Human Rights House Foundation remembers Mika as a passionate, brave and courageous human rights defender, with firm and strong opinions. He was principled in his human rights approach – never compromising on human rights. He had the ability to stand up for the unprotected, and managed to gather broad support for vulnerable groups. He stood as a champion for women rights and rights of LGBT people, inspiring many in Armenia and throughout the Caucasus.
He was a character, a warm person caring for others and one who does not hold back his opinion, a strong personality with firm ideas challenging all of us. He inspired so many to uncompromisingly fight for human rights and justice.
Mikael Danielyan and Kety Abashidze inspecting the building that will become Human Rights House Yerevan.
Danielyan was a prominent human rights defender in Armenia and the region. He was the Chairman of the Helsinki Association, which he founded in 1997, and the Chairperson of Human Rights House in Yerevan.
The Human Rights House Foundation worked closely with Danielyan, and the Armenian Helsinki Association which he founded and led, for more than 10 years. He initiated and coordinated the establishment of the Human Rights House Yerevan, and was instrumental in the creation and running of the South Caucasus Network of Human Rights Defenders.
In 2009 Danielyan received Freedom Defender Award Armenia 2008 by the US Embassy in Armenia.
Mika’s friends and colleagues within the Human Rights House Network shared the following tributes (we will continue to update as we receive tributes).
Israpil Shovkhalov, CCI, Russian Research Centre for Human Rights:
“Mika had a big heart and a big soul. No one was as brave as he was; no one had as much courage. He had such a character and personality, and you couldn’t get to know Mika without being affected by Mika. I’ll forever remember him with that big, heartwarming smile of his, in a Rolling Stones t-shirt, a pipe in his mouth and always something witty to say. Mika will be greatly missed by all of us.”
Taciana Reviaka, President of the Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House:
“I learned from Mikael Danelyan’s cheerfulness, humour, and the ability to withstand difficult situations when he was in Belarus in early 2011. He came to help us pull through the flood of repressions against civil society, journalists and human rights defenders after the 2010 elections. We were exhausted and in despair. Not only did Mikael take on the job, but he also taught us that we must not give in to despair, that the government is hoping exactly for that – to break us. ‘You must stand up,’ he told us. ‘And we will help. That is why we are here. And you need to continue to see what’s good in life – meeting great people, eating tasty food and listening to music.’ Later we saw each other on numerous occasions, and I always appreciated in Mikael his ability to combine hard work and responsibility with love for life and how he could enjoy the beauty in it. That life lesson from Mikael will stay with me forever. So will the memory of him. Mikael will be sorely missed – with his great smile, his jokes, his fabulous glasses and the pipe.”
Mikael Danielyan during solidarity action in Yerevan in support of freedom for Ales Bialiatski in 2013.
Anna Gerasimova, Director of The Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House:
“Mika was the definition of life and being alive, a source of energy for everybody around. A true fighter for human rights, standing up for them regardless of any circumstances.”
Intigam Aliyev, Head of the Legal Education Society:
“Information about Mika’s death has shocked me. He was my close friend. He was a great man and a human rights defender. It’s a great loss for the human rights movement, and not only on the post-Soviet area. Brightest memories of him will stay forever in our hearts.”
Shahla Ismayil, Chairperson of WARD, Attorney of Human Rights House Azerbaijan:
“Mikael was a good man, cheerful and serious at the same time. He was persistent in his human rights work. May he rest in peace!”
Human Rights House Tbilisi:
“Mika was a passionate human rights defender, reliable and trustful person for the whole Caucasian civil society and human rights defenders. We are very sorry that the person who was desperately fighting for the human rights in Armenia and gained so much love not only within the country but throughout Caucasus, has passed away. For Human Rights House Tbilisi, he was a very close person, feeling his support and encouragement every time. We send our condolences to his family.”
Mikael Danielyan and colleagues from Human Rights House Tbilisi
Dominika Bychawska-Siniarska and Danuta Przywara, on behalf of Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Poland:
“Mika Danielyan will remain in our hearts and the hearts of many human rights defenders across the globe. We all loved him for his compassion in human rights and critical thinking. He was always among us with a smile, with care for others and great passion for music. And such he will remain for us, and we will include him in our daily thoughts.”
Lubov Vinogradoiva, Board member of Russian Research Centre for Human Rights:
“It is impossible to imagine. He was always full of energy and desire to change the world. And it seemed that he could. Bright memory!”
Emin Huseynov, Chairman of Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety:
“What a terrible loss. We mourn here at IRFS. Our thoughts are with his family and friends. A great man, truly committed to human rights – a huge loss not only for his family, colleagues and friends, but for the entire communities in Caucasus and beyond. We will be missing our dear friend Mika.”
Serhiy Burov, Chairperson of Educational Human Rights House Chernihiv:
“Mikael was one of the few who make this world alive. Let the memory of him make us better…”