Armenian activist: Any kind of crime is committed in Armenia - INTERVIEW
- 16 November 2016
Q. First of all, what’s your attitude towards one matter? They [Armenian authorities] used to create some problems and prevent you from coming to Azerbaijan…
A. You know, they didn’t use to allow me to go anywhere, let alone Azerbaijan. For the last six years, I haven’t had a document allowing me to move freely. The Armenian government actually restricted my free movement. All this while, I’ve been in captivity in Armenia. In 2011, they upheld the court decision dated 2010 that declared me dead. I was totally unaware of this and if I’d had to leave the country, I would still have been unaware of this decision. This all happened to me while I had a passport which had to expire in 2014. Because my passport had expired, I changed my passport in 2009. The problem does not have to do with Azerbaijan only. They had captivated me in Armenia.
Q. Despite all these troubles, how did you manage to get here [Azerbaijan]?
A. It happened all of a sudden. My Azerbaijani friends on Facebook invited me to join the peacekeeping forum to be held in Baku. But I told them about the difficulties I was faced with and explained to them that I could not join the forum. Eventually, they helped me and that’s how I managed to got to your city.
Q. Both the Armenian government and the Armenian diaspora have said that Azerbaijanis and Armenians could never live together peacefully, not even if the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is solved. Do you think the two people could live together peacefully after the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is settled?
A. First of all, we’ve already acquired the experience of living in peace. The Armenian government, as you have already mentioned, has voiced opinions that the two peoples cannot get along with each other. This is absurd. We have lived together in peace for decades. I had fellow Azerbaijani pupils in school. I can still remember their surnames. They were Aliyevs. Bakhtiyar and Lutfiyar. They were twin brothers. We would never care about them being Azerbaijani or whether we could be friends or not. We would never have such a talk.
Q. The ideas uttered by you and the other members of the delegation were not met unequivocally in Armenia. After making so many brave statements, are you now not afraid of facing any punishment in Armenia or any possible threat to your life?
A. The life that goes in Armenia is already a threat, not only to me, but to everyone living in Armenia. They can at any time break into your home to execute the government’s order. Not only that, let me now take an abstract approach to my own personality. The only thing that sets me apart from the people is that a so-called court has passed a false decision that I’m dead. My point is the threat that I’m going to face in Armenia is actually faced by the whole people of Armenia.
Q. You have always spoken out against the policy being pursued by the Armenian government. You know that they consider our people an enemy. This idea is still prevalent there. How did your trip here affect your ideas? Did you notice any threat to your life?
A. You know, the issue of hostility is being manipulated by the Armenian government to completely enslave the people of Armenia. Finally, I could take a deep breath here. Quite the contrary, my life was in danger in Armenia. We very well know what they did to a colleague of ours. We do know how they broke into his home, beating his wife and underage children. I was expected the same to be done to me at any time. Even if it had happened, there no place where I would’ve appealed for justice. It’s no use seeking justice [in Armenia], because they do whatever they want. They filed a criminal case against me for writing a complaint from the Razdan city mayor. My only guilt was that I said I could not get a document for my house although I had a permit. I simply asked for an order for my house in which I had been living for 25 years. When they had no argument, the lawyer assaulted me and tried to beat me. But people prevented him. Then he started to insult me and I appealed to police. Do you know what happened afterwards? They claimed that it was I who assaulted. To their mind, a weak woman had assaulted a man almost two meters tall. So I got charged with hooliganism. That’s when I realized that there was no point in living in such a country. They are all indulged in tyranny, doing what they want. My Facebook account was hacked. I do not wonder at all why they did it. I had no posts on Facebook that were based on lie. But today I come across ridiculous information in the media that I have written them in order to appeal against the court verdict. What a big lie! I have appealed to court twice and my appeal was denied each time. As you understand, they use the method of absolutization as the only governance method. If you keep lying while knowing you’re lying, you must be psychopath. We’re talking about a citizen of yours whom you have captivated for years.
Q. Ms Jaghinyan, they accuse you of treason. Do you think you have really committed treason?
A. Of course, not! I have a mind sound enough to discern what treason is. I don’t even want to discuss the fact that Armenia and its people are faced with the danger of annihilation. The matter is about the [Armenian government] seizing houses of its people by force under the pretext of public interest and appointing a minimum wage below the real poverty rate (this money can only meet pay for public services). I’m not talking about the old pensioners living in extreme poverty. I lived there, and I’m well aware of the living conditions of the pensioners, because a large number of pensioners were living in our neighborhood. I’m thankful to you for letting me publicize all of this. They should take a look at themselves, before accusing me of something. Who are they? What links these people to my homeland where I didn’t flee? I am not even the citizen of the country [Armenia]. I did not betray anyone. I left the country to deal with personal issues. I can return to the country at any time.
Q. There are rumors that a criminal case has been launched against you in Armenia. What’s your opinion on this issue?
A. What is the reason? Is the reason my leaving the country? They are treating me as they want, may I not to exercise my right to leave the country? I cannot understand it. We must act logically. The law is a science consisting of a simple logic. Did I reveal any military secret in Baku? I have no military secret. What can they still accuse me? I find it hard to understand this logic. Let them do what they want, they were putting pressure on me when I was in Armenia as well.
Q. Taking an opportunity, you can address the Armenian population living under the oppressive regime. What would you like to tell them?
A. I wish them to get out of the state of zombie. The first step for coming out of hypnosis is realizing that you are hypnotized. People must avoid false, exaggerated sense of patriotism and realize that living in peace is better than war and shedding blood of 20-year old guys.
Q. Ms. Jaghinyan, I would like to go back to 1988 - the first years of the conflict. At that time, the Armenian people were living in really terrible conditions in the region. Are they still living in such conditions? As you know there is not a single ethnic Azerbaijani living in Azerbaijan's historical land of Karabakh now.
A. Who are living in Karabakh now? Everyone left Karabakh either for Armenia or other countries. I want to realize why people leaving the country for France are not called traitor, but I am called for coming to Baku. What is the difference? I came to Baku, but didn’t abandon my country. I will definitely return to my country. I can go back even tomorrow. They can’t even touch me. They have committed so many crimes against me that, I don’t think they will do it again. As for Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia is allegedly a party-winner in the war. In any case, the Armenian authorities think so. I would like to ask people, what does all this matter? Villages are empty, people are trying to flee Karabakh. Some oligarchs have built plantations there. Also I don’t know for what purposes they are using those lands. This is absurd, even I do not want to understand it.
Q. Today, the majority represented in the supreme authorities of Armenia are the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh. These people, by taking advantage of the conflict, have heaped considerable wealth… What’s your opinion on this matter?
A. Robert Kocharyan, whose wealth is estimated at six billion dollars, is a former president of Armenia. What’s interesting is that a person not being of an Armenian citizen and being of no importance for the country was brought to the power. Now this man’s wealth is about six billion dollars. How could he collect six billion dollars within 10 years? The only way is looting that Kocharyan successfully implemented. These persons even changed the Constitution a while ago to further strengthen the power of occupants of Karabakh.
Q. The two figures, who started and escalated the conflict, are Robert Kocharyan and Serzh Sargsyan. As you mentioned, now these people have considerable wealth and none of them is living in Nagorno-Karabakh. Kocharyan is currently living in the US, Serzh Sargsyan is in the power of Armenia and Seyran Ohanyan has been recently dismissed as Armenia’s defense minister. What’s your attitude towards this issue?
A. I want to add something to your words. Why are the Armenian soldiers forced to defend the border areas of neighboring country? It is the same cases with sending them to Singapore in terms of law. Why aren’t the children and relatives of Kocharyan defending the lands they occupied on the frontline? I want to mention another fact. One of Armenian officials said that the Armenian young people have nothing to lose, let them fight on the frontline. In a word, a person, a young person, a life of the Armenian citizen means nothing for the authorities. They need people only for making them work like slaves. They are so illiterate that I want to cry while Sargsyan starts speaking. Such a person can’t represent my people. My people must be represented by intellectuals like me. You have mentioned Serzh Sargsyan, Robert Kocharyan and Seyran Ohanyan. Can you tell which of them is Armenian? None of them.
Q. Currently, young Armenians are defending the military positions of occupiers in Nagorno-Karabakh. What is the approach of the Armenian people, especially parents of those soldiers towards this? The children of these people will never belong to them and they will die on foreign soil. President Ilham Aliyev has repeatedly stated that if an Armenian soldier does not want to die, then he shouldn’t go to Karabakh. You know, these lands belong to Azerbaijan and will never belong to Armenians.
A. Mothers of Armenian and Azerbaijani soldiers share a common position. No parents want their children to die. Even I do not even want to divide nations. A representative of any nation doesn’t want to see their children’s death, because, in my opinion, this is the worst grief. We call Armenian mothers “mothers in balck”. The Armenian soldiers who died in Karabakh had their own family and children. The parents appealed to the government with the hope to get support. The population of Armenia lives in poverty. The government has forced its people into poverty. Even their voice is not heard. They are not paid salaries. Any kind of crime is committed in Armenia. I'm not here because I consider myself an important person, but in order to show what is going on in Armenia.
Q. The Azerbaijanis, who lived in Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts, have been deported from their native lands since 1988, and Armenians committed an act of genocide against our people. Suffice it to recall the Khojaly genocide, which was committed on February 26, 1992, and the Meshali tragedy, which resulted in death of hundreds of Azerbaijanis. Is it possible for the two people to live in a friendly neighborliness after all that?
A. I very much hope that it is possible. Today I’m here and I will do my best to make it realize. I am ready to do everything for peace to be restored not only in Nagorno-Karabakh, but also in the entire Caucasus region. I am ready to do everything for our children not to die and to avoid bloodshed. More than hundred people were killed during the events of April - for me they are children, every day I cried for them. I am speaking quite frankly. I see no need to boast about myself. In general, if you want, you can also hide my face. I can imagine what happened in Armenia during these events. I have come to your country as you are the only party to highlight this issue. Because, for some reason, the whole world is indifferent though being aware of what is happening there. Even in the US, which is a herald of democracy and freedom of speech, this issue was regarded in a very abstract manner though they are well aware what problems I faced. After examining all documents, they confined themselves to saying that “right, your rights are violated”, and took a neutral approach towards the issue. You know, they should be interested in full existence of democracy and human rights. However, it turns out not to be the case.
Q. If the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairing countries, which have failed to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict for more than 20 years, put forward specific proposals, it weal man a solution to the conflict. How do you think, what forces are not interested in resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?
A. This is a de facto, not what I think. Many available facts make it clear that the matter is about Russia, a country that is the owner of Armenia as a whole. Here we can add Russia’s ownership of gas sector, the communications sector, and other strategic facilities as well. We know that communication is the essence of national security. I can not understand how it is possible to transfer the national security in the hands of another country and call it normal? There are 33 dollar billionaires in small Armenia. How can this wealth be got? What have they sold? Those persons probably betrayed the people.
Q. Armenia accuses Turkey of committing genocide in 1915. If the genocide was actually committed during that period, how Armenians have lived and got involved in trade in Turkey since then? Could a state, which, as claimed by Armenians, committed genocide against them, grant to Armenians a residence permit?
A. Let’s talk like this: Armenia and Azerbaijan are parties to the conflict, and I guess that the people of both countries will be able to live together in peace in the future. Whatever happened, happened. It’s not appropriate to talk about feelings of anger, hatred and revenge. Let’s build peace. I am not discussing what happened or not. Today we should use what we have, to make everything better. How long will the crimes and bloodshed last? Life is given only once.
Q. You are saying that the two people should live in peace. In this context, you are saying Azerbaijanis should forget the tragedies committed by Armenians in Khojaly and other districts and begin to live together with Armenians in peace. Could you forgive the perpetrators of these massacres?
A. Yes, I could forgive. The feeling of forgiveness is above all. I want to repeat once again. Let’s leave behind all what happened. It was a war. You have experienced a tragedy like the one committed in Khojaly. If we don’t try to achieve peace, my existence here will lose its meaning. Efforts will be ineffective. I urge to put aside all what happened. Today, you and we all are civilized, adequate people. What we want today is prosperity, progress, love and development either in the region or between our countries. Let’s not focus on negative incidents mostly committed by us. There was a war in the region. All we know well who started the war and how it went on. It is useless to discuss it again. We should step forward putting aside this page of history. If we discuss and analyze all this, the hatred will further deepen. I don’t want it. I don’t want children to be killed at all. I don’t want people to live in poverty in their native lands. I want everyone to work properly and to enjoy the rights to work and to life, enshrined in the constitution. Personally, I stand for peace.
Q. How do you assess the results of your visit to Baku?
A. It is too early to make any assessment of the visit. However, I think this is a step forward and every step should have a result. In any case, as a human being and a citizen, I will do my best to advance this process.
Q. There have been many attempts to apply a mechanism of public diplomacy in settling this conflict. What do you think of the idea that public diplomacy will give an impetus to settling the conflict?
A. I don’t believe it at all. As long as those callous, greedy criminals are in power in Armenia, I do not believe there will be any positive changes. This is not only my opinion. This is indeed the case.
As far as I understand, you mean there is no point in hoping for the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to be settled while Sargsyan is in power
A. Yes, absolutely. Let me put it this way: Let's imagine I’ve been elected president of Singapore. I do not care how people live in Singapore, bad or good. I am the president, I will be in power for some time, I have to collect money, etc. I'll just think about it. A similar situation is prevailing in government-occupied Armenia. They have such a policy – collecting wealth by all means. The involvement of local oligarchs in this tyranny makes the situation even worse. Though they are oligarchs, they do not have brains. I'll give you an example from Galust Sahakyan, Chairman of the Parliament of Armenia. The man, in his speech used the phrase "creative weapons." Could anyone explain the expression? I think no one can explain this shameful expression. I'm not talking about this person’s IQ level. I'm talking about elementary education. After all this, you have to be crazy to argue about something with these people. These people are unscrupulous.
Q. What impressions are you going to take back with you from Baku?
A. You know, walking around the city yesterday, I realized that our cities have many similarities. The street layouts are very similar. I did not feel like a stranger here. Nothing bothers me here. On the contrary, I enjoyed it. Most importantly, I did not see any homeless in the streets. For this I want to especially thank your government. Armenia is not like this. In Baku, everything is meant for the convenience of people. I was deeply impressed when we saw the Armenian Church intact with all the utensils and holy books inside. In the church there are shelves with works by Azerbaijani authors translated into Armenian in the Soviet period. The Armenian government has left no library. It is very hard to get the right book as you need it.
Azerbaijan has preserved and protected sites belonging to Armenian heritage, while mosques, libraries, museums, schools, and in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan are destroyed.
A. Let's not even compare these. If I led the republic, I could answer that question. If I allowed such vandalism, I could answer this question. But I'm not the head of state and. Therefore, I can not answer. People are not adequate. The Armenians there are doing all they want and they are not called to account. Who could demand that Serzh Sargsyan present documents for Lake Goyche? There are rumors that Sargsyan handed over the lake to the World Bank to cover its debts. But who can verify the authenticity of these rumors? No one. But as they say, no smoke arises without fire. This is my homeland. Tomorrow my child will stand at the lake but will not be allowed to drink from its water. We all know the world’s freshwater problems. Everyone knows that reservoirs are more important then oil today.
Q. What do you think is the key to settling the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?
A. The change of power in Armenia. Nothing will change unless that happens. That’s my opinion.