As tensions between the governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan escalate, Ilham Aliyev threatens on Twitter to start a war against Armenia, and the 20-year-old ceasefire is falling apart at the seams, the Azeri propaganda machine makes desperate attempts to reassure the citizens of Azerbaijan that the republics of Armenia and Artsakh are inferior and impotent opponents. One such attempt was recently made by Haqqin.az, which engaged in imposture by claiming to have received a letter from Armenian human rights activist and investigative journalist Ara Manoogian and publishing an article titled “Sargsyan’s Enemy Writes to Haqqin.az” with commentaries to the fabricated letter. In the article, Lev Maas, the author of the article, asserts that, feeling ‘betrayed and humiliated’ by the Armenian authorities and the Diaspora, Ara Manoogian has appealed to Azerbaijan for help. In response to this criminal act of fabrication, imposture and libel, an open letter, demanding immediate retraction and apology has been sent to Haqqin.az and Lev Maas. (Below is the rebuttal followed by the open letter, which is then followed by the English translation of the Haqqin.az article).
In an article titled “Sargsyan’s Enemy Writes to Haqqin.az,” Lev Maas asserts that I, Ara Manoogian, have sent a letter to the editors of Haqqin.az, titled “Even the Armenian Diaspora Is Indignant about Criminal Karabakh Regime.” This is a bald-faced lie. There has been absolutely no communication between me and this news outlet or anyone associated with it prior to the publication of the article in question. After the latter was brought to my attention, I immediately wrote to their Facebook page, on August 4, 2014, requesting a copy of the letter that was allegedly sent by me. I have received no response from them yet.
Anyone who will follow the thetruthmustbetold.com links that Lev Maas has kindly provided in his article will easily see how my statements have been distorted to suit the Azeri propaganda. In fact, this article is so badly written that, as strange as it may sound, it even lies to itself, manifesting inability to keep its own promise of presenting my alleged letter uncut. Thus, instead of making a point-by-point refutation of all the lies in this enormously long article, I would like to draw the reader’s attention to the identity of the people and the organizations behind this scheme.
It is ironic that the author of this libelous article and the chimerical letter is none other than the first science fiction writer in the history of Azerbaijani literature, Lev Askerov, a.k.a. Lev Maas. He was born in Baku, in 1940. He used to be a member of the USSR Union of Journalists and is currently a member of the Union of Azerbaijani Writers.
This fraudster uses my criticism of the Armenian and Artsakh authorities as an indication of these republics’ impotence. I have always been driven by the strong belief that sharp and constructive criticism is the straight path to a better democracy. And I have been lucky to have witnessed the fruit of my labor.
It is also ironic that Haqqin.az, which has blatantly violated my human rights, is the information-analytical and monitoring portal of Public Union for Human Rights, a non-governmental organization founded by Eynulla Fatullayev in Azerbaijan, in 2011.
Eynulla Fatullayev is a well-known Azeri journalist and human rights activist, who used to be persecuted by the Azerbaijani government for his criticism of its policies. In 2006, he was forced to shut down his two newspapers after receiving death threats and his father was kidnapped. He was imprisoned in 2007 for his statement that the Khojaly massacre was committed by the Azerbaijani army and not by Armenians. Amnesty International recognized him as a prisoner of conscience. While in prison, he faced what Amnesty International described as ‘trumped up charges after being critical of the government.’ He was finally released in 2011 under international pressure. Haqqin.az was established about two months after his release.
Two years later, Amnesty International made a public announcement that it was forced to cease cooperation with Fatullayev after he misled the organization about the source of funding for a project he had requested Amnesty International to get involved in.
Besides the financial issue, this announcement also inadvertently revealed that noticeable changes had taken place in Fatullayev’s priorities as a human rights activist and journalist. He appeared to have grown more concerned about human rights violations in Germany than Azerbaijan. In other words, he preferred to speak out about the motes in Europe’s eyes, ignoring the bulky logs in Azerbaijan’s eyes.
Amnesty International criticized him for ‘his attempts to portray the extent and gravity of human rights abuses in Germany as on a par with violations in Azerbaijan.’
Fatullayev’s stubborn refusal to disclose the source of funding for his projects and the dramatic shift in his priorities as a human rights activist might shed light on the grounds for his early and unexpected release by Ilham Aliyev’s presidential decree.
“Amnesty International believes that Fatullayev, and in particular, his site Haqqin.az, is used by the Government of Azerbaijan to discredit European criticism of human rights violations in Azerbaijan,” writes Azerbaijan-based contact.az.
It is very sad to see how bravery and gusto once manifested by Eynulla Fatullayev was methodically reduced to cowardice and subservience under Azerbaijan’s totalitarian rule. A country that posts the results of its presidential election BEFORE it actually takes place is the last one I would ever consider to appeal to for help.
Open Letter to Lev Askerov and Haqqin.az
Dear Lev Askerov and editorship of Haqqin.az
The publication of “Sargsyan’s Enemy Writes to Haqqin.az,” on August 5, 2014, at Haqqin.az, where Lev Askerov, a.k.a. Lev Maas, asserts that I have written a letter to the said news outlet, constitutes an unquestionable breach of legal conduct. I will seek legal redress for libel against Lev Askerov, the editor-in-chief of Haqqin.az, and any person or organization involved in the creation of said article, unless a retraction and apology is issued, or a proof of the existence of the entire letter in its original form is provided and its origin is documented by August 15, 2014.
I expect your immediate attention and corrective action.
Below is the English translation of the Russian-language article titled “Sargsyan’s Enemy Writes to Haqqin.az”. Note: all the images below have been borrowed from haqqin.az and match their original placement.
Sargsyan’s Enemy Writes to Haqqin.az
August 5, 2014, 1:52
Author: Lev Maas
(A Letter from California resident Aram Manoogian – uncut and with our commentary)
Frankly, we did not believe our eyes. Actually, not so much our eyes as ourselves. “Probably,” we thought at first, “this is yet another Armenian provocation.” They have become so adept and good at riding roughshod over others that Jules Verne with his novels, compared to them, is just a graphomaniac, spouting gibberish and nonsense…
It is not difficult to understand the staff of haqqin.az, and definitely not only us. Shafts of lies and fabrications – with which Armenians periodically dupe the world, with tales of horror about their extermination both in the times of Roman Empire and the Ottoman Turkey, which committed a “bloody genocide” against them, and, more recently, in Soviet Union, where the “bestial” population of Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh bullied them – have been perceived by many as real horror stories. But then there is a letter from California signed by Aram Manoogian. And it was addressed to none other than us, to the editorial office of haqqin.az.
“It is not excluded,” he writes, “that the Armenian media, a la Goebbels, (the nail on the head! But, really and truly! The comparison is not ours – clarification by haqqin.az) will once again try to present my correspondence as “false propaganda,” made up within the walls of your editorial office. Just as they treated the story about the Azerbaijanis who had wished to visit the graves of their parents in the territories occupied by the Armenian armed forces, the land which their ancestors had been cultivating for centuries and where they themselves grew up. They were captured and presented to the world community as spies…”
No, after all, this letter is not a provocation. It is more likely the pain from bleeding conscience due to vile slander spread not by the best, but unfortunately, most of the Armenians, deceived by dirty politicians. And this person, one of a handful of those reasonable people, as you will conclude from the content of the rest of this sincere letter, cried out for help.
“I appeal to you with the last hope for being heard. And that’s why, this is the headline I put on top of the text I have written: “Even Armenian Diaspora Is Outraged by Criminal Karabakh Regime”… No, that’s not a typo, and not a mistake! I do not have the opportunity here, in the U.S., the “cradle of democracy,” to freely express my thoughts. In the hands of the Armenian Diaspora, this country has become a powerful tool for spreading their unwise ideas and achieving their dirty goals. I am one of the few who oppose to the methodical and purposeful duping of my compatriots, because of which the law-enforcement harasses me, and therefore I ask you to convey my voice of indignation and protest to your readers…”
To convince us of his sincerity Manoogian provided a link to his website, http://www.thetruthmustbetold.com, where, among other, quite interesting reflections and materials that reveal stinking policies pursued by the leadership of the Diaspora, this message is published. At his website, we learned that he is the founder of an American-Armenian movement “To Donate or Not to Donate?” This person is not unambiguous; he did not arrive at his current outlook and position with regard to the Armenian-Azerbaijani issue immediately.
Let’s browse the pages of his notes.
… Manoogian was born in 1965, in California. An ardent chauvinist, he proudly speaks on his website about his grandfather, who, as a young man, was involved in terrorist operations against the Turks. While Ara (Aram) was a member of the Fund of well-known terrorist Monte Melkumian. That is, the degree of this person’s outright Nazism is visible to the naked eye. But his pain, as apparent in his electronic outpourings, emanates from the present criminal-oligarchic regime of Armenia and the large-scale corruption network, involving the church and the Diaspora, from which the people suffer and the state degrades.
Here, in Baku, we see it clearly with our own eyes and know. But Ara (Aram) would like to convey his vision through us, as well, since our Russian-language portal is read by tens of thousands of people living far beyond Azerbaijan’s borders. This is where Ara’s cunning kicks in; he knew that monolingual Armenia writes and speaks Armenian, which not everyone in South Caucasus understands. We are ok with this simple little trick of Manoogian. After all, he is one of the participants and witnesses of the very technology of duping the Armenian population of the States and the Americans, which he describes in detail in his message.
“Even the Armenian Diaspora in Los Angeles,” he says, “is tired of the criminal regime of Nagorno-Karabakh and the authorities in Yerevan, controlled by the Armenian, Karabakh clan… Please help me inform all the post-Soviet countries about this situation…”
And here are examples for your information.
In Glendale, a U.S. city with the largest concentration of the Armenian population, representatives of the criminal regime of Nagorno-Karabakh, before everyone’s eyes, attack and arrest me, an Armenian activist, a human rights activist. But the American and Armenian media keep silent and do not cover the incident. Even at the Glendale police station, I was not told why I was detained. Keeping silent is in their interest, otherwise masses of normal and honest people will have access to the facts I have established, as well as my investigations into human trafficking in Yerevan; abuse and arbitrariness in the armed forces; large-scale corruption, that has permeated all the state structures of Armenia and Karabakh; forced requisitions for the church, under the guise of “development of the religion”; embezzlement by Armenia’s political leadership of funds donated by the Diaspora benefactors from around the world…”
According to Aram’s website, he visited Armenia for the first time after the 1988 earthquake and was horrified by how the funds raised for the victims of the earthquake were embezzled. That outrageous disgrace led him to journalism – “the only channel that was able to pillorize these unscrupulous people who give themselves the proud name of Armenian,” he tells his readers of his electronic posts. The result of one of his first investigations was the exposure of an organized criminal gang consisting of members of the presidential administration, government officials and high-ranking law enforcement agents, involved in so-called “illegal adoption,” or more precisely, child trafficking. Continuing his investigation in this direction, A.Manoogian discovered that droves of women and children are exported from Armenia to the United Arab Emirates under the patronage of this gang.
He also found out that this criminal organization was under the aegis and the protection of Rafael Gyulnazaryan, the head of the anti-human trafficking department of the United Nations in Armenia. And it was only after the White House became informed about these facts that the U.S. State Department finally fired Rafael Gyulnazaryan.
In 2010, a video was published on the Internet, where military officers were brutally abusing two soldiers, as they carried their punishment. This video was quickly removed from the Internet. However, Ara Manoogian downloaded the video and published it on his website.
The creepy documentary footage shocked the American public. Despite the pressure and death threats from the armed criminal group, which, in addition to the army, is under Seyran Ohanyan’s command, Ara Manoogian never removed the footage that tore the “nice-wise” mask off the Armenian general’s bestial face.
After the bodyguard of MP Ruben Hayrapetyan (Sargsyan’s close person, a racketeer and drug lord, who is known as “Nemets Rubo” in criminal circles) killed Doctor Vahe Avetyan for his political views, Ara Manoogian organized a protest in front of the Armenian Consulate in Los Angeles, CA. The activisits who joined his protest demanded that the killers are punished and all the criminal leadership that has corrupted Armenia’s entire political system be prosecuted. Ara and his companions achieved none of those goals.
On the contrary, soon drug lord Ruben Hayrapetyan’s armed racketeering gangs were granted more power and got involved in the physical elimination of Serzh Sargsyan’s enemies and opposition forces. Serzh Sargsyan, at that time, was once again going to run for president.
In March 2013, in protest against Serzh Sargsyan’s election and Obama’s congratulation on his victory, A.Manoogian started a hunger strike with his supporters.
A.Manoogian’s main activities kicked off in 2010. It all started with a campaign called “The Truth Must Be Told” (http://www.thetruthmustbetold.com/). Together with his supporters, he and his colleagues set out to cover the corrupt practices of the Armenian and Karabakh governments. They were tracking and reporting on the flow of the donations made by their compatriots in the Diaspora via “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund.
It was discovered that the funds intended for the very poor, needy, Armenians forced into beggary, ended up in the pockets of the senior officials in Serzh Sargsyan’s presidential clique and the representatives of the self-proclaimed Karabakh regime.
A few words about “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund. It was established in 1992 thanks to the donations from active Armenians in the Diaspora with the goal of solving problems in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, which they have christened “Artsakh.” The Fund’s Board of Trustees includes the President and the Prime Minister of Armenia, Catholicos of All Armenians, Catholicos of Cilicia, the Patriarch of the Catholic Church, the President and the Prime Minister of the unrecognized “Nagorno Karabakh,” the chairman of the National Bank of Armenia and the Speaker of the National Assembly. That is, all those who, one way or another, are involved in Sargsyan’s criminal-oligarchic scheme.
One of the Fund’s main activities is the annual Telethon in Los Angeles, which raises colossal sums of money supposedly channeled through this Fund to address problems in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. But in reality, hundreds of millions of dollars from these donations are pocketed. At the beginning, the process of the theft was quite primitive. The large share of the collected donations was distributed among the representatives of Kocharian-Sargsyan’s criminal regime and the members of the Board of Trustees. All that money was deposited to their offshore accounts. But after Ara Manoogian, with activists, publicized the theft scheme, the process became a little more “civilized.” So, from then on, they started announcing that schools would be built in Khankendi and Shusha. And in this case the company belonging to Sargsyan’s business empire would always win the bidding and start the work. Furthermore, everything from bricks to screws had to be purchased only from construction stores owned by Sargsyan. Finally, at prices inflated to cosmic dimensions, they would purchase the cheapest and often defective materials and… the construction would kick off. That is what happened during the construction of a school in Shusha. It was estimated to cost $5-6 million, but, in reality, it only cost about $700 thousand…
The amount indicated in the project of the highway linking Armenia and Lachin was just mind-boggling. Already in disrepair, this road turned into a death road after its reconstruction.
Although the representatives of the Armenian Diaspora are aware of the existence of the said criminal scheme, they impede those who wish to implement similar independent humanitarian projects. One such representative of the Diaspora, who wished to build a medical center in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, at his own expense, almost landed in jail. Fleeing from Sargsyan’s bloodhounds and investigators, he was forced to give the clinic to the criminal regime as a gift and left Armenia forever.
After revealing numerous flagrant violations at “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund, Ara Manoogian started a campaign called “To Donate or Not to Donate?” which is popular among the downtrodden Armenians.
Therefore Ara Manoogian, a person who sympathizes with Armenian terrorists, but, to some extent, not deprived of a sense of justice and acute conscientiousness, became the target of Armenia’s entrepreneurs and the greedy leadership of the Armenian-American Diaspora. Here’s what he himself wrote in a letter: “The latest incident of an attack against me occurred on November 24, 2013, in California, during the annual fundraiser for “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund. Attending the event with my little son, I began to call on people not to donate their money for the prosperity of the corrupt in Yerevan and the local embezzlers. Right after that, I was rudely bullied by Robert Avetisyan, the representative of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh regime in the U.S. Cops bribed by Robert Avetisyan (and Deputy Sheriff Garo Kasbarian was especially zealous) threatened to throw me in jail.” (http://www.thetruthmustbetold.com/attempted-arrest-video/).
A.Manoogian recorded the incident on the video and posted it on the Internet. The footage clearly shows how, during this extortive event, he was trying to disseminate the materials of his movement “To Donate or Not to Donate?” which exposed the fraudulent activities of “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund. The camera captured and recorded the voice of Deputy Sheriff Kasbarian’s voice: “I warned you not to show up here, or else I will throw you in jail.”
Then Tevan Arustamyan, Special assistant to Los Angeles County Sheriff, approaching Manoogian told the latter that he (Manoogian), allegedly, had threatened R. Avetisyan. By the way, Aram explains to the audience that Tevan Arustumyan, Special assistant to Los Angeles County Sheriff, acted as the bodyguard of Robert Avetisyan, “Artsakh’s” representative in the U.S…. But this was not the end of the incident. Thereafter, another Deputy Sheriff, the “coolest” one, Ron Minassian jumped into the scene to deal with Manoogian. He ordered: “Immediately leave the premises, or else I will throw you in jail and send your kid to the Department of Child and Family Services.”
Our respondent, like Don Quixote, waging a fight against a system which is more powerful than windmills and is called corruption, has appealed for our help. Like many other members of the Diaspora and thousands of ordinary Armenians, he feels betrayed and humiliated. And America, which teaches democracy to everyone and advocates for human rights, is like someone who will see a mote in another’s eye but won’t feel the log in his own!
Fulfilling our journalistic duty, haqqin.az is publicizing the cry for help of an Armenian, whose rights are trampled both by Yerevan and Washington.