By Emil Danielyan
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe expressed Thursday concern at “an alarming lack of progress” in bringing to justice the perpetrators of the recent physical attacks on opposition politicians, journalists and a human rights activist in Armenia.
“There is a need for an urgent, efficient and fair investigation of these cases, resulting in the prosecution of the perpetrators in accordance with the law,” Ambassador Vladimir Pryakhin, head of the OSCE’s Yerevan office, said in a publicized letter to Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian.
Pryakhin referred to the beatings over the past month of Armenian Helsinki Association chairman Mikael Danielian, a leading member of the Artarutyun alliance, Victor Dallakian, and another prominent opposition figure, Ashot Manucharian. He also mentioned the attacks on journalists who covered opposition demonstrations in Yerevan earlier this month.
“Ambassador Pryakhin expressed his regret that the investigation of these incidents and of the attacks against journalists during the demonstrations on 5 and 13 April had not progressed and no offender had yet been held accountable,” an OSCE statement said. “At the same time, the Office is also concerned and follows closely the investigation of the cases of violence, intimidation and detentions following the recent demonstrations in Armenia.”
Manucharian’s beating, carried out in broad daylight on April 22, was the most severe of the violent incidents. The veteran politician, who remains in hospital in serious condition, suffered a fractured jaw and was knocked unconscious by unknown assailants. An eyewitness described them as burly men with shaven heads.
The description fits the appearance of about two dozen thugs that tried to disrupt an opposition rally in Yerevan on April 5. Law-enforcement officers looked on as they attacked journalists and smashed cameras that filmed the trouble. The police themselves beat up four journalists during the brutal dispersion of another street protest on the night from April 12 to 13.
Manucharian’s associates say the violence was orchestrated by the Armenian authorities, a charged denied by President Robert Kocharian at the weekend. Kocharian had earlier said he instructed Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian to identify and punish Danielian’s attackers.
However, nobody has been arrested or charged in connection with any of these incidents so far.