U.S. Watchdog Sees No Change In Armenia’s Rights Record

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armenia remains a “partly free” country with scant government respect for political and civil rights, a U.S. human rights watchdog said in its latest survey of freedom around the world.

As always, the Washington-based Freedom House rated countries on a seven-point scale for political rights and civil liberties, with 1 representing the most free and 7 the least free. As was the case in the previous survey released a year ago, Armenia received 6 and 4 points in the “political rights” and “civil liberties” categories respectively.

According to Christopher Walker, director of studies at Freedom House, the ratings based on the events the past year keep it dangerously close to being judged “not free.” “It’s actually right on the border between ‘partly free’ and ‘not free,’” he told RFE/RL by phone on Tuesday.

“On the sorts of things that are fundamental for democratic accountability, we really haven’t seen any meaningful steps forward,” Walker said. One of the key reasons for that is a continuing “very deep relationship between politics and economics” in the country, he said.

Walker also pointed to the lingering fallout from the February 2008 presidential election and the deadly unrest in Yerevan that followed it. “I think all of these things have contributed to a bigger picture in Armenia that really is one of great concern for political rights and civil liberties,” he said.

Walker welcomed in that regard a general amnesty which was declared by the Armenian authorities in June and led to the release of dozens of opposition members arrested in the wake of the disputed 2008 election. “But I think if you look at some of the other issues connected to the events of 2008 … there are some real concerns about how the Armenian authorities pursued this,” he cautioned.

“And this included the dissolution of the independent expert group that was looking into the events of that year and other issues connected to how the aftermath of the events was handled, which I think continues to raise some serious concerns about the degree to which the judiciary and other rules-based bodies in Armenia can function outside of executive control and with transparency and accountability,” he said.

The Armenian government will hardly agree with this evaluation. “Freedom House is taking a bit extreme approach to us,” Razmik Zohrabian, a deputy chairman of the ruling Republican Party, told RFE/RL on Wednesday. “It is putting psychological pressure.”

But Aram Manukian, a senior member of the opposition Armenian National Congress, said the watchdog should have been even more critical of Armenia’s rights record in its annual report. “The reality in which we live is much harsher and telling,” he said.

“They just want to treat [the Armenian government] a little leniently in the hope that things could change,” Manukian told RFE/RL. “But dictatorial manifestations in Armenia are only becoming more evident.”

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8 Comments

  1. Kiazer Souze said:

    Turkey and the US underestimated the will of the Armenian nation. It is time to send Mr. Obama and Hillary a strong political message that if they consistently prostitute themselves to the Turkish lobby, there are going to be sever political consequences. There are 8 million in the Armenian diaspora.  If 4 million diasporan Armenians donate $50.00 dollars each to Danny Tarkanian’s election, that will send a message to Mr. Obama and Hillary that they shouldn’t dare settle around the diasporan interests. Election of Danny Tarkanian to the US Senate will send that message whether you are an independant, Republican or Democrat, you are also an Armenian. Fund raising earns us respect.

    We should also avoid the toxicity of our so-called friends like McCain and Lieberman. They are the ones who voted against the recognition of the Armenian genocide in the past.

  2. manooshag said:

    Hye, ‘dictatorial manifestions’ –  excellent reasons to kick Serge and cohorts out of office.
    Aysor!  Manooshag

    • Serge said:

      I guess for us to be more civilized is to get rid of  corruption and “MAFIA” first. That’s what we have to concentrate on, otherwise this problem will never go away.  

  3. Nairian said:

    Mr. Manukian, I could’ve told you that myself.  We know that already; but you are right to reiterate it to make it aware to everyone.  After the events that followed the disgraceful and the dangerous protocols, we are all more than ever aware that the dictatorial manifestations in Armenia are more evident than ever.  The oligarch bummish traitors Sarkisian and Nalbandian have created an entourage around them of thieves and thugs like themselves; the oligarchs, and they are controlling every aspect of the authorities, including the Courts of the Republic with an iron fist.  The numbers of dictatorship should be 7 not even 6.

    Our people in the Diaspora and in Armenia should do coup d’etat to those disgraceful traitors.

  4. Genocide denierInvestigator said:

    now its confirmed for a second year and they know we know and everyone knows, now that’s good really good that gives the public a very big license more incentive more power more moral support to come together support each other back each other openly and embrace their hayootoon together shoulder to shoulder go out every day in big very big numbers and protest the protocols all over the world and Armenia again and again and again, nonstop, even after it gets done, keep protesting don’t sit back don’t give in don’t give up, against all government offices every day keep the pressure on! ! !

  5. Avetis said:

    According to who? Freedom House 2010?  “US Watchdog”, who the hell are they? Another CIA funded entity? And we are stupid enough to exhibit this utter BS? I suggest Americans begin doing their own laundry before they  look for dirt elsewhere…

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