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Elected Legislative Council members
On Friday 16 February 2007, Armenians in GCC countries (in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah-Dubai and Kuwait City) had elections for the Legislative Council (Temagan).
 
This was the fourth successive elections since the establishment of the Prelacy of Kuwait and Arabian Gulf Countries in 1994 (based in Kuwait City). Armenians have resided in the region since the 1950s (the Armenian Church and School in Kuwait date back to the 1960s, while the Abu Dhabi and Sharjah weekly schools were found in 1980-1981). 
 
This year’s elections had a very strange character. According to the Constitution (Ganonakroutyoun) the number of the available seats was 18 (9 in Kuwait, 5 in Sharjah-Dubai and 4 in Abu Dhabi). On the other hand the number of the candidates was a matching 18. Thus, the elections turned out to be a sort of referendum or a meaningless competition for higher voting score amongst the candidates.
 
In recent times we noticed an influx of new comers to Sharjah-Dubai. It is estimated that hundreds of young (and young in heart) Armenian professionals from around the world are seeking their chance in the UAE, taking advantage of the current economic development in the country. 
 
Unfortunately, the increasing number of newcomers was not reflected in the elections. There was even a large percentage of absenteeism in the ranks of long time Armenian residents in Sharjah – Dubai.
 
According to the Constitution, those who do not pay the annual tax (Azkayin Dourk) are not eligible to vote. Based on the tax-payment rolls, only 281 persons (out of an estimated 2.000 adult population in Sharjah – Dubai) had the right to vote on 16th February 2007. To make matters worse, 151 persons out of the above mentioned 281 did not show up. Subsequently, only 130 persons cast their vote (which in fact makes less than 10% of the adult population). Obviously the elections in GCC Armenian communities are very far from truly representing the wider public.

Interview with Haygaz Tahmasian
 
In Dubai-Sharjah, the elections brought over only one new name, Haygaz Tahmasian. All other 4 elected persons had been serving in the Legislative Council in the 2002-2006 period.
 
Tahmasian said to the Azad-Hye representative that attention should be paid to the youth. “A gathering place for the youth should be prepared, where they can exercise athletic and other activities. The present community hall is not enough. The youth need a wider place, preferably in Dubai as well as in Sharjah. In the past 80% of the Armenian population used to be concentrated in Sharjah, but now half of the population lives in Dubai. Many avoid coming to Sharjah because they need to drive two hours to reach their destination”. 
 
Members of the Electoral CommitteTahmasian mentioned the Armenian school as the second priority on his agenda. “We should try to establish a daily Armenian school in Sharjah. Such a project needs a great sum of money to cover the running expenses of the first few years, besides the construction expenses. The money that we have allocated thus far for the school, covers only a small part of the expenses. We need 20 million dirhams for this project”.
 
About the nature of the future Armenian school, Tahmasian believes that it could also accept non-Armenian students. “Foreigners can follow the general curriculum, while the Armenian students will take lessons in language and history, besides the standard curriculum. Such a situation exists in several countries in the Middle East, where specific hours are allocated to Armenian students. At this stage, a school with only Armenian students might not be economically feasible, but, as I said, it is a matter of discussion and we should try our best to serve the educational needs of our students”.
 
Regarding the Media and news coverage, it is a known fact that at the time being Azad-Hye is the only Armenian Media object that exists in Dubai-Sharjah. In the past there was a periodical called Shepor (published bi-monthly from 2000-2003, covering community activities). Tahmasian believes that Shepor should be re-published and not only on bi-monthly basis, but rather on more frequent basis (maybe even as a weekly). “A periodical publication is a good way for evaluating our activities. It is not enough to send fax or e-mail about an upcoming event. We need to read about the event later and inform others outside UAE about our activities. We must create reporting and media coverage practices,” he concluded.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
 
Sharjah-Dubai elected the following as members of the Legislative Council:
1- Haygaz Tahmasian (116 votes)
2- Sebouh Manjikian (97 votes)
3- Varouj Nerguizian (93 votes)
4- Ara Keusseyan (88 votes)
5- Hrayr Soghomonian (85 votes)
 
(other interviews to follow)
 
Photos:
1- The elected members of the Legislative Council for the period 2006-2010 (from left to right Ara Keusseyan, Hrayr Soghomonian, Haygaz Tahmasian, Varouj Nerguizian and Sebouh Manjikian).
2- The members of the Electoral Committee and the vote-inspecting assistants.

Posted on Friday, February 23, 2007 (8438 reads), comments: 2
 
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Posted by an honest observer on Monday, February 26, 2007


As for the number of people who didn't vote I refer that to the hard economic situation the people are suffering for the last couple of years. The home rents are  in raise school tuitions are in raise and for the person to come and vote after paying the (Azkayin doork)seems unfair. As for the late council members with respect - we all saw that there was not much done in the last four years. Are they helping the iraqi Armenian refugees in the country? Are they providing the youth with better job opportunities? or is it another honorable chair needs to be covered?   

First of all we need more activities to attract the youth - a youth council - who will prepare poetical nights, invite members to social activities and gather the youth, whose numbers are highly growing in this country (may be in this way they can avoid the foreign marriages).

Secondly about Shepor who used to have a different color other than we've been seeing for the last years, unless there is a special note or criticizm on a passed event, I think it is unnecessary to mention who did what on an event where every body was there. It goes under the title of show off. Never the less, where is the last number of shepor? SHEPOR USED TO BE A SCHOOL MAGAZINE. it contained cross words, childeren's activities (paintings, stories...) that is the kind of Shepor we miss today.

Thirdly and the most important thing is the DAILY ARMENIAN SCHOOL. We hope the new council does his best to establish it soon, we already have thoroughly thirsty children for our language. They are growing in number, along with this melting pot they are loosing their identity. The weekly Armenian school is doing its best just to cover the essentials, which is not enough any more. We desperately need the daily school and need it quickly. We need trained teachers and thouroughly specialized assistants. Do not play with the future of the nation - the children who are the future leaders - by falling in long discussions with no end. Take an action and take it fast even if it needs to ask the people for donation, even if it needs to begin with a kindergarten. We definitely need an action from the council.

Thanks and best regards

An honest observer      




 
 
Posted by Nishan Basmajian on Friday, March 09, 2007


DEAR HONEST OBSERVER,
 
I AGREE WITH MOST OF YOUR COMMENTS EXCEPT YOUR FIRST SENTENCES WHERE YOU STATE THAT THE HARD ECONOMIC CONDITIONS COULD BE (OR ARE?) A REASON WHY AZKAYIN DOURK IS NOT BEING PAID BY POTENTIAL VOTERS . I HOPE THIS IS NOT A JOKE, IF SO, FORGIVE ME FOR NOT BEING ABLE TO UNDERSTAND THE JOKE, OTHERWISE ALLOW ME TO GIVE SOME PRACTICAL ADVICE HOW TO SAVE THOSE AED 100 A YEAR, 400 IN FOUR YEARS TO OBTAIN THE RIGHT TO VOTE AT THE TEMAGAN ELECTIONS.  
 
- SMOKERS CAN SMOKE 30 CIGARETTES LESS IN A MONTH AND CAN SAVE THAT AMOUNT.
 
- FOR DRINKERS IN BARS I WOULD SUGGEST TO DRINK ONE GLASS OF BEER LESS EVERY THREE MONTHS. AED 100 WILL BE SAVED.
 
- PIOUS BELIEVERS WHO PUT AED 10 IN THE TRAY EVERY TIME THEY ATTEND THE MASS, CAN  PAY AED 5. THEY MAY SAVE THAT AMOUNT.
 
A DOZEN MORE ADVICE CAN BE PROVIDED IF NEEDED...
 
I AM NOT TRYING TO BE CYNICAL, THESE ARE SOME ADVICE TO SAVE MONEY FOR A CAUSE. YOU MAY BE SURPRISED BY READING THE WORD "CAUSE".
 
PAYING AZKAYIN DOURK IS A SYMBOL OF BELONGING AND OF OBTAINING A RIGHT. IT HAS A DEEP MEANING IRRESPECTIVE OF ITS MATERIAL VALUE. THIS IS WHY IT IS SUCH A SMALL AMOUNT, IT IS SYMBOLIC: 100 DIRHAMS A YEAR, 27 US DOLLARS. PEANUTS!
 
IGNORING SYMBOLS IS EQUIVALENT TO BEING UNGRATEFUL TO OUR NATIONAL VALUES. THAT'S NOT GOOD AT ALL, IT IS NOT PERMITTED TO ANY OF US .
 
MY HONEST OPINION
 
WHY THE TURNOUT TO THE ELECTION CENTRES WAS SO LOW  IS NOT AZKAYIN DOURK. THE REASON IS THE DESTRUCTIVE DESEASE CALLED INDIFFERENCE.
 
INDIFFERENCE, UNFORTUNATELY, IS IN ALL OF US, SPECIALLY IN OUR YOUTH. ARMENIAN YOUTH OF THE EMIRATES NEED CARE BUT THEY SHOULDN'T EXPECT EVERYTHING FROM 5,7 OR 9 MEMBERS OF THE COMMUNITY COUNCIL.
 
YOUTH SHOULD ALSO PREPARE A PROGRAM OF SELF ORGANIZATION. I AGREE IF YOU SAY THAT CHANCES SHOULD BE GIVEN TO THEM TO ORGANIZE THEMSELVES.
 
THE ARMENIAN APOSTOLIC CHURCH IS A VERY DEMOCRATIC CHURCH, WE HAVE TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THAT. WE CAN MAKE OUR VOICES HEARD, LET YOUTH DEMAND ITS RIGHTS, DEMANDING RIGHTS IS ALLOWED IN ANY DEMOCRACY.
 
DEAR OBSERVER, I THANK YOU FOR YOUR DIAGNOSIS AND YOUR CONSTRUCTIVE SUGGESTIONS (ARMENIAN DAILY SCHOOL, SHEPOR, POETICAL NIGHTS), WONDERFUL!.
 
LET US PUT HAND IN HAND AND WORK TOHETHER. IT IS ABOUT TIME TO PUT AN END TO THE ERA OF TALKING, GOSSIPING AND  DISCUSSING NON CONSTRUCTIVE SUBJECTS. IT IS TIME TO WORK AND TO WORK HARD.
 
NISHAN BASMAJIAN
TEL: 050 6261064



 
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