Washington briefing: Reports review Armenia’s post-election crisis

by Emil Sanamyan

Published: Friday February 27, 2009

Cover of the Human Rights Watch study, “Democracy on Rocky Ground: Armenia’s Disputed 2008 Presidential Election, Post-Election Violence, and the One-Sided Pursuit of Accountability.”.

Washington - Allegations of misconduct by Armenia's law-enforcement agencies during post-electoral collisions last year should be thoroughly investigated, the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged as part of a detailed study released on February 25. The watchdog also called on the United States and the European Union to make their engagement with Armenia contingent on such an investigation.

The 64-page HRW report, "Democracy on Rocky Ground: Armenia's Disputed 2008 Presidential Election, Post-Election Violence, and the One-Sided Pursuit of Accountability," is perhaps the most comprehensive available account of Armenia's latest post-election crisis.

The study is based on interviews with 80 witnesses, participants, and victims of the March 1-2 clashes in Yerevan, conducted in March and April last year.

Also released on February 25 was the State Department's annual study of human rights practices worldwide. Its Armenia chapter, in addition to compiling human rights issues throughout 2008, retained a controversial reference to the Armenian republic of Nagorno-Karabakh as a "region of Azerbaijan."

There were community and congressional complaints when the reference was first introduced into the report in 2006. State Department officials claimed at the time the reference did not signal a change in U.S. policy. There was no public reaction when the reference was repeated last year.

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