Friday, April 10, 2009

The Ombudsman spoke, but what did he say?

The Ombudsman gave a lecture and answered questions yesterday at the University of Michigan. I hope the University will make the video available online, which you can be sure I will post. While his lecture was interesting, he kept it short to be able to answer questions, to which his responses (or lack thereof in some cases) were much more interesting. Here are some highlights of questions, and issues that were brought up.

-He feels it is important to have a strong opposition, as it is with a strong opposition that governments (in general) can be pushed toward democracy. He feels strongly that it his his job to point out the problems in both sides.

-He does feel there is freedom of press in written and web-based media. But not in television media.

-When the different techniques of the government versus the opposition were pointed out, including the beatings of opposition journalists, the Ombudsman's answer was vague. He pointed out how he can only comment on these occurrences. There was no further discussion of the significance of this government strategy of intimidation and violence.

-He strongly feels the judicial system is not independent in Armenia.

-While some of today's Opposition in Armenia works via good mechanisms, some do not. He likened some of the oppositions mechanisms to blackmail, and cited pressures on himself, Raffi Hovhanissyan, and at least one of the Co-rapporteurs of PACE (I think it was John Prescott). He feels some of the Opposition just want to replace those in power with themselves. [He conveniently did not make reference to his own request for increased security for himself and his family about a year or so ago].
However, when pushed to give true, specific examples, he could not do so.

-He felt himself and his office could not follow ALL of the trials occurring in Armenia now, so he had made the decision to make statements about them at the end of them.

-There was a recurring theme that his position is not a political one, it is a legal one. This was the reasoning given as to why he cannot use the term "Political Prisoner." It was also the reason that he feels he can not make things happen, he can only comment on them.

-When asked about the most recent activities on Northern Avenue, especially the "misunderstanding," he said these things, unfortunately, happen in Armenia. Nothing more.

-When asked if he thought the trials and judgments of Jhangiryan and Ashot Manukyan were fair, he said he had been out of Armenia for a while, and did not know the final conclusions. [Jhangiryan's trial ended March 23, Manukyans ended in December, with the Appeal within months of that]

-He stated: "I try to not be involved in the policy of the government and opposition. I only try to present their attention to their mistakes, which in my opinion they are doing…[] from the point of view of huamn rights and democracy…"

-He noted that he has answered more questions about the oppositions at that Q+A session than he had in Armenia. He usually avoids answering questions about the opposition because they are part of the checks and balances, and he is a mediator, he is in between the government and the opposition.


nazarian said...

I thought he was the human rights defender, not a mediator between the opposition and the government. To him, it should be irrelevant whose rights are violated - someone from the opposition, someone not interested in politics or someone working for the government.

It just happens to be that the bulk of the human rights violations are done to the people in the opposition. But a lot of people who have had their constitutional right to property rights violated are victims, too. Or the police, who are forced to do inhumane things, are victims who work for the government - they may be violating someone's rights but their rights are being violated as well (there is an article in the constitution about employment that I can't remember off top of my head).

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh...
Why did he show up anyway? It is clear that he is under the shadow of SS and his mobs.
I am speechless...What does he take us for?

Sovorakan hay said...

It's the state department that brought him.

Hayaser said...

hang him, hang all these MAFIA cronies

Armen Filadelfiatsi said...

Hell, just hang anybody. Like, how about ARF-ers who play fast and loose with ALL CAPS?

Hayaser said...

debil lakot

Armen Filadelfiatsi said...

I've got a rhetorical member that will pierce you from the place from which you yammer all the way up to your seventh generation.