Four months after undergoing a disputed presidential election, Armenia
is still feeling its effects. David Kramer, U.S. State Department
Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, ended a
two-day visit on June 25 to Armenia to discuss ways of addressing human
rights concerns and restoring Armenia to the democratic path.
of Armenians took part in mass protests following incumbent Prime
Minister Serge Sargsyan’s presidential win in the February 19 election.
Citing government interference and manipulation, civilians in support
of opposition candidate and former Armenian president Levon
Ter-Petrossian called the election fraudulent and demanded a re-run. On
March 1, police clashed with protestors in Yerevan, resulting in the
death of at least eight civilians and two security force officers. More
than one-hundred-thirty people were injured. Hours after the violent
outbreak, outgoing President Robert Kocharian issued a twenty-day state
of emergency, suspending public assembly and controlling all
According to a report by Human Rights Watch,
an independent human rights monitor, more than one hundred civilians
have been charged with offenses related to the March 1 events. While
President Sargsyan claims that none of the arrests during the crackdown
were related to political expression, dozens of opposition activists
still remain in prison due to their involvement in the “mass
“We hope Armenia gets back on a democratic path
and stays on that path,” Assistant Secretary of State Kramer said after
talks with Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan and other senior Armenian
officials in late June. Kramer urged Armenian authorities to initiate
full restoration of rights of assembly and media freedom, release those
detained on politically motivated charges, launch a credible
investigation of the events that took place in March, and hold dialogue
with opposition leaders.
The U.S. has helped Armenia in its
economic goals since its independence in 1991 and continues to support
the country’s democratic development. The U.S. calls on the government
to seriously address the issues that surfaced during the last election
and remedy any inconsistencies with international democratic standards.
recognize that there will be ups and downs in the future as well,” Mr.
Kramer said. “What we hope to see is that those ups significantly
outweigh any future downs.”