As one year anniversary of March 1, 2008 deadly clashes between the opposition protesters and military police forces looms closer, there’s growing tension in the society. Police and opposition mutually warned each other today not to stir further tension.
Major-General Alik Sargsian, chief of the national police, made clear that the police will not try to disperse thousands of people who are expected to rally on Sunday to mark the first anniversary of the 2008 post-election clashes in Yerevan. “The police are very calm,” he said. “Nothing [bad] is expected on March 1. Our people understand everything.”
Sargsian said the police will use force only in the event of “any violation of public order.” “But we are convinced that people will calmly gather, pay their respects [to the March 1 victims] and go home,” he said.
The main opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) plans to rally supporters outside the Matenadaran institute of ancient manuscripts and then stage a march through the city despite the municipal authorities’ refusal to authorize the protest.
As the police chief spoke to journalists, the Armenian National Congress (HAK) issued a statement urging law-enforcement bodies to work together with the opposition alliance in making sure that the upcoming rally is peaceful. Levon Zurabian, a senior HAK representative, said the organizers will take “unprecedented measures to maintain order during rally” and warned the police against taking “provocative actions.” “We are urging the police to cooperate, not to create problems, not to provoke the people,” he said.