Saudi Prince held in record Beirut Airport drug bust

A Saudi prince and four others were detained on Monday in the largest drug bust in the history of the Beirut airport, a security source said.

Saudi prince Abdel Mohsen Bin Walid Bin Abdulaziz and four others were detained by security at Rafik Hariri International Airport while allegedly “attempting to smuggle about two tons of Captagon pills and some cocaine,” a security source told AFP.

“The smuggling operation is the largest one that has been foiled through the Beirut International Airport,” the source said on condition of anonymity.

Captagon is the brand name for the amphetamine phenethylline, a synthetic stimulant. The banned drug is consumed mainly in the Middle East and has reportedly been widely used by fighters in Syria.

The security source said the drugs had been packed into cases that were waiting to be loaded onto a private plane that was headed to Saudi Arabia.

Francophone countries undertake to reinforce genocide prevention mechanisms

Five resolutions were adopted during the 31st Ministerial Conference of the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF) in Yerevan, one of them related to the “prevention on genocide” initiated by Armenia. The resolution refers to the OIF Secretary General Michaëlle Jean’s statement on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, in which she paid tribute to the memory of the Armenian Genocide victims and expressed her support to the Armenian people.

The resolution notes that the Organization strongly condemns all genocides and crimes against humanity that have claimed a huge number of human lives, pays tribute to the memory of the victims of those crimes and pledges to take measures to reinforce the mechanisms of prevention of genocides and crimes against humanity.

Under the resolution, the Organization undertakes to reinforce the cooperation between states and governments to put an end to the impunity of those responsible for the crimes.

Also, the Ministerial Conference adopted resolutions on “Francophonie as an area of peace, tolerance, plurality, dialogue and mutual understanding,” “Challenges to the 21st Conference of the member states of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Changes (UNFCCC),” “Refugees and Migrants,” “Youth Participation in Francophone Structures.” The first two were initiated by Armenia.

Nobel Prize in physics goes to Takaaki Kajita and Arthur B. McDonald for work on neutrinos

The 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics has been won by Takaaki Kajita and Arthur McDonald, for discovering how neutrinos switch between different “flavours,” the BBC reports.

Neutrinos are ubiquitous subatomic particles with almost no mass and which rarely interact with anything else, making them very difficult to study.

Kajita and McDonald made important measurements of their properties using huge instruments in Japan and Canada.

They were named at a press conference in Sweden.

Goran Hansson, secretary general of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which decides on the award, declared: “This year’s prize is about changes of identity among some of the most abundant inhabitants of the universe.”

Nagorno Karabakh: Victoria Nuland concerned by renewal of violence

Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian had a meeting with US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland.

The parties hailed the high-level bilateral relations and emphasized the importance of the agreement on visa facilitation that came into force in 2015.

Reference was made to the perspectives of development of Armenian-American economic cooperation. The interlocutors exchanged views on the forthcoming founding meeting of the U.S.-Armenia Trade and Investment Council.

Minister Nalbandian briefed Victoria Nuland on the process of constitutional reforms in Armenia.

Cooperation within international organizations was also on the agenda. The Assistant Secretary of State expressed gratitude to Armenia for the active participation in peacekeeping operations.

The Armenian Foreign Minister and the US Assistant Secretary of State exchanged views on the process of peaceful settlement of the Karabakh conflict. Minister Nalbandian presented the situation established as a result of harsh violations of the ceasefire regime by Azerbaijan.

Victoria Nuland expressed her deep concern over the escalation of tension and stressed the importance of observing the ceasefire.

The interlocutors referred to issues of fighting terrorism, the developments in the Middle East, the protection of minority rights.

‘Historic Armenia’ screening at Worcester Public Library to mark nation’s independence

Emmy-winning journalist and documentary filmmaker Peter Musurlian traveled to what is now eastern Turkey in 2013 along with 25 other Armenian-Americans. His documentary “Historic Armenia” shows remnants of an ancient civilization systemically destroyed over the past 100 years,  reports.

The film will be shown at the Worcester Public Library Sept. 22 during a commemoration sponsored by the Knights of Vartan Arshavir Lodge No. 2 and Daughters Of Vartan Santoukht Otyag No. 5 in honor of the 24th anniversary of the Republic of Armenia’s independence. The program also includes a proclamation on behalf of the City of Worcester from Mayor Joseph M. Petty; a presentation of books and videos to the library’s Knights Of Vartan Collection; and a reception with refreshments.

ANCA partners with ‘In Defense of Christians’ to stop genocide of minorities in Middle East

Calls for concrete U.S. leadership to protect Middle East Christians from extremist violence took center stage on Capitol Hill last week as advocates from across America and around the world gathered for the In Defense of Christians (IDC) convention.

From the opening September 9th press conference held at the National Press Club, the three day event featured commentary by Members of Congress and powerful calls by constituent advocates for global condemnation of ongoing anti-Christian attacks in the Middle East as genocide, and equally forceful demands for U.S. leadership in securing the safety and meeting the humanitarian needs of at-risk indigenous Christian, Yezidi, and other minority communities.

Hamparian: We Must Elevate U.S. Response to Genocide from a Political Choice to a Moral Imperative
During the opening press conference for the IDC convention, titled “ISIS, Genocide, and an International Response,” ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian stressed the need for the U.S. and international communities to shift their response to genocide from politics to morality. “If we can elevate our nation’s response [to genocide] from a political choice to a moral imperative, then all of the pieces will fall into place.” explained Hamparian, as part of a broader review of the requirements of U.S. anti-genocide policy.

Referencing the Armenian Genocide, Hamparian outlined the dangers of not properly characterizing and punishing ongoing acts of genocide. “Right now, the perpetrators of genocide know that if they perpetrate these crimes, and they have sufficient political will and sufficient political power, they can get the world to back off – to not intervene and ultimately to buy into their lies, because I guarantee you that the crimes that are being committed today, will be denied tomorrow.”

Wolf: “We failed the Armenians in the Armenian Genocide… Will we fail in the Middle East?”
Retired Congressman and renowned human rights advocate Frank Wolf (R-VA) headlined the press conference which also included remarks by Catholic University Law Professor Robert Destro, Genocide Watch President Dr. Gregory Stanton, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom Member Katrina Lantos Swett, IDC Executive Director Kirsten Evans, and Hamparian.

Panelists were unified in their call for the classification of ISIS and other extremist attacks against Middle Eastern Christian and minority communities as genocide. Wolf offered his recommendation in no uncertain terms. “What we now see in Iraq and Syria is genocide. It meets the official Rafael Lemkin definition, it is genocide. It is genocide of Christians, of the Yezidis and probably the Turkomen and a few other religious minorities.”

Congressman Wolf was adamant in urging a concrete U.S. response, sharing a letter sent by the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, where he calls on Attorney General Loretta Lynch to “initiate a thorough investigation into individuals who may be criminally liable under U.S. law for genocide and other serious human rights abuses such as slavery.”

Congressman Wolf, who served as Co-Chair of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, and had been a vocal advocate of U.S. reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide during his 34 years in office, explained: “The President stood in front of the Holocaust Memorial in 2012 and declared ‘Never Again’ five times. We failed the Armenians in the Armenian Genocide – we failed them. To have called that genocide would have only honored those who were killed – nothing more was to gain – but we failed them. We failed in Srebernica. You remember General Dallaire in Rwanda that said genocide is coming and we failed them. Will we fail in the Middle East?”

Dr. Stanton shared an appeal signed by over 40 prominent International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) experts calling on Congress to declare the crimes committed by ISIS ‘genocide’ and went on to urge the UN Security Council to refer ISIS crimes to the International Criminal Court for investigation and prosecution. Dr. Stanton explained the imperative of properly characterizing the Middle East events, citing empirical studies by Genocide Watch that there is “four times more of a chance of forceful action to stop it if you call it genocide. Genocide is a powerful word – and we should be using it.”

IDC Executive Director Kirsten Evans outlined the importance of unity in sharing Christian and minority concerns with US leaders and the international community. “We need to continue to organize a unified, strong, and a solid voice of ecumenical concern and political advocacy on this issue. And that voice needs to come from a tapestry of different communities and a lot of different corners of the world, but the voice itself needs to be orchestrated so that it is sound, and vibrant and solid and it is heard,” explained Evans.

In outlining IDC’s requests from Congress and the Administration, Evans outlined options for a military response to the crisis, and went on to ask international governments to: prioritize assistance for refugees and displaced persons; expedite the refugee classification process for those in danger of religious or ethnic persecution; expand coordinated humanitarian aid with guarantees for delivery to displaced communities; to work with international organizations and churches to preserve Christian culture in the region; guarantee the return of property to the rightful owners of communities when the conflict is resolved; and, explore ways to invest in education on an international level in order to fight radicalization and promote religious tolerance. “In short,” said Davis, “we as members of the American community need to be asking our policy makers to elevate religious freedom and freedom of conscience in U.S. international policy making.”

US Legislation Spotlights Genocide of Christians; Urges Refugee and Security Assistance
At the conclusion of the September 9th press conference, Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) announced the introduction of bipartisan legislation declaring ISIS attacks against Christians and other minorities ‘genocide’ and calling on the United Nations and member countries to pursue the punishment of these crimes. H.Con.Res. 75, spearheaded in cooperation with Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and with the support of Representatives Trent Franks (R-AZ), Dan Lipinski (D-IL), Jeff Denham (R-CA), and Juan Vargas (D-CA) has over 35 cosponsors.

“Beginning with a resolution that calls this for what it is – a genocide – a wholesale slaughter of people, a grave injustice, we’ll hopefully elevate the conscience of the entire world as to what’s happening and attack the scandal of indifference – the scandal of silence that Pope Francis has stated,” explained Rep. Fortenberry at a meeting with IDC advocates the following morning. “It also has implications for those in a position to migrate, but it does not give up on the idea that Christianity as well as other faith traditions have every right to stay in their ancient homeland as anyone else.”

Congresswoman Eshoo concurred, describing Congressional efforts to stop the genocide against Christians and minorities in the Middle East a “calling.” She explained, “I am a first generation American – my mother, Armenian; my father, Assyrian. […] The stories of my family, and why they fled, and what they endured is repeating itself – is repeating itself all over again in the Middle East. And so, the work that we have devoted ourselves to – we are called to do.”

Representative Brad Sherman (D-CA) told IDC supporters that he is working with Rep. David Trott (R-MI) on legislation, to be introduced soon, focusing “on the Assyrian, Chaldean, Yazidi, Syriac Christian, and Armenian communities and the need not only to provide assistance to refugees but to provide security assistance to those who are trying to stay in their homeland.”

Congressman Sherman ex
plained, “Christianity began in the Middle East – it thrived in the Middle East, and it is not up to ISIS to determine where Christians are allowed to live.” He also called for President Obama to appoint a Special Envoy to promote religious freedom in the Middle East – a position that was created last year by Congressional mandate, but that has yet to be filled.

Rep. Trott concurred and went further. “We need to call the President and Congress to devote more resources to the problems – where Christians are victims around the world. We need to call attention to our allies and adversaries who are killing Christians around the world to call them out on it, to withhold our aid, and threaten them with the full force of the superpower that the US is,” stated Rep. Trott, who is currently working with House Foreign Affairs Committee leaders to schedule a field hearing in Michigan to hear from individuals affected by ISIS and other extremist group attacks in the Middle East.

“Back in April, I was proud to go to Armenia as part of the 100-year commemoration of the Armenian Genocide,” continued Rep. Trott. “The President, the United States still won’t call it a genocide and that’s the kind of proactive leadership that this country needs to be known for and needs to fill on the world stage.”

The Armenian Genocide and the consequences of inaction were woven in remarks by many Members of Congress at the September 10th advocate briefing, including in a statement by Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Robert Dold (R-IL) and Pennsylvania Congressman Joe Pitts (R-PA). “We should remember that in 1939, Hitler reassured his comrades that they could get away with Genocide,” stated Rep. Pitts. “He [Hitler] asked, ‘Who, after all, speaks of the annihilation of the Armenians?’ Tyrants and evil men count on the indifference of the world and the fact that you are here shows that you are not indifferent – so thank you for standing against religious persecution.”

Expanding Coalitions with Christian Communities
The ANCA joined His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, Prelate of the Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and over 500 community and religious leaders concerned with the plight of the Christian and minority communities in the Middle East for this second IDC convention, titled “Mobilizing America for Christians in the Middle East.” Archbishop Choloyan, who is also President of Christian and Arab Middle Eastern Churches Together (CAMECT), attended the September 9th press conference and explained the importance of Armenian participation in events like the IDC convention. “Several years ago, those churches who have their mother churches in the Middle East, came together to raise awareness among Americans. Unfortunately, a very fanatic approach of interpreting religion has emerged in the region, and because of that, all the minorities in the Middle East are suffering, and among them, the Christians. We, as Armenians, are part of that region. We came to that region with a memory of Genocide and now we understand very clearly the feelings of these communities.” Archbishop Choloyan was among top clergy celebrating an ecumenical mass at St. Joseph Catholic Church on Capitol Hill later that evening.

On September 10th, following the Congressional meeting with IDC participants, ANCA Government Affairs Director Kate Nahapetian was among top advocacy professionals offering insights on effective ways to relay the community concerns to elected officials on Capitol Hill. Nahapetian and representatives of several human rights and religious freedom organizations offered detailed, practical advice to generating support for legislation such as H.Con.Res. 75 and creating awareness about the crises facing Armenian and, more broadly, all Middle Eastern Christians and minority communities.

Later that day, Hamparian was interviewed on the Nightly News Report on EWTN – the Global Catholic Network – and offered the ANCA’s insights on the IDC conference, the plight of Christian communities in the Middle East, and the importance of bringing together and collaborating with Christian and minority communities across the U.S. to raise broader awareness and secure concrete U.S. action regarding the crisis.

Karabakh to host “French Days in Artsakh” festival

On September 17-19, “French Days in Artsakh” festival will be held in the Nagorno Karabakh Republic. In the framework of the festival a range of events presenting France and its culture will take place in Artsakh. The festival’s aim is to strengthen and broaden friendly ties, dialogue and cooperation between Artsakh and France.

Around 200 guests from France, representing France-Karabakh Friendship Circle, municipalities of French towns twinned with Artsakh communities, Support to Karabakh association and Armenian community of France, as well as artists and journalists will visit Artsakh in the framework of the festival.

The ceremonies of gala opening of the “Eternity” sculpture (by Toros) in the Stepanakert square of France and laying the foundation of The House of Paul Eluard francophone center, festive event in Stepanakert school N1, the demonstration of Artsakh and French cuisines, ceremony of the opening of Yeznik Mozyan vocational school in Shushi, the presentation of animation films of Folimage French studio at the State Museum of Fine Arts of Shushi, contest on making postcards symbolizing the Karabakh-France friendship in Stepanakert’s Shahumian Square are included in the program of “French Days in Artsakh” festival. A concert at Stepanakert Revival square on September 19 by French-Armenian singer Patrick Fiori will conclude the festival.

Turkey’s HDP pro-Kurdish opposition party HQ attacked

The headquarters of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish opposition party has been attacked. Windows were smashed at the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) building in Ankara, Euronews reports.

Nationalist anger towards Kurds has increased in response to a number of recent attacks on security forces and police officers by the outlawed Kurdish militant group PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party).

“Tonight alone, 186 attacks were carried out. And our headquarters were targeted. This is definitely a planned attack that was orchestrated from one particular place,” said HDP Deputy Chaiman Alp Alitinors. “The president and his staff at the palace are the ones behind these attacks.”

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused the HDP of links to the PKK, which is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union. Erdogan has suggested that the immunity from prosecution of its lawmakers be lifted.

The attack on the HDP’s building comes after 14 police officers were killed on Tuesday (September 8) by Kurdish militants in a bomb attack in the east of the country.

The State of Rio de Janeiro recognizes the Armenian Genocide

The State of Rio de Janeiro recognized the Armenian Genocide on Friday, July 24 through a law that establishes  April 24 as “Day of recognition and memory of the victims of the Armenian Genocide,” Prensa Armenia reports.

The law was enacted by the governor of Rio de Janeiro, Luiz Fernando Pezão.

Rio de Janeiro is the fourth State in Brazil that recognizes the Genocide, along with Parana, Ceara and Sao Paulo. Months ago, the Brazilian Senate passed a vote of solidarity with the Armenian people for the centenary of crime against humanity.

Azerbaijan intensifies shelling at the line of contact

The Azerbaijani side has intensified the shelling at the line of contact between the armed forces of Nagorno Karabakh and Azerbaijan.

On June 14 the rival used 60mm mine throwers as it fired in the southern direction on July 14.

The front divisions of the NKR Defense Army mostly remained committed to the ceasefire regime and resorted to response actions only in case of extreme necessity.