The California Courier Online, January 28, 2021

The California
Courier Online, January 28, 2021

 

1 –        Azerbaijan Exploits Everything

            For
Propaganda, Including Art

            By Harut
Sassounian

            Publisher,
The California
Courier

            www.TheCaliforniaCourier.com

2-         Armenian
Americans Congratulate 46th President Joe Biden

3-         Armenia continues to fight COVID-19
pandemic

4-         COMMENTARY:

            AUA:
Apolitical University
of Armenia?

5-         COMMENTARY:

            Almassian:
‘Dear Americans, Stop acting as if you’ve finally defeated fascism,    because you have not’

6-         City of West Hollywood Unanimously
Adopts Resolution Recognizing Artsakh

7-         Correction

 

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1 –        Azerbaijan Exploits Everything

            For
Propaganda, Including Art

            By Harut
Sassounian

            Publisher,
The California
Courier

            www.TheCaliforniaCourier.com

The Calvert Journal published last week an article by Lucía
de la Torre titled, “The Aliyev influence: how nepotism and self-censorship
rule Azerbaijan’s art scene.”

On October 2, 2020, two days after the start of the Artsakh
war, a giant Azerbaijani flag was placed on the façade of Baku’s
YARAT Contemporary Art Space gallery with a giant message: “Karabakh is Azerbaijan.”

This did not sit well with the Turkish-born Kurdish artist
Ahmet Ogut whose exhibition “No Poem Loves Its Poet” had been displayed in the
gallery since May 2020. Ogut requested that the propaganda banner be taken down
and boldly declared: “I refuse to allow my work to fall prey to political
instrumentalization.”

The gallery refused to remove the banner and closed down
Ogut’s exhibit on October 29, 2020, three weeks earlier than scheduled.

According to The Calvert Journal’s article, “This is one
example of how Azerbaijan’s
apparently thriving art scene conceals something darker: a deeply nepotistic
environment which routinely suppresses dissident voices while crafting an
international image of Azerbaijan
as a free, art-loving nation.”

Artists like Ogut, who refuse to go along with Azerbaijan’s
political propaganda, are quickly ostracized and lose all artistic privileges.

Artists worldwide were alarmed by Azerbaijan’s abuse of power,
trampling on the rights and independence of an artist. However, this came as no
surprise to those who have followed many other violations by the country’s
despotic leader. Ruled “by President Ilham Aliyev and Vice-President and First
Lady Mehriban Aliyeva, the Azerbaijani government has been repeatedly
criticized by human rights’ groups for ongoing censorship, a poor human rights
record, and rampant corruption. And, like many nearby authoritarian regimes,
members of the President’s family are known to own most of the country’s major
businesses, earning them millions of dollars since the fall of the USSR and
situating Aliyev amongst the world’s richest oil billionaires,” The Calvert
Journal reported.

The YARAT gallery was founded by Aida Mahmudova, an artist,
curator, and Vice President Mehriban Aliyeva’s niece. The Marriott Hotel in
Baku, “which is allegedly connected to Aliyev’s daughters Leyla and Arzu
Aliyeva according to reporters for the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting
Project, is one of YARAT’s main partners,” The Calvert Journal wrote.

“Mahmudova is also the director of another of Azerbaijan’s main contemporary art galleries: Baku’s Museum
of Modern Art (MoMa). The
museum was founded by Mehriban Aliyeva in 2009, and is funded by the Heydar
Aliyev Foundation (of which Mehriban Aliyeva is the President and Leyla Aliyeva
the Vice-President), a charitable organization created in memory of the former
president of Azerbaijan and father of current president Ilham Aliyev. Elsewhere
in Baku, another star venue on Azerbaijan’s cultural scene is the Heydar Aliyev
Center. The current
director of the Heydar
Aliyev Center
is Anar Alakbarov, a former assistant to the Vice President of Azerbaijan and
current assistant to the President,” The Calvert Journal reported.

Baku has several other
smaller art galleries which are controlled by Azerbaijan’s government. “The Qiz
Qalasi Gallery, an art venue in Baku with a
branch in Berlin,
is headed by Emin Mammadov, who also works as Art Curator for the Heydar Aliyev
Foundation. ‘Modern Art of Azerbaijan’ is a travelling exhibition supported by
the Heydar Aliyev Center
that toured European capitals, where Mehriban and Leila Aliyeva hosted lavish
inaugurations attended by European government officials and diplomats. In
November 2020, the gallery launched ‘Armed with the Arts,’ an exhibition
allegedly meant to promote peace after the Second Nagorno-Karabakh war, while,
similarly to YARAT, openly supported the position of the Azerbaijani government
and used politically-charged, bellicose language. Kicik QalArt Gallery, a
project of the ‘Art ex East Foundation’ and another important smaller-scale
venue in the capital, although now closed, used to be owned by Olivier
Mestelan, a Swiss art collector and financier. Mestelan used to sit on the
board of Ataholding, an open joint-stock company that managed Atabank, one of
the biggest commercial banks in Azerbaijan,
now bankrupt and owned by the Azerbaijan Deposit Insurance Fund (ADIF).
According to an investigation carried out in 2011 by Radio Free Europe’s
Azerbaijani Service, Mestelan was also claimed to be the treasurer of three
offshore Panama-based companies linked to Azerfon, a Baku-based
telecommunications company with links to Arzu and Leyla Aliyeva,” The Calvert
Journal wrote.

Lesley Gray, a scholar researching the development of the
contemporary art scene in the Arab Gulf and Caspian Sea region, explained that Azerbaijan and
other countries use contemporary art as a tool to reshape the country’s
international image.

Azerbaijan’s
leaders are not interested in art for art’s sake. “They hope to use art as a
tool to attract international attention for something other than imprisoned
journalists and crackdowns on free speech,” The Calvert Journal reported.

The Azerbaijani government has also used its investments in
contemporary art around the world to project power and establish goodwill.
“Mehriban Aliyeva, through the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, has shelled out
generous sums for cultural institutions such as The Palace of Versailles,
Paris’ Louvre Museum, and the Vatican Museums, while the Friends of Azerbaijani
Culture Foundation, a non-governmental charity which she founded in 1995,
routinely organizes art exhibits abroad,” according to The Calvert Journal.

As a result, “in 2004 Mehriban Aliyeva was designated UNESCO
Goodwill Ambassador, a laurel given in recognition of her actions to promote
international cultural exchanges. Later, in 2010, Aliyeva received a gold medal
from UNESCO for her ‘efforts in establishing an intercultural dialogue.’ Over
the years, Azerbaijan has had a particularly favorable relationship with the UN
body — in October 2015, at the petition of Mehriban Aliyeva, UNESCO hosted an
exhibition ironically called ‘Azerbaijan — Land of Tolerance’ at its Paris
headquarters. At the opening, when a journalist asked Aliyeva whether the title
of the exhibition lived up to the reality in Azerbaijan, considering the country
has ‘many political prisoners in jail,’ Aliyeva denied this and turned her back
while security guards pushed the journalist away. The relationship was
particularly favorable between Mehriban Aliyeva and Irina Bokova,
Director-General of UNESCO, 2009-2017. Their relationship came under scrutiny
in 2017, when Kalin Mitrev, Bokova’s husband, was investigated by the Bulgarian
Chief Prosecutor in relation to media publications about payments made by
Azerbaijani companies to his [bank] accounts. Bokova then wrote a letter to The
Guardian [newspaper] defending the rightfulness of her relationship with Azerbaijan,
but never spoke openly about the money allegedly received by her husband or her
stance towards Azerbaijan’s human rights abuses,” The Calvert Journal reported.

However, Azerbaijan’s devious use of the arts was exposed in
2011, when “Azerbaijan censored its own entry to the Venice Biennale, the
world’s most high-profile showcase of contemporary art, by hiding the work of
one of its own artists under a piece of cloth. Moscow-based artist Aidan
Salakhova’s work Waiting Bride, which showed a woman in a black veil from head
to foot, and another sculpture, which showed the Black Stone of Mecca contained
in a vagina-shaped marble frame, were hidden under a white cloth. The [Azeri]
government later claimed that the artworks were ‘damaged during transport’, while
senior sources at the exhibition clarified that the works were censored for
being considered offensive to Islam,” according to The Calvert Journal.

Nothing is surprising about the exploitation of art by Azerbaijan. A
government, whose soldiers cut off the heads and ears of captured Armenians,
can easily abuse art to cover up its corruption and gross human rights
violations.

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2-         Armenian
Americans Congratulate 46th President Joe Biden

WASHINGTON, D.C.—On
January 20, Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States of America.
Varuzhan Nersesyan, Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia to the United States
of America, attended the Oath of Office Ceremony informed the Embassy of
Armenia to the United States.

A number of Armenian-American organizations congratulated
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on the occasion.

“We join with our community, coalition partners, and
Congressional allies in encouraging the Administration to engage constructively
and cooperatively on U.S.
policy priorities impacting Armenia,
Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh), Eurasia, Eastern Mediterranean,
and the Greater Middle East,” said the Armenian National Committee of America
in a statement. “In light of the past Administration’s passivity and the
aggressive intervention of hostile regional powers, the United States must now
pivot toward a pro-active approach that protects and promotes the Artsakh
Republic’s security; holds Baku and Ankara responsible for their war crimes and
ongoing hostility; strengthens the U.S.-Armenia Strategic Partnership, and;
locks-in permanent U.S. Executive Branch remembrance of the Armenian Genocide.”

The ANCA said urgent Biden Administration attention in its
first days in office is required to restore stability, promote peace, and check
Aliyev and Erdogan’s genocidal pan-Turkish plans in the form of: an emergency
$250 million humanitarian assistance package to meet humanitarian needs and
safely and sustainably return Armenian refugees to their homes in Artsakh, and
a new Millennium Challenge compact to support high-tech education in Armenia;
full enforcement of Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act; suspension of all
U.S. military and security assistance to Azerbaijan and Turkey, and the denial
of all new arms-export licenses to both Azerbaijan and Turkey; Global Magnitsky
and other statutory sanctions against the Aliyev and Erdogan regimes for the
serious human rights abuses they committed during Azerbaijan’s aggression
against Artsakh, including the use of Foreign Terrorist Fighters recruited by
Turkey; a joint State Department, Pentagon, and Department of Justice investigation
into U.S. parts discovered in Turkish drones used by Azerbaijan to attack
Artsakh; U.S. leadership in securing Azerbaijan’s release of Armenian civilians
and soldiers, many of whom have been tortured, mutilated, and murdered on
social media; a high-profile U.S. role in documenting, monitoring, protecting,
and preserving Armenian churches and other holy and cultural sites in areas
currently under Azerbaijani military control; U.S. recognition of the Artsakh
Republic’s independence as an urgent remedial action required for the very
survival of the Christian Armenian population of this ancient Armenian land;
and an upgraded strategic partnership focused on concrete economic and military
cooperation that supports and sustains the security of both Armenia and
Artsakh.

Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) Co-Chairs Anthony
Barsamian and Van Krikorian issued the following statement: “President Joe
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris take office during a particularly
perilous time for our country and across the globe. President Biden’s message
of healing at home and pursuing a principled U.S. foreign policy supported by
American values have our heartfelt welcome. The President has a remarkably
strong record on issues that matter to Armenian Americans, as does Vice
President Harris. We look forward to assisting our country in the healing and
in advancing a better world. We are confident that the growing number of
Armenian-Americans appointed to this Administration will serve with honor. As
the victims of the first Genocide of the twentieth century, we know that
supporting efforts to address racial injustice, persecution, genocide
prevention are critical, and if left unattended, lead to disaster. It is clear
that the same countries and forces which tried to use the January mob attack on
Congress to weaken the United
States are threats to democracy, the rule of
law, human rights, respect for Christians, and religious freedom.”

The Armenian Council of America (ACA) congratulated Biden on
his inauguration. “On foreign policy, we are hopeful that this administration
will reengage in the OSCE Minsk group and lead the efforts toward a lasting
peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) conflict based on the right
to self-determination. We are optimistic on the Biden administration’s stance
toward Turkey and Azerbaijan and
will continue to advocate for economic sanctions against the Erdogan and Aliyev
regimes. Both countries have systematically violated international laws,
committed war-crimes, and supported domestic extremism/suppressing democratic
efforts. ACA looks forward to contributing its part in the Biden
administration’s pledge to unite America. We will continue to
advocate on behalf of Armenian-Americans and engage with elected officials on
the issues important to our greater American communities. We wish President
Biden and his administration success,” said the ACA in a statement.

************************************************************************************************************************************************

3 –        Armenia continues to fight COVID-19
pandemic

The Armenian government has commissioned 600,000 doses of
coronavirus vaccines from World Health Organization-backed COVAX; medical and
social workers, seniors and people suffering from chronic diseases will be the
first to get vaccine shots free of charge, and according to Gayane Sahakian,
the deputy director of the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention,

The first vaccine which COVAX will make available to the
participating countries is the one produced by AstraZeneca, which will deliver
it to COVAX in February or March.

They will be enough to vaccinate 300,000 people. According
to the Ministry of Health, there were 8,115 active coronavirus cases in Armenia as of
January 25. Armenia
has recorded 166,094 coronavirus cases and 3,047deaths; 154,932 have recovered.

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4-
       
COMMENTARY:

            AUA:
Apolitical University
of Armenia?

 

By Zaruhi Dilanyan

 

Recently, 168.am referred to an commentary in The California
Courier published on January 14, written by an anonymous American
University of Armenia (AUA) lecturer
titled “Censorship and Corruption at the American
University of Armenia.” The
events described in the commentary came after the dissemination of a letter on
December 16 by 45 professors of AUA.

“A disturbing incident has taken place at AUA against the
backdrop of a calamitous time in our nation’s history. Even AUA is not exempt
from the Pashinyan propaganda machine. Recently, under the disingenuous title
‘Diversity of Opinion’, the AUA President and Interim Provost launched an
attack on freedom of speech. In an unprecedented warning to the entire faculty,
staff and student body, the AUA administration warned everyone against expressing
any opinion that anyone at the university might disagree with on the fake
grounds that it may reflect poorly on their colleagues or the university’s
reputation. Failure to do so could lead to reprimand or termination of
employment: in other words, either self-censor or risk your job,” wrote the
anonymous author. The author also described an intra-university corruption
episode, noting that the provost’s wife was hired as a result of a “package
deal,” and the current provost was appointed dean of the Faculty of Humanities
and Social Sciences, and then hastily assumed the position of provost—having
worked as a dean for less than 6 months.

This commentary became the subject of wide discussions, and
the university responded to the commentary with a short post on its Facebook
page, describing it as “just an _expression_ of an individual perception or
opinion that does not correspond to reality.”

168.am asked the university for further comment and sent
questions to AUA President Karin Markides.

In response to a question about whether she or the Vice
President for Academic Affairs warned professors not to express dissenting or
political opinions, Markides said: “No, the university never gives a warning
when a person expresses an opinion with which others may disagree. In fact, the
American University of Armenia (AUA) encourages
the _expression_ of individual opinions, as well as the exchange of different
opinions. The open discussion and the atmosphere promoting academic freedom in
AUA are clearly reflected in our transparent policy, which was the main message
of the AUA President’s letter to the AUA community on December 23, 2020.”

“As an educational institution, AUA has a broad and diverse
constituency, including faculty, staff, students, alumni, and the administration
and trustees. Each member of this institution will have his/her own political
opinion, and we encourage them to discuss, elaborate, and communicate their
views in a respectful manner. However, while respecting the diversity of
opinions among our constituency, as an institution we do not align with any
particular political view. It should be widely understood that AUA does not
take or condone any particular political positions, and it will continue its
mission of supporting the welfare of Armenia and the education of its
students,” the aforementioned letter reads.

Markides also denied the article writer’s claim that the
professors were summoned to her office to be questioned. “We are aware that
there were correspondences, exchanges of ideas, bilateral emotional outbursts
between the two groups of lecturers, who had different political views. After
that, on December 23, in order to confirm the position of the University, I
sent an e-mail to the entire AUA community, in which it was once stated that
the American University of Armenia is an apolitical structure, and it was
clearly emphasized that AUA encourages free _expression_, if, of course, they are
expressed by the lecturer, employee or student as an individual, without acting
on behalf of the University,” said Markides.

In 2018, around the time when Serzh Sargsyan’s political
future was being contested, members of the law and political science (among
other) faculties of AUA sent a letter on behalf of AUA. At the time, the AUA
president did not send similar letters to its community. Second, not only did
the president not send such a letter to the community, the letter by the
professors was posted on on AUA's official news page, newsroom.aua.am.

When asked about the accusations of nepotism, Markides
explained: “Dr. Brian Ellison was admitted to the AUA in July 2019 as Dean of
the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. He now continues to hold the
same position. Before being appointed Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and
Social Sciences, Dr. Ellison had 20 years of leadership experience in higher
education at Missouri State University,
Charleston College,
Appalachian State University, and the University of Idaho.”

“An internal competition for the acting Vice President for
Academic Affairs was announced when the former Vice President Dr. Randall
Rhodes announced his intention to leave his job at AUA on September 1, 2020. At
that time Dr. Ellison had been Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social
Sciences for a year. He was the only internal applicant for the position of
Acting Vice President. He currently works jointly as the Dean of the Faculty of
Humanities and Social Sciences and Vice-President for Academic Affairs. It
should be noted that the Acting Vice-President performs his duties temporarily,
within a clearly defined period, in this case, one year. The search for
candidates for the post of Vice President of the AUA is underway, it will be
completed by the end of the spring semester of 2021,” said Markides.

“As for the vice-president’s wife, let us mention that in
AUA we have full-time and part-time visiting lecturers, we are very glad that
Dr. Elitza Kotseva has joined the AUA faculty as an associate professor of
English, as it is in the University’s best interest to have a specialist like
her. She received her Ph.D. in 2019 from Washington State
University. Kotseva has
filled the vacancy with the approval of the lecturers of the Chair of English
Communication. The process was conducted by the former Vice President for
Academic Affairs Dr. Rhodes. Kotseva has the appropriate qualifications and was
hired in accordance with AUA policy. AUA is always looking for highly qualified
professors such as Kotseva to join its teaching staff.

Markides explained that Rhodes
had served as dean for a total of 17 months. “He had been in that position for
12 months when he was appointed Acting Vice President for Academic Affairs.”

This article appeared in 168.am on January 18, 2020   

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5-         COMMENTARY:

            Almassian:
‘Dear Americans, Stop acting as if you’ve finally defeated fascism,    because you have not’

 

Independent journalist and geopolitical analyst Kevork
Almassian of Syriana Analysis had a number of observations following the
January 21 inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States.

His remarks stemmed from the participation of “three former
two-term U.S.
Presidents—George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Bill Clinton—who sent well wishes
to Joe Biden, and promised to help him in any way needed. The three also spoke
of the importance of a peaceful transition of power and establishing unity
across the nation.”

“I see war criminals who have killed hundreds of thousands
of people in the Middle East and North Africa.
Any person with a minimum level of sanity or logic or ability to just Google
will find that these three presidents have killed or participated in the
killing of thousands of people in the Middle East and North Africa,” said
Almassian, in a scathing Instagram video posted on January 22.

Almassian noted that some people agreed with him. Yet others
said to him, “You have to see the bigger picture.”

“Please tell me what’s the bigger picture?” Almassian
retorted. “George W. Bush lied to the entire world—to the UN Security
Council—and convinced people through the media and through indoctrination and
lies that Iraq
has ‘weapons of mass destruction.’ He prepared people for such a war that
killed up to a million Iraqis. The war in 2003 has never ended!” said
Almassian, who noted that he is not defending Saddam Hussein, whom he called
“the most ignorant person in the balance of power and geopolitics.”

Almassian asked rhetorically again, “Tell me more about the
full picture when Obama in 2011 decided through a CIA program to arm radical
jihadists in Syria.
Why? In order to overthrow his enemy who is Bashar al-Assad.”

Almassian acknowledged, “Again, we know we have a lot of
troubles in the Middle East and we have to
work harder to eradicate radicalism. But what the Americans are doing increases
radicalism. When you increase war, mayhem, unemployment—then radical terrorist
groups come and attract these people. This is not a ‘failure’ of American
foreign policy—they do it on purpose.” 

Almassian also touched on Afghanistan, which he said that
before 1979 was a “civil state, a modern state, where people were much more
progressive and very secular.” He said, “What did Americans do? They supported
and funded and armed the Mujaheddin. They invited them into Afghanistan in order to fight the Soviet Union. Americans found in these radical groups a
geopolitical weapon against a government—against enemies such as the Soviet Union—and used the same terrorist groups against
Hafez Assad and then his son Bashar al-Assad.”

Almassian explained that in 2012, the defense intelligence
of the United States
warned President Barack Obama that the forces uniting against Assad were
al-Qaeda. “He didn’t mind. He sent training and weapons to so-called moderate
rebels—an idea that exists only in the imagination of politicians. These
weapons were transferred to al-Qaeda and Isis.”

Almassian said that until 2011, there had been no attacks in
Syria.
“The intervention of the United
States created a deteriorating situation and
pushed people into starvation and radicalism. And now, all of a sudden, Joe
Biden came to power and people are crying on social media because, ‘finally
fascism has been defeated in the United States.’”

Almassian continued, “I mean, for decades, the U.S. foreign
policy has been based on fascism. The U.S. is an empire. And when you are
an empire, you need to exercise your power—hard or soft power. What Clinton,
Bush and Obama did was hard power—and it hurt the people in the Middle East. Trump may not have started any wars. But he
continued the wars his predecessors started. He stopped the CIA funding to
radical jihadists, but diverted the funding to separatist forces in Syria. He
burned the wheat, and occupied oil refineries. He imposed draconian standards
such that now there are queues to fill fuel and get bread.” Almassian explained
that before 2011, Syria
used to export oil and wheat.

He admonished, “So please stop acting as if all of a sudden
Trump brought fascism to the United
States. No, the U.S. is an empire and it is
exercising its power over the world to keep its hegemony. Since China and Russia
are increasing their powers now around the world, the United States
has to increase its military, financial and political capabilities in order to
cope with the rivalries.”

As for Biden, Almassian closed his message sardonically
wiping away invisible tears from his cheeks. “It really annoys me and irritates
me to see all these people celebrating Biden’s inauguration and his
appointment. He’s a warmonger and maniac. He is a war criminal. He participated
with Obama in all this mayhem in the Middle East and North
Africa, and voted for every war in the region. So, please stop
acting as if you defeated fascism. Because you simply replaced one fascist with
another one. You really need to know this information from someone who is a
Syrian, of Armenian origins—a Christian. The foreign policy of the United States
has ruined our lives, our businesses and our future.”

—Transcribed by J.Y.

 

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6-         City of West Hollywood
Unanimously Adopts Resolution Recognizing Artsakh

LOS ANGELES—The City of West Hollywood unanimously adopted a
resolution recognizing the Independent Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh)

With the request and assistance of Armenian-American
journalist, radio host, and activist, Vic Gerami (third column, lower photo,
right), the resolution was sponsored by Councilmember Sepi Shyne (third column,
lower photo, left) and co-sponsored by Mayor Lindsey P. Horvath (second column,
right).  The other members of the council
who voted were Mayor Pro Tempore Lauren Meister (second column, left);
Councilmember John D'Amico (third column, top photo, left); and Councilmember
John M. Erickson (third column, top photo, right).

Last year, on October 19, 2020, the West Hollywood City
Council unanimously adopted a resolution (NO. 20-5338) condemning Azerbaijan’s
military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh and in support of a peaceful resolution
to the conflict.

“As a gay Armenian-American, this is one of the most
important and meaningful moments of my life. I can take a minute and exhale
after witnessing Azerbaijan
and Turkey’s
genocidal assault and ethnic cleansing against Armenians of Artsakh since
September 27, 2020,” said Vic Gerami, the host of THE BLUNT POST with VIC on
KPFK 90.7 FM.

He continued, “West Hollywood
is a trailblazer, so I hope that other cities and towns across the country will
follow and stand in solidarity with Artsakh Armenians and their right for
self-determination. I am grateful for Councilmember Shyne and Mayor Horvath and
the three other Councilmembers for passing this monumentally important
resolution unanimously.”

“I want to thank Mayor Horvath for co-sponsoring this very
important Resolution with me and proud of my colleagues for voting in support!
The City of West Hollywood has historically
stood for justice and we did it once again this evening by recognizing the Independence of the Republic of Artsakh.
As an Iranian American, I am proud to stand with and be an ally to the Armenian
community,” said West Hollywood Councilmember Sepi Shyne.

West Hollywood Mayor Lindsey Horvath expressed her
enthusiasm by saying, “This issue has been very important to me personally and
to our City for quite some time. I have previously participated in marches to
commemorate the Armenian genocide. In my first term as Mayor, I introduced an
item directing our City to lower all flags in recognition of Armenian Genocide
Day on its 100th anniversary – a tradition we now continue every year. Last
year, the West Hollywood City Council unanimously adopted a resolution
condemning Azerbaijan’s
military operation in Artsakh and supporting a peaceful resolution to the
conflict.”

She continued, “This year, we are building on the City’s
legacy of respect and support for all people, with special acknowledgment of
the unique atrocities that Armenian people have faced, by calling for formal
recognition of the independence of the Republic of Artsakh. It is my deepest
desire that our Council’s action gives further strength and support to bringing
peace and stability to the region. We must demonstrate our commitment to
standing with people of Armenian descent in our greater Los Angeles region who continue the fight for
freedom. I remain an ally in this struggle and am glad to lead our City in this
important act of solidarity.”

Ten (10) states across the US have recognized the Independent
Republic of Artsakh so far. They are CA, CO, GA, HI, LA, MA, ME, MI, MN, RI.
Cities that have recognized Artsakh include Los Angeles,
Glendale, Fresno
County, Highland,
Gardena, Fort Lee Borough, Fowler, Englewood
Cliffs, Clark County,
Ridgefield, Cliffside Park, and Orange County.

In addition to dozens of cities across the US, hundreds of cities and principalities in France and Italy
have recognized Artsakh, as well as cities in the United
Kingdom, Spain,
Uruguay, and Guatemala.

On November 25, 2020, the French Senate voted 305-1
recognizing the independence of the Republic
of Artsakh, calling upon the US
administration and Congressional leaders to take similar action.

Following the Senate’s vote, on December 3, 2020, France’s
National Assembly approved a resolution calling on the government to recognize
Artsakh as a “republic.” The resolution was adopted in the Assembly with 188
“yes” votes against three “no” votes, while 16 deputies abstained from voting.

 

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7-         Correction

 

Correction: In the January 21 issue of The California
Courier, the article "Renowned Humanitarian, Educator Garbis Der-Yeghiayan
Passes Away," it should have stated that Der-Yeghiayan passed away on
January 11; he was born in Aleppo,
Syria.

 

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The California
Courier Online, January 28, 2021

 

1 –        Azerbaijan Exploits Everything

            For
Propaganda, Including Art

            By Harut
Sassounian

            Publisher,
The California
Courier

            www.TheCaliforniaCourier.com

2-         Armenian
Americans Congratulate 46th President Joe Biden

3-         Armenia continues to fight COVID-19
pandemic

4-         COMMENTARY:

            AUA:
Apolitical University
of Armenia?

5-         COMMENTARY:

            Almassian:
‘Dear Americans, Stop acting as if you’ve finally defeated fascism,    because you have not’

6-         City of West Hollywood Unanimously
Adopts Resolution Recognizing Artsakh

7-         Correction

 

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1 –        Azerbaijan Exploits Everything

            For
Propaganda, Including Art

            By Harut
Sassounian

            Publisher,
The California
Courier

            www.TheCaliforniaCourier.com

The Calvert Journal published last week an article by Lucía
de la Torre titled, “The Aliyev influence: how nepotism and self-censorship
rule Azerbaijan’s art scene.”

On October 2, 2020, two days after the start of the Artsakh
war, a giant Azerbaijani flag was placed on the façade of Baku’s
YARAT Contemporary Art Space gallery with a giant message: “Karabakh is Azerbaijan.”

This did not sit well with the Turkish-born Kurdish artist
Ahmet Ogut whose exhibition “No Poem Loves Its Poet” had been displayed in the
gallery since May 2020. Ogut requested that the propaganda banner be taken down
and boldly declared: “I refuse to allow my work to fall prey to political
instrumentalization.”

The gallery refused to remove the banner and closed down
Ogut’s exhibit on October 29, 2020, three weeks earlier than scheduled.

According to The Calvert Journal’s article, “This is one
example of how Azerbaijan’s
apparently thriving art scene conceals something darker: a deeply nepotistic
environment which routinely suppresses dissident voices while crafting an
international image of Azerbaijan
as a free, art-loving nation.”

Artists like Ogut, who refuse to go along with Azerbaijan’s
political propaganda, are quickly ostracized and lose all artistic privileges.

Artists worldwide were alarmed by Azerbaijan’s abuse of power,
trampling on the rights and independence of an artist. However, this came as no
surprise to those who have followed many other violations by the country’s
despotic leader. Ruled “by President Ilham Aliyev and Vice-President and First
Lady Mehriban Aliyeva, the Azerbaijani government has been repeatedly
criticized by human rights’ groups for ongoing censorship, a poor human rights
record, and rampant corruption. And, like many nearby authoritarian regimes,
members of the President’s family are known to own most of the country’s major
businesses, earning them millions of dollars since the fall of the USSR and
situating Aliyev amongst the world’s richest oil billionaires,” The Calvert
Journal reported.

The YARAT gallery was founded by Aida Mahmudova, an artist,
curator, and Vice President Mehriban Aliyeva’s niece. The Marriott Hotel in
Baku, “which is allegedly connected to Aliyev’s daughters Leyla and Arzu
Aliyeva according to reporters for the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting
Project, is one of YARAT’s main partners,” The Calvert Journal wrote.

“Mahmudova is also the director of another of Azerbaijan’s main contemporary art galleries: Baku’s Museum
of Modern Art (MoMa). The
museum was founded by Mehriban Aliyeva in 2009, and is funded by the Heydar
Aliyev Foundation (of which Mehriban Aliyeva is the President and Leyla Aliyeva
the Vice-President), a charitable organization created in memory of the former
president of Azerbaijan and father of current president Ilham Aliyev. Elsewhere
in Baku, another star venue on Azerbaijan’s cultural scene is the Heydar Aliyev
Center. The current
director of the Heydar
Aliyev Center
is Anar Alakbarov, a former assistant to the Vice President of Azerbaijan and
current assistant to the President,” The Calvert Journal reported.

Baku has several other
smaller art galleries which are controlled by Azerbaijan’s government. “The Qiz
Qalasi Gallery, an art venue in Baku with a
branch in Berlin,
is headed by Emin Mammadov, who also works as Art Curator for the Heydar Aliyev
Foundation. ‘Modern Art of Azerbaijan’ is a travelling exhibition supported by
the Heydar Aliyev Center
that toured European capitals, where Mehriban and Leila Aliyeva hosted lavish
inaugurations attended by European government officials and diplomats. In
November 2020, the gallery launched ‘Armed with the Arts,’ an exhibition
allegedly meant to promote peace after the Second Nagorno-Karabakh war, while,
similarly to YARAT, openly supported the position of the Azerbaijani government
and used politically-charged, bellicose language. Kicik QalArt Gallery, a
project of the ‘Art ex East Foundation’ and another important smaller-scale
venue in the capital, although now closed, used to be owned by Olivier
Mestelan, a Swiss art collector and financier. Mestelan used to sit on the
board of Ataholding, an open joint-stock company that managed Atabank, one of
the biggest commercial banks in Azerbaijan,
now bankrupt and owned by the Azerbaijan Deposit Insurance Fund (ADIF).
According to an investigation carried out in 2011 by Radio Free Europe’s
Azerbaijani Service, Mestelan was also claimed to be the treasurer of three
offshore Panama-based companies linked to Azerfon, a Baku-based
telecommunications company with links to Arzu and Leyla Aliyeva,” The Calvert
Journal wrote.

Lesley Gray, a scholar researching the development of the
contemporary art scene in the Arab Gulf and Caspian Sea region, explained that Azerbaijan and
other countries use contemporary art as a tool to reshape the country’s
international image.

Azerbaijan’s
leaders are not interested in art for art’s sake. “They hope to use art as a
tool to attract international attention for something other than imprisoned
journalists and crackdowns on free speech,” The Calvert Journal reported.

The Azerbaijani government has also used its investments in
contemporary art around the world to project power and establish goodwill.
“Mehriban Aliyeva, through the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, has shelled out
generous sums for cultural institutions such as The Palace of Versailles,
Paris’ Louvre Museum, and the Vatican Museums, while the Friends of Azerbaijani
Culture Foundation, a non-governmental charity which she founded in 1995,
routinely organizes art exhibits abroad,” according to The Calvert Journal.

As a result, “in 2004 Mehriban Aliyeva was designated UNESCO
Goodwill Ambassador, a laurel given in recognition of her actions to promote
international cultural exchanges. Later, in 2010, Aliyeva received a gold medal
from UNESCO for her ‘efforts in establishing an intercultural dialogue.’ Over
the years, Azerbaijan has had a particularly favorable relationship with the UN
body — in October 2015, at the petition of Mehriban Aliyeva, UNESCO hosted an
exhibition ironically called ‘Azerbaijan — Land of Tolerance’ at its Paris
headquarters. At the opening, when a journalist asked Aliyeva whether the title
of the exhibition lived up to the reality in Azerbaijan, considering the country
has ‘many political prisoners in jail,’ Aliyeva denied this and turned her back
while security guards pushed the journalist away. The relationship was
particularly favorable between Mehriban Aliyeva and Irina Bokova,
Director-General of UNESCO, 2009-2017. Their relationship came under scrutiny
in 2017, when Kalin Mitrev, Bokova’s husband, was investigated by the Bulgarian
Chief Prosecutor in relation to media publications about payments made by
Azerbaijani companies to his [bank] accounts. Bokova then wrote a letter to The
Guardian [newspaper] defending the rightfulness of her relationship with Azerbaijan,
but never spoke openly about the money allegedly received by her husband or her
stance towards Azerbaijan’s human rights abuses,” The Calvert Journal reported.

However, Azerbaijan’s devious use of the arts was exposed in
2011, when “Azerbaijan censored its own entry to the Venice Biennale, the
world’s most high-profile showcase of contemporary art, by hiding the work of
one of its own artists under a piece of cloth. Moscow-based artist Aidan
Salakhova’s work Waiting Bride, which showed a woman in a black veil from head
to foot, and another sculpture, which showed the Black Stone of Mecca contained
in a vagina-shaped marble frame, were hidden under a white cloth. The [Azeri]
government later claimed that the artworks were ‘damaged during transport’, while
senior sources at the exhibition clarified that the works were censored for
being considered offensive to Islam,” according to The Calvert Journal.

Nothing is surprising about the exploitation of art by Azerbaijan. A
government, whose soldiers cut off the heads and ears of captured Armenians,
can easily abuse art to cover up its corruption and gross human rights
violations.

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2-         Armenian
Americans Congratulate 46th President Joe Biden

WASHINGTON, D.C.—On
January 20, Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States of America.
Varuzhan Nersesyan, Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia to the United States
of America, attended the Oath of Office Ceremony informed the Embassy of
Armenia to the United States.

A number of Armenian-American organizations congratulated
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on the occasion.

“We join with our community, coalition partners, and
Congressional allies in encouraging the Administration to engage constructively
and cooperatively on U.S.
policy priorities impacting Armenia,
Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh), Eurasia, Eastern Mediterranean,
and the Greater Middle East,” said the Armenian National Committee of America
in a statement. “In light of the past Administration’s passivity and the
aggressive intervention of hostile regional powers, the United States must now
pivot toward a pro-active approach that protects and promotes the Artsakh
Republic’s security; holds Baku and Ankara responsible for their war crimes and
ongoing hostility; strengthens the U.S.-Armenia Strategic Partnership, and;
locks-in permanent U.S. Executive Branch remembrance of the Armenian Genocide.”

The ANCA said urgent Biden Administration attention in its
first days in office is required to restore stability, promote peace, and check
Aliyev and Erdogan’s genocidal pan-Turkish plans in the form of: an emergency
$250 million humanitarian assistance package to meet humanitarian needs and
safely and sustainably return Armenian refugees to their homes in Artsakh, and
a new Millennium Challenge compact to support high-tech education in Armenia;
full enforcement of Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act; suspension of all
U.S. military and security assistance to Azerbaijan and Turkey, and the denial
of all new arms-export licenses to both Azerbaijan and Turkey; Global Magnitsky
and other statutory sanctions against the Aliyev and Erdogan regimes for the
serious human rights abuses they committed during Azerbaijan’s aggression
against Artsakh, including the use of Foreign Terrorist Fighters recruited by
Turkey; a joint State Department, Pentagon, and Department of Justice investigation
into U.S. parts discovered in Turkish drones used by Azerbaijan to attack
Artsakh; U.S. leadership in securing Azerbaijan’s release of Armenian civilians
and soldiers, many of whom have been tortured, mutilated, and murdered on
social media; a high-profile U.S. role in documenting, monitoring, protecting,
and preserving Armenian churches and other holy and cultural sites in areas
currently under Azerbaijani military control; U.S. recognition of the Artsakh
Republic’s independence as an urgent remedial action required for the very
survival of the Christian Armenian population of this ancient Armenian land;
and an upgraded strategic partnership focused on concrete economic and military
cooperation that supports and sustains the security of both Armenia and
Artsakh.

Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) Co-Chairs Anthony
Barsamian and Van Krikorian issued the following statement: “President Joe
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris take office during a particularly
perilous time for our country and across the globe. President Biden’s message
of healing at home and pursuing a principled U.S. foreign policy supported by
American values have our heartfelt welcome. The President has a remarkably
strong record on issues that matter to Armenian Americans, as does Vice
President Harris. We look forward to assisting our country in the healing and
in advancing a better world. We are confident that the growing number of
Armenian-Americans appointed to this Administration will serve with honor. As
the victims of the first Genocide of the twentieth century, we know that
supporting efforts to address racial injustice, persecution, genocide
prevention are critical, and if left unattended, lead to disaster. It is clear
that the same countries and forces which tried to use the January mob attack on
Congress to weaken the United
States are threats to democracy, the rule of
law, human rights, respect for Christians, and religious freedom.”

The Armenian Council of America (ACA) congratulated Biden on
his inauguration. “On foreign policy, we are hopeful that this administration
will reengage in the OSCE Minsk group and lead the efforts toward a lasting
peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) conflict based on the right
to self-determination. We are optimistic on the Biden administration’s stance
toward Turkey and Azerbaijan and
will continue to advocate for economic sanctions against the Erdogan and Aliyev
regimes. Both countries have systematically violated international laws,
committed war-crimes, and supported domestic extremism/suppressing democratic
efforts. ACA looks forward to contributing its part in the Biden
administration’s pledge to unite America. We will continue to
advocate on behalf of Armenian-Americans and engage with elected officials on
the issues important to our greater American communities. We wish President
Biden and his administration success,” said the ACA in a statement.

************************************************************************************************************************************************

3 –        Armenia continues to fight COVID-19
pandemic

The Armenian government has commissioned 600,000 doses of
coronavirus vaccines from World Health Organization-backed COVAX; medical and
social workers, seniors and people suffering from chronic diseases will be the
first to get vaccine shots free of charge, and according to Gayane Sahakian,
the deputy director of the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention,

The first vaccine which COVAX will make available to the
participating countries is the one produced by AstraZeneca, which will deliver
it to COVAX in February or March.

They will be enough to vaccinate 300,000 people. According
to the Ministry of Health, there were 8,115 active coronavirus cases in Armenia as of
January 25. Armenia
has recorded 166,094 coronavirus cases and 3,047deaths; 154,932 have recovered.

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4-
       
COMMENTARY:

            AUA:
Apolitical University
of Armenia?

 

By Zaruhi Dilanyan

 

Recently, 168.am referred to an commentary in The California
Courier published on January 14, written by an anonymous American
University of Armenia (AUA) lecturer
titled “Censorship and Corruption at the American
University of Armenia.” The
events described in the commentary came after the dissemination of a letter on
December 16 by 45 professors of AUA.

“A disturbing incident has taken place at AUA against the
backdrop of a calamitous time in our nation’s history. Even AUA is not exempt
from the Pashinyan propaganda machine. Recently, under the disingenuous title
‘Diversity of Opinion’, the AUA President and Interim Provost launched an
attack on freedom of speech. In an unprecedented warning to the entire faculty,
staff and student body, the AUA administration warned everyone against expressing
any opinion that anyone at the university might disagree with on the fake
grounds that it may reflect poorly on their colleagues or the university’s
reputation. Failure to do so could lead to reprimand or termination of
employment: in other words, either self-censor or risk your job,” wrote the
anonymous author. The author also described an intra-university corruption
episode, noting that the provost’s wife was hired as a result of a “package
deal,” and the current provost was appointed dean of the Faculty of Humanities
and Social Sciences, and then hastily assumed the position of provost—having
worked as a dean for less than 6 months.

This commentary became the subject of wide discussions, and
the university responded to the commentary with a short post on its Facebook
page, describing it as “just an _expression_ of an individual perception or
opinion that does not correspond to reality.”

168.am asked the university for further comment and sent
questions to AUA President Karin Markides.

In response to a question about whether she or the Vice
President for Academic Affairs warned professors not to express dissenting or
political opinions, Markides said: “No, the university never gives a warning
when a person expresses an opinion with which others may disagree. In fact, the
American University of Armenia (AUA) encourages
the _expression_ of individual opinions, as well as the exchange of different
opinions. The open discussion and the atmosphere promoting academic freedom in
AUA are clearly reflected in our transparent policy, which was the main message
of the AUA President’s letter to the AUA community on December 23, 2020.”

“As an educational institution, AUA has a broad and diverse
constituency, including faculty, staff, students, alumni, and the administration
and trustees. Each member of this institution will have his/her own political
opinion, and we encourage them to discuss, elaborate, and communicate their
views in a respectful manner. However, while respecting the diversity of
opinions among our constituency, as an institution we do not align with any
particular political view. It should be widely understood that AUA does not
take or condone any particular political positions, and it will continue its
mission of supporting the welfare of Armenia and the education of its
students,” the aforementioned letter reads.

Markides also denied the article writer’s claim that the
professors were summoned to her office to be questioned. “We are aware that
there were correspondences, exchanges of ideas, bilateral emotional outbursts
between the two groups of lecturers, who had different political views. After
that, on December 23, in order to confirm the position of the University, I
sent an e-mail to the entire AUA community, in which it was once stated that
the American University of Armenia is an apolitical structure, and it was
clearly emphasized that AUA encourages free _expression_, if, of course, they are
expressed by the lecturer, employee or student as an individual, without acting
on behalf of the University,” said Markides.

In 2018, around the time when Serzh Sargsyan’s political
future was being contested, members of the law and political science (among
other) faculties of AUA sent a letter on behalf of AUA. At the time, the AUA
president did not send similar letters to its community. Second, not only did
the president not send such a letter to the community, the letter by the
professors was posted on on AUA's official news page, newsroom.aua.am.

When asked about the accusations of nepotism, Markides
explained: “Dr. Brian Ellison was admitted to the AUA in July 2019 as Dean of
the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. He now continues to hold the
same position. Before being appointed Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and
Social Sciences, Dr. Ellison had 20 years of leadership experience in higher
education at Missouri State University,
Charleston College,
Appalachian State University, and the University of Idaho.”

“An internal competition for the acting Vice President for
Academic Affairs was announced when the former Vice President Dr. Randall
Rhodes announced his intention to leave his job at AUA on September 1, 2020. At
that time Dr. Ellison had been Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social
Sciences for a year. He was the only internal applicant for the position of
Acting Vice President. He currently works jointly as the Dean of the Faculty of
Humanities and Social Sciences and Vice-President for Academic Affairs. It
should be noted that the Acting Vice-President performs his duties temporarily,
within a clearly defined period, in this case, one year. The search for
candidates for the post of Vice President of the AUA is underway, it will be
completed by the end of the spring semester of 2021,” said Markides.

“As for the vice-president’s wife, let us mention that in
AUA we have full-time and part-time visiting lecturers, we are very glad that
Dr. Elitza Kotseva has joined the AUA faculty as an associate professor of
English, as it is in the University’s best interest to have a specialist like
her. She received her Ph.D. in 2019 from Washington State
University. Kotseva has
filled the vacancy with the approval of the lecturers of the Chair of English
Communication. The process was conducted by the former Vice President for
Academic Affairs Dr. Rhodes. Kotseva has the appropriate qualifications and was
hired in accordance with AUA policy. AUA is always looking for highly qualified
professors such as Kotseva to join its teaching staff.

Markides explained that Rhodes
had served as dean for a total of 17 months. “He had been in that position for
12 months when he was appointed Acting Vice President for Academic Affairs.”

This article appeared in 168.am on January 18, 2020   

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5-         COMMENTARY:

            Almassian:
‘Dear Americans, Stop acting as if you’ve finally defeated fascism,    because you have not’

 

Independent journalist and geopolitical analyst Kevork
Almassian of Syriana Analysis had a number of observations following the
January 21 inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States.

His remarks stemmed from the participation of “three former
two-term U.S.
Presidents—George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Bill Clinton—who sent well wishes
to Joe Biden, and promised to help him in any way needed. The three also spoke
of the importance of a peaceful transition of power and establishing unity
across the nation.”

“I see war criminals who have killed hundreds of thousands
of people in the Middle East and North Africa.
Any person with a minimum level of sanity or logic or ability to just Google
will find that these three presidents have killed or participated in the
killing of thousands of people in the Middle East and North Africa,” said
Almassian, in a scathing Instagram video posted on January 22.

Almassian noted that some people agreed with him. Yet others
said to him, “You have to see the bigger picture.”

“Please tell me what’s the bigger picture?” Almassian
retorted. “George W. Bush lied to the entire world—to the UN Security
Council—and convinced people through the media and through indoctrination and
lies that Iraq
has ‘weapons of mass destruction.’ He prepared people for such a war that
killed up to a million Iraqis. The war in 2003 has never ended!” said
Almassian, who noted that he is not defending Saddam Hussein, whom he called
“the most ignorant person in the balance of power and geopolitics.”

Almassian asked rhetorically again, “Tell me more about the
full picture when Obama in 2011 decided through a CIA program to arm radical
jihadists in Syria.
Why? In order to overthrow his enemy who is Bashar al-Assad.”

Almassian acknowledged, “Again, we know we have a lot of
troubles in the Middle East and we have to
work harder to eradicate radicalism. But what the Americans are doing increases
radicalism. When you increase war, mayhem, unemployment—then radical terrorist
groups come and attract these people. This is not a ‘failure’ of American
foreign policy—they do it on purpose.” 

Almassian also touched on Afghanistan, which he said that
before 1979 was a “civil state, a modern state, where people were much more
progressive and very secular.” He said, “What did Americans do? They supported
and funded and armed the Mujaheddin. They invited them into Afghanistan in order to fight the Soviet Union. Americans found in these radical groups a
geopolitical weapon against a government—against enemies such as the Soviet Union—and used the same terrorist groups against
Hafez Assad and then his son Bashar al-Assad.”

Almassian explained that in 2012, the defense intelligence
of the United States
warned President Barack Obama that the forces uniting against Assad were
al-Qaeda. “He didn’t mind. He sent training and weapons to so-called moderate
rebels—an idea that exists only in the imagination of politicians. These
weapons were transferred to al-Qaeda and Isis.”

Almassian said that until 2011, there had been no attacks in
Syria.
“The intervention of the United
States created a deteriorating situation and
pushed people into starvation and radicalism. And now, all of a sudden, Joe
Biden came to power and people are crying on social media because, ‘finally
fascism has been defeated in the United States.’”

Almassian continued, “I mean, for decades, the U.S. foreign
policy has been based on fascism. The U.S. is an empire. And when you are
an empire, you need to exercise your power—hard or soft power. What Clinton,
Bush and Obama did was hard power—and it hurt the people in the Middle East. Trump may not have started any wars. But he
continued the wars his predecessors started. He stopped the CIA funding to
radical jihadists, but diverted the funding to separatist forces in Syria. He
burned the wheat, and occupied oil refineries. He imposed draconian standards
such that now there are queues to fill fuel and get bread.” Almassian explained
that before 2011, Syria
used to export oil and wheat.

He admonished, “So please stop acting as if all of a sudden
Trump brought fascism to the United
States. No, the U.S. is an empire and it is
exercising its power over the world to keep its hegemony. Since China and Russia
are increasing their powers now around the world, the United States
has to increase its military, financial and political capabilities in order to
cope with the rivalries.”

As for Biden, Almassian closed his message sardonically
wiping away invisible tears from his cheeks. “It really annoys me and irritates
me to see all these people celebrating Biden’s inauguration and his
appointment. He’s a warmonger and maniac. He is a war criminal. He participated
with Obama in all this mayhem in the Middle East and North
Africa, and voted for every war in the region. So, please stop
acting as if you defeated fascism. Because you simply replaced one fascist with
another one. You really need to know this information from someone who is a
Syrian, of Armenian origins—a Christian. The foreign policy of the United States
has ruined our lives, our businesses and our future.”

—Transcribed by J.Y.

 

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6-         City of West Hollywood
Unanimously Adopts Resolution Recognizing Artsakh

LOS ANGELES—The City of West Hollywood unanimously adopted a
resolution recognizing the Independent Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh)

With the request and assistance of Armenian-American
journalist, radio host, and activist, Vic Gerami (third column, lower photo,
right), the resolution was sponsored by Councilmember Sepi Shyne (third column,
lower photo, left) and co-sponsored by Mayor Lindsey P. Horvath (second column,
right).  The other members of the council
who voted were Mayor Pro Tempore Lauren Meister (second column, left);
Councilmember John D'Amico (third column, top photo, left); and Councilmember
John M. Erickson (third column, top photo, right).

Last year, on October 19, 2020, the West Hollywood City
Council unanimously adopted a resolution (NO. 20-5338) condemning Azerbaijan’s
military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh and in support of a peaceful resolution
to the conflict.

“As a gay Armenian-American, this is one of the most
important and meaningful moments of my life. I can take a minute and exhale
after witnessing Azerbaijan
and Turkey’s
genocidal assault and ethnic cleansing against Armenians of Artsakh since
September 27, 2020,” said Vic Gerami, the host of THE BLUNT POST with VIC on
KPFK 90.7 FM.

He continued, “West Hollywood
is a trailblazer, so I hope that other cities and towns across the country will
follow and stand in solidarity with Artsakh Armenians and their right for
self-determination. I am grateful for Councilmember Shyne and Mayor Horvath and
the three other Councilmembers for passing this monumentally important
resolution unanimously.”

“I want to thank Mayor Horvath for co-sponsoring this very
important Resolution with me and proud of my colleagues for voting in support!
The City of West Hollywood has historically
stood for justice and we did it once again this evening by recognizing the Independence of the Republic of Artsakh.
As an Iranian American, I am proud to stand with and be an ally to the Armenian
community,” said West Hollywood Councilmember Sepi Shyne.

West Hollywood Mayor Lindsey Horvath expressed her
enthusiasm by saying, “This issue has been very important to me personally and
to our City for quite some time. I have previously participated in marches to
commemorate the Armenian genocide. In my first term as Mayor, I introduced an
item directing our City to lower all flags in recognition of Armenian Genocide
Day on its 100th anniversary – a tradition we now continue every year. Last
year, the West Hollywood City Council unanimously adopted a resolution
condemning Azerbaijan’s
military operation in Artsakh and supporting a peaceful resolution to the
conflict.”

She continued, “This year, we are building on the City’s
legacy of respect and support for all people, with special acknowledgment of
the unique atrocities that Armenian people have faced, by calling for formal
recognition of the independence of the Republic of Artsakh. It is my deepest
desire that our Council’s action gives further strength and support to bringing
peace and stability to the region. We must demonstrate our commitment to
standing with people of Armenian descent in our greater Los Angeles region who continue the fight for
freedom. I remain an ally in this struggle and am glad to lead our City in this
important act of solidarity.”

Ten (10) states across the US have recognized the Independent
Republic of Artsakh so far. They are CA, CO, GA, HI, LA, MA, ME, MI, MN, RI.
Cities that have recognized Artsakh include Los Angeles,
Glendale, Fresno
County, Highland,
Gardena, Fort Lee Borough, Fowler, Englewood
Cliffs, Clark County,
Ridgefield, Cliffside Park, and Orange County.

In addition to dozens of cities across the US, hundreds of cities and principalities in France and Italy
have recognized Artsakh, as well as cities in the United
Kingdom, Spain,
Uruguay, and Guatemala.

On November 25, 2020, the French Senate voted 305-1
recognizing the independence of the Republic
of Artsakh, calling upon the US
administration and Congressional leaders to take similar action.

Following the Senate’s vote, on December 3, 2020, France’s
National Assembly approved a resolution calling on the government to recognize
Artsakh as a “republic.” The resolution was adopted in the Assembly with 188
“yes” votes against three “no” votes, while 16 deputies abstained from voting.

 

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7-         Correction

 

Correction: In the January 21 issue of The California
Courier, the article "Renowned Humanitarian, Educator Garbis Der-Yeghiayan
Passes Away," it should have stated that Der-Yeghiayan passed away on
January 11; he was born in Aleppo,
Syria.

 

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