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Azerbaijan’s military success leaves Armenians clashing with one another

Now Armenia must confront itself.

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By JOSH FRIEDMAN

YEREVAN, Armenia — The tables turned on Armenians dramatically overnight as Monday, Nov. 9 faded into Tuesday, Nov. 10. Armenians went from being at war with archenemy Azerbaijan to engaged in a domestic conflict with one another. 

Azerbaijan had just shot down a Russian helicopter in southern Armenia near the border with the Azeri exclave of Nakhchivan. The downing of the chopper would surely anger Moscow, and it could be the moment in which Russia, which has a military alliance with Armenia, would finally come to the aid of its ally fighting a month and a half-long war with Azerbaijan. 

But it was not meant to be for Armenia. A ceasefire deal that would bring an end to the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war was essentially in place. Rather than reacting the way it did when Turkish forces shot down a Russian plane over Turkey’s border with Syria in 2015, Moscow quietly accepted an apology from Azerbaijan and pressed on with the deal it brokered to bring an end to the war. 

Shortly before 2 a.m. Tuesday, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced in a Facebook post Armenia had reached a Russian-brokered truce with Azerbaijan. Pashinyan called the agreement painful. Enraged Armenians called Pashinyan a traitor for agreeing to the truce. 

Then in the middle of the night, protesters stormed the Armenian parliament, trashed Pashinyan’s office and violently beat the parliament’s speaker. 

Protests have continued in Yerevan over the past week, with demonstrators demanding Pashinyan’s resignation. Now, Armenian President Armen Sarkissian is also calling for Pashinyan to resign and for new parliamentary elections to be held.

The violence has subsided, though some members of the opposition have been arrested and finger-pointing continues. The mood in Armenia is both angry and somber.

During a protest in Yerevan on Wednesday, a grieving mother stood with a photo of her son and described receiving the news he had died in the war. 

“At 11 we set the table. Then between 3 a.m. until 7 a.m. the firing started. My husband was in tears saying, ‘the kid is gone; he was killed,’” the mother said.

The woman said she does not know whether Pashinyan, Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) President Arayik Harutyunyan or someone else is to blame for her son’s death.

“Some say it’s Nikol; others say it’s someone else. Arayik called on us to fight. My son went to war. He went as a volunteer,” the grieving mother said. 

Everyone has an opinion as to who is responsible for his death, the woman said. 

While many Armenian parents are coping with the loss of their sons, many Armenian families are, too, dealing with the loss of their homes. The defeat on the battlefield translates into a loss of territory for ethnic Armenians. 

Azerbaijan is reclaiming control of several districts within its internationally-recognized borders that had been controlled by Armenians since the conclusion of the first Nagorno-Karabakh war in 1994. Russian peacekeeping troops have already arrived to enforce the terms of the truce, which include Armenia allowing the construction of a corridor through its territory that will connect Nakhchivan to Azerbaijan proper. A new road is also expected to be built through an existing corridor to ensure the continued connection between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. 

With the process of handing over territories to Azerbaijan underway, many Armenians have resorted to burning down their own homes to prevent Azeris from living in them. Additionally, Armenians have been saying final goodbyes to treasured cultural sights, like monasteries. 

Forward Russian operating base. Photo by Josh Friedman

The military victory for Azerbaijan is largely seen as a successful embrace of modern warfare. Azerbaijan’s use of Turkish and Israeli-built drones contributed significantly to the destruction of Armenian military equipment and the wearing down of Armenia’s defenses over the 44 days of fighting. 

With the war ongoing, the Western Standard was shown an area in Armenia proper where clashes had taken place. Near a road leading to Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian soldier boasted of shooting down a drone with his gun. However, two destroyed Scud missiles and missile launchers were seen lying in the area. Azeri forces had reportedly taken them out with drones. The sight was a sign of the direction the war was headed.

Despite Azerbaijan’s territorial advances over several weeks, Armenia’s government remained tight-lipped about the faltering of ethnic Armenian forces until the very end of the war. The subsequent shock among Armenians added to the anger and frustration at the announcement of the ceasefire deal.

Destroyed SCUD launcher. Photo by Josh Friedman

Before the announcement of the ceasefire, Azeri forces had taken control of the crucial and historic city of Shusha, or Shushi in Armenia. Azerbaijan could then have mounted an offensive on the nearby and exposed de facto capital of Nagorno-Karabakh, Stepanakert, from which thousands of Armenian civilians were fleeing. Additionally, Azeri forces could have attempted to take the Lachin Corridor, known as being the supply line between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. But Armenian military officials advised Pashinyan to stop the bloodshed and accept the truce, which he did. 

The 44-day war killed a total of more than 2,300 Armenian servicemen. Azerbaijan did not release its military casualties, though an estimate given by Russian President Vladimir Putin placed the total at more than 2,000. Additionally, several dozen Azeri and Armenian civilians died in the war. For Armenia, a country of just 3 million people, the losses were viewed as very high. 

During the war, Azerbaijan enjoyed the strong backing of its ally Turkey, while Russia refrained from playing an active role in supporting Armenia. Many Armenians felt let down by Russia. 

Now Armenia must confront itself. The country had been transitioning to a more open, western-style system of government under Pashinyan, who came to power following a revolution he led in 2018. Russia now appears to have punished Armenia for its political transition of the past two years. 

So after suffering military defeat, will Armenia continue on its path of democratization, economic reform and rooting out corruption, or might that become yet another casualty of the war? For Armenia, what was a war with a neighbor or neighbors has turned into an internal struggle over the direction of the country.

Friedman is a freelance reporter who covered the war for the Western Standard

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MP blasts CBC for attack on the Western Standard

In October, the CBC sent a legal warning to the Western Standard complaining the site had been using the networks “Gem” logo.

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An Alberta MP took on the CBC Wednesday in the House of Commons for making legal threats against the Western Standard.

In October, the CBC sent a legal warning to the Western Standard complaining that the online magazine had been using the networks “Gem” logo.

“There a couple of rights we need to pay attention to today and that’s the freedom of speech,” Bow River Tory MP Martin Shields told the House.

“The Western Standard … has got into difficulty with the CBC. The government broadcaster’s threatening legal action against the publication… This is wrong we need freedom of speech essentially in this time.

“For the CBC to take legal action against the Western Standard, that’s not right. We need freedom of speech.”

Shields also said people’s right to religion and gather in churches must also be respected.

“We need to work to protect those rights, especially during COVID-19,” Shield said.

On October 22, 2020, the CBC’s Legal Department served notice to the Western Standard that it believed that it was in violation of the trademark of its “Gem” logo. 

The CBC cited a graphic posted by Western Standard on its social media accounts stating “Sick of fake news?” beside the CBC logo, above a line stating “Follow us instead” beside the Western Standard logo. 

The CBC’s Legal Department demanded that the Western Standard remove the graphic associating it with “Fake News”, and all other uses of the CBC’s logo on the Western Standard’s website and social media channels. The Western Standard regularly refers to the CBC on its social media material promoting the Western Standard as an alternative to government-owned and government-funded media.

 The full letter from the CBC’s Legal Department can be read here.

Western Standard New Media Corp. President, CEO and Publisher Derek Fildebrandt responded to the CBC.

“No. We will not be censored by the CBC. We will not let the CBC’s billion-dollar taxpayer-budget bully us into compliance. We will not stop calling out fake news. We will not stop fighting against government-ownership and government-funding of the media.” 

“If the CBC has extra money to fund an entire legal department to try and intimidate the free press, then they should refund this money back to taxpayers.” 

“The Western Standard is proud to be one of a very small number of media outlets in Canada that refuses to accept government funding or to be subject to media licensing.” 

The Western Standard retained former Alberta Minister of Justice & Solicitor General Jonathan Denis, Q.C. of Guardian Law as legal counsel. 

Our client disclaims and denies any such infraction. Relating to the alleged copyright infringement (which our client profusely denies), the concept of “fair dealing” is a well-recognized principle. “Fair dealing” is an exception to the Copyright Act R.S.C. 1985 c. C-42 that permits the use of a copyright owned by another party “for the purpose of research, private study, education, or satire.”

“Having regard to the foregoing, our client will not accede to what is clearly an attempt at censorship of an opposing view.”  The full response from Denis can be read here.Download

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Legal warning shot fired at Manitoba mandatory church closures

The Justice Centre has informed the Brian Pallister government that declaring drive-in religious services to be outlawed by the Public Health Order violates the fundamental freedoms of religion and peaceful assembly.

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The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms has issued a warning letter to Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister for violating the Charter freedoms of faith communities in Manitoba.

The Justice Centre has informed the Brian Pallister government that declaring drive-in religious services to be outlawed by the Public Health Order violates the fundamental freedoms of religion and peaceful assembly.

Near Steinbach, Manitoba, RCMP officers shut down a socially-distanced drive-thru church service on Sunday and handed out tickets as close to 100 cars tried to get in.
 
“Premier Pallister has two days to reverse this decision, or the Justice Centre will file for an injunction to prevent the continual enforcement of fines and tickets against church goers,” JCCF said in a Thursday release.
 
Various Manitoba churches have attempted drive-in services since the Public Health Orders ordered them to shut down on November 22.

Steinbach drive thu service

These churches had been carefully following social distancing guidelines by planning church services using the same format as a drive-in movie. Churches asked worshippers to stay in their vehicles and to listen to the service and participate in religious services via their radios.

Car windows remained closed. Many such services have occurred without incident across Canada this past weekend, and began earlier this spring when the first lockdowns shut down churches.
 
“If Manitoba consistently applied this same approach equally to the entire province, it would lead to a ban on all public parking during the Covid-19 pandemic, including at Costco, Walmart, and liquor stores,” said Allison Pejovic, a lawyer at the Justice Centre.
 
“The Covid-19 pandemic does not suspend the protection of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or the rights of Canadians. The restriction of public religious gatherings in which people exclusively occupy their personal vehicles on a parking lot while worshipping is irrational, unnecessary and not a minimal impairment of Charterrights.

“The measures taken by the Church provide much more safety to public health than long lineups of people waiting to get into the liquor store or Costco, or sitting in their vehicles bumper to bumper at the Tim Horton’s drive-thru.”

Manitoba has seen 17,107 cases of COVID-19 leading to 329 deaths.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694
 

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Seattle approves massive cut to police as murder figures soar

Council members overwhelmingly to cut funds for police training and overtime and to eliminate dozens of vacant positions within the Seattle Police Department after months of contentious talks.

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The murder rate in Seattle has soared to its highest level in a decade – as the city council approved cutting the police budget by nearly 20 per cent.

Council members voted overwhelmingly to cut funds for police training and overtime and to eliminate dozens of vacant positions within the Seattle Police Department after months of contentious talks.

The cut will amount to 18 per cent.

That falls well short of the 50 per cent local activists demanded amid nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

Following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis protesters burned down a police precinct building and set up the Capital Hill Autonomous Zone, which sought to operate on Marxist-Leninist principles.

At least 31 people were arrested at the CHAZ zone and crime rose by more than 500 per cent in just over three weeks. 

Thousands of protesters – many hailing from the far-left ANTIFA terrorist organization – took over the six-square block area of Seattle, where no police officers were allowed.

The commune quickly run out of food, putting out a plea for “vegan meat alternatives” and other soy-based food donations.

They had a list of demands, including the “abolition” of the Seattle Police Department and its attached court system, free college for all people in the state, as well as “the abolition of imprisonment, generally speaking, but especially the abolition of both youth prisons and privately-owned, for-profit prisons.”

The streets were controlled by a hip hop artist-turned-warlord by the name of Raz Simone, who established an armed private police force that does did hesitate to dole out beatings to communal scofflaws.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Seattle’s Mayor Jenny Durkan engaged in a war of words over the Zone.

“Take back your city NOW. If you don’t do it, I will,” Trump warned Durkan and Washington state governor Jay Inslee – both Democrats – in a tweet, calling the protesters “domestic terrorists” who have taken over Seattle.

“This is not a game. These ugly Anarchists must be stooped (sic) IMMEDIATELY. MOVE FAST,” he said in another tweet.

Durkan replied, telling Trump to “go back to his bunker” a reference to when Trump sheltered in the White House bunker after D.C protests and riots got too close.

Inslee tweeted: “A man who is totally incapable of governing should stay out of Washington state’s business. ‘Stoop’ tweeting.”

Two people – including a 16-year-old boy – were shot and killed around CHAZ – with police finally moving in on July 1st and cleared up the area.

Seattle’s city council also decided to transfer parking enforcement officers, mental health workers and 911 dispatchers out of the police department.

“I believe we are laying the groundwork to make systemic and lasting changes to policing,” Mayor Jenney Durkan said in a statement.

Durkan will sign the police cut order this week.

“We have rightly put forward a plan that seeks to ensure SPD has enough officers to meet 911 response and investigative needs throughout the city, while acknowledging and addressing the disproportionate impacts policing has had on communities of colour, particularly Black communities,” she said.

“I applaud the City Council for taking a more deliberate and measured approach to the 2021 Seattle Police Department budget than occurred this summer which led to the resignation of former SPD Chief Carmen Best.”

Former Seattle police chief Carmen Best

The budget will spend up to $100 million for projects in communities of colour and the hiring of 100 police officers in 2021.

The budget moves come as the Seattle marked the 55th murder of the year Monday.

The city had 28 homicide victims last year and 32 in 2018.

Burglaries are also up. There have been 8,418 burglary incidents, compared to 7,634 in 2019.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

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