use such term in relation to this group) is out of touch with contemporary realities (to put it mildly) is in itself tarnishing the reputation. They are the epitome of uncool and impede Armenia’s moving forward, despite the very slogan they adopted.

What happened to the cool PM I once hoped for (example)? Nothing has left of that image.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Aparan, Armenia: triumph of ugliness

Poor Aparanci. As if all the jokes associated with that particular region of Armenia were not enough, they got this: "official opening of 33 metre cross in Aparan".

One word: ugly.

As noted by friend: "Who and why? So there can be more Aparan jokes?" Indeed.

*picture - by © PanARMENIAN Photo / Varo Rafaelyan. For more pics - see here.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

"Beyond Borders: Linking Our Stories": Turkish - Armenian border, women, storytelling

The Women's Resource Center in Armenia and the AMARGI Feminist Collective in Turkey are coming together to work on this inspiring project called "Beyond Borders: Linking Our Stories":
We believe that women should take peace into their own hands and one way to begin is by sitting down with one another, across borders and across difference, to tell our stories. 
The power of a woman telling her story lies in the transformation she lives when she hears the strength of her own voice and in the transformation we live when we are forced to shift our own ideas about women as faceless objects without a voice. 
This project aims to establish a dialogue and cooperation between Armenian and Turkish women, to build solidarity among women across the closed Turkish-Armenian border and to develop an innovative approach to peace-building by collecting a number of interviews by and from women in both countries, which will then be turned into a performance and book for larger audiences. Some of the themes that will be explored include violence, poverty, family, and sexuality. One of our main goals is to make visible ordinary women's lives living across the border, and to make their stories accessible to women in both countries, as well as to women in other countries with conflicted borders.

Because most policies and peace negotiations are usually implemented at higher levels of government where women's voices are not often heard, this project will place the power to create peace into ordinary women's hands. After all of the interviews are conducted (approximately 30 in total from both sides) a group of women from Armenia will travel to Turkey to meet and work with a group of women from Turkey for two weeks. The interviews that were conducted will be discussed and analyzed, workshops on effective peace-building and conflict resolution will be given, and a short film will be made documenting the process of the two groups coming together and preparing for a final performance at Madrasa Theater in Sirince, Turkey. Some time after this initial meeting, the group will also meet in Armenia to hold a second performance in Yerevan.
You may support this project by donating here:  

Sunday, 7 October 2012

To do: ‘Persona non grata’ on human rights grounds for certain Armenia officials, individuals and groups

Human rights abuses should never be considered an internal matter for any country.

I have already mentioned this in relation to recent events in Armenia when certain high level officials supported and encouraged anti-gay violence, and some of ultra-nationalist and neo-nazi groups and individuals attacked gay friendly venues and events.

Few of them are indicated in the Homophobia Hall of Shame. Examples: deputy speaker of parliament, spokesman of ruling Republican party Eduard Sharmazanov; now ex-MP, president of Armenia Football Federation Ruben Hayrapetyan (nicknamed ‘Nemets Rubo’); MP from ARF Dashnaktsutyun party Artsvik Minasyan; ultra-nationalist, neo-nazi groups Hayazn union, Armenian Aryan Union and so on.

There are more people, of course, re other human rights abuses too.

USA and European embassies should take this issue very seriously, and people who commit human rights abuses (whether alone or as members of groups or organisations) should be blacklisted and denied visa. [As far as I understood, the process is on]

At the very least this will create inconvenience and hurt their personal and business interests and reputation and send pretty strong message that anti-gay and other human rights abuses are certainly not OK.

Below is an example, as detailed by The Sunday Times, re some Russian officials:
[...] Details of the blacklist have been disclosed by the immigration minister, Damian Green, in a letter to a Tory MP. Green said a list of 60 officials, including prosecutors, judges, tax inspectors, police and prison chiefs, compiled by an American congressional committee, had been sent to the British embassy in Moscow. “[It] will be considered if an entry clearance application is received from any of the named individuals,”  
Green wrote. The minister said that the British government “was committed to applying the power contained in the immigration rules to refuse entry to those who have committed human rights abuses.” 
 */emphasis mine/