HRW Letter to President

A1 Plus | 13:08:37 | 08-04-2004 | Official |


Dear President Robert Kocharyan,

We are writing to you to express our deep concern over the recent attack on
human rights defender Mikael Danielian. Human Rights Watch has worked
closely with Danielian for thirteen years and highly values his contribution
to defending human rights in Armenia. We fear that the attack was an attempt
to intimidate and silence Danielian, and to stop him from carrying out his
human rights work. {BR}

On March 30, 2004 at 9:00 a.m., four unknown men assaulted Danielian near
his house as he was returning home from walking his dog. They punched him
repeatedly to the head, and kicked him after he fell to the ground.
Danielian was taken to hospital, where he remained until April 2. He is now
recovering at home. He is remains very weak, finds it hard to walk, and is
suffering from headaches and dizziness.

Danielian believes that the attack was an act of retribution for his human
rights work. He told Human Rights Watch that he has been a source of
information for the international community regarding the growing protests
of the political opposition in Armenia. These protests relate to allegations
of widespread vote rigging in last year’s presidential elections, held in
February and March 2003, and to the Constitutional Court decision that
upheld the results, but suggested that a referendum be held within a year to
gauge public confidence in the president. Thus far, no referendum has been

Danielian also gave an interview to the Baku-based newspaper, Ekho, in which
he made statements sharply criticizing you. Shortly before the attack on
Danielian, local press in Armenia criticized him for these statements.

We welcome your public statement calling on the General Procurator to
investigate the attack on Danielian, and ask you to ensure that the
investigation will be carried out promptly and thoroughly. We are concerned
that as of April 3 no forensic medical examination had yet been carried out
on Danielian and call on you to ensure that such an examination be carried
out as soon as possible.

We remind you of your government’s international obligations to uphold the
rights of human rights defenders to carry out their work, and to ensure that
the right to freedom of expression is available to all people in Armenia.
Under the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of
Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally
Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (Resolution 53/144), states
are called upon to take all necessary measures to ensure the protection of
human rights defenders. We ask that your government adhere to the letter and
spirit of the principles set out in the declaration in protecting all human
rights defenders in Armenia.

We thank you for your attention to our concerns.
Yours sincerely,
Rachel Denber,
Acting Executive Director
Europe and Central Asia Division