Bone Chilling

How cornered do you have to feel? How desperate do you have to be? How certain of impending impunity and injustice do you have to be? before you immolate yourself. Burning to death is among the most horrible ways to go Though no one died this time, it certainly might have happened. I’m referring, of course, to the case of Qyaram/Kyariam (both spellings are out there) Avdalian. His mother, Giulizar, and three (Armenia now reports four) teenage children set themselves afire on December 6 in front of the president’s office in Yerevan. Fortunately, only she and one child were injured. Why? Qyaram was killed, beaten to death by some thugs in the village of Ljashen, Kegharkooneek, Armenia. And, at least according to the family, nothing’s being done. Well, I suppose that’s not true, since a 72-year-old disabled shepherd has been arrested The family believes this inaction is because they are Yezidis, Kurds with a variant Islam as their religion. There are some 50,000 Yezidis in our Republic. Also, Giulizar is herself under investigation for pouring gasoline on her grandkids. Up to now, we’ve generally gotten good marks for our treatment of minorities in Armenia, especially the Kurds with whom we share a lot. It’s just incredible to me that something like this can happen. What are these people thinking? It’s possible I’m jumping the gun, but when people resort to self-immolation, it speaks of a level of despondency and hopelessness that are not a result of cynical calculations but of elemental fear. And, this sort of thing is remembered for a loooooooooong time. It’s just that jarring. When I first moved to the LA area, I had the opportunity to meet the family of an Iranian man who had died by the very same type of protest. The pall that existed in the room was unsettling, and it had already been a few years since the death. Action and justice must be swift, compelling, reassuring, unerring, and sure. We as the objects of incredible persecution should not be dishing out anything like it. Even if this was an isolated incident with the victim’s nationality not being relevant, it can easily be blown out of proportion. Even from a non-justice-motivated perspective, just from a self-interest perspective, it behooves Armenia’s authorities to give this case proper attention and convert it into a shining example of Armenian justice. Got contacts in Armenia? Let them know how you feel about this. *** Four People Set Themselves on Fire in Armenia Protesting Officials’ Inaction Three teenagers and their grandmother set themselves on fire in the Armenian capital Thursday to protest what they said was law enforcement agencies’ inaction in investigating a relative’s death, a family member said. Two of them were injured, The Associated Press reported. The protesters poured gasoline on themselves and set themselves on fire in front of the president’s office in Yerevan, the teenagers’ great uncle Surian Avdalian told The Associated Press. The elderly woman and her 14-year-old gran’son were wounded and hospitalized with burns, Avdalian said. The other two gran’sons were unharmed. The four were members of the small Yazidi community, who were protesting what they called official inaction in last month’s beating death of the children’s father, which they said was not being investigated, Avdalian said. They argued that the case was not being probed because of discrimination against the Yazidi, a Kurdish ethnic group. Officials would not comment on the incident. According to the ArmeniaNow news website, altogether five people took part in the act the grandmother and her four grandchildren. They were all taken to a hospital with light burns. Gyulizar Avdalyan, the grandmother is in worst condition, with burns over 15 percent of her body. The children, aged 11 to 15 were burned mostly on their wrists and faces. ArmeniaNow reported the family believes that the wrong man has been arrested on charges of murdering Qyaram Avdalyan, son of Gyulizar and father of the children. Qyaram Avdalyan, 42, was brutally murdered in the village of Lchashen, Gegharquniq region on November 6. A 72-year old disabled shepherd is accused of the murder.

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