“Silence and Hypocrisy – Killer of hope”

The title of this monologue is the heading of a statement by the Armenian Bar Association dated 4 August 2016 that I received via email. The statement is also signed by few other American/Armenian organizations and prominent Armenian lawyers, academics, artists, writers, etc. It is  An urgent call for our Diaspora to demand democracy and human rights in Armenia”.

The reason and timing of this well-written statement is the reaction of the government of Armenia that according to the statement resulted”in wholesale mass arrests and detention of anyone they suspect as the opposition”, after the “Daredevils of Sassoon” Սասնա Ծռեր were surrendered. (I wrote about the occupation of a police station by Daredevils of Sassoon in my previous monologue dated August 3, 2016).

The signatories are calling on Diaspora to rise to the occasion and condemn the human rights violations and state that “if ever the Diaspora had an opportunity to show its true mettle, the hour has come”.

A few days earlier I received another email from a friend, (an Armenian patriot from Diaspora, who has an impressive track record of good deeds in Armenia, and is a supporter of the Daredevils of Sassoon) asking me if I would agree to let him add my name to a list of the supporters of the Daredevils of Sassoon. I said NO.

I also said I will support him if he started a legal defense fund for hiring the best lawyers from Armenia, and abroad, to defend them in the court. Needless to say, this does not mean that I support or condone their illegal actions, I don’t, but they have to have their day in the court and a fair trial.

This is exactly what the Armenian Bar Association (ABA) should do. Some of its members specialized in this kind of case could also get involved and do consulting services to the legal team. Needless to say, in legal matters, ABA is best qualified to expose and hold the corrupt Armenian justice system accountable for its illegal deeds, and this is the time for ABA “to show its true mettle, the hour has come”.

Unfortunately, there were many previous occasions that the Armenian legal minds, including ABA, could have taken a stand and even legal action to hold the corrupt government of Armenia, and especially the corrupt justice system, accountable for their illegal activities and human rights violations.

(The most tragic event among them was the March 1 2008 killings of 10 Armenian citizens by the police/army/security? forces that never got even investigated. This is one case that must be impartially investigated and the culprits brought to justice no matter how late it is. Needless to say, other cases that were “tried” could be also reopened based on new evidence).

I was surprised to read in the statement that ABA is also demanding a meaningful investigation of violations committed during last December’s constitutional referendum and those who have to date blocked such an effort”. It seems this is a bit too late to do something about it. (This was the issue that got me started to write my monologues and I wrote about them starting on January 3, 2016. It is about the falsifications of the referendum that was “passed” by the government and its subservient cronies).

Maybe the best thing that could be done about this issue is that, at the next parliamentary election (coming in May 2017),  the opposition utilize this time period to factually expose the corruption and the illegal actions of the government during the referendum and thus question its credibility and the legitimacy.

The opposition could also capitalize on the government’s mishandling of the four-day war with Azeris in early April that caused heavy casualties to the Armenian army plus loss of territory in Karabagh that considerably weakened the government’s credibility.

Time is short, but the opposition has to get better organized and have its representatives in each of 1997? poling stations to proof verify the vote and hopefully win. But after seeing the miserable performances of the opposition during the December 6 2015 referendum, I am not optimistic that the opposition will be able to rise to the occasion. I hope, and truly hope, that I am wrong.

I am afraid they will continue to complain about corruption, (without significant factual evidence) prior, to or during the election. After the election, they will continue to complain about the falsification of the vote without providing proof from each and every polling station. Yes from each and every one of the polling stations, 1997 of them. (Reporting few violations gives the government the opportunity to say that, it is so few that, it does not affect the overall result and thus claim legitimacy). Again I hope, truly hope, that I am wrong this time as well.

Politically speaking, Diaspora(s) do not have either the state governing institutions or the experienced leadership, that Armenia could benefit from. Unfortunately, Diaspora(s) will continue to pay lip service and “demand” from the Government of Armenia to defend the “democracy and human rights in Armenia” and մասամբ նորին.

Zohrab Bebo Sarkissian

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