On August 24, 2010 The US State Secretary H. Clinton answered the letter of the Armenian member-organizations of Southcaucasus Network of Human Rights Defenders, which was given to the State Secretary during her visit to Armenia on July 5, 2010.
Political Prisoners’ day was first observed in 1974 in Soviet labor
camps, honoring those who had been unjustly imprisoned and remembering
those who had lost their lives to political repression. It is
deplorable that today, thirty years later in independent Armenia, there
are seventeen political prisoners, and there has been no justice for
the victims of March 1, 2008.
In the course of the fraudulent presidential election of February 2008
and the government’s March 1 crackdown on peaceful protesters, ten
people were killed, hundreds of opposition supporters were arrested,
and many more were forced into hiding.
The election and its aftermath represented an attack on democracy; what
followed was the ruin of the judicial system. Rather than trying to
discover what really happened on March 1, and why so many people lost
their lives, the government launched a program of smear campaigns and
show trials. The sordid partial amnesty, in which many of the political
prisoners were released, was no substitute for justice.
Worse, it left seventeen men in prison. All of these men have been
convicted unjustly, many solely on the basis of police testimony. Yet
they face sentences of up to nine years in prison. Regional
developments and geopolitical concerns seem to have overshadowed the
fact that so many political prisoners remain, but we must not allow
them to be forgotten. Every day these men spend in jail brings with it
additional risks to their health and additional hardship for their
On the occasion of October 30, Political Prisoners’ Day, we join the
families of the seventeen political prisoners in calling for the
immediate release of their husbands and fathers, sons and brothers. We
join the families of the victims of March 1 in calling for justice for
their loved ones so tragically lost. We demand an end to political
repression in Armenia.
Armenian Helsinki Association
Helsinki Assembly, Vanadzor
Armenian Helsinki Assembly, Yerevan
Jurists against Torture
Public Information and Need of Knowledge (PINK)
Women´s Resource Center Armenia
Vernatun- Political Prisoners' Wives
Asparez, Journalist Club, Gyumri region
The South Caucasus Network of Human Rights Defenders welcomes the Recommendation 1866 (2009) of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe about the situation of human rights defenders in Council of Europe member states and joins the Assembly’s call upon the Council of Europe to further increase its contribution to the protection of human rights defenders and their work. The South Caucasus Network of Human Rights Defenders also welcomes the Committee of Ministers’ Declaration adopted recently, which mandates the Commissioner for Human Rights to intervene in threatening situations and strengthen the role and capacity of his office in order to provide strong and effective protection for human rights defenders. South Caucasus Network of Human Rights Defenders would like to stress that human rights defenders in South Caucasus are often exposed to repression inter alia arbitrary arrests, detention, denial of the right to fair trial, unlawful restriction of their freedom of expression and information, etc. South Caucasus Network of Human Rights Defenders calls upon the governments of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia to pay special attention to the PACE Recommendation 1866 (2009) and take all reasonable steps to ensure safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders in their respective countries.
Closely following the investigation into the criminal case against Alexander Arzumanyan, we have convinced once more that the law enforcement of RA continues to act in the illegal field they created themselves. It was more than strange and shameful for the Republic of Armenia, when the ex-foreign minister was arrested prior to the elections on some odd charge. This must have given rise to concerns by every citizen of RA and the lawfulness of the elections should be challanged. The law enforcement bodies, maintaining the logic of their work style created for years, first found the one who should be guilty and then brought the charge. We have again been convinced of this, when it was found out recently that Alexander Arzumanyan “has laundered” not the money of Levon Markos “gained by unlawful means”, but he “has laundered” the money of Sashik Aghazaryan, a businessman living in Moscow. Suddenly the investigation agency found itself in a deadlock. However, we should admit that it was in the deadlock since the first day the proceedings had been instituted, and in order to save the situation, the law enforcement applied to the relevant agencies of Russian Federation to find out the illegality of the S. Aghazaryan’s activity. This may have only one explanation: to keep the ex-minister of RA, the initiator of the movement “Civic Disobedience” in prison as long as possible in order to get away with the extra problems prior to the elections.
Taking into consideration the following Helsinki Association condemns such work style of the authorities of RA and demands:
to release from prison the ex-minister of foreign affairs Alexander Arzumanyan,
to conduct an official investigation into a groundless accusation brought against A. Arzumanyan by the National Security Service (NSS) and to bring to justice those criminal officers of NSS and the Prosecutor’s Office of RA, which did not undertake anything to prevent the illegalities taking place within the case.
On June, 26 the whole democratic world celebrates the International Day In Support of Victims of Torture. Helsinki Association expresses its support to the victims of torture not only in Armenia, but worldwide.
Helsinki Association states that despite the fact that the Armenian authorities signed under international documents which prohibit torture and other cruel and inhuman treatment, no changes has been made in this regard.
The use of torture by law-enforcement officials, mostly in police stations, with the aim of beating up necessary evidence is still practiced. The Prosecutor’s Office and the courts by no means react upon such cases and, with the help of forensic medical examiners, do everything to conceal the facts of arbitrariness.
Helsinki Association demands that the Armenian authorities should conduct effective and open investigation into all the cases related to torture, which should lead to fair and impartial trial.
If our demands are neglected Helsinki Association will apply to the international institutions with a request to overview their relations with the Republic of Armenia up to the imposition of economic and political sanctions.
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