While Armenia obsesses over the elections, real and imaginary political games, etc, my good friend Arzuman Harutyunyan, Director at Art Sight Video Studio has produced another one of his brilliant PSAs about stuff that really matters.
The murder by police of a 15-year-old boy of Armenian descent in Athens has triggered the worst rioting in Greece over the past two decades.
Rioters have been attacking shops, banks, hotels and offices. Barricades were erected in central streets. Hundreds of young people were burning cars and clashing with police in Athens, in the northern city of Thessaloniki, and in several other cities.
Today Greek Prime Minister has called an emergency council to find ways to end mass protests.
The rioting started after the shooting between the police and a group of young people in one of the central districts in Athens on Saturday, as a result of which a 15-year-old boy, Alexandros Grigoropoulos who is of Armenian descent from mother’s side, was killed.
Greek authorities fear more unrest today as the funeral of the boy killed by police is to take place in Athens.
The circumstances of the shooting remain unclear, but two police officers have been arrested and charged in the shooting.
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.
Unzipped reports, that today Armenian opposition have distributed video evidence (below) confirming, that special police units have shot towards protesters during 1 March events, despite official claims, that they were shooting in the air only or not shooting at all.
According to the official position voiced a couple of days ago by Sona Truzyan, a spokesperson for the Prosecutor-General: “The preliminary investigation will establish all circumstances of the deaths. I can state basing on the data of the preliminary investigation available as of today that no shot was fired in the direction of the demonstrators even during the mass unrest” Truzyan said, adding that to quell the riots police used tear gas and tracer bullets fired solely into the air.
As I have said earlier on this blog, there is a real need to investigate not only the reasons of violence that erupted in Armenia after the February 19 Presidential elections, but also, the activities of the police forces, special services and the military. Even if we discard all the claims about “provocateurs” being put to use by special services, that opposition keeps speaking about, I would evaluate the activities of the law-enforcement bodies unacceptably incompetent, to say the least. They have failed in all and everthing one would have expected from police forces in a situation we saw in Yerevan during horrible events of March 1-2. They could not provide security of our citizens, their property, transport, businesses. They were not able to regulate traffic to make sure minibuses and troleybuses don’t fall in the hands of protesters and turn into barricades, they were not able to disperse protesters. They were not able to do anything! One wonders, why on earth do we have all these police forces if they can’t do anything, except kill our citizens!
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!!!!!!!!
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:
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!!!