By Hrach Melkumian
Mikael Danielian, a prominent Armenian human rights activist, was hospitalized on Tuesday after being beaten up by unknown assailants outside his Yerevan home.
His wife, Anna Hakobian, told RFE/RL that Danielian was attacked by four men as he walked his dog in the courtyard early in the morning. She said they punched and kicked him without giving a reason.
Danielian was later taken to the neurological surgery department of a hospital in Yerevan. A doctor there said he had bruises on his head and may have suffered a brain concussion. “His condition is otherwise good. He has just expressed a wish to go home,” Petros Babayan said.
Danielian is the chairman of the Armenian Helsinki Association, an outspoken group that has long criticized the Armenian authorities’ human rights record. Danielian has also been a vocal critic of broader government policies concerning domestic affairs and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. In his most recent controversial remark published by an Azerbaijani newspaper last week, he alleged that President Robert Kocharian could provoke renewed fighting in Karabakh to neutralize his political opponents.
Hakobian blamed her husband’s beating on the authorities, saying that it was the result of his civic activism. “I believe that this was organized by the authorities,” she said. “The people who attacked him were well prepared. They knew at what time he leaves home and where it is convenient to terrorize him.”
Hakobian also claimed that she alerted police immediately after the attack but that they were very late in responding to the phone call.
But according to a police spokesman, law-enforcement officers received the call from the hospital and arrived there shortly afterwards only to be told that Danielian is “unable to speak.” The police will decide whether to launch a criminal inquiry only after questioning him, the official added.
The attack was condemned by four Armenian media rights groups who described it as a result of a growing climate of “political intolerance” in the country. “We hope that the law-enforcement bodies will break recent year’s sad tradition and track down the perpetrators of the crime because only the exposure and punishment of the culprits can prevent further violence,” they said in a joint statement.