This is a sad day. Nagorno-Karabakh President Bako Sahakian personally and deliberately defeated one of the greatest arguments in support of Karabakh’s independence from dictatorial Azerbaijan by swearing in for yet another term on Thursday and extending his decade-long rule.
An innovative, open media studio in the heart of Yerevan opened its doors to Armenian teenagers on August 14, 2011. Today, a year later, the Tumo Center for Creative Technologies has much to boast about, including a creative contribution to the official video for a world-class musician – Serj Tankian.
The 612-page report, the organization’s 20th annual review of human rights practices around the globe, summarizes major human rights trends in more than 90 nations and territories worldwide.
January 10 saw another disgraceful elections in Armenia with violations, voter bribing and intimidation on the one side, and very low voter participation on the other. People are increasingly loosing patience and hope with the electoral process in Armenia. Opposition is crying fowl, while a little known man with no political past – Ara Simonian wins a landslide victory, defeating jailed editor Nikol Pashinian – one of the most recognized opposition leaders, a charismatic figure, whose name is synonymous to the unprecedented rise and revitalization of the opposition movement in the wake of 2008 presidential elections in Armenia.
This 4th resolution adopted by the PACE in relation to the bitter political crisis that ensued in Armenia after the disputed Presidential election in February 2008 can be seen as generally softer and more welcoming towards the steps taken by the Armenian authorities, when compared to Assembly’s earlier Resolutions 1609 (2008), 1620 (2008) and 1643 (2009).
There are reports claiming, that the suggestion to suspend the voting rights of the Armenian delegation at the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) has been removed from the draft resolution to be presented at the Assembly today.
Levon Zurabyan, a spokesperson for the Armenian National Congress (HAK) told RFE/RL today, that a copy of the draft resolution has been obtained by the representatives of HAK, which allows them to draw the conclusion.
Armenia has been living under constant pressure since December 17, 2008 – after the adoption of a suggestion by the PACE Monitoring Committee to suspend the voting rights of the Armenian delegation over concerns that political prisoners exist in Armenia and that the provisions of PACE resolutions 1609 (08) and 1620 (08) have not been fully implemented.
Following the visit of PACE Monitoring Committee co-repertoires Jon Prescott and Gorges Colombier to Armenia mid-January to evaluate the situation and possibly make amendments to the draft resolution adopted by the Monitoring Committee, a number of Armenian pro-government politicians had expressed hope and even conviction, that the voting rights of the country won’t be suspended after all.
This would be generally good news – suspension of voting rights would be a hard blow to Armenia’s international authority, amidst ongoing Karabakh talks. Moreover, considering the fact that PACE has been much more patient with countries like Azerbaijan which has literally turned into a monarchy with non-existent civil liberties, it would seem unfair for the Assembly to adopt sanctions against Armenia.
On the other hand – since Armenia’s entry to the CoE the PACE resolutions on the functioning of democratic institutions in Armenia had been one of the main drivers of democratic reforms. Today, when it was time for PACE to show, that it is a body genuinely concerned about democracy, not adopting any sanctions will be an indicator for the Armenian politicians (government and opposition alike), that they can do pretty much anything and get away with it. …and that will really hurt the fragile democracy in this country.
I really hope, that there are no sanctions against Armenia, but that there is a very strict resolution with some type of control mechanism, to make sure the country doesn’t fall off the track of civil liberties. Otherwise, what do we need the CoE membership for?
Georges Colombier (France, EPP/CD) and John Prescott (United Kingdom, SOC), co-rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on the monitoring of obligations and commitments by Armenia, will be in Yerevan on 15 January 2009, for a follow-up visit in connection with the implementation of PACE Resolutions 1609 (2008) and 1620 (2008) on the functioning of democratic institutions in Armenia.
The co-rapporteurs expect to meet the President of the Republic, the Speaker of the National Assembly, the leader of the Armenian delegation to PACE, the Chair of the parliamentary committee set up in the wake of the events on 1 and 2 March 2008 and the committee of experts responsible for establishing the facts regarding these events, as well as the General Prosecutor. Their report is due to be debated during the Assembly plenary session, on 29 January.
Following the report made by the co-rapporteurs to the meeting of Monitoring Committee of the PACE on December 17 in Paris, the Committee had expressed concern with limited progress on the provisions of resolutions 1609 and 1620 and voted for a proposal to deprive the Armenian delegation to the PACE from its voting rights to be considered in the Assembly plenary session in January.
Since no visible progress can be seen thus far, following the weeks after December 17, I wonder how will the Armenian officials persuade the co-rapporteurs to amend their report in favor of Armenia.
As a sign of desparate attempts by Armenian officials to avert the PACE decision to curb Armenian voting rights, the head of Armenian Parliament Hovik Abrahamyan has recently sent a letter to the PACE member countries’ heads of parliament, asking their support in voting against the possible resolution against Armenia.
Freedom retreated in much of the world in 2008, the third year of global decline as measured by Freedom House’s annual survey of political rights and civil liberties which released today.
Freedom in the World 2009 survey examines the state of freedom in all 193 countries and 16 strategic territories. The survey analyzes developments that occurred in 2008 and assigns each country a freedom status — either Free, Partly Free or Not Free based on a scoring of performance in key freedoms.
Non-Baltic countries of the former Soviet Union continued their decade-long decline, now ranking below Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East on several survey indicators. Russia and Georgia, which went to war over South Ossetia, were among the region’s notable declines, as well as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan and Moldova.
Free: The number of countries judged by Freedom in the World as Free in 2008 stands at 89, representing 46 percent of the world’s countries and 46 percent of the global population. The number of Free countries declined by one from 2007.
Partly Free: The number of Partly Free countries is 62, or 32 percent of all countries assessed by the survey and 20 percent of the world’s total population. The number of Partly Free countries increased by two.
Not Free: The report designates 42 countries as Not Free, representing 22 percent of the total number of countries and 34 percent of the world population. Nearly 60 percent of this number lives in China. The number of Not Free countries declined by one.
Electoral Democracies: The number of electoral democracies dropped by two and stands at 119. Developments in Mauritania, Georgia, Venezuela and Central African Republic disqualified them from the electoral democracy list, while Bosnia-Herzegovina and Bangladesh became electoral democracies.
The screening of Tigran Khzmalyan’s documentary film “Sardarapat”, produced with state funding, has been banned. The presentation of the film was scheduled on September 26th and 27th in Yerevan’s “Moscow” cinema theater.
Hetq has published the full script of the documentary, which contains some revealing details on the behavior of the Armenian government of the First Armenian Republic, portreying the ARF-Dashnaktsutyun led authorities as incompetent cowards and traitors, ready to surrender brightest heros of the nation, like Andranik to the mercy of Turkish army. I could not stop thinking, that the film has been banned by the efforts of ARF – the party is one of the most influencial political forces in Armenia today and is member to the ruling coalition, along with Republican and “Prosperous Armenia” parties. To complicate matters even further, Tigran Khzmalyan, one of the leading film directors in Armenia today, has openly voiced his support for the Levon Ter-Petrossian led opposition on several occasions. Knowing Ter-Petrossian’s dislike of ARF (on December 28, 1994, President Levon Ter-Petrossian in a famous television speech banned the ARF, which was the nation’s leading opposition party, along with Yerkir, the country’s largest daily newspaper.), it is easy to establish a link between supporting Ter-Petrossian and wishing to blackmail ARF – the party in rulling coalition.
And while it is hard to established, whether the biased film director has produced a POSSIBLY biased documentary or not, it is clear, that banning the film by the state is censorship – in it most brutal form. An act absolutely forbidden by the Armenian Constitution. Will anyone answer for this crime?