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By Ruzanna Stepanian
A citizen of Belgium went on an open-ended hunger strike in Yerevan after his Armenian wife alerted him to ‘the presence of political prisoners’ in the country.

Luc Vandevale, a 51-year-old builder currently based in Armenia, told RFE/RL he meant his hunger strike in the Armenian capital’s central Northern Avenue as a demand for the release of political prisoners in Armenia.

“It is not acceptable to have political prisoners in a democratic country. It means it is not a democracy,” Vandevale said to RFE/RL in French. “Armenia that represents the Council of Europe must release political prisoners.”

The Belgian said he could not plan for how long he would continue his action, but added that it depended on “the state of democracy in Armenia.”

Vandevale also said he was not engaging in politics, but added: “I am a pacifist and I think that in a true democracy people cannot be kept in jail for merely expressing their political views. This is an essential human right. All people are equal regardless of their opinion.”

The Belgian’s Armenian wife says she is not affiliated with any political party in Armenia, nor is a member of any organization. She says simply seeing the current situation in Armenia, her husband decided to resort to a hunger strike.

“He wants to see Armenia as a democratic country. He says if there are political prisoners in Armenia, it means there is no democracy,” she said to RFE/RL.
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