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.



Filed under Human Rights, People, Political, Society

Leonid Afremov

Art is my life and I paint every single day
Leonid Afremov

Several minutes ago I have discovered an absolutely lovely artist Leonid Afremov. Surprisingly I had never heard about him, though he turned to be quite popular. He paints with palette knife with oil on canvas and does it amazingly.
Thank you Nune Melkoumian for exploring his paintings to me.

I am posting some of them below and going to print them and post on the walls of my small room in the dormitory.
The source of the pictures is “Look At Me
More information about Leonid Afremov, his paintings, blog discussions, etc. can be found on his official website at
Finally, you can watch how a new painting is being created here
Enjoy it..


Filed under Culture, People

How it feels to VOTE

Yesterday, on November 2, 2010 elections to the United States Senate were held. If I was in Armenia I would know about it from the breaking news on CNN or some fresh newspapers. Here, in Budapest where I have a pleasure to study together with the lovely young people from 20 (or so) countries, I had a different experience of learning about the upcoming event in the US political life. Besides the number of posters at school and in the student dormitory reminding to the US citizens to Vote From Abroad, I could notice Facebook statuses by my American classmates on the same topic as well as discussions in class and during the breaks.

And the thing that made me write this post is the way they talked about it and precisely the way they perceive their participation in the elections. They were so excited discussing the upcoming event. Why? – i was asking myself. Well, just because they believe in their direct (through the inderct means) participation in the national event. They value their vote and believe in its power.
Well, I am not discussing the level of democracy in the US in this post. I am not discussing whether each citizen’s vote is really to decide who will become the Senate members, etc. I am talking about people’s belief in and enthusiasm for their role in their country’s political life.
That’s what I miss as a citizen of a proclaimed democratic country, that’s what I am eager to feel going to the polling station and that’s what, unfortunately, I never felt yet.
So I wish myself and my compatriots to live a day in our lives which we will be looking forward to in order waking up in the morning to go voting to express our will and deliver our position, strongly believing that those will be heard and considered as a priority for the authorities.
And then, I promise, I’ll write another post and I’ll call it: I KNOW HOW IT FEELS TO VOTE!


Filed under Political, Society, Thoughts Aloud

Freedom of Choice

Caucasus Edition is a Journal of Conflict Transformation which provides a perfect opportunity to Azerbaijani and Armenian youth (not only) to share/discuss their vision on the peaceful development of Azerbaijani-Armenian relations.
Below is my piece for Caucasus Edition.
Freedom of Choice

Our birth does not depend on our will. We are never free to choose where and when to be born. So when I appeared in this world I was already given several facts about myself in the following package:

1. Nationality: Armenian

2. Place of Birth: Baku, Azerbaijan

3. Year of Birth: 1988

In 1988, I could not imagine that the first two facts were actually about to be incompatible. And it was not me to decide that at the age of one I would have to leave the city, where my life had started, without a right to ever go back. Anyway, it had to happen and it happened.

My family left for Yerevan, where life restarted from an absolutely new page. I was growing and with time understood who my mommy meant when she repeated from time to time: “I wish I could have any news from Jamal Mekhtiev” (Jamal was her favorite student in Baku). I learned what a strange word “Montino” meant (it is the name of the neighborhood where we lived). I was actually told so many different stories about my family’s peaceful life in Baku and the tragic events we turned to be engaged in, that it was really difficult for me to define what I exactly felt about all that. Many years passed… Read more

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Filed under Society, Thoughts Aloud

“Я одеваю чувства в слова” (словесная одежда молодых талантов)

В 2008 г. мне посчастливилось участвовать в Пушкинском молодёжном фестивале искусств “С веком наравне” в Москве от Славянского университета (РАУ). На самом деле, это не просто фестиваль, а яркое событие в жизни всех его участников. Театральные постановки (в чём я и участвовала), музыкальные композиции, художественное слово, выставки, наши наряды и, наконец, заключительный бал (самый настоящий) настолько погрузили нас в XVIII-XIX века, что к XXI нам пришлось привыкать по-новому (и надо сказать с трудом).
Но это другая история. Главное, что спустя 2 года, я обнаружила на полке глянцевую книжку “Современники”, 12 выпуск, Москва, 2007 г. Это сборник лучших стихов в конкурсе молодых поэтов-участников прошлого (2007) года.
Стихи (при всей моей любви к ним) обычно меня быстро утомляют. Но то, что мне попалось под руки на сей раз заставило меня прочитать от первой страницы до последней.

Среди этих стихов были такие, которые я просто не могу не захватить с собой в свой “Train”.

«Весь мир – театр…»

Рой вопросов, бессмысленный свет,
Диалог из несбывшейся сказки,
Тихий стук каблуков о паркет,
А вокруг лишь одни только маски.
Шелест юбок и шелест страниц.
Кто на сцене, а кто за кулисами.
Миллион примелькавшихся лиц
За актёрами или актрисами.
Маска знает, как нужно играть,
Ей не надо вопросами мучаться
И сомненьями душу терзать:
Раз – продаст, два – предаст, три – получится!
Лунный свет заливает крыльцо…
Скоро каждый актёрству научится,
Скоро к маске привыкнет лицо:
Раз – продашь,
Два – предашь,
Три – получится.

(Конькова Мария)
Смотри, трава ломает стены,
Как стенобитное орудие,
Но только очень постепенно
И с очень нежною прелюдией.

(Алёшечкина Мария)
Я- ведьма. В храм мне не войти.
Меня по свету гонит жажда.
Будь проклят тот, кто на пути
Моём мне встретится однажды.
Иду одна среди толпы,
Навстречу всем и на несчастье.
Слепа не я, а вы слепы
И раздираемы на части.
Я душу отдала в залог
Своей судьбы. Мне волк стал братом.
Я преступила свой порог.
Мне больше нет пути обратно.
Мой профиль горд, мой взор остёр,
Я знаю, было что и будет.
Вы вслед кричите: «На костёр!»
А я смеюсь над вами, люди.
Ведь вы прикованы цепьми
К своим деньгам, удаче, славе.
Вы перестали быть людьми,
Пока мечтали о расправе.
Для вас я ведьма? Да, я – зло.
И тьма, и ночь для вас – могила.
Есть мир? Цепляйтесь за него!

А ведь и я его любила…

(Конькова Мария)
Умна и даже не уродина,
Сама не без талантов вроде бы,
Но чувствую себя юродивой…
А ты?

И, словно выходя на подиум,
Играю на себя пародию,
Да только все в каком-то роде мы

(Краснопирка Валентина)
За то, что именем твоим
Я назвала чужого сына.
За то, что боль невыносима,
Но мы её в себе храним.

За то, что кисть твою в бреду
Сжимала пальцами до дрожи.
За то, что я по бездорожью
Теперь не за тобой иду.

За то, что я в чужом дому
Чужим теплом была согрета.
За то, что все мои секреты
Тебе известны одному –

(Краснопирка Валентина)
Я смог бы, наверно, тебя полюбить,
Если б не холод…
Я мог бы тебе по частям дарить
Мой внутренний город…

Я смог бы, наверно, тебя понять.
Я редко трушу…
Да только ты не спешишь обнажать

Я мог бы твоим художником стать
Немного пьяным…
Да только ты ж мне не дашь писать,
А странно…

Тебе бы по нраву пришёлся другой
Пусть я оловянный –
Я просто солдатик
С одной ногой…
А ты балерина

(Лущинский Владимир)
Фонарь дышал,
Окутанный пургою,
Или курил,
И был похож на душ.
Он был ЖИВОЙ –
Живей, чем мы с тобою:
В нас – две, в нём – сотни
Проходящих душ.

(Косолапова Наталья)
Город последние роли раздал,
Имя смешалось с запахом дыма.
Кто-то опять любить опоздал.
Время в вагонах везут поезда.

Время в вагонах – в бутылке бес,
Шпалы считая, проносится вечность.
Кажется, в сердце опять перевес.
Ах, как беспечно
Город поверил в возможность чудес.

Город поверил в возможность зимы,
Имя смешалось с запахом снега…
Кто-то опять опоздал, а мы –
В омут с разбега.
А на улыбках остался дым,
Город в окне показался седым…

(Леонтьева Мария)


Filed under People, Society, Thoughts Aloud

Paper & Pen

Some thoughts on paper

Inverse Cross




The Star



Global Warming


Filed under Random

“Adana” Song (devoted to the victims of 1915 Armenian Genocide)

When the mass of flowers in the Armenian Genocide Memorial Tsitsernakaberd (Ծիծեռնակաբերդ in Armenian) in Yerevan gets higher than a tall man’s stature, it means that people in Armenia commemorate the 1,5 million victims of Armenian Genocide of 1915 in Ottoman Empire.

One can never count the number of poems, songs, books, movies, theatrical performances, pictures devoted to the Great Tragedy of Armenian people. There are thousands of them. And Armenians always appreciate the willingness and even desire of hundreds of researchers, musicians, film directors, artists from other countries to share Armenian incessant pain.
This post is about one of those great art creations. The song is called “Adana” (music by Ara Gevorgyan; lyrics by Daniel Decker).

It was first presented on April 23, 2005. The video below is about a performance of this song by Daniel Decker (USA), Vitalie Dani (Moldova), Tsvetan Tsvetkov (Bulgaria), Kai Auhagen (Germany), Inka Kupomaki (Finland), Gegham Grigoryan and “Kilikia” choir (Armenia) in Tsitsernakaberd, which was broadcast on various world channels like CNN, BBC, ORT etc. Later “Adana” was translated into 17 languages.

Any more comments are simly unnecessary: the video and lyrics below are the best reflection of Armenian deep and eternal pain.

Lyrics: Daniel Decker
Music: Ara Gevorgyan

In the city of Adana during the darkest days of the Ottoman Empire, there began a tragedy that marked the start of what was to become known as the Armenian Genocide. The people of Armenia were forced into starvation, torture and extermination. Armenian homes were burned to the ground as women were raped and tortured, children were bought and sold and men were killed before their very eyes. Sometimes entire families were wiped out. They were accused, convicted and sentenced to die because they dared to call themselves “Christians”, their crime was in believing in Jesus Christ who died for their sins.
In 1915 1.5 million Armenians were ruthlessly slaughtered, because they would not renounce their faith in Christ. Unpunished and undeterred the ones responsible for the massacre in Adana set stage for the terrible genocide of the Armenian people.
This is their story.

From the morning sun till the day was done
Fathers worked until their strength was gone
In the summer air under mother’s care
Children played within the village square

Through the soil and sand, farmers worked the land
Gathering what they grew by their own hand
Living day by day, trying to make their way
Unaware the price they would soon pay

Keepers of the sword, marched in one accord
Striking down the weak, without a single word
Ruthlessly they came, with one deadly aim
Kill all who believed in Jesus’ name.

In the shroud of night, families took their flight
Unprotected by the soldier’s might
Hungry and alone, starved to skin and bone
Forced to sleep on pillows made of stone

Wandering in the rain, trembling from the pain
Cries for mercy offered up in vain
Naked and afraid, on their knees they prayed
As they knelt before the warrior’s blade… singing

To the great I AM, Worthy is the Lamb
To Him who sits upon the throne we bow before You
Holy is the One, God’s Almighty Son
Glory to the Christ, Our risen King.

Though persecuted, they were not abandoned as they laid down their earthly lives, they would gain entirety with Christ. Though the world may forget, God would remember their suffering. Never again would they hunger or thirst. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, would be their shepherd who would lead them to the springs of living water and God would wipe away every tear for their eyes. They would encircle the throne of God singing to the great I Am, worthy is the Lamp, who and is, and is to come.

(the lyrics in Armenian:

P.S. We will never accept the Turkish government’s denial of the fact which we keep on talking about 95 years long. Let that be their shame and inhumanity. Let that be their headache how to handle the obvious and swift process of Armenian Genocide recognition all over the world.
My point is not about government, but about people. I am extremely proud of the Turkish friends of mine (as well as many activists in Turkey) who show their own approach to this, who do not allow to be manipulated by their government, who have their truth and their way to justice and morality. They make me believe that there is still a ray of hope in human moral revival…


Filed under Culture, Political, Society