Ten thousand rally against Armenian government
YEREVAN, Armenia – More than 10,000 opposition supporters rallied in the Armenian capital on Tuesday, calling for the government’s resignation on the third anniversary of deadly political unrest.
“We are ready to start a dialogue with the authorities, but only on one subject: the conducting of urgent presidential and parliamentary elections,” said opposition leader and former president Levon Ter-Petrosian.
Ten people including two policemen died during a night of violent clashes between riot squads and opposition supporters in Yerevan in March 2008 after disputed elections which brought President Serzh Sarkisian to office.
The authorities declared a state of emergency and sent the army onto the streets, accusing opposition activists of trying to seize power.
Demonstrators including relatives of those who died carried photographs of the victims of the clashes and demanded the punishment of those responsible.
Ter-Petrosian called for an international investigation and the release of what he called “political prisoners” — opposition activists jailed for their involvement in the unrest.
Moderate opposition party Zharangutyun (Heritage) also accused the country’s leadership of continuing to cover up the truth about who was responsible for the clashes.
“Three years ago on March 1, Armenia’s ruling regime committed a great crime against its own people as it opened fire upon them,” a statement issued by the party said.
The Armenian parliament held a minute’s silence to commemorate the victims of what Speaker Hovik Abrahamian called the “tragic events” in 2008.