Constitutional Freedom of Expression forced out of Northern Avenue

It has become obvious that the protesters of Northern Avenue can’t avoid incidents, that pursue an aim to restrict their constitutional right to freely express their opinion. People taken to the police station have become a usual thing, but no one expected the Police to see danger also in the posters fixed on the walls of the buildings.
On August 25, as people of Northern Avenue said at about 10:30 about 20 policemen intruded and started tearing the posters. There were very few people there at that time. Probably it was a planned operation, as the Police had chosen the time when most of the go home or to their workplaces. On hearing this news lots of people hurried to the Northern Avenue after the incident. Some of them said that the reason of this operation were recently added big posters (including the big poster of Robert Kocharyan).
We cannot surely justify the Police operation, as the poster is another way of expressing an opinion and as it’s written in article 27 of the Constitution “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression including freedom to search for, receive and impart information and ideas by any means of information regardless of the state frontiers”.

By Seiv (New author on Ditord)

Two Polish journalists denied entry to Armenia?

Polish PassportReporters Without Borders has circulated a press release, calling on Armenia to lift bans on two Polish journalists who, according to the media watchdog, have been denied entry into the country in the past six days. The press release reported the case of Wojciech Jagielski, a well-known foreign correspondent working for the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, on 14 August. The journalist was turned back at the land border between Armenia and Georgia, where he had been covering the war. He had planned to drive from Tbilisi to the Armenian capital of Yerevan in order to get a flight to Warsaw from there. He was forced to return by road to Tbilisi. Jagielski was told by the immigration official, that he was on a list of journalists banned throughout the Commonwealth of Independent States.

A similar problem happened with Reporter Marcin Manon of TVP, the Polish public TV station, who was turned back on arriving in Yerevan on 12 August on a flight from Warsaw which the Polish government had chartered to evacuate its citizens from Georgia. He had hoped to continue to Georgia but immigration officials told him he was persona non grata in Armenia and had to return to Warsaw. Gazeta Wyborcza told Reporters Without Borders it believes there is a list of undesirable journalists that is used by all the countries that are members of the Commonwealth of Independent States – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Meanwhile the Armenian authorities were quick to deny such charges. According to RFE/RL the immigration authorities in Yerevan denied reports that two Polish journalists covering the war in neighboring Georgia have been barred from entering Armenia because of being allegedly blacklisted by Russia.

Looks like we have the word of the Reporters Without Borders,Gazeta Wyborcza and two Polish journalists against the word of the Armenian authorities. I’ve decided who to trust. Have you?

Pamphlet: "Why judges are afraid, but aren't stupid…"

In the magic land of Armenia, the legal order was proving its efficiency. Trials of law-breakers were proceeding so fast no one could keep track of them.
Not even judges. They could hardly keep order in their courtrooms but they were intent on keeping order in the country.
This time the magic had become more magical than ever. Not a single law enforcement officer had broken the law. On the contrary, order had been disrupted by citizens who did not agree with the authorities; and that was breaking the law. Continue reading “Pamphlet: "Why judges are afraid, but aren't stupid…"”

Big challanges to be faced by the new coalition government

Five out of seventeen ministerial posts have already been appointed, only two of which are new faces:   Foreign minister Eduard Nalbandian, former ambassador to France, and Defense minister Seyran Ohanian, the former head of armed forces. Three ministers retained the positions they held in the outgoing government. Gevorg Danielian (Republican Party) will stay on as justice minister, while Armen Grigorian (Prosperous Armenia) will continue as minister of sport and youth affairs and David Lokian (Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutiun) as agriculture minister. Interestingly, as this ArmeniaNow analyses points out, despite the landslide victory achieved by the Republicans in 2007 parliamentary elections, the government formed after the elections was a coalition one.
When the non-partisan head of Central Bank Tigran Sargsyan was appointed Premier, after Serzh Sargsyan’s 53% victory, disputed as it may be, it seemed for a moment, that leaning on heavy Republican majority in Parliament and control over the executive branch, Serzh Sargsyan might attempt to form a merit based, professional government. Still, the developments are indicating the opposite. So far the weight of coalition is prevailing, and it seems more coalition appointments are to be expected.
While this is not necessarily a bad thing, I find it strange, that four political forces, with distincltly different political agendas are working in a coalition government. Moreover, with Republicans being strong enough to rule on their own, it is clear, that their political line will be dictating everything, so it looks, as though Bargavach Hayastan, ARF-Dashnaktsutyun and Orinats Yerkir party won’t be able to push any of their appraches through, and have joined the government only to retain some administrative levers and ensure better life for some of their top party officials.
Meanwhile, the new government faces the challanges of strengthening its legitimacy in Armenia and restoring country’s image in the international community. “The Monitoring Commission of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a resolution on April 17 urging the Armenian authorities to implement a number of reforms aimed at improving the situation in the country. PACE suggests launching an independent inquiry into the clashes, releasing all prisoners who did not commit crimes, amending the law on public rallies, and engaging in a dialogue with the opposition. PACE warns that, unless those conditions are met, it will consider suspending the voting rights of Armenia during its next session, which takes place in June.” (April 17, 2008 | RFE/RL)
The expected sharp rise of prices following the rise of natural gas price doesn’t help much with raising the government’s profile. Instead, it gives the opposition more facts to build their struggle – which has been generally a destructive one so far. Seems like the internal situation will remain tense over the next month or two, possibly with the influence of opposition gradually declining, although – if the government keeps the policies observed over the past week – price-rises, which should have been avoided at all costs in this tentative and tense political period, we might just as well see the opposite.
No changes are expected in the foreign policy sphere either. “In his first major foreign-policy speech on April 16, Armenia’s president was uncompromising. “Azerbaijan must understand the simple reality that the existence of the republic of Nagorno-Karabakh’s independence is irreversible,”Sarkisian said. “The people of Nagorno-Karabakh have won their right to a free and independent life. And through our efforts, that right must be recognized by the international community.” (April 17, 2008 | RFE/RL)
For all the optimists out there – gather as much of it as you can, ‘couse looks like you will badly need it.

More then a dozen people arrested in Northern Avenue

The “political walks” taking place in Yerevan’s Northern Avenue are followed by arrests every day. Today more then a dozen citizens were arrested.
The video above shows a woman crying and telling the police, that she had come there with her husband with no “political” intent – just to walk, to which police respond, that there is probably a mistake and they’ll release her husband soon.
Arsen Kharatyan a prominent member of the youth “Sksela” movement is among the arrested today, along with Lyudmila Sargsyan, chairwoman of Social-Democratic Hunchakian Party and Gagik Nersisyan, member of governing body of “Democratic Fatherland” party. Continue reading “More then a dozen people arrested in Northern Avenue”

Incidents with journalists in post-election period

On the evening of February 27 a group of men in civilian cloths interfered with the work of the correspondent of the Armenian Service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Erik Ghazarian in Yerevan. The Armenian Service of Radio Liberty informed YPC, that the journalist was accompanying RA National Assembly deputies from the “Heritage” party Zarouhi Postanjian and Stepan Safaryan, along with representatives of the non-governmental organizations, who came to the Police Department of Kentron community of Yerevan, to find out reasons, for detention of two young men during the protest action of Armenian presidential candidate Levon Ter-Petrossian’s supporters on the same day. In the course of conversation with the police officials the deputies also tried to find out why are the above mentioned men stationed in
the police building for already a lengthy period of time. The latter didn’t like this, and they used force to push the deputies and the people accompanying them out of the building, taking away the microphone from Erik Ghazarian and throwing it out of window. After this they set in the cars and drove away. Continue reading “Incidents with journalists in post-election period”

Sirusho's "Qele, Qele" – The Next Eurovision Song?

On November 14th, 2007 Public TV Company of Armenia officially announced, that Sirusho, a young Armenian singer, who has won the Best Female Singer nomination at Armenian National Music Awards 2005, has been selected to represent Armenia at Eurovision 2008. I have to say, that Eurovision has become a big deal in Armenia, and this year is also important, because, Azerbaijan will be entering the contest for the first time, and there is this feeling, that we have to at least be better then them, especially having ensured 8th place in both previous Eurovision finals, with Andre and Hayko representing Armenia in 2006 and 2007 repsectively.
Yesterday, Harmick at Blogrel posted links to 4 songs that Sirusho, noting, that “we have a potential Eurovision winner on our hands!”.

However, it turns out the venue for the Eurovision final was changed yesterday. Looking around the web I couldn’t quite understand what has happened in the end anyway, but one thing that I could see on the Public TV website, is that the song “Qele, qele” was selected, despite cancellation of the finals. Now I’m not quite sure, if this is official or no, and here in UK I have no access to the Armenian Public TV(not that I’m particularly concerned for not watching all the propaganda crap they broadcast). None of the still functional news resources in the web seemed to report anything about Sirusho and Eurovision, probably the news is too political and can’t be published? My journalism students had made some paparazzi photos of Sirusho dating with Robert Kocharyan’s son, perhaps that has something to do with cancellation of the finals in this tense period? I hopes the internal politics is not involved at least in something as simple as the Eurovision song contest!

Official Report by Republic of Armenia Ombudsman (Human Rights Defender)

The human being, his/her dignity and the fundamental human rights and freedoms are an ultimate value. The state shall ensure the protection of fundamental human and civil rights in conformity with the principles and norms of the international law.
The state shall be limited by fundamental human and civil rights as a directly applicable right.

Constitution of the RA
(Article 3)

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  weapons in the place of demonstration, and Police officers simply tried to inspect the area but faced tough resistance. 
Continue reading “Official Report by Republic of Armenia Ombudsman (Human Rights Defender)”

Vahan Hovhannisyan Has Resigned

Vahan Tavoush 570
Vahan Hovhannisyan, ARF-Dashnaktsutyun Candidate © Onnik Krikorian / Oneworld Multimedia 2008
ARF-Dashnaktsutyun candidate for the post of Armenian president, having gathered 6% of the votes in the Presidential elections marred by violence, electoral fraud and irregularities in the ballot counting process which might well have resulted in a serious decrease of the actual number of the candidate’s votes, has announced about his resignation from the position of the National Assembly deputy speaker. Although the ARFP supreme body has not made assessment yet, Vahan Hovhannisyan says he has made a personal decision about resigning:

“I tried to persuade our citizens that the victory is possible. I failed to do it. In the whole course of the pre-election struggle there was an atmosphere of hatred and intolerance, intimidation and threats. It could not but influence the very Election Day,” the statement says.
“I make an appeal for us to be quiet and restrained. Those that today have been trying to go by the way of rebellion, should remember and realize their crimes and the disaster they have brought over our people, roughly faking the presidential elections in 1996, unbridling a self-improving machine of electoral violations that nobody has managed to stop to date. However, it is not going to be like that forever. And I urge all of you to get prepared for our victory in a self-confident way,” that’s how Vahan Hovhannisyan has addressed the people.

It is still hard to judge what are the political implications of this move. Does Vahan Hovhannisyan’s resignation mean he is taking ARF-Dashnaktsutyun out of the dirty pollitical battle between Levon and Serzh, or does it mean he’s thus sending a signal to the opposition, that despite his call to be restrained, Dashnaktsutyun is implicitly supporting the opposition claims of vote irregularities? Uzogh has posted the full text of Vahan Hovhannisyan’s announcement, and is also hosting a discussion on the issue.

Random Feelings After a Sleepless Night With Protesters

I really really want to sleep… don’t feel like working – with so many exciting things going on… I spent the night going back and forth from Opera house to a nearby cafe, then to home and back, then to my office and back…
…and all that time I couldn’t help feeling guilty and responsible for everything that’s happening now. We all are responsible, aren’t we? But some are brave enough to stand up and fight, some, like me – look for excuses in not liking Levon or supporting Vahan – and some openly admit they are being raped by Serzh, and they even like it. Continue reading “Random Feelings After a Sleepless Night With Protesters”

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