Categories
Armenia Politics

Unprecedented levels of violence against journalists in August

August 2008 was unprecedented with the amount of violence against media representatives. Gagik Hovakimyan of “Haykakan Zhamanak” (August 1), freelancer Gagik Shamshyan (August 5), Gohar Veziryan of “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” (August 6), Lusine Barseghyan of “Haykakan Zhamanak” (August 11) and Hrach Melkumyan of the Armenian service of Radio Liberty (August 18 ) were all subjected to attacks and illegal actions of police, court officials and unidentified males for their affiliation with media outlets known for their criticism of the authorities and oligarchs.
This new wave of attacks against the freedom of speech and expression comes at a time, when the Republic of Armenia is claiming its willingness to implement the provisions of the PACE resolutions 1609 and 1620 issued in the aftermath of the March 1, 2008 violence in the country, which includes a clause on improving the situation with the freedom of speech in the country.
A group of 7 non-governmental organizations have issued a statement expressing their concern with the developments and pointing to the unwillingness of the authorities to undertake effective measures to stop violence and interference with the professional activities of journalists and media representatives.
In a poll marked by widespread irregularities, vote buying and bullying, power was handed down by incumbent president Robert Kocharian to his protege Serge Sargsian. Administrative resources were used extensively to control the media coverage of the election campaign and ensure the victory of government preferred candidate, which resulted in severe degradation of the media and freedom of speech situation in the country as well as provoked a bloody clash between the opposition supporters and police forces in the center of capital Yerevan on March 1, 2008.

Categories
Armenia

Bloody Sunday: 8 People Dead. Names Known. RIP


Police violence in Armenia on March 1st, The Bloody Sunday, as a result of which the tent camp of sleeping protesters in Yerevan’s Liberty square was dispersed, their leader Levon Ter-Petrossian taken under house arrest, stirred emotions, resulted in large scale riots after a spontaneous gathering of opposition and anti-government demonstrators, triggering severe police and military action, deaths of civilians and institution of a state of emergency. Over a hundred people were wounded, among them more then 80 civilians. According to official data from Prosecutor’s Office 8 people died, names are known:

Zakar Hovhannisyan
Hamlet Tadevosyan
Gor Kloyan
David Petrosyan
Tigran Khachatryan
Grigor Gevorgyan
Hovhannes Hovhannisyan
Armen Farmanyan

Rest in Peace My Dear Armenian Brothers!
There are no doubts, that President Robert Kocharyan, Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan, Opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrossian and his supporters are directly responsible for these deaths, and should publicly apologise for their uncompromising stance and stupidity.
It is also important, that the activities of the military and police are carefully investigated. The incompetent commanders of police and military forces, who, as a result of their inability to control the situation, have become the direct cause of civilian and police deaths, should be duly punished. Unfortunately, I don’t see it happening at this point. The authorities are playing the one sided blame game, taking advantage of total information blockade in the country, and directing their accusations solely against the opposition activists and media.
God forgive them, for blinded and corrupted they are with power!!!

Categories
Armenia

Government vs Opposition: Psychological Warfare


Shap words of warning came from President Robert Kocharyan in yesterdays interview to the Public TV of Armenia – that the authorities cannot tolerate much longer the endless opposition protests in front of the Opera house. Kocharyan deliberately called the Freedom square with its old name – Theatre square, as if trying to neglect the “freedom” aspect of it. However, today, despite all warnings, the Freedom square was full of people – at least 35,000 demonstrators looked elevated, and chanted “Levon, Levon!”.
Having regained his voice, Nikol Pashinyan, one of the most energetic opposition activists, told everybody, that there is a “Psychological warfare” going on in Armenia, and urged their supporters to keep coming to the Freedom square until they win.
Ter-Petrossian also spoke, saying that he has been spending already two nights at the Freedom square with the protesters, and ensured, that he keeps working to ensure victory.
As if to counter Kocharyan’s warning, the crowd set out to march again – the march was unsanctioned, as all of the marches organized over the past 6-7 days. A sizable crowd of people was urged to remain in the Freedom square, so as to prevent the police forces from occupying it. Police crackdown is expected any moment now.

For Kocharyan’s interview check out Uzogh’s blog.