Խնդրում եմ տարածել

(April 17 plenary session)

We, the undersigned Armenian Non-Governmental Organizations, call upon the deputies of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to adopt a resolution that will contribute to the resolution of the gravest political crisis in the history of modern Armenia.

The current crisis began following the large-scale falsification of the 19 February, 2008 presidential election by Armenia’s current authoritarian regime. Electoral violations included the systematic beating and intimidation of proxies of the main opposition challenger, Levon Ter-Petrossian, the intervention, in coordination with the police, of criminal gangs in the electoral process, ballot-stuffing, vote-buying, multiple voting, flawed counting and tabulation processes, and refusals to register or consider the appeals of Ter-Petrossian’s team by electoral commissions at all levels.

Beginning on 20 February, several hundred thousands of people staged demonstrations, marches, and all-night vigils in an improvised tent camp in Freedom Square – the traditional venue for mass democratic protests since 1988 – to protest the most disgraceful election in the history of Armenian democracy. Eleven days of demonstrations ensued, praised by an official US statement for “effective crowd management” and their exclusively peaceful character.

On 1 March, however, the police, acting on the orders of the highest authorities and without warning, attacked and dispersed the demonstrators at 6:50 a.m., launching a police operation during which thousands of people were beaten all throughout the capital of Armenia, Yerevan, in order to prevent them from gathering. Later that morning, at 9:00, the police once again attacked tens of thousands of protesters who had spontaneously gathered near the French Embassy. Clashes ensued and seven civilians and one policeman died under yet unclear circumstances; there is strong evidence of excessive lethal force by government special forces.

The peaceful nature of the demonstrations and the inappropriately brutal response of the authorities give credibility to claims by the opposition that the disorder was provoked and the clashes planned in advance by the government, in order to declare a state of emergency before a ruling by the constitutional court would be issued on the opposition demand to recognize the election results as invalid and conduct new elections. The state of emergency, which allowed the regime to arrest more than one hundred political leaders and members of the Ter-Petrossian campaign, silence the independent press, and suspend the activities of political parties, deprived the opposition of the opportunity to make its case freely and under the scrutiny of a democratically functioning society. Intimidation of members of the constitutional court was also reported. The regime further restricted the freedom of assemblies through hastily enacting legislation, which allows the authorities to ban opposition rallies practically at will.

The response of the international community to the rigged 19 February elections, the 1 March brutal crackdown on peaceful demonstrations, and the unlawful imposition of the state of emergency, as well as modifications in the law on assemblies, which effectively eliminated right of free assembly in Armenia, has been shocking. The unprecedented consolidation of civil society and more than 25 parties in a nation-wide pro-democracy movement was essentially ignored by the democratic community of Europe. By continuing business as usual with the Armenian authorities, democratic European countries effectively sided with a brutal oppressive regime, which lost even the remnants of any popular support after the bloody events 1 March.

In order to restore the constitutional order in the country, prevent the authorities from oppressing the democratic movement with impunity, and restore political stability in the country and the legitimacy of the presidency, we urge the deputies of the PACE to adopt a resolution, which
Does not recognize the outcome of the 19 February, 2008 presidential election,
Demands the conduct of a new, free and fair, presidential election,
Calls for an independent international investigation of 1 March events,
Demands the immediate release of all political prisoners,
Demands the restoration of freedom of speech, media, and assembly.

Center for Freedom and Rights
‘’Concord’’ Center for Political and Legal Studies
Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Armenian Committee
Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Vanadzor Office
Lawyers for Human Rights
Society against Terrorism
Society without Violence
Women for Peace
Young Conservators
Youth Academy of Democracy and Development
Youth for Democracy

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