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ARMENIAN SPRING
IN THE MAKING?

Opposition refuses to accept the official results of the presidential election, as former Foreign Minister Raffi Hovannisian announces the “Revolution of Hello” (PAREV)

Mikayel Zolyan - There were few surprises expected in the presidential elections on February 18, 2013 in Armenia. Analysts, politicians and journalists seemed to agree that the incumbent President Sargsyan was set to win a victory with a comfortable margin. The main political rivals of the ruling Republican party, including three of the five political parties represented in the parliament refrained from taking part in the elections. As for those opposition leaders who were running in the elections, including the former minister of foreign affairs, Raffi Hovannisian, few observers viewed them as serious challengers. Hovannisian, US-born Diaspora Armenian, who repatriated in early 1990s, distinguished himself with an innovative campaigning strategy, going door to door, greeting people and talking to them. However, he was not backed by strong party machine, and some commentators ridiculed his way of campaigning as imitation of Western political technologies, unsuitable for Armenia’s post-Soviet realities. There were some incidents during the campaign, such as unsuccessful assassination attempt against one of the candidates, former Soviet dissident Paruyr Hayrikyan, but in general the campaign seemed to mostly calm and even boring.
Thus, the election outcomes came as a surprise for many. Official results awarded victory to incumbent President Sargsyan, with over 58 % of the votes, while Hovannisian received just under 37 %. This is quite an impressive result for opposition in a post-Soviet country: in neighboring Azerbaijan incumbent Aliev received 87 % of the votes in 2008. Another impressive achievement for Hovannisian: official results acknowledged that he won several major towns, including Armenia’s second largest city Gyumri. However, his supporters believe that the actual number of votes he received was much higher. Hovannisian refused to accept the official results, proclaimed himself the winner and called on his supporters to go out on the streets.
Of course, it is hard to assess the veracity of Hovannisian’s claims at this point. In any case, the level of trust towards elections in Armenian society is extremely low. Previous elections in Armenia have been marred by claims of fraud and massive post-election protests suppressed by force. The latest protests lead to a violent government crackdown on March 1 2008, which left ten people dead, as dozens were injured and arrested.
 
A ballot for breakfast
As a reflection of this atmosphere of mistrust, thousands of voters spoilt their ballots on February 18. Sometimes, the ways of expressing protest were quite bizarre. Some disillusioned young citizens “voted” for pop-culture heroes, e.g. vintage blockbusters star Chuck Norris or reality TV diva Kim Kardashyan (who happens to be ethnic Armenian). One disgruntled voter ate his ballot at the polling station, explaining that “it is easier to swallow a piece of paper than to digest five more years of the regime”. A group of activists expressed their protest by dancing to global YouTube hit “Gangnam Style” in front of the Central Election Commission office. After the official results came, social networks like Facebook were full of accusations of fraud on specific polling stations, coming mostly from people who served as election committee members, proxies or monitors.
Hovannisian held several successive rallies at the Freedom Square in central Yerevan and in the regions of Armenia, attended by thousands of people. He was joined by several important figures who supported his claims, including not only politicians, but also one of Armenia’s most famous singer/songwriters Ruben Hakhverdyan. Hovannisian met with President Sargsyan in his office on February 21 in order to negotiate a way out of the political crisis, a step was criticized by hard-line opposition supporters. However, the two politicians failed to reach a compromise and Hovannisian continues to hold rallies both in Yerevan and in the regions of Armenia. Hovannisian even went as far as to claim that the movement represented a peaceful revolution, and even coined a name for it, “revolution of hello”, hinting at his pre-election campaign strategy.

Decision 2013: Hovannisian spurns Western salutations of Sargsyan win

International congratulations
In spite of all that, the assessment of elections by the international community has been mostly positive, albeit with some criticism: Sargsyan has already received congratulations upon his re-election, not only from Putin, Ahmadinejad and several post-Soviet leaders, but also from western governments, including those of France and Italy. Representatives of EU and US State Department gave generally positive assessments, while criticizing some aspects of the elections. This assessment was probably based on the OSCE monitoring mission’s statement praised the elections as “well administered… with respect for fundamental freedoms”, but criticized the lack of competition and misuse of “administrative resource” by the government. As Armenian analyst Samvel Martirosyan says, the monitors’ report seems to have been written before the voting day: thus, they criticized the elections for being non-competitive, while in the light of the election results and post-election developments this assessment seems somewhat premature. In the past international monitors have been accused of stamping positive assessments on rather dubious elections, which has diminished the trust towards them among many Armenians. This mistrust was manifested by young activists who attempted to disrupt the observers’ press conference on February 19th and demonstrated in front of the OSCE/ODIHR observing mission office on the following days.
It seems that the pro-government camp was not quite ready for the post-election developments. Analyst Gegham Baghdasaryan says the government thought everything was under control during the election campaign: “while previous President Robert Kocharyan was outright authoritarian, Sargsyan experimented with allowing more media freedom and freedom of assembly, thinking that the government still had ways to control the situation… however, reality turned out more complicated”. Even though opposition heavy-weights like Armenia’s first President Levon Ter-Petrosyan were not running, the elections proved that there is a substantial anti-government electorate in Armenia, which is ready to mobilize around new leaders. Ironically, the fact that several opposition parties stayed out of the elections, proved unfortunate from the government’s point of view, since it allowed the opposition electorate to consolidate around a single candidate.

 

The government and police response
In any case the government response to the protests has so far been quite reserved, compared with post-Soviet standards, as well as Armenia’s previous experience. Of course, some ruling party members’ comments were patronizing and dismissive, and sometimes outright insulting. Thus, social networks fumed over comments by a ruling party MP Hayk Babukhanyan, who said that “only homosexuals, heretics and simply non-conscious people voted for Hovannisian”. However, such comments have so far been voiced by secondary representatives of the ruling party, while major figures have either stayed silent, or remained relatively respectful in their words. When it comes to handling the protests, Armenian police has so far been more professional and less heavy-handed, especially compared to the events of 2008.
At this point it is hard to predict which way the developments in Armenia would swing. On the one hand, it seems that the protesters do not have a clear strategy. Hovannisian has vowed to struggle until the end, using peaceful methods. It is not quite clear, however, what methods of peaceful struggle can be used, except for rallies, which, as experience shows, tend to exhaust themselves as the time goes by. The incumbent government has received statements of supports from both East and West, while international media seems quite indifferent to developments in Armenia. On the other hand, it is also clear that mobilization of the sort that is taking place in Armenia itself would not simply fade away. Cracks may start appearing in the government camp if the movement continues to grow wider. As one opposition supporter said “they [i.e. the government] owe us a spring, and we will take it, one way or another”.
 

ARF DASHNAKTSOUTIUN JOINS
THE POPULAR MOVEMENT

One of the most sensational moments during last week's demonstrations at Freedom Square was when Raffi Hovannisian welcomed ARF Dashnaktsoutiun representative Armen Rustamian, saying:
“Today we are joined by a political figure whose party, our party, the party of my ancestors, in the name of the fatherland, unity, our national interests, the rights of the citizen, and our state’s sovereignty, wages a struggle wherever it is necessary, from Strasbourg to Ankara to Moscow to Washington…. Please welcome the representative of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Dashnaktsoutiun, Armen Rustamyan.” Click here for the video:

Rustamian first spoke of the ARF decision to come to Freedom Square. “For a few days now, Freedom Square was waiting for—and wanted to see Dashnaktsoutiun.
And we are now here!
We have come here, to this rally, because as we announced earlier, Dashnaktsoutiun stands with you, with the people,” he said.
Rustamian noted that the Armenian people proved on Feb. 18 that it’s impossible to kill justice and freedom. He said, “The people does not tolerate the rotten political, social, economic, and moral environment.”
Rustamian joined other opposition leaders at the rally in their criticism of the statements of international observers, who deemed the elections fair. “Regardless of what the international observers say, it is you who took part in the election, and you know all too well what really happened,” Rustamian said.
“This is an unstoppable movement to establish the rule of the people,” argued Rustamian.

Also watch Armen Rustamian's interview on Yerkir Media here:
www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=gOOcH5wfhiE

S & P: CYPRUS CREDIT RATING, OUTLOOK UNAFFECTED BY ELECTION OUTCOME

27 February, 2013 - Cyprus’ sovereign credit ratings and outlook are not affected by the outcome of the presidential elections, Standard & Poor`s said on Tuesday.
“In our view, Cyprus receiving short-term financing and a bail-out agreement depends more on the eurozone’ s policy choices than Cyprus’ domestic policy choices”, the ratings agency says in a statement.
It is noted however that the agency expects that “Nicos Anastasiades’ election will hasten progress in bail-out negotiations”.
Nicos Anastasiades, President of the right wing Democratic Rally (DISY) party, won Sunday the Republic of Cyprus’ presidential elections with 57.48% of the vote, in the run-off election.

REMEMBERING THE SUMGAIT POGROMS

The NKR MFA Statement on the 25-th anniversary of Sumgait pogroms - 2013-02-27 - Mass murders and pogroms of Armenians took place from 27 to 29 February, 1988 in Sumgait, a city located less than 30 kilometers away from the Azerbaijani capital Baku. For three days, upon the silent agreement of the authorities and complete inaction of the law enforcement agencies people were being murdered, raped and maimed for the mere reason of being Armenian. Dozens of killed, hundreds of maimed and thousands of Armenians expelled from Sumgait became the first victims of Azerbaijan’s policy of terror aimed at the Armenians of Karabakh who in the preceding week had officially declared their intention to exercise their right to self-determination. In spite of the peaceful and legitimate nature of those manifestations in Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan from the very beginning rejected dialogue, resorted to the language of threats and intimidation and pursued policy of violent oppression of the free will of the people of Artsakh.
Unfortunately, the Sumgait massacre has not received an adequate political and legal assessment of the international community yet. Moreover, silencing the truth about the Sumgait tragedy, concealing its true causes, and the impunity granted to its masterminds paved the way for ethnic cleansing carried out throughout Azerbaijan. It reached its climax during the bloody massacres and mass deportations of Armenians of Baku in January 1990, which later led to a full-scale military aggression against the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
The tragic events in Sumgait laid the fertile ground and contributed to the further development of the zealous hatred towards Armenians and anything Armenian continuously and successively implanted in Azerbaijan and its society.
In today’s Azerbaijan, despite the international community’s calls to prepare its population for peace instead of war, xenophobia, intolerance and belligerence are being spread. Anyone in Azerbaijan, who stands for building any bridges to Armenians is severely intimidated and ostracized by the Government. At the same time, the Azerbaijani army officer, who was convicted in Hungary to a life sentence for the brutal Sumgait-type murder of the fellow Armenian classmate, is being glorified as a national hero and role model for youth.
25 years later we pay tribute to the innocent victims of the Sumgait tragedy and call on the international community to express its firm and unambiguous position in relation to that crime against humanity. A clear and unequivocal assessment of those mass murders and pogroms and condemnation of the forces behind them will both prevent the recurrence of such crimes and contribute to the moral improvement of the Azerbaijani society.
NAGORNO-KARABAKH REPUBLIC MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

TURKEY EYES KARABAKH STEP FROM ARMENIA TO OPEN WAYS

Turkey offers for Armenia to take part in its regional transportation
project linking Europe to Asia, if there are concrete developments
in solving the thorny issue of Nagorno-Karabakh with Baku

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News - Turkey has proposed that Armenia take part in its comprehensive regional transportation project linking Europe to Asia, if there are concrete developments in solving the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute with Azerbaijan, reflecting a political will to build a win-win situation for all countries in the southern Caucasus in a post-conflict era.
“We are trying to activate the OSCE Minsk Group for the solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute. We introduced the Integrated Transportation Corridors Project to the Minsk Group in November 2012. This project is to be implemented in peace time and particularly after Armenia moves on with regard to its occupation in seven regions bordering Nagorno-Karabakh,” Turkish diplomatic sources told the Hürriyet Daily News recently. “We are proposing full normalization of ties between Turkey-Armenia and Armenia-Azerbaijan.”
Armenia’s occupation of Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh and seven regions bordering the territory since early 1990s stands as the main hurdle in front of regional stability and prosperity. Turkey supported Azerbaijan and sealed its borders with Armenia in a move further fueling already strained ties over the latter’s campaign to have the 1915 killings of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire recognized as genocide by the international community.
Armenia may be a part of the global railway network through the Baku-
Tbilisi-Kars line if Turkey opens the existing route between Kars and
Armenia’s Gyumri.
Turkey’s recent move to reconcile with Armenia was nixed due to strong Azeri reaction in 2010, which caused suspension of the ratification of two key protocols for establishing diplomatic relations and opening the sealed borders. Turkey has since re-focused on seeking ways to activate the almost futile Minsk Group, under the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), for pushing Azerbaijan and Armenia to agree on a peace plan.
Within this framework, Turkey introduced its Integrated Transportation Corridors Project to the Minsk Group on Nov. 8, 2012 during a meeting in Vienna attended by three co-chair countries, France, Russia and the United States. “It has received a positive response from all Minsk Group countries,” sources told the Daily News. “We have made clear to them this project is aiming at creating a peace perspective to the benefit of all relevant parties.”

Railways, roads, cities
The proposed transportation project has two phases. On the one hand it is focused on linking Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia Federation through fixing unused railways and building new ones. Along with the Kars-Tbilisi-Baku railway project that is expected to be concluded by the end of this year, the Turkey-Armenia railway may be re-opened after just a minor rehabilitation. Parallel to the railway, a new modern highway is also being considered to further increase trade and human traffic between the two countries.
“Obviously, we are also planning to build new logistical centers and residential areas, as well as mass housing projects along these routes to create a new regional hub,” sources stressed. “The only objective of this project is to create an economic pick-up in the region, for the advantage of all countries and for the prosperity of their people.”
In consideration with the economic prospects and strategic importance that the outer region of the Caucasus offers, Turkey’s project also addresses the need to link regional countries to Europe and Asia. A transportation line between London and Beijing will soon be possible with the conclusion of the Marmaray Project and the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railroad, while normalization of the political situation in the region would also allow Armenia to join this growing strategic picture, sources close to the project claim.

Azerbaijan is informed about the project
Known for its suspicion of potential Turkish-Armenian reconciliation, Azerbaijan has been informed about the content of the project by Turkey. “They know what we want. We have made clear them that this is a project that will be implemented only after Armenia moves towards peace,” Azerbaijani sources stressed.
Armenia, however, has so far remained cool to Turkey’s project, and has not conveyed an official reaction through the Minsk Group.
After President Serzh Sargsyan’s victory in last week’s elections, Turkey does not expect an immediate change in Armenia’s policies on the Nagorno-Karabakh problem. “We don’t anticipate a substantial change in their policies until 2015,” Turkish sources stated.
Armenia and its organized diasporan communities are actively campaigning for an overall recognition of 1915 killings as genocide across the world in the centennial commemoration of the incident.

AZERI EMBASSY INCITES
BRAWL AT FRENCH ASSEMBLY

(Armenian Weekly) PARIS - An Azeri delegation disrupted a commemoration event marking the 25th anniversary of the Sumgait Massacres taking place inside the French Parliament Tuesday when they refused to stand in observance of a moment of silence for the victims.
According to Mourad Papazian, Chairman of the Coordinating Council of Armenian Organization in France (CCAF), one of the Azeris punched an event organizer, Hratch Varjabedian, who had approached them to inquire about their show of disrespect.
Eyewitnesses reported that one of the Azeris shouted that he would only stand to commemorate “the victims of Khojaly.”
After Varjabedian was punched, a group of young Armenians rushed to the scene and a brawl ensued before audience members broke it up and police cordoned off the room.
Surprisingly, Azerbaijan’s Ambassador to France, Elchin Amirbeyov immediately arrived at the scene accompanied by other embassy officials and issued a condemnation of the attack.
The APA news agency reported on its Web site that Armenians locked the door of the auditorium and were accompanied by French members of the audience in “brutally” beating them.
The event, entitled, “Sumgait events after 25 years: the present situation and future prospects for the people of Nagorno-Karabakh” was organized by French Parliament member Francois Roshebloun and was attended by several Parliament members.
The Nor Serount in France (AYF of France) cancelled a day-long demonstration scheduled to take place Wednesday in front of the Azeri Embassy in France for fear of more Azeri-initiated violence.

SUPPORT THE ARMENIAN CAUSE

ARMENIAN BONE MARROW
DRIVE ORGANISERS, TAP STAR
POWER OF THE KARDASHIANS

February 26, 2013 - -- Daniel Siegal, Times Community News
Organizers for the annual Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry drive in Glendale today are tapping the star power of the most visible Armenian family in American pop culture -- the Kardashians.
The registry’s online advertising for the drive, which will be held at Glendale Memorial Hospital from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, has centered on an appeal from Kourtney Kardashian on behalf of her cousin CiCi, who needs a bone marrow donor after her body stopped responding to chemotherapy.
Frieda Jordan, who has coordinated the registration drive since it started 14 year ago, said she was hoping the Kardashian cachet would help attract a new set of potential donors.
“The buzz is there, I think the Kardashians are tweeting it for the whole week,” she said. “We hope there will be hundreds [of registrants].”
The need for the registry stems from the fact that bone marrow donations must come from a close genetic match – a problem for an ethnic group living in a worldwide Diaspora, according to Jordan.
“Like any other minority that has lived in a closed population, where the number of intermarriages are not that many, throughout the years [Armenians] have developed this unique genetic makeup,” she said.
When Armenians register, their information is entered into a global database so that they can potentially be matched with patients worldwide.
“There are hundreds of patients which are really desperate to get a bone marrow match,” Jordan said.
The registration drive will be held in the auditorium of Glendale Memorial Hospital, 1420 Central Ave.
“We try to be as supportive as we can with that organization,” said hospital spokeswoman Rima Mardirosian. “They’re a great organization, we’re just very happy to be able to be a part of that effort.”
A second registration drive will be held in Las Vegas on Sunday, at the Las Vegas Armenian Apostolic Church.
For more information call the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry at (323) 663-3609.

HIS HOLINESS ARAM I CONGRATULATES
THE NEW PRESIDENT OF CYPRUS

ANTELIAS, Lebanon – His Holiness Aram I sent a letter of congratulations to Nicos Anastasiades, the new President-of Cyprus.
In his letter, the Catholicos wrote, “Our churches share identical histories, similar traditions and common values. Both our churches and people advocate justice and human rights. The challenges addressed to our people and the world urge us to strengthen our cooperation and express forcefully our common commitments.
“Referring to the Armenian community in Cyprus, Catholicos Aram wrote, “The members of our community in Cyprus are loyal citizens and they do their utmost to contribute to the development and prosperity of the island.”

TEMAGAN ELECTIONS ON SUNDAY 3RD MARCH

As announced by the Elections Committee appointed for the Temagan Elections, elections will be held this Sunday, March 3. Both the names of the candidates who have registered until the announced deadline, as well as the names of the persons who have the right to vote on Sunday have been placed on the notice boards in Nicosia, Larnaca and Limassol, outside the respective Churches. As announced by the Committee, all those who had paid their Church dues until 2012 by February 5, 2013, have the right to vote.
The candidates are as follows:
NICOSIA - Sebouh Tavitian, Arto Tellalian, Manoug Megerditchian, Haro Kouyoumdjian, George Torossian, Hagop Kasparian, Avedis Poshoghlian
LARNACA - Hagop Bohdjelian, Adour Karagullian, Stepan Haroutunian
LIMASSOL - Garbis Ferahian
FAMAGUSTA - Levon Arakelian

REPUBLIC OF CYPRUS REAFFIRMS RESPECT TO FREEDOM OF RELIGION

The Special Rapporteur also refers to the very poor condition of the Armenian Monastery in Halefka, which he visited, and he strongly recommends the future use by the Armenians of the Armenian Church in occupied Nicosia, which was recently restored," it notes.

Nicosia, Feb 21 (Cyprus News Agency) - The Republic of Cyprus, on the occasion of the recent release of a report by UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief Heiner Bielefeldt, on his mission to Cyprus from 29 March to 5 April 2012, "reaffirms its full respect for the fundamental human right of freedom of religion or belief."
In a press release, it is noted that "the Special Rapporteur`s Report and his recommendations will be thoroughly evaluated by the competent authorities of the Republic of Cyprus."
"The Republic of Cyprus agrees with the observation of the Special Rapporteur that the Cyprus problem does not originate from religious differences, as well as with his support for the commendable work of the Bicommunal Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage, which should be strengthened," it says.
It adds that, regarding the religious freedom of the enclaved, whom the Special Rapporteur visited, "the Report refers, inter alia, to the vandalism of religious monuments and cemeteries, the limited presence of priests, the intimidation provoked by the so-called `police` taking photographs during religious services and the `restrictive and unfair handling of inheritance claims`."
"A reference is also made to the unacceptable placing of the Bishop of Karpasia on a `stop list` since January 2012," it says.
The press release adds that "the Special Rapporteur calls for the respect of the fundamental human right of religious freedom, of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, and the Third Vienna Agreement of 1975" and "also recommends that `the de-facto authorities` should respect the right of religious leaders to visit their communities without undue restrictions."
"Specific reference is also made to the religious sites of the Maronites, to which they do not have regular access since they are located in `military compounds` and to the far from satisfactory condition of their cemeteries. The Special Rapporteur also refers to the very poor condition of the Armenian Monastery in Halefka, which he visited, and he strongly recommends the future use by the Armenians of the Armenian Church in occupied Nicosia, which was recently restored," it notes.
It adds that "the Special Rapporteur also reaffirms the close surveillance to which the so-called `police` subjects religious groups in the occupied part of Cyprus" and that "the reference in paragraph 49 that a plain clothes `police officer` tried to observe a meeting of the Special Rapporteur with the Maronite villagers is indicative."
"The Report also makes particular reference to the impact of the illegal colonization in the occupied areas to the religious identity of the Turkish Cypriots, as well as to the imposition of mandatory religious instruction in the occupied areas. The oppressive regime in occupied Cyprus is also exposed by the non-acceptance of the right to conscientious objection to military service," it says.
The press release notes that, "regarding the references to the Muslim sites in the Government-controlled areas, it should be stressed that the Republic of Cyprus systematically restores all such places of worship and cemeteries in the Government-controlled areas."
"Moreover, the lack of `minimum infrastructure` to some of the Muslim cemeteries in the Government-controlled areas can be attributed, to an extent, to the restriction of movement to the Government-controlled areas, imposed by the Turkish occupation regime, to the Turkish Cypriots for decades," it says.
It notes that "the Republic of Cyprus fully respects the religious rights of the Turkish Cypriots and facilitates their visits to the places of worship in the Government-controlled areas."
"Foreign pilgrims are also welcome to exercise their religious rights provided that they have entered the territory of the Republic of Cyprus legally. However, the colonization of the occupied areas of Cyprus violates the 4th Geneva Convention and constitutes a `war crime` according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. In this regard, while the Government does not disagree with the general approach of the Special Rapporteur that religious freedom should not depend on `citizenship`, however the issue of illegal colonization has a serious particularity which cannot be overlooked or minimized," it says.
The Report will be presented during a plenary session of the Human Rights Council on March 5, 2013.

GENOCIDE BILL REINTRODUCED
IN FRENCH PARLIAMENT

PARIS-French Parliament member Valérie Boyer, a representative of the Bouches-du-Rhône Department and five other parliament members representing the Union for a Popular Movement party introduced a new resolution that would criminalize the denial of the Armenian Genocide, reported the Paris-based Nouvelle d’Arménie.
The bill was drafted jointly with the Armenian attorney, Philip Grigorian, who worked on the previous iteration of the bill.
This legislation is based on the European Parliament’s Genocide and military crimes’ denial penalization clause. The new measure carries a two-year prison term and a fine of 45,000 Euros for anyone denying a crime of genocide.
The previous bill was approved by the Senate last year, but the French Constitutional Council ruled it unconstitutional.
French President Francois Hollande pledged that he would support a bill criminalizing the denial of the Armenian Genocide.
“Wouldn’t a bill introduced by the same person meet the same fate, despite assurances by President Hollande, who like his predecessor, pledged to support such a measure?” wondered the political director of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Giro Manoyan in response to a question from report.am.
Manoyan explained that the Coordinating Council of Armenian Organization in France (CCAF), which includes the ANC of France believes that it would be counter-intuitive if the bill is introduced by the opposition to avoid the politicization of the issue.
The CCAF, Manoyan added, is working on a draft that addresses the concerns put forth by the Constitutional Court, which called the initial measure unconstitutional.
“The coordinating body wants to work with Elysee Palace and the presidential staff directly to ensure that the French President would honor his promise,” said Manoyan.

Turkish intellectuals have started signature gathering in defense of “pro-Armenian” Azerbaijani writer Acram Aylisli

Turkish intellectuals have started signature gathering in defense of “pro-Armenian” Azerbaijani writer Acram Aylisli, Armenian-Turkish Agos paper based in Istanbul writes.
“We worry for Aylisli’s life and condemn Azerbaijani authoritarian President Aliyev’s threats and provocations. We call on Justice and Development party leader, Turkish PM Erdogan to undertake steps over the issue. Keeping silence about this case means being complicit,” the Turkish intellectuals have written.
Turkish publisher, writer Racip Zarakolu urged in his article published in Agos to support the Azerbaijani writer. Turkish Greens and Right party, Turkish Writers Union responded to the call. Azerbaijani poet Suna Arasli also joined the signature gathering.
Aylisli’s Stone Dreams book has been strictly criticized in Azerbaijan because of being a pro-Armenian. The writer has already been deprived of all state awards and was removed from the rows of Writers’ Union.

NAREG AND AYIOS MARONAS STUDENTS GET TOGETHER
FOR AN ALL-DAY EVENT

"All different, all equal"

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.509917099051269.114778.185812434795072&type=1

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.509917099051269.114778.185812434795072&type=1

THE ARMENIAN LEGION & CYPRUS

Alexander-Michael Hadjilyra - katoomba@cytanet.com.cy -

This article is about a largely forgotten part of World War I, the Eastern Legion (Légion d’Orient), later called Armenian Legion (Légion Arménienne), which - despite its brief existence - wrote illustrious and glorious pages in modern Armenian history. May the memory of the volunteers (gamavorner) never be forgotten.
In the midst of the Armenian Genocide and World War I, following negotiations in September and October 1916 between Boghos Noubar Pasha (Chairman of the Armenian National Delegation) and French military and political authorities, represented by diplomat François Georges-Picot (co-signatory of the Sykes Picot agreement), the formation of the “Eastern Legion” was decided. The Legion was officially established by a special charter signed by the French Minister of War, General Pierre August Roques, on 26 November 1916.
Based on the charter, the Eastern Legion would be an auxiliary unit of the French Army, consisting mainly of Armenian volunteers, whose purpose would be the liberation of Cilicia from the Ottoman Empire, so as to create an independent Armenian state in the region. After preceding negotiations with the British authorities, within the framework of the Anglo-French intelligence co-operation, it was decided that the training of the volunteers would take place in Monarga village, at the Carpass peninsula of Cyprus, near Boghaz. The Legion would be administered by French officers.
The camp was built in December 1916 by Armenian Genocide refugees and the arrival of the first volunteers - refugees from Mousa Dagh - started in January 1917. Throughout 1917 and 1918, volunteers arrived at Famagusta harbour from the harbours of Marseilles and Port Said and were transported in Monarga thereafter. Several Armenian organisations in the Middle East, Europe and North America supported the Legion, either with financial contributions or by drafting Diasporan Armenians to form companies of the Legion. The selection process and the training were rather strict, while the exceeding difficulties and large costs of transportation hindered the arrival of volunteers from the New World.
The volunteers were especially impatient to perform their patriotic duty. The camp consisted of the headquarters, the barracks, various auxiliary facilities (including a water basin) and a small chapel. There were 4.124 volunteers in total, forming 3 Armenian battalions, as well as 2 Syrian companies (consisting of about 300 men). The camp’s commander was Infantry Lieutenant Colonel Louis Romieu, while its spiritual shepherd was Archbishop Taniel Hagopian, assisted by Archimandrite Krikor Bahlavouni, who later became known as “Topal Vartabed” (Lame Archimandrite), because of an injury he suffered during his military service.

Training was completed by May 1918. Until then, the 1st battalion had about a year and a half of training, the 2nd battalion about eight months and the 3rd battalion was being formed. Then, the largest part of the Legion was moved to Egypt and thence it was deployed to Palestine, where it wrote glorious pages in its history, marking the famous Battle of Arara on 18 September 1918.
The 3rd battalion left Cyprus in October 1918. In December 1918 the Legion - consisting now of 4 battalions, 4.368 soldiers and 66 officers - settled in the Cilicia region as part of the French mandate, where it remained until it was dissolved in August 1920. On 1st February 1919 it was officially called “Armenian Legion”. After its dissolution, only a very small number of legionnaires returned to Cyprus.
It is worth mentioning that at the Larnaca Armenian cemetery there is a group grave of 9 legionnaires who were killed in action, which was constructed by the French Consulate in the late 1940s. In the location where the Legion’s camp once was, presently in the Turkish-occupied areas, very few vestiges remain. However, the legionnaires’ remembrance and heroism will forever be written in golden letters on the pages of modern Armenian history.

IN MEMORIAM

By Claire Manassian - Nicosia - They could not kill your body but they snatched the most precious thing you had. They murdered your mind. You lost what was the main aim in your life: a free Armenia ! Your dream was assassinated in this white hell.
You always thought that hell was a place of eternal fire with high flames consuming the sinners, but you never had even the slightest idea of a white and iced hell whose name was Siberia: an immensity of snow, ice and eternal freezing temperatures. This is where you became a zombie. Your black eyes which used to burn with the passion o see your fatherland free, are now frigid in their orbits with an empty look. Your tears freeze on your cheeks: you did not even realize that you were crying. They were frozen tears, like precious pearls for a royal crown.
Your stare showed neither anger nor pain. You pull on your heavy frozen chains to go forward. No contact with the outside world, you were a living dead not even screaming for pity. The word hope was erased from your memory for ever. They tried to twist your mind and brainwash you, but failed. With anger not to have been successful, they decided to kill your ideas and they sucked your brain out. They stole your soul and then sent you back home as a wreck.
You did not even touch the sacred land of your beloved Armenia. You only breathed the sweet air of Armenia at the crossing of the border; although it was difficult for you to breath you filled your lungs. It seemed so sweet in the midst of these cruel circumstances. You arrived to your village where a great reception awaited, but to no avail, you did not recognise your own and were indifferent to the festivities. You only cried and cried…the tears meant nothing to you; you did not even know why you were crying my poor hero.
You must not be forgotten as well as the thousands like yourself. You are our family and we love and remember. The world should never forget what was done to patriots like you my hero.

Taymour Manassian was born in1896 in Husseinabad village in Persia. On crossing the border from Iran to Armenia he was caught and sent to exile in Siberia because he was a member of the ARF Dashnaktsoutiun.
 
Gibrahayer Calendar

► Saturday 2 March - Carnival Party at Homenetmen-AYMA.
Sunday 3 March - Temagan elections
Sunday 3 March - Carnival Party organized by Nareg Parents Association
Thursday 7 March at 8:00pm - Gibrahay Maestro Haig Utidjian, a professional orchestral and opera conductor, and choirmaster now living in Prague, will present a lecture entitled, “Yeghia Dndesian and the Music of the Armenian Sharagnots-Hymnal” on at the Armenian Church of the Holy Martyrs, 209-15 Horace Harding Expwy, Oakland Gardens, New York.

► Sunday 10 March 2013 at 1:00 pm - Michink LUNCH organised by Armenian Relief Society (HOM) Cyprus "Sosse" Chapter at Homenetmen/AYMA. Entrance fee €10.00 - Children 6-12 €5.00. Table Reservations with Rozine Momdjian 99515791, Tsoler Geukdjian 96232320.
► Wednesday 13 March at 7:00pm - Lecture/Presentation organised by the Armenian Relief Society's Cyprus "Sosse" Chapter - "Diabetes, prevention, diagnosis, treatment." The Guest speaker will be Dr. Doros Polydorou Endocrinologist and Diabetologist, Doctor of General Pathology, Professor of the Medical School - St George Universal of London Medical School in Cyprus M. B.Ch.B, MRCP (UK), CCT (UK), SCE, BsC. The lecture is open to all.
► Friday 15 March 8:00 pm at Latsia Municipal Theatre - Hamazkayin's SIPAN Dance Ensemble will take place in the farewell event of the Slovak Ambassador at the Latsia Municipal Theatre in collaboration with the Maronite Choir and Bi-communal choir of Cyprus.
Saturday 23 March at 4:00 pm - Easter Tea & Tombola organised by Armenian Relief Society (HOM) Cyprus "Sosse" Chapter at Homenetmen / AYMA.
Sunday 24 March 2013 - Dzaghgazart ceremonies in all churches in Limassol, Nicosia and Larnaca. Jamerkoutiun at 8:45am, Sourp Badarak 9:30am, Karoz at 10:30am, Tapor with the participation of children at 11:15am and Trnpatseki at 6:00pm
AVAK SHAPAT
Tuesday 26 March - Hishadag Dase Gouiserou Jamerkoutiun at 5:00pm
Thursday 28 March - Sourp Badarak at 10:30 am, Vodnleva at 5:00pm, Gark Khavarman at 8:00pm
Friday 29 March - Gark Taghman at 7:00pm
Saturday 30 March - Jamerkoutiun at 5:00pm, Entertsouadzner at 5:30pm, Sourp Badarak at 6:00pm
Sunday 31 March - Jamerkoutiun at 9:00am, Sourp Badarak at 10:00 am, Karoz at 11:00am
► Sunday 31 March - Dinner Dance organised by Homenetmen - AYMA.
► Saturday 11 May at 7:00 pm - SIPAN & NANOR Dance Group's performance at Strovolos Municipal Theatre. Organised by Hamazkayin's Cultural and Educational Association's Cyprus "Oshagan" Chapter, followed by dinner at Homenetmen - AYMA.
► Sunday 19 May - Pilgrimage St. Magar Monastery organised by the office of Armenian Representative.
► Friday 24 May 2013 - KRAVADZ OR - Mayrerou or organised by the Ladies Committee of Sourp Asdvadzadzin Church - Details to follow
► Sunday 26 May - KRAVADZ OR - "Sosse" Cyprus Chapter of The Armenian Relief Society (HOM)
► Saturday 19 October - KRAVADZ OR - Sourp Asdvadzadzin Choir (daregan hantes)
► Saturday 9th November 2013 – KRAVADZ OR – Office Armenian Representative.

 
 
 
 

 
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