Armenian opposition rally banned on March 1

Opposition rally in matenadaran 2008Municipal authorities in Yerevan have banned a rally which the Armenian opposition plans to hold in the city center on the first anniversary of the March 1 deadly clashes sparked by the 2008 presidential election, RFE/RL reports.

The authorities have proposed the opposition to hold the near Yerevan’s “Dynamo” stadium, just outside the city center.

Artak Zeynalyan of “Hanrapetutyun” party had presented a formal notification to the municipality on February 9th about their intention to hold a rally in the area next to Yerevan’s manuscript museum – Matenadaran or the Northern Avenue, to be followed by a march to Myasnikyan statue –  the location of March 1 violent clashes between opposition supporters and the police.

Northern Avenue, Halted constructionMunicipality said there’s an event planned at Matenadaran – so it’s not possible. They also said there’s an “expert conclusion” stating the rally on Nornern Avenue might “endanger the health and security of the people due to ongoing construction works there. (Now that one’s funny – I haven’t seen any traces of construction there for months!)

Artak Zeynalian, the Hanrapetutyun representative, denied receiving any letters from the mayor’s office. “Since we did not get a copy of the decision about the rejection of our application within 72 hours we consider our desire to hold a rally by the Matenadaran to have been accepted,” Zeynalian told RFE/RL. The March 1 rally will therefore go ahead and will be followed by a march through the city center, he said.

Yerevan municipality on its turn dismissed opposition claims, that they haven’t been duly informed about the decision, saying they’ve properly notified the opposition by a letter and posting information at the “One window” site of the city hall – which is probably true, because I searched the law on “Meetings, Rallies and Demonstrations” and found the points made by municipality to be more convincing

At any rate, looks like we’re in for an unsanctioned rally on March 1.  Let’s hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst…

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12 thoughts on “Armenian opposition rally banned on March 1

  1. If the government won’t allow a demonstration on March 1 in Yerevan’s Liberty Square, then demonstrate before the world in Glendale.

  2. I don’t think there will be trouble, but let’s see. Firstly, I don’t think they’ll have the numbers or the inclination to take on the police and on the government’s side, they can really do without clashes on the streets a year on. Still, it’s Armenia so let’s see, but I don’t think it’s in the interest of either side to provoke the other.

  3. So they are having a newer version of ‘Little Yerevantsi’ at Matenadaran?

    When you read the Armenian laws, they usually make sense and are quite good on paper. When implemented, though, you get a sense that you are dealing with a bunch of thugs who twist the laws to do whatever they want to do. It’s logical that you cannot have a public gathering in a place where there is already a public gathering. But with the Armenian government, they place a public gathering where you want to gather so that they don’t allow you in a perfectly legal way.

    It’s a monstrous practice.

  4. Today the Armenian police attacked 70 youth activists of the
    Armenian Nationall Congress.During the youth demonstration orgnised by Hima,Hatuk Gund,
    Movements and Armenian National Movement Party Youth Union.About 150 policemen (including
    special forces “Red berets”) attacked the young people on their way to
    Central Ellection Comitee to celebrate 1 year anniversary of
    falsificated presidential ellections.
    The violences of the rejime show the unhuman face of the regime.
    The Youth Concill of ANC (including HIMA and Hatuk Gund youth
    movements and ANM youth union) has already announced that this kind of
    violences will not make them to change their starategy and they will
    continue the series of their every day-demonstrations till 1st march
    rally!

  5. Story is here: http://www.a1plus.am/en/?page=issue&iid=69485

    […]
    The “Special Regiment” youth movement was planning to hold a picket and put on a show in front of the building of the Central Electoral Commission.

    Around 2:20 p.m. today nearly 40 youth were walking from Koryun Street to the Central Electoral Commission with signs and tricolor flags in their hands. But the youth had not taken a couple of steps before the police officers prohibited them to move forward.

    After the youth announced that they were only 40 people and have the right to organize a march, Robert Melkonyan stole the signs of one of the members and broke it. The other police officers did the same and pushed the youth back, including Deputy of the “Heritage” faction Zaruhi Postanjyan. Not after the pushing and shoving of police officers did activists start to move back and yell “Serzhik, leave” and “Shame on you”.

    Police officers pushed the youth back into the building of the Armenian National Congress located on Koryun Street.

    When member of the Armenian National Movement Aram Manukyan tried to find out from Robert Melkonyan why they were pushing the youth back and breaking the signs, the high-ranking police officer started to push Aram Manukyan too. They pushed everybody back and closed the door. Swearing was heard from both sides and the police officers even started pushing the girls and did not allow journalists to do their job.

    Deputy Zaruhi Postanjyan demanded Robert Melkonyan to give her a document stating that police officers have the right to drive away a crowd.

    “Show me the decision for attacking the youth members or breaking their signs,” said Zaruhi Postanjyan. But Robert Melkonyan refuted that and said that nothing like that had happened (the clips taken by “A1+” clearly show how Robert Melkonyan breaks the sign-ed.)

  6. Ani, had I known about this event — and had I not drunk obscene amounts of alcohol last night — I would have covered the event.

    However, I still think the government are not going to risk any shit happening on 1 March. Then again, they should have also allowed the memorials at the requested locations anyway.

    Dunno, I think and hope that nothing bad will happen. For now, I think the momentum in the immediate aftermath of the election has obviously gone. If they manage to rally 15,000 it’s normal (a la 2004), but I’m guestimating 3-4,000 maximum on 1 March.

    Which is also another reason why the authorities should allow the requested locations. I don’t believe the extra-parliamentary opposition will use the occasion to provoke any clashes.

    Besides, even if it turns out to be more, so be it.

  7. Let’s hope that cooler heads indeed prevail. Plenty in the opposition who would be happy to chuck the baby with the bathwater and raise holy hell on the 1st. There are sadly few in this joust on either side of the power struggle who have proven that they are putting national interests first.

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