Rights activist beaten in Armenia

Associated Press Worldstream
March 30, 2004 Tuesday 3:08 PM Eastern Time

Rights activist beaten in Armenia

YEREVAN, Armenia

A representative of a leading human rights organization was beaten by
assailants on Tuesday and blamed the Armenian authorities for the
attack, which left him hospitalized in serious condition.

Mikael Danielyan, the chairman of the Armenian Helsinki Foundation,
was attacked by four assailants who cornered him in an alley near his
home, according to his wife and the International Helsinki Federation
for Human Rights.

Danielyan was knocked to the ground and beaten for about 10 minutes,
the Vienna-based rights group said. It said it was “very concerned
about (the) brutal physical attack” on Danielyan, who was
hospitalized in serious condition.

Danielyan, whose life was not in danger, said from the hospital that
he blames the authorities for the attack, which came shortly after he
criticized President Robert Kocharian in a published interview.

Kocharian won a second term in presidential elections a year ago that
sparked mass protests, including nearly daily demonstrations between
the first round of voting in February 2003 and the runoff in early

The opposition alleged widespread violations in both rounds of the
election. Armenia’s Constitutional Court confirmed the results of the
presidential vote but suggested that a referendum be held within a
year to gauge the public’s confidence in the nation’s leaders.

Opposition leaders in the economically struggling former Soviet
republic have pressed for the plebiscite, and have been planning for
renewed protests against the Caucasus Mountain nation’s authorities.