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1) Armenia ‘Ideal Partner’ For Georgia, Says Saakashvili
2) Ferrahian School’s 40th Anniversary Celebrations
3) ANC West Honors Its Own
4) [email protected]
5) Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry Finds Match for First Armenia Patient

1) Armenia ‘Ideal Partner’ For Georgia, Says Saakashvili

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili praised Armenia and
its President Robert Kocharian on Friday during an official visit to Yerevan.
Meeting for the first time, the two leaders stressed the high level of
relations between their nations, vowing to strengthen friendly bilateral ties,
promote regional cooperation, and continue to seek integration into European
structures.
Saakashvili described Armenia as an ideal partner, saying that his country
has
a lot to learn from its neighbor’s nation-building experience.
“The president of Armenia left an extremely positive impression on me,”
Saakashvili told a joint news conference after the talks. “I think that he
is a
very energetic and able leader who is well aware of the region’s problems and
international relations in general. And I think Armenia is lucky to have
such a
president.”
“I remember telling my ministers that there are many things they can learn
from Armenia,” the 36-year-old leader said, mentioning its armed forces in the
first instance.
“We are going to develop, get stronger, and promote peace and stability. In
this sense, we have an excellent, an ideal partner in Yerevan.”
Kocharian was more reserved in his comments. “I am happy with the sincere
character of today’s exchange of opinions,” he said, adding that
Armenian-Georgian summits will now be more frequent than in the past.
Kocharian also noted an “amazing convergence” of the two governments’
positions on the situation in Javakhk, an economically strapped
Armenian-majority region in southern Georgia which is home to a Russian
military base. He said they both believe that the only way to ease simmering
tensions in the impoverished region is to address its socioeconomic problems
and promote its residents’ “deep integration” into Georgian society.
The joint declaration implies that Armenia will not seek a status of autonomy
for Javakhk demanded last month by a junior member of its governing coalition,
the Armenian Revolutionary Federation. “The Parties reiterated once again
their
commitment to the principle of non-interference with each other’s internal
affairs, mutual respect for self-rule, territorial integrity and inviolability
of borders,” it reads. In a joint declaration issued by them, Yerevan again
disavowed recent calls for self-rule in Georgia’s Armenian-populated areas.
Saakashvili was quick to publicly welcome Kocharian’s “principled stance” on
what he stressed is his country’s internal affair.
Touching on the uneasy Russian-Georgian relationship, Saakashvili suggested
that Yerevan, which maintains close ties with Moscow, might “greatly
assist” in
their improvement. Tbilisi, for its part, is ready to help defuse tensions
between Armenia and its regional arch-foes: Azerbaijan and Turkey, he said .
Economic issues were also high on the agenda of the talks, with the two
presidents agreeing to step up activities of a Georgian-Armenian
intergovernmental commission on economic cooperation. It will now be
co-chaired
by Prime Minister Andranig Markarian and Georgian State Minister Zurab
Zhvania.

Saakashvili effectively reaffirmed his pledge to lower transit fees levied
from goods imported to and exported from Armenia through Georgian railway and
Black Sea ports. The latter handle 90 percent of Armenia’s external trade. The
Georgian tariffs for Azerbaijani cargoes have until now been considerably
lower.
“Armenia must have the most favorable regional tariffs, no less favorable
that
any of our neighbors has,” Saakashvili declared.
But it was not clear if any bilateral agreements to that effect will be
signed
by the two governments soon.
Later in the day Saakashvili visited the genocide memorial on Yerevan’s
Dzitdzernagapert Hill and met with leaders of the Armenian parliament and its
pro-Kocharian majority.

2) Ferrahian School’s 40th Anniversary Celebrations

ENCINO–The 2003-2004 academic year marks the 40th anniversary of the
establishment of Holy Martyrs Armenian Elementary & Ferrahian High School. To
celebrate this historic event, two formal events have been organized by the
school administration.
The anniversary celebrations will begin with a special program on May 2, at
6:00 pm, at the school’s Avedissian Hall, where alumni will take part
recognizing faculty members throughout the years for their exceptional
contributions. The celebrations will continue with a banquet organized by the
Finance Committee dedicated to the 40th anniversary on May 8, at 8:00 pm, at
the Regents Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Both events will be held under the
auspices
of Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian.
The administration looks forward to seeing the more than 1500 alumni, their
families, parents and teachers, the representatives of community
organizations,
devoted supporters and benefactors, and all others who have unconditionally
supported the school throughout the years.

3) ANC West Honors Its Own

OUTSTANDING WORK OF ANC CHAPTERS, DEDICATED INDIVIDUALS ACKNOWLEDGED AT AWARDS
EVENT

GLENDALE–The hard work of over a dozen ANC chapters from across the Western
United States was recognized at the first annual ANCA-WR Grassroots Awards
Event on February 29 in Glendale, California. On the same night that
Hollywood
was honoring its best across town at the Oscars, ANC leaders and supporters
from throughout the Western Region gathered in Glendale to acknowledge each
other’s hard work, and celebrate individual and collective dedication and
commitment to the Armenian Cause. Activists from Sacramento, Los Angeles, San
Francisco, San Diego, Orange County, and many others, came together for this
unique event.
“The 2004 ANCA-WR Grassroots Awards event acknowledged chapters and activists
who comprise the core of the ANC, making it the largest, most effective, and
efficient Armenian-American grassroots public affairs organization,” said
ANCA-WR Executive Director Ardashes Kassakhian.
Not only was one Grassroots Activist from each ANC chapter given special
recognition, but awards were also handed to chapters for best website, most
innovative project, media outreach, voter outreach, up-and-coming chapter, as
well as others.
“The dedication and strength of our ANC chapters is a tribute to the
democratic principles of America’s founding fathers and the pioneers of the
Armenian Cause,” commented ANCA-WR Chairman Raffi Hamparian after the event.
“On a daily basis, ANC members encourage Armenian Americans to vote and to
participate in the political life of our nation. I am very proud of each and
every ANC chapter and activist who was honored at our Awards Event.”
The Master of Ceremonies at the ANC Awards Event was longtime community
activist and former Burbank ANC Chair Stepan Boyadjian. With a good dose of
humor, Boyadjian kept the audience laughing as he moved the program along.
Assisting Boyadjian was ANCA-WR Executive Director Ardashes Kassakhian who
thanked everyone in attendance for their dedication and support.
“What makes the Armenian National Committee such a unique organization is the
simple fact that this organization doesn’t function with merely the work of
one
or two individual staffers, but through the constant effort of thousands and
thousands of individuals who do their part every day of ever week of every
year,” said Kassakhian. “We owe our supporters a big thank you.”
The highlight of the evening came with an awards presentation in a variety of
categories, including individual honors.
In order to recognize the impact the dedication of certain individuals has
had, each chapter nominated one member who had made an exceptional
contribution
to their respective chapter.
Presenting ANC Chapter Awards were ANCA-WR Board Members Aida Dimejian and
Garo Ispendjian. In a creative display of solidarity, the Burbank ANC
nominated the Burbank ANC Chapter Activist as their individual honoree. The
selfless nomination served as the closing theme for the evening as Burbank
received the 2004 ANCA-WR Grassroots Activist of the Year award for the entire
Western Region of the United States.

Other individual chapter awards:
Crescenta Valley
Saro Senekerinian

Fresno Central California
Ara Kachadourian and Rich Sanikian

Sacramento
Hovannes Boghossian

Glendale
Milene Apanian

Pasadena
Susan Berberian

San Diego
Dr. Robert Deranian

San Francisco
Raffi Momjian

Montebello San Gabriel Valley
Serge Samoniantz

East San Fernando Valley
Vahe Shahinian

West San Fernando Valley
Nichan Kulukian

Chapters were also recognized for their outstanding work throughout 2003 in
the following categories:

2004 ANCA-WR Rising Star–Crescenta Valley ANC for outstanding work in
establishing a relationship with the local community and involving a wide
cross
section of the community in ANC activities

2004 Best ANCA-WR Local Website–Central California/Fresno ANC for their
<; website

2004 ANCA-WR Best Local Voter Outreach Campaign–San Francisco /Bay Area ANC
for regularly emailing and updating Bay Area Armenians on local, state, and
federal elections in 2002-2003 with special recognition for the ANC San
Francisco Mayoral Debate

2004 ANCA-WR Best Local Voter Outreach Campaign–Montebello/San Gabriel
Valley
ANC for their voter outreach and registration drive and being the deciding
factor in their local municipal election with special recognition for the
“Honoring the Montebello City Council” event

2004 ANCA-WR Most Outstanding Initiative by a Local Chapter–San
Francisco/Bay
Area ANC for their Genocide Education Campaign with special recognition for
the
project

2004 ANCA-WR Best Media Outreach Campaign–Pasadena ANC for press coverage in
the Pasadena Star News on the Policeman’s Appreciation Luncheon and the Person
of the Year Event.

ANCA-WR Chair Raffi Hamparian thanked each chapter and the ANCA-WR office
staff for their hard work, and encouraged all to strive for greatness in the
coming year in pursuit of ANC’s goals.
Among officials present at the event were Congressman Adam Schiff, California
State Senator Jack Scott, California State Assemblyman Paul Koretz, former ANC
Chairmen Jack Messerlian, Armand Keosian, Dr. Sahag Baghdasarian and Steven
Dadaian. Glendale School Board Member Greg Krikorian, Burbank School Board
Member Paul Krekorian and Glendale Community College Board Member Ara Najarian
were also in attendance.

4) [email protected]

BY ALEX SARDAR

Last year, in April, some friends and I organized a viewing of the BBC
documentary on the Armenian Genocide here in Yerevan, and during the
discussion
after the film, an Armenian friend stood up and complained that when
Diasporans
speak about denial and the importance of remembering the Armenian Genocide,
they never consider the fact that denial is a non-issue in Armenia. At the
time
I was offended by my friend’s disposition, but then I thought about it and
figured that she was probably right, because who, after all denies the
Armenian
Genocide in Armenia.

This week, I had a reminder.

As reported by Harout Sassounian of the California Courier last week, the
British Ambassador to Armenia, in an interview in January, had called into
question the veracity of the Genocide as an actual genocide, claiming that the
Armenian Genocide does not fit the UN’s definition of the term. Below, I am
providing my response to the British Ambassador, sent this week, without the
attachments, of course.

The one thing I forgot was to thank her for answering my friend’s question.

Thanks for your indulgence.

March 11, 2004

HM Ambassador Thorda Abbott-Watt
British Embassy
34 Baghramyan Street
Yerevan 375019

Dear Madam Ambassador:

As an American working in the aid community in the Republic of Armenia over
the last 23 months, I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with you on several
occasions, and I’ve been delighted with many of the projects sponsored by the
British Embassy and the British Council under your auspices.

It was therefore an unpleasant surprise to read words attributed to you
regarding the Armenian Genocide and the applicability of international
conventions to this–the first genocide of the 20th Century. I am certain that
you have already received numerous letters in this regard. I also understand
that as the highest ranking representative of Great Britain in Armenia, your
words reflect the political stance of your government on the issue of the
Armenian Genocide, and hopefully not yours personally.

In the interest of promoting human rights and civil discussion, however, I
would like to respectfully disagree with your statement, and while aside from
my limited exposure to other scholars’ works, I am not professionally
qualified
to argue historical facts of World War I and/or the Armenian Genocide, I would
like to ask you to consider the attached list of literature on the Armenian
Genocide and the history of the era, as well as the international response,
including that of Great Britain’s, to this crime against humanity.

In addition to a news clipping on recent events related to the recognition of
the Armenian Genocide in Europe, I’m attaching a copy of a recent article by
international law scholar and former UN human rights expert Dr. Alfred De
Zayas
entitled “The Genocide against the Armenians 1915-1923 and the application of
the 1948 Genocide Convention.” I trust you will find this report enlightening
and perhaps will share it with your colleagues at the Foreign Office for their
consideration.

Madam Ambassador, I am well aware of the political sensitivities surrounding
the issue of the Armenian Genocide and its recognition, and I understand that
in the strategic paradigm, Armenia and its history may not be a priority for
your government. At the same time, however, I would hope and would like to
respectfully ask that in keeping with the great diplomatic history of your
nation, your next statement on the Armenian Genocide–albeit a statement of
denial of historical facts–be done with at least the same amount of
consideration and regard as your government has for its relations with Turkey,
when dealing with the latter’s past crimes and present human rights
violations.

The Armenian Genocide may be a distant and historical, abstract concept for
governments, but it is a living and breathing reality for Armenians and all
peoples of good conscience. American Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt, in
conjunction with numerous other scholars wrote in a 1996 statement against
denial of the Armenian Genocide, “Denial of genocide strives to reshape
history
in order to demonize the victims and rehabilitate the perpetrators. Denial of
genocide is the final stage of genocide; it is what Elie Wiesel has called a
‘double killing.’ Denial murders the dignity of the survivors and seeks to
destroy the remembrance of the crime.”

Your statement has reinforced your government’s stance on the issue, but it
has also caused much pain for the survivors of this great calamity. I hope you
will take an example from the pages of your country’s diplomatic tradition,
and
clarify the record for Armenia and Armenians–your hosts.

I welcome the opportunity to discuss this issue further.

In anticipation,
Alex Sardar
Yerevan, Armenia
Enclosure

5) Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry Finds Match for First Armenia Patient

TRANSPLANT SCHEDULED IN POLAND FOR 11-YEAR-OLD ARAM

`EVERY ARMENIAN LIFE THAT WE SAVE IS, INDEED, PRECIOUS.’ — BELLA KOCHARIAN,
MD, FIRST LADY OF ARMENIA AND FIRST DONOR TO THE ABMDR

YEREVAN–A few Individuals can make a difference in the world, and this time,
they may just have found a way to save a young boy’s life.
When 10-year-old Aram was diagnosed with leukemia a year ago, his doctors
were
hopeful that a series of chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments would help
him. They also contacted the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry (ABMDR) to
see if there was a bone marrow donor match just in case the therapies didn’t
work and he needed a transplant in the future. An identical donor match was
found, but it wasn’t until this December that the doctors determined that a
transplant was his only hope for survival.
But it would take more than the generous heart of a donor and the dedication
of his doctors and the ABMDR staff to save Aram’s life. Aram and his family
faced other challenges: raising money to pay for the transplant and finding a
transplant center, since Armenia has no such facility.
Through the passionate commitment and direct initiative of the ABMDR’s
honorary chairperson, First Lady of Armenia Dr. Bella Kocharian, funds have
been raised for Aram’s transplant and arrangements have been coordinated with
the ABMDR for his transplant in Poland. When the First Lady of Poland visited
Yerevan two years ago, First Lady Kocharian showed her the ABMDR facilities
and
told her that Armenia has no transplant center. Moved and impressed by the
ABMDR’s efforts, First Lady Kwashniewska offered to make Poland’s facility
available to Armenian patients at minimal cost.
While the ABMDR does not provide funds for transplantation costs, it can
provide connections and visibility, as was the case with Aram and his family.
Publicity surrounding the ABMDR’s recent anniversary gala in Yerevan
coordinated through First Lady Kocharian’s office catalyzed special efforts to
raise funds for Aram’s transplantation costs, resulting in over $30,000
collected from the Armenian community.
Support for Aram and his family came from other sources as well. ABMDR
Executive Director Sevak Avagyan relayed the young boy’s circumstances to
Catholicos Garegin II, who gave his blessing to Aram before he left for
Poland.
Now, with the help of a few committed individuals, Aram is in Poland armed
for
the fight of his life. The first bone marrow transplant resulting from the
ABMDR’s identification of a marrow match occurred at City of Hope in Los
Angeles in 2003. Aram’s will be the second transplantation, with many more
likely to be scheduled among Armenian patients and their potential donors in
the months ahead.
The ABMDR is a non-profit organization whose mission is to ensure that every
ethnic Armenian struck with a life-threatening blood-related illness is
able to
find hope for long-term survival through the identification of a genetically
suitable bone marrow match. It is a member of the Bone Marrow Donors Worldwide
association, which helps the ABMDR to identify more patients in need and find
bone marrow matches. Since December 2000, over 6,500 Armenians in Armenia and
the United States have registered with the ABMDR, 209 patients have been
identified who need transplants, and 70 potential bone marrow matches have
been
identified.
Those who wish to further assist the Registry in helping patients like Aram
may write ABMDR President Dr. Frieda Jordan at 347 W. Stocker St., Suite 208,
Glendale, California, e-mail her at [email protected], or call her at
(818)
547-1374.

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www.TeachGenocide.org

Over 60 House Members Urge Hastert To Schedule Genocide Bill Vote

Armenian National Committee of America
888 17th St., NW, Suite 904
Washington, DC 20006
Tel: (202) 775-1918
Fax: (202) 775-5648
E-mail: [email protected]
Internet:

PRESS RELEASE
March 12, 2004
Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
Tel: (202) 775-1918

OVER SIXTY HOUSE MEMBERS URGE SPEAKER HASTERT
TO SCHEDULE A VOTE ON THE GENOCIDE RESOLUTION

— Rep. Radanovich Leads Effort in Support of H.Res.193

WASHINGTON, DC – A bi-partisan group of over 60 House Members
called on Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL), today, to bring the
Genocide Resolution – H.Res.193 – for a full floor vote, reported
the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

The letter, initiated by Rep. Radanovich (R-CA), stresses that, “As
we saw in Rwanda a decade ago, and as we witness today the signs of
a possible new genocide emerging around the world – as a government
and a people – we must make sure that we apply the lessons of past
genocide to prevent future crimes against humanity.”

The Genocide resolution was introduced in the House last April by
Representatives Radanovich, Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Congressional
Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Joe Knollenberg
(R-MI). It was adopted unanimously by the House Judiciary Committee
in May and has 111 cosponsors. Its companion legislation in the
Senate, S.Res.164, was introduced last June by Senators John Ensign
(R-NV) and Jon Corzine (D-NJ) and currently has 37 cosponsors.

The resolution cites the importance of remembering past crimes
against humanity, including the Armenian Genocide, Holocaust,
Cambodian and Rwandan genocides, in an effort to stop future
atrocities. Support for the measure has been widespread, with a
diverse coalition of over 100 ethnic, religious, civil and human
rights organizations calling for its passage, including American
Values, National Organization of Women, Sons of Italy, NAACP, Union
of Orthodox Rabbis, and the National Council of La Raza.

Joining Rep. Radanovich in cosigning the letter to Speaker Hastert
were Representatives: Tom Allen (D-ME), Rob Andrews (D-NJ), Tammy
Baldwin (D-WI), Xavier Becerra (D-CA), Howard Berman (D-CA),
Michael Bilirakis (R-FL), Tim Bishop (D-NY), Sherrod Brown (D-OH),
Ken Calvert (R-CA), Michael Capuano (D-MA), Dennis Cardoza (D-CA),
John Conyers (D-MI), Jerry Costello (D-IL), Joseph Crowley (D-NY),
William Delahunt (D-MA), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), John Dingell (D-MI),
Elliot Engel (D-NY), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Chaka Fattah (D-PA),
Michael Ferguson (R-NJ), Bob Filner (D-CA), Barney Frank (D-MA),
Scott Garrett (R-NJ), Mark Green (R-WI), Jim Greenwood (R-PA), Raul
Grijalva (D-AZ), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Maurice Hinchey (D-NY),
Rush Holt (D-NJ), Michael Honda (D-CA), Steve Israel (D-NY), Marcy
Kaptur (D-OH), Dale Kildee (D-MI), Jerry Kleczka (D-WI), Dennis
Kucinich (D-OH), James Langevin (D-RI), Jim Leach (R-IA), Barbara
Lee (D-CA), Sander Levin (D-MI), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Nita Lowey (D-
NY), Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Edward Markey
(D-MA), James McGovern (D-MA), Michael McNulty (D-NY), Marty Meehan
(D-MA), Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-CA), Grace Napolitano (D-CA),
Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Devin Nunes (R-CA), Frank Pallone (D-
NJ), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Steven Rothman (D-NJ), Adam Schiff (D-
CA), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Mark Souder (R-IN), John Sweeney (R-NY),
Edolphus Towns (D-NY), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).

The full text of the letter follows.

#####

=======================================TEXT OF LETTER TO SPEAKER DENNIS HASTERT
=======================================Mar ch 12, 2004

The Honorable Dennis J. Hastert
Speaker of the House
235 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Speaker Hastert:

We are writing to share with you our strong support for bringing H.
Res. 193 to the House floor for a vote as soon as possible.

This measure, as you know, commemorates the 15th anniversary of the
U.S. implementation of the Genocide Convention and reinforces our
nation’s dedication to this landmark human rights treaty. Approved
in the shadow of the Holocaust, the Convention stands today as the
international community’s best hope for the realization of the
noble aim of eradicating forever the crime of genocide. The House
Judiciary Committee, recognizing the importance of this effort,
adopted H. Res. 193 without opposition on May 21st. One hundred
and ten Representatives have cosponsored this measure, including
both the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee.

As we saw in Rwanda a decade ago, and as we witness today the signs
of a possible new genocide emerging around the world, as a
government and a people, we must make sure that we apply the
lessons of past genocide to prevent future crimes against humanity.
Sadly, even as we confront new genocides, we still have among us
those who, against all facts and morality, deny the Holocaust or
seek to rewrite the history of the past atrocities. These hateful
deniers dishonor the dead and threaten the living. They make the
world a more dangerous place by emboldening future potential
perpetrators of genocide to believe that their crimes can be
committed with impunity. Adolf Hitler confirmed this with his
chilling remark to his military staff prior to launching the
Holocaust, “who, after all remembers the annihilation of the
Armenians.”

Clearly, the struggle against genocide is not over. The pressing
need to remain ever vigilant was underscored recently by Samantha
Power, Pulitzer Prize winning author of ” A Problem from Hell:
American in the Age of Genocide.” Commenting on similar
legislation in the 107th Congress, she noted that, “For too long
American leaders and citizens have reflexively uttered the phrase
‘never again’ without taking concrete steps to give the slogan
meaning. This legislation marks the beginning of a twenty-first
century campaign to get the U.S. government to commit itself
politically and operationally to prevent future genocide.”

Recalling your support for H. Res. 596 in the 106th Congress and
knowing of your principled advocacy for human rights around the
world, we ask that you please move quickly to schedule a vote on H.
Res. 193. Thank you for your consideration of our request.

#####

www.anca.org

Armenian, Georgian leaders sign joint statement

Armenian, Georgian leaders sign joint statement

Noyan Tapan news agency, Yerevan
12 Mar 04

Armenian President Robert Kocharyan and visiting Georgian President
Mikheil Saakashvili have signed a joint statement in Yerevan, the
Armenian news agency Noyan Tapan said on 12 March.

Noting the “high level of relations between Armenia and Georgia”, the
statement said that “the sound legal basis between the countries would
help develop cooperation on a whole range of issues of bilateral
relations”, including cooperation in the sphere of security.

In the statement, the sides also noted the “need to continue work to
complete the delimitation of the state borders” between Armenia and
Georgia, the agency said.

Lunch with the FT: Play it again, Sam

Lunch with the FT: Play it again, Sam
By Paige Williams

FT
March 12, 2004 18:59

One of Samantha Power’s favourite lunch spots is a place off Harvard
Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts called Casablanca. Decorated with
20ft murals of the movie, Bogart and Bergman gaze with melancholy at
diners digging into their seared cod and mixed greens.

The theme has echoes of Hitler and of Hollywood, which resonate
because Power’s seminal writings on war and human rights have made her
a celebrity favoured by the American left.

Heads turn as she strides past Bogey and Bergman and slides into a
banquette. Power seems not to notice. She is so focused that I’m a
little surprised she has not come dressed like a distracted professor
(she lectures in public policy at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of
Government). She wears a stylish leather coat, black slacks and a
starched, striped muslin shirt with a silver and turquoise
necklace. Long and lean, she has intense blue eyes and voluminous
auburn hair. With a fedora she might look a little like Bergman, but
with freckles.

She is equally distinguished in accomplishment. Over-achievement is de
rigueur in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but rarely does it come so
globally at the age of 33. In her best-selling book of 2002, A Problem
from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, Power chronicled the role
of the US in the history of genocide. The book criticises America’s
record of passivity in the face of international slaughter and has
become required reading for anyone hoping to strengthen US foreign
policy on human rights. Power pushes the issue as founding executive
director of the Carr Centre for Human Rights at Harvard, where her
obsessive tendencies have not gone unnoticed. (When she was working on
the book she would crank the heat up to 80 deg F during the day so she
could stay warm while she worked late into the night.)

Yet lately, to her dismay, she has been at risk of being interpreted
as a bit more hawk than dove – of being appropriated to justify
President George W. Bush’s war in Iraq. She cringes at the idea.

“But, wait – food,” Power says. “Let’s get that out of the way.”

She opens the menu. She is fond of the bluefish, but what she calls
the “chicken roll” suddenly looks good: grilled, lemon-marinated
chicken on a homemade pitta roll with feta. It comes with mixed greens
in lemon vinaigrette. The bluefish cake, on the other hand, is made
with shallots, creamy mustard and parsley.

“What do you think?” Power, ever the reporter, asks the server – who
says she would go for the bluefish, but it doesn’t come with mixed
greens.

Power orders the chicken and hands over the menu.

“No wait,” she says. “You know what? I’ll have the bluefish and the
mixed greens.” No appetiser? No wine?

“Diet Coke,” Power says, yawning. “Wine would put me right to sleep. I
was up until 3am.”

This makes her smile, almost shyly, and Power is not a shy woman. Upon
graduating from Yale University she went as a freelance reporter to
cover the war in Bosnia. When her articles for The Boston Globe and
The Washington Post failed to prompt a satisfactory US response, she
decided to obtain a law degree in the hope of answering a question:
why does the US consistently do so little to prevent genocide (Bosnia,
Iraq, Cambodia, the Holocaust, Armenia)? After graduating from Harvard
Law School she decided to answer the question and went into a mode
that friends describe as “all genocide, all the time”.

She spent six years researching and writing the book, which was
rejected by almost every leading publishing house in Manhattan, before
becoming the first acquisition of Basic Books editor Vanessa
Mobley. This publishing upstart pushed it into print and on to win
several of the biggest prizes in US literature, including the
Pulitzer.

As Power takes a fork to her mixed greens, she says she has just
agreed a new two-book deal with Mobley and Henry Holt and Company of
New York. One book involves the lessons of German philosopher Hannah
Arendt, the other the consequences of amnesia in US foreign
policy. Neither is likely to trigger the rightwing appropriation that
Power is experiencing with the genocide book, which will probably be a
relief.

“It causes me great discomfort when my book is read in its most narrow
sense, which is that, ‘The United States should intervene militarily
when it feels like it’,” she says. She puts down her fork. “I mean,
the book is the furthest thing from a plea for American military
intervention, and certainly for unilateral military intervention on a
whim or on a subjective set of excuses and justifications. It’s not
even about genocide. It’s about are we injecting concern for foreign
life, for human life, into our foreign policy as a matter of course
and not as a fluke matter of convergence with national interests? And
the answer remains no.” Up comes the fork again.

Power has a husky voice that every now and then reveals a flicker of
her native Dublin. She moved to the US when she was nine and credits
her mother and stepfather (her father died when she was very young)
with an intellectually supportive and stimulating childhood.

“My mother is epic,” she says. “She played at Wimbledon, she has a PhD
in biochemistry, she’s a kidney transplant doctor, and she’s hilarious
– she’s taking film classes and patching people up and running the New
York marathon. Epic, truly. And also a great friend.”

Power is hyper-articulate, and unhesitant in her delivery, which gives
me a chance to work on the grilled pear salad. She is also fiercely
accommodating of the tape recorder under her nose and doesn’t knock it
over once, even though she speaks with her hands: twisting and turning
as though wringing out a point, this one being that the US should have
intervened in Iraq not last year but in 1987-88, when Saddam Hussein’s
regime was exterminating an estimated 100,000 Kurds.

“I think the narrow read on my book is, ‘Intervene when there is
badness on the face of the earth, and if you can’t get (UN) Security
Council support, well, so what?’

“Having experienced a little of war in Bosnia, it is so awful that it
really is something one should employ as an absolute last resort, and
my criteria for military intervention – with a strong preference for
multilateral intervention – is an immediate threat of large-scale loss
of life. That’s a standard that would have been met in Iraq in 1988,
but wasn’t in 2003.”

The grilled bluefish came on hot oval plates with squiggled ribbons of
fried onion. “Oh, could we have some bread, too, please?” Power
asks. “Some of that good sesame bread? But wait, there was one other
point I wanted to make.

“The war in Iraq very plainly was not about Saddam’s genocide against
the Kurds and human rights. It was about a perception of Saddam as a
threat to very traditional American security interests. Now the
so-called [WMD] security threat has been exposed as exaggerated, at
best, and concocted, at worst, the only argument this administration
has left for having gone to war is the human
rights-democratisation-genocide argument. So they have an awful lot
invested in trying to make Iraq a more humane place.”

The fork comes up and starts taking apart the bluefish. The sesame
bread arrives, but Power ignores it. In fact, lunch seems incidental
to her.

“A paradox is that I would hope I was a poster child for the
integration of consideration of human rights into American foreign
policy, and for the recognition that American interests will best be
advanced if we do this,” she says.

Other than her close friend Doris Kearns Goodwin, the historian, Power
is the only person I’ve met who can speak at such length while barely
coming up for air.

She says it’s critical for the US to win back some credibility, “and
not be the bull in the china shop”.

“Can this administration restore America’s credibility?” I ask.

“No,” Power says. “I don’t think so.”

The dessert menu arrives, but she decides not to open it. She doesn’t
even care for a coffee. “We’re still going to have special interests
no matter who’s the president,” she says. “We’re still going to have a
reluctance to subject ourselves to international law that we feel
we’re above. The unfortunate part of the relationship about human
rights and security is that now we view the welfare of foreign
citizens as valuable and relevant only in so far as it advances our
security.”

Power is sliding out of the banquette and into her leather coat. She
has a student’s paper to read before their 2.30pm meeting, which was
two minutes ago.

Later, long after Casablanca has closed, I stop by the Nieman
Foundation for Journalism at Harvard and run into someone who says of
Power, “She’s brilliant, just brilliant. But it’s such a lost cause.”

“How’s that?” I ask.

“Surely she doesn’t think it will ever end: man’s inhumanity to man.”

Probably not. But unlike most of us, that is unlikely to stop Power
trying.

Casablanca, Cambridge, Massachusetts

1 x Diet Coke

1 x pear salad

1 x mixed greens

2 x bluefish

1 x sesame bread

2 x coffees

Total: $63.58

Constructing Kurdistan: Why shouldn’t Iraq become a bi-national fed?

Constructing Kurdistan
Why shouldn’t Iraq become a bi-national federation?

Dr. Brendan O’Leary, the Lauder Professor of Political Science and
director of Penn’s Solomon Asch Center for the Study of Ethnopolitical
Conflict, is working until the summer as a constitutional advisor to
the Kurdistan Regional Government. His office is in the Kurdistan
National Assembly at Hewlr, as it is known in Kurdish, or Erbil, as it
is called by Arabs and Turks. Together with Khaled Salih and John
McGarry he is editing The Future of Kurdistan for the University of
Pennsylvania Press.

In the first of three letters, O’Leary describes his impressions ofthe
Coalition Provisional Authority’s conduct. His next letter will focus
on Kirkuk; the last will focus on the nature of Kurdistan.

By Brendan O’Leary

One of the purposes of Penn’s Solomon Asch Center is to assist in the
reduction of national and ethnic conflict, which is why I accepted the
invitation to act as a constitutional advisor to the Kurdistan
Regional Government and the Kurdistan National Assembly. My brief is
to advise on federation, power-sharing, electoral systems, the
protection of minorities,and the planned transitional law.

The Kurdistan entity currently comprises four million people, mostly
Kurds, but also small numbers of Turkomen, Chaldeans, Assyrians, and
Arabs. It was established in strange circumstances after the 1991 Gulf
War. The United States and the United Kingdom had just failed to
support the Kurds’ uprising against Saddam Hussein-though they had
encouraged it. Saddam’s bloody revenge prompted a mass Kurdish exodus
from Iraq that was only halted when international public opinion
forced the U.S. and the U.K. to create a `safe haven’ and a `no fly
zone’ in what was misleadingly called `northern Iraq.=80=9D The safe
haven eventually led to an autonomous Kurdish government, shielded
from Saddam, but without formal international recognition.

The territory of Kurdistan in Iraq is less than the full region where
Kurds are-or have been-demographically dominant, and less than the
unit that Saddam Hussein was willing to concede during autonomy
negotiations with Kurdish leaders between 1970 and 1974.

`Actually existing Kurdistan’ is also much smaller than =80=9CGreater
Kurdistan.’ The latter is the dream of the wider Kurdish nation. It
describes the entirety of `the land of the Kurds’ under the Ottoman
Empire that was partitioned after World War I. It was entirely
digested by four consumers: Turkey, Iran, and the new inventions of
Syria and Iraq (then respectively under the control of the French and
British empires). European decolonization of the Middle East after
World War II left the Kurds as the largest nation in the Middle East
without a state of their own. Since then Kurds have been subjected to
coercive assimilation and expulsion by the four governments that have
attempted to digest them, and to genocidal assaults by both Turkish
and Iraqi governments; and both British and American governments have
betrayed commitments they gave to successive Kurdish parties,
especially the Kurds of Iraq.

Erbil, the place from which I write, was a sea of tranquility by
comparison with the rest of the former Iraq-until February 1 of this
year, when the headquarters of the two main parties, the Kurdistan
Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, were destroyed
by suicide bombers, leaving over 100 people dead. Among those killed
was Sami Abudulrahman, the Deputy Prime Minister of the Regional
Government and the Secretary of the KDP, a man with whom I worked, and
whom I deeply admired. The impact of these bombings on the local
population has been similar to the impact of September 11 in the
U.S. Our negotiating team is still recuperating from our deep losses.

`Well sir, I wouldn’t start from here,’ is the response attributed to
the proverbial Irishman interrogated on the right road to take. True
to my national origins, that’s the first advice I would give American
and British officials in the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) of
Iraq, and their overseers in Washington and London.

The CPA is bunkered inside Saddam’s major palace, more insulated from
the surrounding societies than the ousted dictator was. It rapidly
dissipated the goodwill the Coalition enjoyed in liberating Iraq’s
Arabs, Kurds, Chaldo-Assyrians, Turkomen, Muslims, Christians,
Yazidis, and Jews from Saddam and his party, the Ba’athists.

The CPA’s officials mostly can’t speak Arabic, but their decrees are
translated into Arabic. They do not even attempt to have their
regulations translated into Kurdish, though it is the mother-tongue of
between a fifth and a third of the former Iraq’s population. Soldiers,
KRG officials, and NGO personnel tell me that the CPA’s officials
spend more time signing and being lobbied for contracts than in
evaluating their merits. The American Army has a counter-insurgency
program in Arab regions, especially Sunni Arab dominatedregions; the
best that can be said of it is that it is producing more results than
the search for weapons of mass destruction. Judging by their published
or leaked outputs, the CPA has spent little time seriously reflecting
on constitutional reconstruction or design.

British officials of the CPA play to their national stereotypes:
scoffing at Americans’ alleged naÃ’veté behind their backs,
but otherwise displaying full deference towards the world’s
hegemon. They think they have superior wisdom; it’ s true that they
are more accustomed to govern other peoples. The other members of the
`coalition of the willing’ play symbolic rather than substantive
roles: Denmark, for example, has 200 troops in Iraq, rehabilitating
buildings in Basra. The `coalition’ moniker adds a veneer of
internationality to what is in fact government by `the special
relationship’ that the British always want, to the mild embarrassment
of the Americans. Yet there is nothing special about the caliber of
their joint governance. The British are usually a week behind their
American colleagues, holding loyal to a policy line that has often
just been re-appraised, unknown to them, in Washington.

The CPA is mocked even by its own officials as Can’t Provide
Anything. It veers between the options preferred by different factions
in the Republican administration in Washington: those who want a
sustainable democratic and liberal reconstruction of the former Iraq,
and diverse others, mainly in the State department and the CIA, who
are bent on no more than achieving presentable` stability,’ securing
America’s perceived material interests, placating Turkey, a quick
exit, and handing any outstanding embarrassments to that convenient
scapegoat known as the United Nations.

The one achievement of American crisis management that is apparent to
me is that American TV and Web-pages regularly count only the daily
American military war dead-and not the daily toll of local civilians
killed by all agents to the conflict.

The CPA has created a Governing Council which does not govern, and
does not act as a council. Its business is conducted in Arabic. Its
internal procedures are chaotic and opaque, and its resolutions are
frequently vetoed by =80=9CThe Administrator,’ as L. Paul Bremer III
is officially styled. He is said often to remind the Council before it
begins `deliberations,’ through a translator, that he has this veto
power. He is said to be tough, but insensitive. Visiting Kurdistan, he
asked, `Who is that?’ on seeing the ubiquitous portrait of Mustafa
Barzani. This would be analogous to a foreign diplomat visiting
America and asking `Who is that?’ on seeing a portrait of George
Washington. As I write, he has not yet vetoed an outrageous resolution
(passed at the end of December in the absence of representatives from
Kurdistan) repealing secular marital laws that benefit women in favor
of chauvinist propositions from the Shari’a, presumably because he
does not want to hand an issue to Islamists.

There are two merits to the Governing Council. One is that it contains
the embryo of an authentic collective presidency, an institutional
arrangement that might serve a future federation quite well. But given
its overly large composition (25 members plus 25 substitutes), and its
poorly defined relationships to the CPA and 25 `ministries’ in
Baghdad, it does not resemble a functioning executive. The second
merit is the attempt to make it representative=80’in the absence of
the possibility of well-administered elections-of the peoples of the
former Iraq. Shi’a Arabs (13 councilors) and Sunni Arabs (five)
andKurds (five) are on the council in rough approximations to their
estimated demographic shares, and smaller minorities (two) are also
present. But only three womenwere appointed by The Administrator, and
one of them has been assassinated=80’and not replaced.

There was little evidence that the Shi’a or Sunni councilors were
politically representative when they were appointed, though the
perceived power of some them has since grown. The most powerful Shi’a,
Iranian-born Ayatollah Sistani, sits at home issuing fatwas-to which
Governing Council members and Americans feel obliged to respond. The
leaders of the two largest Kurdish parties, Massoud Barzani and Jallal
Tallabani, by contrast, represent organizations that have won the
lion’s share of past votes in Kurdistan. The exiled politicians, Arab
refugees from Saddam’s rule, initially brought in to guide the CPA are
seen, however unfairly, as collaborators.

The CPA’s staff, in the absence of any deep knowledge of the societies
they are charged to govern, and lacking any well-grounded advice from
representative politicians among the Arabs, operate as if they are in
America-on the presumption that a future Iraq should want to be like
the America they think they know. They say that `All should be
Iraqis,’ just as =80=9CWe are all Americans.’ They insist that Iraq
is, or at least should be, a nation, when it is just the remnants of a
state. They make the standard error of students starting Political
Science 001, confusing state and nation (a state is a sovereign
independent territory; a nation is a community with a shared political
identity). Iraq has never been a nation. The Ba’athist regime tried to
make Iraq one nation, an Arab nation. Arabization included expelling
Kurds from Kirkuk, moving Arab settlers from the south to the north,
and genocidal poison gassing. Kurds, a different nation by history,
language and dialects, customs and mores, resisted. Iraq is mainly
bi-national, and no future constitution that fails to respect this
reality will be feasible.

CPA officials think that Iraq should have a federation like
America=80=99s, ` non-ethnic’ and symmetrical-that is with each region
being identical in powers. They forget that in the development of
America’s so-called non-ethnic federation, political care was taken to
ensure that each new state had a white, English-speaking
majority. Trying an analogous model in the former Iraq is a recipe for
armed conflict with Kurdistan. Nevertheless, Mr. Bremer proposed a
model of an 18 `governorate’ federation, based on the provinces of
Saddam Hussein, which would effectively have abolished Kurdistan’s
integrity. In return, he received `a flea in his ear,’ as we Irish put
it, from the Kurd leaders.

The largest rump of the former Iraq, demographically and
territorially, was Arab Iraq. It was the site from which the worst
organized racial and religious bigotry, and grossest abuse of human
rights, were organized by the Ba=80=99athists. By contrast,
Kurdistan, a smaller location, was the site of the most promising
experiments in democratic governance and decent treatment of ethnic,
religious, and linguistic minorities in the 1990s, though it was not
without its own internal conflicts.

Given these realities, and the fact that Kurdistan’s soldiers fought
alongside the Coalition’s forces, one would think that a top priority
of CPA officials would be to protect a better-run region from an
overly strong central government. But not so far. The Administrator,
judging by his November-January proposals, thinks that Iraq’s
federation should be even more centralized than America ‘s. Of course,
his and the CPA’s centralist dispositions donot just flow from
misapplication of lessons from American history. Three other
imperatives matter.

One stems from the management of the black gold: oil. Despite the
well-validated criticism of centralized rentier-oil regimes as recipes
for despotism, corruption, or both, the CPA believes that a
well-managed federal government with monopoly jurisdiction over oil
production and its revenues is the best administrative model
available. A conservative economist willing to confirmthe validity of
this belief should be genetically engineered.

The ugly truth is that the attempted promotion of a centralized
`federation,’ including the centralized control of oil and natural
resources, is motivated by a second imperative: an ill-considered
effort to appease both indigenous Arab Iraqi and wider Arab public
opinion. That policy, so the thinking goes, will coerce Kurdistan’s
re-integration into Iraq-instead ofletting it extend its jurisdiction,
and therefore its tax-base, to Kirkuk (on which more in my next
letter).

This appeasement policy creates tension within Washington. Those who
want the full-scale reconstruction of Iraq as a liberal democracy know
that building on Kurdistan as it is, or as it might fairly be
expanded, makes the most sense; whereas those who prioritize breaking
the Ba’athist resistance and the Al-Qaeda-related pan-Arab networks,
or who are anxious for a quick exit, want to minimize the difficulties
with Arab public opinion. Their focus is often on America’s electoral
clock.

Kurdish analysts of contradictions note that America does not in
general appease Arab opinion in and over Palestine, but rather sides
with Israel, an ethnic and religiously defined state, as its
democratic ally. Yet, as the occupying power in Iraq, they think
America is inclined to sell-out its democratic allies in
Kurdistan. And they find it remarkable that America accuses them of
trying to create an ethnic entity and seeks to calm those inclined to
support Ba’ athists, Shi’a fundamentalists, and the terrorists who
organized September 11.

The last imperative that inclines the CPA towards re-centralizing Iraq
is its officials’ deference towards Turkey, the neighboring state that
still practices coercive assimilation, and still criminalizes requests
for education in Kurdish. Turkey has acknowledged neither the
historical genocide of the Armenians, nor its own genocidal actions
against `its’ Kurds-until recently officially known as `mountain
Turks.’ Turkey is attempting to build a homogenized nation-state
around a Turkish ethos and ethnos. Its officials tell you that
terrorism by the PKK (the Kurdistan Workers Party of Turkey) is `the
real problem,’ and that a federal Iraq will expand the ambition and
range of Kurdish terrorists. The PKK is indeed a problem, though its
existence and conduct are a predictable reaction to the state it has
raged against. But the PKK is not in any manner supported by the
Kurdistan Regional Government, nor by the two major parties in what
Turkey calls `northern Iraq’-what we here call Kurdistan.

Turkey’s external relations with its neighbors on ethnic matters are
perhaps the exemplary case of national egoism in our world. Its
politicians vary between demanding the recognition of its puppet
protectorate, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, or insisting
that any unified Cypriot federation protects its co-ethnics in their
unit, with their own clear majority. But this ethnic stance on Cyprus
does not stop Turkey from having the gall to protest against Kurds in
the former Iraq allegedly constructing an `ethnic unit=80=9D in a
future federation. The CPA defers to Turkish rhetoric, saying, in
English or through Arabic translators, that it does not want an ethnic
federation. Kurds replyby saying that they do not want an ethnic
federation but one that recognizes nationality.

It is disappointing that the culturally blinkered predispositions of
the CPA are reinforced by recent erroneous `wisdom’ in American
political science, one that counsels against `ethnic federations’
(which is how some denigrate Belgium, Canada, Switzerland, and
India). It does not follow, of course, that because some bi- or
multi-national federations have failed that all must doso- just as
mono-national federations like that of the U.S.A. are not guaranteed
export successes (see, for example, the history of much of Latin
America).

Successful multi-national or bi-national federations are the products
of voluntary pacts, created by negotiation, and combine both effective
self-government for nations in their territories and power-sharing for
all within the federal government. What is there to be afraid of in
such a vision?

At Penn I tease students by confronting them with the suggestion that
the state they know least about is Canada, and by claiming that if the
political-science wisdom now prevalent in America was right, then
Canada should not exist. As my friend Professor John McGarry of the
Queens University Ontario observes, the Canadian federation is a
bi-national and bi-lingual federation; it has a distinctive society in
Quebec, both in its legal system and in its ethos, but it divides up
English Canada symmetrically; it permits asymmetry in the powers and
policy decisions of its provinces; it leaves the provinces in charge
of natural resources but has formulae for revenue-sharing; since its
foundation it has had no civil war; it has survived as long as the
U.S.A. has survived since its civil war.

In short, the CPA’s Americans shouldn’t start from an American
template, and its British officials, heirs to the inventors of Iraq,
would benefit from humility. They might reflect more vigorously on
democracies that are not part of the coalition-for example, Belgium,
Switzerland, and Canada. India too, from which the British once sought
to govern Iraq, might inform intelligent thinking on the management of
a postcolonial multi-ethnic state. The Administrator has sought to
preclude such discussion of alternative models of federation before
the creation of a transitional law-though he acknowledges that sucha
law will bias the eventual institutional outcomes.

By the time I write my next letter I hope he and his team will have
stopped trying to tell others where to go. It is they who are here on
sufferance, alienating their friends and encouraging their
enemies. They say they want to go, and to return sovereignty to
`Iraqis’ by the summer. The hotel near where I am writing is the
`northern’ post of the CPA. It is completelybooked by its staff for
the next three years. Was that an error in the contract?

Look for Brendan O’Leary’s future letters from Iraq in the`Gazetteer’
section in May/June and July/August.

© 2004 The Pennsylvania Gazette
Last modified 02/27/04

Ilkham Aliev sure that his policy serves peoples interests

ITAR-TASS, Russia
March 12 2004

Ilkham Aliev sure that his policy serves people’s interests

BAKU, March 12 (Itar-Tass) – Azerbaijani President Ilkham Aliev
assessed the first four months of his presidency on Thursday. In his
speech at a board meeting of the New Azerbaijan ruling party, of
which he is a vice-chairman, Aliev said that his policy in recent
months had served the interests of the Azerbaijani people and had
enlisted popular support.

The Azerbaijani president stressed that his policy was a logical
continuation of a course that had been chosen by his father Geidar
Aliev. Azerbaijan doesn’t have an alternative to this course, he
added.

Aliev said that Azerbaijan’s leadership had directed its activities
at developing the country’s economy, social problems and the
strengthening of Azerbaijan’s positions in the world community.
Ilkham Aliev also noted that the course pursued by the new
Azerbaijani leadership had enlisted international support.

Defining the guidelines for a long-term perspective, the Azerbaijani
president stressed the need to step up efforts to settle the Karabakh
conflict. He urged Azerbaijan’s diplomats to focus efforts on
eliminating double standards with regards to the Karabakh problem
among international organizations and international public. `This
process is already under way and is gaining good results,’ Ilkham
Aliev went on to say. He said that economic development was another
vital area for activities. `The chief economic goals in the next five
years include the doubling of the GDP, the solution of social
problems and the creation of 600,000 new jobs,’ Ilkham Aliev
stressed.

The Azerbaijani president said that he would continue relying on the
New Azerbaijan party that has always supported him. `I cannot imagine
my political activities without this party,’ Ilkham Aliev said. He
has headed the New Azerbaijan party since his father’s death.

Ilkham Aliev stressed the importance of preparing the country for
parliamentary elections slated to be held in Azerbaijan in the autumn
of 2005.

`We should think who is going to represent our party at these
elections,’ the president stressed.

Pùté, vin rouge et racisme sur le Marseille-Vintimille

Libération
vendredi 12 mars 2004

La campagne en TER
Pùté, vin rouge et racisme sur le Marseille-Vintimille

Par Michel HENRY

Ils voyagent dans le TER, c’est la rĂ©gion qui les transporte.
Voteront-ils pour autant aux régionales ?

arseille, 8 h 35, hier. Cinq gaillards, dans un compartiment du TER
pour Vintimille, en Italie. Ils sont au pùté-vin rouge. Les élections
? «Je m’en cague», rĂ©pond Michel, retraitĂ© SNCF, 59 ans. «GouvernĂ©s
par des cons, d’autres cons viendront Ă  leur place», rigole l’autre
Michel, retraité du bùtiment, 66 ans. De droite, mais ne lui parlez
pas du gouvernement : «Ils partent en brioche. Ils font tous des
conneries. Regarde l’autre, Ă  la SantĂ©, il laisse mourir 15 000 vieux
!» Marcel, dit Celou, retraité SNCF, 70 ans : «Chirac, il est passé
avec mĂȘme pas 30 % et il fait le cake ! D’abord, il devrait ĂȘtre en
prison !»

Celou tape sur «les Arabes» : «Ah, les Arabes en France, ils sont pas
malheureux.» Les autres s’esclaffent : «Et les ArmĂ©niens non plus…»
Celou l’ArmĂ©nien rectifie : lui est «immigrĂ© français». Et il veut
voter FN : «On me dit : “Mais toi qui es nĂ© en ArmĂ©nie, Le Pen, il va
te renvoyer lĂ -bas !” Mais non, c’est pas possible, ça serait la
rĂ©volution. Quoi, on ne doit pas le prendre parce qu’il est contre
les juifs ? Mais moi aussi, ils m’emmerdent : on ne parle que d’eux Ă 
la télé !»

Le quatriĂšme de la bande, c’est Hicham, 26 ans, agent de sĂ©curitĂ©.
Les autres : «Là, on a un immigré, mais un sérieux. Un adopté.»
Hicham est le futur gendre de Jacques, 62 ans, livreur de boissons,
qui, assis à cÎté, débouche les cÎtes-du-rhÎne. Hicham à Jacques :
«Tu vas voter ?» Jacques : «Ouais, pour Le Pen.» Son gendre :
«ArrĂȘte, dis pas ça, je te sors.» Hicham, lui, trouve que «Sarko fait
du bon boulot». Il voterait bien Mitterrand, mais Mitterrand est
mort, et lui, marocain, ne peut pas voter.

Le club des cinq va à Vintimille. «Comme tout bon Français. Acheter
du tabac et des alcools. C’est moins cher. Enfin Hicham, lui, il
prend du Coca.» Celou insiste : «Il faut essayer Le Pen, pour voir ce
qu’il est capable de faire. Parce que Sarko, il fera tous les beaux
discours qu’il veut, les jeunes continueront Ă  brĂ»ler des voitures.»
Hicham, ça commence à le gonfler, ces histoires sur «les Arabes» :
«Ouais, et moi j’ai brĂ»lĂ© cinq feux, j’ai pas le permis, et ma
voiture est volĂ©e. Hein, c’est ça ?» «Bon, t’Ă©nerves pas…» Enfin,
pour Hicham, «les Arabes qui foutent la merde, c’est ceux qui sont
nĂ©s ici, les faux immigrĂ©s». Solution : «Y a qu’Ă  les renvoyer
lĂ -bas. Quand ils auront tapĂ© la gamelle de l’autre cĂŽtĂ©, ils
comprendront. Moi je suis un vrai immigré, né là-bas. Mon pÚre a
passé toute sa vie, dos cassé, entre les vignes, et maintenant il
touche 500 euros de retraite. Vous trouvez ça normal ?» Celou
compatit : «Du moment que t’es immigrĂ©, tu souffres toujours. Et de
toute façon, celui qui trinque, c’est l’ouvrier.» Jacques, pour se
marrer : «Faut que Jospin revienne.» Tous se poilent : «ArrĂȘte tes
conneries…»

Victor Dallakyan: People Will Decide Whom to Elect

A1 Plus | 20:18:23 | 12-03-2004 | Politics |

VICTOR DALLAKYAN: PEOPLE WILL DECIDE WHOM TO ELECT

“Justice” alliance activist Victor Dallakyan says there is no problem of
common opposition leader able to succeed current president Robert Kocharyan.
In his opinion, this is an artificially-imposed problem.

“We have common goal of ousting Kocharyan. When he is ousted from power any
citizen or any politician eligible to be elected under Constitution can run
for presidency. People will decide for whom to cast their votes”, he says.

Answering the question our correspondent put to him about is he sure that
after Kocharyan’s resignation National Assembly Speaker Arthur Baghdasaryan,
who under the Constitution becomes acting president until new elections,
will ensure transparency during election process, Dallakyan said: “I think
he ought to respect and abide the law”.

http://www.a1plus.am

Murky tale of a mercenary adventure

Murky tale of a mercenary adventure

Speculation grows as Equatorial Guinea claims plot to kill president was
foiled

David Pallister
Saturday March 13, 2004
The Guardian

The light was beginning to fade over Harare international airport last
Sunday when the 40-year-old white Boeing 727 with a US registration
number landed and taxied to the cargo area. With its cabin lights
dimmed, the pilot indicated he wanted to refuel before flying on. He
declared a crew of three and four cargo handlers. The Zimbabwean
authorities were suspicious, not least because their intelligence told
them that some interesting characters were to meet the flight. The
South Africans, too, appeared to know what was afoot. Within hours an
extraordinary story unfolded to mirror the intrigue of Frederick
Forsyth’s Dogs of War, in which a multinational company hires a bunch
of mercenaries to overthrow an African dictator – based on a 1973 coup
attempt in Equatorial Guinea.

This was not just a case of life imitating art; it seemed as if
history was repeating itself. Could the dogs of war that plagued the
African continent a generation ago be back? The Zimbabweans found 64
men on the plane – 20 South Africans, 18 Namibians, 23 Angolans, two
Congolese (from the Democratic Republic of Congo) and one Zimbabwean
with a South African passport – as well as “military material”. This
turned out to be camouflage uniforms, sleeping bags, compasses and
wire cutters.

Notorious

Some of the men were said to have been former members of the notorious
32 Commando of the South African defence force, a clandestine unit of
the apartheid regime who went on to join the equally controversial
private military company Executive Outcomes, which carried out
military operations for the governments of Sierra Leone and Angola in
the 1990s. It was formally disbanded in 1999, largely in response to
South Africa’s Foreign Military Assistance Act, which outlaws
mercenary activities.

As speculation about mercenary adventurers grew, Zimbabwe also
announced that it had arrested a former British SAS soldier, Simon
Mann, who had arrived at the airport to meet the plane. He had helped
to establish EO and its British associate, Sandline International –
the military company that helped Sierra Leone beat the rebel group
RUF.

Mr Mann, ministers said, had been in Harare in February with a South
African called Nick du Toit, apparently seeking to buy arms. The
pilots were identified as Niel Steyl, a South African commercial
pilot, and Hendrik Hamman, a Namibian. Both had in the past worked for
Executive Outcomes.

As the revelations accelerated, the plot spiralled into the
surreal. On Tuesday the information minister of Equatorial Guinea,
Agustin Nze Nfumu, dramatically announced that 15 men – from South
Africa, Armenia, Kazakhstan and Germany – had been arrested for
“plotting to kill the president”, Teodoro Obiang, and that their
ringleader had confessed.

He said one of the men had claimed the group was acting on behalf of
Ely Calil, a Lebanese businessman close to Severo Moto,
self-proclaimed president of a so-called Equatorial Guinean
government-in-exile in Spain, who had tried to mount a coup in 1997.

Mr Calil, who has British and Senegalese citizenship, lives in a
high-gated mansion in one of the more exclusive areas of Chelsea, west
London. He is an adviser to the Senegalese president and reportedly
carries a diplomatic passport.

Two years ago he was arrested in Paris and interrogated by the
magistrate investigating the Elf oil scandal about his role in
handling commissions for the late Nigerian strongman Sani Abacha.

Mr Calil declined to be interviewed by the Guardian. But he told the
London-based newsletter, Africa Confidential, that he had no
connection to the coup plot. However, he agreed that he was a friend
of the opposition leader and had given him “modest” financial support.

Mr Moto has also vigorously denied the allegation, accusing Mr Obiang
of being “an authentic cannibal”. He told Spanish radio: “Obiang wants
me to go back to Guinea and eat my testicles. That’s clear.”

As the allegations swirled, the company that owns the plane, Logo
Logistics, was desperately trying to put its side of the story. An
Englishman, Charles Burrow, a senior executive, told the Guardian that
the men had been travelling to the DRC to guard several mineral
concessions. They had stopped off in Harare to buy some “ancilliary
mining-related equipment”. Zimbabwe, he said,was “one of the cheapest
places on the planet”.

The plane’s flight plan did show that it was heading to Bujumbura in
Burundi on Congo’s eastern border. Mr Burrows explained that Logo had
been set up three years ago, registered in the British Virgin Islands
and administered from Guernsey. He himself was based in Dubai. He
conceded that Mr Mann was an executive of the company.

“My first priority is the safety of these men,” he said. As for the
coup allegations: “I haven’t the foggiest idea what they’re talking
about.”

Death penalty

Events then took a dramatic turn. On Wednesday evening, as the
Zimbabweans said the arrested men could face the death penalty and
accused the secret services of Britain, the US and Spain of being
behind the plot, Equatorial Guinea television broadcast an interview
with Mr Du Toit.

Translated from his English into Spanish, he said: “It wasn’t a
question of taking the life of the head of state but of spiriting him
away, taking him to Spain and forcing him into exile and then of
immediately installing the government-in-exile of Severo Moto. The
group was supposed to start by identifying strategic targets such as
the presidency, the military barracks, police posts and the residences
of government members.

“Then it was supposed to have vehicles at Malabo airport to transport
other mercenaries who were due to arrive from South Africa. But at the
last minute I got a call to say that the other group of mercenaries
had been arrested in South Africa as they were preparing to leave the
country.”

Contacted again by the Guardian, Mr Burrows acknowledged that Mr Du
Toit worked for Logo. “We have five people in the country working on
three contracts for the government,” he said. He also acknowledged
that he knew Mr Calil, but denied having any commercial relationship
with him.

Back in Harare the allegations were becoming firmer. Zimbabwe’s home
affairs minister, Kembo Mohadi, told a news conference that the heads
of the police and army in Equatorial Guinea had gone along with the
plot against the government. “The western intelligence services
persuaded Equatorial Guinea’s service chiefs not to put up any
resistance, but to cooperate with the coup plotters,” he said.

He claimed that the leader of the group, Mr Mann, had allegedly been
promised cash payment of ÂŁ1m and oil mining rights and that Mr Moto
had hired them. And in an aside which will delight 007 fans, he said
one of the conspirators who had carried out surveillance in the Guinea
capital of Malabo was called “Bonds”.

Then came the bombshell. Mr Mohadi claimed that, in what appears to
have been a Zimbabwean sting, Colonel Tshinga Dube, director of
Zimbabwe Defence Industries, had accepted $180,000 (ÂŁ100,000) from
Mr Mann for a consignment of AK-47s, mortars and 30,000 rounds of
ammunition. A more murky interpretation, however, was provided by the
Afrikaans daily, Beeld, which reported that Col Dube had been
“enraged” that the aircraft was impounded and the transaction
scuttled.

Whatever the truth of that, it now seems clear that both South African
and Zimbabwean intelligence had wind of a suspicious operation, which
explains why President Obiang praised Thabo Mkbeki in his television
address.

“We spoke with the South African president, who warned us that a group
of mercenaries was heading towards Equatorial Guinea,” he said.

Yesterday Mr Mohadi said the 67 men would be charged with
destabilising a sovereign state.

Indiscreet

The Guardian understands that some of the alleged plotters had been
remarkably indiscreet about their plans. Rumours of a coup have been
rife in Malabo for weeks, according to several sources familiar with
the territory. So the questions remain: Why Equatorial Guinea? Why
now? And in whose interests?

The answers can be summed up in one word: oil. Until 1995 Equatorial
Guinea, a former Spanish colony, was an impoverished backwater with a
population of less than half a million. After independence in 1968, it
was ruled by Mr Obiang’s uncle, Francisco Macias Nguema, who acquired
as vicious a reputation as any of the other murderous African
dictators.

In 1975, over Christmas, he ordered his militia to kill 150 political
prisoners in Malabo stadium as loudspeakers played Those Were the
Days, My Friend. During his reign of terror a third of the population
fled.

Mr Obiang seized power from his uncle in 1979 and, although he
introduced a consitutional democracy, elections have been widely
regarded as fraudulent and opponents often end up in jail.

The discovery of oil in the mid-1990s transformed the country’s
finances, and provided the president and his family with funds to
acquire multimillion dollar properties in the US. With American oil
companies in the lead, production last year at 350,000 barrels a day
made Equatorial Guinea the third largest producer in sub-Saharan
Africa.

Armenian Leader Says Karabakh Never to be Part of Azerbaijan

ARMENIAN LEADER SAYS KARABAKH NEVER TO BE PART OF AZERBAIJAN

Public Television of Armenia
Yerevan
10 Mar 04

(Correspondent) President Robert Kocharyan has held a meeting with
students at Yerevan State University. The meeting lasted for two
hours. The president told the students about the work done in the year
after his re-election. (Robert Kocharyan, captioned) It’s been a year
since my re-election. I would like to tell you about what has been
done over the past year and what we are going to do in the future. We
finished last year with good indexes, the 13.9-per-cent economic
growth, the 18-per-cent growth of industry and the 40-per-cent capital
construction growth. These are the best indexes after independence and
among the CIS countries. The budget last year was fulfilled by 100 per
cent. The government paid off all its internal and foreign debts on
time. We carried out reforms in all the spheres.

The main aim for the future is to improve our lives and the welfare of
citizens. This is what I am aiming to achieve. Our economic growth
must be channelled into the resolution of this task.

If you followed our policies closely, you might have noticed that
during the last six years I visited many factories, plants and
launched many enterprises, small and medium-businesses. Many people,
especially from the opposition, did not like that. But as a result
30,000 to 40,000 jobs are being created annually. Businessmen see this
as a sign of special attention on the part of the government. It has
yielded positive results.

(Passage omitted: The president talks about tourism, new jobs, living
conditions of people, construction of highways, water and heating
systems, schools, reforms in the education, social spheres and
agricultural spheres).

I have dedicated the last 15 years of my life to the Karabakh issue
and I don’t understand it when politicians who have nothing to do with
Karabakh as it is now speak about it. We will resolve the Karabakh
problem. (Applause).

(Correspondent) The president drew attention to the Azerbaijani
position regarding the murder of an Armenian officer in Hungary.

(Robert Kocharyan) There are cruel people in any country. When a
murderer is presented as a hero and parliament tries to find excuses
for him at the state level, this is a disgrace for every country and
society. This fact once again proves that Karabakh can never be part
of Azerbaijan as long as Armenians live in Karabakh and hundreds of
axes are hanging over their heads.

(Arminfo news agency quoted Kocharyan as telling students on 10 March
that he wants “to settle the Nagornyy Karabakh conflict
peacefully”. “Those who took part in the hostilities, remember the
role I played at the time, therefore I can say today that I know my
place and role perfectly well if the hostilities were to resume,” the
Armenian president noted.)