I wrote a post for the Armenian Volunteer Corps’ blog. It tries to give a sense of what my work was like, both in terms of the content and the difficulty. I want to note for the record that I did not take that photo nor did I see it before the blog post went up. Also, wearing a suit while needing a shave is not a good look.
Monthly Archives: November 2012
This report is unverified, so scale the level of doubt accordingly. Hetq is reporting on a letter written to them by prisoner Arman Davtyan, who says he will take his life if the letter is not published. In the letter, he says that prison officials broke his fingers, shocked him, and assaulted him, his wife and friends. All for the purpose of making him plead guilty. Because of the severity of these claims, the Department of Justice or the Human Rights Ombudsman must act immediately to investigate them.
To provide some context, this type of torture is becoming more and more uncommon in Armenia. In Armenia’s July 2012 review by the Human Rights Committee, in its concluding observations, it discussed issues of excessive pre-trial detention (Para. 19), overcrowding of prisons (Para. 20) and the absence of a genuine complaints mechanism if abuse occurs in detention (Para. 14), but never mentions a systemic problem of actual acts of torture. Admittedly, one issue the Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office has fought against is the practice of police calling suspects into the police station and beating them until they confess.
Al Jazeera made a short video about the 80,000 Syrian Armenians that have decided to stay in Syria. It’s a good video, and assuming the footage they used was from the Armenian communities in Syria, it demonstrates the havoc and destruction surrounding the community.
One of the points that was not mentioned in the video is that many of the Syrian Armenians want to leave but simply can’t afford it, especially with the increase in ticket prices from this summer. I have a friend in Yerevan who was working odd jobs and receiving a stipend from his family in Syria to survive as a student. Suddenly, his family was asking him for money, which created a huge amount of stress for him.
Some Armenian official has said that you can’t tax gambling winnings as the gamblers won’t reveal their information and “that attempts to tax winnings failed throughout the world.” To correct the official, gambling winnings are taxed around the world, and the way the US forces gamblers to be honest is by requiring casinos to collect gambler’s social security number and report large pay outs to the IRS. If any other government officials would like me to fact-check their statements, just ask!
My final pictures post of Armenia. These are the sets that could keep growing forever except for the fact that I had to leave. The first set is a set of Armenian graffiti. Overall interesting stuff, but they have a lot to learn about the art of bombing. Maybe someone should pay to send a few Oakland graffiti artists to teach some classes in Armenia? The second set finally gives people a better sense of my day-to-day as it is filled with pictures taken around Yerevan.
I am finally processing my last photos of Armenia, expect one more post after this one with my final (and some of my favorite) photos. For now, enjoy my last excursion to Tatev and Armenia’s Stonehenge.