OF THE EU EaP ARMENIAN NATIONAL PLATFORM ON CASES OF POLITICAL PERSECUTION IN ARMENIA
February 8, 2014
We, the representatives of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum Armenian National Platform, express our deep concern with the new wave of political persecution in Armenia which started in 2013 and continues in 2014.
Illegal actions of the RA police during assemblies, protest actions and demonstrations initiated by various civic movements, including violence against protestants remain unpunished and those who violated the rights of the protesters do not face justice. The illegal actions of the police are aimed at intimidating the activists who were voicing their rights. Moreover, the government instructed the police to conduct criminal and administrative prosecution of the most active and “dangerous” activists.
On May 9, 2013 retired Colonel Vladimir Avetisyan held protests in Liberty Square, Yerevan, to draw government’s attention to social issues of Karabagh war veterans. Other veterans have also joined the protest action. On September 20, 2013 V. Avetisyan was detained with charges under Article 178 (cheating) of the Criminal Code of RA. After the general amnesty declared by the RA National Assembly on October 3, 2013, the investigative body hastily brought charges against Mr. Avetisyan under the Clause 1, Article 178 of the RA Criminal Code. With this, the investigative body blocked the release of V. Avetisyan, in spite of the amnesty and extended his custody.
On August 24, 2013 the police forcibly dispersed the peaceful demonstration on Komitas street, Yerevan, used force against the protesters and detained some of them including Argishti Kiviryan, chief editor of “Armenia Today” news agency. On the way to the police station Argishti Kiviryan was brutally beaten in the police car and consequently taken to the nearby hospital. Argishti Kiviryan and his lawyer reported the crime to the Special Investigation Service (SIS) to initiate a criminal case on the fact of beating and conduct a forensic examination. The requested examination was conducted only 4 days after the incident when some of the bruises and traces of beating have already recovered, and the hospital register didn’t contain a report about Kiviryan’s injuries.
On August 27, the Prosecutor’s Office of RA issued a statement which read that Argishti Kiviryan was detained for not obeying the lawful orders of the police and in the police car, on the way to the police station, Kiviryan cursed and punched the policeman causing him an injury. On these grounds criminal charges were brought against A. Kiviryan under the Article 316 of the RA Criminal Code (violence against the representative of authorities). Later on, Kiviryan was also charged under the Article 333 of the RA Criminal Code (false crime reporting).
From October 31, 2013, Head of “Tseghakron” political party Shant Harutyunyan with a number of supporters organised a sit-in protest action against the policy lead by RA government, in the Liberty Square, Yerevan. On November 5, the international day of Anonymous movement, Shant Harutyunyan held a march with anonymous masks to the RA presidential residence, to do a revolution as he said.
Right from the beginning of the march the police closed the protestants’ way. As a result of provocative actions of some unknown citizens there were clashes among the policemen and the participants, explosives (with just smoke and sound effects) were put into action. As a result, dozens of activists were detained by the police, criminal charges were instigated against 14 people under the Article 316 (violence against a representative of authorities) and Article 185 (Willful destruction or damage of property.
We consider that the criminal cases against the above mentioned persons are cases of political persecution, and that the 16 people sentenced with these charges are political prisoners.
The RA police instigated criminal charges against dozens of activists who participated in a peaceful demonstration of December 2, 2013 demanding the RA government not to trade the sovereignty of Armenia. The police used brutal force against the protesters, violating their constitutional rights of free speech, assembly and free movement by arrests and detentions of more than 110 citizens. RA police filed lawsuits demanding administrative proceedings against peaceful protesters (RA Code on Administrative offences 1801 15: Failure to obey the lawful orders of the police aimed at insuring peaceful and orderly provision of the protest action can cause imposition of fine in the amount of 50 to 100 times the minimal wage) which we consider as financial pressure on the activists.
In this regard, we declare that the participants of December 2 demonstration were realising their constitutional right to conduct peaceful demonstrations and marches without any violation of the law. Whereas the police unlawfully blocked the way of the protesters on Northern Avenue, Amiryan Street and Sakharov square, which is a violation of citizens rights.
At the same time, we require the RA police to immediately withdraw the lawsuits against peaceful demonstrators and permanently abandon the practice of intimidating the citizens in this or that way.
We call upon the police not to become a tool for oppression of citizens and terminate the investigation of criminal cases which were unlawfully instigated against the protesters and stop political persecution against them.
We urge the RA authorities to waken and realise this critical moment for our country and not to undermine the reputation and vision for the future of Armenia.
In this light we also urge the public not to give in to undemocratic practices of the authorities and continue the struggle for their rights and the sovereignty of the Republic of Armenia.
EaP CSF Armenian National Platform
February 8, 2014
CSF holds an event on the Eastern Partnership: Long-term EU strategy towards Eastern Partners and Russia
13 February 2014
An expert event of Eastern Partnership advocators – EU officials, journalists, think tank and civil society representatives took place in the European Parliament. An event, organised by the EaP Civil Society Forum focused on the future strategy for European integration in the Eastern Neighbourhood, challenges and lessons learnt.
The speakers included high officials – Henri Malosse, President of the EESC, Philip Mikos, Head of Unit, Regional Programmes Neighbourhood East, DG Europe Aid and representatives of the Steering Committee of the EaP Civil Society Forum – Jeff Lovitt, Jan Peiklo and Leila Alieva.
The key topic of the discussion was democratic values and human rights in the region and EU’s involvement as a driving force for democratic reforms in respective EaP countries. Henri Malosse stressed the importance of EU institutions being more proactive in the region and in general avoiding double standards in treating EaP countries and avoiding the situation when the policy creates divisions in the countries. He would like to see more progress in terms of visa liberalisation from the EU member states and sees big value in involving various civil society stakeholders in the reform process.
Philip Mikos stressed that there are positive developments in the EaP since 2009 though some objectives indeed have not been achieved. He talked about the progress with Georgia and Moldova in terms of visa liberalisation process and steps on creating open trade area with them. Another achievement is that civil society has become an integral part of dialogue going on in some of the EaP countries. When talking about the new Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020 he stressed that country support will be tied in with progress in reforms (as assessed in the Annual Progress Reports) and ‘’the more for more” principle will continue to be the key. The official also mentioned that the programme will support municipalities in a structured way and stressed the importance of involving civil society in planning municipalities’ budgets. In general the official stressed that in comparison with the previous programme the amount of bilateral support will increase as well as the support for the civil society.
Enhancing the competitiveness of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Armenia is the goal of a new project, which was launched on February 11, in Yerevan. The project, co-funded by the European Union, falls under the SME Panel of the EU Eastern Partnership and will be implemented by the OECD, in collaboration with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).
The new initiative will focus on designing policy recommendations and crafting action plans to help attract transnational companies to Armenia and support the internationalisation of local SMEs, a press release from the OECD said.
Over the coming year, two public-private working groups will meet on a regular basis to develop policy recommendations. A high-level Armenian delegation will then present the resulting sector-specific action plans at the Eurasia Competitiveness Roundtable, to be held in Paris in November this year. The Roundtable is a policy network bringing together high-level representatives from across the Eurasia region and OECD member countries.(EU Neighbourhood Info)
Project helps Eastern neighbours step up cooperation with European Environment Agency
Steps are being taken across the Eastern Neighbourhood to step up cooperation with the European Environment Agency (EEA), following discussions initiated at national workshops by the EU-funded ENPI Shared Environment Information System project (ENPI-SEIS).
The Republic of Armenia has become the first country in the Eastern Neighbourhood to officially appoint a “data reporter” for the EEA, an essential step to enable data sharing between Armenia and the EEA, following a national workshop of the ENPI-SEIS project held in Yerevan at the end of January.
In Georgia, Environment Minister Khatuna Gogoladze signed a letter of intent reaffirming his country’s commitment to share environmental information as part of a move to formalise cooperation with the EEA, following a similar workshop in December. The minister also signed a decree for the establishment of an “Environmental Information and Education Centre”, a key development to enable public access to and sharing of environmental information.
And in Ukraine a national high-level, inter-agency SEIS coordinating body will be set up following the signature of a decree by Oleg Proskuriakov, the Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources, following discussions at the national ENPI-SEIS workshop held in November. The new coordinating body will convene its first meeting in the coming weeks.
The ENPI-SEIS project aims to promote the protection of the environment in the countries of the Neighbourhood (east and south), by extending the principles of the Shared Environmental Information System (SEIS) to the region, and developing the capacities of the relevant authorities responsible for environmental data management and reporting. The SEIS is an EU initiative to modernise and simplify the collection, exchange and use of the data and information required for designing and implementing environmental policy. (EU Neighbourhood Info)