In April 2012, Edmon Marukyan, a 2009-10 LL.M. student and Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow at the Law School, began his independent and non-partisan campaign against four other candidates for the National Assembly (Parliament) in his district, Vanadzor, in the Republic of Armenia.
On May 7, after facing many unjust challenges along the way, Marukyan shocked Armenia when he defeated 17-year Parliament member Viktor Dallakyan. Marukyan thrilled the surprised country by promising to continue to be a human rights activist and represent the interests of people to ensure that freedoms are respected.
Marukyan has specialized in protecting human rights and been involved in strengthening a democratic and civil society in Armenia since 2001. As a non-governmental organization (NGO) human rights activist and a human rights attorney, he has been a legal consultant on various projects, defended citizens in court hearings, and submitted applications to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France. He has worked tirelessly on increasing civic participation, particularly as a mechanism for public monitoring, and designing anticorruption initiatives in Armenia.
During his Parliamentary campaign, Marukyan had to battle Armenia’s ruling Republican Party, which unfairly used administrative resources to support Dallakyan, the Republican candidate. For example, Dallakyan was allowed to hold pre-election meetings in all educational institutions, while Marukyan was denied meetings with the staff and students in most of the public schools and universities.
Marukyan also had to overcome his opponents’ undue use of the press against him and the public’s skepticism that he would win in Armenia’s unfair and restricted elections. Many citizens questioned his chance of success and wondered if their vote for him would even have an influence.
Despite these challenges, the 31-year-old defeated Dallakyan in the election by more than 2,400 votes (11,686 versus 9,268 for Dallakyan). Marukyan became the youngest candidate ever to enter the parliament through the majoritarian system of elections; all other young parliament members have entered via the proportional system with party lists.
Since 2005, as an NGO human rights representative, Marukyan has been a member of the Group of Public Observers Conducting Public Monitoring of Penitentiary Institutions and Bodies of the Ministry of Justice, examining the rights of persons taken into custody at criminal-executive institutions within Armenia. In 2010, he founded the Center for Strategic Litigations Human Rights NGO, which is dedicated to creating a culture of human rights and the rule of law in Armenia. The organization has started conducting strategic litigation on local and international levels.
Marukyan holds a master’s degree in jurisprudence from the Public Administration Academy of Armenia. During his year at the Law School, he focused on international human rights mechanisms and the role of human rights attorneys in the formation of international case law.
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