Posts filed under ‘Article’

Armenian Migrants in Modern-Day Serfdom

Rafik, who spent nine years as a captive working on a farm in Russia.

Rafik, who spent nine years as a captive working on a farm in Russia.

Unsuspecting workers trapped into forced labour.

Rafik looks closer to 80 than his real age, 55, because the nine years he spent in virtual slavery in Russia ruined his health.

By the time he returned to his home in the Armenian capital Yerevan four years ago, his wife had given him up for dead.

Rafik’s case is only one of many examples of migrant workers exploited as captive slave labour abroad. While he was entrapped while in RUssia, others are lured from Armenia on the false pretence of a job offer.

Hundreds of thousands of people from across the Caucasus and Central Asia go abroad as seasonal labour to earn money that they could never make within their own countries’ depressed economies. In the case of Armenia, over 90 per cent of labour migration is to Russia, according to one study.

This massive population movement has its dark side – women are vulnerable to being entrapped in the sex trade, while slave labour, often involving men, is a less widely reported problem.

Rafik first went to Russia with a team of others promised work on a building site. But the work dried up within days, and he set off in search of another job.

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31.01.2012 at 00:00 Оставьте комментарий

Armenian Gays Face Long Walk to Freedom

Photo by Karen Mirzoyan

Society remains as relentlessly homophobic here as elsewhere in the Caucasus, but activists say there some grounds for hope.

The recent publication of Azeri writer Alekper Aliev’s gay novel Artush and Zaur, dealing with an Armenian-Azeri love affair, rocked the conservative and mainly Muslim society of Azerbaijan.

It broke a double taboo – love between Armenians and Azeris and same-sex love, at the same time.

But while the furor cast a harsh spotlight on homophobia in Azerbaijan, on the other side of the ethnic and religious divide, in Armenia, gays face just as much prejudice.

Hovhannes Minasian found this out to his cost. Now 27, he is one of a small minority of gay men in Armenia who do not fear to give out their real names in interviews.

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13.03.2009 at 23:43 Оставьте комментарий

Армянские геи: долгий путь к свободе

Photo by Karen Mirzoyan

Здесь – так же, как и в любом другом месте на Кавказе – по-прежнему сильны гомофобные настроения, но активисты уже видят основания надеяться, что ситуация улучшится.

Недавная публикация гей роман азербайджанского писателя Алекпер Алиевa «Артуш и Заур», рассказывающая о любви между армянином и азербайджанцем, потрясла консервативное и преимущественно мусульманское общество Азербайджана.

Ведь она презрела двойное табу – на любовь между армянами и азербайджанцами и на однополые отношения.

Бурные споры, которыми сопровождалось опубликование книги, явственно обнаружили подверженность азербайджанского общества гомофобии – нетерпимо-предубежденному отношению к гомосексуалистам, полностью разделяемому, как оказывается, и по другую сторону этнического и религиозного водораздела – в Армении.

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13.03.2009 at 22:37 3 комментария

Double Deprived: “High ranked”corruption affects orphans’ housing

Sham house

Because of humidity the ruined TV set can now serve as a chair

At least 25 apartments purchased by the state using European Union grant money to be used by graduates of children’s orphanages are not fit for occupation.

ArmeniaNow reporters visited the apartments and found that some are constantly flooded with sewage waters, making them useless even for keeping animals.

Getting apartments for these young people, deprived of parents since childhood, and their children has led to illnesses generated by humidity. Some have left the apartments to escape being washed up by sewage waters. The apartments are all eirther on the first or the last floor, so, humidity penetrates from either above or beneath. The apartments were bought at prices several times higher than the market price, thus enriching some officials at the expense of depriving the orphans of comfortable conditions. Almost none of the apartments conform to the criterion for being “available for occupancy”.

The apartments were alloted within the government’s 2003 program for State Support to the Graduates of the Child Tutorship Organizations of the Republic of Armenia based on the European Commission Food Program. According to the memorandum signed with the government, the European Commission provided 10 million euros to the republic’s budget to implement agricultural and social programs.

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07.11.2008 at 20:22 Оставьте комментарий

Caution Over Armenian Visits to Baku

The increasing frequency with which Armenians are visiting Azerbaijan does not mean a thaw in relations is under way.

A series of visits by Armenians to the Azerbaijani capital Baku have raised hopes that relations between the two countries might be easing, but commentators warn that in reality such trips have little wider political significance.

The two former Soviet republics have had virtually no contact since the conflict over the disputed territory of Nagorny Karabakh began in 1988. A decade ago, there was an increase in informal exchange visits, but these subsequently stopped again.

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17.01.2008 at 00:00 Оставьте комментарий

Precious Resource: Competition for water is damaging a fertile valley

Sweet drinking water pours from damaged pipes — one of the180.

The waste of artesian waters extracted for fishery purposes in the Ararat Valley in recent years has left parts of the arable land without irrigation. On the other hand, water poured into drainage canals results in an increase of surface water and facilitates flooding and salination of other arable lands.

Gushing wells of the underground basin in Ararat Valley, which serve as the only source of water for many villages, have either partly or totally dried up in some places, because of a decrease in pressure caused by other wells dug in lowland areas.

Many villagers have lost the opportunity to irrigate their fields. A few profit from the trout farming industry.

The artesian basin – covering an area of 9,000 square kilometers at a depth of 80-180 meters – is comprised of three underground layers. Ground waters run on the upper layer; sweet drinking water (which is also ideal for fisheries) can be found in the second and third layers and is protected by waterproof layers of clay. Wells drilled in these two layers provide drinking, irrigation and technical water for Yerevan, Artashat, Armavir, Etchmiadzin communities and their neighborhoods.

This is a granary of natural water covered with layers of clay. Water here originates from the Ararat and Aragats Mountains as well as the Geghama and Armenian Taurus Chains.

As of last October, there were 2,026 operating wells of which 940 were deep (where water is pumped up) and 1,089 gushing ones.

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15.06.2007 at 00:00 Оставьте комментарий

Mean Streets: A rare look at Armenia’s Capital clans

Editor’s Note: The matter of clan rule is accepted, respected in the 11 districts that make up Yerevan. It is a peculiarity of life in the capital that is as real as reckless traffic and ineffective water delivery. It is not, however, an issue that can be “officially” documented. Veteran award-winning journalist Vahan Ishkhanyan is a student of the history of Yerevan, his home. This report is based on knowledge he has accumulated over many years of reporting about the city, and on information that, though far from official documentation, is nonetheless maintained as fact. It is an understood, but rarely public, account of how the city really works.

Who owns Yerevan?

Like many matters concerning life in Armenia, the question has more than one answer. . .

Officially, legally, constitutionally, the capital belongs to its residents, who through elections choose eleven prefects (the mayor of Yerevan is appointed by the President).

In reality, and in ways that matter most to average citizens and especially to small business owners, the city belongs to organized, sometimes criminalized, clans – “akhperutyuns”, or brotherhoods, that assert their power through their position or connections.

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03.03.2006 at 11:39 Оставьте комментарий

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