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Artak Beglaryan: On a Mission of Change. Interview with hetq.am


Ամսաթիվ՝ 15/03/2011 Բաժին՝ English Posts, Կրթություն և գիտություն, Հարցազրույցներ և ելույթներ

My interview with hetq.am.
Being sightless no hindrance to young man from Artsakh Artak Beglaryan was only six when he lost his eyesight to a mine explosion. It happened in 1995, in Stepanakert. Artak and some friends were playing in a courtyard. They found a mine; they became overly curious. Two of his friends lost limbs. Artak was taken to the Nikoghayos Tigranyan School for Children with Eyesight Disabilities. He eventually graduated. Presently, Artak is enrolled as a first-year Master’s student at Yerevan University’s Department of Sociology. He has a B.A. from the University’s International Relations Faculty. During his enrollment at the University, Artak has created a number of technical apparatuses for himself and hasn’t requested any assistance from the school. Naturally, he only takes oral examinations. None of his instructors have asked that he take tests in Braille. Artak is able to listen to any required class literature via a special computer program that reads the texts out loud. Artak, now 22, says that although the University must accommodate disabled students like himself, he understands that the financial resources are just not there to create favorable conditions for a few sightless students. By the way, Artak is a top performing student.
Artak Beglaryan recently made the headlines in Armenia when his application to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Diplomatic Institute was rejected. The reason given was his blindness. “My struggle was for them to test and evaluate my knowledge. They didn’t let me take the exam. If I had been given the chance and failed the exam, I wouldn’t have complained,” Artak says. The Ministry argues that according to the list of illnesses preventing one from diplomatic service, blindness is also assumed, even though it isn’t specifically listed as such. Artak and his friends believe the Ministry violated the law when it refused to accept the application since he suffers from none of the “illnesses” listed. His blindness did not stem from any contagious illness that is included in the official list. In the next few days, Artak will be taking the matter to the Administrative Court. “I want to see changes made; not just for me but for a specific social class of people. My legal case just might set a precedent for those with disabilities. The case could also break some dominant stereotypes and prove that sightless people can do a whole lot more than most believe possible.” Artak is living proof of this.
He leads an active life and attends a host of lectures and classes. He recently returned from Greece where he was taking management classes. He’s a graduate of the Young Leaders’ School and frequently participates in discussions held there. Artak is also an avid hiker and backpacker. Artak also helped found the Get to Know Armenia club back in 2009. Every year, the group organizes some twenty trips to various parts of Armenia. He participates whenever possible; even when the group heads to the mountains. “I’ve made it to the highest peak of Geghard Mountain,” Artak boasts. In Artsakh, Artak has formed the Kamk (Will) NGO. The group aims to organize non-formal educational events regarding such issues as civil society, Artsakh, Javakhk and the Genocide. He sees a gaping educational hole in Stepanakert when it comes to young people. They are passive, uninformed and do not use the internet as a source of information. Most rely on Public TV for their news. “I’m not saying that everyone must be aware of all political developments. But there are some sectors of young people that should be aware of events around them. It’s a bit hard to get things down in Stepanakert but I plan to start getting a few projects off the ground soon.”
Artak’s older brothers live in Stepanakert with their families. During the six years he spent studying in Yerevan, Artak would always return to Artsakh for summer vacation. “I only came to Yerevan to study,” he says, adding that sometimes it’s hard to appreciate all the positive things in Artsakh since you’re a native. For instance, visitors often understand the importance of Artsakh’s fabulous natural environment more than local residents who take it for granted. “Soon, I’ll be heading off to my family’s village of Khndziristan. From there all the way to Martakert, the countryside gets really beautiful. From there you can cross over to Karavatchar and northern Artsakh, where the natural landscape is more beautiful than in the south. Our village is like the gateway to the north.”
Artak is also interested in conflict resolution management; specifically the Artsakh conflict. This is the main reason why he’s specializing in conflict management for his Masters. Artak wants to make a career out of it. In his view, Armenians must present the Artsakh issue with roots going back to the 1920’s and not 1991, for it was then that the Soviet nationalities policy went awry. Artak propounds the view that Artsakh must reunite with the Republic of Armenia, rather than going the independent route. “As far as I can understand, and many accept it on a government level, that the strategy is for Artsakh to first declare its independence and then decide its destiny. There are many in Artsakh who believe that independence is the end of the line.” This, he considers an exercise in self-deception. What also riles his feathers is that the liberated territories are viewed by many as bargaining chips. His father fought in the war and died while liberating Lachin. His mother passed away in 2005. Artak derives an inner strength from an innate desire to assist anyone he can. “If the need is there, I try to lend a helping hand where possible.” He wants to finish his education and then it’s getting involved in politics; either as an analyst or even a politician. “I’d really like to see the view of our citizens change regarding the government. That they understand that it is up to them to change things for the better and not just complain that ‘the country isn’t a country’. The change must start with each of us.”
Sona Avagyan


Reddit

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