On a recent visit to Armenia, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton commended the country for “continuing to work to strengthen [its] democratic institutions to promote transparency, advance the rights of a free press, root out corruption, respect universal rights and freedoms.”
Civil society plays a critical role in securing fundamental freedoms and rights. That’s why Secretary Clinton along with the British Embassy, the OSCE, the EU, and Counterpart International honored Armenian civil rights activists, government officials, and media representatives for their work to promote human rights, accountable government, and free speech.
Artur Sakunts received the Freedom Defender Award for defending all minorities, especially those that are the target of intolerance, such as ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities.
The Woman of Courage Award went to Tsovinar Nazaryan for her military reform efforts to bring about a more modern, effective, and humane force for Armenia. Deputy Chief of Police, Major-General Artur Osikyan was recognized for his contributions to police reform, laying the foundation for a transparent and accountable police force that works for the citizens of Armenia.
The award for media excellence went to the editors of Epress.am -- Sonya Apresova, Yuri Manvelyan, and Armen Melikbekyan -- for their fair and balanced coverage and commitment to human rights reporting. Such journalism plays an important part in advancing democratization in Armenia.
Finally, several environmental activists – Apres Zohrabyan, Yeghia Nereseyan, Gor Hakobyan, Mary Khachatryan, and Ruzanna Grigoryan – were honored for their grassroots campaign to promote environmental conservation in Armenia.
These men and women, said Secretary Clinton, demonstrate that “change begins with a group of courageous activists who fight to stop environmental degradation so Armenians can live healthier lives, begins with journalists who raise awareness about human rights violations, and a dedicated public servant who pushes the police to reform.”