- Democratic Governments and Civil Society Institutions through over the world
The Government of President Kocharian has revealed its authoritarian and criminal nature, ordering regular Army and Special Forces to violently curb peaceful protest in streets of Yerevan.
The tensions started with the presidential election on Feb. 19, the fifth since Armenia gained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. It pitted a political insider, the current prime minister and the close ally of the current President Robert Kocharyan, Serge Sargsyan, against Levon Ter-Petrossian, a prominent politician who was the country’s first elected president and who, according to unbiased and independent exit polls, has won the elections.
While Mr. Ter-Petrossian, put up a real opposition with an assertive campaign, the rest of the election conformed completely to the old Soviet standards; voting lists were artificially extended, votes were bought, voters intimidated, television coverage was embarrassingly skewed, big men in large cars bossed vote counters. As a result, the party in power stayed in power, with 52 percent of the vote.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which deployed about 350 observers, concluded that 16 percent of the count was “bad” or “very bad.” At one polling station, a quarter of all ballots were declared invalid. In another, all but one of 1,449 voters in a set of polling stations was for Mr. Sargsyan. Addressing the recommendations of international observers and popular protests on the results of the elections the State Election Authorities have conducted recount completely in accordance with orders received from the current authorities.
Since 20th of February the majority of people of Armenia, has been expressing its protest and revolt against the officially announced results of presidential elections by organizing peaceful gatherings, rallies, hunger strikes and non-stop demonstration in Yerevan. On 1st of March at 06:30 a.m. Special Forces violently dispersed several thousands of peaceful protesters on the Freedom Square of Yerevan. As eyewitnesses are reporting two protesters were killed by Special Forces, many of protesters were severely beaten; some opposition leaders were arrested and charged with irrelevant criminal cases. The leader of opposition, the main challenger for the Presidency Mr. Levon Ter-Petrossian, has been isolated by police forces and put under the house arrest.
On the same day about 250 000 thousands of protestors, including women, teenagers and elderly from different circles of the society, gathered on the square in front of French, Italian and Russian Embassies and the City Council. People were seeking the support of international democratic communities in their fight for justice. Regrouping later in response of offensive actions by police and military forces, demonstrates used buses as barricades. Some cars were set on fire. Lootings, which were reported by official sources and attributed to opposition, in fact were initiated by Governmental Special Forces, which is thoroughly documented by different eyewitnesses and reporters.
Around 22:00 the Special Forces and regular Army troops, which were deployed around the demonstration venue, attacked the people using tracer bullets and live cartridge, tear-gas, heavy military vehicles.
As the result of clashes 8 persons are reported dead by official structures. About 130 persons are injured and hospitalized. According to the information received from families the death toll is much higher. At the same time Authorities, in their attempt to hide the killing of two protesters during the seizure of Freedom Square, put their names in the list of people who were killed during the evening events. For hiding the real causes of death authorities are refusing to give bodies of victims to their families.
“Addressing” the violence initiated by the government the current President Mr. R. Kocharian has declared the State of Emergency in Yerevan and used this opportunity for the arrests and repressions against political opposition members, as well as for imposing restrictions on basic human rights and freedoms of the people of Armenia in a scale that reminds years of Joseph Stalin rule.
About 300 persons are already arrested; some relatives of Mr. Levon Ter-Petrossian, irrelevant to their occupation, are amongst them. All above mentioned is factually correct and can be easily proved.
We, undersigned, recognizing and accepting the role and responsibility of international community in safeguarding the fundamental principles of democracy and protection of fundamental human rights and freedoms, call on the latter:
1) to interfere urgently in the political crisis in Armenia to prevent further casualties and deterioration of situation;
2) to condemn massive violation of human rights by the authorities and law enforcement agencies of Armenia aimed at the establishment of criminal totalitarian regime in the country;
3) to pressure the Armenian government to stop the persecution of opposition members and dissenters;
4) to influence President Robert Kocharian and his government to cancel emergency rule and remove ban from the national and international independent media;
5) to compel the Armenian Government to release all political prisoners.
The Stop abuses by the government of ARMENIA petition to Democratic Governments and Civil Society Institutions through over the world was written by Hayk Hakobyan and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.