Thursday, March 01, 2007

Demonstrating a Half Joke, Half Serious Exhibition

Not enough for you?
Come and you’ll get it

Kes katak, Kes lurj CuYcahandes
marti 4-in, 13:00
Komitasi ardzani mot

sksela blog

Demonstrating a Half Joke, Half Serious Exhibition
When: March 4 at 13:00
Where: meet near Komitas statue

With Barekendan, it began.

“Sksel a” is now back at it and this time, just don’t think too much about it and join us on Sunday, March 4th.

Still not enough for you?

“Sksel a” literally means it has begun. We are urging all Armenian citizens to get out and stand up for your rights.

Open your EYES and really SEE what is happening around you.

At our precedent event of Barekendan, we paraded throughout the streets calling out to people “wake up” after a long and passive winter. This coming Sunday we will continue our activities of stirring things up in civil society. The Parliamentary Elections are just around the corner in May 2007 and Armenian citizens really need to wake up and get involved if there is to be any changes for the better.

MORE AT ....

Monday, February 12, 2007

Sksel a jhoghovurt!!
People, it has started!!

Hrameceq, imaceq
Come and see what it's all about

February 18th at 13:00 near Komitas statue in front of the Conservatory
"Come and get your share of oil and rice"

Saturday, February 10, 2007

HIV/ AIDs Informational Action

Issues related to HIV and AIDs are very common nowadays. We hear about it every day: in news , in journals and papers, a lot of books are being printed about these problems in the world.

Obviously Armenian society is not aware of it as well. Assuming that people in Armenia, especially the students, don't have satisfactory information about it , the IREX- fellows decided to hold a HIV/ AIDs informational action at Yerevan State University. The promotion happened on Dec 12, 2006. For doing it alumni collaborated with many NGOs, one of which was APEC NGO ( AIDs prevention education & Care), they supplied 1500 brochures about HIV and AIDS. Those were distributed to our students. For making the atmosphere more relaxed and friendly there was a music and food - give away ( candies, cookies and juice).

The mission of the action was to calculate the percentage of the students who know what the HIV is , what are the ways of transmitting the desease, if they know the differences between the HIV and AIDs etc. A lot of students from the faculty of sociology volunteered for the project, so we could manage it. Special mini - test forms were designed, and our volunteers asked those questions to the students. At the end of the questions the right answers were given to them, so they can read them after being intrigued from the questions.

So here are the results:
Out of 916 surveys - Only 5% is fully informed about the case, 14% is enough informed about the issue, 73 % has a very little and wrong knowledge , 8% doesn't have any idea about this big issue.

So as the results showed our students are not informed about the case, and I should admit they were not that interested in the presentation, some of them even thinks that its not a problem for the Armenian society, some girls found it offensive to answer to the questions about HIV / AIDs and STDs etc. This project is supposed to have more promotions, ad on a TV , and one more public action in spring, so we try our best to convince the people that this is a very important issue , and should be taken into consideration more seriously.

This project became real due to the hard work of IREX alumni, IREX office , Department of State of US and many volunteers from the universities.

Lets prevent our society from getting the desease and spreading it.

We can prevent it as much as we can only with your help, support and understanding.

Monday, November 20, 2006

From A1+
an article ... in response to the protest?

Who are we kidding here? Yes Armenians are allies with Russia and yes they are strategically important. But why do Armenians place SUCH emphasis on this relationship... to the extent in which they are almost turning attention away from a skinhead, fascist movement developing in Russia.

Social / News

[04:47 pm] 20 November, 2006
«Suppose we renounce Russia... What shall we do? Whom shall we cooperate with? », Ara Abrahamyan, the head of the Union of Armenians in Russia, asked a rhetorical question. He is sure hat Russia is the «strategic partner» of Armenia, «Armenia is a small and independent country; it must have a program and an ideology», Ara Abrahamyan said adding that the relations of Armenia with other countries must not develop at the expense of the relations with Russia, but vice versa.

As for the murders of Armenians in Russia, Mr. Abrahamyan claims that it is not against Armenians. According to him, they kill 25 times more Azeris than Armenians; the problem is that the Union of Armenians in Russia is an organized structure, that's why we are better aware of facts about killing Armenians. According to him, the Union turns to corresponding structures in Russia in order to reveal the murders, but only within the limits of law, «What else can we do? ».

We know they are not just Armenians that are being murdered! Anybody who has studied Soviet history will go and see that Jews were also victims. Why doesn't Abrahamyan mention the fact that they are practically deporting the Georgians out of the country? Maybe because it is important to measure Armenian national standards against Azeri? Considered to be the "black people" of Russia, people from the South Caucasus have had been persecuted and discriminated quite a bit within recent history.

The murder of Arthur Haroutyunyan, the head of the Murmansk branch of the Union of Armenians, is the center of attention of Ara Abrahamyan, but he finds it too early to express an opinion. Nevertheless, he thinks that it was a murder not on national grounds but rather on economic ones. Arthur Haroutyunyan engaged in banking and realty trade.

Ara Abrahamyan claims that he has not yet decided whom to stand by during the Parliamentary elections. He said they Union will answer the question in January of the next year. He added that the RA authorities must see the future and not discuss the mistakes of the past. Nevertheless, he assured that they do not criticize the RA authorities abroad, “they say everything here”.

Anyway, this whole attitude of looking towards Russia as a great friend and ally is nothing new. I am not against having Russia as a strategic ally, but maybe it's time to consider who Armenia should be considering as a role model. Shall this small country seeking to consolidate its democracy and civil society, seek towards looking at Russia as a role model within this realm as they are a "similar group of people"? Well, if the country heads towards that direction, it will be a bumpy road ahead...

Links and Thoughts about the Protest on November 17th

I actually will not write to tell about the protest action which took place, as others have already reported about the event, much better than I ever would have…

I will refer you to the following links:
Onnik at One World Multimedia has a good summary of the day’s events, pictures and links to news articles. (He commented in the last post with the link but I wanted it to appear in the article so it would be more obvious to the eye)

He refers us to Armenia Liberty for one of the media releases about the events, as that is his preferred news source. It’s also my preference as well… so here is that link:YOUTHS CALL FOR ACTION TO STOP KILLINGS OF ETHNIC ARMENIANS IN RUSSIA

One of the youth activists in the event, Isabella Sargsyan is also keeping a blog of her own and here is the link Свет в августе.
And finally, Julius who has just joined as a contributor on this blog, is posting his own pictures on a newly established blog All Folks blog

Please let me know if there are other Blogs who reported this event – if I missed any.

On another note, during the protest action I approached those who were passing by and asked if they were in agreement with us, to sign the letter we would present to Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian. (I will get the translation of that ASAP!!!!) I just wanted to share with you some remarks and sociological observations I made that day regarding Armenians and protest actions:

- There were many people who agreed with us, that it was wrong that such barbaric murders of ethnic Armenians were happening in Moscow. (For such a proud ethnic group, it would be difficult for them not to agree!) And even though they agreed, many people were hesitant to sign their name on the letter to the Foreign Minister. Others refused to have their pictures taken while they were signing. On top of that, after they signed their name, one of them asked “so will they now come after me?”

COMMENT: a bit of the “Soviet hangover” shall we call this?

- There was an older man who approached me and said in Armenian (approximately these words) “this is great and all, but it’s not going to get you anywhere. I agree with you but I won’t sign.” And then continued to tell me how the Foreign Minister really could care less about this all, he would not come down to say anything and that in the end none of this would make a difference.

COMMENT: I tend to disagree.

- There was an older woman who was walking by and as I asked her to sign the letter against the fact that Armenians were being murdered in Moscow she told me, “they are doing a good job!” Surprised, I responded and asked, “why do you say that?” and she said, “Because Armenians shouldn’t be living in foreign countries. Let them come and live in their own homeland. What are they doing living on foreign soil….”

COMMENT: Another fascist in the making…

- We went inside to present the petition with over seven pages of signatures added onto the original letter. I will not name people, but say that one of the representatives at the Foreign Ministry asked me– so what is all this for? Can’t you see that we are doing all we can already?... What is Oskanian supposed to do in response to these murders? When Kocharian went to Moscow, he was not very welcome. This will only “sharpen” (aka increase the tension in) the relations between Armenia and Russia.

COMMENT: So shall we ask for permission from the Skinheads who are committing these murders to please stop “sharpening” this tension between Armenia and Russia?

And just an overall comment…

It seems as though there is SOME hope after all in regards to the youth and trying to make some changes in Armenia. While I had received some indifferent attitudes from youth who were simply passersby and refused to sign the letter, there were these young activists who stayed up until 5am the day before to make these posters.

There are times when I think that the young Armenian population is so cynical and they feel as though they do not belong to this society. “Ahh, what does it matter if I litter this bag, it’s not MY street anyway.” Or “this country has no future, the only thing I can do is leave” – these are things I hear practically everyday from so many young people. And this is a rather prevalent attitude throughout the country.

Yet there is a flipside to this as well. A small, warm and increasing movement of interested young people is seeking to take their future into their own hands. These are some of the activists you see in these photos. They see that what is happening in their country is not right and they want to do something about it.

This IS the hope for Armenia.

Thanks to Julius, EVS Volunteer in Armenia, for taking the photos in this article

Thursday, November 16, 2006

murdered...because they were Armenian

Narek Kocharyan, 15 years old - killed in Podmoskovie, Russia a few days ago...just because he was Armenian.

Within the past few months, Vigen Abrahamyants, Samvel Tadevosyan and Narek Grigoryan have also ethnic Armenians been killed in Russia... because they were Armenian.

Moreover, according to "at least 3000 Armenians were killed in Russia within the past ten years."...

Unfortunately, the Russian government is not taking many actions to fight against these barbaric murders and the trend is not going away anytime soon. Several times, there have been recently organized (within the past two years) in front of the Russian Embassy in Yerevan with hopes that there would be an apologetic statement or some recognition of such barbaric murders. Yet there has been no response.

We shall now be underpinning the responsibility and accountability of the Republic of Armenia, which is constitutionally designated to protect Armenian citizens in foreign countries trough MFA and Embassies abroad. We are going to demand concrete and prompt actions of Armenian Government towards slack and unclear legal processes, legal arbitrariness and disrespect for Armenian citizens and ethnic Armenians in the Russian Federation.

Please do not stay ignorant, TAKE ACTION! Join us today, November 17 at 15:00 in front of Ministry of Foreign Affairs to show your support against these murders of ethnic Armenians in Russia.

Protest action today, November 17, 2006
in front of Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Gay Rights

Gay, straight, bisexual: how much does sexual orientation matter to a sense of identity and a role in a society? Everybody in this society has a sexual orientation, but shall this difference make any sense in a social life and civil rights? Depending on our sexuality we all have different desires and attractions , but when the problem is about the rights and role in the society, there is one thing that should make everybody equal: the concept of human being. Each of us has his/her personal perceptions (values, beliefs and cognitions). And according to the Bill of Rights and Civil Liberties everybody should be equal no matter of race, color, sexual orientation, religion and etc….
Every human being has a free will and a freedom of choice. Sometimes this moral code is infringed based on many reasons, one of which is the sexual orientation. First of all, let me briefly explain what sexual; orientation is: “Sexual orientation refers to the sex, sexes, gender or genders, to which a person is attracted and which form the focus of a person's amorous or erotic desires, fantasies, and spontaneous feelings.” ( It’s the whole expression of our feelings, desires and emotions towards the people that we are attracted with. It contains the understanding of such feelings such as Love, Attraction, Desire and Satisfaction.
Is it really a big issue that a man can be attracted to a man and fall in love with him? Or should one’s sexual orientation change his/her role in the society where he/she acts? To these questions I don’t even hesitate to answer “NO”. One’s sexual orientation has nothing to do with his/her importance in the society. What is all this discrimination about? Lesbians and gay men are discriminated against at many levels at this society. They may face the toughest battle for equality. However, Democratic Socialists believe that the sexual preference should be recognized as a matter of individual choice, a basic democratic right. This is a free democratic society with political and economic equalities, which means equality in employment, housing, education, health care, taking part in political and social life. Seems there should not be any problems.
If you ask anyone, they will tell you they are in favor of equal rights for homosexuals. They will say gays should have the same rights in housing, jobs, public accommodations, and should have equal access to government benefits and equal protection by the law. But if you specify your question and ask about the gay marriage, all this talk of equality stops dead cold.
More than half of all people in the United States oppose gay marriage, even though three fourths are otherwise supportive of gay rights. This means that many of the same people who are even passionately in favor of gay rights oppose gays on this one issue.
Why is there such controversy?
It’s because there is a lot of misunderstanding what homosexuality really is, as well as the erroneous assumption that gay people enjoy the same civil rights, protections as everyone else. The opponents of the gay marriage bring a lot of arguments these days, and they are usually variations of a few well-established themes.
A marriage is an institution between one man and one woman: that’s the most frequently heard argument, one even codified in a recently passed U.S. federal law. You can’t deny people, their rights, unless you can show a compelling reason to deny them in the very basis of American ideal of human rights. As the civil right laws in this country state that everyone is equal, gay people should be granted rights, especially regarding marriage and all the legal protections that go along with it.
Granting gays the right to marry is a special right. The opposition to gay marriage stems ultimately from a deep-seated homophobia in this culture; while many people don’t realize that homophobia exists to the extent that whatever it does is a very real part of every gay person’s life. It is there, and it has far more serious consequences for American society than most Americans realize, not just for gay people, but for the society in general.
When gay people say that this is a civil rights issue, we are referring to matters to civil justice, which often can be quite serious, and can have life-damaging, even life- threatening consequences. Sexual orientation is a private matter and the government doesn’t belong in individuals’ bedrooms.
Anyway, now some states have the legal civil unions for gay people, so homosexuals can get married as heterosexuals under the same laws and rights.
In Dec 1999, The Hawaii Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, in April 2000, the Vermont House of Representatives gave a final approval to same-sex marriages, in June 2000, the Supreme Court of New Jersey accepted it too, in 2004 Massachusetts legalized the gay marriage (
Another aspect of this is the adoption. 19 states allow gay and lesbian couples to adopt children in a complex and expensive two-step process, in which one parent first adopts and then the second can petition for joint rights.( Sean Cahill,” Same –sex Marriage in the United States”).
Legalizing the gay marriage step by step is the biggest right for gay people, as they can make unions and enjoy their entire life together. But this doesn’t solve the problem of discrimination. California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Islands, Vermont, Wisconsin and Nevada prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. Colorado, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Mexico and Washington ban discrimination in public employment based on sexual orientation.
Why is it still so? Gay relationships are immoral? Who says? The Bible? I always thought that religion implied the right of freedom from religion as well. At this point, not all world religions have a problem with homosexuality; many sects of Buddhism celebrate gay relationships freely. The Bible has absolutely no standing in American law. So if one believes in religious freedom, the recognition that opposition to gay marriage is based on religious arguments is unreasonable enough to discount this argument. People with profound and deep religious beliefs that don’t accept the conception of homosexuality and try to evict the homosexual individuals from the society always make me wonder: are they actually religious? Do they realize such religious concepts as love, care, humanity, open-mindedness, generosity?
People should understand that being a gay it’s not their choice. Scientists so far divided homosexuality into two parts: natural and nurtured. The basis behind the natural theory for homosexuality is that individuals are born with certain genetic makeup, which predetermines their homosexual orientation. On the other hand, the nurtured theory believes that one’s environment and experiences can predetermine one’s sexual orientation.
I know that heterosexuals consider gay relationships to be merely a sexual perversion. But the homosexuality is multidimensional and is much more about love and affection. That’s what gay relationships are based on- mutual attraction, love and affection. As I’ve already mentioned above, being a gay is part of that person’s core identity, and goes right the very center of his being. It’s like being black in a society of whites. Yes, being gay is just that profound to the person. This is something that few heterosexuals can understand unless they are the part of minority themselves. And let’s remember the Declaration of Independence, where Thomas Jefferson says:”All human beings are created equally”. Yes and this is absolutely true, they are created equally and should be treated equally, have equal rights and their own role in this society.
But will the discrimination towards the sexual orientation be illuminated from the world one day? I wish I could answer to this question….

Thursday, October 26, 2006

the Armenian-Jewish connection

Upon receiving an email from Talene, one of the administrators of the blog, Կենաց-לחיים or "Genats-Lehayim", I was not very quick to respond and check out their website. I have now begun to catch up with everything and I apologize for not doing this earlier. Things have been crazy and hectic with work and there's too many excuses and will not go there...

So I have checked out Genats-Lehayim blog and really it is interesting. I recommend you check it out as well.

As they say in their mission statement:
The symbolic birthday of this blog is April 24, 2006. Since 1965, people around the world commemorate the Armenian Genocide on that day. In 2006, Yom ha-Shoah, the remembrance day for the Holocaust, which is observed on the Hebrew calendar date of Nisan 27, fell on April 25. It seemed like a perfect opportunity for Armenians and Jews in the diaspora to cooperate in ceremonies to mourn the victims of the past and to stand united against genocide today. Not much of the sort occurred; rather, we were struck by the lack of mutual acknowledgement...

There is another front on which one would expect Armenians and Jews to be natural allies: the struggle against the ongoing denial of genocide. Unfortunately, here, too, we have let ourselves become divided. This forum is an effort to rectify the present set of circumstances by bringing together news and analysis, individuals and organizations from the diasporas, Armenia, and Israel to work on our common concerns.

Interestingly, it's not just the struggle of denial against genocide that unites the Armenian and Jewish people. Not only do Talene and Amos discuss this issue, but they also have various interesting posts regarding this connection between the ancient civilizations. Amos' most recent post is about this latest issue regarding genocide denial and the French legislation and how the New York Times is in "genocide denial". Check it out here

This blog is a unique collaborative effort- keep up the good work and I look forward to reading your posts!