On July 17, 2018, during the session of the parliamentary factions committee for reforming the Electoral Code, Arpine Hovhannisyan, Vice President of the RA National Assembly, said about Daniel Ioannisyan, Secretary to the Election Law Reform Committee under the office of the RA Prime Minister, “What should we discuss with this mentally retarded?” She said this to Armen Rustamyan and Alen Simonyan, members of the National Assembly, and Davit Harutyunyan, former Minister of Justice of the RA.
Insulting Daniel Ioannisyan by attributing mental disability to him is nothing less than discrimination on the basis of alleged disability by a high-ranking official of the RA and justification and deepening of the existing discrimination, which continues making persons with disabilities vulnerable.
In 2010, the Republic of Armenia ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, under which it undertook to ensure the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities and the respect for their dignity, including their participation in public and political life as well as in decision-making.
Arpine Hovhannisyan’s response-clarification of her expressions is also disturbing. In the clarification, she avoids the fact of her speech being insulting to persons with disabilities and apologizes only for the personalized nature of the wording. Finding the discriminatory attitude towards persons with disabilities and the speculation of intellectual impairments inadmissible, we demand from the RA National Assembly to form an ad hoc ethics committee and to discuss the conduct of the Vice President of the RA National Assembly.
Coalition for Inclusive Legal Reforms
The following human rights organizations have joined the statement:
“Agate” Rights Defense Center for Women with Disabilities NGO
Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly-Vanadzor
“Disability and Inclusive Development” NGO (former “Disability Info” NGO)
“For Equal Rights”
NGO “Center for Legal Initiatives” human rights NGO
“Real World, Real People” NGO
“Women’s Empowerment Center” NGO
“Society without Violence” NGO
“Public Information and Need of Knowledge” NGO
“Sexual Assault Crisis Center” NGO
“Spitak Helsinki Group” human rights NGO
“Full Life” NGO
“Center for Rights Development” NGO
New Generation Humanitarian NGO
“Let’s Do It! Armenia” NGO
Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities” NGO for persons with disabilities
Women’s Resource Center
“Women’s Support Center” NGO
Arev Melkonyan, individual, member of the Coalition for Inclusive Legal Reforms
“Sound of Silence” NGO
Armine Ghazaryan, individual, member of the Coalition for Inclusive Legal Reforms
“Protection of Rights without Borders” NGO
“Children’s Society; Center for Children’s and Youth’s Initiatives” NGO