Authorities Resorted to Provocations

A1 Plus | 18:00:04 | 30-03-2004 | Politics |

AUTHORITIES RESORTED TO PROVOCATIONS

Justice opposition bloc representatives Albert Bazeyan, Victor Dallakyan and
Grigor Harutyunyan spoke mainly about Sunday’s incident in Gyumri.

The politicians are sure that the incident occurred at a rally held Sunday
in Armenian town of Gyumri is nothing more than provocation orchestrated by
the republic’s authorities. The police appeared as a conflicting side
instead of fulfilling their direct duty of keeping order, they said.

The opposition activist said no investigation has been launched into the
police conduct so far but a series of raids on some Gyumri residents’
houses. Nine people are already arrested in the raids. It is not ruled out
the police to charge them.

Bazeyan said there are video record of the incident and witnesses testifying
that eggs and explosives were given by policemen and municipality officials.

Justice bloc members say the city bosses staged fake funeral in an apparent
attempt to bar them from conducting their meeting with their constituents.
Cortege and all funeral attributes but the dead were used.

http://www.a1plus.am

New Model Armenia

New Model Armenia

Geographical
March 2004
Vol. 76, Issue 3, p24

Text and photography by Nick Smith

With a history of persecution, natural disasters and political
upheaval, Armenia has lurched from one crisis to another. But now it’s
poised to recover and, with the aid of a population in diaspora, is
starting to reinvent itself as a heritage tourist destination.

Not many people visit Armenia. In fact, as many people go to Lord’s on
the first day of a test match as go to Armenia in a year. Most of the
30,000 visitors are ‘heritage tourists’, which is to say that they are
part of the estimated four million-strong globally distributed network
of the Armenian diaspora, descendants of refugee Turkish Armenians who
fled this part of Central Asia during the Ottoman persecution of
1915. Most come to rediscover their homeland, track down long-lost
distant relatives and to commemorate their ancestors. They are a
much-needed source of income for the two million or so Armenians who
live in Armenia today.

Once a far-reaching territory ranging from the Black to the Caspian
sea, Armenia is now landlocked in the Southern Caucasus, covering an
area little more than the size of Belgium. It is the smallest of the
former Soviet states and was the most reluctant to become independent
when the USSR collapsed in 1991. Armenia benefited from a longstanding
and strong political alliance, relying heavily on the machinery of the
Soviet economy. Now, with little of its own heavy industry or
electronic engineering to support it, Armenia’s youth has emigrated
westward in search of jobs and tertiary education, while the elderly
and unemployed have returned to the land to scratch out a living as
subsistence farmers. War in the 1990s with neighbouring Azerbaijan
drained the economy further, while migration in same period reduced
Armenia’s population by a quarter.

It’s a hard life, not helped by the fact that Armenia has a
surprisingly dry climate that gives rise to vast areas of
semidesert. More than 80 per cent of its arable farmland needs to be
irrigated. Some relief from the unremitting hardship comes in the form
of tourism: Armenia has an incomparable wealth of medieval (and
earlier) religious architecture, to which members of the diaspora make
pilgrimage. At the same time, Armenia has the most beautiful landscape
imaginable — the majestic scenery that the country’s great composer
Aram Ilich Khachaturian describes in his sublime 20th-century
orchestral works.

Khachaturian is buried under a slab of grey-black granite in the
Pantheon of Heroes in Armenia’s capital, Yerevan. You can see much of
the city from his resting place: its drab centre fades into an even
more drab urban sprawl, designed by Soviet architects with an eye more
on utility than aesthetics. But there are redeeming features: apart
from the recently refurbished Republic Square (formerly Lenin Square),
there’s an impressive, if defunct, Ferris wheel on the skyline, as
well as the imperious Ararat brandy factory perched on a plateau high
above Victory bridge.

Armenians are proud of their brandy. And so they should be: its deep
amber colour and smoky simplicity make the ten-year-old a fine match
for any cognac. Boris Yeltzin likes it so much that he has his own
barrels in the factory’s cellars, as does singer, songwriter, actor
and local hero Charles Aznovour. Recently, the brandy has been getting
better and better. But it may be the only thing: for Armenians, life
under the hammer and sickle was comparatively rosy. But since the
disintegration of the Soviet Union, the country has become one of the
poorest in the developed world, with an average annual inflation rate
of 172 per cent. It has also ceded control of its energy utilities to
Russia in lieu of debts.

Not far from Khachaturian’s grave is a bronze statue of Komitas, a
composer whom Armenians hold in even higher regard than Khachaturian,
if that is possible. As an ethnomusicologist, Komitas travelled the
length and breadth of Armenia collecting its traditional folk songs,
which he then wove into the fabric of his own music, music that
defines Armenia as much as its red, blue and gold flag. As my guide,
Nina Dadayan, put it, “He writes in the colours of the countryside,
the gold and the green of the hillsides.”

During the First World War, Komitas saw firsthand the slaughter of
those whose culture he had done so much to save. He survived the
genocide, but having witnessed the rape and murder of his people, he
was plagued by mental illness for the rest of his life. He was unable
to complete his ongoing choral work, Divine Liturgy, which became the
last music he ever wrote, and died in Paris in 1935 a broken and
beaten man. If you look carefully at his statue in the Pantheon you’ll
see it is tarnished and covered with grime, apart from the right index
finger, which shines like gold. This has been kept clean by the stream
of Armenians who visit the cemetery to pay their respects by touching
his hand.

The genocide is an incredibly emotive subject. The Armenian section of
the Financial Times World Desk Reference 2004 sums it up, somewhat
dispassionately, as follows: “1915: Ottomans exile 1.75 million
Turkish Armenians; most die.” And while the book is very careful not
to use the word ‘genocide’, the Armenians aren’t so
lily-livered. According to the Armenian National Institute (ANI) in
Washington, there are 28 official genocide memorials in the
country. The main one is at Tsitsernakaberd (‘Swallow Castle’) and is
a 44-metre stele that symbolises the survival and rebirth of the
Armenian people. Next to the stele is a ring of 12 huge basalt slabs
— closely resembling traditional khachkars, or engraved memorials —
which encircle and lean towards an eternal flame. The steps down to
the flame are extremely steep, and you have to look at your feet to
avoid stumbling. This has the effect of making visitors appear to be
in mourning. Why there is a need to create this illusion defeats me:
most people I saw there were weeping.

The current British government does not recognise the 1915 genocide.
Fact. On the Holocaust Memorial Day in 2001, the UK, along with many
other nations (including the USA), honoured the victims of genocide in
the 20th century, including the Jews killed during the Second Word War
and the Tutsis murdered in Rwanda in 1994. But there was no mention of
Armenia. Nicholas Holding, an expert on the former Soviet Union and
author of the new Bradt Travel Guide to Armenia, says, “So far as the
1915 genocide is concerned, every Turkish government since has denied
that it even happened, as have certain US academics. The evidence to
the contrary seems overwhelming. I imagine that Tony Blair’s
reluctance to acknowledge it stems from his unwillingness for obvious
reasons to upset Turkey, as well as his own ignorance.”

One “obvious reason” is that Blair and George W Bush need Turkish
goodwill to secure permission for the use of Incirlik airbase, from
where they launch air raids on Iraq. Critics of the British-US
alliance see this denial as shameful — as shameful as denying, say,
Auschwitz to spare Gerhard Schroeder’s feelings. Writing in the New
York Press on the 2001 Holocaust Memorial Day, journalist Charles
Glass said: “Alas poor Tony. Upon whose lack of integrity will he
model his own when Bill [Clinton] departs? I suppose Al Gore or George
W Bush is up to the job.” Bush appears to have fulfilled Glass’s
expectations.

The UK’s current position is completely at odds with its historical
record. The first official report on the atrocities against Armenians
in 1915 was prepared for the British government by Viscount Bryce, who
submitted his findings to parliament, which published them in an
official document in 1916. Wartime prime minister David Lloyd George
said that Ottoman policies regarding its Armenian subjects resulted in
“exterminating and deporting the whole race”. The foreign secretary
James Balfour described the massacres as “calculated atrocities”,
while Winston Churchill, writing in 1929, ten years before the
beginning of the Second World War, referred to the massacres as an
“administrative holocaust”.

The facts and the record haven’t changed. What has changed, says Dr
Rouben Adalian, director of the ANI, is the willingness of the British
government to concede to the Turkish government’s insistence on
denying the Armenian genocide. “The reluctance to affirm the
historical record in the face of official denial implies participation
in that denial,” he says. “That is the major departure from the
original position of the British government back in 1915.”

In December 2003, the Swiss lower house of parliament voted to label
the killings by Ottoman Empire forces as ‘genocide’ — a move welcomed
by the Armenian ambassador to Switzerland, Zograb Mnatsakanyan, who
said on Armenian television, “The Swiss parliament has again confirmed
its adherence to human values and justice.”

With the addition of Switzerland, the list of countries that recognise
the genocide now has 15 signatories. This includes France, Argentina
and Russia, but no UK or USA.

John Hovagimian bounds up the perilously steep and narrow stone
staircase up to the entrance of the Sourp Astrastatsatjin (‘Holy
Theotokos’) of the Noarovank monastery. With his designer travel gear
and chunky SLR slung around his neck, he looks prosperous and
confident. To Hovagimian, his tour of Armenia’s heritage with his
newfound Russian and Georgian friends is a big party. And why
shouldn’t it be? He’s glad to be home. “Come on down,” he shouts,
before quietly correcting himself, “er, up, I mean”. Talking with him,
it emerges that his exuberance is mostly superficial. “It’s nice to
know we have a history. It’s a feeling of grandeur. Every Armenian
feels this way, and we cry inside for the tragedy. But now you see our
architecture restored, where once there were no roads.”

Most visitors are, like Hovagimian, members of the Armenian diaspora,
usually from Canada, France or the USA. And most are fabulously
wealthy by the standards of native Armenians. One Armenian
philanthropist, who paid for so much of the restoration work and the
reappointing of Republic Square in Yerevan, is billionaire Kirk
Kerkorian, a man who made his money in Las Vegas hotels and Hollywood
movies.

And there is some serious urban development in Yerevan. Although
estimates vary considerably, there seems to be a consensus on
Kerkorian contributing somewhere in the region of $130 million (USD)
for a major facelift of the civic centre of the country’s capital. So
you will see plenty of new pavements and resurfaced roads. In fact,
there are 20 kilometres of new streets in Yerevan, there are five-star
Western-style hotels and there are Gucci and Armani.

Travelling around Armenia it’s easy to see what donations by members
of the diaspora are doing for the country, but not so easy to see what
they mean for the people. Whenever there is a celebration, there is
always money. (For example, when Armenia’s war-damaged tourism
industry decided to give itself a much-needed boost in 2001 by touting
the year as the 1,700th anniversary of Armenian Christianity.) And yet
only one in 1,000 Armenians owns a car and only 14 per cent of the
population is connected to a telephone.

Critics of the influx of funds from abroad say that there is no other
rational conclusion than this: the money may well be restoring civic
and devotional heritage architecture, but it’s also turning Armenia
into a rich man’s playground and transforming Yerevan into a ghastly
imitation of any Western European city you care to mention. Why
rebuild quite so many churches, they ask, when Armenia has so many
rare metals and semi-precious minerals lying underground waiting to be
exploited? The aid money should be spent releasing the natural wealth
of the country and helping the indigenous people on a day-to-day
basis. The reply from the diaspora is that the development is
creating employment and wealth in a country staggering under the
burden of its own poverty as a result of the post-Soviet transition.

But it isn’t necessarily that simple. “Even a quick survey of the
contributions of overseas Armenian organisations would show that
members of the diaspora remain very concerned about the well-being of
the population in Armenia,” says Adalian. He offers the example of the
largest of the philanthropic groups, the Armenian General Benevolent
Union, which supports a range of services from soup kitchens to
institutions of higher education such as the American University of
Armenia which, Adalian says, is “preparing new generations of leaders
and managers”.

However well planned, the spending of money from the diaspora is
dictated by external events. “There was no choice but to seek to
rehouse the 500,000 made homeless by the 1988 earthquake,” says
Holding. Also, the closure of several borders meant that road and rail
routes to Iran in the south that passed through the Azeri exclave of
Nakhichevan were now literally off limits. This meant that less-used
routes — such as that which connects Armenia with Iran via the Selim
Pass — which had suffered terribly from soil erosion and
underinvestment, had to be rebuilt virtually from scratch.

Conservationists have objected to the reconstruction of the Selim Pass
road because it travels within a few metres of an ancient Silk Road
caravanserai. Increased tourism, they say, will ruin the magic of the
place. They also claim, with more justification, that vibrations from
the huge freight lorries that are forecast to travel regularly over
the pass will damage the fabric of this ancient building.

However, this is the only route into the Yerevan district of Armenia
from the south. As such, it’s an umbilical cord to Iran and, by
extension, the outside world. Currently, the Turkish border is closed,
as are the two Azerbaijan borders, and there’s little sign of any
immediate resolution. To the north, the relationship with Georgia is
unstable, although improvements in the political and economic
conditions there can only contribute to “reducing ethnic tensions and
security concerns across the entire Caucasus region”, says Adalian.

PHOTO CAPTION Clockwise from right: the fourth-century monastery of
Geghard (‘spear’) was built into the side of a mountain and later
surrounded by walls. On the UNESCO World Heritage list since 2000, it
is named after the spear that pierced Christ’s side at Calvary;
‘temporary housing in Vayots Dzor is now well into its second decade;
the Temple of Garni, which was built in the first century AD,
subsequently destroyed by earthquake and renovated several times

While it is tempting to think that the collapse of the Soviet Union
could only have been a good thing, many Armenians would argue with
this. Under the Soviet regime, people may have lived like “machines”,
says my guide, but at least it was all planned out for them. “There
was no need to think for tomorrow,” she says. There were holidays and
pensions, and there was electricity and public transport. Now, one of
the few trains that runs through Armenia takes six hours to complete
its 70-kilometre journey (that’s slower than a London bus on Oxford
Street). “The problem is,” says Nina, offering a somewhat unnecessary
explanation, “there are too many stops and the train doesn’t go fast
enough.”

It’s not just the trains that have fallen into disrepair. As you drive
around Lake Sevan there is mile after mile of abandoned heavy
machinery, now broken and idle. They stand by countless unfinished
construction projects that became derelict before they were ever
used. There are blocks of concrete crumbling to nothing, their metal
reinforcements rusting away. There are sections of oil pipeline lying
unconnected on scrubland by the side of the road.

Most of the land around Lake Sevan is reclaimed. During the 1950s,
Soviet hydro-electric power engineers decided to lower the level of
the lake by 19 metres. As with so many Soviet schemes, the engineers
were betrayed by their idealism and instead of benefit-ting from
unlimited free power, new land for arable farming and livestock
grazing, they got a wasteland. Most of the fish in the lake died and
the land proved to be useless for cultivation. Only a gorse-like scrub
plant now grows there in any abundance, while peasants working above
the old shoreline dig up potatoes, for which they will receive
100drams (7p) per sack, with their bare hands. In the background, a
monastery stands on a headland — once an island — jutting out into
the lake.

Further along the shoreline there is the faded optimism of the 1960s
Soviet residential areas of Sevan, with its close-packed blocks of
apartments in estates with names like ‘Gagarin’, and the obligatory
Ferris wheel in the luna park, the likes of which you can see in
Zanzibar, Mozambique, and the former East Germany. It’s what my guide
calls, without a trace of irony, “good old Soviet architecture”. It’s
hard to see what the nostalgia is all about — they’re every bit as
horrible as some of London or Manchester’s worst blocks of flats or
Glasgow’s tenements. It’s a far cry from the splendor of Armenia’s
churches.

In the shadow of Mount Ararat there is a monastery called Khor Virap,
where Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned in the third century
AD. Despite his title, he wasn’t a manuscript illuminator
(illustrator). He got his name, and was subsequently imprisoned, for
casting the light of Christianity into the dark comers of Armenia. For
a small fee, you can release doves from this monastery, in the same
way as Noah did as the flood subsided and his ark came to rest on
Mount Ararat. In this case, however, the doves fly back to their cages
and their owners ‘sell’ them again to the next unsuspecting diaspora
tourist.

It’s a place of mixed feelings. In the local orphanage, children are
encouraged to draw pictures of Ararat and Noah’s ark. These crayon
drawings are stuck on the wall next to US flags. One class has
obviously been taught to write, “We love George Bush.”

I wonder if the children who made these drawings have been taught that
Ararat, the national symbol of Armenia, is in Turkey and that they
will never get the chance to climb it.

Visiting Armenia

Nick Smith travelled to Armenia with British Mediterranean Airways (0845
772 2277;).

Regent Holidays can organise trips to Armenia (0117 921 1711;
).

Armenia with Nagorno Karabagh by Nicholas Holding is the first
English-language guide to Armenia. It is published by Bradt.

PHOTO CAPTION Clockwise from top left: men in Vayots Dzor trade smoked
fish from Lake Sevan; old women meet in the ‘Field of Khatchkars’, whose
900-or-so engraved stone memorials are a national treasure.

PHOTO CAPTION Noaravank monastery, built in the 13th and 14th centuries
and renovated in 1998 with money from the diaspora.

PHOTO CAPTION Clockwise from right: high above the Yeghegis valley is
the fifth-century fortress of Smbataberd, guarded on three sides by
steep cliffs.
Local legend has it that it fell to the Seljuk Turks in the 11th century
when they used a thirsty horse to sniff out its water supply; the
eternal flame at the genocide memorial at Tsitsernakaberd in Yerevan;
the memorial’s 44-metre stele.

PHOTO CAPTION Top: standing just below the top of the Selim Pass
(2,410metres), the caravanserai at Selim, one of the best-preserved in
the world, used to be an important resthouse for traders following the
Silk Road; Above: subsistence farmers scratch out a living growing
potatoes at the Selim Pass.

PHOTO CAPTION Clockwise from top left: Gregory the Illuminator kneels
before King Trdat in a 17th-century Turkish manuscript; Mount Ararat and
the monastery of Khor Virap (deep dungeon), where Gregory was imprisoned
by King Trdat in the late third century; a child’s drawing of Noah’s ark
on Mount Ararat.

*************************************
Earthquakes in the Caucasus: a shaky history

As the recent earthquake in southern Iran tragically showed, the
collision of the Eurasian and Arabian tectonic plates has turned this
part of Central Asia into an earthquake danger zone. Although it lies
to the north of Iran, Armenia sits on the same boundary and is subject
to the same catastrophic geophysical forces.

As tectonic plates move, they often grind against each other, slowly
building up stress until one of them moves suddenly. When this
happens, the result is an earthquake, a natural phenomenon with which
Armenia is all too familiar. Historical accounts describe how
earthquakes claimed thousands of lives, destroyed the ancient cities
of Erznka, Erzroom, Basen and Dvin and ruined the temples of Garni
(below left) and Zvartnots.

On 7 December 1988, northwestern Armenia was struck by a quake
measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale. It devastated the cities of
Giumri, Vanadzor and Spitak. Countless houses were obliterated,
leaving more than half a million people homeless. Manufacturing, as
well as cultural, scientific and educational institutions, were
destroyed. According to the UN Development Programme, more than 45,000
people were pulled from the rubble, 25,000 of whom were dead. In 2000,
the UNDP estimated that 20,000 people were still displaced and living
in temporary housing (left).

Geographical is the property of Campion Interactive Publishing

www.britishmediterranean.com
www.regent-holidays.co.uk

Armenia’s Software Advantage

Armenia’s Software Advantage

McKinsey Quarterly
2004 Issue 1
p12, 3p

By Andre Andonian, Avetik Chalabyan and Pierre Gurdjian

Geopolitical problems and macroeconomic reforms are currently
preoccupying Armenia, but to achieve long-term growth and lift itself
out of poverty the former Soviet republic must also grapple with
microeconomic policy. Armenia should focus on developing the industry
sectors that have the best chance of competing globally and on
eliminating any barriers to productivity within them. Our study of this
landlocked economy in the Caucasus (Exhibit 1) suggests that software
and IT services are among its most promising sectors.

With annual growth of more than 20 percent since 1999, software and IT
companies now account for 2 percent of Armenia’s GDP — a proportion
comparable to that of India, the world’s leading offshore IT
destination. Businesses in this sector achieve much higher productivity
than the average for Armenia’s economy as a whole (11.5 percent of the
US level). Why the relatively strong performance? The software and IT
services sector is especially suited to exploit Armenia’s three
competitive advantages. First, it has a well-educated workforce with an
emphasis on science, a result of the country’s heritage as the Soviet
Union’s high-tech center. The second advantage is low wages: a software
and IT services specialist earns $2,400 to $6,000 a year, a quarter of
the average salary such a worker receives in India. The third is a five
million-strong diaspora across Europe and North America. Many of these
overseas Armenians are successful businesspeople and professionals in
the IT and software field and provide access to international business
networks as well as funding for Armenia’s development.

Foreign-owned and domestic companies in Armenia’s software and IT sector
have different average levels of productivity and somewhat different
barriers to
raising it. Some 25 foreign software companies, owned mostly by
businesspeople of Armenian descent, have set up offshore subsidiaries in
the country to develop
customized applications for their corporate parents. To attract the best
programmers and thus achieve the best labor productivity, these foreign
units offer salaries twice as high as domestic IT firms do. But labor
productivity is still only half of the US level, partly as a result of
the shortcomings of Armenia’s higher-education system, which produces
excellent programmers but not enough skilled project managers. For the
85 or so domestic companies that develop, program, market, and sell
packaged software at home and abroad, improving total productivity —
which currently stands at 25 percent of the US level — is even more
crucial. Among the managerial shortcomings these companies face is a
lack of market knowledge and business know-how. Furthermore, they don’t
always know what higher-value-added products to make for international
markets, and they sometimes don’t possess the business skills needed to
market and sell sophisticated products abroad (Exhibit 2, on the
previous page).

We recommend a series of steps in two areas to remove productivity
barriers and stimulate the growth of Armenia’s software and IT sector.
First, increasing the capacity and quality of the educational system is
critical for delivering the highly qualified graduates needed to improve
the sector’s programming and management skills. To this end, the
government should try to attract and retain teachers, professors, and
researchers by raising their salaries, which a: $100 to $200 a month are
low even by domestic standards. Partnerships between companies and
universities can also help. A large foreign-owned software company, for
example, currently supports a multidisciplinary university course that
combines semiconductor design and IT programming — important for the
development of higher value added products. One university cooperates
closely with IT start-ups by providing them with work space on its
premises. Computer science curricula should be modernized so that
technical courses are enriched by business know-how, such as project
management and business-case writing. Second, the government and the
domestic financial and high-tech sectors should team up to establish a
major investment fund and a promotional agency to channel private equity
money from the diaspora and other foreign sources into the software and
IT sector and thereby stimulate its growth.

Increasing the productivity of software and IT services alone won’t
carry Armenia’s economy to the next level, however. A handful of other
sectors — diamonds and jewelry, tourism, and health care — should also
be development priorities. Successful initiatives in the four sectors
could double their productivity, generate double-digit increases in
revenues annually through 2010, and raise their aggregate employment to
102,000, from 71,000. By first focusing on these potentially high-growth
sectors, Armenia could increase its foreign earnings and use the influx
of cash to raise domestic demand and boost other parts of the economy.

Armenia must still resolve its conflict with neighboring Azerbaijan over
the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region and carry out macroeconomic reforms
to complete the transition to a market economy. But concentrating on
specific sectors such as software and IT services should allow Armenia
to move beyond basic stabilization and take the next steps on the road
to prosperity.

DIAGRAM: EXHIBIT 2: Armenia’s productivity gap: Estimated labor
productivity, index: total productivity for software/IT sector in United
States = 100

MAP: EXHIBIT I: Armenia in context: Major economic indicators, 2002

Classical Score: In Armenia, Discovering The Past And The Present

Classical Score: In Armenia, Discovering The Past And The Present

Billboard
3/27/2004

By Anastasia Tsioulcas

Armenian composer Tigran Mansurian is a man of passion and intensity.

Whether discussing his friendship with Dmitri Shostakovich, describing
his childhood in Beirut, Lebanon, or recounting the influence of William
Faulkner’s writings on his work, Mansurian punctuates his reflections
with sweeping hand motions and piercing glances.

Yet the 65-year-old’s own music exemplifies the power and pungency of
the small and subtle gesture. Renowned violist Kim Kashkashian — herself
Armenian-American — explains the appeal of Mansurian’s music this way:
“His writing is very distilled, very concentrated. The intensity is
extreme.”

Mansurian says his music is steeped not just in Armenian music and
history but is also influenced by a Japanese artist he observed some 30
years ago.

“I saw an ikebana artist creating a composition from flowers,” he says,
“and the theory behind this art is to reveal beauty through simplicity.
When they cut off
leaves, you can see the childhood of the plant. From that emptiness, you
imagine and create life yourself.”

Despite his renown at home and his friendships with such colleagues as
Arvo Part, Alfred Schnittke, Sofia Gubaidulina, Valentin Silvestrov and
others, Mansurian
is not well-known internationally. However, that is rapidly changing.

Since their first meeting several years ago, Kashkashian has become a
champion of Mansurian’s work, and the composer has written several works
for her.
Kashkashian’s advocacy has blossomed into a long-term commitment to
Mansurian from producer/ECM label head Manfred Eicher.

The first fruit of that relationship arrived last July, when the
Munich-based ECM released “Hayren,” a disc that included Mansurian’s
piece “Havik” as well
as songs by the revered Armenian composer/ethnomusicologist Komitas
(1869-1935), arranged by Mansurian.

On March 30, ECM continues to explore Mansurian’s exceptional work with
a two-CD set titled “Monodia.” Two compositions on the new disc were written
expressly for Kashkashian: the 1995 viola concerto “And Then I Was in
Time Again . . .” and “Confessing With Faith” for viola and voices (in
which Kashkashian is joined by the Hilliard Ensemble).

“Lachrymae,” a piece for viola and saxophone, is played here by its
dedicatees, Kashkashian and Jan Garbarek (who makes his instrument sound
remarkably
like the traditional Armenian duduk). Rounding out the collection is
1981’s Violin Concerto, played by Leonidas Kavakos.

PHOTO (COLOR): MANSURIAN: WRITES MUSIC WITH ‘EXTREME’ INTENSITY

Journalists Condemn

A1 Plus | 22:25:48 | 30-03-2004 | Politics |

JOURNALISTS CONDEMN

A number of journalists’ organizations such as Yerevan Press Club, Armenian
Journalists Union, Internews and Fund for Speech Freedom Protection came up
with a statement on Tuesday condemning assault on the head of Armenia’s
Helsinki Association Mikael Danielyan.

“We consider that as one of consequences of intolerance atmosphere in the
republic”, the statement says.

The organizations hope the law enforcement bodies will eventually break the
mould and track down the criminals.

http://www.a1plus.am

AGBU Hye Geen Carries Out Successful Pregnant Women Project in ROA

AGBU PRESS OFFICE
55 East 59th Street, New York, NY 10022-1112
Phone (212) 319-6383
Fax (212) 319-6507
Email [email protected]
Webpage

PRESS RELEASE
Tuesday, March 30, 2004

AGBU Hye Geen Carries Out Successful Pregnant Women’s Project in
Armenia: Program Stresses Importance of Good Pre-Natal Care

With the goal of improving the health of expectant mothers and
reducing the alarming rates of infant mortality and complicated
pregnancies in Armenia, AGBU Hye Geen established the Pregnant Women
Project in the country’s second largest city, Gyumri, in June
2002. The participating women benefit from substantial pre-natal care
and vital medical exams, while also creating a unique and strong bond
among each other.

Since 1994, AGBU Hye Geen has continued to further its goals of
empowering women, making them more aware of their changing roles and
shedding light on women’s issues. Committee members initiated Hye
Geen with events to create awareness about the social and emotional
problems faced by Armenian women in Armenia and the Diaspora today.

As a group interested in women’s welfare, Hye Geen avidly follows the
female Armenian role both in the family and society. Recognizing the
realities that women face in the homeland, the group established a
sister center in Yerevan in 2001, and continues to co-sponsor the work
of the Sociology Department of Yerevan State University. In addition
to publishing a quarterly journal entitled, “Ganayk Hayots,” the
Department conducts extensive research and surveys about the status of
women in Armenia. The journal covers issues that were often considered
taboo, such as domestic violence, prostitution and the female prison
population.

AGBU Hye Geen’s Chairperson, Mrs. Sona Yacoubian, often accompanies
her physician husband on medical trips to Armenia. While touring
hospitals, she meets gynecologists who inform her of the startling
realities of pre and post-natal care in the country. Birthrates have
been decreasing considerably as abortion rates rise. In addition,
women were sustaining difficult pregnancies due to the lack of medical
attention and malnutrition. Consequentially, birth defects and infant
abandonment became growing problems.

Extremely troubled by the situation, Mrs. Yacoubian shared her
findings with the Hye Geen Committee, and the idea for a Pregnant
Women’s Center was conceived. “As a women’s organization, we must make
the effort to reach out to other women. The mother is the caretaker of
the household, therefore she must be safe and well provided for,” she
said. After consulting with its sister group in Armenia, AGBU Hye Geen
was advised by the Minister of Social Security that the town of Gyumri
had a very high birthrate, and thought it would be ideal to start the
pilot program there.

In June 2002, the Pregnant Women’s Center in Gyumri welcomed 20
pregnant women through its doors, whose lives changed considerably as
a result of this program. The group gathers at the Center, meets with
counselors individually, prepares nutritious meals together, obtains
vitamins sent by Hye Geen, receives advice on pre-natal care and
creates strong friendship ties. Physicians also visit on a regular
basis to provide medical exams.

Hye Geen Committee members stated, “The pregnant women bonded with
each other so greatly that they often return to the Center even after
childbirth. We had not initially anticipated such a situation, so we
quickly thought of occupational therapy activities that would allow
them to join the pregnant women and still feel involved.” Sitting
alongside the expectant mothers, the new mothers engage in productive
activities, such as knitting and sewing. Returning to the Center gives
them comfort, particularly since many of the program participants face
serious problems, such as unemployment, issues with family members, or
husbands who have left the country in search of better living
conditions. These women often turn to the counselors and each other
for support.

“The majority of these women have no other outlet for getting out of
the home,” a Hye Geen Committee member commented. “They come to the
Center for the important services we provide, in addition to the good
friendships they have developed. Some of the women even bring their
other children with them because they do not have anyone helping them
with childrearing.”

Hye Geen’s sister group in Armenia was so pleased with the outcome of
the project that the Yerevan State University Sociology Department has
sponsored another independent Pregnant Women’s Center in Vanatzor. Hye
Geen is hopeful that they will be able to establish and sponsor more
such Centers in Armenia so that a greater number of women will have
safer and healthier pregnancies. Mrs. Yacoubian summed up the program
by saying, “What we do through this project is keep two people
healthy: the mother and her newborn child. This way, mothers will be
far less likely to abandon their children and both will remain
healthy. Just consider how strong this will make the future
generations of our nation.”

AGBU Hye Geen’s mission is to preserve and honor the achievements of
Armenian women and to provide a forum for Armenian women throughout
the world. AGBU () is the largest international,
non-profit Armenian organization in the world, and is dedicated to
preserving and promoting the Armenian heritage and culture through
humanitarian, educational, cultural and social programs that serve
some 400,000 Armenians annually.

www.agbu.org
www.agbu.org

F18News: Turkmenistan – Muslims barred from opening new mosques

FORUM 18 NEWS SERVICE, Oslo, Norway

The right to believe, to worship and witness
The right to change one’s belief or religion
The right to join together and express one’s belief

=================================================

Tuesday 30 March 2004
TURKMENISTAN: MUSLIMS BARRED FROM OPENING NEW MOSQUES

Turkmenistan’s largest religious community, the Muslims, appear to have
been barred from benefiting from the promised easing of the harsh
registration restrictions that have prevented most of the country’s
religious communities from registering since 1997. “Do not build any more
mosques,” President Saparmurat Niyazov told officials of the government’s
Gengeshi (Council) for Religious Affairs on 29 March, insisting that its
officials must continue to appoint all mullahs and control mosque funds.
More than half the 250 registered mosques were stripped of their legal
status in 1997, and only 140 have registration today. Shia mosques appear
likely to remain banned. Forum 18 News Service has learnt that the only
other current legal faith, the Russian Orthodox Church, is planning to try
to register new parishes in the wake of this month’s presidential decree
and amendments to the religion law easing the restrictions.

TURKMENISTAN: MUSLIMS BARRED FROM OPENING NEW MOSQUES

By Felix Corley, Forum 18 News Service

Despite a new presidential decree and amendments to the religion law this
month lifting the tight restrictions on registering religious
organisations, the country’s president Saparmurat Niyazov has apparently
barred Muslim communities from benefiting from the new procedures.
“Religion is free,” he claimed to officials of the Gengeshi (Council) for
Religious Affairs on 29 March, saying he was handing over to it three
mosques, before adding: “Do not build any more mosques.” A range of
previously “illegal” religious communities – including the Catholics,
various Protestant communities and the Baha’is – are planning to lodge
registration applications, while Forum 18 News Service has learnt that one
of the two current permitted faiths – the Russian Orthodox Church – is also
planning to take advantage of the simplified procedures to register new
communities. It remains unclear why Turkmenistan’s majority faith – Islam –
will be unable to benefit from the new law.

Niyazov made the remarks the same day that Shirin Akhmedova, the head of
the department that registers religious communities at the Adalat (Justice)
Ministry, assured Forum 18 that both the Muslim community and the Russian
Orthodox could avail themselves of the new registration procedures along
with other religious communities. She said 140 Muslim communities and 12
Russian Orthodox parishes currently have registration. Before the harsh
registration restrictions were introduced in 1996, the Muslims had 250
registered communities.

Forum 18 was unable immediately to reach anyone at the Gengeshi or among
the Muslim leadership in the capital Ashgabad.

In his remarks to the Gengeshi staff, broadcast by state television on 30
March, Niyazov also insisted that the Gengeshi – a governmental body that
reports to the Cabinet of Ministers – must retain control over all aspects
of Islamic life, although under Article 11 of the country’s constitution
religion is supposed to be separate from the state. “They [mosques] should
not choose the mullahs themselves. Since you work here, you should appoint
mullahs from among those who have graduated from the department of religion
and have them approved by the court,” he ordered. “Otherwise, they select
anyone they want in the localities.” He also instructed that Gengeshi
officials should maintain “proper order” over donations to mosques. “We
will not take it from you. You just need to maintain order in it and look
at their expenditures.”

Although Sunni Islam has been one of only two faiths permitted to function
in Turkmenistan since 1997, it remains under tight state control. President
Niyazov ousted the chief mufti, Nasrullah ibn Ibadullah, in January 2003
and appointed Kakageldy Vepaev to replace him. The state authorities have
removed all ethnic Uzbek imams in the northern Dashgovuz region and
replaced them with ethnic Turkmens (see F18News 4 March 2004
). Nasrullah ibn
Ibadullah was arrested in Dashgovuz in mid-January of this year, according
to the Moscow-based researcher Vitali Ponomarev, and was sentenced to 22
years’ imprisonment on 2 March (see F18News 8 March 2004
).

President Niyazov’s dislike of Shia Islam has prevented Shia mosques from
registering and it now appears that the ban might continue. In a bizarre
case, the writer Rahim Esenov is facing criminal charges partly as a result
of defying the president’s criticism that in his novel about the
sixteenth-century regent of the Moghul empire, Bayram Khan, the hero was
correctly presented as a Shia, not a Sunni Muslim (see F18News 23 March
2004 ). Forum 18 is still
unable to reach Esenov by telephone in Ashgabad as his line continues to be
blocked.

President Niyazov issued his decree on religion on 11 March removing the
requirement that religious organisations must have 500 adult citizen
members before the can apply for registration, a provision introduced in
1996 which left all but the Sunni Muslims and Russian Orthodox stripped of
their registration. The religion law, revised only in October 2003 to
increase control over religious groups, was again revised this month to
reflect the simpler registration requirements. The new amendments,
published on 24 March in the government press in Turkmen and in Russian and
available on the government website
(), requires that
“religious groups” must have between five and fifty adult citizen members
to register, while “religious organisations” must have at least fifty. In
theory at least, this removes the obstacle to registering non-Sunni Muslim
and non-Orthodox communities.

Akhmedova of the Adalat Ministry told Forum 18 on 29 March that various
communities have come to her office to seek information on how to register.
“They come constantly to seek information,” she declared. She said she had
given communities a model statute that they could adapt for use. She added
that no community has yet lodged a registration application under the new
procedure.

Among the Protestant churches preparing to lodge an application is Greater
Grace church in Ashgabad, as its pastor Vladimir Tolmachev reported. “We
are collecting signatures and we expect to lodge the application within the
next week,” he told Forum 18 on 29 March. Describing the current situation
as “strange”, Tolmachev was optimistic that his church would get
registration, having read the text of the amendments to the religion law.

Aleksandr Yukharin, vice-president of the New Apostolic Church in Russia,
who maintains links with its community in Ashgabad, said his church is
pleased that it now has the opportunity to register. “We have been trying
to do so for a long time,” he told Forum 18 from Moscow on 30 March. “We
were warned last year not to meet, so we had to halt all our religious
activity. All over the world we abide by the laws of the state, which is
why our Ashgabad community stopped its activity.” He stressed that his
Church wants to resume its activity, but would do so only once it has
registration and can do so legally. “We do not conduct religious activity
illegally.”

Despite the denial of the possibility of registering new Muslim
communities, the Russian Orthodox Church is planning to try to register new
parishes to add to its current 12 registered communities. “Registration is
now a lot simpler,” Fr Ioann Kopach, the dean of Ashgabad, told Forum 18 on
30 March. He said the first two parishes likely to seek registration are in
the town of Khazar (formerly Cheleken) on the Caspian Sea and in the
northern Caspian Sea port of Bekdash. “We will seek the blessing of our
bishop, Metropolitan Vladimir of Tashkent, and then lodge the applications
and see what happens.”

He said the Church might also found parishes in other towns, though he said
most of the parishes that need registration already have it. He said the
Orthodox have already built a new church in the town of Tedjen and have
nearly completed a new church in Dashoguz to replace churches destroyed
during the Soviet period.

Both Fr Ioann and Fr Andrei Kiryakov, the priest of Turkmenabad (formerly
Charjou), admitted to Forum 18 that many of their parishioners are Armenian
Apostolic Christians, although the Armenian Church and the Orthodox Church
are of differing families of Churches. The Armenians have so far been
prevented from reopening churches in Turkmenistan, but Fr Ioann told Forum
18 that “it is a question for the Council for Religious Affairs why there
are no Armenian churches in Turkmenistan”.

Fr Ioann said that after the religion law was amended last October,
Orthodox parishes had expected to have to re-register with the Adalat
Ministry. However, given the latest religion law amendments he said it was
unclear whether this was still the case and if and when any re-registration
of existing registered communities might take place.

One draconian provision of the religion law that the new amendments have
not lifted is the ban on unregistered religious activity and the criminal
penalties imposed on those taking part in it. “I believe that they will
allow all the churches to register, then they will conduct checks and those
that continue to function without registration will be fined,” Pastor
Tolmachev of the Greater Grace church told Forum 18. If this does indeed
happen, one group that has already suffered numerous raids and punishments
on its communities – the Baptists of the Council of Churches who refuse to
register on principle in any of the post-Soviet republics where they
operate – is likely to be penalised once again.

For more background see Forum 18’s report on the October 2003 religion law
at

and Forum 18’s latest religious freedom survey at

A printer-friendly map of Turkmenistan is available at
x.html?Parent=asia&Rootmap=turkme
(END)

© Forum 18 News Service. All rights reserved.

You may reproduce or quote this article provided that credit is given to
F18News

Past and current Forum 18 information can be found at

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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status

Space Ref
March 29 2004

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status

All ISS systems continue to function nominally, except those noted
previously or below. Underway: Week 23 for Increment 8.

Before breakfast, both crewmembers completed their first session of
the periodic Russian medical experiment protocols PZEh-MO-7 (calf
volume measurement) and PZEh-MO-8 (body mass measurement). FE Alex
Kaleri set up the MO-8 “scales” equipment and subsequently broke it
down and stowed it away.

Later, Kaleri was to perform a major 5-hr. IFM (in-flight
maintenance) inside the Soyuz TMA-3/7S, to repair the V1 fan of the
KhSA cooler/dryer unit in the crew return vehicle’s Descent Module
(SA), but the activity was deferred after a tagup with ground
specialists when Alex encountered a problem with the fan. [The
planned R&R is in response to the finding of the investigation &
status check done by Kaleri on the KhSA fans on 11/1/03, which in
turn was prompted by higher-than-expected humidity (18 mmHg)
encountered in the Soyuz cabin during the stand-alone Expedition 8
crew flight to the ISS (10/18-10/20/03). To repair or, if necessary,
replace the fan, Sasha had to gain access to the fan outlets by
reconfiguring the SA, disassembling the air duct between DC-1 and
Soyuz, relocating the Sokol spacesuits, flipping back the foot rests
on the three couches, and using a local light in the confined work
space.]

CDR Michael Foale completed another session on the new BCAT-3 (Binary
Colloidal Alloy Test-3) experiment for NASA GRC (Glenn Research
Center)’s microgravity research program. Today’s activities focused
on BCAT-3 sample homogenizing and the first two photography runs.
The images were to be downlinked for review by the ground team, which
then will provide feedback in tomorrow’s BCAT conference. Foale was
also asked to document his activities on videotape. [BCAT-3 is a
Small Payload for ISS using the Kodak DCS760 digital camera with
MagLite at the MWA. Experiment hardware for homogenizing samples in
micro-G include a Slow Growth Sample Module with sample couvettes and
the BCAT Magnet for homogenizing the alloy samples (toxicity level 1)
to initiate growth of colloidal structures. Forerunners were the
glovebox investigations BCAT & BCAT-2 launched on STS-79 & STS-86 to
the Russian space station Mir during the fall of ’96 and ’97. BCAT-3
is a precursor for the LMM (Light Microscopy Module) scheduled to fly
in 2006. BCAT-3 is also a follow-on experiment to CGEL (Colloidal
Gelation) operated by Mike Foale on Mir/Increment 5. Possible future
applications of the colloidal alloy experiments are photonic crystals
for telecommunications and computer applications (e.g., optical
switches and waveguides, “computing with light”), extremely low
threshold lasers, and improved use of supercritical fluids (e.g. CO2
for food extractions, pharmaceuticals, dry cleaning, etc.)]

Afterwards, Mike Foale reinstalled four DZUS fasteners on a panel in
the Lab module.

After yesterday’s task-listed Diatomeya work on Service Module
windows, Alex Kaleri conducted more activities today for the Russian
ocean research program, performing observation, photo and video
imagery of bio-productive aquatic areas of the South Atlantic Ocean
and of cloud formations above them. [He used the Nikon F5 with f/80
mm lens and the DVCAM 150 digital camcorder (minimum zoom mode) for
recording of video and voice-over audio of color-contrasting
formations on the open aquatic areas, local anomalies in the cloud
field structure, and manifestations of water dynamics on the ocean
surface.]

Sasha also continued yesterday’s task-listed session of the Russian
Uragan earth imaging program, today focusing the Kodak DCS760 digital
camera with 800-mm and 400mm lenses on new targets of nature and
industry environment conditions. [They included the southern coast
of Cyprus, the shoreline of the Bay of Gulf of Iskenderun, volcanoes
in Turkey and Armenia, the Koura river valley, the Chirkeiskoe water
reservoir, the shoreline of the Caspian Sea, and panoramic imagery of
the western Caspian shore from the Volga estuary to Apsheron.]

The FE performed his regular maintenance/inspection of the BIO-5
Rasteniya-2 (“Plants-2”) greenhouse. [Rasteniya studies growth and
development of plants (peas) under spaceflight conditions in the
Lada-4 greenhouse. Regular maintenance involves monitoring of
seedling growth, humidity measurements, watering to moisten the
substrate if necessary, and photo/video recording.] Mike conducted
the daily routine maintenance of the SM’s SOZh life support system
(including ASU toilet facilities), and he also prepared the daily IMS
inventory “delta” file for automated updating the IMS databases.

Both crewmembers completed their daily physical exercise program.
They also performed the weekly maintenance of the TVIS treadmill (a
five-minute task for each treadmill user, usually done just prior to
power-down or end of exercise session).

Starting at 9:00am EST, MCC-Houston began a remote-commanded checkout
of software for the two TRRJs (thermal radiator rotary joints) of the
U.S. segment that will run for the next several days. [The TRRJs
are needed to support the ETCS (external thermal control system) when
it is activated during the 12A.1 mission (NET 12/1/05), and this test
is the first of several in support of that activation. Both TRRJs
have had a full hardware checkout in previous expeditions (Loop A on
the S1 truss during 9A, Loop B on P1 during Increment 6), but this is
the first time that the automated software algorithms will be used
for checking out the flight hardware. The C/O includes several
orbits of Autotrack mode for the BGAs (Beta gimbal assemblies)
andseveral orbits in each of two configurations of Blind mode.]

Today’s CEO (Crew Earth Observations) targets, in the current LVLH
attitude no longer limited by flight rule constraints on the use of
the Lab nadir/science window, except for the shutter closure and
condensation-prevention plan (limited to 90 min. in 24 hours), were
Ganges River Delta (looking left for a mapping pass of land use in
the delta. The major visual is the protected outer islands where
native forests still appear dark green, with a sharp boundary on the
inshore side where agriculture begins), Dhaka, Bangladesh (nadir pass
over this city), Cape Town, South Africa (good pass just south of
Table Mountain. Looking nadir and left), Johannesburg, South Africa
(looking left towards the center of the Witwatersrand region. Crews
ask about the numerous white patches scattered throughout the city
[bigger further out from the center]. These are “mine dumps,” or
spoil tips from the gold mines, older dumps being re-mined for their
remnant gold content), Karachi, Pakistan (looking a touch left),
Tashkent, Uzbekistan (looking right at the foot of the mountains),
Tropical storm, Brazil (Dynamic event. This unusual storm went
ashore last evening and started breaking up. Documenting the
evolution of the storm, whether well formed offshore or breaking up
over land, is of great interest. Looking left towards the Brazilian
coastline), Lima, Peru (nadir pass), Mexico City, Mexico (nadir
pass), and Albuquerque, New Mexico (nadir pass).

http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=12366

Old Friends Dukakis, Ayvazian Are a Clash Act

Washington Post, DC
March 30 2004

Old Friends Dukakis, Ayvazian Are a Clash Act

By Jane Horwitz
Special to The Washington Post
Tuesday, March 30, 2004; Page C05

Olympia Dukakis and Leslie Ayvazian have been friends and colleagues
for more than 20 years. At the moment they’re in Alexandria, where
Ayvazian’s “Rosemary and I” will have its world premiere. It opens
Sunday at MetroStage and runs through May 9.

Ayvazian, whose plays include “Nine Armenians” and “Lovely Day,”
performed her solo show “High Dive” at MetroStage last season. She
will also act in “Rosemary and I,” a four-character memory piece
partly inspired by her mother’s childhood. Dukakis is directing with
Nancy Robillard, who will continue rehearsals when the busy
Oscar-winning actress has to be away for a day or two.

Dukakis is known for her honored 1987 turn in “Moonstruck” and other
film and TV roles, but she also has been steeped in classical and
experimental theater. She founded and ran the Whole Theatre Company
in Montclair, N.J., for 19 years.

“It’s very collaborative, actually, very collaborative,” says Dukakis
of the process underway at MetroStage. “Sometimes the play is taking
new turns that Leslie didn’t expect. . . . We disagree sometimes, we
try this, we try a compromise. . . . I think the trick is to let go
of things.”

One day last week, raised voices thundered through the closed doors
of the theater just after the day’s rehearsals had begun. The
outburst was not part of the script. It was Dukakis and Ayvazian
having words. Moments later, they were pals again.

“We got very excited and then all of a sudden we were differing on
one point and it escalated to this top level,” recalls Ayvazian. “It
was like a storm blew through, and in many ways both of us were both
rocked by it and cleared by it and . . . ended up feeling closer than
ever.

“There are not many people you can come to pitched emotion with,”
says Ayvazian of her son’s godmother. “We’re remarkable friends.”

In “Rosemary and I,” a woman, Julia (played by Ayvazian), tries to
conjure memories of her childhood and to understand the vague sense
of neglect she always felt because her mother, Rosemary, a concert
singer, traveled constantly. Julia also muses about Rosemary’s
accompanist, a woman with whom the singer shared an unexplored
passion.

Ayvazian’s maternal grandmother was a singer, and she believes “there
was some feeling about my mother missing her mother.” The rest of the
play is Ayvazian’s invention.

“The play comes from the work that Olympia and I have done together,
which is the investigation of ancient mythology and . . . what it is
for a woman to try to find her voice, even if her voice isn’t within
the normal spectrum of what is correct for a woman,” Ayvazian says.

She and Dukakis did a series of workshops that explored the duality
of the female psyche through the mythology of two ancient Sumerian
goddesses. They represent “the two aspects of the feminine. . . .
It’s usually the sexually aggressive part, the rage, the pain that
somehow women are not supposed to walk around with,” Dukakis says.

The question in “Rosemary and I,” Ayvazian says, is “can women live
fully and can men live fully and can we help each other do that by
not denying aspects of ourselves?”

A Real ‘Homebody’

For a year or more, Brigid Cleary was “perfectly happy” just making
people laugh in the farce “Shear Madness” at the Kennedy Center. A
few months ago, she and her family were in the middle of a move to a
part of Calvert County that she calls “as close to Mayberry as I
think exists.” Her phone wasn’t installed yet.

Then one night stage manager Jeanette Buck told Cleary that Howard
Shalwitz of Woolly Mammoth had been trying to reach her. They needed
an actress to perform the daunting monologue “Homebody,” the first
half of Tony Kushner’s “Homebody/Kabul.”

Shalwitz faxed Cleary a few pages of the script; she read it and
thought, “Oh my Lord.” But a fellow “Madness” cast member prodded her
— “Are you an actor or not?” — and she took the plunge into
Kushner’s “incredible, lush . . . kaleidoscope” of words.

The “Homebody” is a middle-class London housewife who shares with the
audience her utter fascination with the ancient city of Kabul, her
estrangement from her family and her near-psychotic obsession with
words. “She is telling a couple of stories at once, but all leading
to making a decision,” Cleary says.

“I’m more of a patter-song type person, and this is an aria,” Cleary
observes. “There are sentences that are half a page long.” She began
practicing the monologue on her long commutes and credits director
John Vreeke with guiding her through the thicket in rehearsals.

Woolly Mammoth’s production with Theater J runs through April 11 at
the D.C. Jewish Community Center.

Cleary has been acting on Washington area stages for about 25 years.
Frequent theatergoers will remember her perfectly timed delivery in
productions of “The Women” at Studio Theatre and Arena Stage, where
she also did “Expecting Isabel.” She’s become known for comic roles.

“I think I kind of become whatever I need to become in a role,”
Cleary says. “I never thought of myself as a comic actress, and I was
always amazed that people didn’t think there was a matching flipside
to that.”

In May she will appear in “The Cripple of Inishmaan” at Studio and
may rejoin “Shear Madness” after that. “I am going to treat my career
like I do my yoga classes,” Cleary says. “. . . I’m going to keep
becoming more and more limber, more and more able — until I can’t.”

UN official fired over Iraq bomb

BBC news
March 30 2004

UN official fired over Iraq bomb

The UN’s headquarters were gutted by the blast last August
The United Nations secretary general sacked security co-ordinator Tun
Myat after a scathing report on last year’s bomb attack on the UN’s
HQ in Baghdad.
But Kofi Annan refused an offer to resign from his deputy Louise
Frechette, his spokesman Fred Eckhard told reporters at the United
Nations.

Mr Eckhard said the failures had been “collective”, except in the
case of Tun Myat, who had specific responsibility.

UN special envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello was among the 22 people
killed.

More than 100 others were hurt as suicide bombers apparently drove a
truck laden with explosives into the compound on 19 August.

In other developments in Iraq:

A roadside bomb kills a US soldier near the flashpoint town of
Falluja, west of Baghdad, the US military says

The US Army admits responsibility for the deaths of two Iraqi
journalists working for the Arab al-Arabiya satellite television on
18 March in Baghdad. It says it regrets what it describes as the
accidental shooting
‘Delusion’ of security

A 30-page summary of the report – circulated internally within the UN
at the beginning of March – was released to journalists on Monday.

The report suggests that UN officials failed to ask searching
questions before deciding to return UN staff to Baghdad, under heavy
international pressure.

The report was particularly critical of two UN officials in Baghdad,
accusing them of “a dereliction of duty” and “a lethargy that is
bordering on gross negligence” for failing to shield the office
windows with blast-resistant film.

The two – Jordan’s Paul Aghadjanian and Pa Momodou Sinyan of Gambia –
were charged with misconduct and will face disciplinary proceedings.

The report also suggests that Mr Vieira de Mello was among other
senior managers who failed to appreciate a building security threat
against them.

“They were living under the delusion the UN would not be attacked,”
Mr Eckhard said on Monday.

Mr Vieira de Mello’s deputy Ramiro Lopes da Silva – who was
responsible for security on site at the Baghdad hotel where the UN
staff were based – will be reassigned elsewhere with no security
duties, Mr Eckhard said.