Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Human Rights Ombudsman Armen Harutyunyan under fire from incumbent president Kocharyan

Incumbent president Robert Kocharyan made a harsh criticism towards Armenia’s Human Rights Ombudsman Armen Harutyunyan.

As I posted before, Armenia’s Human Rights Ombudsman Armen Harutyunyan expressed concerns about reports of mass arrests and ill-treatment of opposition supporters and questioned the official explanation for the use of force against peaceful demonstrators.

Kocharyan says that Ombudsman’s statement on recent event shows that Harutyunyan “does not know the situation and does not understand what he is saying.” Kocharyan continues that Ombudsman’s statements are cited by international media and result in negative impressions about country. Armenian citizens should work “for Armenia, not Strasbourg”, concluded incumbent president Kocharyan.

Russian version (via IA Regnum)

Омбудсмен Армении - мой самый неудачный кадр: Роберт Кочарян

Омбудсмен Армении Армен Арутюнян - самый неудачный кадр президента Армении Роберта Кочаряна". Об этом заявил 5 марта на пресс-конференции в Ереване действующий президент Армении Роберт Кочарян. По его словам, последнее заявление омбудсмена по трагическим событиям 2 марта является свидетельством того факта, что Арутюнян "не владеет ситуацией и не понимает, о чем говорит". Президент заметил, что подобные заявления, как правило, цитируют международные СМИ, тем самым создается негативное впечатление о стране. Он заметил, что каждый должен помнить, кто он, что он гражданин Армении и работает "на Армению, а не Страсбург".

1 comment:

artmika said...

via Hetq Online, below is full text of Human Rights Ombudsman Statement (I published Armenian version under comments sevtion here)

Human rights defenders position on the existing situation in the country

1. Even from the pre-electoral campaign period, the public activities of different political bodies resulted in the atmosphere of intolerance in our society. Unfortunately the calls for tolerance, made both by competent international organizations and by the Human Rights Defender were ignored. Even more, the atmosphere of intolerance turned into mutual hatred after the tragic events on the March 1.

2. The events of March 1 started from the forced dispersal of the demonstrators in the Azatutyun square early in the morning. It was officially announced that there was an accumulation of weapon in the place of demonstration, and Police officers simply tried to inspect the area but faced tough resistance.
The Human Rights Defender’s position is that the authorities should clarify some issues. Notably, who, when and under what circumstances there was made a decision to disperse peaceful demonstration by using force early in the morning of March 1, whether the demonstrators were presented an official warning of corresponding searching and whether the participants refused or resisted, and whether the use of force was adequate to the situation.

The aforementioned issues are conditioned by the announcement of the demonstrators that early in the morning without any warning, they were attacked and severely beaten. It is difficult for us to reveal the truth but there is an unanswered question. What was the reason that the police imposed restrictions on the activities of journalists, for us to get full impartial information. The fact of such prevention was officially confirmed by "Erkir media" and "ALM" television broadcasters.

3. People near the French Embassy are a part of our society, they are not burglars or hooligans. They were convinced that they were citizens of Republic of Armenia who illegally suffered violence from law enforcement bodies.

The Police suggested to make a procession and hold a demonstration near Matenadaran. What was the reason that the people who could lead the demonstrators, did not do that, but at the last moment announced that the demonstrators did not obey them. Еeventually what was the reason that demonstrators disagreed with both law enforcement bodies and with the representatives of Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s electoral headquarter. Perhaps, the reason was the early morning events? Perhaps so many wounded and 8 dead persons were the result of this disagreement? The Defender deeply condoles with the relatives of the victims.

4. Current activities of some mass media, mainly TV broadcasters directed to the increase of the tension in atmosphere is at least doubtful. Particularly, it is continuously broadcasted the announcements of high level officials stating to punish or call to trial only those who participated in March 1 demonstrations.
Why the issue of possible illegal actions and corresponding responsibilities of law enforcement bodies are not discussed.

5. The presidential decree of 01.03.2008 introducing a state of emergency imposes restrictions on civil and constitutional rights. Thus, according to subpoint 4 of the 4th point of the decree, mass media reports on domestic political matters may include only official information. Whereas, according to the information, received by the Defender, the activities of «A1plusե, «Lragirե informational internet portals have been suspended. In connection with it, the head of the National Security told the Defender that the reason for such extreme measures is that the internet providers of the corresponding sites are located abroad. According to the head of the National Security the latter were warned about the restrictions prescribed by the decree, but they refused to stand to them justifying that they act within the legislation of their own state.

The subpoint 3 of point 4 of the aforementioned presidential decree provides that law enforcing bodies have the right to restrict the free movement of people, means of transport and execute searching. The complaints received by the Defender indicate that in a result of broad interpretation of the mentioned subpoint the right of people to enter Yerevan city is inadequately eliminated.

Besides, the defender receives complaints concerning mass arrestments which is аcompanied by, according to applicants, violations of criminal procedural norms. As for this question the Defender had a telephone conversation with the RA Prosecutor-General, who eagerly offered to present the list of all arrested people to the office of the Defender.

Nevertheless, some representatives of law enforcing bodies tried to prevent the Defender from executing his powers. Such case happened at the RA Police Yerevan department Qanaqer-Zeytun police station.

6.We think that the present situation is conditioned by rough governing system, over-centralization of power, artificial essence of system of checks and balances, social and economic polarization, combination of business and authorities, absence of public control over authorities, deficiency of civil liberties. So it is the situation which has been continuously mentioned by me as the Human Rights Defender of RA, that we have systematic problems in the sphere of the protection of human rights in Republic of Armenia. All these results in the fact, that one big part of our society feels apart from the administration, has a total distrust towards public institutes, electoral mechanisms, justice and mass media.

A certain part of political bodies tried to make use of the situation for its narrow political interests following not the way of dialogue, but the one of confrontation. Of course, the authorities have their part of responsibility in the current situation.

There are two ways to solve the situation: illegal, that is leading to deadlock and legal. The deadlock would be the situation when the political arena becomes deserted and a total feeling of fear would be formed. The other way must be based on real democratic mechanisms, human rights must be considered as a highest value or a headstone, and the way of dialogue and cooperation must be followed up.

It is reassuring that this way is preferred by the newly elected president. It shows that the coming government tries to follow the legal way. It is characteristic that a proposal of cooperation is made by a political leader, whose political party, forms the majority in the Parliament.

I’m sure that even in this situation the possibility of dialogue and political way of peaceful solution of the existing disagreements is not exhausted.