We, the undersigned civil society organizations, express our deep concern with
the presidential elections on February 19, 2008, the pre-election period, the
election campaign and the post-election processes in the country. The assessment
of international observers, even though portrayed in a positive light by the government
and the government controlled media, was critical. However, the apparent discrepancy
between the actual findings of the assessment with the formative first two sentences
of the report resulted in the government only referring to this paragraph in the
international observers’ assessment in order to legitimize the results of
the election. Meanwhile, in the report, international observers pointed out to
media censorship, intimidation of voters, vote buying, etc. and called vote count
‘bad’ or ‘very bad’ in 16 percent of polling stations
visited. Qualifying such practices as a “step forward” and in line
with the commitments to hold free and fair elections discredits the notion of
democracy and further lowers the standards of democratic reforms.
A number of undersigned organizations observed the elections during the voting
day as well as the process prior and post February 19. The instances of violations
are numerous and are documented in our reports.
We are particularly concerned with the Freedom of Media/Access to Media, Violence,
Corruption and Use of Administrative Resources, Arrests of Public Figures.
One of the main points that the OSCE/ODHIR observation mission made in its interim
report concerned the need to establish public trust in the electoral process.
Deep rooted mistrust and often-referred-to public apathy is nothing else but self-preservation
reaction of the Armenian people vs. the atmosphere of impunity for those who perpetrated
electoral fraud in all past elections. The processes taking place after the elections
are alarming and will definitely deepen the public distrust.
We believe that as long as electoral fraud goes uninvestigated and unpunished,
there will be no trust in the process and in the legal and judicial system.
We believe that only through open and widely inclusive public discussion over
the above stated problems and violations it is possible to foster the atmosphere
of trust and public confidence.
In view of the above, we state that this election was not held in correspondence
with our understanding of democratic values and practices.
We believe that the way the authorities handle the fraud will be indicative of
the honest determination to abide by the rules of democratic free and fair elections.
We call upon the Armenian government to stop politically motivated detentions.
These are not calls for impunity, but a call for the government to set the example
for the Armenian people and to act within the law.
We call upon the international community to see through the commitment of the
Armenian government to comply with the procedure and to require documentation
of proper investigation and due punishment of those who violated the law.
We call upon the international community to make objective conclusions based on
their own findings and not to discredit the notion of democracy, democratic standards
and principles, as well as the international organizations carrying out an observation