• Chairman of the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Vanadzor

    Chairman of the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Vanadzor Office, Arthur Sakunts, has addressed a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama, expressing his deepest concern over U.S. President’s recent congratulatory message on Serzh Sargsyan’s victory in the February 18 presidential election.

    “Dear Mr. President of the United States,
    On March 2, 2013, the Armenian media disseminated your congratulatory message to the acting president of the Republic of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan on being reelected as the president of Armenia on February 18, 2013. Your congratulation came right when the OSCE/ODIHR disseminated their post-election interim report (March 2, 2013), which emphasized the public distrust toward the election results and numerous facts and justifications for this distrust, including the correlation between the high turnout and the number of votes for Serzh Sargsyan, which duly raises concerns regarding the integrity of the electoral process.

    Your congratulation was disseminated when Amnesty International released a statement (February 28, 2013) demanding that proper investigation be carried out on the reported human rights violations which took place on February 18, 2012.

    I and a number of colleagues and fellows received Universal Rights Awards from the US Government on June 4, 2012, and the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton was present at the official ceremony. We were excited about the support from the Government of a Democratic State to those of us fighting for the establishment of human rights and democracy. Although local nationalists again labeled us as traitors of national interests, implementers of color revolutions, agents defaming our state for foreign money and so on, but these qualifications were not new to us. And they never lead us in our human rights activity.
    However your congratulation is absolutely inappropriate for these elections, which were accompanied by flagrant fraud and violations.

    You undertook immediate responsibility for the falsifications, by congratulating those who falsified the elections, who are directly responsible for human rights transgressions, systemic and organized violations, transgressions and destruction of democratic values. In this case, we do not have any guarantee that Armenia will not turn into another Belarus. Now I am considering if I deserve to bear the Freedom Defender Award, which was awarded by the government of a democratic state, which is now apparently siding with an Oppressor of Freedom.
    With this letter, I express my deepest concern about your position and expect to hear your comments on the issues raised in the letter. I will be able to make a final decision based on your response and comments.
    With regards,

    Artur Sakunts
    Chairman of Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly – Vanadzor”