Soccer: Mkhitaryan dedicates Europa League win to family, Manchester and all Armenians

Public Radio of Armenia


Manchester United’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan has dedicated the UEFA Europa League win to family, Manchester and all Armenians.

“Cmon United!!! So so so so happy with our win tonight! I dedicate this trophy to my family, to Manchester and to all Armenians!” Mkhitaryn said in a Facebook post following United’s triumph in Europa League final against Ajax.

Goals from Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan won an emotional final in Stockholm.

Pogba scored with a deflected strike before Mkhitaryan’s close-range finish on an emotional night in Stockholm.

Armenian Henrikh Mkhitaryan added to the lead early in the second period, flicking home from close range after Ajax failed to deal with a corner from the right.

View from Moscow: Only the threat of counteroffensive can curb the aggressiveness of Baku

ARMINFO News Agency, Armenia

View from Moscow: Only the threat of counteroffensive can curb the
aggressiveness of Baku

 Yerevan May 22

David Stepanyan. Counteroffensive, the threat of an offensive is the
only panacea capable of curbing the aggressiveness of the leadership
of Azerbaijan. Caucasus Department of the Institute of CIS countries
Deputy Director, military expert Vladimir Yevseyev, expressed this
opinion to ArmInfo.

"It is very important to keep the conflict from moving to another
stage. Today, I see a change in the quality of the conflict. In
February, the Azerbaijani reconnaissance by demining sappers or remote
robots tried to infiltrate deep into the Armenian territory, then at
that time it looked quite typical. However, striking through the UAV
the depth of the territory controlled by the NKR Defense Army, damage
to anti-aircraft missile system "Osa" - is actually the act of
aggression blow was obviously caused in the rear, as the air defense
systems nobody puts at the forefront and that talks about moving into
a new phase of the conflict course, the Defense Forces and also forced
by the UAV hit back at Azerbaijan's rear", he said.

The strikes on the rear, with the help of technical means, the
military expert regards as an entirely different level of conflict.
Thus, the destruction of air defense weapons can be regarded as the
first step of reconnaissance by combat with the aim of organizing its
aviation support using helicopters, as it was in April and the same
UAVs. And if the Azeris managed to inflict more damage as a result of
more concerted actions, then immediately a force of approximately a
battalion could follow reconnaissance.

"In the end, we could get events very close to the events of April
2016. That is why I am very worried about the qualitative change in
the situation in the conflict region, I was sure that the April war
will happen for six months and spoke about it at the celebration of
Artsakh Days in Moscow, on the basis of a host of indirect indicators,
unfortunately, I see such indirect signs in favor of the repetition of
April 2016 now too," the expert notes.

Stressing the restoration of the balance of power, Yevseyev noted that
the desire to continue the policy of Ilham Aliyev "Biting off the
territories" is too great. And in the case of his implementation of
the resumption of hostilities at the level of April will be
inevitable. According to his estimates, in Baku they are not
considered with any sacrifices. For example, the carefully concealed
death of 10 Azerbaijani servicemen as a result of the February
sabotage did not serve as a basis for restraining their own appetites.

"Unfortunately, I do not see any possibility of achieving real peace
agreements, there are simply no conditions for that. Now Azerbaijan is
not set to talking about compromises. And only the force can bring
Baku in adequate state. Only after that it will be real to talk to
Ilham Aliyev. Therefore, Armenian side should seriously prepare for
it, periodically clearly warning the enemy of retaliatory
counteroffensive. Talks on defense are unable to stop the aggressor,
it can do only the treat of striking back", the Russian expert summed

RFE/RL Armenian Report – 05/21/2017


Sarkisian Congratulates Iran's Rouhani On Election Victory

Armenia - President Serzh Sarkisian (R) greets his Iranian counterpart
Hassan Rouhani at a Yerevan airport, 21Dec2016.

Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian emphasized the friendly nature of
his country's relations with Iran and hoped for a new level of
cooperation as he congratulated President Hassan Rouhani on winning a
second term in office in an election held in the Islamic Republic on
May 19.

Rouhani beat his main challenger, conservative ex-prosecutor Ebrahim
Raisi in the first round of the election by polling over 50 percent of
the vote.

In his congratulatory message to Rouhani, Sarkisian, as quoted by his
press office, expressed confidence that during the Iranian president's
tenure "the friendly neighborly Iran will continue to develop upward,
bringing its considerable and important contribution to the
establishment of regional peace and stability."

"I am hopeful that through our joint efforts, the traditionally warm
and friendly Armenian-Iranian relations will continue to develop and
strengthen in all areas, registering a qualitatively new level of
cooperation between our peoples," Sarkisian said.

"I wish you excellent health, success in all your undertakings, and I
wish lasting peace and prosperity to the friendly people of Iran,"
reads the congratulatory message of the Armenian leader.

Sarkisian and Rouhani discussed ways of deepening economic ties
between the two countries when the Iranian president paid a visit to
Armenia late last year. Those include cooperation in the energy and
transportation spheres as well as a tax-free zone in Armenia for
Iranian manufacturing firms.

Sarkisian also praised Iran for its balanced position on the
Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Election Body Rejects Appeal By Opposition Party Over Yerevan Vote

 . Anush Muradian

Armenia -- Central Electoral Commission rejects Yerkir Tsirani party's
appeal, Yerevan, 21May2017

Armenia's Central Electoral Commission on Sunday approved the final
results of the May 14 municipal elections in Yerevan, rejecting the
appeal filed by an opposition party that particularly alleged
large-scale vote buying and pressure on people to vote in favor of the
ruling party.

The governing Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) officially got over 71
percent of the vote, with the opposition Yelk (Way Out) alliance
getting 21 percent and the opposition Yerkir Tsirani party receiving
some 8 percent of the vote.

All three forces participating in the election made it to the
65-member Council of Elders of Yerevan where they will have 46, 14 and
5 representatives, respectively.

Following the ballot in which Yelk also alleged vote buying in favor
of the HHK, only Yerkir Tsirani formally applied to the CEC, demanding
that it annul the election results.

The party led by outspoken government critic Zaruhi Postanjian claimed
large-scale fraud was committed during the election by the HHK with
the assistance of police officers that included vote buying, guidance
of voters, as well as violence against Postanjian and her proxy.

Postanjian, who ran for mayor in the elections, personally went to one
of HHK campaign offices located in incumbent mayor and top HHK
candidate Taron Markarian's home district of Avan on the day of the
voting to expose what she claimed was a vote buying scheme. Along with
her daughter, Lilit Drampian, who also acted as her proxy, she was
forced out of the HHK premises by police officers called in by ruling
party activists.

In a statement released on May 15 Postanjian claimed violence was used
against her and her daughter, who suffered a concussion. She also
deplored the lack of immediate response from appropriate
law-enforcement bodies to the incident. Two criminal cases were later
launched by the Special Investigation Service in connection with the

In its application the opposition party also alleged that
election-related documents kept at the safes at electoral precincts
had been tampered with in favor of the HHK.

During today's meeting of the CEC Postanjian accused the body of
failing to properly notify the party about the date and time of the

Tigran Mukuchian, the head of the CEC, insisted, however, that
Postanjian and Yerkir Tsirani were notified by phone in due
time. Mukuchian said that in its application the party did not attach
any proof of its claims that could become a basis for annulling the
results of the Yerevan elections. Eventually, the CEC rejected Yerkir
Tsirani's appeal and approved the final results of the elections.

Postanjian went on to allege that Mukuchian was acting under pressure
as she said one of her party's representatives was notified about the
CEC meeting late on Saturday and could not make it to Yerevan from
Gyumri early in the morning.

"We will turn to the court," Postanjian said, stressing that Yerkir
Tsirani will continue to struggle "to create a movement of national
resistance that will topple the current regime."

Press Review

(Saturday, May 20)

"Haykakan Zhamanak" tries to understand why in their statement on the
most recent ceasefire violations in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone
the American, Russian and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group
decided to clearly put the blame on Azerbaijan: "This is an
unprecedented reaction. Even during the April 2016 war the
international mediators and the individual co-chair countries
refrained from defining Azerbaijan as an aggressor, even though they
surely could not have failed to notice, due to their satellite
equipment, that it was Azerbaijan that had launched an offensive along
the perimeter of the line of contact# What has changed? The thing is
that if the Minsk Group had not made such a targeted statement, having
received such data from one of the parties, it would have put its
mandate and further activities in doubt."

"168 Zham" assesses the latest statement of the OSCE Minsk Group as
one of the most serious successes of recent years and even decades in
the settlement of the Karabakh conflict: "Finally, the Minsk Group is
calling things by their proper names... It is not an exaggeration to
say that this was a slap by the international community in the face of
Azerbaijan, which is doing and will be doing everything in order to
scuttle the agreements reached after the April 2016 war during
meetings in Vienna and St. Petersburg... It is hard to say how far
this is the result of Armenian diplomatic efforts and how far it is
the reflection of the current global geopolitical developments. It is
important, however, to keep this result and take the initiative. And
this should become the number one task for Armenian diplomacy."

"Zhoghovurd" comments on the process of the formation of standing
committees in the newly elected Armenian parliament. The daily, in
particular, writes: "Armenia has become so dependent on the Kremlin
over the past decade that even the existence of a parliamentary
committee on European integration should be regarded as a serious
achievement. It is another matter whether this was done after
permission obtained from the North or as a result of political
courage, for which in the near future the Armenian authorities are
certain to get some `fraternal' slaps. Given the nominal presence of
this committee and its actual inaction in the past, it can be said
that this can become a small bonus for the Armenian authorities in
order to win the favors of EU officials promising tens of millions in
loans. After all, the Kremlin understands that if it gives no money to
its outpost, then at least it should not close the opportunity for it
to get money from another channel. Otherwise, there may be some
uncontrolled developments."

Assessing the speech of President Serzh Sarkisian during the first
meeting of the new parliament, "Hayots Ashkhar" writes: "The speech of
the president at the first meeting of the National Assembly of the
sixth convocation was an important one from the point of view of
expectations for the coming years in the sphere of economy, social
development and other areas. The speech sets out the basic tasks that
must become the basis for the future governments' programs. Judging
from the president's speech, both in the economic and social spheres
strict and high demands are being put forward, and the fulfillment of
these demands should create conditions for the formation of a new
quality of economic and social environment in Armenia."

(Tigran Avetisian)

Reprinted on ANN/Armenian News with permission from RFE/RL
Copyright (c) 2017 Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Inc.
1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

Armenia’s President meets with Qatar Airways CEO

In the framework of his official visit to the State of Qatar, President Serzh Sargsyan met today with the CEO of Qatar Airways Akbar Al Baker.

The parties discussed the process of the Armenian-Qatari cooperation in the area of aviation and prospects for development. President Sargsyan spoke about the significant role of the flights carried out by Qatar Airways in the expansion of the agenda of the interstate bilateral cooperation. Qatar Airways entered the Armenian aviation market in May 2016 and is carrying out Doha-Yerevan-Doha regular flights.

According to the President, the increase of the number of tourists from the countries of the Persian Gulf, including Qatar, is also conditioned by the existence of direct flights.
Noting that Armenia adopted Open Sky policy in 2013, President Sargsyan underscored that Armenia’s policy in the area of civil aviation and air communications provides new opportunities to the Armenian and foreign companies and ensures equal and free competition field for all.

Serzh Sargsyan noted that Armenia will encourage and support Qatari investors to make investments in different areas of the Armenian economy, including the aviation area.

The CEO of Qatar Airways informed President Sargsyan that he has already received instructions from His Majesty the Emir of Qatar to develop cooperation with Armenia in the area headed by him and assured that he would do his best to fulfill the task.
Akbar Al Baker noted that his company sees prospects for the development of  cooperation and is striving to promote the mutually beneficial cooperation.

Artsakh Liberation War one of the greatest victories of the Armenian people – Bako Sahakyan

On 9 May President Bako Sahakyan sent a congratulatory address in connection with the Victory Holiday, the 25th anniversary of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic Defense Army and the Liberation of Shushi.
The address runs as follows:

“Dear compatriots,

Dear veterans of the Great Patriotic and Artsakh Liberation wars,

Respected generals, officers and soldiers of the Defense Army,

On behalf of the republic’s authorities and personally myself I cordially congratulate you on the Victory Holiday, the 25th anniversary of the NKR Defense Army and the Liberation of Shushi, glorious victories that our people carved in various crossroads of history due to the bravery and courage of their brave sons, their selfless love towards the Motherland.

The feat of our legendary fathers and grandfathers in the Great Patriotic War, their lives have always granted us pride and become a landmark for us leading to new victories. We have liberated Shushi having in sight their heroic example that instilled unshakable faith towards our own strength and victory of justice, taught to be steadfast and resolute, ready to struggle and determined.

The Artsakh Liberation War has become one of the greatest victories of the Armenian people in the range of our heroic battles.
Today we are twice proud as we have a worthy shift, generation of aweless young people who place above all the defense of homeland’s borders and the security of the native people. They continue the work of their ancestors with great dignity leaving new examples of selflessness in the history.

Honor and glory to all our heroes!

Honor and glory to our martyrs, who have sacrificed their lives for the sacred mission of defending the Motherland!
Dear compatriots,

On this festive day I congratulate all our people in Mother Armenia, Artsakh and Diaspora. Together we have carved this cherished triple holiday, together we have overcome all the difficulties and trials, paving our heroic path. It was so in the past, and so it will be forever!

I once again congratulate all of us, wishing peace, welfare and all the best!”

President Serzh Sargsyan’s Address on the occasion of Victory and Peace Day

Dear Compatriots,

I cordially congratulate you on the occasion of Victory and Peace Day.

I first of all congratulate the veterans whose ranks, regrettably, diminish by year. This holiday is the perfect occasion for us to show them our profound respect and admiration. It is also an opportunity to express our gratitude to the heroic generation which went through the superhuman challenges and secured prospects of peaceful work and development for our country.

The World War II was a grave trial for many peoples of the world, including the Armenians.

Our warriors at the battlefield and our workers in heartland here in Armenia as well as our compatriots abroad withstood that trial with honor. For us, it became the Great Patriotic War indeed. We toiled with all our ability, accomplished heroic tasks  which were above our abilities and brought the victory and desirable peace closer.

After May 9, 1992 this date acquired additional meaning for us.
Liberation of Shushi saved not only Stepanakert but the entire people of Artsakh from physical annihilation. This epic deed of the Armenian warriors and its compound historic significance are so overarching that are still being studied and analyzed by the researchers.

One thing became clear on May 9, 1992 and the same thing is clear today: We have not and we will not sacrifice our life and our freedom, our rights and our dignity.

Dear Compatriots,

I once again congratulate you all on the occasion of Victory and Peace Day. This is the holiday of those who stood against misanthropic propaganda and violence, and the heroes who won in that fight. The immortals are with us, and this is our common holiday.

I wish you all peace and creative work.

Police raid Ragip Zarakolu’s publishing house in Istanbul

Turkish police on Sunday night raided the Belge publishing house in Istanbul, searching the venue for about three hours, Turkish media report.

The officials reportedly prevented employees from leaving, seized a total of 2170 books and briefly detained editor Mehmet Ali Varis.

The publishing house was raided on suspicion of having links to the far-left Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C).

The Belge Publishing House was founded by Ragip Zarakolu and his late wife Ayse Nur in 1977.

Mr. Zarakolu has been writing and publishing about the Armenian Genocide since the early 1990’s. His ‘Belge’ print house has published over ten volumes on the topic, for which he and his family have been consistently persecuted and jailed by Turkish authorities.

Putin, Merkel hold talks in Sochi

Photo: Sputnik/ Alexei Nikolskiy


Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel hold a joint press conference between two rounds of meetings in Sochi on Tuesday, May 2, reports.

Russian President Putin started the presser by announcing that he had discussed with German Chancellor Merkel the preparation for G20 summit as well as Syria and Ukraine.

“We discussed international problems, including the Syrian crisis and the situation in Ukraine,” Putin said, adding that the meeting also touched upon preparations for the G20 summit.

The Russian president also said Russia seeks to build relations with Germany on the principles of mutual benefit, respect and equality.

“The situation in Ukraine remains a source of serious concern,” Putin pointed out, adding that during today’s talks, the two leaders “confirmed the need for the implementation of Minsk agreements by all sides.”

Putin also revealed that he discussed the issue of Syrian conflict with Merkel, and both leaders agreed that there is a need for a more active talks process.

“We decisively condemn any use of chemical [weapons],” Putin reiterated, saying that both sides agreed on the need for a full investigation of the attack on Syria’s Khan Sheikhoun chemical incident.

“Those guilty must be found and punished,” Putin told a news conference after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel held in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi. “But this can be only done after an impartial investigation.”

“Syria conflict could be resolved only through negotiations,” Putin concluded after talks with Merkel.

Merkel then took the floor, addressing the issue of anti-Russia sanctions: “Russia is a constructive partner, but the sanctions could be lifted only after the Minsk agreements are fully implemented.”

Merkel said that she had expressed support for a truce in Syria and readiness to cooperate with Russia in the fight against terrorism.

“We also discussed the situation in Syria. As the federal chancellor, I noted that we wanted to do everything in our power to support the ceasefire, the cessation of hostilities to help people <…> I think afterward we could also discuss the situation in Libya. We are united in what concerns the fight against international terrorism. Russia and Germany could cooperate even more closely here,” she told a press conference after the meeting with Putin.

When asked by a reporter about the possibility of a new agreement on the Ukraine conflict settlement, Merkel firmly said she is against that.

Putin responded by saying that it is impossible to form up new plans while the existing ones have still not been implemented. He then reminded that “no one had separated Donbass from Ukraine” as it was the Ukrainian authorities that achieved that by imposing a blockade.

According to Putin, the Normandy four format is working, but the conflicting sides in Ukraine should pursue direct dialogue.

“The Normandy Four should continue to actively deal with the settlement of the Ukrainian crisis. That is, work in this format will continue after the presidential elections in France, as we have agreed on in the latest phone talks,” the Russian president added.

When asked about Russia’s alleged influence on foreign elections, Putin stated that Russia “has never interfered in other countries’ political processes.” “These are unsubstantiated rumors used in internal political struggle.”

Chris Bohjalian: Naming the Armenian genocide for what it is

Photo: AP


By Chris Bohjalian

Adolph Hotler kept a bust of Ataturk in his office. Heinrich Himmler considered moving to Turkey in the early 1920s. And Rudolf Hoess, commandant of Auschwitz, admitted in his memoirs (penned while awaiting his execution) that he first killed while serving in the Ottoman Empire in the First World War. Make no mistake: The Young Nazis were serious fanboys of the Yung Turks.

The term “Young Turk” today, of course, has come to mean a hard-charging young executive, a bullish entrepreneur who takes no prisoners. A century ago, however, the Young Turks — Talaat Pasha, Djemal Pasha, and Enver Pasha — were the leaders of the Ottoman Empire and the architects of the Armenian genocide: the systematic annihilation of 1.5 million Armenians during the First World War. Three out of every four Armenians living under Ottoman rule were killed by their own government; the nation, outside of Istanbul, was ethnically cleansed of its Armenian, Assyrian, and Greek minorities.

And the Germans, the Ottoman Empire’s ally, were there. They saw it all. The cables from the German diplomats from Aleppo to Erzurum that chronicled the slaughter are as clear as the photographs that German medic Armin Wegner took of starving children and dying women. And while some of those Germans were aghast at what they were witnessing, others clearly were inspired.

After the war, Mustafa Kemal — Ataturk — finished the work of the Young Turks, turning his armies on the Armenians and the Greeks, forcing them out and creating what he hoped would be a homogenous Turkic nation. No minorities to muddy the agenda. Then, with Stalin-like fanaticism, his government began to rewrite history, denying the carnage. Armenians went from victims to traitors; the true story was erased. It’s why Turkey today continues to deny the genocide with pathologic obsession. The last thing they want is for Mustafa Kemel and the Young Turks to be saddled with the moniker “war criminal,” or their nation to risk the sort of reparations that accompany the term “genocide.”

Today is April 24, the day when Armenians around the world commemorate the start of the Armenian genocide: It was that night in 1915 when the Ottoman authorities rounded up the Armenian political, intellectual, and religious leaders of Constantinople and executed almost all of them.

To commemorate this devastating anniversary, the president of the United States will likely find yet another euphemism for the word “genocide,” because heaven forbid America should risk antagonizing Turkey by describing accurately what happened and assigning the blame where it belongs. Trust me, some poor White House speechwriter’s thesaurus is looking pretty dogeared right about now.

Congress has not formally recognized the Armenian genocide either, and I’m not expecting this one to put moral spine before realpolitik.

But, fittingly, Germany has. Last year the German Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favor of calling the massacres a genocide.

Historians often note how the last stage in genocide is denial, and that denial becomes the first stage in the next one. As a character in one of my novels remarks, “There is a line connecting the Armenians and the Jews and the Cambodians and the Bosnians and the Rwandans. There are obviously more, but really, how much genocide can one sentence handle?”

The Holocaust might have occurred even without the precedent of the Armenian genocide. But as historian Stefan Ihrig proves in his book “Justifying Genocide,” the Young Nazis were there when the Young Turks were at work. They saw how easy it was to blame the problems of the nation on one small ethnic minority, and then rationalize their murder. They grew bold. As Hitler said to his Wehrmacht commanders on Aug. 22, 1939, a week and a half before unleashing his Panzers on Poland, “I have placed my death-head formation in readiness with orders to them to send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children of Polish derivation and language. Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”

That is precisely why today America must stop mincing words when it comes to the Armenian genocide.

2017 Aurora Prize finalists announced

The Selection Committee for the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity has today announced the names of the five 2017 finalists who have been chosen for their exceptional impact, courage and commitment to preserving human life and advancing humanitarian causes. They are:

  • Ms. Fartuun Adan and Ms. Ilwad Elman, Founders of the Elman Peace and Human Rights Centre, Somalia – Mother and daughter who are unwavering in their mission to protect human rights, women’s rights, and facilitate peace building, development and the rehabilitation of child soldiers amidst insecure and dangerous conditions
  • Ms. Jamila Afghani, Chairperson of the Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organization, Afghanistan – a polio victim who accidentally received the gift of reading and has dedicated her life to bringing reading and education to girls and women, while enlisting the help of Muslim leaders of faith in her mission.
  • Dr. Tom Catena, Surgeon at the Mother of Mercy Hospital in the Nuba Mountains, Sudan – A Catholic missionary and doctor who for nearly a decade remains the only permanent doctor to treat the remote and war-torn region’s half-million population, performing more than 1,000 operations each year
  • Mr. Muhammad Darwish, Medical Doctor at the Madaya Field Hospital, Syria – A student of dentistry returned to his hometown and took on the full responsibilities of a medical doctor, began to perform medical procedures, offered care and maintained meticulous documentation of the conditions of patients, many of them children, affected by persisting violence, thus bringing international attention to the besieged area
  • Dr. Denis Mukwege, Gynecological Surgeon and Founder of the Panzi Hospital, The Democratic Republic of the Congo – An obstetrician turned gynecological surgeon who is providing physical, psychological and legal support to more than 50,000 survivors of sexual violence in the war-torn country while fearlessly seeking to bring to justice those responsible

The finalists will be honored at the Aurora Prize Ceremony in Yerevan, Armenia on May 28, 2017 when one will be chosen as the 2017 Aurora Prize Laureate. The Aurora Prize Laureate will receive a grant of US$100,000 to support the continuation of their work, as well as a US$1,000,000 award, which will give them the unique ability to continue the cycle of giving by supporting organizations that have inspired their work.

The Selection Committee, co-chaired by Academy Award-winning actor and humanitarian George Clooney, includes Nobel Laureates Oscar Arias, Shirin Ebadi and Leymah Gbowee; former president of Ireland Mary Robinson; human rights activist Hina Jilani; former Foreign Minister of Australia and President Emeritus of the International Crisis Group Gareth Evans; and former president of Mexico Ernesto Zedillo. The Committee shortlisted the five finalists from more than 550 nominations for 254 unique candidates submitted by the general public from 66 countries and in 13 languages.

Speaking on behalf of the Aurora Prize Selection Committee, Vartan Gregorian, Committee Member, President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York and co-founder of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative said, “We are gratified by the enormous response generated by the call for nominations. It is an acknowledgment of our shared humanity and values. While geography and circumstances differ for each nominee, it is the similarities that unite them all. Individual human beings risk their own well-being and safety in order to rescue those in desperate need of help, and it is Aurora’s mission to support these saviors. We believe that those who are rescued will themselves continue the cycle of gratitude and giving.”

Marguerite Barankitse from Maison Shalom and REMA Hospital in Burundi was named the first Aurora Prize Laureate on April 24, 2016 in Yerevan, Armenia. Following the horrifying experience of being forced to witness the execution of 72 Hutu neighbors whom she tried to hide to keep safe from persecution, Ms. Barankitse, a Tutsi, has spent the last 20 years providing safe haven for orphans and refugees escaping violence and abuse during her country’s civil war. She has rescued and educated roughly 30,000 children, and the hospital she opened in 2008 has treated more than 80,000 patients to date.

“Children from Brazil to Ethiopia to the many Burundian refugees in Rwanda are thriving today because they now have the love, education and support they need, thanks to the generous backing of the 2016 Aurora Prize,” said Barankitse. “The powerful work of the 2017 finalists is truly awe-inspiring. These individuals embody the spirit of gratitude in action by keeping hope alive for so many of our brothers and sisters around the world. Their work is destined to unleash the human potential for love.”

The Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity was established in 2015 by the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative on behalf of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and in gratitude to their saviors. The Aurora Prize will honor an Aurora Laureate each year until 2023, in remembrance of the eight years of the Armenian Genocide (1915 -1923).