12 April 2017
On 24 March 2017, the Union of Informed Citizens NGO (“UIC”) exposed outrageous abuse of public and administrative resources for the benefit of the Republican Party of Armenia (“RPA”) during the Republic of Armenia National Assembly election campaign by staff of a number of community and district municipalities and regional government offices of the Republic of Armenia, in abuse of official position and by means of engaging principals of 114 educational institutions.
Principals of 30 kindergartens and 84 schools, resorting in some cases to intimidation, enlisted voters, staff, and parents, and by recording their personal data, preached voting for the incumbent political force, subsequently transferring the lists to state and municipal officials that were members of the RPA, as well as to RPA’s campaign headquarters.
To date, law-enforcement authorities have neither initiated a criminal case nor carried out an investigation. They have not given a legal assessment of either the abuse and/or exceeding of official authority by officials of administrative bodies for the purpose of abusing administrative resources, or the alleged exertion of influence for pecuniary purposes and for administering mob law.
Instead, continuing to abuse the administrative resources, the power forced 30 principals of educational institutions to file court claims against D. Ioannisyan and the UIC, each demanding two million drams as compensation of moral damage for the alleged defamation suffered by them, in addition to demanding refutation.
It is noteworthy that, the Special Investigative Service of the Republic of Armenia has failed to initiate a criminal case into the leakage of certain information concerning the private and family life of D. Ioannisyan and his family members, to which only the Police could have had access, although D. Ioannisyan filed a crime report back on 28 March 2017.
The filing of the principals’ defamation and refutation court claims against D. Ioannisyan and the UIC was preceded by a threat by A. Ashotyan, RPA Vice-President, that UIC would be stripped of the right to carry out an election observation mission, as well as the statement by Artak Zakaryan, member of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia, member of the RPA faction, that D. Ioannisyan was acting in violation of law when carrying out the investigation concerned, as well as Ashotyan’s statement supporting the filing of the court claim, all of which testify that the RPA’s political leaders have decided to punish D. Ioannisyan and the UIC for exposing the fact of organized and mass abuse of administrative resources.
It is obvious that the Armenian authorities are trying to implement a public act of punishment against a human rights defender and human rights organization that exposed the violations of voting rights of Armenian citizens, as an instrument for safeguarding the impunity system that has formed in the Republic of Armenia, as a warning to all citizens and NGOs and civic initiatives that may try to adopt the stance of a rights-demanding citizen.
We commend the efforts exerted by D. Ioannisyan and the UIC to expose the abuse of public resources and trust and demand that the Armenian authorities:
- Immediately stop the political persecution against D. Ioannisyan and the UIC;
- Immediately investigate the abuse of administrative resources by officials of administrative bodies; and
- Terminate the abuse of educational institutions for political purposes, which results in discrediting the education system—a key institution of the state.
We call upon citizens, the mass media, non-governmental organizations, political parties, foundations, and civic initiatives to support the defense of D. Ioannisyan and the Union of Informed Citizens NGO.
Others may join this Statement.
Asparez Club of Journalists
Helsinki Citizens Assembly Vanadzor Office
Armenia Helsinki Committee
Open Society Foundations-Armenia
Martuni Women’s Community Council NGO
Transparency International Anti-Corruption Center
Protection of Rights without Borders NGO
Women’s Resource Center Armenia
Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression
Information Center for Rights NGO
Yerevan Press Club
“Sose Women’s Issues” NGO
LogoS Human Rights Defence NGO
Real World, Real People NGO
Helsinki Human Rights Group of Spitak NGO
Regional Development and Research Center NGO
Analytical Center for Globalization and Regional Cooperation
Women’s Support Center
Yerevan Center for Protection of Human Rights NGO
Boundaries of Our Rights NGO
Blejan environmental, social and business NGO
A.D.Sakharov Armenian Human Rights Protection Center NGO
Public Information and Need of Knowledge NGO (PINK-Armenia)
For Equal Rights NGO
Ecological Rights NGO
Human Rights House Yerevan
Yeghegnadzor Civic Youth Center
Investigative Journalists NGO
International Center for Human Development
Khoran Ard Intellectual NGO
Women’s Rights Center NGO
Institute of Public Policy NGO
Collaboration for Democracy Centre
Armavir Civic Youth Center