STATEMENT։ On Summoning UN Human Rights Council Special Session on the situation in Belarus

10 September, 2020
On 17 October 2019, Armenia was elected as a member of the UN Human Rights Council for the period of 2020-2022. Stressing the importance of this event, the Prime Minister of Armenia stated: "This is indicative of the important trust of the international community toward our country, especially in regard to defending human rights. I congratulate all of us." The Minister of Foreign Affairs made similar remarks: "Promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms, strengthening democratic values will be a high priority for Armenia's endeavors at the Human Rights Council."
It has already been a month since the people of Belarus started protesting against the dictatorial rule and election frauds. In response to the peaceful resistance, the authorities have resorted to violence, forced disappearance, and torture. Moreover, the government of Belarus has shown total disregard toward the calls of various international bodies, urging them to stop the violence and carry out proper investigations into human rights violations.
Considering the situation, Belarusian civil society and a number of renowned international organizations have appealed to the UN HRC to summon an extraordinary session on the human rights situation in Belarus.
It is noteworthy that the resistance of the people of Belarus resembles the developments in Armenia in April-May 2018. Here as well, citizens, after witnessing falsified elections and massive human rights abuses for over two decades, having numerous victims, political prisoners, multiple cases of torture and repression, took it to the streets to reject the dictatorial regime.
We consider that the government of Armenia, which came to power as a result of a peaceful velvet revolution, cannot simply ignore the events unraveling in Belarus. Armenia has a decisive role here.
Hence, we call on the Armenia government to consider the concerns raised by international organizations and show support to the summoning of an extraordinary session aimed at investigating the events in Belarus.
Being a member of the UN HRC, the government of Armenia has an obligation to restate its commitment to democratic values and human rights, where free elections, the right to be free from torture and violence, and fundamental freedoms are protected unequivocally.
Helsinki Citizens' Assembly Vanadzor
"Asparez» Journalists’ Club
Open Society Foundations – Armenia
Transparency International Anticorruption Center
Law Development and Protection Foundation
Protection of Rights without Borders NGO
Analytical Centre on Globalization and Regional Cooperation (ACGRC)
Karen Tumanyan, attorney
Helsinki Association for Human Rights NGO Center for Rights and Freedoms
All for Equal Rights Foundation
Centre for Community Mobilization and Support NGO
World Organisation Against Torture
Civil Youth Center NGO
Meghri Women's Resource Center NGO
Martuni Women’s Community Council NGO
National Council for Intellectual Property NGO
Centre for Policy Studies
Human Rights Research Center
Public Journalism Club
Citizens of Armenia
Karen Тumanyan, Lora Melikyan, Liza Tchagharyan, Sergey Abrahamyan, Mariam Hakobyan, Arpine Petrosyan, Gevorg Gilants, Anush Aghajanyan, Lusine Khachatryan, Zareh Safaryan, Edgar Manucharyan, Armen Grigroyan, Karine Yaralyan, Armine Misakyan, Knarik Azatyan

Find the Armenian text here.

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Helsinki Association Human Rights NGO also joined EAP CSF ARMENIAN NATIONAL PLATFORM STATEMENT on the Necessity of Radical Changes in the Judicial System of Armenia

The Armenian National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF ANP) expresses its deep concern with regard to the crisis over the RA Constitutional Court (CC). Without commenting on the well-known contradictions in the statements of the newly elected judge Vahe Grigoryan and members of the Court, we state the following.

 For many years, the Armenian judiciary, including the Constitutional Court, has not enjoyed public trust, has failed to meet the standards of independent, impartial and authoritative judicial power free from political and party influence, having served for years as a key instrument for state capture in the hands of the executive and the ruling political force. This role of the Constitutional Court has been manifested especially in the disputes related to national elections and referendums, when this high Court was unable to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of the citizens of the Republic of Armenia.

The constitutional amendments adopted by the December 2015 referendum, along with all the traditional issues related to legitimacy, were fairly perceived by the public as an attempt to perpetuate the vicious system formed by the ruling elite. One of the main reasons for today’s crisis was the fact that the Republican majority, violating the principles and regulations guaranteeing the autonomy and freedom from political influence for the Constitutional Court as envisaged by the 2015 Constitution, appointed their party member Hrayr Tovmasyan as a CC member on March 2, 2018 and CC President on March 23, 2018, thus distorting the content of the provisions on the formation of the Constitutional Court enshrined in Chapter 7 of the Constitution. 

As a result of the political developments of 2018, Armenia entered a crucial phase with the aim of transition from authoritarian to democratic system. In the first two stages of this transitional period, first the executive and then the legislature were formed under the pressure and through the vote of the people. Naturally, the next stage envisages legitimization of the judiciary, freeing the third power from corruption and elimination of the status of servant of the political and economic interests of the former regime.

The crisis can not be resolved by any other procedure than a consensus among the relevant bodies responsible for the execution of the Constitution.

The EaP CSF Armenian National Platform hereby calls on:

  • the RA National Assembly, RA President, RA Government, RA General Assembly of Judges, the judges and members of the RA Constitutional Courtto immediately initiate a consultation process and to undertake vigorous and substantial steps with a view to urgently resolve the constitutional crisis;
  • the members of the Constitutional Courtto approach the issue based not on narrow personal or group interests, but through recognizing the necessity to restore the legitimacy and reputation of the Constitutional Court and abide by the law, attaching importance to public sentiments, thus creating an opportunity for the implementation of democratic reforms occurring in Armenia;
  • we also urge them to exclude the adoption of decisions on behalf of the Constitutional Court until the termination of the above-mentioned consultation process to prevent their legality from becoming disputable and not to deepen the crisis;
  • all the international structuresto take into consideration the uniqueness of the problem in terms of Armenia’s sovereignty and the imperative of its settlement in a constructive way; 
  • the RA authorities, political forces, civil society organizations, expert communityimmediately upon overcoming the crisis to initiate broad consultations on launching a process of constitutional reform fundamental for the exclusion of such critical situations in the future and the democratization and strengthening of state institutions.     

                                                                                                                                                                                                         July 5, 2019

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Statement on the recent false allegations against Open Society Foundations-Armenia

May 31, 2019

Open Society Foundations-Armenia condemn the recent promotion of false allegations against the foundation by a small group of people who seek to destabalize Armenia and sow division. These falsehoods—which accuse us of everything from controlling the government to seeking violent clashes—are evidently ludicrous. The people behind these fabrications are clearly seeking to distract our country, our government and our citizens from the important work that lies ahead of us.

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Statement on behalf of the “Helsinki Association” human rights NGO

The “Helsinki Association” human rights NGO strongly condemns the incident that took place at the discussions of the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR), initiated on April 5 by the Standing Committee on Human Rights and Public Affairs.

We consider the discriminatory attitudes and behavior of Naira Zohrabyan, Chairman of the RA NA Standing Committee on Human Rights Protection and Public Affairs, inadmissible. We consider the behavior of some MPs of calling for violence unacceptable too.

We call on law enforcement agencies to take steps to detect those having perpetrated death and violence threats, including MPs, by giving an appropriate assessment of their actions.

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Parliamentary forces did not participate in the discussion

On February 19 and 20, the “Helsinki Association” human rights NGO invited a round-table discussion on the topic of “Armenia on the path to change: Tolerance against Violence.”

Highlighting the relevance of the topic in the current political field, the parliamentary and extra-parliamentary forces were invited to the meeting. Unfortunately, only members of extra-parliamentary forces -  “Azgayin arajntac” (the National progress), “Sasna Tsrer” (the Daredevils of Sasun), “Kakhakatsu voroshum” (the Citizen’s Decision), “Azat Democratner” (the Free Democrats), and Azgayin inknoroshum miavorum” (the Union for National Self-Determination) responded to the invitation and were present in the meeting.


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