YPC Weekly Newsletter

2008


MEDIA AND NGOs ASKED THE ASSISTANT US SECRETARY OF STATE TO SUPPORT THE PLIGHT FOR EARLY RELEASE OF “ZHAMANAK-YEREVAN” CHIEF EDITOR

On June 24 the heads of “Haikakan Zhamanak”, “Haik”, “Hraparak”, “Taregir”,
“Chorrord Ishkanutiun”, “Iravunk De Facto”, “Aravot” newspapers, “A1+”
TV company, Yerevan Press Club, Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression,
“Asparez” Journalist’s Club of Gyumri and five human rights NGOs addressed a
letter to the Assistant US Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and
Labor David Kramer, who is currently in Armenia on an official visit. The letter
contained a request to David Kramer to support the plight to Armenian authorities
for the early release of Arman Babajanian, the founder and the Chief Editor
of “Zhamanak” newspaper, published in Yerevan (as “Zhamanak-Yerevan”) and in
Los Angeles. As it has been reported, Arman Babajanian was convicted for 3.5
years’ imprisonment for document fraud to avoid mandatory military service.
In July and December 2007 the head of “Zhamanak-Yerevan” twice addressed the
Commission on Early Release and Release on Parole and was refused. The time
when Arman Babajanian can re-submit his petition for early release draws near
(see YPC Weekly Newsletter, June
13-19, 2008
).

Arman Babajanian was arrested on June 26, 2006 and has admitted charges, the
letter says in particular: “His conviction, however, has been widely regarded
as politically motivated, given the length of his prison term for a charge that
normally draws lighter sentences and considering his political and professional
activities. Arman’s newspaper expresses positions critical of the government,
and the political aspect of his case has been acknowledged by major international
human rights groups in their annual repots, as well as the State Department
Human Rights Report for Armenia for 2007.”

As in July this year the Editor of “Zhamanak-Yerevan” can re-request early
release and taking into account his good conduct, the signatories to the letter
asked the Assistant US Secretary of State for his support “in urging the authorities
to take that case with due earnestness and compassion”, stating that they “remain
committed to continuing efforts towards that outcome”.