LOS ANGELES — Following is a statement issued by Armenian Bar Association:
The Armenian Bar Association, which is the largest organized group of Diasporan lawyers and judges dedicated to the establishment of civil society and to the recognition of civil and human rights, stands in solidarity with Raffi K. Hovannisian’s exercise of his fundamental prerogative of peaceful expression and assembly as he enters the sixth day of his Freedom Fast in Yerevan’s Liberty Square.
Since March 15, 2011, Mr. Hovannisian—the founder of the Armenian Bar Association, Armenia’s first Minister of Foreign Affairs, and current member of Armenia’s Parliament—has solemnly invoked his right of civic and obedient expression by initiating a hunger strike to challenge what many view as the abridgment and denial of the people’s will.
In response to Mr. Hovannisian’s peaceful engagement during which he spends 24 hours a day in an outdoor and public setting—including exposure to the harsh elements during the winter’s sub-freezing nights, the restrictions on his and others’ basic human rights must stop now.
Liberty Square, the historic and symbolic venue where millions marched to secure Armenia’s and Nagorno Kharabagh’s independence, had been cordoned off and the people’s access to this public venue, and to Mr. Hovannisian, has been restricted.
As a shock to our collective and individual consciences, both as Armenians and as human beings, Mr. Hovannisian has been inhumanely denied a request for a modest one-person tent for use during the cold nights, leaving him to battle and survive with his will and diminishing warmth, aided only by the cover of a tri-color blanket.
We demand that Mr. Hovannisian’s right to freedom of expression not be abridged with pretextual reasons. We want to see an Armenia where those who support Raffi K. Hovannisian, as well as those with other positions, join together in support of his right to free speech and assembly.
While politically neutral, the Armenian Bar Association is committed and remains vigilant to ensure that fundamental human rights are not violated.
We call on the President of the Republic of Armenia, Serge Sargsyan, and Police Chief of Yerevan, Nerses Nazaryan, to ensure the safety and security of Mr. Hovannisian and to put into place real measures to bring dignity and democracy to our nation and people.
Board of Governors
Armenian Bar Association