US State Department Human Rights Report Criticizes Armenia

The U.S. State Department has released it annual survey of human rights conditions around the world. Examining human rights in more than 190 countries during 2008, the report criticizes its usual targets, including Russia, Iran, Uzbekistan, North Korea, and China, among many others. The report says “the most serious human rights abuses tended to occur in countries where unaccountable rulers wielded unchecked
power or there was government failure or collapse.”

The section on Armenia of the report is unprecedented by it sheer size! – it’s full of 67 page-long criticism of the Armenia.

For those who don’t have the time and patience to read the whole thing, RFE/RL offers a short account here. Some quotes below:

“The government’s human rights record deteriorated significantly during the year, with authorities and their agents committing numerous human rights abuses, particularly in connection with the presidential elections and the government’s suppression of demonstrations that followed. Authorities denied citizens the right to change their government freely and citizens were subject to arrest, detention, and imprisonment for their political activities.”

“Authorities used force, at times lethal, to disperse political demonstrations. Authorities used harassment and intrusive application of bureaucratic measures to intimidate and retaliate against government opponents”.

“Many of the individuals arrested in connection with the March 1 events were detained on seemingly artificial or politically motivated charges,” the State Department said. “Authorities justified the arrests as necessary to prevent attempts to initiate mass disorders and usurp power by extraconstitutional means. In the majority of cases, persons were released without charge after several hours’ detention.”

The State Department called the Armenian presidential vote “significantly flawed.” “Problems included favorable treatment of the government’s candidate, instances of ballot stuffing, vote-buying, multiple voting, voter intimidation, violence against and intimidation of opposition commission members, proxies and reporters, restriction of their civil and political rights, and suspiciously high turnout figures,” it said.

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