Usually I try to avoid quoting news articles ad commenting on them since that's done by several bloggers out there attempting to be politically correct but lately I haven't been able to resist.
Last Thursday a leader of the ruling Republican party, which has several ignoramuses in its ranks judging from statements I have read in the past, compared the events of March 1, 2008 to wartime Europe, trying to make the point that it had no right to teach "values" and "democracy" to Armenians. In Razmik Zohrabian's remarks he refers to the fact that the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) refrained from imposing sanctions on Armenia on January 26 and taking away its right to vote.
He was quoted in an RFE/RL article
“Because Armenia was not stripped of its [PACE] vote, I don’t want to criticize the assembly in strong terms now,” Zohrabian told RFE/RL in an interview. “But we must not forget that when they teach us lessons on human rights and freedoms and cite European values, we can recall what happened during the World War II in Europe. People were even burned and buried alive there. Was that also part of the European values or it is not part of the history?”
“So when there were events here [in March 2008] that resulted in casualties, in terms of human rights, that is not as great a tragedy as a world war waged under European values,” he charged. “This is just one example. I can bring up more of them.”
I am wondering whether any one of the journalists in attendance at the press conference he held had the audacity to question his motives for making such an absurd comparison. Probably not since Armenian journalists don't really do their job properly. But let's dissect his words a bit.
Let's take the first paragraph that I quoted. Who is this guy to criticize PACE in any terms, strong or not? Why would you want to challenge a European organization that could have easily ignored Armenia in the first place to include it as a member? The very fact that Armenia is an active party in PACE is something that should be commended and revered. Seems that this guy and even others in the party think it’s not very important. Yet it is a privilege to have voting rights there, since Armenia is not technically Europe, and having that power stripped would have been extremely embarrassing.
Then he goes on about Europe having no right to criticize Armenia about its dismal human rights record and its failure to implement a transparent, functioning system of democracy. Reason being is because countries spread across the continent were resisting against living in a broken Europe while a crazy dictator was hell-bent in taking it over, not to mention eradicating millions of people in the process. But Zohrabian is failing to take one thing in consideration--the events of March 1 were not an act of war. They were a response to pain and rejection, met by a clash that was initiated by an impulsive, careless leader who didn't think twice about using force against a crowd of people struggling for justice and change in their society. Violation of human rights unfortunately does not really apply to wartime crises where you have to do whatever is necessary to stay alive, and to protect others around you. More importantly, during war you are fighting in defense of your country against foreign aggressors. The only aggressors on March 1 were those few who were inciting violence. As a result of those events dozens of people who had no connection to the violence were arrested, many of whom are still detained even though no tangible evidence can be presented by the authorities to legitimize the arrests. So we are not talking about war crimes, we are indeed talking about people who are being detained or convicted for mainly political reasons. You're not going to find much arguing on the street refuting this. People don't like living in fear that they can be arrested because they said hello to someone speculated of being tied to the opposition. His comparison of the events of World War II with politically motivated arrests and blatant human rights violations are thus, irrelevant. People still don't know the whole truth about March 1 because the government-led investigations are slow going, and are altogether inadequate. Besides, they won't turn up anything especially revealing. Despite all this, Zohrabian believes that Europe has no right to voice concern about the way the authorities are treating the very people they are supposed to serve because Armenians don't need to be lectured about values by a group of nations that were once at war with one another. Absurd.
Next he goes on to state that human rights violations in Armenia are no big deal since Europe was struggling through war for several years, and on two occasions in the 20th century (he makes no reference to World War I or to civil wars throughout Europe; Spain comes immediately to mind where peasant oppositionists resisted against an oppressive fascist regime). So people being arrested under mere suspicion is not something to be concerned about? There civil liberties freedom of expression are systematically being stripped from them, again with no proof that they incited violence. At least one of the oppositionists, Alexander Arzoumanian, supposedly was plotting a coup on the phone as the authorities had tapped his phone and was listening in. OK, great, where are the phone records? Alas, they haven’t been made public (as far as I know, there’s no reason why they should have been since human rights violations are apparently meaningless).
The ironic thing is that this guy was in jail for 10 years as a political dissident during the 1970s, so he single-handedly experienced a violation of human rights for his beliefs, more or less the same that thousands here are powerlessly trying to defend, declared oppositionists or not--namely freedom, justice, and proper governance in compliance with democratic norms. Why not hold everyone accountable then for wanting change, why stop with 60 people? It’s irrelevant. Europe was at war, and PACE cannot criticize Armenia because of that reason. An obtuse, misguided mentality.
People like this moron have no right to serve in office. Nevertheless, people endure, and I don’t know how long they can possibly stand it.
Labels: Politics, Social and Cultural