Friday, 21 September

Kajaran Village Mayor – “The government is committing genocide here” (video)

Grandma Araksya is a sprightly woman of 80 who lives alone in the village of Kajaran.

She soon might be evicted from her home due to mining interest in the area.

On April 28, the Armenian government declared sites in the Syunik villages of Kajaran, Artzvanik, Sevakar, Atchanan and Chapni is being in the "public interest", that's to say eminent domain. They have been leased to the Zangezur Copper-Molybdenum Combine.

Araksya Grigoryan's house is in the village center and exploratory mining operations have begun just a few hundred meters away. If valuable ore is found, then Araksya and the entire village population will be forced to leave their ancestral homes.

No one knows where they will go.

The Combine already operates a mine on the other side of the River Voghji and now they want to expand to the other side. The government has given them permission to do so.

Residents of Kajaran are in a state of shock.

Kajaran Village Mayor Rafik Atayan says the company has no need to expand.

"They have enough reserves to last 400-500 years. Why do they want to push us out of our homes. They should leave us alone.

The mayor says the mine's center is located right above the cemetery and that a tractor was recently sent to dig. Hre went out and confronted the work crew, forcing them to retreat.

Grandma Araksya's husband and son are buried in that cemetery.

"We aren't giving up any land. Where would we go," says the mayor of this village of 230 whose communal lands stretch all the way to the border with Nakhijevan.

Mayor Atayan charges the company with reneging on its promises to improve conditions in the area. The village is without gas and the roads are practically impassable.

Since there is no school in the village, children are transported to town in a bus allocated by the company. But that's the extent of the assistance provided by the mining company.

It's interesting to note that Vahe Hakobyan, son of the Zangezur Combine's Executive Director Maksim Hakobyan, was elected as the MP for the district. Residents told me he only shows up before elections to make campaign pledges.

While company officials say that nothing will happen to the cemetery and the houses in Kajaran, resident Gagik Hakobyan believes otherwise.

"I was born here and am not about to leave," Gagik said, evidently incensed. "I won't let them harm a hair on anyone's head here. They have enough reserves already. I won't be bought out either. How can they play havoc with the cemetery, a sacred site? All my relatives are buried there. Can those bones be collected by hand, one by one, and transported elsewhere? Of course not."

In a trembling voice Mayor Atayan said that the government was telling the villagers to clear out.

"If the mine starts to operate what will happen to us and to this village that is located 4 kilometers from the border. It's as if the government has no need of us common folk. They will be committing a genocide right here."

The mayor says he has sent of letters to the president, speaker of the parliament and prime minister, but has received no replies.

Many residents say that the mining company is trying to pressure employees from the village not to protest against the new mine site.

Vahan Atayan, who has been working at the Combine for 25 years, says that he hasn't been approached in such a manner but that he's heard rumors.

Mr. Atayan told me that he would accept compensation to relocate if the company allocated a piece of land equal to what he now has. He also wouldn't oppose moving the cemetery, even though his father, brother and grandparents are buried there.

He gets paid a monthly salary of 130,000 AMD for a 40 hour work week and confesses that conditions were better in the past. His wife also works at the Zangezur Combine. Vahan says the family is burdened with debt.

Pondering his situation, he uttered, "You know, one day we will wake up to hear that all of Armenia has been sold off. They'll come to tell us that our lands have been taken away and that we must leave."

Meruzhan, another irate Kajaran native, had this to say.

"Nakhijevan is right over there. Do they want an Armenia with no Armenians? This is our land. I don't care how much money they offer. Who wants to live in some empty building in Yerevan's Northern Avenue? Should all Armenians in the country pack up and move to Yerevan? My brother lives in Moscow. Should I join him? The constitution says the government belongs to the people. We sent petitions to the government but nobody listens. What a joke."

The Syunik Regional Administration also seems to be caught in a bind.

Deputy Regional Governor Vachik Grigoryan said that after the village mayor sent letters to the government an expert panel should have conducted studies to evaluate the potential risks to the community from enlarged mining operations.

"The issue is of major concern to us. Residents are worried about the loss of the cemetery but the matter must be studied before we express an opinion," said Grigoryan.

I tried to get the company's side of the story, but to no avail.

When I called the Yerevan office of the Zangezur Combine, an employee replied that she didn't have the number for Executive Director Maksim Hakobyan.

She suggested that I telephone Kajaran directly since "that is where Hakobyan spends most of his time."

When I called, no one picked up.

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Comments (12)
1. Varaz Syuni (Amsterdam)05:02 - 29 June, 2011
«Զանգեզուրի պղնձամոլիբդենային կոմբինատ» ՓԲԸ-ն PITI ANMIJAPES azgaynatsnel. Urish elk el CHKA. Ays կոմբինատը LRIV lktiatsel, u AJ u DZAX (anpatizh) KORTSANUM u PXTSUM e MER Hayreniky yev mer BNUTIUNY......................Yekamutneri METS MASY gtnum e OTARNERIN u MAFIA-i grpany...........................Uxaki piti AZGOVI u HAMATARATS UZHEROV kangel ays combinati MAFIA-i dem.
2. Varaz Syuni (Amsterdam)05:07 - 29 June, 2011
Քաջարան gyuxi/kaxaki shrjakayky ERBEK chi tesel OTAR NVACHUM u ERBEK ays hoxaktory CHI pxtsvel Hay AMBOXCH patmutian yntatskum.................Isk hima MER PAPERIN MORTATS Germanatsu zavaky PITI GA u ORY TSEREKOV kortsani u PXTSI mer hoxery?
3. Varaz Syuni (Amsterdam)05:34 - 29 June, 2011
Կառավարության ապրիլի 28-ի որոշումը yes MIANSHANAK hamarum em MAHATSU yev tshnamakan HARVATS Hayastani (yev Սյունյաց աշխարհի ) ANVTANGUTIAN tikunkin, vorovhetev ապրիլի 28-ի voroshman GYUXERY (hatkapes Քաջարան գյուղը ) uni HSKAYAKAN razma-strategiakan NSHANAKUTIUN. Yes ays BOLOR gyuxery IM SEPAKAN ACHKEROV tesel em...........................................Hima galis e AMENA-KAREVOR hartsy: Ayd UM e DZERK TALIS vor ays HSKAYAKAN razma-strategiakan nshanakutian gyuxery/taratksy HAYATAPVI u veratsvi ANMARDABNAK hankeri?
4. Varaz Syuni (Amsterdam)05:41 - 29 June, 2011
Zhamanaky CHE «Զանգեզուրի պղնձամոլիբդենային կոմբինատ» ՓԲԸ-ի ղեկավարության dem sksel KREAKAN gorts- yndhup minchev mijazgayin dataranner?.........................................PS. SHNORHAKALUTIUN Hetq-in ays SHAT KAREVOR hartsin parberabar andradarnalu hamar.
5. Varaz Syuni (Amsterdam)06:03 - 29 June, 2011
Կապանում gortsox KHUSTUP TV-i tnoren paron քաջարանցի SASUN MANUKIAN - de APATSUTSEK bolorin vor (texakan) hankardyunaberutian KAMAKATARNER chek...... LUR ek-nayev ays harstum, erb vor dzer/ko ays ANOGNAKAN u xexch hama-Քաջարանցիnery mnatsel en MENAK - AGAH u ERKATE CHANKEROV (petutian koxmits hovanavorvox) mi MAFIA-i araj.............................. "Dzer" "ankax" TV-n ogtagortsum ek himnakanum KO ANDZNAKAN kerpary METSATSNELU u TUNAVOR "Deno Gold Mining"-i hamar "dzri" PROPAGANDA anelu hamar. ..........PS. Nuyny verabervum e nayev Մաքսիմ Հակոբյանի u ir ՀՀԿ-ական որդի Վահե Հակոբյանի koxmits "chhskvox" texakan SOSI-TV-in.
6. Varaz Syuni (Amsterdam)06:12 - 29 June, 2011
Norits asem hetevyaly: Hankardyunaberutiuny KORTSANUM u KORTSANELU e Սյունյաց աշխարհը. Yerevany LRIV ANTARBER e. Usti Syukiny PITI UNENA inknavarutiun- ir BOLOR NERKIN hartsery INKNURUYN KARAVARELU hamar...........................Syunikin PETK e 2rd DAVIT-BEK-ian sharjum.................Xosks "Davit-Bekian Uxter", "Syuniac Artsivner" kam nmanatip ՀՀԿ-ական TATRON/PROPAGANDANER-i masin CHE.
7. rahageets12:36 - 29 June, 2011
Please Hetq...Tell this Varaz to either write a full article expressing his views in a coherent manner or else limit him to one ow two comments - and not 6 like he has done here and elsewhere. It gets tiring for the rest of us readers.
8. Txa belgiaic 17:26 - 29 June, 2011
Varaz Syuni(Amsterdam)Paron chem haskanum es pesi duq barkanumek mer karawarucan vra de gnacek hexapoxek dra texe dukelek paxel ewropa gidek te stexel halac tapaca stexi shefere aitpes kochvac CEO)nere dranc howanawornen Ewropain ew EWREJA XEXT amerikain dzera talis vor aispisi xxchuk karawarucun unecox erknerin karanal chnsheel che vor CAESAR@ asela bajani u tiri ews mek ban chek karcum vor hasfi arnelov vor XARABAXCIK sksac 90 akan twakaneric erevan@ isk ira bnakichneri larela xopan u xarabaxciken lcvel kochariyani shnoriv putini oknucamb vor@ hamadasarancineren exel mtacelu like texika tali es paster@.
9. Varaz Syuni (Amsterdam)18:54 - 29 June, 2011
rahageets - You DO NOT react or comment on the CONTENT of what I have written in my comments. You do NOT react or write a comment on the WHOLE TRAGEDY of the artice, but you chose to NAG about how many comments I wrote? So I wrote 6 commnets, or 1 comment, or 16 comments. Does it matter? I write 6 or 16 comments because the artice TOUCHES me and WANT TO WRITE 6(16) comments. What IS YOUR problem? I take the TIME and emotions to write them- not you. If you "CAN NOT" read 6 small comments then DO NOT read them. Do not you think that you are getting really ANNOYING. I guess you even do not read Armenian..............Use your energy for DOING SOMETHING for SOMEONE, and NOT nagging and asking to PUT LIMITATIONS on somebody. SHAME ON YOU. Really...................... And you are NOT "the rest of us readers". You are JUST only you- 1 person. So speak ONLY on your behalf.
10. Varaz Syuni (Amsterdam)19:08 - 29 June, 2011
Txa belgiaic - 1. Yes chem paxel, yes yekel em. Ashxarhum MILLIONAVOR MARDIK en gnum/galis- ayl termov: GlOBALISATIA. Menk aprum enk POST-MODERN ashxarhum. Heto, indz pes mot 1 MILLION Hay (yerevi nayev du) ka- OBJECTIF yev/kam SUBJECTIV patcharnerits yelnelov... Maty PITI dnel ISKAKAN mexavorneri vra-sra hamar.........2. Commentid 2rd masum ka chshmartutiun. Bayts, KONKRET HIMA, Hayastantsinery PITI sksen. Drsits karox en miayn OZHANDAKEL/ognel. Ko tan axby PITI skses du makres, vor KOXKITS kez ognen.
11. rahageets22:01 - 29 June, 2011
Hey Varaz... Get a life, man. Instead of writing 8-10 disparate comments, focus and write something with a begiing, middle and an end. Oh, and I do read Armenian and have enough trouble to get past your Latin lettered Armenian, let alone what you are trying to say. Some of what you say makes sense but your presentation leaves much to be desired. You seem to have enough free time on your hands so compose something we can all sink our teeth into. Good Luck!
12. Varaz Syuni (Amsterdam)04:56 - 30 June, 2011
rahageets- I have a life. I write comments -not an university graduate essay. And this is NOT an exam either. You better concentrate on your own comments and try to say something meaningful- instead of attacking others personally-off content. And, plz, I do not have time for you. Thanks.
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