2017 – 2018 Fellows

Artak Hambardzumyan received his Bachelor’s degree in History from the Yerevan State University. After his studies Artak had been working as a journalist for different Armenian NGO’s and media outlets for the last 4 years. At CivilNet online TV, a media project of the Civilitas Foundation, he was the author and anchor of weekly anti-corruption investigative program “From your pocket”. Since 2015, Artak has been working for the Armenian service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/Rl) focusing mainly on politics, human rights, corruption, international relations, Nagorno Karabakh conflict and economy. Currently he is the Istanbul correspondent of RFE/RL’s Armenian service.

Presently Artak Hambardzumyan is a fellow at Dünya Newspaper, Turkey’s leading business and finance journal, as part of the Turkey-Armenia Fellowship Scheme established by the Hrant Dink Foundation. He is currently working at the foreign desk of the magazine and prepares articles about Armenia-Turkey economic relations under closed state borders.

Astghik Karapetyan graduated from Yerevan State University, Faculty of Oriental Studies, Turkish Department and holds a Bachelor degree in Turkish Language, Literature and History. Since 2010, she has actively been involved in the social issues in Gyumri. Astghik was a volunteer in Youth Foundation of Armenia and Radio Mariam Armenia. She has participated in many trainings and seminars, notably on the issues of women in the regions in Armenia. As part of the Turkey-Armenia Fellowship Scheme launched by Hrant Dink Foundation, Astghik is currently actively contributing to the activities of  Karakutu Association.

Irena Grigoryan received her BA in Philology of English Language from “Gladzor” University of Yerevan in 2007. She holds MA degree (2011-2013) in Migration and Intercultural Relations from the Universities of Oldenburg (Germany), Stavanger (Norway) and Nova Gorica (Slovenia) supported by the Erasmus Mundus scholarship f. As a grantee of the Think Tank Young Professional Development Program, Irena has conducted an independent research on policies and practices of return migration in Armenia at the Civilitas Foundation. She has also worked and developed her professional capacities at the British Council, Repat Armenia Foundation and the United Nations Development Programme in Armenia.

Currently Irena is a fellow at the Migration Research Center of Koç University in Istanbul, as a part of the Turkey-Armenia Fellowship Scheme. She will be contributing to the Forced Migration Resource Database, as well as will carry out an individual research project on Armenian and/or other ethnic minorities among Syrian refugees in Istanbul.

Meri Khachatryan graduated from Yerevan University of Economy and Law, Department of Jurisprudence and received a BA degree in Law. Afterwards, in 1999 she delivered lectures on Roman law at the Law Faculty at the same university, for about 6 years. Meri also graduated from the IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, Pre-LL.M two-semester programme of School of American Law for Caucasus (Tbilisi, Georgia,2014). Since 2000, Meri Khachatryan has been working at the Sakharov Human Rights Protection Center NGO as a Lawyer., Concurrently she has worked in the Civic Development and Partnership Foundation, Civil, Social, Economic and Cultural Department of the RA Human Rights Defender as a lawyer. She has also been an expert lecturer at various local and state institutions. Since 2006 Meri Khachatryan has been an Advocate, a member of the Chamber of Advocates of the RA. Meri has participated in a series of training sessions organized by local and international organizations on human rights and fundamental freedoms. Meri was an active member of a number of environmental and social civic initiatives. Meri has gained her professional experience in the field of human rights, refugees, migrants, stateless persons, as well as processes of citizenship acceptance and refusal through her active work and various activities.

Meri Khachatryan is currently one of the fellows of the Turkey-Armenia Fellowship Scheme launched by the Hrant Dink Foundation at Istanbul Bilgi University Center for Migration Research. Within the framework of this Programme, Meri has an opportunity to live in Istanbul for six months and study the migration legislation of Turkey, in particular the rights of Armenian citizens in Turkey, procedures for obtaining a residence permit, acquiring citizenship or a refugee status, registering marriages, birth and death, obtaining other documents and making corrections in those documents, as well as the authorities of Turkish state bodies in the sphere of migration.

Ruben Rubinyan holds a BA degree in International Relations from the Yerevan State University, Armenia, and MA degree in Politics and Security from University College London, UK and an MA degree in European Studies from the Jagiellonian University, Poland. He has been actively involved in social and political processes in Armenia.

Ruben is currently a fellow at  Istanbul Policy Center, Sabanci University as part of the Turkey-Armenia Fellowship Scheme established by Hrant Dink Foundation. His current research is focused on the role of NGO’s in the democratization process in Turkey. He will also do a fellowship at the Center for International and European Studies at Kadir Has University, focusing on Turkey-Armenia relations in the context of the Black Sea region.

Yervand Abrahamyan holds a Bachelor degree in Oriental Studies from Yerevan State University. He has also participated in study and research programmes at Kazan Federal University (Russia) and Imam Khomeini International University (Iran). Yervand took part in “Acting Together” reconciliation project between Armenia and Turkey, initiated by DVV International, the History Foundation “Tarih Vakfi” (Turkey) and the Armenian Centre for Ethnographic Studies ‘Hazarashen’. He was a part of Oral history group. The group of students from Turkey and Armenia were collecting past memories of people with different ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds.

Yervand has also completed his internship in DVV International Armenia focusing on the impact of lifelong learning and adult education in people’s life. Yervand is currently in Istanbul as a fellow for the Turkey-Armenia Fellowship Scheme supported by Hrant Dink Foundation at Hafiza Merkezi (Truth Justice Memory Center). The Center aims to uncover the truth concerning past and present violations of human rights, strengthen the collective memory about those violations and support survivors in the pursuit of justice.

Hayk Hakobyan is specialized in yoga and has provided yoga classes for women in Goris.  He also run English Clubs in Goris, by trying to develop the skills of the local young people. Hayk implemented a project ‘I want to Goris’ aimed at awakening people’s true desires. Hayk is also involved with the LGBT+ movement, and he worked at Right Side, a Trans NGO in the capacity of the Fundraising Officer. At Right Side he worked on creating visibility for Trans people, assisting them with legal and medical issues. Currently, as a part of Turkey-Armenia Fellowship Scheme, Hayk is a fellow at BoMoBu Association, where he will be working with vulnerable groups and trying to empower them with sports and movement.

Armen Melkonyan has received his BA and MA degrees from the Oriental Studies Department of the Yerevan State University. Currently he develops his PhD thesis on comparative research of modern Armenian and Turkish languages.

In 2010, Armen established ‘Human Rights and Conflicts Research Institute’ NGO, aiming at the commitment to the universal ideas of human rights, peace, equality and tolerance in the South Caucasus and Armenia in particular through encouragement of youth inclusion in the process of building healthy and peaceful societies via non-traditional, alternative solution methods of regional conflicts and international disputes. Being inspired by the results of one of his researches, named “Classical Music as an Alternative Powerful Tool to Bridge Conflict-torn Societies”, Armen implemented a project, aimed at bolstering the confidence building process in conflict-affected states, utilizing the universal language of classical music as a relevant ‘mediator’. Armen established a Multinational Youth Symphony Orchestra, named “Melodies of PEACE” which started and will continue its peacemaking endeavour to bridge the gap and uphold the synergetic linkages among musicians and grassroots of conflict-torn societies through classical music concerts.

Armen joined the “Union of Manufacturers and Businessmen (Employers) of Armenia” (UMBEA) in 2012 to manage the economic strand of the two-year USAID-funded “Support to Armenia-Turkey Rapprochement” project, aiming at facilitating the normalization process between Armenia and Turkey through creation of new economic/business partnerships and business platforms. During his employment in UMBEA as External Affairs Specialist, Armen managed local, national as well as international entrepreneurship-related projects, carried out socioeconomic impact assessment analyses, and established numerous multilateral business partnerships. Throughout his youth work activities, Armen has implemented various cross-cultural dialogue sessions, participated and conducted a number of short-term programmes/training courses both in local and international level mainly in the sphere of peacebulding/conflict management and human rights. Armen acts as Project Manager and Translator at IT Company and works on projects aiming at modernization of Information Systems of the Customs Authorities of the Republic of Armenia.

As one of the fellows of the Turkey-Armenia Fellowship Scheme launched by the Hrant Dink Foundation, Armen is hosted by the Department of Translation and Interpreting Studies at Boğaziçi University and will be engaged in  two joint projects, by developing professional skills and competences in translation and simultaneous interpretation (English-Turkish and vice versa) and completing his PhD thesis on typological-contrastive analysis of modern Armenian and Turkish languages, by cooperating with the Department of Linguistics at the same university.

Aykut Ozturk received his BA degree at Boğaziçi University, Political Science & International Relations Department. In 2009, he did his first MA at the same department. Following his fieldwork among the environmental and development agencies and NGOs in Northern Israel and the West Bank, he wrote an MA thesis entitled “Palestinian Politics of Democratization.”

In 2010, Aykut was granted with the European Union’s Jean Monnet Scholarship and did his second MA at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), Anthropology & Sociology Department, Migration and Diaspora Studies Program. Over the course of his MA degree studies at the SOAS, he conducted fieldwork on the emergence of London’s Armenian community.

Aykut has been a PhD student at the Anthropology Department of University College London (UCL), since 2010. He conducted an ethnographic fieldwork in Turkey and Armenia between 2011 and 2014. At present, he is busy with doing the final editing of his PhD thesis entitled “Islands of Unity.” Over the course of his PhD, Aykut was also involved in Anadolu Kultur’s Speaking to One Another Local History Project as a tutor and also worked as an analyst at KONDA Research and Consultancy Co., one of the most reputable and respected research companies in Turkey.

As one of the fellows of the Turkey-Armenia Fellowship Scheme launched by the Hrant Dink Foundation, Aykut will be visiting the Department of Diaspora Studies at the Institute of Archeology & Ethnography of the Armenian National Academy of Sciences. He is planning to conduct an ethnographic fieldwork on the historical emergence of the Armenian Diaspora and specifically the transformation of Armenia-Diaspora relations following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Okan Doğan is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Bilkent University, Turkey, where he also completed his undergraduate studies. His dissertation research draws upon the literature on sociology of intellectuals and sociology of knowledge, and focuses on the debates about the Armenian Genocide in the Turkish intellectual field in recent years.

As part of the Turkey-Armenia Fellowship Scheme established by the Hrant Dink Foundation Okan will carry out his fellowship activities, in Caucasus Research Resources Center Armenia, where he will conduct preliminary studies for extending his research into the Armenian intellectual field in future.

After graduating from English Language Teaching Faculty of On Dokuz Mayis University, Duru Ors started her music life in Ankara. She lived in Argentina for one year and in Brazil for nine years, and based on her experience she started working as a translator (Spanish and Portuguese). She also participated in several Brazilian music workshops and worked on improvisation and playing with other musicians. Besides experiencing the Brazilian music, she also had a chance to understand the Turkish music in a different way and in this process, she focused on Longa type and Western Armenian composers’ music.

She started to practice alternative pedagogies and worked in Waldorf School in Rio de Janeiro for two years, by teaching language with music. Then she continued applying alternative education in Turkey, by providing English, Spanish and Music lessons. Besides language teaching, she made musical studies with Kurdish, Arabic and Turkish children for two years. When she discovered Sirvart Karamanuk, she implemented the Western Armenian children’s songs project at Kara-Murza Music Collage in Gyumri.

Within the scope of the Turkey-Armenia Fellowship Scheme established by Hrant Dink Foundation, Duru is carrying out her fellowship in “Mkhitar Sebastatsi” Educational Complex, realising educational (language teaching through alternative pedagogy) as well as music (Sirvart Karamanuk and Armenian Children’s songs, Western Armenian composers) projects, with various musicians and children at the school.

Hilal Yavuz started her education in the Department of Management Information Systems at Boğaziçi University. Then she became a transfer student and started her undergraduate years in the Philosophy Department at the same university. Currently, she is working on her MA thesis at the Department of Cultural Studies at İstanbul Şehir University. Additionally, in the last semester, she has been an Erasmus exchange student at KU Leuven. During her graduate classes she has developed an interest in Armenian culture and literature. Being a part of the reputed universities provided her a substantial academic environment that helped her delve into the fields of collective memory, experience of modernity and representation of city which she has encountered while dealing with the analysis of Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar’s books in comparison with Zaven Beberyan’s for her thesis. Currently, she is learning Western Armenian to deeply study Beberyan’s books.

As one of the fellows of the Turkey-Armenia Fellowship Scheme launched by the Hrant Dink Foundation, she will be hosted by the Russian-Armenian University, where she will conduct Turkish language classes for students with some basic knowledge of the language. Eastern Armenian classes will contribute to her future doctorate studies on the stories of the Armenian Genocide survivors.

Haydar Taştan is a documentary photographer from Istanbul. He graduated from Journalism Department at Istanbul University, and the main scope of his interests are photo reportages, spot news, photo stories and fiction-documentary cinema. In the context of human rights and violations, he seeks to document social events, create memories with photography, and deeply describe socio-political issues.

He started his career with spot news and photo-reportage as a Photojournalist. In this process, Haydar felt closer himself to storytelling, thus he continues his work in this field. Haydar’s photographs were published in The New York Times, Der Spiegel, Die Wochenzeitung, Amnesty Journal, Sputnik International and other local and international publications. His photozine entitled “dark harmonies” was published with Fail Books in 2017. Haydar was a participant of group photo exhibitions in Istanbul, Ankara, Yerevan and Berlin and he continues working with Nar Photos in Turkey.

Within the Turkey-Armenia Fellowship Scheme established by Hrant Dink Foundation Haydar will carry out his fellowship at 4Plus Documentary Photography Center, by producing a photo story, focusing on the issues of young people in Armenia.