European Parliament resolution on the banning of the ARF-Dashnaksutyun

10(e) B4-0685, 0703 and 0714/95

Resolution on the human rights situation in Armenia and the banning of the FRA (sic) Dashnaksutyun party

The European Parliament,

A. whereas since its independence on 21 September 1991 Armenia has been engaged in the construction of a state based on the principles of freedom and democratic institutions,

B. whereas parties have been forbidden by law to have governing bodies abroad or have foreign membership even if of Armenian origin; whereas the funding of Armenian parties by foreign sources has been banned,

C. having regard to the decision of 13 January 1995 b the Armenian Supreme Court to suspend the opposition party FRA Dashnaksutyun for a period of six months, when a general election will be taking place in July 1995, a decision which confirmed the presidential decree of 28 December 1994 banning the party on a charge of having violated the Republic’s law on civil and political organizations,

D. whereas freedom of expression has been attacked by the banning of a dozen newspapers, including the press affiliated to the FRA Dashnaksutyun party and its press agency, as well as ‘independent’ newspapers which the authorities say are linked to that party,

E. having regard to the report of the mission to Armenia by the ‘Human Rights Advocates’ of 20 to 26 January 1995, which refers to the arrest since December 1994 of 21 members of the FRA Dashnaksutyun party on the suspicion of being members of a ‘presumed’ clandestine terrorist group within the party,

1. Considers that the banning of opposition parties is an attack on the basic principles of democracy; considers, however, that any democratic party much comply with the laws and Regulations in force in its own country;

2. Calls, accordingly, on the FRA Dashnaksutyun party to take the necessary measures, as indeed the other opposition parties have done, to legalize its position, enabling the suspension order on it to be lifted forthwith, and thus remove any opportunity for the Armenian Government to use the present law to prevent it from taking part in the electoral process;

3. Considers that the censorship of the press linked to the suspended opposition party, as well as the censorship of some independent press, is a violation of freedom of expression, which is a sine qua non of any democratic system;

4. Calls on the Armenian authorities to reconsider their decision to ban certain newspapers and allow all the country’s political forces to participate in complete freedom in the forthcoming election, with due regard for the laws governing the country;

5. Calls for the 21 persons who have been arrested to be given as rapidly as possible, a fair trial in which the rights of the defence are respected, in the presence of international observers;

6. Welcomes the decision of its Conference of Presidents to send an observer mission before the election of July 1995 to examine the conditions for the preparation of these elections;

7. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the Armenian Government.