More and more arrests in Armenia
Given the near information blackout in Armenia, it is important to post the following appeal from the Helsinki Association of Armenia and the report about arrests, etc. Information is extremely scarce, however, and we are simply passing on information
Arrests continue in Yerevan of opposition supporters who took part in the recent protests which resulted in clashes with the police. On Tuesday it was learned that the National Security Service has detained the head of the board of the Armenian National Movement Party Ararat Zurabian and the former Minister of Foreign Affairs and head of the pre-election headquarters of Levon Ter-Petrosian Alexander Arzumanian.
Charges have not, however, been laid as yet, and both are only suspected of actions falling under the Article of the Criminal Code “usurping power”.
Meanwhile the Minister of Justice Gevork Danielian said in an interview to France Press that the law enforcement agencies were getting ready to lay criminal charges against Levon Ter-Petrosian. According to the Minister, the investigation has already been carried out and sufficient evidence collected.
More than 400 people have been summoned to the police, the National Security Service or the prosecutor. Arrests have been made of 73 opposition figures on charges linked with the mass disturbances recently. 11 people are presently classified as suspects.
In Yerevan the state of emergency is still in force, although on Monday President Kocharian introduced some amendments. One of the items cancelled made it possible to suspend the activities of political parties which obstruct the authorities from eliminating the consequences of the disturbances. The second allowed the authority to evict residents of the capital who violate the state of emergency regime.
The state of emergency is scheduled to continue until 20 March.
During the disturbances in Yerevan 8 people were killed and 131 injured. They began after the police dispersed supporters of Former President Ter-Petrosian who were protesting against what they claim were rigged elections.
Radio Svoboda, Yerevan (for Novaya gazeta)
The Armenian Helsinki Association has issued a statement about the elections and the situation in the country.
«The Helsinki Association (Yerevan) which acted as an observer during the Presidential elections in February 2008, and which has been following the situation in the post-election period, states that the elections in no way complied with democratic standards.”
The Association speaks of ballot papers being unlawfully added, intimidation of voters, attacks on journalists, and other forms of vote-rigging. It considers that this led naturally to protests from the opposition “which resulted in peaceful protest actions”.
The Association places the blame for the situation which ensued on the authorities of the country.
It calls on international organizations to
· Not recognize the election results from 19 February;
· Demand that the President revoke the Decree of 1 March introducing the state of emergency;
· Demand the release of all political prisoners;
· Demand that the authorities carry out an independent investigation involving international experts into cases of excessive force against demonstrators which led to casualties;
· Suspend Armenias membership of international organizations, including the Council of Europe, as well as economic and financial assistance programmes until Armenia fully complies with international democratic standards and its international commitments.
The Helsinki Association
Yerevan, 11 March 2008.