U.S. State Department assessment: Suspension of the ARF marked a “noticeable decline in Armenia’s observance of human rights”

The U.S. State Department, in its recently released annual report on human rights practices, has documented human rights and civil liberties violations by the Armenian government. The document, Armenian Human Rights Practices, 1995, released on March 6th, is part of the State Department’s yearly evaluation of the human rights situation in countries throughout the world.

The following are excerpts from “Armenia Human Rights Practices, 1995.”

“… Starting with the suspension of a major opposition party, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) or Dashnak party, and its newspapers in December 1994, there was a noticeable decline in Armenia’s observance of human rights. The Government hampered the ability of opposition parties and media organs to function freely, including before and during the elections. The Government’s manipulation of the elections and the constitutional referendum, primarily through the CEC, restricted citizens’ ability to change their government.”

“… Freedom of the press was partially restricted in December 1994, when the Government shut down four Dashnak-affiliated newspapers, as well as eight other media outlets with Dashnak party members in key positions. Ten of these remain closed.

“… In December 1994, the Government suspended the Dashnak party by presidential decree alleging that the party harbored a secret terrorist cell, Dro, that represented a clear and present danger to the Armenian State. The Supreme Court subsequently upheld the President’s decision to suspend the party for 6 months, on the grounds that the presence of expatriate members on its ruling bodies violated the Law on Public Political Organizations. The Dashnak party was not allowed to register for the parliamentary elections, although members were allowed to run as individuals in single mandate districts.”