• Human rights in Armenia, From Wikipedia

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    Human rights in Armenia

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Human rights in Armenia tend to be better than those in most former Soviet republics and have drawn closer to acceptable standards, especially economically. Still, there are several considerable problems. Overall, the country is classified "partly free"
    by Freedom House, which gives it a score of 46, falling two points below Bangladesh and one point above Honduras.

    Political freedom

    Since the ouster of Levon Ter-Petrossian as president, political freedom has seen some improvement. Ter-Petrossian's administration saw constitutional change that secured more power for the president than the parliament. He also banned nine political
    parties (including, notably the Armenian Revolutionary Federation). Ter-Petrossian's semi-autocratic style of governing and his gradualist approach to solving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict led to his ousting and the succession of Robert Kocharyan as

    Economy and human rights

    Corruption remains a problem as of 2009, according to U.S. Department of State.[3]


    Reporting domestic abuse causes resistance from the police, courts and society. It is often seen as a 'taboo' to speak out against domestic abuse.

    Police brutality

    There have been reports of police brutality and arbitrary arrests carried out. Beatings and torture of detainees before trial is used to obtain confessions or information. Demonstrations against the government have been dispersed with force, and
    opposition leaders have been detained. Abuse is common in the army and is suspected as the cause of many suspicious deaths.[5]


    On May 12, 2007, Levon Gulyan, who was called to the police as a witness to a murder case, died in the Police Main Department of Criminal Investigations after allegedly being beaten to death and thrown out a window by Hovik Tamamyan, the First Deputy
    Chief of the Police Main Department of Criminal Investigations.[6] Police say that Gulyan slipped and fell down the first floor while trying to escape police custody. A preliminary forensic medical examination by forensic specialists from Denmark and
    Germany states that Gulyan's death was the result of fatal injuries that included fractures of the skull, thorax, spine and ribs. According to ArmeniaNow, "murders committed inside the police are not disclosed."[7] In a letter addressed to the Head of
    Police, the Executive Director of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) cited suspicions on the police explanation of Gulyan's death and mentioned that torture and ill-treatment by the police remain serious problems in Armenia, as
    noted also by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture in its 2004 report on Armenia.

    A partial list compiled by ArmeniaNow names 11 others who suspiciously died while under police custody.

    2008 Armenian presidential election protests

    A series of mass protests were held in Armenia in the wake of the Armenian presidential election of 19 February 2008. Mass protests against alleged electoral fraud were held in the capital city of Yerevan and organised by supporters of the unsuccessful
    presidential candidate and first President of the Republic of Armenia, Levon Ter-Petrosyan. After nine days of peaceful protests at the Opera Square, the national police and military forces tried to disperse the protesters on 1 March.[10] The protests
    began on February 20, lasted for 10 days in Yerevan's Freedom Square, and involved tens of thousands of demonstrators during the day and hundreds camping out overnight. As a result, 10 people were killed. Despite the urges of the government to stop the
    demonstrations, the protests continued until March 1. On the morning of March 1, police and army units dispersed the 700-1,000 persons who remained overnight, beating them with truncheons and electric-shock devices. As of March 4, many protesters are
    still missing. Since March 1, Ter-Petrosyan was placed under de facto house arrest.

    Freedom of expression and of the media

    Main article: Media of Armenia

    While the media has a degree of independence, the freedom of press in Armenia is limited. Some independent channels, such as A1+, Noyan Tapan, and Russian NTV, have had their frequencies taken away by the government. Journalists covering a demonstration
    against President Robert Kocharyan were attacked when police intervened to detain the protestors.

    In January 2011, the Committee to Protect Journalists – international media watchdog – criticized the Armenian government for maintaining a tight grip on the country’s broadcast media and accused them of routinely harassing local journalists
    challenging them.[17] According to the CPJ report, new amendments to Armenian broadcasting law in 2010 positioned President Sarkisian "to maintain control over the country's docile television and radio stations, most of which were owned by pro-government
    politicians and businessmen."[17] The report also claims that the Armenian police officers “routinely harassed, assaulted, and arrested journalists” in 2010. “Prosecutors regularly colluded in this practice by failing to investigate police officers,
    even filing charges on occasion against journalists who protested abuses, CPJ research showed.


    Other than the Gyumri-based GALA, virtually all Armenian TV stations, including the Yerevan-based national networks, are controlled by or loyal to the government. The only major private network that regularly aired criticism of the government was
    controversially forced off the air in 2002.

    In 2010, the Armenian government passed a set of controversial amendments to Armenian law on broadcasting that enables government regulators to grant or revoke licenses without explanation, as well as impose programming restrictions that would confine
    some stations to narrow themes such as culture, education, and sports.[17] The Committee to Protect Journalists suggested that these amendments are primarily aimed at keeping the independent TV station A1+ off the air. It also pointed out that GALA TV,
    another, functioning independent broadcaster based in Gyumri, will be taken off the air in 2015 because of the amendments.[17] Both A1+ and GALA TV failed to win new licenses in supposedly competitive tenders administered by the National Commission on
    Television and Radio in late 2010.

    2008 State of Emergency

    Following the 2008 Armenian presidential election protests, President Kocharian controversially declared a 20-day State of Emergency on March 1, and used it to ban all public gatherings and censor all media (both Internet and in print) to include only
    information sponsored by the state. Also, the authorities closed several opposition newspapers along with their websites, including A1+ and Haykakan Zhamanak. Furthermore, the government blocked access to the YouTube website which contained videos from
    the March 1 protest and late night clashes with police that showed special forces firing automatic weapons directly into the crowd. Also blocked was the radio transmission and website access to Armenian Liberty, a service of Radio Free Europe.

    Attacks on journalists

    Frequent attacks on journalists of non-state sponsored media is a serious threat to Armenia's press freedom.

    On April 30, 2009, Argishti Kiviryan, a coordinator of the ARMENIA Today news agency (a paper known for its opposition stance), was severely beaten on his way home from work in Yerevan. Three unknown individuals reportedly assailed and severely beat
    Kiviryan causing him serious head and face injuries. His condition was reported as "serious but stable" after he was taken to the Erebuni medical center.[19] The Human Rights Defender of Armenia, Armen Harutyunyan, condemned the act and, noting that
    almost all cases of violence against the journalists taken part in the past have not been disclosed, called upon the Police to investigate and disclose his assailants.

    On November 17, 2008, Edik Baghdasaryan, Armenia's most prominent investigative journalist and editor of Hetq, was violently attacked and sustained a severe head injury for which he had to be hospitalized. The attack was likely connected to his reporting.

    Freedom of movement

    Law enforcement authorities regularly block public transport access from nearby towns to Yerevan whenever there is a large opposition rally in Yerevan. On March 1 2011, public transport between Yerevan and nearby regions ground to a halt in a government
    effort to lower attendance at a major rally to be held by the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK).[21] Bus stations in small towns close to the capital -- including Etchmiadzin, Artashat, and Masis -- effectively stood idle in the morning and
    early afternoon, leaving scores of local commuters stranded. Police patrols were also deployed on major roads leading to Yerevan. Police reportedly say that this is part of a special police operation aimed at tracking down stolen cars, or that police are
    looking for weapons. Both law enforcement and government officials denied opposition claims that the authorities are thus trying to keep many Armenians from joining anti-government demonstrators in Yerevan.

    Freedom of religion

    Main article: Freedom of religion in Armenia

    See also: Yazidis in Armenia

    The Armenian Apostolic Church has a considerable monopoly in Armenia, possessing more rights than any other registered religion. Other religious minorities include Russian Orthodox Christians, Syriac Christians, Greek Orthodox Christians, Jews, Muslims,
    Yazidis, and Jehovah's Witnesses. By and large, Armenia's Muslim community (once composed of Azeris and Kurds) is virtually nonexistent due to population exchange between Armenia and Azerbaijan during the Nagorno-Karabakh War.

    Yazidis and the Jehovah's Witnesses are the most harassed religious minorities in Armenia. Feeling a threat to the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Armenian government has continuously harassed Jehovah's Witnesses using such methods as preventing them from
    registering as a religious group and imprisoning them for their refusal to serve in the military.

    The Yazidis came to Armenia during the 19th and early 20th centuries to escape religious persecution. According to the 2001 Census, there are about 40,000 Yazidis in Armenia.[22] According to the 2004 U.S. Department of State human rights report, the
    Yazidis are subjected to harassment in Armenia, including the hazing of Yazidi army conscripts and poor police responses to crimes committed against the Yazidis. A high percentage of Yazidi children do not attend school, both due to poverty and a lack of
    teachers who speak their native language.

    LGBT rights in Armenia[edit]

    Main article: LGBT rights in Armenia

    Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights in Armenia have yet to be claimed and acquired.

    Homosexuality has been legal in Armenia since 2003. However, even though it has been decriminalized, the situation of local lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) citizens has not changed substantially.

    Homosexuality remains a taboo topic in parts of Armenian society as the nation trails other European nations in promoting LGBT rights. There is, moreover, no legal protection for LGBT persons whose human rights are violated regularly.

    Many fear violence in their workplace or from their family, and therefore, do not openly express their sexuality nor file complaints of human rights violations or of criminal offences. Armenia was ranked 47th out of 49 European countries for LGBT rights,
    with only Russia and Azerbaijian being worse for their human rights in this regard.

    Democracy rating

    The Economist magazine rated Armenia as a "hybrid regime" in 2007, the third lowest out of four categories in their Democracy Index. Armenia was rated 112th out of 167 countries and third from the bottom in the hybrid category. It was noted that it could
    be easily "tipped into an outright authoritarian regime".

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