The situation in the army is of concern ( Collective Statement)
06.09.2011 A number of NGOs, including “The A.D.Sakharov Armenian Human Rights Protection Center” NGO, voiced their concerns in a statement about the situation in the Armenian Army. It runs, "Throughout the establishment of the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh, following the cease-fire in the Artsakh war, the Armenian army went through a hard road to development. Despite certain achievements, with the Soviet military legacy and the vices of the current oligarchic regime, the model of criminal relations of hazing is prevalent in the army. It results in violence, tortures and killings of numerous young people in the republic of Armenia. According to official data, 187 servicemen died in the armed forces for different reasons from 2008 to 2011, while only 25 of them were killed because of the breach of ceasefire. Whereas, according to non-official data based on assessment of various experts, more than 1,500 young men had died in the Armenian army since 1994. The investigations into criminal cases of servicemen deaths in the army are mostly marred with harsh violations of law, the considerable part of which was not detected for years, and as a rule the murders are viewed as suicides. The rights of the parents of the deceased soldiers are oftentimes neglected, and they were ignored by the state officials. The unhealthy moral and psychological atmosphere rampant in the army and the subsequent impunity lead to the growth of crime rates and demoralization of great masses of the society. On the one hand, the plight promotes corruption, since the conscripts' parents seek many illegal means to exempt their sons from military service or "provide" their security in roundabout ways; on the other hand, it contributes to emigration. We the undersigned human rights NGOs - express our deep concern about the plight in the Armenian army and disappointment over the authorities' irresponsible behavior, - consider in acceptable the moral and physical violation and torture against any serviceman in non - combat situation, and the policy to conceal them both by the commanding officers and the investigative bodies, and by the structures of justice, - assess the lack of public stance on the mentioned issue by the supreme commander-in-chief of the armed forces of Armenia as a result of misapprehension of his own role as commander-in-chief, lack of command of the situation, indifference and/or patronage. We demand that the supreme commander-in-chief of the armed forces immediately ensure - detailed examination of the proceedings of the criminal cases on violence against and deaths of the military having served in the Armenian army since 1994 up till now, including murders and suicides, in order to reveal the flaws and the breaches of the law committed by the pre-trial and investigative bodies, involving independent experts and representatives of concerned NGOs, - guarantees to hold all the officials, who bore direct responsibility for investigation process of criminal cases and illegalities, criminally liable, - taking concrete measures to stop hazing and unhealthy atmosphere in the armed forces, by putting forward legislative proposals and by involving representatives of the public concerned - primary, due and dignified compensation for the moral an material loss caused to the servicemen families, whose relatives died in the Armenian army in non combat conditions. In case of failing to take hasty measures in meeting the above-mentioned demands within a month, we attribute the blame and patronage to the supreme commander-in-chief of the armed forces Serzh Sargsyan for the situation in the Armenian army and demand his resignation. Artur Sakunts, "Helsinki Citizens' Assembly Vanadzor Office" NGO Avetik Ishkhanyan, "Helsinki Committee of Armenia" NGO Natalia Martirosyan, "Helsinki Citizens' Assembly Armenian Committee" NGO Zhanna Aleksanyan, "Journalists for Human Rights" NGO Seda Melikyan, "Lawyers for Human Rights" NGO Levon Barseghyan, "'Asparez' Journalists' Club" NGO Sona Ayvazyan, "Transparency International Anti-corruption Center" NGO Isabella Sargsyan, "Youth for Democracy" NGO Lala Aslikyan, "Huys" NGO Levon Nersisyan, "A. D. Sakharov Armenian Human Rights Protection Center"."
Letter to Head of RA Police about an attempting of arson on Shirak branch office
Much respected Mr. Sargsyan,
I’m obliged to apply for your assistance to get urgent solution to an important issue.
On 06.07.2011 at 4:30-5:00 a.m. Gyumri office of Shirak regional branch of the A.D. Sakharov Armenian Human Rights Centre located in 1apt., 38a bld., Mher Mkrtchyan street, Gyumri has been set on fire.
We can state that the act of ignition has been realized by the interested parties, who don’t like the activities of the Shirak Regional branch of the Sakharov Centre directed to the protection of public interests in Gyumri.
It’s not the first attempt to frighten the society, especially the civil society structures in Gyumri.
I don’t want to focus your attention to the social role and significance of the Shirak Regional Branch of the Sakharov Centre in the Shirak marz and territory of the Republic. But the organizers of the ignition don’t understand what echo it will have in the republic and abroad. This can be one more blow for the Republic of Armenia and its reputation.
It’s worth mentioning that even during 1990s, the flourishing period of illegality in Armenia, such actions haven’t been realized towards the Sakharov Centre.
Thus, we apply to you not to investigate the social-political circumstances of the ignition, but to discover its customers and implementers and punish them using all the power granted to you by the RA Legislation.
My requirement is based on the fact that the inspectors, who are at charge of this case, have superficially examined the scene of the crime and haven’t paid attention to the existence of some material evidence (e.g. the metallic cord by which the ignition equipment have been fastened).
Once more, I beg your direct assistance in the process of discovering this crime.
Head of the A.D. Sakharov Armenian Human Rights Centre
Statement about an attempting of arson on Shirak branch office
Letter to the Chairman of the Public Council of the RA
Dear visitors of the A.D.Sakharov Armenian Human Rights Centre,
You can obtain sufficient information regarding the social-economical, public-political, and spiritual-cultural life in the Republic of Armenia visiting the web-sites of the RA Ministry of Diaspora:
Realization of the internal and external policy. Proposals
About the article “Not a Step Forward”
In the article “Not a Step Forward” of the “Golos Armenii” newspaper (27.08.2009), the Methodist of the centralized library system of the Bratsk city (Russia) addresses us – the citizens of Armenia, with a request: “Due to statistical data, in our city there live more than 10 thousand Armenians… But, regrettably, there is no periodical, a regular publishing for the Armenians and about Armenians nor in Armenian, neither in Russian. There is not a single book on the history of Armenian nation, dictionaries or historical-political books in Armenian or in Russian”.
The mentioned application once again certifies that the officials of our country take no practical steps, which are necessary to prevent the assimilation process among our compatriots living outside of the Armenian Republic. Another confirmation of the above-told is Davit Sargsyan’s interview (the director of the National Library of Armenia) titled “Development of libraries is not less important than the gasification”, which was published in the “Golos Armenii” newspaper (27.08.2009).
In this connection, the A.D. Sakharov Armenian Human Rights Centre appeals to the heads of national NGOs and other civil society organizations and asks them, in the range of their capacities, to make contacts (be that through the Internet) with Armenian communities overseas to provide them with information regarding the public-political, social-economical and moral-cultural life in our Republic.
Our organization has settled such connection with the centralized library system of the Bratsk city (Russia) and already have sent a number of books on Armenian history, culture and religion. Besides, we regularly send them press-releases of the national press via e-mail.
Director of the A.D.Sakharov
Armenian Human Rights Centre
Article on the Law on NGOs: Letter to the Prime Minister of the RA.
To the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia
Dear Mr. Prime Minister,
I would like to apologize for giving You trouble, but I need to apply to you again with the problem stated below.
The event organized by the RA Government for presentation of the draft law regarding the admandements and changes to the RA Law “About non-governmental organizations” at the RA National Assembly can serve as a striking example of ignorant attitude towards public opinion. Author of this initiative is the RA Ministry of Justice (although this document included not only amendments but also compliments to the essence of the existing Law.)
It seemed that the RA Government, feeling their responsibility for the obligations that they had undertaken signing contracts with the European Union (in the framework of the “New Neighborhood”) on one hand, and the trilateral agreement between the RA Government, the RA National Assembly and the republican network of the civil society regarding a larger involvement of the local civil society organizations on the legislative level on the other hand, they had lastly decided to start a dialogue with the wider society. But in reality, approaches of the central structures of authorities to the society have not changed. And this can be a negative example for the central, regional and local governmental structures.
The RA Ministry of Justice, getting familiar with the suggestions of the creative unions of the Republic, main request of which was to recover their right to be called unions relevantly (the same time making changes in the time terms of the election of executive authorities) and instead of deepening in the essence of the highlighted question, decided to make use of the moment and make changes in the RA Law “About non-governmental organizations”, which mainly restrict those democratic achievements that the civil society institutions had, be that in comparison with the similar organizations in our neighboring countries.
From the other side, equaling the status of the creative unions with that of the NGOs’ deriving only from the principle of those organizations being non-for-profit, means creating circumstances, which would help gradually decrease number of such organizations in the Republic.
Suggestions of the RA Ministry of Justice about making changes in the RA Law “About non-governmental organizations” in their nature and their content, practically will bring to growth of the role of asdministrative-bureaucratic repressions.
Although, not deepening in the core of those suggestions that is necessary to mention that the RA Ministry of Justice has violated the procedural obligations of the RA Government, which they have ratified with relevant contracts.
Not organizing public hearings of the suggested amendments and changes to the Law “About non-governmental organizations” (and not even putting them in the web-page on time), the RA Ministry of Justice overlooking the soicety, has put them for discussion of the RA National Assembly. Thanks to perseverance and consistency of the civils society, as well as the public-political will of the RA NA, on November 27, 2009, the RA NA Permanent Commission on Human Rights and Public Issues organized a discussion on the given issue.
That is distinguishing that the RA NA Chairman Hovik Abrahamyan and the deputy chairman of the RA NA Permanent Commission on Human Rights and public issues Petrosyan were to make hard efforts to smoothen the sharp angles generated during the discussion, to which the RA Minister of Justice Gevorg Danielyan could not answer.
The RA Minister of Justice Gevorg Danielyan in his speeches, sometimes too unrestrained from the moral point of view, did not mention the objective reasons for developing the document discussed, but found the moment to blame the civil society structures of the Republic in abscence of an «appropriate patriotism» for applying for a «Mediator Court» to the international organizations accredited in Armenia.
But the representatives of the civil society structures and a number of RA NA deputies mainly were interested why the draft for making amendments to the RA Law “About non-governmental organizations” was developed and was presented at the RA Government’s sitting and put for the National Assembly discussion evading the agreement about involving the wider society in such discussions.
The RA Minister of Justice Gevorg Danielyan could not give a reasonable answer to this question. Thus, the question “Is the RA Government going to fulfil its obligations for involving the civil society structures in the decision-making processes according to the trilateral agreement (18.04.2009)” remained without answer.
In general, the representatives of NGOs weren’t satisfied with the results of the mentioned public hearings as in their brief speeches Mr.Malkhasyan, the RA Vice-Minister of Justice and Mr.Petrosyan, the Chairman, led the results of the stormy discussions to the following suggestion for NGOs: withing a 90-day period, to present their remarks to the RA Ministry of Justice concerning the project of making amendments in the discussed Law “About non-governmental organizations”.
These discussions become a precedent, when the state structures violate (procedural) the Government’s Decision about involving the wide masses of population in discussions on similar issues.
In this respect, that would be purposeful to remove the given suggestions of the RA Ministry of Justice from the agenda, which do not correspond with the requirements of the regulation, through which the procedural requirements of cooperation between society and governmental bodies are regulated.
Together with the above-mentioned, we are also troubled that the institutional development of public movement in the scope of the RA Law “About non-governmental organizations” is not regulated appropriately taking into consideration the peculiarities of their activities.
Thus, it’s suitable to assign a task to the RA Ministry of Justice jointly with stakeholder public structures to develop requirements concerning the structure and content of the future legislative act regulating the activities of the various public structures.
Director of the Sakharov Centre