Everything is in order, says Armenian defence minister

Everything is in order, says Armenian defence minister

Golos Armenii, Yerevan
15 Apr 04

Armenian Defence Minister Serzh Sarkisyan has defended the actions of
the law-enforcement agencies in breaking up the opposition rally on
12-13 April. He told Armenian newspaper Golos Armenii that “2,000
people” could not be allowed to disrupt the life of the whole
nation. Accusing the opposition of trying to delude the people,
Sarkisyan said that the rallies showed that they had no organizational
ability. “Everything is in order,” he said, asked to comment on the
current situation. He acknowledged that Armenia’s position in
negotiations on Nagornyy Karabakh would be stronger if there were no
domestic political tension, but insisted that Armenia’s stance
remained unchanged. Sarkisyan said that it was too soon to say whether
or not Armenia would attend the NATO exercises to be held in Baku in
September. Economic, rather than democratic, development is Armenia’s
priority, Sarkisyan said. Text of Ruben Markaryan’s interview with
Sarkisyan in Golos Armenii on 15 April headlined “`Everything is in
order,’ Serzh Sarkisyan”; ellipses as published by the newspaper
throughout, subheadings inserted editorially:

An exclusive interview with Armenian Defence Minister Serzh Sarkisyan.

Everything is in order

[Golos Armenii correspondent] Mr Sarkisyan, the first question is
about the domestic political situation. How do you assess the recent
events, in particular the opposition meetings and dispersal of the
demonstration on Bagramyan Avenue?

[Serzh Sarkisyan] Everything is in order. In order to assess today’s
situation correctly, let us go back several months and recall how the
irreconcilable minority was threatening to announce the time, day and
even hour of the change of power. The authorities took those
statements and threats very calmly, but the opposition opted to worsen
the situation. You know, we reacted calmly to lies, invented
accusations and even personal insults… But that was until they
started talking openly about taking power by force. Then the
authorities took certain measures and we have seen the result… They
threatened to take 100-150,000 people onto the streets. They made
announcements on behalf of the people as though only the radical
opposition are the people’s representatives and all the rest are their
enemies. Today it is obvious that these people do not have any right
to speak on behalf of the people, as they could not get even the
number of voters of one constituency to their rally… Moreover,
either because they were annoyed by this or insulted, they decided to
resort to extreme measures.

Let’s recall the sequence of events: the opposition wanted to hold a
rally on Theatre Square [also known as Freedom Square], they held one,
although it had not actually been authorized. The opposition wanted to
hold a sit-down strike, again no-one stopped them, but, unfortunately,
today’s radicals are the type of people who consider a normal attitude
to be a sign of weakness and become more insolent… And the
opposition decided that 2,000 people could come and disrupt the normal
life of the whole nation. Of course, the law-enforcement structures
had to take steps…

Opposition are deluding people

[Correspondent] The results are evident. But what conclusions may be
drawn from what happened?

[Sarkisyan] Conclusions… First of all, the executive power should
make conclusions. We should look at our work in a new way. You know,
nobody, neither the president nor prime minister nor any minister said
that there is no problem in their sphere and everything is OK. There
are numerous problems. Specifically in my sphere there are many
problems, but we work on the principle: everything is
relative. Otherwise the question will undoubtedly arise: “But who are
the judges?” From this point of view, if we compare 2004 and 2000,
progress is obvious. Moreover, in all spheres. We should try to make
the progress more noticeable, tangible, but at the same time we should
and will put in their place those who are trying to play on the
people’s emotions, who are trying to delude the people, to speak in
their name.

Recently I had the pleasure at the Drama Theatre to hear once more the
marvellous thoughts of Paruyr Sevak, declaimed by actor Artur
Utmazyan. “To delude the people is a crime”, Paruyr Sevak said. You
have to agree with him. It really is a crime to play on the people’s
social problems and say: “You go, we’ll come in and do better.” Who
said that they can do better? Another marvellous poet, Shota
Rustaveli, said: “Everyone thinks he is a strategist when he watches a
battle from the sidelines.”

It seems to them that they can do something. But it is obvious that,
even in organizing rallies, these people do not even have an iota of
organizing ability. All their activity is based on lies and
falsification. They lie, both in the small things and the big. They do
not hesitate to look into the eyes of those who came to support
them. I cannot imagine how, seeing 5-6,000 people who have come to
support them, they can say: “My dear people, thank you that 100,000 of
you have come.” And they do not even blush. What can you make of the
speeches of the opposition leaders in the foreign press, first of all
the Russian? What kind of behaviour is that? They have convinced
themselves that we are leading the people to disaster and now they are
trying to persuade other people of this, our friends as well as
enemies. What is this, if not betrayal? It turns out that they are
aspiring to assure Azerbaijan: “Look, the authorities in Armenia have
neither a basis nor an army. Come and achieve your objectives!”

[Correspondent] The view has been spread that our opposition is acting
in unison with Azerbaijan…

[Sarkisyan] No, certainly there is no direct connection. Here there
may not be two opinions. It is another question if the interests
coincide here. The problem is that these people are unscrupulous.
There is only one slogan for them – the worse it is in Armenia, the
better for them. Azerbaijan is certainly guided by the same slogan,
and not only Azerbaijan…

Armenia’s position on Karabakh unchanged

[Correspondent] By the way, the national security minister of
Azerbaijan has often spoken recently about his secret service in
Armenia. Do you see signs of it?

[Sarkisyan] I think that these statements are first of all made for
local consumption. After all, it is known that the Azerbaijanis like
to boast and not only about this… Sometimes they liberate what seem
to them to be villages, sometimes something else… No serious leader
of a secret service of a serious country will say openly that his
secret service is operating in another country. This childishness ill
befits the leader of a secret service.

[Correspondent] May the domestic political tension negatively affect
the country’s foreign policy objectives, in particular the diplomatic
settlement of the Karabakh conflict?

[Sarkisyan] It is clear that there is no benefit from this
situation. During any talks our positions will be much stronger, if
this type of situation does not arise. It is no secret that the
soundness of any country, especially of a country that is in a state
of “neither war nor peace”, the soundness of any army, mostly depends
on the soundness of its rear. As for the NKR problem, I should say
that in this matter the positions of the Armenian authorities are
strong and unchangeable. There are three known principles: the
impossibility of Artsakh [Karabakh] being subordinate to Azerbaijan;
the impossibility of an enclave status for Artsakh; and security
guarantees. We have neither the desire nor the potential to give up
something more and we shall stand up for our position. It is also
known that today the negotiating process has slowed down at the
initiative of Azerbaijan.

[Correspondent] Recently Azerbaijan’s new foreign minister stated
their principles, that Azerbaijan will not agree to the independence
of Karabakh or its joining Armenia.

[Sarkisyan] These are not new principles. All this has been the
corner-stone of their activity since 1988, and if a new president of
Azerbaijan wants to travel the same road that we travelled since 1988,
that is his problem. I do not understand what it means “to start from
scratch”. From 1988, 1918 or may be to go even further back?

Armenia guarantor of Karabakh’s security

[Correspondent] You talked about the connection between the soundness
of the rear and of the army. What is the situation in the Armenian
armed forces today?

[Sarkisyan] I need a very long time to answer this question. To be
brief, we are implementing the plan for 2004, in particular in
supporting the fighting efficiency of the armed forces. Exercises are
held from time to time, they are more or less objective criteria of
the fighting efficiency of the troops. Recently we held
command-headquarters exercises for the first time. Our objective was
to learn how in the conditions of constant reforms in the economy our
structures were able to adapt to these new conditions in the rear, to
the problems of material supplies, replenishment and fighting
efficiency. The exercises showed that, in spite of problems, the
situation may be considered satisfactory.

[Correspondent] They say in Azerbaijan that in your ministry they are
going to reconsider the military doctrine and, according to the
foreseen changes, if war resumes, the NKR army will pass under the
direct subordination of the Armenian armed forces. What is the state
of the military doctrine? Is there one?

[Sarkisyan] We have a military doctrine. But it does not exist on its
own, it is part of the whole security system. Maybe we need one
general document, the main part of which will be our military
doctrine. But as a rule these tactical problems are not touched on in
military doctrines. But it is clear that Armenia and, in particular,
our army is the guarantor of the Nagornyy Karabakh people’s security,
nobody has nor should they have any illusions about this. The doctrine
may change, it may not change, there may be a doctrine, there may
not… Armenia is the guarantor of Nagornyy Karabakh’s security.

[Correspondent] Are you satisfied with the budget of our armed forces?
They often say that Azerbaijan’s military budget is much larger than
ours.

[Sarkisyan] Really our military budget is almost half that of
Azerbaijan. But I think that the resources given are enough to support
the army’s fighting efficiency and the dynamic of change in the
military budget is acceptable. I do not want to touch on the details,
but the Azerbaijani army is bigger than ours so for this reason
expenditure is also greater. In addition, the president and prime
minister of our republic often find opportunities to settle some of
the armed forces’ problems, which should have been settled from the
military budget.

Too early to say if Armenia will go to NATO exercises in Baku

[Correspondent] The relations of our armed forces with the [CIS]
Collective Security Treaty [CST] are more or less obvious. What can
you say about cooperation with NATO? Will Armenia take part in the
NATO exercises in Baku this autumn?

[Sarkisyan] It is still early to give a final answer, but at the last
stage of planning for the exercises in Kiev we confirmed that as a
fully-fledged member of the Partnership for Peace programme we have
the right and are obliged to take part in the exercises. We shall see
how Azerbaijan will behave in future. As for our relations with NATO,
they are moving forward. We continue to integrate into different NATO
programmes and I think this can only be useful for our armed
forces. Remaining a member of the CST, we shall develop our bilateral
relations with NATO and the countries of the bloc. Our military
cooperation with NATO is also developing normally. I think we do not
have the right to become closed in on ourselves and we shall only gain
from that cooperation.

[Correspondent] To put the question more basically, do you not think
that we are lagging behind Georgia and Azerbaijan in cooperation with
NATO?

[Sarkisyan] If we take into account only the statements of Georgia and
Azerbaijan about their desire to become a member of the bloc, in this
sense they are ahead. Joining NATO is not on our foreign policy agenda
and, for this reason, naturally we do not make this kind of statement,
here everything is clear. As for the level of cooperation, we are not
lagging behind.

Economy the priority

[Correspondent] As secretary of the Security Council, what current
objective of Armenian statehood is the most relevant?

[Sarkisyan] It is difficult to single out one. Nevertheless, I think
the main objective is to ensure high rates of economic development. If
the economy is developing at a high rate, then the country’s budget
will be able to allocate funds to security as well as social problems
and the army. Stable rates of development, this is the most important
today. My words may seem strange, because it is accepted to speak much
about the priority of democracy and human values. But for me it is
almost an axiom: all this first of all depends on economic
development, on the means in your budget, on the wages and pensions of
citizens, on the wages and pensions of the officers of the armed
forces, on the means to ensure security and the development of
democratic institutions. I am sure that if by some miracle we manage
to increase the living standard in Armenia 10 times, in that case
hardly anyone would want to go to rallies. For this reason I think
that all the efforts should be directed at achieving this objective.

No damage to Armenia’s international image from dispersal of rally

[Correspondent] What do you think, may the recent events in Armenia
have a negative affect on the attitude of international organizations
and Western countries towards our country?

[Sarkisyan] I do not think so, because everything was within the
framework of the law. Every day you see on the television the steps
taken by European and US law-enforcement agencies to support public
order. I think that, on the contrary, nobody would have understood us
if 2,000 people had paralysed the life of the whole of Yerevan.

Armenia looks for funds for Iran-Armenia gas pipeline – president

Armenia looks for funds for Iran-Armenia gas pipeline, president says

Mediamax news agency
16 Apr 04

YEREVAN

Yerevan and Tehran have reached an agreement on beginning the
construction of the Iran-Armenia gas pipeline next year.

Armenian President Robert Kocharyan said this addressing a meeting of
the council on nuclear power security under the president, Mediamax
reports.

According to the president, the country’s authorities consider this
gas pipeline “as a means to enhance Armenia’s energy security and
diversify natural gas import”.

“At present, Armenia is drawing out different schemes of financing the
construction of this gas pipeline on its territory,” Robert Kocharyan
said.

Armenia not planning to join NATO – foreign minister

Armenia not planning to join NATO – foreign minister

Mediamax news agency
16 Apr 04

YEREVAN

Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanyan said in Yerevan today that
“as long as we have not raised the issue of our membership of NATO,
our cooperation with the alliance does not run counter to Armenia’s
strategic relations with Russia and our membership of the Collective
Security Treaty Organization”.

“Contradictions may appear only if Armenia raises the issue of its
membership of NATO, however, we have no plans on that score today. We
are ready to expand relations with NATO, but this does not mean that
Armenia plans to start talks on joining the alliance,” Oskanyan said.

“If Georgia and Azerbaijan become members of NATO, and Armenia does
not, then this will obviously create new dividing lines in the
Caucasus,” Oskanyan said. According to him, “these issues concern not
only us, but also NATO, the USA and Russia, which is why they will be
very cautious and will try to avoid this scenario”.

BAKU: Azeri daily speculates on arms purchase from Israel, Turkey

Azeri daily speculates on arms purchase from Israel, Turkey

Ekho, Baku
16 Apr 04 pp 1,3

Text of R. Orucov and T. Mammadov report by Azerbaijani newspaper Ekho
on 16 April entitled “Will Israel and Turkey supply weapons to
Azerbaijan?” and subheaded “The Israeli embassy does not confirm this
information”

“Israel and Turkey will sell arms to Azerbaijan,” said a report
circulated yesterday by Israeli ISRAland news agency. “Diplomatic
sources in Ankara say that Israel and Turkey are close to concluding a
major transaction on the sale of arms to Azerbaijan,” the report said.

It was reported that within the framework of the agreement, Israel
would supply technology, component parts, and weapons will be
assembled in Turkey and then supplied to Azerbaijan. Turkey hopes that
this contract will open up a way for new deals on the sale of
Israeli-Turkish weapons to Central Asian states. It is maintained
that during previous attempts to implement similar joint projects in
the sphere of arms sales, a potential client preferred to obtain arms
directly from Israel.

The report is very interesting bearing in mind that nothing of this
kind has been reported before.

To verify this report, our correspondent turned to the Azerbaijani
Defence Ministry spokesman, Ramiz Malikov. His answer was brief: “It
is the first time I hear about this.”

A correspondent of Ekho asked the first secretary of the Azerbaijani
embassy in Turkey, Etibar Mammadov, the same question. “No comments,”
the diplomat said.

In turn, the press attache of the Israeli embassy in Azerbaijan,
Elkhan Polukhov, said that the circulated by his country’s press
“information does not correspond to the facts, it is nonsense. Such
cooperation between Israel and Azerbaijan in the military sphere
through Turkey does not exist.”

However, a source in the military circles, who wished to remain
anonymous, has told Ekho that such a multistage system of supplies of
Israeli arms to Azerbaijan is absolutely possible and some facts point
to the actual existence of such a plan. “Simply, the purchase of arms
from abroad or their sale is traditionally referred to as a delicate
issue practically in every country. This is also true for Azerbaijan,
Turkey and Israel.”

For many post-Soviet states, the issue of upgrading the existing
military and technical stocks they inherited from the USSR is very
pressing. “Naturally, Azerbaijan is not an exception and the fact that
this is persistently denied by diplomats is also fully understandable.
But in fact, our country is conducting negotiations on the issue and
the state leadership has issued definite instructions to carry out
active work in this area. This means that all state-of-the-art weapons
that appear in the armament of friendly countries should be tested as
to whether they could be applied in our army,” the source said.

“It is no secret that Azerbaijan and Turkey are in close contacts on
the issue and this has already yielded a positive outcome. Over the
recent years high-level military officials from Turkey and Azerbaijan
have paid reciprocal visits. No country would like undesirable sides
to find out about its plans. Bearing in mind that we are at war with
Armenia, our country does not intend to advertise such issues either.

“Moreover, some Muslim countries react to the word of ‘Israel’ very
alarmingly, especially in the sphere of military cooperation. Our
country’s interest in Israeli weapons is natural as this country
possesses up-to-date types of weapons, military hardware and special
equipment. As for this report, it contains facts showing that definite
work is being conducted. I am sure that there will be important
progress,” the source said.

=?ISO-8859-1?Q?Armenianoppositionplansnewrally ?

Armenian opposition plans new rally
X-Sender: Asbed Bedrossian <[email protected]>
X-Listprocessor-Version: 8.1 — ListProcessor(tm) by CREN

16.04.2004 08:52:00 GMT

Yerevan. (Interfax) – Opposition groups in Armenia plan to stage a new rally
in the center of the capital city, Yerevan, on Friday to press to have
the government replaced.

The rally will be held even if City Hall does not authorize it, Stepan
Demirchian, the leader of the opposition Justice bloc, has told
Interfax.

“The opposition has not been broken and intends to continue fighting
to have the government in Armenia replaced,” he said.

Confrontation between the opposition, which is demanding the
resignation of President Robert Kocharian, and the authorities has
come to a head over the past few days. The opposition is boycotting
parliament sessions and pressing for a referendum on confidence in the
authorities. It has staged several large rallies. The police dispersed
a rally outside the presidential residence early on April 13. The
authorities have banned all unauthorized mass rallies in Yerevan.

Armenian Genocide Scheduled for Debate in Canada Parliament

PRESS RELEASE
Office of Sarkis Assadourian M.P.
120 Confederation
House of Commons, Ottawa, Canada
Contact: Daniel Kennedy
Tel: 613 995 4843

Motion 380 First debated in the House of Commons Febuary 25, 2004
calling on the House of Commons to recognize the Armenian Genocide is
sceduled for debate in the House of Commons Tuesday April 20 with a
possible vote on April 21.

Arissian lectures at Haigazian University

PRESS RELEASE
Department of Armenian Studies, Haigazian University
Beirut, Lebanon
Contact: Ara Sanjian
Tel: 961-1-353011
Email: [email protected]
Web:

NORA ARISSIAN LECTURES AT HAIGAZIAN UNIVERSITY ON SYRIAN MEMOIRS ON THE
ARMENIAN GENOCIDE

BEIRUT, Wednesday, 14 April, 2004 (Haigazian University Department of
Armenian Studies Press Release) – On Friday, 19 March 2004, the
Department of Armenian Studies hosted Dr. Nora Arissian, who delivered a
public lecture entitled “The Armenian Genocide in the Memoirs of the
Syrians.”

Syrian-born Arissian is a graduate of Damascus University and received
her Ph.D. from the Institute of Oriental Studies at the Armenian
National Academy of Sciences in Yerevan. She currently works in the
Embassy of the Republic of Armenia in Damascus and is the author of “The
Armenian Calamities in the Syrian Mind: The Position of Syrian
Intellectuals toward the Armenian Genocide,” published in Arabic in
Beirut in 2002. This book presents and analyzes the views and attitudes
of 43 contemporary Syrian thinkers on the Armenian Genocide (historians,
writers, journalists, political figures, etc.), almost all of whom
condemn what befell the Armenians during the First World War.

Arissian emphasized the importance of Syrian primary documents and
periodicals in analyzing the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire
during the First World War. These sources, however, have not to date
been accorded by Armenian Genocide scholars the importance, she thinks,
they deserve, especially in comparison to data emanating from European
and American governments, organizations and individuals.

Syria was not an independent, sovereign entity at the beginning of the
twentieth century, said Arissian. It did not, therefore, have diplomatic
or official documents, through which we can analyze today an official
Syrian standpoint toward the ongoing Armenian Genocide of 1915. That is
why the memoirs and oral testimonies of individual Syrians are even more
important than usual to understand the popular attitude toward these
massacres and deportations. These sources can also help us explain the
causes behind and the events of the Genocide from an Arab viewpoint.

Arissian said that Syrian Arabs today are largely sympathetic to the
Armenian plight during the Genocide. This attitude is partly conditioned
by the pan-Turkist ideology prevalent in the Ottoman Empire at the time,
which also aimed at the forced Turkification of other non-Turkish
elements in the empire, including Arabs. Arab intellectuals explain the
Genocide committed by the Young Turks as the “logical conclusion” of
earlier anti-Armenian massacres and other instances of violence in the
Ottoman Empire.

Arissian classified the various Syrian sources on the Armenian Genocide
currently available into four broad categories:
a) Newspapers published by Syrians both inside the country and in exile.
Arissian’s research has uncovered 500 articles making extensive
reference to Armenians and their suffering in 33 different political
periodicals published between 1877 and 1930. (She is now compiling these
articles into a book which will be published in Lebanon soon.)
b) The oral testimonies of actual witnesses of the Armenian Genocide.
Arissian has recorded the testimonies of 25 Arab witnesses, all born
between 1880 and 1919, including some who were the children of Armenian
women deportees. The information they provided was useful as regards the
various regions from which the Armenians had been deported as well as
the relationship of the Syrians with the Armenian deportees.
c) The oral testimonies of the children of Arab tribesmen who witnessed
the Genocide. Arissian described her interviews with the sons of the
governor in 1915 of the region of Sabkha (40 km south-west of Rakka),
the chief of the Arab al-Jarba tribe, the leader of the Kurdish al-Malla
tribal confederation, and with the writer, Abd al-Salam al-Ujayli, whose
father was a village headman and a director of deportations in the Rakka
region in 1915.
d) The published memoirs of political, cultural and other public
figures. The discussion of the latter formed the last and most extensive
part of Arissian’s lecture.

Arissian argued that the published memoirs of the writer and politician
Fakhri al-Barudi (1889-1066), the revolutionary activists Fawzi
al-Qawuqji and Ahmad Qadri (1893-1958), as well as the Ottoman diplomat
Amin Arslan (1893-1958) make only passing references to the Armenians
when discussing the characteristics of the Young Turk regime in the last
years of Ottoman rule. The lecturer dealt in more depth, however, with
the works of the politician Fares al-Khuri (1877-1962), the lawyer and
political activist Fayez al-Ghusayn (1883-1968) and the cultural and
public figure Muhammad Kurd Ali (1876-1953). Al-Khuri dwelt at length on
the murder of his fellow Ottoman parliamentarians of Armenian descent,
Krikor Zohrab and Vartkes, and its repercussions in the Ottoman
Parliament. Al-Ghusayn was briefly imprisoned as a political opponent by
the Young Turk regime during the war years and finally escaped to join
the rebel forces of Sharif Husayn in Arabia. Al-Ghusayn has a number of
writings that describe the Armenian deportations and massacres, the most
significant of which is a series of articles entitled ‘The Massacres in
Armenia,’ which was first published in the Egyptian periodical
al-Muqattam and was then reissued as a 62-page booklet. In various books
that he compiled, Kurd Ali in turn described the Armenian Genocide, the
forced migration of Armenians to Syria and tried to analyze the
possibility of the acculturation of these Armenian migrants into their
new milieu. Finally, Arissian also mentioned in this last part of her
lecture that another Syrian author, Yusif al-Hakim (1879-1979),
described in his memoirs, ‘Syria and the Ottoman Period,’ the massacres
against the Armenians in Cilicia and the neighboring northern districts
of modern Syria during the failed counter-revolution of 1909, which
aimed to return Sultan Abdulhamid II to power as an absolute monarch.

During the question-and-answer session that followed, Arissian admitted
that young Syrian Arabs are not generally aware of the sources she has
researched and the information that they contain, but she expressed
commitment and some optimism that Armenians must strive to spread the
appropriate knowledge and help form a favorable public opinion.

Haigazian University is a liberal arts institution of higher learning,
established in Beirut in 1955. For more information about its activities
you are welcome to visit its web-site at <;.
For additional information on the activities of its Department of
Armenian Studies, contact Ara Sanjian at <[email protected]>.

http://www.haigazian.edu.lb/
http://www.haigazian.edu.lb&gt

Cruel Choices

April 14, 2004
OP-ED COLUMNIST
Cruel Choices
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

I can’t get the kaleidoscope of genocide out of my head since my trip
last month to the Sudan-Chad border: the fresh graves, especially the
extra-small mounds for children; the piles of branches on graves to
keep wild animals from digging up corpses; the tales of women being
first raped and then branded on the hand to stigmatize them forever;
the isolated peasants, unfamiliar with electricity, who suddenly
encounter the 21st century as helicopters machine-gun their children.

Then there were the choices faced by the Sudanese refugees I
interviewed. For example, who should fetch water from the wells?

The Arab Janjaweed militia, armed by Sudan’s government, shoots tribal
African men and teenage boys who show up at the wells, and rapes women
who go. So parents described an anguished choice: Should they risk
their 7- or 8-year-old children by sending them to wells a mile away,
knowing that the children have the best prospect of returning?

And what should parents do when the Janjaweed seize their children, or
gang-rape their daughters? Should they resist, knowing they will then
be shot at once in front of their children?

Or what about the parents described by Human Rights Watch who were
allowed by the militia to choose how their children would die: burned
alive or shot to death?

Some 1,000 people in Sudan’s Darfur region are still dying each
week. But at least the world has finally begun to pay attention – and
it’s striking how a hint of concern in the West has persuaded Sudan to
reach a cease-fire there.

President Bush finally found his voice last week, protesting the
“atrocities” in Darfur. More forcefully, Kofi Annan warned on the day
commemorating the Rwandan genocide that reports about brutalities in
Darfur “leave me with a deep sense of foreboding. . . . The
international community cannot stand idle.”

So far in Darfur, thousands have been killed, and about one million
black Africans have been driven from their homes by the
lighter-skinned Arabs in the Janjaweed. Vast sections of Darfur, a
region the size of France, have been burned and emptied. The Janjaweed
have also destroyed wells, or fouled them by dumping corpses into
them, to keep villagers from ever returning.

“You can drive for 100 kilometers and see nobody, no civilian,” said
Dr. Mercedes Tatay, a physician with Doctors Without Borders who has
just spent a month in Darfur. “You pass through large villages,
completely burned or still burning, and you see nobody.”

In the refugee camps in Darfur, malnutrition and measles are claiming
the survivors, especially young children. Roger Winter, assistant
administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development,
estimates that even if the fighting stops today, at least 100,000 are
still likely to die in coming months – of disease, malnutrition and
other ailments. Yet Sudan is still curbing access to Darfur by the
U.N. and aid groups.

I’m not suggesting an invasion of Sudan. But it’s a fallacy to think
that just because we can’t do everything to stop genocide, we
shouldn’t do anything. One of the lessons of the last week is how
little it took – from Washington, the U.N. and the African Union – to
nudge Sudan into accepting a cease-fire and pledging access for
humanitarian workers.

Now we need more arm-twisting to get Sudan to comply with the
cease-fire (it marked the first day, Monday, by bombing the town of
Anka). The Sudanese government is testing us, but so far the State
Department has shown a commendable willingness to stand up to it.

We can save many tens of thousands of lives in the coming weeks – but
only if Mr. Bush and Mr. Annan speak out more boldly, if the
U.N. Security Council insists on humanitarian access to Darfur and if
the aid community mounts a huge effort before the rainy season makes
roads impassible beginning in late May.

In the last 100 years, the United States has reacted to one genocide
after another – Armenians, Jews, Cambodians, Bosnians – by making
excuses at the time, and then saying, too late, “Oh, if only we had
known!” Well, this time we know what is happening in Darfur: 110,000
refugees have escaped into Chad and testify to the atrocities.

How many more parents will be forced to choose whether their children
are shot or burned to death before we get serious?

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

Armenia’s Opposition Has a Bloody Baptism

The Moscow Times
Thursday, Apr. 15, 2004. Page 7

Armenia’s Opposition Has a Bloody Baptism

By Kim Iskyan

Until a few weeks ago, Armenia was a bedrock of stability compared to its
neighbors Georgia and Azerbaijan. But now Armenia is trying to join Georgia
in throwing off a corrupt and repressive regime.

A bit more than a year ago, Armenian President Robert Kocharyan followed up
a fraudulent presidential election victory with a correspondingly
counterfeit parliamentary poll a few weeks later. Subsequent opposition
protests sputtered, but a call by the country’s otherwise pro-presidential
Constitutional Court for a “referendum of confidence” within a year provided
a shred of hope.

Twelve months later, with no referendum in sight, and naively inspired by
last autumn’s “Rose Revolution” in Georgia, the Armenian opposition dusted
off its placards and focused on forcing Kocharyan and Co. to move forward
with the referendum or else just quit.

But Armenia isn’t Georgia. Demonstrations in Yerevan were initially
postponed in part due to a chill in the air. Many of the 15,000 people
ostensibly attending an opposition rally last week were more intent on
chomping on sunflower seeds in the sunshine than on change. Subsequent
protests intimated a deep revolutionary spirit in a hardened core, but the
sentiment was not widespread.

Part of the problem is that Armenia’s opposition hasn’t convinced the
cynical electorate that it is more interested in bringing about real change
than in having a turn at the feeding trough. And for all his government’s
incompetence and corruption, Kocharyan has kept most Armenians supplied with
heat, electricity and water most of the time.

Kocharyan, though, took no chances. Vehicles trying to enter Yerevan over
the past few days have been forced to turn around for fear that their
occupants were potential protesters. In the brutally bloody climax to recent
protests, government troops blasted a few thousand demonstrators with water
cannons and stun grenades at 2 a.m. in front of the country’s parliamentary
building. The next day, opposition offices were seized by police, and
opposition leaders went into hiding to avoid arrest. Now that constitutional
and peaceful means of bringing about change have been met with barbed wire
and a kick in the head, watch for the opposition to explore other means.

Meanwhile, much of the head-in-the-sand Armenian diaspora theorizes aloud
that foreign governments must be behind the unrest, since things really
aren’t that bad in the homeland — the 50 percent poverty rate
notwithstanding. So don’t look to them to argue with Kocharyan’s message of
power through fear, as Armenia slides down the slippery former-Soviet slope
toward dictatorship, and not even a benign one at that.

Kim Iskyan, a freelance journalist and consultant in Yerevan, contributed
this comment to The Moscow Times.

Armenian President blames extremists for disturbances in Yerevan

The Moscow Times
Hot News

Armenian President blames extremists for disturbances in Yerevan

RosBusinessConsulting. Wednesday, Apr. 14, 2004, 7:28 PM Moscow Time

Forces that propagate political extremism should bear full responsibility
for the recent incidents in Yerevan, Armenian President Robert Kocharian
declared at a meeting with members of the Board of the United Communist
Party. During the meeting the President underlined the necessity of a
dialogue between the opposition and the ruling coalition. However, he
pointed out, “It is impossible to begin a dialogue when the opposition uses
the language of ultimatums,” the press service of the Armenian President
reported. As for the events that took place early in the morning on April
13, Kocharian remarked that the police had used exclusively legal methods
for restoring public order. He stated that the work of both the opposition
and the ruling party should be aimed at increasing the people’s well-being
and controlling some aspects of the government’s work. “At present, the
opposition has every chance to return to its normal activity, but if it
chooses a different policy, the government, using every legal method
available, will make efforts to prevent any illegal actions and to protect
the people,” Kocharian underscored, the ARMINFO news agency reported.