The members of the Armenian community of Washington, DC, who took part in the public protest action on July 31 in front of the White House, sent the following letter to President Obama.
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States of America
July 31, 2016
We, members of the Armenian community of the greater Washington area, are profoundly concerned about the events taking place in Armenia. The takeover by a group of political activists and former freedom fighters—the “Daredevils of Sassoon”— on July 17 of a police compound in downtown Yerevan has highlighted in the strongest possible ways the problems of Armenia and its population.
The ruling criminal-oligarchic regime has brought Armenia’s economy to its knees and caused nearly half of the country’s population to migrate. Poverty is widespread; systemic corruption is unprecedented; and human rights are systematically violated. The de facto president Serge Sargsyan came to power by means of fraudulent elections and subsequent massacre of demonstrators in 2008. Citizens of Armenia have been left without real options to express their grievances and demand better governance. While arguably extreme, the actions of the Daredevils are a direct manifestation of the lack of options and a self-defense against the state of terror imposed by the ruling regime on its citizens for years.
The group is demanding the release of all political prisoners and a resignation of Sargsyan administration and has succeeded in galvanizing an unprecedented civil society movement. However, the regime continues to use threats and deception to deal with the civil movement, several leaders of which have been arrested and abused while in detention.
We, therefore, call on your administration to use all powers under its disposal to:
- Prevent further bloodshed and widespread human rights abuse by the Sargsyan regime;
- Impress upon the regime that further violations of basic human rights and fundamental freedoms will not be tolerated;
- Take a more active role in the mediation process and ultimately ensure that peaceful negotiations with the leaders of the protest movement take place;
- Halt all foreign funding for the Armenian police, as recommended by the Transparency International, and investigate all violations of human rights by police and security forces, as recommended by the UN Office in Armenia.
As a potential valuable ally for the United States in the region, Armenia needs a good government to overcome significant challenges to its development, largely due to systemic corruption and theft.
We hope that your administration will continue upholding the values of democracy and good governance for the benefit of people of Armenia and the US-Armenia relations.
Singed Members of Washington, DC Armenian Community (Signatures of file)
Cc: The Department of State Armenia Desk.