IHF / NHC Open Letter

A1 Plus | 13:12:42 | 08-04-2004 | Official |


Dear Mr. President, Dear Prosecutor General,

The International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) and the
Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC) are writing this letter to you in order
ensure that a prompt, thorough and transparent investigation will be
conducted into the brutal physical attack on Mikael Danielyan, Chairman of
the Armenian Helsinki Association, and to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Mr. Danielyan was attacked and beaten by four assailants, who cornered him
in a passageway between two buildings at 09.00 am on 30 March 2004. He was
knocked to the ground and beaten for about ten minutes after which the
perpetrators fled. Mr. Danielyan was taken to hospital in a serious

As there are indications that the attackers might be connected to state
structures, it is important that a prompt and thorough investigation into
the case is carried out the personal control of the Prosecutor General, who
is in a privileged position to conduct all necessary questioning of
representatives of the power structures.

We are calling on you to ensure that the principles of the UN Declaration on
Human Rights Defenders are adhered to in Armenia, and that proper measures
to prevent further attacks on human rights defenders will be taken.

We already note that there has not been a thorough forensic examination of
Mr. Danielyan. Such examination should have been conducted as soon as
possible. During the first two days after the attack, the doctors informed
the relatives of Mr. Danielyan that he most likely suffered from a brain
concussion. Later on they changed their diagnosis and stated that he only
suffers from dangerously high blood pressure. This change of diagnosis could
be seen as a way of downplaying the seriousness of the case.

If investigations do not lead to criminal charges of those responsible for
this crime, a negative signal will be sent to Europe that in Armenia attacks
on dissident voices go unpunished. Suspicion will remain that state
structures were involved in the violent attack.

We would like to remind you of two other cases of violence against critical
voices. In one case the journalist Mark Grigoryan fell victim to a pipe bomb
attack against him in October 2002. The investigation was suspended,
“because no suspects could be found”. In another case, the human rights
correspondent Mher Ghalechyan was brutally beaten in the editorial office of
an oppositional newspaper in April 2003. A criminal investigation of the
incident was launched, but while the perpetrators are publicly known, the
Prosecutor General’s Office closed the case in December 2003, claiming the
absence of a corpus delicti.

We hope that these failures are not repeated in the case of Mr. Danielyan.

Dr. Aaron Rhodes-(Executive Director, IHF)
Bjørn Engesland-(Secretary General, NHC)