BAKU: On goals of US dep. secretary of state’s visit to Azerbaijan

AzerTag, Azerbaijan State Info Agency
March 26 2004

ON GOALS OF US DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE’S VISIT TO AZERBAIJAN
[March 26, 2004, 12:55:38]

Ambassador of the United State of America to Azerbaijan Reno Harnish
told journalists that US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage
would arrive in Baku to discuss military cooperation between the two
countries, combat against international terrorism, implementation of
oil and gas projects and way of solution to the Armenia-Azerbaijan,
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Asked whether USA intend to deploy its
military installations in Azerbaijan, the Ambassador gave a negative
answer adding that journalist draw too much attention to this
question. According to him, however, the U.S. militaries are going to
conducts trainings in military units of the Azerbaijan Army to
provide high-level defense of maritime, land and air frontiers of the
country.

In conclusion, Mr. Harnish stressed that Washington was interested in
building Azerbaijan National Army in line with western standards.

Fox Cities serves as health example

Appleton Post Crescent, WI
March 26 2004

Fox Cities serves as health example

How area treats children may be applied in Eurasia

By Kara Patterson
Post-Crescent staff writer

APPLETON – Dr. Arzu Rustamova of Baku, Azerbaijan, says she’s found
hope for her capital city’s orphanage-bound children with special
needs in Appleton’s approach to community wellness.

`The children were abandoned because they need constant care and
attention, and the parents are not able to see their condition might
be changed for the better,’ said Rustamova through an interpreter.
`It’s important to communicate to parents that they should be active
participants of this process.’

Rustamova is one of 17 physician administrators in the U.S.
Department of Commerce’s Special American Business Internship
Training Program who spent this week in the Fox Valley learning
management strategies they’ll employ in their five Eurasian home
countries.

They say their observations of healthy American communities will help
them contribute to their countries’ transitions from
government-controlled health care to privatized systems structured
more around individual responsibility.

The Fox Cities-Kurgan Sister Cities Program Inc. and World Services
of La Crosse Inc. introduced the delegation to local health care
professionals, business leaders, teachers and nonprofit service
providers.

The group leaves today for Des Moines, Iowa, on its four-week U.S.
tour.

Rustamova, the administrator of Baku Children’s Rehabilitation
Center, met a potential mentor in Bob Russo, president/CEO of the
Appleton-based Valley Packaging Industries Inc.

Valley Packaging’s Early Intervention Program, serving children with
disabilities from birth to 3 years old, may influence the development
of Rustamova’s proposed pilot program. She’s hoping to turn full-day
orphanage care for special-needs children in Baku into a day program
dependent upon family support.

`That carries over to when they are no longer children,’ Russo said.
`One of the things I pointed out was how our program not only treats
the child but reduces the need for (future) medical attention and
other services.’

Dr. Karmella Poghosyan, who oversees a pediatric hospital in Yerevan,
Armenia, said she was impressed by displays of nutrition, personal
hygiene and healthy lifestyles information decorating the walls of
Johnston Elementary School in Appleton.

Dr. Victor Pologov, a city health department administrator in
Sevastopol, Ukraine, said his country’s employers must learn more
about health insurance because such benefits now are on the horizon
for their employees.

Kara Patterson can be reached at 920-993-1000, ext. 215, or by e-mail
at [email protected]

In spite of the claims of democratization in Turkey

KurdishMedia, UK
March 26 2004

In spite of the claims of democratization in Turkey

26/03/2004 KurdishMedia.com
In spite of the claims of democratization in Turkey

Besikci’s books remain forbidden,
Armenian editor threatened with death
A fascist murderer of seven students freed

Sociologist Ismail Besikci’s books on Kurds are still forbidden

The Yurt Publications, which printed all books written by
sociologist-writer Ismail Besikci, who was judged at State Security
Court (DGM) for the 23 books he wrote and most of whose books were
withdrawn from circulation, apllied to 1st State Security Court in
Ankara and requested the ban on printing his books be removed as the
8th article of Combat Against Terrorism Laws (TMY) has been removed
due to EU adjustment regulations.

The runner of the publication house Unsal Ozturk, apllied to the 2nd
DGM and got the right for printing 8 books, as the 1st DGM hadn’t
given permission. However the ban on 15 of the books wasn’t removed
due to the reason of ‘still constituing crime according to Turkish
law’.

Despite that it was removed according to EU adjustment laws, the 8th
article of TMY is still continuing to be a problem. Removal request
of the ban on the 23 books written by Sociologist-Writer Ismail
Besikci was rejected by the 1st DGM, though the 8th article was
removed.

The books, the ban on whose wasn’t removed were the ones drawing
attention to the Kurdish question. For example, though the book
named, “An Intellectual, an Organization and the Kurdish Question” is
no more a crime according to the 8th article, the ban on it was not
removed.

Here is the Court’s decision about the book: “Though the book ‘An
Intellectual, an Organization and the Kurdish Question’ was sentenced
on the ground of making separatist propaganda according to the 8/2
article of 3713 numbered section of law and later the the mentioned
article of law was removed according to the new 4928 numbered law; it
is known that the book was also sentenced on ground of assaulting
Ataturk’s spiritual personality according to the 5816 numbered
section of law. Therefore, rejection of the request by convict’s
assignee has been decided”.

The 2nd DGM didn’t also remove the ban on the book named ‘The Huge
Plane Tree (The Kurdish Sage Musa Anter) although it doesn’t
constitute a crime within the exclosure of the 8th article anymore.
Following is the Court’s decision.

“Even the action doesn’t constitue a criminal act as a result of the
removal of the article of law organizing separatist propaganda
anymore, a book withdrawn from the circulation still constitutes
crime according to the running laws. Therefore we decided to reject
the request”.

The runner of Yurt Book Publications Unsal Ozturk, said they were not
thinking of reprinting those eight books untill the ban on the others
was removed. Ozturk called Kurds for support, pointing to that they
had to claim the books written about themselves,

Following is the list of books, the ban on which wasn’t removed:

“12 Eylul Fasizmi ve PKK Direnisi, Bilim Yontemi, Koca Cinar (Kurt
Bilgesi Musa Anter), Kurtlerin Mecburi Iskni, Ortadogu’da Devlet
Teroru, Kurt Aydini Uzerine Dusunceler, Turk Tarih Tezi, Gune? Dil
Teorisi ve Kurt Sorunu, Zihnimizdeki Karakollarin Yikilmasi Yargilama
Surecleri ve Ozgurlesme, Bilim-Resmi Ideoloji, Devlet-Demokrasi ve
Kurt Sorunu, Devletlerarasi Somurge Kurdistan, UNESCO’ya Mektup,
Ba?kaldirinin Ko?ullari, Tunceli Kanunu (Dersim Jenosidi), Kurdistan
Uzerine Emperyalist Bolusum Mucadelesi.”

And following is the list of books, the ban on which removed:

“Dogu Anadolu’nun Duzeni ve Sosyo Etnik Temelleri 1, Dogu Anadolu’nun
Duzeni ve Sosyo Etnik Temeli 2, Cumhuriyet Halk Firkasinin Tuzugu
1927 ve Kurt Sorunu, Turk Tarih Tezi Gune? Dil Teorisi ve Kurt
Sorunu; Bilimsel Yontem, Universite Ozerkligi ve Demokratik Toplum
Ilkeleri Açisindan Ismail Besikci Davasi I, Bilimsel Yontem,
Universite Ozerkligi ve Demokratik Toplum Ilkeleri Açisindan Ismail
Besikci Davasi IV Yargitay’a Basvuru, Bilimsel Yöntem Özerkligi ve
Demokratik Toplum Ilkeleri Acisindan Ismail Besikcii – 2 Savunma,
Kurt Toplumu Uzerine.” (DIHA, Maarch 21, 2004)

Death menaces by Grey Wolves against an Armenian editor in Istanbul

The latest letter of the editor Ragip ZARAKOLU who have published a
number of books on the question of minorities in Turkey:

“As you know it, Turkish fascist party MHP lost the elections and
could not enter to the Parliament. By new agitations they try keep in
ranks their disappointed and angry militants (Grey Wolves). Their
youth organization, near to Ülkü Ocaklari (Foyers of Ideal) have
started street agitations.

“In their press, they write aggressive articles against the Kurds and
the minorities. After an article about the Atatürk’s adoptive girl
Sabiha Gokcen, concerning her Armenian roots, the Turkish army made a
statement saying that it is an attack against the memory of the
founder of the Turkish Republic. After that, Turkish fascists
organized a protest in front of the Armenian newspaper AGOS, they
said: ‘Hrant Dink you are on our list’. It means that you are
threatened with death.

“One week later, still in front of Agos, ‘the Federation of fighting
against the false Armenian thesis’ put black posters on the door and
made a protest action.

“We went to visit Agos as defenders of human rights, of writers and
NGOs. Later, we wrote a petition to make a lawsuit against the
organization Ulku Ocaklari, because they uttered heinous words and
death threats.

“Last wednesday I visited them in the name of Turkish PEN Association
with Eugène Schoulgin, vice-president of International PEN, whom I
invited to accompany me.

“Tomorrow, I will take along Jose Bove and his friends at Agos by
solidarity. Thus the French farmers will support Agos.

“The same organization launched death threats against two Kurdish
singers. The socio-fascists published an article against me, because
I had written an article against the so-called leftist nationalism of
the review ‘Turk Solu’.

“The best answer is to continue to publish. Tomorrow we will
distribute our new book: ‘The role of the special organization and
the army in the Armenian genocide.’ And we will see what will
arrive.”

Haluk Kirca, the murderer of seven socialist students, freed

As four Kurdish deputies are still kept behind iron bars in Turkey, a
notorious fascist murder, Haluk Kirci, who had been convicted in
so-called Susurluk case and “Bahçelievler Massacre” case, was
released on 19 March from the prison of Ödemis as he benefited from
Execution Law. He was nick-named Idi Amin among the Grew Wolves
(militants du neo-fascist party MHP).

Kirci had been sentenced 7 times to death for Bahçelievler massacre,
during which seven students, members of the Turkish Workers’ Party
(TIP) had been killed on 8 October 1978. This sentence had been
reduced to 70 years’ imprisonment after the changes in The Law to
Fight Terrorism in 1991. After a long evasion, he was captured a few
years ago and put in prison.

The release process of Kirci developed as follows:

Mustafa Izol, who had been sentenced to 12 times to death and 20
years’ imprisonment for killing 12 persons before the coup d’etat of
12 September 1980, appealed to benefit from the adjustment laws
approved on 3 August 2002. The court ruled that he had to serve 10
years for each killing. Minister of Justice Cemil Çiçek demanded the
decision to be lifted with a written order to Court of Cassation in
July 2003. Court of Cassation ordered the release of Izol on 30
January. In his reasoned decision 1st Chamber of Court of Cassation
stressed that the sentence had to be reduced to life imprisonment and
since the offence had been committed before the year 1991 the
sentence should have been 8 years.

After this decision converting life imprisonment to 36 years’
imprisonment according to the Law on Execution of Sentences was also
changed. Chief Prosecutor at the Court of Cassation objected the
decision alleging that those convicts had to serve at least 30 years.

The application of Kirci had been awaited since November 2003 at 1st
Chamber of Court of Cassation. The chamber converted the sentence of
Kirci to life imprisonment without waiting the result of the
objection against the decision on the case of Izol. The chamber also
ruled that the execution of the sentence would be calculated by the
court. Ödemis Heavy Penal Court decided to reduce the sentence of
Kirci to 8 years and ordered the release because he had served 16
years.

If the objection of the chief prosecutor was accepted by the General
Penal Committee at the Court of Cassation, the decision concerning
Izol would be cancelled. Since the decisions of the committee are
obliging, the decision concerning Kirci would also be objected.
(Milliyet-Radikal-TIHV, , March 21, 2004)

>From Nahost News – Kurdistan Aktuell, 25 March 2004

F18News Summary: Azerbaijan; Kosovo & Serbia; Russia; Turkmenistan

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

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

22 March 2004
AZERBAIJAN: BAPTIST AND ADVENTIST SUPPORT FOR IMAM AT TRIAL

At the opening of the trial today (22 March) of jailed religious freedom
activist Ilgar Ibrahimoglu, Azerbaijan’s Baptist leader Pastor Ilya
Zenchenko and Adventist leader Pastor Yahya Zavrichko have spoken out in
support of the Imam, Forum 18 News Service has learnt. Baptist Pastor
Zenchenko told Forum 18 that “the trial is a spectacle, a show. There is no
basis for the charges against him. He is a victim.” Adventist Pastor
Zavrichko was as forthright. “I believe he is innocent. He only spoke up
for people’s religious rights.” The Imam’s brother, Najaf Allahverdiev, is
not optimistic about the trial’s outcome, speaking of “the usual procedural
violations” and fearing that Imam Ibrahimoglu might be sentenced to several
years’ jail, possibly suspended if there is great international pressure.
Meanwhile, members of Imam Ibrahimoglu’s 1,000 year old Juma mosque are
still fighting the authorities’ attempts to evict them and turn the mosque
into a carpet museum.

19 March 2004
KOSOVO & SERBIA: “DO NOT ABANDON CONVENT TO DESTRUCTION”, BISHOP PLEADS

Kosovo’s Orthodox bishop Artemije (Radosavljevic) has today (19 March)
gained a commitment from the KFOR peacekeeping force to defend the Sokolica
convent which has been threatened with destruction by Albanian mobs amid
the continuing anti-Serb violence, Forum 18 News Service has learnt. He had
earlier complained that the Albanian mob first attacks, then waits for KFOR
and UNMIK to evacuate the Serbian population or clergy before stepping in
to burn and destroy. In devastating criticism of the local political
leaders, Council of Europe parliamentary assembly leader Peter Schieder
wrote to Kosovo’s prime minister Bajram Rexhepi to condemn the violence and
“the disgraceful … absence of clear and unequivocal condemnation of the
anti-Serb violence by the Kosovo Albanian leadership”. And he warned:
“Kosovo cannot build its future on the blood of innocent people and the
ashes of their burned homes and churches.”

24 March 2004
KOSOVO & SERBIA: DESTRUCTION WORSE THAN INITIALLY BELIEVED, AND VIOLENCE
SPARKS INCIDENTS IN MONTENEGRO, BOSNIA AND MACEDONIA

At least 28 people were killed, about 1,000 injured and 30 Orthodox
churches and monasteries in Kosovo were destroyed during the recent
violence by Albanian mobs against the minority Serbian population, KFOR and
UNMIK units. Numbers are not yet final. The Serbian Orthodox Church is
today demanding that German KFOR troops be withdrawn from duty in for
“incompetence” during the violence, as they failed to save from destruction
ten historic churches and other Orthodox property. Witnesses stated that
the German KFOR troops did nothing to protect any of the sites. Also, the
diocese blames UNMIK for failing to protect its sites in the period from
1999 to before the present violence, during which 112 Orthodox churches
were destroyed without any attackers being arrested. In Serbia, the
authorities have arrested 120 people for attacks against mosques in
Belgrade and Nis, and religious leaders, political parties and the
government have joined in condemned the burning of the two mosques. City
officials have promised to refurbish the Belgrade mosque, and the police
chief and his deputy have been fired. However, the Kosovo violence also
probably sparked incidents elsewhere in Serbia, and in neighbouring
Montenegro, Bosnia and Macedonia.

25 March 2004
RUSSIA: ALTERNATIVE ORTHODOX DENIED LEGAL STATUS

Although most True Orthodox communities do not register with the state, due
to a lingering fear of persecution, rejection of the state and a lack of
the organisational skills required to register, Forum 18 News Service has
found indications that local authorities sometimes bar attempts to register
by the True Orthodox, as well as other Orthodox who are opposed to the
Moscow Patriarchate. Without legal status, such religious groups have the
right only to worship and teach existing followers on premises provided by
their own members. They cannot, for example, produce or distribute
literature, or engage in other activities for which a ‘legal personality’
is necessary.

23 March 2004
TURKMENISTAN: “SHALL WE TRUST THE PRESIDENT?” RELIGIOUS GROUPS ASK

Doubts have been expressed about the genuineness of this month’s surprise
presidential lifting of harsh restrictions on registering religious
communities. But five groups – the Church of Christ, the Adventists, the
New Apostolic Church, the Catholic Church and the Baha’i faith – have since
the decree sought information about how to apply for registration, Forum 18
News Service has learnt. Other religious communities remain wary. At
present only Russian Orthodox and some Muslim communities have
registration, and these communities must now reregister. Unregistered
religious activity is – contrary to international law – a criminal offence.
The presidential decree will not affect the unregistered Baptists, who are
persecuted for refusing on principle to seek state registration. Meanwhile
the former chief mufti remains on a 22 years jail sentence, apparently for
opposing tight presidential control of the Muslim community, and at least
six Jehovah’s Witnesses are in jail for refusing military service on
grounds of religious conscience.
* See full article below. *

23 March 2004
TURKMENISTAN: “SHALL WE TRUST THE PRESIDENT?” RELIGIOUS GROUPS ASK

By Felix Corley, Editor, Forum 18 News Service

Despite the hesitations of some religious communities about how genuine the
government is about the abolition of the harsh restrictions on registering
religious communities, five groups – the Church of Christ, the Adventists,
the New Apostolic Church, the Catholic Church and the Baha’i faith – have
already sought information from the authorities about how to apply for
registration, Forum 18 News Service has learnt. Shirin Akhmedova, the head
of the department that registers religious communities at the Adalat
(Justice) Ministry told Forum 18 that parliament is amending the religion
law to take account of President Saparmurat Niyazov’s decree abolishing the
requirement that religious groups need 500 adult citizen members to
register (see F18News 12 March
). Many religious
communities remain wary, though.

The currently registered Russian Orthodox and Muslim communities will have
to apply again for registration. This is under new registration guidelines
brought in following the harsh new 2003 religion law, which – contrary to
international law – criminalises all unregistered religious activity (see
F18News 5 February 2004
).

Akhmedova reported that the Church of Christ, the Adventists, the Baha’is
and the New Apostolic Church had come to her department since the decree
was issued on 11 March for “consultations” about the registration process.
“We gave them information about what documents they need to present to
apply for registration,” she told Forum 18 from the capital Ashgabad on 23
March. She said Ashgabad’s Lutheran community had come to the ministry
earlier in the year to enquire about registration, before the president’s
decree.

Fr Andrzej Madej, head of the Catholic mission in Turkmenistan who is based
in the Vatican nunciature in Ashgabad, told Forum 18 from the city on 23
March that he had requested a meeting via the Foreign Ministry with
Yagshymyrat Atamyradov, the head of the government’s Gengeshi (Council) for
Religious Affairs, to discuss how to register a parish in Ashgabad. At
present the Catholics can only hold Masses on Vatican diplomatic territory.
Their priests also enjoy diplomatic status.

Akhmedova explained to Forum 18 that the same registration system still
operates as before the decree, except that the membership threshold has
been lifted. “It is now much simpler,” she insisted. “Registration does not
depend on numbers.” But she declined to speculate how many religious
communities she expects to register in the wake of the change. “We have no
plan on numbers. Whatever applications are lodged will be considered and
registration will be given.”

She declined to speculate on which of the faiths that are now illegal –
including the Armenian Apostolic, Baptist, Pentecostal, Adventist,
Lutheran, Hare Krishna, Jehovah’s Witness, Baha’i, Jewish or Catholic
faiths – would be likely to apply for and gain registration.

Akhmedova reported that 152 religious communities currently have
registration, 140 of them Muslim and 12 Russian Orthodox. She claimed that
“the majority” of the Muslim communities are Sunni, insisting that some are
Shia although she said she had “no information” on exact numbers of
registered Shia Muslim communities. Other sources claim that no Shia Muslim
communities (which are generally made up of the Azeri and Iranian
minorities) are registered.

The 140 registered Muslim communities are far below the estimated number of
nearly 400 Muslim communities in the country. It is possible that with the
lifting of the registration threshold, many more Muslim and Russian
Orthodox communities will apply for registration. Forum 18 was unable
immediately to reach leaders of either community to find out.

Akhmedova freely admitted that many more religious communities had
registration before 1997, when under the provisions of the harsh 1996
amendments to the religion law the majority of the country’s religious
communities lost registration. “This was because the threshold of 500
members was brought in then.”

In the late 1990s, members of a number of Christian churches tried to
register a Bible Society to promote the distribution of the Christian
scriptures within the country. Asked whether a Bible Society should apply
for registration as a social or a religious organisation she responded: “It
must apply as a religious organisation, as its activity is connected to
religion.”

Akhmedova said parliament is considering the amendments to the religion law
to bring it into line with the presidential decree. “The changes for the
better have already been sent to parliament.” She said there are two
changes: the requirement for 500 members is being abolished, and a new
category of “religious group” – covering communities of less than 50
members – is being introduced in addition to the current category of
“religious organisation”, which will have a membership of over 50. “There
will be no differences between the two except the name,” she told Forum 18.
“Religious groups will have no fewer rights than religious
organisations.”

She was unable to say if unregistered religious activity – criminalised
when the previous amended religion law came into force last November – will
remain a criminal offence. “But there won’t be limits on registration, so
the issue won’t arise,” she declared.

Asked what would happen to groups such as the Baptists of the Council of
Churches – who refuse to register on principle in any of the former Soviet
republics where they operate – she said she did not know. Unregistered
Baptists are persecuted for their refusal to register (see F18News 26
February ), and other
Adalat Ministry officials have insisted to Forum 18 that unregistered
religious activity remains illegal (see F18News 12 March 2004
).

The Baha’i community appears optimistic. “Our community could not function
since 1997 as we could not gather the required number of signatures,” an
unnamed representative of the faith told Reuters on 12 March. “Now we are
thankful to the president for guaranteeing our religious freedom.”

Asked by Forum 18 if he is optimistic that the Catholics will get
registration Fr Madej responded: “Yes, I am, as this comes from a decree
from the president.” He added that he is waiting for news on changes to the
religion law. “They haven’t informed the public yet.”

However, other religious leaders did not share this optimism. One
Protestant leader who asked that his identity and location not been
published told Forum 18 that his community is waiting until the amendments
to the religion law are published before deciding whether to apply for
registration. “Only God knows if we would be successful,” he declared,
although he is inclined to be wary after years of persecution. “Everyone is
waiting for the change in the law.”

“I know that the Baptists of the Council of Churches in the town of
Nebit-Dag have suffered fines and a ban on their meetings as they insist on
always meeting in the same place,” he added. He said his communities tried
to avoid punishment by constantly changing the places where they meet for
worship.

Another Christian leader stressed to Forum 18 that caution was required
about the changes to the registration requirement, insisting that only when
religious communities have already registered and can function freely will
it be safe to believe that the government has changed its policy. “We
should not count chickens before they are hatched.”

Also sceptical of the government’s goodwill is the Turkmenistan Helsinki
Initiative, a human rights group now based in exile. “We do not believe in
the seriousness of the intentions of the Turkmen authorities to achieve
religious freedom in the country,” it declared on 21 March. “Still in force
is the far-from-democratic law on freedom of conscience and religious
organisations, which has been criticised by many international human rights
organisations.” It believes that until the law is changed, no religious
community will risk applying for registration.

It cited the harassment of the Hare Krishna community in the 1990s, as well
as the difficulties faced this year by Jehovah’s Witnesses. On 9 March, two
women from Yolatan in Mary region had been leaving Ashgabad airport to fly
to Kiev for a Jehovah’s Witness congress when they were stopped by border
guards, who told them – after consulting the black list of citizens who
cannot leave the country – that they could not join the flight. They were
told to apply to the Border Directorate of the city of Ashgabad if they
wanted further explanation.

One of the women told the Turkmenistan Helsinki Initiative that earlier
when they had applied for exit visas from the foreign ministry with
official Jehovah’s Witness invitations, they had been refused more than
once, attributing this to their faith.

The group also reported that police raided a Jehovah’s Witness meeting in a
private home in Ashgabad on 13 March, “literally the day after the
president’s decree came into force”. Police accused those present of
conducting an illegal meeting for which they could be punished and more
than 20 were forcibly taken to the local police station. There they were
interrogated by two men in civilian clothes who showed them identification
as National Security Ministry officers. Ordering them to halt such “illegal
meetings”, the officers warned them that if they meet in future they will
be charged under the criminal code for “inciting inter-religious and
inter-ethnic hatred”. They were then freed after their personal details
were recorded. The Turkmenistan Helsinki Committee reported that most of
those detained were women and children.

It remains unclear why President Niyazov – who rules Turkmenistan
autocratically, allowing little scope for dissent – made the concession
over registration of religious organisations. His decree came at the same
time as a decree easing exit procedures and as 78-year-old writer Rahim
Esenov was among a number of people released from prison, although charges
remain. Niyazov has been under great pressure to improve the human rights
situation, especially with the current United Nations Human Rights
Commission in Geneva paying great attention to the abuses in the country.

In his most recent report (E/CN.4/2004/63), the United Nations Special
Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief, Professor Abdelfattah Amor,
noted that his request to visit Turkmenistan in June 2003 to assess the
situation on the ground did not even bring a response from the Turkmen
government. (Requests by other UN rapporteurs to visit equally evinced no
response.) Amor’s numerous enquiries for further information about reports
of violations of the rights of religious believers likewise went
unanswered.

Esenov was detained by the National Security Ministry earlier this year
partly for collaborating with Radio Free Europe and partly in retaliation
for publishing in Moscow his novel “The Crowned Wanderer”, about the
historic figure Bayram Khan. Niyazov had publicly criticised the novel in
February 1997 for “historic errors” he alleged it contains. Another exiled
human rights group, the Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation, reported on 27
February that during interrogation, national security officers repeatedly
asked Esenov why he had made the hero of his novel a Shia rather than a
Sunni Muslim as the president had required. He still faces charges of
inciting social, religious and ethnic hatred under Article 177 of the
criminal code.

Forum 18 has been unable to reach Esenov by telephone since his release on
9 or 10 March. An automatic response says his number cannot be reached at
the moment.

Meanwhile, the former chief mufti Nasrullah ibn Ibadullah remains in prison
after being sentenced to 22 years’ imprisonment on 2 March (see F18News 8
March 2004 ). This jail
term is apparently for his opposition to tight presidential control over
the Muslim community and reportedly obstructing the use in mosques of the
president’s book of his moral code, the Ruhnama (Book of the Soul). Imams
are forced to display this book prominently in mosques and quote
approvingly from it in sermons, as are Russian Orthodox priests in their
churches.

Also, at least six young Jehovah’s Witness men are serving prison
sentences, mostly for refusing military service on grounds of religious
conscience (see F18News 9 February 2004
). The Turkmenistan
Helsinki Initiative reported on 16 February that the city court in the
northern city of Dashoguz sentenced Jehovah’s Witness Rinat Babadjanov to a
term of several years in prison for refusing military service.
“Babadjanov’s relatives were not even informed where he would be detained,”
the group noted.

It also reported on a court case in one major town (which it did not
identify) against the local Jehovah’s Witness leader brought at the
instigation of the general procuracy. “Since the woman cannot be charged
with serious offences, she is accused of bringing up her children in a
spirit of worshipping Jehovah God,” the group declared.

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

and Forum 18’s latest religious freedom survey at

A printer-friendly map of Turkmenistan is available at
tml?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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YSU wants British envoy to be declared persona non grata

Armenian university wants British envoy to be declared persona non grata

Yerkir web site
26 Mar 04

YEREVAN

The History Department of Yerevan State University released a
statement on Thursday [25 March] condemning the British ambassador’s
statement over the Armenian genocide [killing of Armenians in Ottoman
Turkey in 1915].

“The ambassador has crudely offended the dignity of the Armenian
people,” the statement says. By her statement, the ambassador has
insulted the memory of the 1.5m Armenians who were victimized in the
genocide, the statement goes on.

“She should apologize, and the Armenian Foreign Ministry should
declare her persona non grata, because failure to punish those
responsible for the Armenian genocide made the Jewish Holocaust
possible, and failure to recognize the Armenian genocide today is
likely to lead to new acts of genocide,” the statement says.

We hope, however, that the opinion expressed in the ambassador’s
statement is only hers and is not the official position of Britain,
the statement concludes.
From: Baghdasarian

Books: Tangled roots of genocide

Books: Tangled roots of genocide

The Independent – United Kingdom
Mar 26, 2004
Mark Mazower

In the summer of 1915, Leslie Davis was American consul in Harput, a
remote town in the central Anatolian highlands, three weeks’ ride on
horseback from Constantinople. About a third of the population in the
region were Armenians – villagers, farmers, merchants and teachers –
who had always got along with their Turkish neighbours. But, a few
months into the Great War, the government ordered Armenian schools to
close, and arrested leading men. In July, town criers publicised their
imminent deportation, street by street; and homes and properties were
pillaged. A couple of months later, after the deportations, Davis rode
out into the surrounding countryside, leaving early so as not to be
noticed.

By the side of the road shallow graves betrayed human remains, and
villages once inhabited by Armenians lay in ruins. As he reached the
side of a local lake, he peered down from the path above and saw
hundreds of bodies in its waters. Neighbouring ravines contained
thousands more. On a remote part of the lake shore, he came across
hundreds of corpses piled in rows. It was, he wrote, as if “the world
were coming to an end”.

Although successive Turkish governments have tried to deny what was
done to the Armenians, the killing was a messy business and there were
no top- secret extermination sites such as were built by the Nazis in
Poland. The genocide was a relatively public affair, and US
missionaries, German businessmen, railway engineers and even foreign
soldiers in Ottoman service all sent graphic despatches home. The
atrocities were outlined in newspaper headlines, and the old
Gladstonian, Lord Bryce, compiled a still-useful report for the
British government. We will never know for sure, but probably between
800,000 and one million people were killed or starved to death.

The horror of it all emanates vividly from the pages of Peter
Balakian’s new history. The sheer scale of the massacres has an
overwhelming impact and his access to the accounts of survivors and
diplomats, and his understanding of Armenian culture and society, help
bring to life the world that was lost with the victims. It quickly
becomes clear that the Holocaust was not the first such onslaught on
an entire community; indeed, the parallels with that event are
frequently underlined.

Like other commentators, Balakian believes genocide can offer
lessons. He stresses the ethical challenge state-sponsored violence on
such a scale poses to bystanders and foreign powers, and underlines
the heroic response of those who tried to end the killing – activists,
relief workers and idealists who mobilised local funds of sympathy and
did what they could.

A sub-theme of the book – a parable for the present? – is how these
events resonated in the US. Calls for the country to live up to its
“duty to civilisation” by intervening led to the usual tussle between
realpolitik and the politics of compassion. President Woodrow Wilson
never declared war on the Ottoman Empire but did support the idea of
an American mandate for an independent Armenia; it failed to get
through Congress.

Balakian does not bother to hide where his sympathies lie – with those
who cared, against the isolationists and hard-nosed men who believed
national interest trumped moral imperatives. But his sympathies run
deeper than that, for the way he tells it this was a story of good and
evil, of Armenians against Turks, Christians attacked by Muslims,
blameless victims against malevolent perpetrators led by psychopaths
such as Sultan Abdul Hamid.

He describes a tradition of state-sponsored violence in Turkey that
starts with the massacres of the mid-1890s (which themselves killed
more than 100,000 people) and 1909 (about 15,000), and continues, in a
sense, to this day through the denial itself.

Only it was a bit more complicated that that. Reading Balakian, one
would not know that in 1912 the Sultan’s foreign minister had been an
Armenian, nor that the Young Turks, who instigated the genocide,
co-operated with Armenian parties up to the start of the First World
War. There was a centuries- old policy of co-operation between the
Porte and the Armenian community which only the rise of nationalism –
Armenian and Turkish – eroded.

In Constantinople, the Armenian Patriarch preached loyalty to the
sultan. But Armenian revolutionaries sought autonomy for the Armenian
provinces of Anatolia by forcing Great Power intervention, and were
even willing to provoke Ottoman repression to get there. Call it the
Kosovo strategy: it had worked for Christian nationalists in the
Balkans, and it looked to some it might work for the Armenians, too.

Balakian cannot bring himself to criticise these activists. The most
he will say is that they were naive. Russian diplomats did indeed
force the empire to accept foreign oversight of the Armenian provinces
in early 1914. Bitterly opposed in Constantinople as the first step to
secession, the agreement, abandoned when war broke out, encouraged the
Ottomans to see the Armenians as a Russian fifth-column.

Nor had Christians always been the victims, Muslims the
perpetrators. Bal- akian’s heroic American Protestant missionaries
were not neutral observers but agents of radical social and cultural
change trying to transform the Ottoman empire. Meanwhile, largely
unnoticed by the Western humanitarian conscience, a tidal wave of
Muslim refugees, well over one million, fled into Anatolia from Russia
and the Balkans after 1860: a reminder of the human consequences of
Ottoman decline.

After 1908, Bosnia, Crete, Albania and Macedonia were all lost,
too. By spring 1915, Russian troops threatened Anatolia from the east,
and the British seemed about to seize Constantinople: the empire faced
dismemberment. None of this in any way justifies what happened to the
Armenians, but it underlines the existential crisis that faced the
empire’s young and arrogant leadership, humiliated on the battlefield,
their grand strategy in ruins.

In 1919, under Allied pressure, a postwar Ottoman government set up
tribunals to investigate the Armenian murders. But in the East the war
was not really over: Armenian fighters were trying to set up an
independent state – from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, ran the
dream – while Mustafa Kemal formed an association to stop them. The
Armenians gambled on foreign support they did not have, while
Kemalists built an army against them. Having neutered the Russian
threat by alliance with the Bolsheviks, Kemal’s men routed the
Armenians, expelled the Greeks from Asia Minor, and got rid of the
ruling family, too.

The tribunals were abandoned, a Turkish republic arose from the ashes
of empire, and ever after, Ataturk’s heirs insisted that the Armenians
had brought their misfortunes on themselves. The Burning Tigris
remains, understandably enough, a work of denunciation. Even so, more
than denunciation will be needed to help us make sense of what
happened.

Mark Mazower, professor of history at Birkbeck College London, will
publish `Salonica, City of Ghosts’ (HarperCollins) this summer
From: Baghdasarian

BAKU: Agenda of senior US official’s visit to region

Azeri agency details agenda of senior US official’s visit to region

Assa-Irada
26 Mar 04

BAKU

Speaking at a media briefing, [US] Assistant Secretary of State for
Europe and Eurasia Elizabeth Jones has disclosed details of the visit
of US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage to Ukraine, Armenia
and Azerbaijan on 24 March.

“Armitage has been preparing for this visit for a long time. The goal
of the visit is to discuss ways to develop bilateral relations with
top officials of each of the three countries,” she underlined.

Touching upon the Baku meetings, the US official noted that issues of
cooperation in fighting terrorism, political and economic reforms,
energy issues and the situation in the region would be on the agenda.

“It is the first time US officials will be holding such a high-level
meeting in Azerbaijan since Ilham Aliyev’s election as president of
Azerbaijan. From this standpoint, the United States is interested in
studying the priority directions of the new president and his
government’s activity. Relations between Richard Armitage and Ilham
Aliyev lay a good groundwork for talks. Armitage is also expected to
meet leaders of the opposition and NGOs.”

Touching upon the Nagornyy Karabakh conflict, Elizabeth Jones said
that a settlement to the conflict would be on the agenda of both the
Azerbaijani and Armenian visits. “By getting familiarized with the
opinion in the region, we want to ascertain how the international
community could support the activity of the [OSCE] Minsk Group [for
the settlement of the Nagornyy Karabakh conflict],” she stressed.

Ruling Coalition to Issue Statement

A1 Plus | 15:27:52 | 26-03-2004 | Politics |

RULING COALITION TO ISSUE STATEMENT

Ruling coalition parties intend to come up with a joint statement after
their today’s caucus on growing political tension in Armenia.

Only two day ago the coalition members met with Robert Kocharyan. The idea
of the statement was believed given by the republic president.

http://www.a1plus.am

Boxing: Pacquiao, foe trade barbs

Pacquiao, foe trade barbs

Philippine Daily Inquirer
Mar 26, 2004

THERE was no shortage of verbal tussles yesterday when Filipino
champion Manny Pacquiao and WBA-IBF featherweight titlist Juan Manuel
Marquez met for the first time during a press conference launching
their 12-round showdown on May 8 at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in
Las Vegas, Nevada.

Pacquiao, dapper in a sky-blue polo and sporting an expensive
wristwatch, was accompanied by promoter Murad Muhammad and trainer
Freddie Roach during the press presentation held at the Westin
Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles.

Marquez showed up in a dark suit accompanied by his promoter Bob Arum
of Top Rank and trainer Nacho Beristain.

Marquez, as quoted by Fightnews, opened fire by declaring: “There will
be fire in the ring on May 8th. It took a lot for me to become a World
Champion and only in death will I relinquish my belts! Manny is a
great fighter, but I am fighting not only for myself but my wife, my
children, my parents and all of my country!”

When it was his turn, Pacquiao said: “Marquez is a great fighter and I
respect him as the champ, but I am a champ too! This is a big
important fight and I have to win if I want to fight Erik Morales on
July 31st.”

Visibly irked by Pacquiao’s subtle disregard of his abilities, Marquez
retorted: “What’s he thinking…that I’m going to roll over? Pacquiao
just gave me all the motivation I need. Wait until you see me in
training camp.”

After the presscon, Pacquiao immediately buckled down to work at the
Wild Card Gym by hitting the mitts for a good eight rounds and doing
other exercises.

Pacquiao is slated to start his rigid sparring sessions soon against
Mexican Israel Vazquez, Armenian superbantamweight Karen Harutyunyan,
Irish featherweight sensation Bernard Dunne and two other Mexican
fighters who will be brought in to simulate Marquez’s fighting
style. Salven L. Lagumbay, Contributor

“Well done, Ramil”

Pan Armenian Network, Armenia
March 26 2004

“WELL DONE, RAMIL!”

A manifestation of young men supporting Ramil Safarov who killed in
Budapest the Armenian officer took place in Baku.

On March 21 the time set by the Hungarian Court for the preliminary
investigation of the Azeri Ramil Safarov who killed the officer of
the Armenian army Gurgen Margaryan ran out. However, the
investigative bodies did not manage to finish and the court elongated
the imprisonment for another month. It is supposed that the
investigation will be completed in mid April and Safarov will be
accused of murder with aggravating circumstances.

/PanARMENIAN.Net/ As expected, in Azerbaijan they are doing their
best so that the trial becomes a propaganda show. For this purpose,
while meeting Safarov in Budapest his advocate Elchin Usubov
instructed him about his behavior during the trial. He told him to
change some of the accents of his evidences in order to achieve a
maximum propaganda effect. But the legend is the same – Safarov
killed him under the impression of the events of Khojalu and the
occupation by Armenians of his village in Cebraili region. In Baku
they hope that thanks to this it will be possible once more to
underline the ”Armenian aggression”.

The investigator agreed to attach the documents concerning the events
of Khojalu and Cebrail to the case. During few days in Baku they
prepared and translated in English a huge pack of documents. The
advocate Usubov and the head of department of international relations
of the Prosecutor’s office of Azerbaijan Ruslan Gajiyev took them to
Budapest. However, the investigator did not accept the materials as
they were not formulates as ”established by the Law”. It is
difficult to understand what it means. According to Azerbaijan, this
is because the documents were in English and not in Hungarian. But
maybe also that the investigator has noticed the propaganda character
of the materials, however, the Azeris now elaborate a new package and
translate the documents in to Hungarian.

Safarov now remains in a single cell of the isolator. Judging from
Baku press, he feels himself as in a resort. Eats three times a day,
every Thursday his relatives or their representatives visit him.
There is a TV set, radio, hot and cold showers in the cell. He calls
frequently his parents in Baku who are now going to visit him, so,
the murderer feels himself rather comfortably.

Meanwhile, the calls to recommend Safarov for a state decoration
continue to be pronounced in Baku. Recently a member of the committee
on protection of Ramil Safarov, parliamentarian Zahid Oruj met the
murderer and told about how his compatriots loved him. Last week the
presentation of the official internet site of Safarov containing
propaganda took place in Baku. More than $30 thousand was collected
on the bank account on the name of his father. The head of the
organization of national unity businessman Nadir Aliyev said he will
pay a certain sum each month to the father of the murderer.
Meanwhile, we should remind that his case supposes life imprisonment.
However, if he is released he will become a hero. This should
understand the investigative bodies of Hungary and, first of all, the
Judge who will read the verdict. He himself will commit a crime if he
sets him free some day.