America's #1 Balance Bike Destination

America's #1 Balance Bike Destination
America's #1 Balance Bike Destination

06 April 2007

I can help!

Time to really populate my list of "Insulters of Turkishness". Such a list is now officially required.


Gulay said...

Thats going to be a long list....everything Greek, Aremenian, most french to start with plus your blog because you allow criticism of the republic.....

Sean said...


Gulay has brought up a good point. How would you feel if your blog was blocked in Turkey, in part because of comments like the ones that I post? I don't think I have ever posted anything about Ataturk (the article specifically refers to Ataturk), but if someone did, surely, your blog would be on the list.


My comments on this news story:

Just when we thought things could get any worse for Turks living in Turkey... Turkey has decided to block "insulting" web sites.

This is an unbelievably stupid move on the part of the Turkish government, because all they are doing is blocking their people from seeing this sites. Their action does NOT erase the so-called "insulting" sites. It just blocks the Turkish people from seeing them. The only victims of this move are the people of Turkey!!

The only other country that I can think of that does this is: Communist China. In the entire world, I don't think anyone else does this. North Korea might control some of the information on the internet, but so few people there have internet access that it really doesn't matter.

Turkey, China, North Korea. Is that a list that Turkey wants to be a part of?

It's time for the Turks in Turkey and around the world to stand up and say "Enough is enough! Stop taking away my rights! Stop limiting my freedom!"

When YouTube was blocked, there was a major backlash, so they had to unblock it within 2 days. Now this. Turkey is going to have to undo this too, if they actually go thru with it. Mark my words.

It's concerning that Murat, a resident of the US, and an active blogger, is in support of such a move. I hope he was joking. He must be.

Murat Altinbasak said...

Guys, I don't support this, at all. It's another bone-head move.. something we've come to expect from China or North Korea, but not Turkiye. My remarks were intended to give you a chuckle, that's all. My sense of humor is sometimes a little hard to read, as I like it to be. Love to keep people guessing. If Amerikan Turk is blocked in Turkey, too bad for the people of Turkey I guess. Besides, there are enough ultra nationalist Turkish hackers out there that if I ever did say anything insulting enough, this blog would have been destroyed long ago.. No worries.
I allow criticism of the Republic. It's true. I'm in no position to prohibit it, am I?

Anonymous said...

"It's time for the Turks in Turkey and around the world to stand up and say "Enough is enough! Stop taking away my rights! Stop limiting my freedom"

Who the hell do you think you are? You don't know what it feels like to be Turkish, and unfortunately for you, you never will. You don't know what we want. If you __did__, you would fuck off from this blog already. Prick.

derinsular said...

Do not worry, Murat.

These ultranationalists you are talking about cannot really understand English.

And those who do, like Gulay, don't know how to hack web sites.

So you're safe!

And by the way, Turkey has a very strong tradition of banning opposition and silencing the press - i.e. before, during and after Ataturk's one-party rule. Therefore, this last move is not unprecedented. However, it, alas, constitutes a backing-away from the country's accession negotiations to the EU.

Anonymous said...

Ombudsman’s Report: 25 complaints per working day; about 4 percent resolved
By Gayane Mkrtchyan
ArmeniaNow reporter

Armenia’s Ombudsman Armen Harutyunyan released his report on human rights Wednesday, revealing that his office received 6,500 written complaints – more than 100 per week. Only 243 were resolved in favor of citizens.
“This is an immensely big number, allowing us to understand what the status of human rights is in our country,” Haroutunyan said. “ Violations mostly speak about the imperfect legal system and mistakes occurring in state and local administration bodies.”

“We are in a very extreme situation,” reported the Ombudsman

Separate chapters of the report are devoted to the studies of the legal system and discovery of contradictions in that sphere, which later serve as a ground for violations. The practical activity of the state bodies (i.e., the Prosecutor’s Office, Yerevan’s municipality, penitentiaries, presidential administration, etc.) is presented by concrete examples on most typical cases against each body and how the Ombudsman's office started a correspondence with the given body.

“As for the public bodies, it seems as if there is such a situation in the country when the system of state bodies instead of turning their face to citizens and their rights, are turned towards themselves,” Harutunyan says. “The studies show that those bodies have become more of an autonomous system, and citizens with their rights are left out.”

The priority issue for the Ombudsman in 2006 was the Yerevan City Hall’s activity. In 2007 it was decided to take its activity under special control and if necessary conduct out-of-turn reports.

Harutyunyan is also puzzled by the fact that during 4-5 years there has not been a single case on property alienation that citizens won in court.

“We are in a very extreme situation. In Lithuania citizens win 40 percent of lawsuits, “he says. “Courts must be the Ombudsman’s first ally; however those bodies have turned into an autonomous system not aimed at people and human rights. There is distrust in the judicial system; courts must be independent. If sentences passed by the Constitutional Court are not executed, speaking about guaranteed rights is pointless.”

According to him, the Greece's Ombudsman receives 10,000 applications a year, when the population is 3.5 times bigger than in Armenia. The human rights problems in Armenia are connected with the system, as the system works only through certain persons.

“But an Ombudsman has no right to call for personnel changes in the system,” he says. “An Ombudsman only registers the fact; the conclusions have to be made by the proper bodies and institutions. A Human Rights Defender cannot do more than that.”

Freedom of speech was evaluated as endangered and insufficient in the report, as a significant number of cases of infringement upon reporters fulfilling their professional duties have been registered in the country. According to the Ombudsman, freedom of speech is violated in Armenia in most cases because of the lack of sub-legislative acts.

In 2005 the Ombudsman’s Office received 4,200 applications 208 out which were given a positive solution. In the first three months of 2005 the office received 438 written complaints, in the same period of 2006 – 320 complaints, and in 2007- 740 complaints.

“I estimate today’s situation as unsatisfactory, and all of us have many things to do. No pressure has been put upon me, but the result is not what we’d like it to be,” said the Ombudsman.

Harutyunan also announced that regional offices – in Vanadzor, Gyumri and Goris – need to be opened to make the Ombudsman more accessible to public outside Yerevan.

“This issue will be given a solution if in 2008 proper financing is allocated to it from the state budget,” he said.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"It's time for the Armenians in Armenia and around the world to stand up and say "Enough is enough! Stop taking away my rights! Stop limiting my freedom"

Anonymous said...

Turkish and Armenian Historians Shall Meet
Feb. 23, 2007 /Azg/ "Sabah" newspaper February 21 reported that director of the "Komitas" Historical Institute, London, Ara Sarafian, answered the call of the Turkish Historical Science Union Yusuf Halacoglu to "study together the Armenian allegations of genocide".
Before referring to the Turkish newspaper's report, it should be reminded about Halacoglu's earlier suggestion of joint study of the Mtsbin (ancient Nicibin) cave burial, discovered by Swedish historian David Gunt. Professor Gunt came to conclusion that the skeletons found in the cave belong to Armenians and Assyrians massacred in 1915 and submitted the issue to the Parliament of Sweden. Turkish historians opposed this point of view and allege that the burial should be dated by the Roman or Byzantine eras. Evidently, Mr. Gunt was reluctant to accept such criticism of his discovery and refused Halacoglu's proposal of joint study, calling him a "Samurai" in a press publication.
Unlike David Gunt, Armenian scientist from London, Ara Sarafian agreed to hold a similar joint scientific research in Kharberd. This was, naturally, welcomed by Yusuf Halacoglu, reports "Sabah". Sarafian, explaining his action said that he had been present to the Science Conference at the Istanbul University, March 16, 2006, and accepted Halacoglu's proposal, considering that cooperation in this study will be a firm background for further researches.
"Armenians have ever put preconditions for creation of joint scientific commissions or starting joint studies. They have always demanded the recognition of the Armenian Genocide," "Sabah" reports Yusuf Halacoglu's words. "Sarafian put no preconditions and therefore his proposition is unprecedented. And it is rather important in sense of starting cooperation with Armenian historians and studying together the events of 1915," he said. Halacoglu added that Sarafian may suffer for his bold actions and become a target of numerous insinuations.

Anonymous said...

If Turkey wants to join the 21st century and the human race, it needs to stop with these draconian ideas. The Byzantine Empire ended years ago. It's time to move on to the modern world Turkey.

Sean said...

anonymous' article said "office received 6,500 written complaints – more than 100 per week. Only 243 were resolved in favor of citizens"

I agree that this is terrible and unacceptable, however, Armenia is a young republic, I have hope that the conditions will keep improving.

Attacking my country as a tactic to cover up the problems in your country is a cheap trick, however, I will do the same back to you.

If 6,500 people had filed complaint in Turkey, those people that would be considered to be "insulting Turkishness" (by random so-called lawyer's associations), those while filed the complaints would all be in jail, on trial, or DEAD.

It's nice to see that at least in Armenia, people's complaints are just being merely rejected. Turkey has been a republic for almost 85 years. Armenia - only 15. We still have lots and lots of dirt to clean from the communistic era. It will take many years, possibly even couple of generations and couple of revolusions. What's your excuse?

cem said...

sean said:
Attacking my country as a tactic to cover up the problems in your country is a cheap trick, however, I will do the same back to you.

Piyaz For Dinner said...

Good effort on posting an original idea.

4/07/2007 11:41 AM

Kevork said...
Cem said
There is absolutely nothing you can say that can justify the forced cancellation of a peaceful gathering!

Kevork says.

Oh yes there is. ARMENIANS will not 'fraternize' with known and vocal genocide deniers. End of story.

4/07/2007 11:44 AM

sean, or they call me Kevork and now piyaz for dinner, all comment minutes apart from each other. HMMMMMMMMM.

Murat, pay close attention to how sean states that anonymous is:
ATTACKING my country as a tactic to cover up the problems in your country is a cheap trick, however, I will do the same back to you.

Golly Geez WoW, I thought that all of sean's copy and pastes were about improving Turkey, but it was just a "cheap trick" Golly, you had me fooled.

sean, I truly believed your intentions were good.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who has given, or been around the greasing of palms, has noticed that the cash is not usually given to the corrupt official, or a person with the upper hand, like one would pay a salesperson at a cash register. There is usually a special language indicating that a bribe is needed, and an etiquette of the way to transfer the money. In Armenia, sometimes we are told that 'lavoutyoun' (an act of kindness) or 'magharich' (a tip) is needed. In case of the traffic police, the communication is non-verbal. When you are stopped, you know what to do.

Here is an excerpt from the article describing a newbie asking for a bribe in Georgia - obviously, he needed some experience.

A sweetener to a traffic cop is often placed in the ticket-book that is handed to the driver. Parag Khanna, who is writing a book about countries on the edge of the rich world that are trying to get rich themselves, describes a bribe-taker he spotted in Georgia who he was sure was a rookie. Why? The scrawny young soldier, forgoing any subtleties, merely rubbed his fingers together in an age-old gesture.

There is also a description of corruption in the US as well - the fees paid to journalists by the government to produce favorable news, the donations by the lobbying organizations to lawmakers, tips paid to personnel at restaurants to get a table without waiting. As a matter of fact, bribery is institutionalized in the restaurant industry. It is necessary to pay a tip to the waiting staff. Otherwise they may spit in your food the next time.

Education system bribes.

Higher education
Since during the Soviet times, the higher education institutions have been corrupt. A large chunk of the lecturers would accept 'gifts' in order to give a passing grade to students. That was after the student was accepted. Getting into a university or another higher education establishment required gifts as well.

A certain percentage of students would get in based on their academic achievements because otherwise the whole concept of the educational system would collapse. The rest were admitted based on the students' relatives' connections and/or gifts. This was more prevalent in institutions that were lower on the scale of social importance such as the the ones producing teachers (Mankavarjakan) or foreign language experts. And since the majority of the students were female, it was a good opportunity for the socially ambitious parents to make sure that their daughter had a diploma and grab a better son-in-law.

This continues to be true currently as well. It is more widespread and openly acknowledged by the government, and everybody knows about it thanks to the free press.

Other schools
The lower education system did not have bribes as such but gifts like flowers or chocolates were acceptable in exchange for a better grade. But at the time it is not only acceptable but it is required - the kids have to give gifts to their teachers and there are well known monetary amounts for each event. Of course, the parents do not like the state of the affairs but everybody continues to comply with the system. Unlike higher education, the secondary education involves all the layers of the society, and the more socially vulnerable families have to make sacrifices in order to afford the participation of their kids in such gift giving occasions.

The corruption does not end here. There is no concept of uniform dress code in the public school system (probably in protest to the Soviet system). This puts pressure for kids to keep up with their peers. In a lot of cases, the teachers, instead of curbing such competition, actually encourage it by paying more attention to the better dressed students.

It is unfortunate that these kind of teachers are allowed to teach the kids but they are the product of the system (see the mention of Mankavarjakan above).

Working within the law does not make sense unless everybody else does it. Operating within the law is discouraged by the government as witnessed by the recent prosecution of the coffee importing company management who refused to pay bribes.

A large chunk of the Armenian economy exists beyond the boundaries of the law. It is primarily done to avoid the numerous regulations (and the paperwork which normally involve bribe payouts as well).

One of the major reasons for the so called 'underground economy' is to avoid paying the income taxes, and the employee social security taxes. The tax police let this happen because it is beneficial to them since they know who is who and does what and how much taxes are being evaded. They let everybody be happy for a 'fee'. Sometimes they crack down if there has been a publicized government effort to eradicate tax evasion. Needless to say, the big boys are never touched.

Armenia: College Bribery Rife

Survey exposes a system of payment for good test and exam results at some universities.

By Karine Asatrian in Yerevan (CRS No. 374 18-Jan-07)

A group of ten students at Armenia’s State Agrarian University laughed loudly when asked if there was corruption in their college. “How can they do without it?” claimed third-year student Armen.

Now, the issue of alleged bribes being given in order to receive good marks has been brought out into the open after the results of a startling new poll, conducted by the Sargis Tkhruni Youth Student Union, affiliated to Armenia’s Social Democratic Party. Out of 2000 students - five per cent of all the students in Armenia - 1821 said that there was corruption in their colleges, according to the survey.

Sargis Tkhruni has already submitted the results of the study to the country’s education minister and asked him to take action to tackle the problem.

Education Minister Levon Mkrtchian has been non-committal so far. “We must get an understanding of the quality of this poll,” Mkrtchian told IWPR. “If it’s been conducted professionally, we will send the results to colleges and ask to have them discussed by these colleges’ management boards.

“Definitely, if we are convinced that they are serious and well-founded, and the boards have their say, it is possible that this will raise organisational issues.”

The survey appears to have exposed a system of “fixed prices” for tests and exams at some universities.

Lilit, a third-year economics student, said a top exam mark - a “five” - cost 250 US dollars at her faculty, while a “four” could be bought for 200 dollars. “I’ve never had to pay myself, but I’ve heard about others who did pay,” she said. “It’s all a matter of learned habits. If they come to expect to be paid, teachers begin demanding it themselves. Between themselves, they know who will pay and who won’t. Out of every 60 students, at least twenty will give a bribe.”

Students told IWPR that prices for good exam results at certain colleges ranged between 15,000 and 50,000 drams (between 33 and 135 dollars).

Anna, a second-year student, said teachers tended not to demand a bribe openly, confining themselves to hinting that a student should pay up. “They tire you to death to make you pay,” she said.

One student described how palms were greased at his college, “An assistant [lecturer] comes and names the price. The situation is beneficial to us - we pay, if we are unable or don’t want to study, and thus escape expulsion.”

Students agree that it is possible to resist giving bribes and that there are honest teachers, who refuse to be bought. “There is corruption, but if you study well and give no bribes, no one will ask you to pay anything,” said Ruzanna, a political science student. “If you have knowledge and show it, not money, to your teacher, you will pass your exams.”

A striking 93 per cent of respondents to the poll suggested that lecturers’ salaries should be increased to discourage them from taking bribes.

However, Laert Hovannisian, pro-rector of Yerevan’s State Engineering University, said lecturers’ salary were not actually so small. “The situation has improved, and the average salary amounts to 87,000 drams (230 dollars),” he said. “I wouldn’t say this is a lot, but there was a time when we dreamt of a 100 dollar salary for lecturers.”

Hovannisian said his university was tackling corruption by having students examined by more than one person or not by the person who was teaching them.

He argues that Armenia should move to the “credit system” used by most American universities where marks are accumulated in the course of the year through course work.

In 2005, Armenia joined the Bologna Process, which aims to regularise academic standards across Europe. It’s hoped this will lead to the overhaul of the current Soviet-era system of marking.

Most believe that change needs to be implemented from above. Eighty-seven per cent of the polled students said that there should be a tightening of discipline in the management of higher education establishments. Some said that the minister of education should be sacked, others suggested exiling bribe-taking teachers to Siberia.

Amalia Kostandian, head of the Transparency International Armenian office, said that corruption in higher education was a systemic problem.

“Corruption will persist in the country, the system will remain unhealthy until a top-down revolution happens,” said Kostandian.

The organiser of the survey, Sahak Manukian, head of Sargis Tkhruni, warns that in the meantime the culture of corruption is very deep-rooted.

“Nowadays those who pass their exams with a bribe are regarded with respect and envy, and not with pity,” he said.
“Instead of being condemned these students are examples for others to follow.”

Karine Asatrian is journalist with А1+ television in Yerevan.

Anonymous said...


Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2005
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
March 8, 2006

Armenia, with a population of approximately 3.2 million, is a republic. The constitution provides for the separation of powers, but the directly elected president has broad executive powers that are relatively unchecked by the parliament (national assembly) or the judiciary; the president appoints the prime minister, most senior government officials, and judges at all levels. The 2003 presidential and parliamentary elections were seriously flawed and did not meet international standards. While the civilian authorities generally maintained effective control of the security forces, some members of the security forces committed a number of human rights abuses.

Although there were some improvements in some areas, the government's human rights record remained poor and serious problems remained. The following human rights problems were reported:

abridged rights of citizens to change their government
hazing-related deaths in the military
security force beatings of pretrial detainees
national security service and national police force impunity
arbitrary arrest and detention
poor and unhealthy prison conditions
limited right of citizens' privacy
limited press freedom
self-censorship by journalists
restrictions on religious freedom
violence against women and spousal abuse
trafficking in persons
discrimination against persons with disabilities
societal harassment of homosexuals
reported forced and compulsory labor

Gulay said...

so now I am an Ultranationalist...I think you should check some of my comments befreo you make asinine statements like that Derinsular

cem said...

Gulay an "Ultranationalist", I don't think she would even consider herself a nationalist let alone an ultra one. I sure don't.

Oz Kanka said...

Gulay an ultranationist? Haven't laughed so much for ages (admittedly my life is quite boring at the moment). The only ultra Gulay is, is an ultra aslan.

derinsular said...

Calm down.

My labeling was meant to be a joke.