Jailed Editor Threatens Hunger Strike

Hovannes Shoghikian

http://www.azatutyu n.am/content/article/1791610.html
Aug 3 2009

Armenia — Arman Babajanian, editor of the pro-opposition "Zhamanak"
daily, on trial in 2006.

Arman Babajanian, the jailed newspaper editor diagnosed with a brain
tumor, threatened on Monday to go on a hunger strike to accelerate
his release from prison recommended by doctors.

Babajanian, whose jail sentence ends on September 16, was moved to
a prison hospital in Yerevan last month after complaining of severe
headaches and vision problems. Doctors found a tumor in his brain
during a medical examination.

The prison hospital administration accepted on Friday that he needs
urgent treatment in a civilian hospital and asked a state commission
empowered to grant parole to convicts to ensure Babajanian’s early
release. It remains unclear when the commission will meet to consider
the request. Its chairman and the deputy chief of the Armenian police,
Armen Yeritsian, could not be reached for comment on Monday.

Zaruhi Postanjian, an opposition parliamentarian concerned about the
editor’s fate, cited Justice Minister Gevorg Danielian as telling
her that the commission will meet "in the coming days." "The phrase
‘in the coming days’ could mean about ten days," she told RFE/RL.

Postanjian described Babajanian’s condition as "absolutely worrisome"
and said the authorities’ failure so far to grant him parole amounts to
"torture." "So I can say that the Armenian authorities are not making
every effort to set him free," she said.

Speaking to RFE/RL by phone, Babajanian said that his health condition
is continuing to deteriorate and that the only treatment he is getting
in the prison hospital is pain-killer drugs. He said he will go on
a hunger strike if the authorities keep delaying his release. He
also made clear that he will not engage in any "political haggling"
with the authorities to regain freedom.

Babajanian was arrested in June 2006 and subsequently sentenced
to three-and-a-half years in prison for forging documents to evade
compulsory military service. The authorities have repeatedly refused
to free him on parole despite appeals from domestic and international

Two of those watchdogs expressed serious concern about his condition
last week. "We are extremely shocked by the attitude of the
authorities, who have turned a deaf ear to the appeals of doctors
and human rights activists," the Paris-based group Reporters Sans
Frontiers said in a statement on Friday.

And on Wednesday, a top representative of Human Rights Watch sent an
open letter to Danielian urging the Armenian government to provide
Babajanian with "the highest possible standard of treatment."

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS