Armenia: Guys Who Struggled for Independence Are Now in Prison

August 24, 2010

Today marks the 20th anniversary of modern Armenia’s declaration of independence from the Soviet Union, materialized thirteen months later in September 1991. Some of the founding fathers, however, do not see Armenia as free as they had imagined it two decades ago.

Aram Manukian, the youngest Supreme Court council member who passionately recited the declaration reminds of imprisoned opposition activists he considers political prisoners in today’s Armenia. In the words of Radio Free Europe:

Manukian, who is a senior member of independent Armenia’s first president Levon Ter-Petrosian’s Armenian National Congress opposition alliance, however, sees some serious losses that Armenia has suffered.

“We have taken the way of losing independence in the past ten years,” he said. “All the international treaties, all documents, all resolutions passed on Armenia are a loss for Armenia. It is also a loss that the guys who struggled for independence are now in prisons. This is a disgrace.

Despite a June 2009 amnesty that in effect released many opposition activists arrested for the March 1, 2008 post-election violence in capital Yerevan, a number of political activists remain imprisoned in Armenia.

For ordinary Armenians, however, economic and social rights are as important as political ones:

One elderly resident in Yerevan called it important that two decades after declaring independence Armenians still have an independent homeland. “To be free and independent is good to everyone. We would have a great country if people’s living standards improved,” he added.