Wins Prize Created
Memory of Armenian Genocide
of Science’s Highest Honors
Baptized in Armenia
for Awakening Humanity
Deal in Jeopardy for Turkish
Who Beat D.C. Protesters
Promise Available on DVD on July 18
Opens in Yerevan
Music Festival in Armenia
Prime Minister’s Family
improper enrichment of Pres. Erdogan of Turkey by receiving a $25 million
oil tanker as a gift from an Azeri billionaire. This week, we expose the Prime
Minister of Turkey, Binali Yildirim, who turns out to be just as corrupt as his
revealed in their article posted on the website theblacksea.eu, based on a
report by the European Investigative Collaborations’ (EIC) Malta Files, that
the Yildirim family owns shipping and other foreign assets worth $140 million.
Minister of Transport and Maritime, he told a gathering of large ship owners in
Istanbul: “From now on any Turkish businesses owning ships, yachts or sea
vessels that flew foreign flags would be ‘treated with suspicion’ by the
government.” Yildirim gave the ship owners three months to change the
registration of their vessels. Yildirim added, “Now they have no excuse. If
they insist on not changing to the Turkish flag, we don’t see that [they have
any] good intentions.” The Minister was apparently promoting the creation of a
strong, national shipping fleet which would pay taxes to Turkey.
feet away from Yildirim during the speech was his 30-year-old son Erkam who was
“the registered owner of at least one general cargo ship called the ‘City,’
through the family’s offshore company in the Netherlands
Antilles. This freighter flew not the Turkish flag, but that of
the Dutch Caribbean Islands,”
according to EIC investigators.
Yildirim family owned 11 foreign-flagged ships registered “in a network of
secretive companies in Malta,
the Netherlands, and the
Netherlands Antilles — specifically now Curacao, with more suspected in the Marshall Islands and Panama."
revealed that “Yildirim’s son, daughter, uncle and nephews have purchased seven
properties in the Netherlands,
worth over $2.5 million — all of which were paid in cash.”
shipping in 1994 when he managed Istanbul's
Fast Ferries Company (IDO), owned by the city. However, he was fired in 2000
over revelations he awarded a contract to manage the ferries’ canteens to his
uncle, Yilmaz Erence,” according to Shaw and Sentek.
registered the Turkish company, Tulip Maritime Limited, in Malta in 1998. Yilamz’s partners
were: “Salih Zeki Cakir, a known ship-owner who briefly employed Yildirim,
Ahmet Ergun, President Erdogan’s advisor from his days as Istanbul Mayor, as
well as a former MP [Member of Parliament] and high court judge, Abbas Gokce,” according
to Shaw and Sentek.
Sea and EIC reported that six of the 11 ships owned by the
Yildirim family – “worth between 1.9 million and 33 million Euro — appear to
have been bought without any bank loans. If so, this suggests an enormous cache
of funds exists in the Dutch operation, despite on paper being a money-losing
Pres. Erdogan appointed Yildirim as Prime Minister, he acquired four new
shipping companies registered in Malta. The director of these
companies is Suleyman Vural, Yildirim’s nephew. Two of these companies, linked
to a business in Istanbul,
were set up in 2015 by uncle Yilmaz and his son, Rifat Emrah Erence.
extensive businesses in the Netherlands,
including “modest properties and expensive ships,” according to Shaw and
Sentek. EIC reported that the Yildirim family owns a company called Castillo
Real Estate BV, based in Almere, the Netherlands, where houses a dental clinic
in a building owned by the son of the Prime Minister. Next door to the dentist
are the offices of Castillo Real Estate and Zealand Shipping — two of the
family’s major companies.
buildings, Castillo owns four properties in the Netherlands:
an apartment building in Schoonhoven, two houses in Utrecht,
and a shoemaker’s shop in The Hague.
These six properties, valued over 2.16 million Euro, were all paid in cash. A
seventh property in Almere was purchased personally by Erkam for Zealand
assets in the Netherlands
— worth $129.8 million — were established in 2007 by Erkam under the name of
Zealand Shipping until 2014, when it was bought by Holland Investments
Cooperatif UA, also owned by Erkam. In addition, the Yildirim family “owns 30%
of Q-Shipping BV
based in Barendrecht. The partner in this venture is Abdulvahit Simsek, a
Turkish businessman who shares an office with the Yildirims in Istanbul…. Q-shipping BV and
its subsidiaries manage 20 ships — none of which sail under a Turkish flag,”
according to Shaw and Sentek.
Shipping owned 10 ships flying the Dutch flag, two of which were sold to “a
Turkish conglomerate close to the Erdogan government, Kolin Group,” according
to Shaw and Sentek. They summarize the “Foreign Wealth of the Turkish Prime
Minister’s Family” as follows:
fully or partly owned)
article by noting that “after Turkey’s
constitutional referendum which granted Pres. Erdogan the power to destroy the
Prime Ministry in two years, Yildirim’s tenure at the top is coming to an end.
But in the nearly 20 years since he ‘transferred his businesses’ to his
children, they have created a soft cushion for him to land upon when he leaves
politics for good!”
CA — With overwhelming bipartisan support, the California State
Assembly adopted Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian's measure (AB 1597), 67-0 – a
movement long championed by the Armenian National Committee of America Western
Region (ANCA-WR) and Armenian Youth Federation Western Region (AYF-WR) –
calling for the divestment of California public funds from Turkish government
controlled financial instruments, ensuring taxpayer funds are no longer used in
this manner to aid and abet Turkey's century long obstruction of justice for
the Armenian Genocide.
colleagues in the Assembly for joining with me to fight for justice for the 1.5
million Armenian souls who perished in the Genocide," said Assemblyman
Nazarian, the lead author of AB 1597. "If Turkey continues to fund Armenian
Genocide deniers they must be financially punished."
consideration of the measure, noting that: "The Republic of Turkey's
unwillingness to recognize the Genocide and their unrelenting campaign to deny
the Genocide, continues to discriminate against Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians
and many other ethnic minorities who suffered at the hands of the Turkish
Ottoman Government. California's
investment in Turkish government bonds indirectly subsidizes Turkish denial of
the Genocide. This bill continues California's
commitment to act appropriately against countries that have a record of human
rights violations and undermine democracy." Other legislators who
spoke out on the measure during full floor consideration include
Assemblymembers Rob Bonta, Matt Debabneh, Laura Friedman, Chris Holden, and
shown by our 2016 Legislator of the Year, Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, in
introducing and guiding this unprecedented 'Divest Turkey' bill to a successful
vote in the California State Assembly," said ANCA-WR Chair Nora Hovsepian,
Esq. "We are also grateful to the thousands of California Armenians
who heeded our Action Alert to call upon their elected representatives to
support AB1597 and to the AYF for initiating this Divest Turkey movement by
successfully securing resolutions from all nine campuses of the University of
California and for working with us side by side to educate our elected
representatives and to mobilize our grassroots."
the largest Armenian community outside Armenia,
it is time for California to stand firm
against funding Turkey's
ongoing Genocide denial with California
State pension investments and
bad behavior on the world stage. We have been diligently working for many
months in Sacramento informing and educating our legislators on this issue, and
we look forward to a full enactment of this groundbreaking legislation as it
goes to the Senate and then to the Governor. We remain committed to continuing
to do all we can to accomplish this goal."
closely with Assemblyman Nazarian and principal co-author Senator Scott Wilk
since its introduction in February, 2017, with ANCA WR Chief Legislative
Consultant Haig Baghdassarian offering testimony at the initial policy hearing
held by the Public Employee, Retirement and Social Security (PERSS) Committee
on April 19. ANCA WR and AYF WR led multiple grassroots advocacy trips to
advancing the measure, which encountered tough opposition from well-funded
pro-Turkey lobbyists. Throughout the Committee and full Assembly
consideration process, thousands of Californians have reached out to
legislators in support of the measure through the ANCA – WR's action alert
system. The measure has also gotten broad support from U.S. Rep. Adam
Schiff (D-CA), a broad range of CA State legislators and grassroots coalition
partners, including the American Hellenic Council and the Assyrian American
Association of Southern California.
the measure, stating: “The passage of AB 1597 through the Assembly floor is an
important step towards the State of California finally ending its financial
complicity in one of the world’s largest purveyors of human rights violations,
the Republic of Turkey, and its continued denial of justice for the Armenian
Genocide. Beyond the unassailable ethical case to be made for divestment, it’s
a financial mistake to risk half a billion dollars of California taxpayers and
pension holders’ hard earned money in the failing economy of President
Erdogan’s corrupt dictatorship, which has seen its currency devalued and credit
ratings plummet since a failed military coup last summer. While the bill has
many hurdles ahead of it, nothing will stop an idea whose time has come.”
Public Retirement System (CalPERS) and California State Teachers’ Retirement
System (CalSTRS) from making additional or new investments, or renewing
existing investments issued, owned, controlled, or managed by the government of
The measure notes that CalPERS and CalSTRS must liquidate any of the
investments within six months of the passage of a federal law imposing
sanctions on Turkey.
more than $500 million in Turkish government-owned or controlled investment
vehicles, predominantly in Turkish government bonds.
collaborative initiative in December 2014 between the Armenian Youth Federation
(AYF) Western United States and Armenian students on local University of California
campuses. The campaign calls international divestment of funds from the Republic of Turkey
in any and all institutions in order to hold Turkey
accountable for its continuing human rights violations toward Armenians, Kurds
and other minorities in Turkey
today, and for the yet unpunished crime of genocide against the Armenian
people, as well as the Assyrian and Greek peoples.
first target was University of California’s $74 million investment in the Republic of Turkey’s government-issued bonds, one of
the largest university systems in the world. To date, after a multiple-year,
coordinated effort mobilizing AYF members and students up and down the coast of
California, all 9 UC campus schools — UCLA, Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Merced,
Riverside, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz — as well as the University
of California Student Association have voted overwhelmingly to demand
divestment from the Republic of Turkey, representing the will of a combined 238,000
students across the University of California. The campaign announced on March
14 that it will formally begin communications with the University of California
Board of Regents Office in order to discuss the divestment of those funds.
Wins Prize Created
Memory of Armenian Genocide
By Artak Hambardzumian
YEREVAN (RFE/RL) – An American surgeon who has
saved thousands of lives in a war-torn region of Sudan received last week an
international humanitarian award created in memory of the 1915 Armenian
genocide in Ottoman Turkey.
Tom Catena, the sole doctor permanently based in Sudan's
was awarded the 2017 Aurora Prize for Awakening
Humanity at a solemn ceremony in Yerevan.
He was selected by an international committee from more than 550 nominations
submitted from 66 countries. The selection committee comprises dignitaries such
as the Hollywood star George Clooney, Iranian human rights campaigner Shirin
Ebadi, Mexico's former President Ernesto Zedillo and former Australian Foreign
Minister Gareth Evans.
The annual award was established in 2015 by three prominent Diaspora Armenians:
philanthropists Ruben Vardanyan and Noubar Afeyan, and Vartan Gregorian, the
president of the Carnegie Corporation of New
York. It is designed to honor individuals around the
world who risk their lives to help others.
The prize is named after Aurora Mardiganian, an Armenian genocide survivor who
witnessed the massacre of relatives and told her story in a book and film. It
was first awarded to Marguerite Barankitse, a humanitarian worker from Burundi, at a similar ceremony held in Yerevan a year ago.
“I appreciate the Aurora initiative and what they are doing because my goal is
to help to publicize a bit the plight of the people of the Nuba Mountains who
have suffered tremendously over so many years," Catena said after
receiving the prize carrying a $100,000 personal grant.
Like Barankitse, the Catholic missionary doctor was also awarded an additional
$1 million to donate to organizations that inspired his work. He chose three
charities based in the United States
as its recipients.
For almost a decade Catena has worked at the sole hospital in the rebel-held
Sudanese region ravaged by an ongoing civil war. He was among the four
finalists who were shortlisted for the inaugural Aurora prize in 2016.
Catena could not visit Armenia
to attend last year's award ceremony because of his busyness. He was able to
fly to Yerevan
this time around after three Armenian doctors travelled to Nuba to fill in for
him at the local Mother of Mercy Catholic Hospital.
"Sometimes people ask me: `What is the most difficult part of your
job?'" Catena said at Sunday's event. "The answer is very easy and it
comes very readily. The most difficult part is having to watch your patients
die. It's the most excruciating pain you can imagine. "At that point you
feel that all the sadness and the grief in the world are sitting on top of your
head," he added. "They are inside your chest, squeezing you. You
can't even breathe."
of Science’s Highest Honors
(TSRI) in San Diego—Ardem
Patapoutian—has been elected to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences
for his “distinguished and continuing achievements in original research,” the
academy announced on May 28.. Ardem joins several other TSRI scientists as
members of this exclusive group of scientific scholars.
science,” said TSRI President Peter G. Schultz, Ph.D. “His work, and this
well-deserved recognition, place him among an elite group of scientists, and we
are incredibly proud to have him as colleague. I wish him hearty
of the Dorris Neuroscience Center
at TSRI and investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, studies how
cells “talk” to each other and send signals through the body. His lab works to
uncover the basic mysteries of human sensory biology, such as the proteins
underlying our sense of touch, and contribute to the development of future
treatments for disease.
the NAS, especially as the need to advocate for strong science public policy is
more urgent than ever,” said Patapoutian. “TSRI has truly enabled the
cutting-edge techniques that have propelled our research forward.”
members and 21 foreign associates.
nonprofit institution that was established under a congressional charter signed
by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. It recognizes achievement in science by
election to membership and, along with other groups, provides science,
technology and health policy advice to the federal government and other
Baptized in Armenia
(Mediamax) – World-renowned chansonnier and National Hero of Armenia Charles Aznavour, in Armenia in the because of the
Aurora Humanitarian Initiative, visited Tatev monastery complex on May 31.
friends and partners.
Charles Aznavour’s first stop was Halidzor station of the Wings of Tatev
ropeway, where the singer was greeted by CEO of IDeA (Initiatives for
Development of Armenia) Foundation Edgar Manukyan, Director of the ropeway Vahe
Baghdasaryan, and the foundation staff.
In the Church of St. Paul and Peter, Nicolas Aznavour was
baptized by Father Mikayel Gevorgyan. Tatev monastery choir sang at the
be christened in Armenia.
My parents would be so happy to know that both my sons, Misha and Nicolas, are
baptized in Armenia,
remaining loyal to their roots,” Charles Aznavour said.
“I was born in France,
taught in Switzerland and Canada,
but the more I think about it, the more connected I feel to my Armenian roots.
I talked with my father and aunt, listened to their stories, and I returned to
my family’s roots. I’m learning Armenian. I felt I wanted to be christened in
no other place by Armenia,”
Nicolas Aznavour said. He described the baptism in Tatev as an unforgettable
Charles Aznavour was inseparable from his camera throughout the trip, hunting
Open for 2018 Aurora
for Awakening Humanity
(PanArmenian.net) – Nominations are open for the 2018 Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity,
a global humanitarian award granted by the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative on
behalf of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and in gratitude to their
saviors. The Aurora Prize is seeking the stories of selfless individuals who
demonstrate exceptional courage, commitment and impact at personal risk for the
sake of others.
has risked their life, health, freedom, reputation or livelihood to make an
exceptional impact on preserving human life and advancing humanitarian causes.
A description of the Prize criteria and selection process can be found here
https://auroraprize.com/en/prize/detail/nominatenow. Nominations for the 2018
Aurora Prize will close on September 8, 2017.
2017 Aurora Prize was presented to Dr. Tom Catena at a ceremony in Yerevan, Armenia
on May 28. Dr. Catena was presented with the Prize by world-renown poet, singer
and songwriter Charles Aznavour, in the presence of the members of the Aurora
Prize Selection Committee.
who will receive a $100,000 grant, as well as the unique opportunity to
continue the cycle of giving by nominating organizations that inspired their
work to receive a $1,000,000 award.
established in 2015 by the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative on behalf of the
survivors of the Armenian Genocide and in gratitude to their saviors, the
Aurora Prize will honor an Aurora Laureate each year until 2023, in remembrance
of the eight years of the Armenian Genocide (1915 – 1923).
Deal in Jeopardy for Turkish
Who Beat D.C. Protesters
armed guards from the Turkish president’s security detail violently attacked
a group of peaceful protesters here last month, the State
Department notified Congress of its intention to license the sale of $1.2
million worth of semiautomatic handguns to the security force.
episode among American lawmakers and a continuing investigation by the State
Department that could lead to criminal charges against some of the guards
involved, the future of the sale now appears to be in question.
Congress if it intends to withhold a license for the sale, it has met
resistance from senior lawmakers on Capitol Hill that could stall or even sink
with a particularly thorny challenge, as it balances geopolitical interests
with domestic concerns in coordinating a response. American lawmakers have
demanded the guards be held to account, while Turkey, a NATO ally and an active
partner in the fight against the Islamic State, has all but denied the guards’
role in the skirmish. Several videos
show the guards, many with pistols under their jackets, beating
government would authorize Sig Sauer, the New
Hampshire-based firearms maker, to sell some 1,600 semiautomatic pistols to a
Turkish government-controlled intermediary, which in turn would sell them to
the agency tasked with protecting the president.
proposed sale. Representatives of Sig Sauer and the Turkish Embassy in Washington did not
immediately reply to requests for comment.
Department must approve of all weapons exports. The department is required to
notify Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate foreign
affairs committees if the proposed sale exceeds certain monetary thresholds. In
practice, the department does this in an effort to resolve lawmakers’ concerns
before an intended sale becomes public.
congressional leaders informal notification of the proposed sale on May 15, a
letter obtained by The New York Times shows.
prepared to license the export of these items having taken into account
political, military, economic, human rights and arms control considerations,”
Mary K. Waters, the acting assistant secretary for legislative affairs, wrote
in the letter.
Erdogan of Turkey
was welcomed to the
White House by President Trump, several of his guards
unleashed a violent attack on the protesters who had gathered outside the
Turkish ambassador’s residence to protest Mr. Erdogan. Video shows Mr. Erdogan watching the scene
play out, as nearly a dozen people were injured, some
the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, wrote back to the
department expressing concern about the sale. The State Department never
replied, his spokesman said, but concerns raised during the informal review process
are generally taken seriously by the department.
the attack has received on Capitol Hill, his objection could potentially stall
the licensing process or even prompt the State Department to cancel the sale
rather than risk a potentially bruising fight with lawmakers.
Foreign Affairs Committee, called on the State Department to block the sale. In
a letter sent Thursday to the State Department he said that “many committee
members remain deeply concerned about this incident, as evidenced by our
passage last week of House Resolution 354, which notes the unprofessional and
brutal conduct of the Turkish security forces.”
a formal notification to Capitol Hill that it intended to sign off on the sale,
lawmakers would have 15 days to intervene.
statements condemning the attack in its immediate aftermath. And Thomas A.
Shannon Jr., the under secretary of state for political affairs, summoned the
Turkish ambassador, Serdar Kilic, to his office the next day. In a series of
public statements, the department did not mention the proposed gun sales.
and Democrats in the House together introduced a resolution last week
condemning the attack. They called for the security officials involved to be
charged and prosecuted — a sentiment that was echoed in the Senate.
months. The letter to lawmakers shows that the sale had won clearance from a
wide range of State Department offices, the National Security Council and the
Defense Department, among others.
the order consists of several different models. If licensed, they would
formally be purchased by the Mechanical and
Chemical Industry Company, which the State Department
describes as a Turkish-controlled group authorized to resell the weapons to the
Department of Security of the Presidency of the Republic of Turkey.
That group, the State Department notes, is charged with protecting the
the guards were armed with handguns, though the make of the weapons is unclear.
An analysis of videos and photos by The Times showed that at least 24 men, most of
them Turkish security officials, were involved in the attack.
Erdogan’s bodyguards have been involved in violence while visiting the United States.
In 2011, they were in a fight at the
United Nations with United Nations security that sent at least
one officer to the hospital. And last year, the police and members of Mr.
Erdogan’s security team clashed with
demonstrators outside the Brookings Institution in Washington.
Promise Available on DVD on July 18
(PRNewswire) — From the Academy Award®-winning director of Hotel Rwanda
Terry George, comes
a powerful and sweeping epic set during the last days of the Ottoman
Empire, The Promise debuting on Digital HD on July 4, and on Blu-ray™
combo pack, DVD and On Demand on July 18, 2017 from
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.
of The Promise is set amidst the chaos of war and showcases an exceptional cast
including Oscar Isaac
(Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Ex Machina), Charlotte Le Bon (The
Hundred-Foot Journey, The Walk), Christian Bale (The Dark
Knight Trilogy, The Big Short), Angela Sarafyan
("Westworld," "American Horror Story"), Marwan Kenzari (The
Mummy, Ben-Hur), Shohreh Aghdashloo (Star Trek Beyond, "The Expanse")
and James Cromwell
("The Young Pope," "Boardwalk Empire").
fly when a humble Armenian medical student (Isaac) falls in love with an artist
(Le Bon) already
committed to a renowned and worldly journalist (Bale). But as tensions rise
with the outbreak of World War I, the trio must set passions aside to survive
as the world around them crumbles and one of history's darkest yet rarely told
chapters unfolds before their eyes.
packed with exclusive bonus content including deleted scenes as well as a
special behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film delving deeper into
one of the most tragic events in WWI history.
love triangle at the center of the film.
balanced the historical responsibility of conveying the plight of Armenians
during WWI accurately with the creative responsibility of developing relatable
characters for the audience.
discuss why the theme of hope is so crucial to understanding Armenian
resilience in the face of the wartime atrocities.
Opens in Yerevan
– Charles Aznavour’s house-museum opened in downtown Yerevan
on June 1, in a solemn ceremony attended by the legendary singer, his
son Nicolas Aznavour, President Serzh Sargsyan and a number of guests. Minister
of Culture Armen Amiryan handed the symbolic keys to the museum to Charles
Aznavour Foundation aiming to preserve the maestro’s cultural legacy. The
foundation will also develop and implement educational and social programs.
the development of Armenia
to enable the youth to realize their dreams in the country, surrounded by their
loved ones,” Aznavour said.
the foundation was prompted by seeing brilliant educational programs
implemented in Armenia,
historic monuments restored and new infrastructures created.
an honor for Yerevan
to host Charles Aznavour’s House-Museum.”
belongs not only to France
but also the humanity at large,” he added.
Tankian Looking to Set
Music Festival in Armenia
launched a generous new peace prize, the frontman of rockers System of a Down
sees more to come in the country — including perhaps a music festival.
Aurora Prize, which was inaugurated a year ago in the Armenian capital Yerevan.
Armenians who survived the 1915 Armenian Genocide.
May 28 to Tom Catena, the sole doctor in Sudan’s conflict-ravaged Nuba Mountains
who has cared for thousands of people, treating everything from war injuries to
will receive $100,000 plus an additional $1 million which will feed charities
of his choice.
appearance at the ceremony as the band prepared for a European tour, said the
Aurora Prize showed gratitude to those who helped survivors.
immensely, whether it’s genocide or any other type of human-created
catastrophe, should embody compassion and an understanding of that pain better
than anyone else,” Tankian told AFP.
survived with help from a Turkish mayor and an American missionary orphanage,
said that too often, people fail to draw lessons from their ancestors’ pain.
people who have suffered immensely, or whose grandparents have suffered
immensely, and yet their position in life has been unequivocally egotistical
and myopic in terms of how they see their lives and how they spend their
money,” he said.
and was in the early stages of looking to set up a music festival.
could be integrated into the European summer festival circuit with touring
bands carrying on to the Caucasus country.
international music festival in Armenia,”
and social work,” he said, “I would also like to carve out time to do art work,
of a Down played its first-ever concert in Armenia. Tankian
said he felt overcome with a sense of history, seeing young people and
remembering his grandparents. He viewed his band as “part of that catalyst
between old and new.”
that one show in some ways,” he said.
the Armenian News News Service with a few of the articles in this week's issue of The
California Courier. Letters to the
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