Monthly Archives: March 2010

Charges Against Youth Activist Sukhudyan Dropped

Mariam SukhudianSome pleasant news today about controversional charges being officially dropped against youth activist Mariam Sukhudyan on Thursday.

Sukhudyan is a respected activist for issues related to environment protection and civil awareness. She is a leader of the SOS Teghut environmental protection initiative and has also worked with the socially vulnerable, notably children who are disabled.

After exposing a teacher who was allegedly involved in sexually molesting children at a school in Nubarashen where she was volunteering, she was formally charged with slander and was even facing jail time. The teacher had been under investigation based on her accusations but the charges were subsequently dropped. Ironically enough, the case against him has just been reopened.

It is obvious that the Armenian law enforcement authorities could not afford to look hypocritical and foolish any longer in this case. There’s no reason why it was opened in the first place, other than to teach her some sort of inexplicable lesson. In a normally functioning society you don’t charge someone of wrongdoing for exposing another who is strongly suspected of being involved in dirty deeds.

Sukhudyan was cleared only a day after she had been awarded by US Ambassador to Armenia Marie Yovanovitch for her activism efforts. The ambassador praised her for demonstrating “exceptional courage, innovation, and leadership in the pursuit of equality, opportunity, and justice.”

During the subsequent interview Sukhudyan said, “I’m a little ashamed of receiving this prize because in other countries [civic activism] is a normal thing. People do it instinctively, not out of patriotism or because they have some supernatural abilities. I’m also a little ashamed that I will receive it not from my country but a foreign government.”

That statement alone shows just how valiant and selfless this woman is.

Hetq has been following her case for several months now. You can read detailed information about her plight here and also here.

Photo courtesy of RFE/RL.

House Panel Condemns Armenian Genocide

US CapitolUPDATED–Well, history is repeating itself–the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee once again voted to condemn the Armenian Genocide on Thursday, and the Turks are unsurprisingly furious. The last time this happened was 2007, but the measure never reached the House floor for obvious reasons.

The New York Times quoted Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan saying “We condemn this bill that denounces the Turkish nation of a crime that it has not committed.” And he recalled the Ambassador to the US, Namik Tan.

The question now is whether the resolution will reach the House floor anytime soon. That’s not clear as of yet, but it might very well happen. And the bill could very well pass this time around. Legislators are getting fed up with Turkey’s repeated denials, and it’s becoming more difficult for them to speak out against Armenian Genocide recognition, especially with all the publicity–60 Minutes just did a piece on the Genocide.  Congressmen can’t afford to look like hypocrites in front of their constituents on this issue. People know more and more about history these days, and they’re going to expect their congressman to understand and accept historical facts.

People are probably wondering whether President Barack Obama will actually say the “G-word” this year. It could happen. Some believe that Washington may be trying to pressure Turkey to move forward with the protocols by properly recognizing the Armenian Genocide. After that happens, Turkey is likely to fess up and go through with opening the border, despite its reservations.

I doubt that Turkish officials want to look like absolute hypocrites by walking away from the protocols at this point. The protocols are already up for discussion in the Armenian parliament. They already look bad by demanding that a resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict be resolved first before the shared border with Armenia is opened. Naturally the international community (with the exception of Azerbaijan, of course) thinks that doesn’t make much sense. Then again, Ankara is too proud to let anyone boss them around, including Washington. Nevertheless, in the end Ankara can’t do much about Genocide resolutions and condemnations. The Genocide has been recognized by national legislative bodies around the world, and that’s not about to stop. Sweden is also about to bring up the topic for discussion in parliament soon.

Even if the House ends up passing a resolution accepting the Genocide, Turkey won’t be able to do anything about it because it needs America too much militarily and financially. In 2009, Turkey spent $7 billion on military equipment that it bought from the US aerospace and defense industry. It has already invested heavily in the $300 billion F-35 fighter program and intends to buy several planes. Turkey also needs the US for bailouts as has been the case time and time again whenever its currency is heavily devalued because of financial blunders. At the start of the decade 1 million Turkish lira equaled one dollar at one point, and the US was there to pick up the pieces of a shattered economy.

So will Turkey sever relations with the US and go gun shopping elsewhere? No way. Europe is not about to sell them weapons and is weary about accepting Turkey into the European Union. Israel could accommodate Turkey with arms purchases but their relations have been rocky lately. Not everyone in the world community is happy with Erdogan, he doesn’t have a good reputation at the moment for being a blatant hothead.

Anyway, things are becoming more and more interesting. Incidentally, on March 2 the Washington Post published a scathing commentary about the resolution written by Henri J. Barkey, in which he sharply criticizes both Armenians and Turks for their “cynicism,” as he perceives. He lambastes Armenia for fostering its good relations with Iran, a view that is unreasonable not to mention unpractical, especially for a professor of international relations at Lehigh University who should know better to understand that Armenia has no alternative.

Incidentally, there’s another interesting take on the Armenian Genocide resolution by New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof. As much as I respect him as a journalist, and I am an admitted fan of his column, I can’t say I agree with him on his stance, although he does make some valid points.

This resolution indeed needed to be passed, now more than ever. There’s absolutely no question in my mind. Turkey simply has to acknowledge and publicly repent the inflicted terror of its past so it can indeed move on to reconciliation efforts with Armenia. Logic and human morality dictate this.