Monday, June 30, 2008

Another Young Armenian Human Rights Activist Assaulted

If someone in the US was in such circumstances that his or her life was under constant danger, he or she would obtain a 'concealed carry' license for a handgun.

Another Young Armenian Human Rights Activist Assaulted

June 26, 2008

Narek Hovakimyan, a member of Armenia’s pro-democracy youth movement Hima, was attacked and beaten yesterday, June 25, 2008, in downtown Yerevan.

Narek, a 19-year old freshman at Yerevan State University, was approached by an unknown young man, as he was leaving school after classes at around 3:30pm, and was asked to “have a conversation” outside the campus.

Narek quickly realized it was a setup, and sought to avoid confrontation by walking away. The assailant followed him, blocking his way in an underground passage on the corner of Abovian and Koryun streets half a mile away, joined by another accomplice. Narek was beaten, and suffered head and stomach injuries. As the assailants fled the scene, Narek received assistance from bystanders, and was taken to the emergency care unit of St. Gregory the Illuminator Hospital in Yerevan.

The attack against Narek Hovakimyan, who is also youth activist and member of the Aylentranq (Alternative) Coalition – a network of pro-democracy organizations established in 2006, joins a pattern of similar attacks against leaders and activists of Armenia’s human rights and pro-democracy community before and after the country’s Presidential Election 2008.

On November 15, 2007, 20-year-old Narek Galstyan, leader of the youth wing of the opposition Social- Democratic Hnchakyan Party, was beaten by a group of unknown assailants. Two days earlier, police had briefly detained Galstyan and another youth activist for posting leaflets critical of then Prime Minister Serge Sargsyan, warning then to stop anti-government propaganda. This case was reported by Human Rights Watch ( ) and the U.S. Department of State. The case was closed.

On May 22, 2008, Mikael Danielyan head of the Armenian Helsinki Association, was shot point blank from a pneumatic gun by a member of parliament from the ruling Republican party, who then bragged about it at a press conference later that day. The case was documented and reported by Human Rights Watch on May 22, 2008 (Armenia: Leading Human Rights Defender Assaulted,

On May 28, 2008, Arsen Kharatyan, a leading member of the Armenian democratic youth movement, was brutally assaulted and beaten in broad daylight in Yerevan, by a group of unknown assailants, and taken to the hospital with serious head injuries. (

None of the incidents above have been properly investigated, and no one has been charged in connection with them. Whether a sign of inability or unwillingness by the authorities to address the situation, violence against pro-democracy and human rights activism in Armenia grows, as harassment and intimidation against them continue with impunity.

We strongly condemn the attack yesterday against Narek Hovakimyan, and urge the Armenian law enforcement to ensure its proper investigation.

We also call upon the international human rights community to continue to bring information on Armenia’s critical human rights and democracy situation to the attention of the world public, as a way to support the work and momentum of a vibrant pro-democracy and human rights youth effort in Armenia.


Anonymous said...

Do you still believe anybody in this regime cares for what has happened?

Ani said...

While I'm not usually a fan of Bill Kristol, he had an interesting article in yesterday's New York Times about Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence:

A part relevant to this post:

"The fate of equality, Jefferson makes clear, also depends on those who see further than, and act first on behalf of, their fellow citizens. In the letter, Jefferson pays tribute to his fellow signers — “that host of worthies, who joined with us on that day, in the bold and doubtful election we were to make for our country, between submission or the sword.”
So the signers of the declaration made the bold and doubtful choice for independence. Their fellow citizens ratified the choice. But they might have been slow to act if the worthies had not moved first.

For, as the declaration itself notes, “all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.” The people are conservative. Liberty sometimes requires the bold leadership of a few individuals."

Here's to the Nareks, the Mikaels, the Arsens, and all the other worthies who are putting themselves on the line for their belief that Armenians, too, can be truly independent.