Silent protest action in Yerevan

An action of tribute to the victims of March 1, as well as protest against the clashes of March 1 and the following arrests that took place during the state of emergency was staged in Yerevan yesterday. E-channel reports, that the police had announced about the illegal nature of the protest.

At the beginning of the action, at 17:00, a few thousands of protest action participants had gathered at the Northern Avenue.

At 17:10, people started moving by the pavements to the square near the Myasnikyan monument. Many of them had photos of arrested people, as well as candles in glasses. Near the Myasnikyan monument, the police banned people to congregate, and a part of the action participants decided to go on walking to the Mashtots Avenue and reach the Opera.

Near the Margaryan hospital, the police approached the action participants, announcing “Your march is not licensed, please disperse.” The police banned the action participants to move on. An electric shocker was applied against a man – he was forced into a police car and taken away. The police demanded people to disperse, prohibiting them to stand at that segment of Mashtots avenue. A 60-years-old man asked the police, “Are you cleaning the area?” A police commander with an electric shocker instructed to take that man into a police department. The latter did not resist and quietly got in the police car.

About 15 minutes later, there were no participants of the action of protest in Mashtots Avenue.

Continue reading “Silent protest action in Yerevan”

Official Wanted List: More arrests, others at large

According to the Armenian Police Press Service, members of parliament Khachatur Sukiasyan and Sasun Mikaelyan, as well as editor-in-chief of the opposition Haykakan Zhamanak newspaper Nikol Pashinyan are officially on the police wanted list.
All are at large on charges stemming from their alleged roles in civil unrest and violence of March 1.
Meanwhile, Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s campaign manager and former foreign minister Alexander Arzumanyan and chairman of the board of the former ruling Armenian Pan-National Movement Ararat Zurabyan were detained by the National Security Service on Monday. Both are suspected under Article 300 of the Criminal Code (usurpation of state power).

Source: ArmeniaNow.com

Levon Ter-Petrossian. “They will not be able to manage this society”

On March 11 Levon Ter-Petrossian met with the reporters. Based on the post-electoral tradition, this meeting as well took place at the first president’s house that is still being controlled by the special guards’ forces. Ter-Petrossian covered the Constitutional Court decision. He reminded the details of his speech at the Constitutional Court trial, drawing the attention of the court to two legal issues.

The first was about the article 78.1 of the Electoral Code, according to which the prime minister could be registered as a presidential candidate only in one case – if he had the status of an acting president of Armenia.The second issue was about the article 53.1 of the Constitution, according to which “during martial law or state of emergency no elections of the President of the Republic shall be held.” According to Ter-Petrossian, CC was obligated to express its attitude concerning these two issues, reaching a certain conclusion, which, however, did not happen.“This means one thing – the Constitutional Court avoided covering the most objectionable grounds putting the legitimacy of the past elections under question, in order not to face a legal dead-end or turning up in an awkward state,” Ter-Petrossian announced.

Today Ter-Petrossian has also received the refusal of the city administration, in response to his application to get permission for organizing a rally at the Freedom Square on March 21. He said they would continue applying to get permissions for the following days, too, although he did not exclude that, up to April 9, the authorities would try not to permit conducting any mass event.“For 5 months, there have been no infringements on our behalf; no incidents have been registered during numerous rallies and gatherings. Did anything happen to change the people in one day? The following thing happened – the authorities applied truncheons against the people, and an unmanageable situation was created. However, I am sure that the situation was being wonderfully managed by the authorities,” Levon Ter-Petrossian said.

He covered the future actions, saying that “we have never gone for non-political tension to date, and are not going to. They are going to fight by all the legal means – civilized, clear, and uncompromising. According to the first president, “70 percent of AAM board, all the leaders of the territorial headquarters, most members of the central headquarters are arrested.” But the mass arrests and the happened events make the authorities more anxious, according to the first president, “A lot of blood has been shed. The authorities feel responsibility for that. OSCE/ODIHR has presented a very strict assessment. There has never been a stricter report after 1995. These are phenomena that cannot be ignored.”Ter-Petrossian once more emphasized that today we have another society – society that “is different from what we had 5 months ago.” It will be difficult to manage this society in conditions of such a lack of legitimacy of the authorities.According to Ter-Petrossian, the authorities talk about the necessity of a dialogue but “they do everything to disrupt that possibility, with all their steps contributing to a tenser situation.” Ter-Petrossian repeated his approach that he had presented at the Constitutional Court –taking the suggestions of the European Union statement as a basis and turning them into a plan of actions. The European Union had offered to stop the state of emergency, release the arrested people, eliminate the restrictions of the media activities and implement an independent investigation of the incidents on March 1. According to Ter-Petrossian, the acceptance of these offers can become a full-fledged basis for negotiations and a dialogue.

Armenia: Protest Internet Censorship

Given that various media sites as well as YouTube have been blocked in Armenia since the declaration of a state of emergency in the country last weekend, Reporters Sans Frontieres’ first International Online Free Expression Day comes at an appropriate time. On 12 March its second 24-hour online demo against internet censorship will be held. Perhaps Armenia will take its place alongside countries such as China, North Korea and Turkmenistan.

To denounce government censorship of the Internet and to demand more online freedom, Reporters Without Borders is calling on Internet users to come and protest in online versions of the nine countries that are “Internet enemies” during the 24 hours from 11 a.m. on 12 March to 11 a.m. on 13 March (Paris time). Anyone with Internet access will be able to create an avatar, choose a message for their banner and take part in one of the nine cyber-demos (Burma, China, North Korea, Cyba, Egypt, Erithrea, Tunisia, Turkmenistan and Viêt-nam).
Reporters Without Borders will release its latest list of “Internet enemies” together with a new version of its Handbook for Cyber-Dissidents.
When the first “24 hours against Internet censorship” was held last year, some 40,000 Internet users came and clicked on an inter-active map of the world to help make the “Internet black holes” disappear. This time we can do even more to make this new protest a success and to put pressure on the governments that try to muzzle what should be space where people can express their views freely.

Source: Armenia Election Monitor 2008

59 People charged for "organizing mass disorder"

The RA special investigating body has issued information, according to which as a result of mass violence on March 1, 180 police officers and military servicemen have received variuos degrees of phisical injuries. According to the official data, phisical injuries of also 48 citizens have been confirmed so far. From what I remember, many people avoided going to hospitals, fearing, that they would be seized by the police, hence, such a low number of injuries among civilians being reported. According to official information, at the moment 59 people have been charged for “organizing mass disorder”.

Of the 4 MPs, who were charged with the offence of “organizing mass disorder”, 2 have been detained: Myasnik Malkhasyan and Hakob Hakobyan (Lady Hakob), while the two others: Khachatur Suqiasyan (Grzo) and Sasun Mikayelyan, are wanted. Bekaisa also reported, that Alexandr Arzumnayan, head of Levon Ter-Petrossian’s electoral team has been detained. With the constitution court rulling on March 8th effectively ending the electoral process in Armenia, the presidential candidate Levon Ter-Petrossian has also lost the immunity granted by his status as a presidential candidate and can be detained any moment. It is true, that as a former president, Ter-Petrossian has certain privilages too, however, according to article 56.1 of the RA Constitution:

The President of the Republic shall be immune.
The President of the Republic may not be prosecuted or held liable for actions arising from his/her status during and after his/her term of office.
The President of the Republic may be prosecuted for the actions not connected with his or her status after the expiration of his/her term of office.

So, as we can see, arrests and political persecutions continue. I’m sure, in some cases, the law enforcement bodies are quite right to do so – and I’m sure, that arresting most of the “yerkrapahs” is probably justified. However, as of now, no generals, commanders, police or servicemen seem to have been charged with illegal activities for their actions on March 1-2, nor has any high ranking official stepped down for incompetent handling of the rioters, which resulted in 8 deaths and around 200 seriously injured people. Well, what did we expect from a police state, which Armenia is turning into, anyway?

Days of mourning for the dead

Since Armenian government did not declare State of Mourning for people who died as a result of 1st March bloodshed in Yerevan, a group of Internet activists suggested declaring 7, 8 and 9 March a STATE of MOURNING in the Internet. The Ditord blogs team joins them.
We, who mourn the deaths of our brothers and sons during the bloodshed in Yerevan on March 1, declare a STATE OF MOURNING in the Internet. Everybody who is for JUSTICE and LIBERTY, please join us!!!!!!!!

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!!!

Riots Stopped. Peaople Going Home Leaving Yerevan In A Mess

People are peacefully going home gathered in small groups. An eyewitness said, that Levon Ter-Petrossian had called from his house, where he was sitting under house arrest, and told the protesters to go away, warning, that tanks and military are coming and more serious accidents will happen if people do not obey. Ter-Petrossian has also said, that they will mobilize again in 15 days, after the state of emergency declared today by President Kocharian is lifted, and will continue “demanding justice”.
“Բան չհասկացանք էս ամենից վերջը”(“So we didn’t understand anything in the end”), said a grim looking man in late 40’s.
Minibuses and cars used as barricades were already gone, the trolleybusses and a couple of busses, as well as the overturned and burned police cars could still be seen on both sides of Grigor Lusavorich street, which was the main site of rioting drama today. The riots have stopped for good it seems, leaving Yerevan in a mess… cars burned, shops robbed and we still don’t know how many people have died or are badly injured.

Riots in Yerevan. Protesters and Police Hurt.

Riots in Yerevan. Protesters and police hurt. Grigor Lusavorich street blocked by riot forces. People are carrying metal sticks, bottles filled with burning substance – to be used as hand granades. Busses and other means of transportation have been used to create barricades, blocking all entries to the Grigor Lusavorich street.
Walking on Lusavorich street feels like in war – police are firing in the air. Organized groups of rioters are up on the barricades. Some are carrying hemlets and shields obviously taken away from the riot police.
President Kocharyan has announced a state of emergency for 20 days. It is not curfew, however, gatherings, rallies and meetings are forbidden. Media are limited in their publications only to official information on everything related to internal political situation. We got some descriptions and videos on Echannel here and here . There’s some video footage on http://www.youtube.com/ditord. Also – check out the Armenia Election Monitor 2008, Unzipped for up to date info in English and the Armenian News Blog in Armenian.

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