Republic of Armenia
Joined United Nations: 2 March 1992
Human Rights as assured by their constitution
Updated 18 November 2012
2,970,495 (July 2012 est.)
President since 9 April 2008
President elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible
for a second term); election last held 19 February 2008
Next scheduled election: 18 February 2013
HEAD OF GOVERNMENT
Prime Minister since 9 April 2008
Prime minister appointed by the president and confirmed with
the majority support of the National Assembly; the prime
minister and Council of Ministers must resign if the National
Assembly refuses to accept their program; elections: last held 6
Next scheduled election: Spring 2017
|DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Armenian 97.9%, Yezidi (Kurd) 1.3%, Russian 0.5%, other 0.3% (2001 census)
Armenian Apostolic 94.7%, other Christian 4%, Yezidi (monotheist with elements of nature worship) 1.3%
Republic comprised of 11 provinces (marzer, singular - marz); Legal system is based on civil law system
Executive: President elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held 19
February 2008 (next to be held February 2013); Prime Minister appointed by the president and confirmed with the
majority support of the National Assembly; the prime minister and Council of Ministers must resign if the National
Assembly refuses to accept their program. Elections: last held 12 May 2007 (next to be held in the 17 Februart 2013
Legislative: Unicameral National Assembly (Parliament) or Azgayin Zhoghov (131 seats; members elected by
popular vote to serve four-year terms; 90 members elected by party list, 41 by direct vote)
elections: last held 16 May 2012 (next to be held in the Spring 2017)
Judicial: Constitutional Court; Court of Cassation (Appeals Court)
Armenian 97.7%, Yezidi 1%, Russian 0.9%, other 0.4% (2001 census)
After several years of double-digit economic growth, Armenia faced a severe economic recession with GDP
declining more than 14% in 2009, despite large loans from multilateral institutions. Sharp declines in the construction
sector and workers' remittances, particularly from Russia, led the downturn. The economy began to recover in 2010
with 2.1% growth, and picked up to 4.6% growth in 2011. Under the old Soviet central planning system, Armenia
developed a modern industrial sector, supplying machine tools, textiles, and other manufactured goods to sister
republics, in exchange for raw materials and energy. Armenia has since switched to small-scale agriculture and away
from the large agroindustrial complexes of the Soviet era. Armenia has managed to reduce poverty, slash inflation,
stabilize its currency, and privatize most small- and medium-sized enterprises. Armenia's geographic isolation, a
narrow export base, and pervasive monopolies in important business sectors have made it particularly vulnerable to
the sharp deterioration in the global economy and the economic downturn in Russia. The conflict with Azerbaijan
over the ethnic Armenian-dominated region of Nagorno-Karabakh contributed to a severe economic decline in the
early 1990s and Armenia's borders with Turkey remain closed. Armenia is particularly dependent on Russian
commercial and governmental support and most key Armenian infrastructure is Russian-owned and/or managed,
especially in the energy sector. The electricity distribution system was privatized in 2002 and bought by Russia's
RAO-UES in 2005. Natural gas is primarily imported from Russia but construction of a pipeline to deliver natural
gas from Iran to Armenia was completed in December 2008, and gas deliveries expanded after the April 2010
completion of the Yerevan Thermal Power Plant. Armenia's severe trade imbalance has been offset somewhat by
international aid, remittances from Armenians working abroad, and foreign direct investment. Armenia joined the
WTO in January 2003. The government made some improvements in tax and customs administration in recent years,
but anti-corruption measures have been ineffective and the economic downturn has led to a sharp drop in tax
revenue and forced the government to accept large loan packages from Russia, the IMF, and other international
financial institutions. Amendments to tax legislation, including the introduction of the first ever "luxury tax" in 2011,
aim to increase the ratio of budget revenues to GDP, which still remains at low levels. Armenia will need to pursue
additional economic reforms and to strengthen the rule of law in order to regain economic growth and improve
economic competitiveness and employment opportunities, especially given its economic isolation from two of its
nearest neighbors, Turkey and Azerbaijan.
Source: CIA World Factbook (select Armenia)
The observance of human rights in Armenia is uneven and is marked by shortcomings. Police brutality allegedly still
goes largely unreported, while observers note that defendants are often beaten to extract confessions and are denied
visits from relatives and lawyers. Public demonstrations usually take place without government interference, though
one rally in November 2000 by an opposition party was followed by the arrest and imprisonment for a month of its
organizer. Freedom of religion is not always protected under existing law. Nontraditional churches, especially the
Jehovah's Witnesses, have been subjected to harassment, sometimes violently. All churches apart from the Armenian
Apostolic Church must register with the government, and proselytizing was forbidden by law, though since 1997 the
government has pursued more moderate policies. The government's policy toward conscientious objection is in
transition, as part of Armenia's accession to the Council of Europe. Most of Armenia's ethnic Azeri population was
deported in 1988-1989 and remain refugees, largely in Azerbaijan. Armenia's record on discrimination toward the
few remaining national minorities is generally good. The government does not restrict internal or international travel.
Although freedom of the press and speech are guaranteed, the government maintains its monopoly over television
and radio broadcasting.
Political corruption is a problem in Armenian society. In 2008, Transparency International reduced its Corruption
Perceptions Index for Armenia from 3.0 in 2007 to 2.9 out of 10 (a lower score means more perceived
corruption); Armenia slipped from 99th place in 2007 to 109th out of 180 countries surveyed (on a par with
Argentina, Belize, Moldova, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu). Despite legislative revisions in relation to elections
and party financing, corruption either persists or has re-emerged in new forms.
The United Nations Development Programme in Armenia views corruption in Armenia as "a serious challenge to its
Serzh Sargsyan, then Prime Minister of Armenia and having President Kocharyan's backing, was viewed as the
strongest contender for the post of the President of Armenia in the February 2008 presidential election. While
Sargsyan was declared the victor with 53% of the vote, the opposition levelled charges of vote rigging which led to
demonstrations, confrontations with law enforcement and the death of ten people in confrontations with the police.
Members of the opposition were arrested as well as a de facto ban on any further anti-government protests.
Sargsyan was recognized as legitimate president. In 2011, protests erupted in Armenia as part of the revolutionary
wave sweeping through the Middle East. Protesters continue to demand an investigation into the 2008 violence, the
release of political prisoners, an improvement in socioeconomic conditions, and the institution of democratic reforms.
Legislative elections were conducted on 16 May of 2012 and presidential elections are slated for 18 February 2013.
Source: Wikipedia: Politics of Armenia
the dispute over the break-away Nagorno-Karabakh region and the Armenian military occupation of surrounding
lands in Azerbaijan remains the primary focus of regional instability; residents have evacuated the former Soviet-era
small ethnic enclaves in Armenia and Azerbaijan; Turkish authorities have complained that blasting from quarries in
Armenia might be damaging the medieval ruins of Ani, on the other side of the Arpacay valley; in 2009, Swiss
mediators facilitated an accord reestablishing diplomatic ties between Armenia and Turkey, but neither side has
ratified the agreement and the rapprochement effort has faltered; local border forces struggle to control the illegal
transit of goods and people across the porous, undemarcated Armenian, Azerbaijani, and Georgian borders; ethnic
Armenian groups in the Javakheti region of Georgia seek greater autonomy from the Georgian Government
Refugees (country of origin): 8,400 (conflict with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh) (2009)
Illicit cultivation of small amount of cannabis for domestic consumption; minor transit point for illicit drugs - mostly
opium and hashish - moving from Southwest Asia to Russia and to a lesser extent the rest of Europe
|HUMAN RIGHTS STATEMENTS, ANALYSIS AND CRITIQUES
|2011 Human Rights Report: Armenia
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
May 25, 2012
Armenia’s constitution provides for a republic with an elected head of state and a unicameral legislature, the National Assembly. In
2008 Serzh Sargsian became president after a significantly flawed election. The ruling coalition, led by Sargsian’s Republican Party
of Armenia, continued to dominate the political system. Security forces reported to civilian authorities.
The most significant human rights problems were limitations on citizens’ right to change their government, freedom of speech and
press, and the independence of the judiciary. The government released the remaining six opposition members detained in connection
with the 2008 clashes between security forces and protesters disputing the outcome of the 2008 presidential election. Since April
28 the government began permitting demonstrations and opposition rallies in previously restricted areas of the capital city, and all
were held without incident, although demonstrators from outside of Yerevan at times were impeded in their attempts to travel to
rallies. The media, in particular television, continued to lack diversity of political opinion and objective reporting. The government
decriminalized libel and defamation but established high new civil fines that encouraged journalists and media outlets to practice self-
censorship. The process used to switch from analog to digital television reduced media pluralism. Courts remained subject to
political pressure from the executive branch, and judges operated in a judicial culture that expected courts to find the accused guilty
in almost every case.
During the year suspicious deaths occurred in the military under noncombat conditions, while hazing and other mistreatment of
conscripts by officers and fellow soldiers, and a lack of accountability for such actions, continued. Allegations of torture
continued. Many prisons were overcrowded, unsanitary, and lacking in medical services for inmates. Police reportedly beat citizens
during arrest and interrogation. Authorities continued to arrest and detain criminal suspects without reasonable suspicion and to
detain individuals arbitrarily due to their opposition political affiliations or political activities. Authorities and laws restricted religious
freedom for certain groups. Corruption remained a problem, with authorities taking limited measures to curb it. Domestic violence
remained a problem but largely went unreported to authorities. Human trafficking was a problem, but authorities made efforts to
combat it. Persons with disabilities experienced discrimination in almost all areas of life. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender
(LGBT) persons were subjected to societal abuse and discrimination by military and prison authorities. There were reports of
forced labor. Workers’ rights were limited and existing labor laws weakly enforced.
Although the government took some steps to punish officials in the security forces and elsewhere who committed abuses, some
members of the security forces continued to commit human rights abuses with impunity while under the direction of civilian
leadership. A government-issued report on the deaths of eight civilians and two police officers killed in the 2008 postelection
violence did not identify the individuals responsible for the deaths and largely justified the police response.
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10 March 2011
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
14 February – 11 March 2011
Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 9 of the convention
Concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
2. The Committee welcomes the report of the State party, which is in conformity with the Committee’s guidelines, as well as the
supplementary information provided orally by the delegation. The Committee also welcomes the resumption of dialogue with the
State party and finds encouraging the frank and constructive responses provided to the questions and comments raised thereby.
B. Positive aspects
3. The Committee welcomes the legislative, institutional and other measures taken by the State party since the examination of the
combined third and fourth periodic reports of the State party in 2002, to combat racial discrimination and to promote tolerance and
understanding among the various ethnic and national groups of its population. In particular, it notes with interest:
(a) The constitutional prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of, among others, race, colour, ethnic origin, genetic features
and circumstances of personal nature;
(b) The inclusion of the prohibition of racial discrimination in a number of laws regulating various aspects of public life, such as in
the Law on Television and Radio;
C. Concerns and recommendations
8. While noting that the State party’s Constitution accords primacy to international instruments over domestic laws and that,
according to the State party’s statement, provisions of international treaties have been invoked in courts, the Committee remains
concerned that as many provisions of the Convention are not self-executing, the legislation of the State party does not currently
give full effect to all articles of the Convention.
The Committee particularly draws the attention of the State party to the absence of a legal prohibition of organisations involved in
activities promoting and inciting racial discrimination, as required by article 4(b) of the Convention. Moreover, the Committee
regrets that it has not been given information on legal provisions relating to racial segregation. (arts. 2, 3 and 4)
The Committee urges the State party to continue to bring its legislation into line with the Convention and asks the State party to
include in the next report the relevant extracts of the laws covering the activities proscribed in articles 3 and 4 of the Convention, as
well information on any judicial decision relating thereto. Moreover, the Committee encourages the State party to strengthen efforts
to ensure the effective implementation of the laws adopted in recent years to combat racial discrimination and to monitor that they
achieve the objectives for which they have been adopted.
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Secretary Clinton Should Raise Human Rights Concerns During Her Visit to the Caucasus
Jun 1 2012 - 3:17pm
Freedom House urges Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to make human rights and democracy shortfalls in the Caucasus region the
cornerstone topic in private meetings and in public statements during her upcoming visit to Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia. While
the trip of a high-ranking U.S. government official strengthens the bilateral relations between the United States and each of the
countries, it also offers an opportunity to publicly underscore U.S. support for the advancement of civil society as a crucial building
block of a well-functioning democracy.
Clinton is scheduled to visit the three countries from June 4 to 7 and will meet with Presidents Sargisian, Saakashvili and Aliyev,
other senior government officials and civil society leaders of each nation, according to the State Department press statement.
Additionally, in Georgia the Secretary will open the U.S.-Georgia Strategic Partnership Commission plenary session. In all three
countries, she plans to discuss â€œimportant issues of regional security, democracy, economic development and counterterrorism,â
€ the statement said.
“Encouraging and supporting democratically accountable systems in the Caucasus region is essential,” said Freedom House
president David J. Kramer. “While we realize there are a range of policy interests to be discussed during the trip, Freedom House
calls for a particular emphasis on the ongoing concerns about human rights and democracy throughout the region, especially in
Azerbaijan and Armenia.”
Freedom House urges Secretary Clinton to address the following human rights issues in bilateral meetings:
• In Azerbaijan, the authorities intimidated political activists, used force to break up antigovernment demonstrations, jailed
opposition leaders in a series of deeply flawed trials, and tried to neutralize international press, continuing the long-term trend of
suppressing virtually any meaningful open public debate.
• Despite repeated pledges of reform by the Armenian government, the country’s reform ambitions are hampered by the
deep relationship between politics and business, which effectively prevents the advancement of greater accountability and
• Georgia affords some but not all of the institutional safeguards and holds promise for more meaningful reform, if the right
steps are taken. The upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections in Georgia present a test for civil society in Georgia to
develop more effective and mature political platforms.
Azerbaijan is rated Not Free in Freedom House’s Freedom in the World 2012 survey, and in Freedom of the Press 2012, which
ranks it 172nd out of 197 countries for media freedom.
Armenia is rated Partly Free in Freedom in the World 2012, and Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2012, which ranks it 149th out
of 197 countries.
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Annual Report 2012
The ban on public assemblies in the central square of the capital was lifted and an improved Law on Assemblies was adopted.
However, concerns remained regarding the implementation in practice of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly. Torture and
other ill- treatment in police stations also remained a concern.
Large-scale protests led by the opposition Armenian National Congress started in February. They called for democratic reforms, the
release of all opposition activists detained following the 2008 post-election protests and a new inquiry into clashes between police
and protesters that left 10 people dead and more than 250 wounded. On 26 May, a general amnesty was declared for all the people
imprisoned in connection with the 2008 protests. On 20 April, the President ordered a renewed investigation into the deaths of 10
people during the events, but at the end of the year no one had been brought to justice in connection with the deaths.
Freedom of assembly
There were a number of improvements regarding freedom of assembly. The ban on public assemblies in Yerevan’s Freedom
Square was lifted. The square had been closed to demonstrations since the March 2008 clashes.
However, concerns continued. The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights reported in May about the “unlawful and
disproportionate impediments to the right of peaceful assembly, such as intimidation and arrest of participants, disruption of
transportation means and blanket prohibitions against assemblies in certain places”.
The new Law on Assemblies was assessed by the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission to be largely in accordance with
international standards, but concerns remained. In this respect, the Commission highlighted the Law’s blanket prohibition against
assemblies organized within a certain distance from the presidential residence, the national assembly and courts; the seven-day
notice period before a protest was allowed to take place as being unusually long; and the articles prohibiting assemblies which
aimed at forcibly overthrowing the constitutional order, inciting racial, ethnic and religious hatred or violence as being too broad.
Torture and other ill-treatment
Torture and other ill-treatment remained a concern. In a report published in February, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary
Detention stated that many of the detainees and prisoners they interviewed had been subjected to ill-treatment and beatings in police
stations. Police and investigators used ill-treatment to obtain confessions, and prosecutors and judges frequently refused to admit
evidence of ill-treatment during court proceedings.
In August, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture reported that it had received a significant number of credible
allegations of ill-treatment, some amounting to torture, by police during initial interviews.
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Armenia: Investigate Mob Attack on Local NGO
Authorities Should Protect Free Speech; Secure Film Screening
April 17, 2012
(Berlin) – The authorities should immediately conduct a thorough investigation into an attack against a leading human rights
organization in Armenia’s northern town of Vanadzor, Human Rights Watch said today.
On April 16, 2012, at approximately 11:00 a.m. a group of about 200 people gathered outside the office of the Helsinki Citizens’
Assembly (HCA) in Vanadzor, demanding that the screening of a series of short films made in Azerbaijan planned for the next day
be cancelled. The crowd threw eggs and stones at the office, broke several windows and threatened the staff with further violence
unless their demands were met. The group dispersed only after HCA leaders promised not to show the films.
“The history of conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan means that a film from Azerbaijan is controversial for some, but that
doesn’t justify not screening the films, far less any threat or use of violence,” said Giorgi Gogia, senior South Caucasus researcher
at Human Rights Watch. “The authorities should promptly investigate the incident and ensure safety and security of the Helsinki
Citizens’ Assembly staff.”
Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a seven-year war over Nagorno-Karabakh, a primarily ethnic Armenian-populated autonomous
exclave in the Soviet Azerbaijan. Despite a 1994 ceasefire, the conflict yet has to be resolved politically.
The HCA’s Vanadzor office agreed to provide its premises to the Caucasus Center of Peace Making, a non-governmental
organization working on confidence-building projects, which planned to show four short films by Azerbaijani filmmakers as part of
a film festival. Over a dozen local civil society groups and political parties in Vanadzor issued a statement on April 14, calling on the
public to protest against the film festival and prevent it from taking place. It was the festival organizers’ second attempt to show
the films. They tried to proceed with the festival on April 12 in the town of Gyumri, but cancelled it in the wake of public protests.
On the morning of April 16, some 200 people – including former military servicemen, students and political party representatives –
gathered in the center of Vanadzor and marched toward the HCA's office. According to one of the witnesses, the crowd was led
by the Union of Nagorno-Karabakh War Veterans (“Yerkrapah”).
The HCA’s Vanadzor office tried to negotiate with the crowd and allowed several of the protest’s organizers to enter their offices
to discuss the group’s demands. However, several of the rally participants also entered the premises and threatened to break the
equipment and furniture unless the NGO agreed not to show the films. The crowd outside chanted slogans: “Traitors, Shame, and
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Armenian Foreign Minister's Speech at UN GA
Armenia has committed itself to the strengthening of the institutional capacities of the United Nations. We support the United Nations
reform processes and are ready to bring our feasible contribution to them. We believe that the reforms are an opportunity to make the
role of the UN stronger on crucial issues facing the world and to accomplish both the Millennium Development and Sustainable
We welcome the fact that along with the agenda of the sixty-seventh session that encompasses the pressing issues of joint
responsibility for maintenance of international peace, security, it is proposed to focus during this session on the settlement of disputes
by peaceful means.
Regrettably, we have witnessed intolerance and hatred in our part of the world, too. Year after year Armenia has been raising its
concerns from this podium over the militaristic rhetoric, blatant violation of international commitments and anti-Armenian hysteria
being instilled into the Azerbaijani society from the highest levels of its leadership.
Many international organizations on human rights alerted about flagrant cases of xenophobia, racism, intolerance and violations of
human rights in Azerbaijan, alerted on the policy of hatred against Armenians.
What is the Azerbaijani response? It is not only ignoring the expectations of the international community, but is constantly making new
and new steps going against the values of civilized world. The latest such case is the Azeri government’s release and glorification of
the murderer Safarov, who had slaughtered with an axe an Armenian officer in his sleep, during a NATO program in Budapest simply
because he was an Armenian. The Azerbaijani leadership made him a symbol of national pride and an example to follow by youth. The
world reaction was unanimous and very clear in condemning what was done by Baku. Azerbaijan expresses bewilderment on the
stance of the international community. And what did they expect? That the international community would applaud the glorification of
a heinous murderer? Azerbaijani leadership is continuing to pretend that this act corresponds not only to the Azerbaijani constitution
and legislation, but also to the norms and principles of international law, the respective European Convention. The leadership of this
country is claiming that what was done is just very good. It is very sad that the constitution and legislation of any country could allow
the heroization of a murderer and salary payment for the years passed in prison by brutal criminal.
The Council of Europe Commissioner of Human Rights warned that “to glorify and reward such a person flies in the face of all
accepted standards for human rights protection and rule of law”.
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Ombudsman’s Recommendations on Draft RA Law “On Domestic Violence”
Today, Ombudsman Karen Andreasyan submitted a number of recommendations on draft RA Law “ On Domestic violence”.
The package of recommendations includes various recommendations on the law reform, in particular, on prescribing a certain
procedure of interrogation of juveniles. According to the proposed procedure, juveniles should be interrogated only in the company
of his/her legal representative, as well as in the presence of a police officer dealing with juvenile affairs or a
psychologist/pedagogue, taking into account the fact that manifestation of domestic violence has heavy and overwhelming influence
Another important suggestion was to add the words “twenty-four-hour” before the word “Hot Line” based on considerations of the
complete protection of rights of potential domestic violence victims. It is justified by the international experience according to
which “Hot Line” Services created for prevention of the domestic violence, as well as provision of psychological and legal advice
work for 24 hours.
It is also proposed that each alarm or complaint is subjected to immediate inspection and/or discussion, and a decision on applying
certain preventive means for domestic violence is made as a result.
Moreover, it is also suggested to develop such mechanisms of protection against domestic violence, which will exclude the possible
restrictions on the right to education of a domestic violence victim or his/her child.
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The Police finds there are unrealistic provisions in the law
On November 13 the RA Ministry on Labour and Social Affairs organized the public discussion to present the draft law “On
Domestic Violence”. It will be edited after the discussion and submitted to the Government.
The draft law has been elaborated back in 2007 by the initiative of the NGO “Women’s Rights Center” based on the experience of
the European countries. In 2009 the draft was presented to the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.
In June 2011 it was created the Interagency working group which developed the final version of the draft law. “The document is
very laborious; it could be revised as much as the work continues. It relates the functions of different agencies: court, Prosecutor’s
Office, Police, community etc. The powers of all these agencies should be clearly defined and the adjacent laws should be amended
to avoid contradictions”, says the Head of the Interagency working group Lala Ghazaryan.
The Deputy Minister on Labour and Social Affairs Filaret Berikyan said that the reason for delay of the adoption of the law was
recently ratified Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.
“After the submission of the law to different ministries to obtain the opinions, the Police, Ministry of Justice and Ministry of
Foreign Affairs suggested to revise the draft and bring it into compliance with the provisions of the Convention. Our country seems
to get prepared to join the Convention and it would be fair that we revise the law at this stage. Otherwise we will need to make
changes in the law after the ratification of the Convention”, says the Deputy Minister.
Adoption of the law “On Domestic violence” includes amendments in the 5 adjacent laws: Law on Police, Criminal Code, Criminal
Procedure Code, Administrative Procedure Code, Law on Administrative offences.
The RA legislation does not define the notion “domestic violence” and there is no official statistics on how many people are
subjected to domestic violence every year in Armenia. We know about the cases trough the social surveys and information
published by the NGOs.
“If the law were adopted, there would be statistics as well. We should do our best not only for adoption of the law but also for its
implementation. It will give a possibility for more efficient protection of the victims of violence. The NGOs should work to increase
the awareness, including trainings for police, prosecutors, judges, lawyers because we do not have specialized experts in the field”,
stresses out Chairwoman of the “Women’s Resource Center” Larisa Aharonyan.
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Archaeologists refer to the Shulaveri-Shomu culture of the central Transcaucasus region, including modern Armenia,
as the earliest known prehistoric culture in the area, carbon-dated to roughly 6000 - 4000 BC. However, a recently
discovered tomb has been dated to 9000 BC. Another early culture in the Armenian Highland and surrounding
areas—the Kura-Araxes culture—is assigned the period of ca. 4000 - 2200 BC, and is believed to have
subsequently developed into the Trialeti culture (ca. 2200 - 1500 BC). Armenians are one of the oldest Indo-
European subgroups. The original Armenian name for the country was Hayq, later Hayastan, translated as the land of
Haik, and consisting of the name Haik and the Iranian suffix '-stan' (land). According to legend, Haik was a great-
great-grandson of Noah (son of Togarmah, who was a son of Gomer, a son of Noah's son, Yafet), and according to
tradition, a forefather of all Armenians. Mount Ararat, a sacred mountain for the Armenian people, rising in the center
of the Armenian Highland as its highest peak, is traditionally considered the landing place of Noah's Ark. Between
1500 - 1200 BC, the Hayasa-Azzi existed in the western half of the Armenian Highland, often clashing with the
Hittite Empire. Between 1200 - 800 BC, much of Armenia was united under a confederation of kingdoms, which
Assyrian sources called Nairi ("Land of Rivers" in Assyrian"). The Egyptians used Nairi for Mitanni, referring to the
"Land of Rivers". Nairi was later absorbed into the kingdom of Urartu. The Kingdom of Urartu flourished in the
Caucasus and eastern Asia Minor between the 9th century BC and 585 BC in the Armenian Highland when the first
Armenian Empire was forged. After the fall of Urartu around 585 BC, the Kingdom of Armenia was ruled by the
Armenian Orontid Dynasty, which governed the state in 585 - 190 BC. Under Orontids, Armenia at times was an
independent kingdom, and at other times a satrapy of the Persian Empire. After the destruction of the Seleucid
Empire, a Hellenistic Greek successor state of Alexander the Great's short-lived empire, a Hellenistic Armenian state
was founded in 190 BC, with Artaxias becoming its first kings and the founder of the Artaxiad dynasty (190 BC - 1
AD). Under Nero, the Romans fought a campaign (55–63) against the Parthian Empire, which had invaded the
kingdom of Armenia, allied to the Romans. In 301, Armenia became the first nation to adopt Christianity as a state
religion. It established a church that still exists independently of both the Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox
churches, having become so in 451 after having rejected the Council of Chalcedon. In 591, the great Byzantine
warrior and Emperor Maurice defeated the Persians and recovered much of the remaining territory of Armenia into
the empire. The conquest was completed by the Emperor Heraclius in 629. Evolving as a feudal kingdom in the 9th
century, the Bagratuni Dynasty led Armenia on a brief cultural, political, and economic renewal. The Seljuk Turks
under Alp Arslan in turn took the city in 1064. In 1071, after the defeat of the Byzantine forces by the Seljuk Turks
at the Battle of Manzikert, the Turks captured the rest of Greater Armenia and much of Anatolia. So ended Christian
leadership of Armenia for the next millennium with the exception of a period of the late 12th-early 13th centuries. To
escape death or servitude at the hands of those who had assassinated his relative, Gagik II, King of Ani, an
Armenian named Roupen with some of his countrymen went into the gorges of the Taurus Mountains and then into
Tarsus of Cilicia. Here the Byzantine governor of the place gave them shelter. Thus, from around 1080 to 1375, the
focus of Armenian nationalism moved south, as the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia. After the members of the first
Crusade appeared in Asia Minor, the Armenians developed close ties to European Crusader States, flourished in
southeastern Asia Minor until it was conquered by Muslim states.The failed Third Crusade and other events
elsewhere left Cilicia as the sole substantial Christian presence in the Middle East. Armenian sovereignty lasted till
1375, when the Mamelukes of Egypt profited from the unstable situation of Lesser Armenia and destroyed it.
Mehmed II conquered Constantinople from the Byzantines in 1453, and made it the Ottoman Empire's capital.
Mehmed and his successors used the religious systems of their subject nationalities as a method of population
control, and so Ottoman Sultans invited an Armenian archbishop to establish an Armenian patriarchate in
Constantinople. The Armenians of Constantinople grew in numbers, and became respected, if not full, members of
Ottoman society. In the aftermath of the Russo-Persian War, 1826-1828, the parts of historic Armenia under
Persian control, centering on Yerevan and Lake Sevan, were incorporated into Russia. Under Russian rule, the area
corresponding approximately to modern-day Armenian territory was called "Province of Yerevan". The Armenian
national liberation movement was the Armenian effort to free the historic Armenian homeland of eastern Asia Minor
and Transcaucasus from Russian and Ottoman domination and re-establish the independent Armenian state. In 1839,
the situation of the Ottoman Armenians slightly improved after Abdul Mejid I carried out reforms in its territories.
However, later Sultans, such as Abdul Hamid II stopped the reforms and carried out massacres, now known as the
Hamidian massacres of 1895-96. In 1915, the Ottoman Empire systematically carried out the Armenian Genocide,
during which 1.5 million Armenians perished. The ethnic cleansing of Armenians during the final years of the Ottoman
Empire is a genocide, with one wave of massacres in the years 1894 to 1896 culminating in the events of the
Armenian Genocide in 1915 -1923. With World War I in progress, the Ottoman Turks accused the (Christian)
Armenians as liable to ally with Imperial Russia, and used it as a pretext to deal with the entire Armenian population
as an enemy within their empire. After the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the takeover of the Bolsheviks, Stepan
Shaumyan was placed in charge of Armenia. In 1922, Armenia became part of the Soviet Union as one of three
republics comprising the Transcaucasian SFSR. The Transcaucasian SFSR was dissolved in 1936 and as a result
Armenia became a constituent republic of the Soviet Union as the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic. Soviet
Armenia participated in World War II by sending hundreds of thousands of soldiers to the frontline in order to
defend the "Soviet motherland." On February 20, 1988, interethnic fighting between the ethnic Armenians of
Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijanis broke out shortly after the parliament of Nagorno-Karabakh, an autonomous
oblast in Azerbaijan, voted to unify the region with Armenia. Armenia declared its sovereignty over the Soviet Union
on August 23, 1990. In the wake of the August Coup, a referendum was held on the question of secession.
Following an overwhelming vote in favor, full independence was declared on September 21, 1991. However,
widespread recognition did not occur until the formal dissolution of the Soviet Union on December 25, 1991. After
Robert Kocharian came to power in 1998, the difficult life conditions of Armenia gradually started to change. The
Armenian diaspora, and especially the ARF, obtained more freedom to carry out economic projects in the fatherland.
In 2006, the Republic of Armenia celebrated its 15th anniversary of independence. Serzh Sargsyan, then Prime
Minister of Armenia and having President Kocharyan's backing, was viewed as the strongest contender for the post
of the President of Armenia in the February 2008 presidential election. While Sargsyan was declared the victor with
53% of the vote, the opposition levelled charges of vote rigging which led to demonstrations, confrontations with law
enforcement and the death of ten people in confrontations with the police. Members of the opposition were arrested
as well as a de facto ban on any further anti-government protests. Sargsyan was recognized as legitimate president.
On October 10, 2009, the Turkish-Armenian protocols on the establishment of diplomatic relations constituted a
novelty in Turkish-Armenian relations. Sargsyan accepted the proposal of studying the issue of the Armenian
genocide through a commission, and recognized the current Turkish-Armenian border. In 2009–2010, the
Azerbaijan's military buildup along with increasing war rhetoric and threats risked causing renewed problems in the
South Caucasus. In 2011, protests erupted in Armenia as part of the revolutionary wave sweeping through the
Middle East. Protesters continue to demand an investigation into the 2008 violence, the release of political prisoners,
an improvement in socioeconomic conditions, and the institution of democratic reforms.
Sources: Wikipedia History of Armenia
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