‘Lost’ Azerbaijani soldier detained in Armenia


Armenia has detained an Azerbaijani soldier 14 kilometres within the country’s borders, with Azerbaijan later announcing that two soldiers had got lost on the Nakhchivan border.

On Monday, Armenia said they had detained one Azerbaijani soldier in the early hours of the morning. Azerbaijan’s Defence Ministry told local media soon after that two soldiers had lost their way due to low visibility the previous Friday. 

Residents of the village of Ashotavan, 14 kilometres from the Azerbaijani border in Syunik Province, told local media that they had detained the solder and handed him over to police. 

Residents of the nearby village of Bnunis also told local media that the two Azerbaijanis were seen in their village on Sunday night, but were not captured. The two reportedly knocked on the door of a house during the night wearing masks. 

No information has been provided regarding the whereabouts of the second soldier, but Yerevan has announced that search operations are underway. 

Armenian civic groups have raised concerns about the soldiers crossing the border and appearing a significant distance within Armenia. 

Artur Sakunts from the Helsinki Citizens' Assembly Vanadzor told RFE/RL that the National Security service needed to explain how ‘even one person’ could cross the border unnoticed. 

A video shared on social media appeared to show one of the soldiers in civilian clothing speaking to people in Ashotavan. 

‘For three days I have been sleeping in the grass, I have been sleeping on the ground’, the soldier says in Azerbaijani. ‘For three days I have not eaten or drunk water.’

The two villages where the Azerbaijanis were seen are around 14 kilometres from the border, with the likely route and the area’s mountainous terrain making the path from the border to the villages significantly longer.

Residents of both villages said the incident raised concerns about their safety, calling for the deployment of security forces in the area. 

Residents also expressed doubt about the official narratives, with some suggesting that there might be more than two Azerbaijani soldiers who entered Armenia. 

Others questioned the idea that the soldiers had got lost, suggesting that if they had become lost, the soldiers would have attempted to return to Azerbaijan rather than continuing further into Armenia.

One resident of Bnunis told local media that security cameras had captured footage of a third Azerbaijani soldier. 

The National Security Service has not yet commented on the incident or the questions raised by residents.

Pentagon removes Armenia from Defender 23 participant list

April 7 2023

PanARMENIAN.Net - The Pentagon has removed Armenia from a statement about Defender 23 exercise in which the country was said to participate.

"This annual, nearly two-month long exercise is focused on the strategic deployment of U.S.-based forces, employment of Army pre-positioned stocks and interoperability with European allies and partners," said deputy Pentagon press secretary Sabrina Singh, during a briefing on April 5. When it was first reported that Armenia too was supposed to participate in the drills, no reaction was available from Yerevan.

The Defender 23 exercise is led by U.S. Army Europe and Africa and has been planned since 2021. The exercise is designed to demonstrate the U.S. military's ability to rapidly deploy combat-credible troops and equipment to assure allies, deter those who would threaten the peace of Europe and defend the continent from aggression. The exercise also demonstrates the commitment of European nations to increase the scale, capability and interoperability of their own militaries.

In addition to the United States, troops from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Kosovo, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom will all take part in Defender 23.

Asbarez: Women of Artsakh March to Blockaded Road Near Shushi

Women of Artsakh protest against Azerbaijan's genocidal policy on Apr. 7

April 7 marks Mother’s Day in Armenia and Artsakh so hundreds of women joined a peaceful demonstration in Stepanakert organized by the Artsakh Mothers Club and marched toward the blockaded section of the road leading to Shushi.

“We wake up every day fearing whether we are going to become widows or lose a child,” Maria Abrahamyan, one of the women protesters told Armenpress on Friday.

The demonstration called for respecting the right to self-determination and fundamental rights of the Armenians of Artsakh, opening of the only road linking Artsakh with Armenia – which has been blocked for 117 days – and preventing Azerbaijan’s genocidal policy.

Participants of the demonstration first visited the Stepanakert Military Pantheon-Memorial, where they honored the fallen troops.

“The lack of gas, the power outages and food shortages that our children have been facing for a long time now aren’t as concerning as this uncertainty and Azerbaijan’s policy, which is getting worse day by day,” Abrahamyan added. “We, the women of Artsakh, will not remain silent, we will struggle. We owe it to our sons. We will not allow the depopulation of Armenians from our historic land. Unfortunately this is the only way to raise our voice to the world.”

“We will not surrender, our will is unbreakable,” said Abrahamyan.

“The people of Artsakh made their decision in 1988, by severing ties with the Azerbaijani aggressor, and there is no turning back. As long as we are standing here, as long as we are speaking Armenian and have our own national religion and symbols, Artsakh will not be part of Azerbaijan,” she said, adding that while women in other countries around the world are concerned about career and personal welfare, in a parallel reality women in Artsakh are concerned about their very existence.

Kristine Balayan, another participant of the demonstration, said the world must hear the voice of Artsakh. “We have the right to life and the world must hear us.”

“Our children have the right to freedom of movement, but aggressor Aliyev has closed the road of life and tries to decide who can pass. The world must stand by our side, the international community must extend a helping hand to one another because life is a boomerang, if this happens to someone else then no one will stand by them again,” Balayan added.

AW: Book Review | The Ara Dinkjian Songbook

Earlier this month, I read the following post from Ara Dinkjian on Facebook:

Dear Friends,

Over the years, I’ve received many requests for sheet music to some of my compositions. I am proud to announce that the good folks at Aras Publishing (founded in 1993 in Istanbul by Hrant Dink, Mgrdich Margosyan and Edward Tovmasyan) have just released The Ara Dinkjian Songbook, which includes the sheet music for all of my compositions, as well as my biography written by editor Burcu Yildiz. For further information, you can email Aras Publishing at: [email protected]

My first thought was, “Good for Ara.” My immediate next thought was, “I have to get this book.”

I ordered it via Amazon, fulfilled by Abril Bookstore, and it arrived on March 22. I opened the box and pulled out the beautifully designed and crafted book that is in both Turkish and English. I admired the elegant cover photo of Ara holding his 1903 Manol oud. 

I first looked for my four favorite Ara Dinkjian songs that I play: “Anna Tol’ Ya,” “Homecoming,” “Offering” and “Picture.” I learned these tunes in the tradition of Armenian kef bands in the US, which is to say by ear. It was really nice to study the sheet music to see how Ara actually wrote the music versus my interpretation of them.

Paul Mooradian, Hachig Kazarian, Onnik Dinkjian, Carnig Mikhitirian, Ara Dinkjian, Bruce Gigarjian, John Berberian, 1984

Ara’s Facebook announcement said the book included a biography. For some reason, I expected five, maybe 10 pages. It was a pleasant surprise to find a 74-page biography. I immediately started reading it and was even more pleasantly surprised at the content. Burcu Yildiz is the editor of this book and wrote and compiled a most excellent bio of Ara.

Yildiz is a fabulous singer having performed both with Ara, Kardes Turkuler and more. In speaking with Ara, he told me she is a scholar and professor as well. She is an expert on Gomidas and performs his songs in Armenian. I will add that she is a gifted writer who wrote the text in both languages. It is worth getting The Ara Dinkjian Songbook simply for her wonderful biography, which includes details of Ara’s musical life and insights into how he became such a gifted musician and composer. There are many quotes from Ara. We get to understand just how central music is in his life. He started by teaching himself to play his father’s oud at the age of six. We get a glimpse of the kind of top-notch professional musician he is and how he meticulously prepares for each performance and recording session and expects the same from others.

Ara Dinkjian went into Hartt School of Music as a music education major. At first, he did not find this at all fulfilling and as Yildiz wrote:

He went to the dean’s office and said that he wanted to leave school; he dreamed of a career centered around composition or performance, not teaching. Fortunately, the dean told him that he needed to take advantage of the opportunity they had given him and asked him to come up with a proposal for a four-year oud program…In this way, he became the first student in the United States to complete an oud degree program.

The biography covers his musical performance history including his first band Night Ark, his collaborations with Sezen Aksu and Eleftheria Arvanitaki, his performances in Dikranagerd and Istanbul with his father, and his current group The Secret Trio. There are testimonials from ethnomusicologist Dr. Melissa Bilal, famed kanun player Tamer Pinarbasi, oudist Fatih Ahiskali, as well as Ara’s wife Margo and his youngest daughter Arev. Arev’s words came directly from her beautiful article “My Father’s Music Room,” published on June 28, 2020 in the Armenian Weekly.

[RELATED: Garod, a documentary about Onnik and Ara Dinkjian, directed by Onur Gunay and Burcu Yildiz]

I am not sure if we can separate Ara’s playing from his music. His songs, to some debatable degree, are written in his unique style of playing. As Yildiz wrote:

In his own words, neither the way he sits, nor how he holds his oud, places his fingers, uses the plectrum, uses the thumb of his left hand and crosses his legs, are appropriate in the eyes of any oud teacher.

No one sits like Ara and angles the oud on his lap like he does. He uses the upstroke of the plectrum more effectively than any other oud player. He said that “he feels a certain control when playing the upstroke.” He went on to tell me that he focuses on the ring and tone of each individual note. As a result, he plays in a very measured and deliberate way that is also very fluid and flowing. He also has a unique trilling style. When he plays a taksim, any student of the music immediately recognizes that it is Ara playing based on the pacing, spacing of notes and the aforementioned techniques. To see what I am trying to convey, watch Ara play his composition “Keesher Bar.”

Don’t think for a moment that his style limits him in any way to taksims or slower, soulful pieces. Ara is very measured, deliberate, accurate and fluid with any challenging piece no matter the speed or complexity (e.g. “For Alexis,” composed by Ara).

When I first heard Fatih Ahiskali play the oud many years ago, I heard Ara’s influence in his playing. I called Ara who confirmed they were friends but, as is Ara’s nature, he took little credit. In this book, Ahiskali noted that:

Ara Dinkjian was a breaking point in my oud playing… Ara Dinkjian made me aware of getting a good tone as a priority… he is the only oudist whose heart I can truly hear in his music.

Ara classifies music into two categories: the music that we have playing in the background to whatever we are doing and the music that changes the perceptions of where you are. Ara’s compositions and recordings are definitely in the second category. My proof of this is simple. Naturally, I was listening to Ara’s recordings while writing this review. It took me six times longer to write it than normal just because my focus was drawn from typing to being engrossed in the music.

Ara played The Jerusalem Oud Festival in 2005 and 2006 from which the live albums, “An Armenian in America” and “Peace on Earth,” were recorded. Zohar Fresco, the percussionist for the performances, wrote perhaps the perfect description of Ara’s compositions:

I can’t remember when I heard Ara Dinkjian’s music for the first time; his haunting, tender melodies, sounded like they’d always been there, and I couldn’t imagine life without them.

Indeed, his compositions are haunting and tender melodies. Since they come from Ara’s heart, soul and from his very DNA, they do sound like they have always been there. They define something unique to the place where we, Armenians, came from. It is a je ne sais quoi that speaks of the land, waters and mountains and our collective ingrained memory, making them perhaps more tender and haunting to those of us scattered in the diaspora. Ara has this very view of the music he composes. He is humble, but very philosophical about it.

When it comes to Ara’s music, this phenomenon of touching the core of our beings is not unique to Armenians. It applies across many ethnicities witnessed by the recordings of his songs with added vocals from Turkey and Greece, to Israel and around the world. Musicians and listeners from all over the world value these qualities in Ara’s compositions.

Thankfully, these compositions are compiled in The Ara Dinkjian Songbook from Aras Publishing.

How does one get the book? At the time of this writing, it is a bit hard to get. I am told that will change shortly. Keep checking Amazon and social media.

Mark Gavoor is Associate Professor of Operations Management in the School of Business and Nonprofit Management at North Park University in Chicago. He is an avid blogger and oud player.

Armenian military builds new base intended for women recruits




YEREVAN, MARCH 25, ARMENPRESS. Minister of Defense Suren Papikyan visited on March 25 a military base which will house the women’s regiment and a boot camp for women troops.

Papikyan surveyed the buildings and issued concrete instructions regarding the deadlines of the construction.

The Armenian military plans to introduce a new option of voluntary military service for women.

[see video]

3 Armenian PoW’s are still being held in Azerbaijan

March 13 2023


There are 33 Armenian prisoners of war currently held in Azerbaijan that have been confirmed and identified, Hsmik Samvelyan, press secretary of Armenian Representative for International Legal Affairs, Yeghishe Kirakosyan, presented to the Zhokhovurd newspaper.

The number presented by Samvelyan is also confirmed by the representative of Armenian prisoners of war at the European Court of Human Rights, human rights activist Siranush Sahakyan.

Sahakyan noted that besides the 33 prisoners of war, who are in the focus of the Red Cross, there are 80 "unconfirmed", according to Azerbaijan, but actually proven cases.

"Our fact-finding was able to substantiate at least 80 additional cases of captivity, and we do not exclude that there were other cases of captivity, just by our activities we were able to substantiate it," she noted, adding, "unfortunately, there were about 40 cases where they were killed or shot after captivity."

"We have evidence to support that. As for the 80 mentioned, their fate is not clear.

"They may be alive, but this will be taken out of the legal field and become forcibly disappeared or killed as Azerbaijan does not confirm their captivity and does not return their bodies so as not to acknowledge the crimes committed."

Meanwhile, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Tuesday that he had complained to President Vladimir Putin about "problems" with Russian peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh, warning of an escalation.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have fought two wars for control of the ethnically and historically Armenian region and the latest conflict in 2020, with many war crimes by Azerbaijani troops recorded, ended with the deployment of Moscow's forces.

"In a phone conversation with Putin yesterday, I spoke of a possible escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh and said that there are problems in the zone where Russian peacekeepers are responsible," Pashinyan said during a press conference.

"Azerbaijan's rhetoric is becoming more and more aggressive every day," he said, denouncing a blockade of the Lachin corridor, which is Karabakh's sole land link with the Republic of Armenia.

Since mid-December, a group of self-styled Azerbaijani environmental activists, often comprising of military personnel, has barred traffic in the Lachin corridor to protest what they say is illegal mining.

However, as Pashinyan highlighted on Tuesday, the disruptions along the route are a "preparation for ethnic cleansing of Armenians."

Yerevan says that the blockade has led to a humanitarian crisis and was aimed at driving Armenians from Karabakh, something that Baku denies despite finding by human rights groups and international courts.

Armenia, which hosts a permanent Russian military base on its territory, is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) that includes several pro-Moscow ex-Soviet republics — but not Azerbaijan.

Last week Yerevan refused to assume the rotating top post in the security bloc — partly in a show of frustration over the peacekeepers' failure to prevent Karabakh's blockade.

"It is not that Armenia is leaving the CSTO, the CSTO is leaving Armenia, which is of a great concern to us," Pashinyan said.

At least three Armenians died in the latest border clashes instigated by Azerbaijan at the beginning of March.

"I want to underline that this happened in the zone of responsibility of Russian peacekeeping forces. This worries us," Pashinyan said Tuesday.

Pashinyan also said that Armenia recently received Baku's response to proposals for a full peace treaty, which Yerevan submitted in mid-February.

He noted some progress in the peace process, but said "fundamental problems" remain because "Azerbaijan is trying to put forward territorial claims, which is a red line to Armenia."

Azerbaijanii soldiers currently occupy some 150 square kilometres of territory part of the Republic of Armenia, along the countries' shared border.

On February 20, the European Union deployed an expanded monitoring mission to Armenia's volatile border area as Western engagement grows in the region seen by the Kremlin as its geopolitical backyard.

UN report finds no genocide in Ukraine

Armenia –

A United Nations report found that Russia has committed war crimes in Ukraine, but stopped short of classifying its actions as 'genocide', Euronews reports.

The UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine to the Human Rights Council released its comprehensive report on Thursday, 16 March.

The report did cite incidents of murder, torture, and rape of civilians, but the authors said there was no direct proof these were motivated by genocidal intent it said the matter does warrant further investigation.

"We have not found that there has been a genocide within Ukraine," said the head of the UN investigation team," Erik Møse. "This said, we are, of course, following all kinds of evidence within this area, and we have noted that there are some aspects which may raise questions with respect to that crime (genocide). For instance, certain utterances in Russian media which are targeting groups."

The panel also said the illegal transfer of children from Ukraine by Russian authorities constituted "a war crime".

"The commission has investigated the situation of forced transfers and deportations of children within Ukraine and to the Russian Federation," explained Jasminka Džumhur, UN Ukraine Investigation Commissioner. "The figures provided by parties vary greatly. It identified several situations in which such transfers and deportations took place in incidents examined by the commission."

The commission also found that the waves of attacks on Ukraine`s energy and water infrastructure by Russia may also amount to crimes against humanity.

The report is the highest level international inquiry in the war so far.

Hamazkayin’s Petag program accepting 2023 applications

Hamazkayin USA is pleased to announce that registration is now open for this year’s Petag Western Armenian Immersion program to be held from August 6-18, 2023.

Petag is a 12-day, overnight Western Armenian immersion experience designed to bring together young Armenians aged 10-14 to create, explore and bring the Armenian language to life. Participants will engage in Armenian language learning while taking part in activities they enjoy. There will be a variety of workshops, sports and outdoor play, arts and crafts, song and dance and field trips. Fluency in Armenian is not required to participate.

Petag is once again being held at the St. Raphaela Retreat Center in Haverford, PA, a beautiful expansive property located 30 minutes from Philadelphia.

Participants will check in at 4 p.m. on Sunday, August 6. Pick up will be on Friday, August 18.

Nagorno Karabakh healthcare minister quits




STEPANAKERT, MARCH 13, ARMENPRESS. Minister of Healthcare of Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) Samvel Avetisyan has tendered his resignation, the Ministry of Healthcare announced Monday.

In a statement, Avetisyan said he’s quitting because his position has been offered to someone else without his knowledge. He did not elaborate.

[See video]
Avetisyan served as Minister of Healthcare since December 2022.

Azerbaijan spreads fake news falsely accusing Armenia and Artsakh of opening gunfire



 14:07, 9 March 2023

YEREVAN, MARCH 9, ARMENPRESS. The Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense is again spreading fake news falsely accusing the Armenian military of opening gunfire at Azerbaijani positions.

In a statement, the Armenian Ministry of Defense said that the statement released by the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense claiming that Armenian Armed Forces opened fire overnight March 8-9 at Azerbaijani positions deployed in the eastern section of the Armenian-Azerbaijani borderline is false.

The Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense also made fake accusations against the Artsakh Defense Army, falsely accusing them of opening fire. In a statement, the Artsakh military denied this accusation. “The statement released by the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan claiming that Defense Army units opened fire between 8 March 21:30 and 9 March 04:15 in the direction of Azerbaijani positions deployed in the occupied territories of the Shushi, Martuni, Askeran and Berdzor regions of the Republic of Artsakh is yet another disinformation,” the statement released by the Ministry of Defense of Artsakh reads.