A Deterrent to Democracy

Today I read a report that the Armenian National Assembly passed a law on October 22 effectively legalizing the arbitrary wire tapping of telephones without the need for obtaining a warrant from the court. Mail can also be opened at random, which is most troubling to me. These are practices that were upheld during Soviet times and they are being revived despite the fact that Armenia is supposedly a democratic state. Then again, you don’t have freedom of speech in neighboring democratic Turkey. At least the two neighbors have one thing in common—the incessant desire to stifle dissent by all means necessary. Plenty of deputies turned up to vote it seems, with the bill passing 65-3. Eight deputies chose to abstain from voting. This law is a blow to all things considered comprising a true democracy. Armenia seems to be regressing rather than moving forward in this sphere. Television stations for example are receiving warnings from the government to categorically refrain broadcasting any coverage of events where Levon Ter-Petrosian, the former egocentric Armenian president, speaks in public.

I understand the need to stamp out illegal activities for example in the form of theft, conspiracy again the state, or to be imaginative would-be assassination plots, and so forth. But people are not stupid enough to talk about such matters from their homes, anyway. As far as I know it is nearly impossible to tap cellular phone conversations, which is why people that have urgent business to discuss would naturally prefer that method of communication. So what’s the point? Maybe it’s a way to send a “watch out” message to those who are expecting it, but they know to be cautious anyway, whoever they are regarding whatever they do. As I posted previously I receive important mail from overseas each month. I used to be worried about the post office opening it unexpectedly but now I have to be concerned with the government doing it as well. So does everyone now for that matter.


Anonymous said…
Although there is illegal wiretapping in Turkey by the security services, it is not enshrined in law.

Therefore we can say there is less freedom in Armenia. This is the issue -- whether it is occasional if in contravention of the law, or whether the state allows the internal security services the LEGAL right to do what they please.

Ironically, according to Freedom House, democracy and individual freedom is stronger in Turkey than Armenia.

Political Rights Score: 5
Civil Liberties Score: 4
Status: Partly Free

Political Rights Score: 3
Civil Liberties Score: 3
Status: Partly Free

(Lower scores are better)
Anonymous said…
I think the law is a part of some anti-terrorist agreement/treaty Armenia joined.

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