Nikol Pashinyan, 35, is the editor-in-chief of the Haykakan Zhamanak newspaper and the activist of the oppositional Armenian National Congress, persecuted for his political views. After the 19 February 2008 presidential elections, he took part in the demonstrations and rallies of the opposition, which started on 20 February 2008. On 1-2 March the authorities violently dispersed the demonstrations and used disproportionate force, which resulted in 10 deaths and more than 130 injuries. Pashinyan was charged with inciting violence against the authorities and organization of mass disorders during the March 2008 post-election events. Pashinyan was imprisoned in July 2009 and sentenced to seven years, which was later reduced to three years and eleven months. The court trial was marked with numerous abuses of the law, among which was the lack of procedural equality of arms between the prosecution and the defence.
Recently, Pashinyan was subjected to physical and psychological harrasment in Kosh prison in Aragatsotn province in Armenia for the refusal to respond to repeated orders to stop writing critical articles from the prison.
The members of the Human Rights House Network and of the South Caucasus Network of Human Rights Defenders call upon the Armenian authorities:
· to immediately release all political prisoners, including Nikol Pashinyan, and take all necessary measures to prevent harassment, threats and violence against political prisoners;
· to ensure the safety of Nikol Pashinyan in prison and to conduct a prompt and impartial investigation in relation to ill-treatment of Nikol Pashinyan and bring those responsible for the harassment and attacks to justice;
· to ensure that an independent medical examination of Nikol Pashinyan is carried out;
· to conform with all provisions of the ECHR, the ICCPR, the CAT and the Armenian Constitution, especially to respect and ensure the right to liberty and security (Article 5 of ECHR, Article 9 of ICCPR and Article 16 of the Armenian Constitution), the right to a fair trial (Article 6 of ECHR Article 14 of ICCPR and Article 16 of the Armenian Constitution), the right to be free from torture and ill-treatment (Article 3 of ECHR, Article 7 of ICCPR, Article 2 of CAT and Article 17 of the Armenian Constitution) and the right to freedom of expression (Article 10 of ECHR, Article 19 of ICCPR and Article 27 of the Armenian Constitution);
· to implement the Universal Periodic Review recommendations to Armenia, particularly the recommendation to strengthen fair-trial safeguards;
· to comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (also called the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders).
Read the full statement, available in English, right.
- Letter of concern regarding the imprisoned journalist Nikol Pashinyan
The letter was signed by 48 members of the Human Rights House Network and of the South Caucasus Network of Human Rights Defenders