STATEMENT of the Participants in the Public Discussion
11.09.2013
10:00
On September 11 the Partnership for Open Society Initiative held a Public Discussion on “Encroachments upon Universal Values and Human Rights Advocates in Armenia: Strategies to Withstand”.

State officials, ambassadors, representatives of international organizations, mass media and civil society participated in the Public Discussion.

The Partnership for Open Society Initiative represents over 60 civil society organizations. As a result of the Public Discussion a statement has been adopted.

 

STATEMENT

of the Participants in the Public Discussion

As civic movements gain momentum in Armenia, identifiable and unidentifiable groups intensify their attacks on civil society initiatives, activists, and human rights advocates.

Although the various advocacy movements and civil society organizations promoting the rights of minorities and women act publicly and lawfully, these groups have, for a number of years now, been targets of various techniques of violence, such as battering, public threats, libel, insults, arsons, and the like: in totality, they essentially amount to terrorism.

Commanded and manipulated by unknown groups, universal values are regularly presented as false values, which contradict the identity of the Armenian nation; universal human rights are alleged to contravene the Armenian culture. Law-enforcement agencies only superficially respond to public calls for annihilating individuals and bombing offices, and no criminal investigations are initiated, thereby directly encouraging the authors of such threats and the perpetrators of abuse. On numerous occasions, libel and insults towards human rights advocates and a selected number of non-governmental organizations are multiplied and disseminated through biased mass media, discrediting the image of a number of individuals and organizations involved in the protection and promotion of human rights and gender equality issues.

Thus, the safeguards of the freedom to engage in activism have been jeopardized in a number of areas in Armenia.

Bearing in mind the foregoing, we, the participants of the discussion, hereby declare that the law-enforcement agencies of the Republic of Armenia are liable, through their criminal inaction, for the incitement of hatred towards marginalized groups and for the propagation of an atmosphere of impunity in Armenia.

We hereby demand the authorities - in the capacity of the guarantor of the Armenian Constitution and human rights and freedoms - to take immediate effective action to ensure compliance with the state’s positive obligations of safeguarding the constitutional rights of citizens and civic groups, and to respond effectively substantively to each and every case of actual or threatened violence targeted at public activists and organizations. Otherwise, inaction in this area may give rise to irreversible and grave consequences, for which the authorities of Armenia shall be fully responsible.

11 September 2013

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