Friday, 23 January 2009

Mikael Danielyan: Defender of Freedom award

Prominent Armenian human rights activist Mikael Danielyan was presented with the Defender of Freedom award during the reception at the U.S. Embassy in Armenia devoted to the Martin Luther King Day.

«As a founder and head of the Armenian Helsinki Association, Danielyan fought for the rights of prisoners, conscripts and minorities», - said US Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.

Present during the ceremony were leaders of political parties, foreign diplomats accredited in Armenia, the Ombudsman of Armenia, as well as representatives of NGOs.

Last year Mikael Danielyan was attacked in downtown Yerevan by former leader of "Armenian Progressive Party" Tigran Urikhanyan who accused Danielyan in destabilising the country and defending gay rights. (for details - 1; 2; 3)

Well deserved award. My congratulations to Mikael Danielyan!!

Unsurprisingly, pro-government tabloid-style newspaper Hayots Ashkharh criticized the nomination of Mikael Danielian for the Defender of Freedom award: “In order to stay in the centre of attention of humanity after the inauguration of Barack Omaba, Americans have taken a second step; they give an Defender of Freedom award to ‘human rights activist’ Mikael Danielian.”

*photo of Mikael Danielyan and Lara Aharonian of Women’s Resource Centre at the launch of the PINK Armenia Information Centre in downtown Yerevan, September 2008.


hr_g said...

That's wonderful that a true defender of human rights is being celebrated for his contributions.

Ani said...

If Armenian government house organ "Hayots Ashkharh" can't even manage to spell the the U.S. president's name correctly (Omaba??), getting that Millennium Challenge Grant money is going to be quite an uphill battle. Congratulations to Danielyan, and let's hope it's both an honor in itself and a precursor of U.S. policies to come.

Summer School for Curators, Yerevan said...

Congratulations. Hope he will broaden his focus from gays, understood as only homosexual men to gay women as well.

artmika said...

He is not gay rights defender but rather human rights defender regardless of gender or sexual orientation. That's my understanding.

I would suggest our gay men and women groups or individuals to collaborate with him, other genuine human rights activists, Armenian Ombudsman more closely so that the scope of their activities would be as broad and as inclusive as possible.

For example, I am aware of few instances of effective collaboration with Armenian Ombudsman too.

There are so many pressing human rights issues in Armenia that sadly gay rights are not considered a priority or equally important. Therefore, local activism by gay related or women groups is important in bringing the issues to the spotlight.