Category Archives: Political

Safarov’s Extradition and Heroization

In 2004 in Budapest an Azerbaijani officer, Ramil Safarov, murdered an Armenian lieutenant, Gurgen Margaryan, with an axe, while the latter was sleeping. Same year Safarov was imprisoned in Hungary and given a life sentence. Learn more

8 years later, 2 days ago, according to the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons the murderer was extradited from Hungary to Azerbaijan, where he was immediately pardoned by the President and recognized as a hero.

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Azerbaijani side does not deny the fact of the slaughter, nor its circumstances, namely that Safarov hacked a SLEEPING person and during PEACEFUL times. Yes, Azerbaijani authorities do not deny it, and are not ashamed to name Safarov a hero exactly because he is a murderer and exactly because he murdered an Armenian. I think I know what’s your problem, Mr. Aliyev. You simply cut any possibility for the bright personalities to flourish under your “I am the State” regime and massive nation-wide violation of human rights. This is why all you have to be proud of is a miserable murderer. You know, I tried to hate you, but all I ended up with is feeling sorry for you and those of your compatriots who support your dumb decision. But let that be your problem. The last thing I want to tell you is that, I know bright personalities in Azerbaijan, who I’ve never felt sorry for so far. And I do believe they will keep on fighting against the sick ideals you feed your society with.

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Hundreds of Armenians were protesting the extradition in front of the Hungarian consulate in Yerevan. What Hungarian Ministry of so-called Justice did is definitely to be protested. The case is not only about Azerbaijan and Armenia. It is obviously also about Hungarian government which unfortunately turned to be so pure and naive to believe “assurances from the Baku government that his [Safarov’s] sentence would be enforced in Baku”. However burning Hungarian flag during the demonstration in Yerevan was as disgusting as the Hungarian decision of extradition. We have to understand that the symbols as the national flag are tightly connected with people’s feelings and identity. Nobody is given a right to hurt it. Thousands of Hungarians do not have anything to do with this case and no way deserved watching their flag burning. This is unacceptable. I want to thank my Hungarian friends who condemned extradition and told me that felt ashamed for their government. And I want to apologize for the flag incident.

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Article 12 on the Pardon, Amnesty and Commutation of the Strasbourg Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons clearly says: Each Party may grant pardon, amnesty or commutation of the sentence in accordance with its Constitution or other laws.

Dear lawyers, could you explain me please what is the point of the document if in the end it does not provision any responsibility for the cease of imprisonment of the sentenced person? (Sigh) why am I asking lawyers though? Did not I know that International Law is least of all about law, and mostly about world politics. As for the world politics, by the way, and major powers – they do not seem to be prompt in the evaluation of this outrageous case – I guess they are just fluctuating between the price of human rights and priceless Azerbaijani oil.

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Caricature as a Protest

I know I am a bit late in terms of getting back to this topic, but time did not change my attitude to the issue concerned. I am talking about so-called “Putin” clubs establishment in Yerevan.
First of all, the very idea is a total nonsense. And I want to make it clear for anyone  reading this post, that it is an outrageous lie that Armenian youth initiated the foundation of this club. Armenian youth has nothing to do with this. And a couple of people do not represent the whole society, nor are given a right to talk on behalf of it. Well, we stand for the freedom of speech and assembly? Alright, no problem, let them (the club founders) create whatever they want to, but none of them should be surprised then to see a huge wave of disagreement and criticism about this weird idea. Why not to create some “Obama” clubs and then maybe also “Sarkozy” clubs… Oh, wait, and how about “Kim Jong-il” club, huh?
I wish it was about name only. But it is not. The founders do not even try to somehow hide the goal of this initiative. They are clear to say that the club aims at disseminating Russian prime-minister’s ideas and bringing up new generation. May I inquire, though, what the new generation in ARMENIA has to do with something promoting RUSSIAN politician’s ideas? Where the hell a simple sense is?

And, as I said above, a lot of people in Armenia were highly critical to this personality cult, while ArmComedy fellows organized a parody of the “Putin” club opening in Cluboratoria on January 31st. This was the way not only to protest but also to demonstrate how outrageous the idea is. Thumbs up, guys!

And below’s a discussion on the fake club opening

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Auto racing… Yet another way to speak out

I think I just love any initiative standing for social or any other kind of justice. I find it really amazing when people are willing to get together using different tools to deliver their message (whatever the message is about unless it contradicts humane values).
I do not share a number of things promoted by the opposition in Russia that got visible right after the parliamentary elections in December 2011. That’s a different topic though. As for the one discussed in this post, today’s auto racing in Moscow held for the “Fair Elections” was a cool idea. According to different sources from a couple of hundreds to a couple of thousands cars with white ribbons and balloons circled Garden Ring today in Moscow.
Even if this kind of peaceful demonstrations do not bring any significant change (cuz they obviously do not), they at least demonstrate that people are aware of falsifications and are not going to adjust. People are the best watchdogs, while their active civil position is the best prevention of usurpation of power. Alright, I agree, time matters here. One’s gotta be patient enough to get to the point when it will be hard to doubt what Vaclav Havel once called the power of those who seem to be powerless.

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Opposition Town

It has been almost a week since a small town was established at the Freedom Square in Yerevan, Armenia. The purpose of its founders and inhabitants (mostly members and supporters of the opposition Armenian National Congress) was to demonstrate their non-recognition of the current government, demand for the reforms, release of the political prisoners and call for the extraordinary parliamentary and presidential elections.
This non-violent ongoing demonstration indeed looks like a town full of tents, put up all around the Square, national flags and big posters. People stay here over days and nights. Opposition activists from other Armenian towns join them (sometimes passing the whole way to Yerevan on foot) with the same slogans and the same enthusiasm.
Besides an attempt to deliver their core message, demonstrators also created a civil platform for the people to discuss and demonstrate their civic stand on a number of issues related to the health care, education, science, culture, army, etc.
I am not a member of the Armenian National Congress, nor the follower of its leaders. But I support what civil activists are doing (regardless of their political preferences) since their enthusiasm is like an antiseptic vaccine against social stagnation. And it is paving the way to the civil society formation.
When I entered the Freedom Square I was shocked hearing loud Armenian folk music and seeing people dancing with the flags in their hands.
Hmmmm, is it a kind of singing revolution? Or a dancing one? Well, whatever you may call it, it’s obviously a peaceful event and that’s what makes it twice valuable.

One of the activists and a very good friend of mine, Lilit, said that she heard a little boy asking his grandfather why those people were dancing. The old man replied that they were happy. And the kid wondered what made them happy. Then his grandfather explained that free people are always happy.

I don’t know what exactly that wise man meant saying “free”. But what I know for sure is that freedom is not only about speech, confession, assembly and all that we are used to talk and hear about. People can also choose to be free from the stereotypes, from the penniless stability, laziness, fear and whatever else they have too short lives to afford.

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Norway on my mind

Freedom Square, Yerevan, Armenia

Last Friday’s terror attacks in peaceful and sustainable Norway shocked the whole world. The 32 year old terrorist Anders Behring Breivik immersed the whole country into the nightmare which took away 76 lives, including teenagers participating in the Labour Party youth camp on Utoya Island.
To commemorate the victims of this inhuman cruelty and to show their support to the Norwegians, people in Yerevan are coming to the Freedom Square to put the flowers and lighten the candles.
Let the souls of all the victims rest in peace…

Judging from the way Breivik talks about his own actions and motivation it seems to be pretty obvious that he is not insane. He even recognized his actions rather cruel, but at the same time named them necessary and inevitable. His manifest “2083—A European Declaration of Independence” reflects on a number of absolutely real historical events (including 1915 Armenian Genocide committed by the Ottoman Empire) and has the proper references to the authors he cites. Besides, the open fight between Islam and the West, the frequent radicalization of the former and the reaction of the latter is not something new for the world. So the terrorist did not probably say something new or totally incomprehensible, but the way he chose to deliver his beliefs introduces him as an absolutely sick person. You know, I think I just want to believe that only a sick one could do that, otherwise the concept of “healthiness” would loose any sense to me.
Therefore:
Yes, everyone has a right to have an own approach to the interpretation and evaluation of the politics, global history, the clash of civilizations or whatever else.
But, everyone is also obliged to take legal and moral responsibility for anything going into the public (whether it is an analytical publication, blog post, public speech or a 1,500 pages manifesto). Today there is a huge threat that if hundreds of thousands condemned the terrorist, there still might be one who can get attracted to his ideas and follow him.
Yes, for achieving the goal one has to be ready to do a lot of things.
But the goal does not always justify the means. As a very good friend of mine Tigran mentioned yesterday, intelligence, purposefulness, commitment to the idea, courage and many other features of a strong personality are nothing unless they serve a humane goal and only through the humane means. I would say they are nothing good, since their presence without an underlying humaneness can easily lead to such well-known cases as Stalin’s 1930s repressions, Hitler’s fascism, Pinochet’s 20-year-long curfew, etc.

The statement posted apparently by Breivik via Twitter a couple of days before the attack that “one person with a belief is equal to the force of 100,000 who have only interests” is actually very true. But having on the one scale non-violent examples of Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King and many others, the history also bears the opposite scale which unfortunately has been recently “enriched”.
Getting back to my initial point, it is of an utmost importance to make sure that our beliefs are going along with the humane values; and our goals (whatever they are about) are implemented through the humane means. Because there is only one real value in a real world and that is a human life.
And there is simply no justification for anyone whose actions contradict this value.

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Astana OSCE Summit (one more step back)

When Astana Declaration was finally written, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev, as eurasianet.org reports, mentioned that “[t]here were particular objections over protracted conflicts — different desires, different opinions. I consider that, despite this, we have achieved consensus.” I do not know what made him so optimistic about the outcomes of the Summit and the valueless declaration, but what Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents were talking about simply made me frustrated.

First of all, both speeches delivered by presidents Aliyev and Sargsyan were absolutely similar with the only difference of the name of the “cruel offender”:
“Armenia destroyed our cities and villages, our houses and places of worship, our graves and cemeteries.” (from Ilham Aliev’s speech)
“[…]All this is accompanied by blatant Armenophobic statements by Azerbaijani leaders, by calls that incite animosity, aggression and violence.” (from Serge Sargsyan’s speech)
Full texts are avaulable at news.az and armnews.com
To me both look like the whinings of two kids before their parents. Guess now who the parents are…

by PanARMENIAN Network

Well, our history is certainly important for us. As you know from my previous posts, I am also one of the victims of that “ethnic cleansing” mentioned in the speech of the Armenian president.
But if we build the negotiations on these facts we will never reach any positive results. Instead, every new step back will be followed by another one. Wait, maybe we just want to loose thousands of our compatriots in the war again in order to understand the real value of the things? I do not know.

Alright, I am not saying that conflict resolution is an easy thing to deal with. It is comprised with a lot of interconnected obstacles, it requires time and many efforts. So I did not really expect the two presidents to come up with a detailed action plan on the conflict resolution, nor even a constructive negotitation about it. But to be honest I did not expect them to step back either.

And when I am looking at the picture on the right I understand from their faces how far we are from either consensus or even an ability to think beyond the stereotypes.
That’s sad, very sad. Without even being ever excited about the upcoming summit in Astana, I am now totally disappointed with its outcomes.

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Human Rights (where the liberty starts)

VERZIO International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival has just finished in Budapest. It was organized by Open Society Archivum (OSA), together with the Open Society Institute (OSI), Russian State Film and Photo Archive and some other local institutions/partners. A one-week event aims at screening wide variety of films about ordinary people’s rights across the world and, particularly, in such countries as Afghanistan, Congo, Kenya, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, China and many others.
Volunteering during the festival in October 2010, I was lucky to watch some films two of which I was most of all impressed by.
The first documentary is called Nairobi Love Story, directed by Maria Weber. It is about two young lovers from Kenya, Eric and Margareth. Belonging to the different tribes (Kikuyo and Luo) they are strictly condemned by the society and, in particular, their own families for their relationship. Kenyans from Kikuyo and Luo cannot marry each other because of the continuous conflicts between the two tribes which at the same time represent different ethnic groups. However, in spite of all the blames and difficulties a couple has to overcome, they purely love each other and dream of their future family. At the same time, managing together a household, at some point they also face a problem of division of their domestic duties. So, another problem raised in the film is gender roles in the family. Eric, quite typically for a man, believes that laundering and cooking, as well as supposedly, other household works, are not man’s duties. Therefore, doing chores, he only helps Margareth. Meanwhile, since he does it voluntarily, he correspondingly expects to be appreciated for that. But Margareth perceives this kind of “help” as something natural: if they both have jobs, both need some food, drink, clean clothes and house, then both have to be equally responsible for handling all that.
The second documentary, Afghan Star, directed by Havana Marking, is about “Afghan Star” music talent TV show in Afghanistan. Afghan people, who have been suffering of the severe wars and Taliban rules for decades, were not allowed to sing. Moreover they did not even have a chance to watch TV or listen to radio. With the end of Taliban rule Afghanis got an access to some of the broadcasting media, along with the simple rights to sing, dance and laugh. So, they perceived freedom as a possibility to sing and express their feelings in the combination of notes and words.
The “Afghan Star” became the most popular TV show in Afghanistan not only for the participants, but also hundred thousands of people across the whole country watching them. Afghanis enthusiastically voted for their beloved singers and sincerely believed that their voice would influence the results of voting. This was not, though, the only crucial point of the film. The young lady, who at some point received the least votes, stayed behind other competitors and had to leave the project (as it happens in “Super Star” and other similar programmes). According to the tradition of the project, before leaving the stage, she had to make a final performance in front of the audience. She was supposed to sing, but never to dance. And several simple dance elements she dared to make while singing were considered as a deadly sin. When she was asked of the reason of her impudent behavior, she guiltily said that had followed the feelings she had been full of at that moment.
For some of us it might be hard to believe that in the 21st century human happiness depends on the possibility to love or sing. And what is even harder to believe in is that in the closed societies there are very few people who dare to defend their universal right to be happy.
Both films revealed an absolutely simple truth to me: our liberty starts from easy words, sounds and feelings. We never realize it though. Otherwise, our everyday life would have a different value.

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