The main opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) has urged the fact-finding group of experts set up to look into the circumstances of last year’s deadly post-election unrest and disbanded earlier this year to continue their activities and come up with a final summary report.
The bipartisan group set up last October with equal representation of the government and opposition camps was supposed to assist the main probe conducted by a parliamentary ad hoc commission with evidence that could throw light on Armenia’s worst street violence in the wake of the disputed February 2008 presidential election in which ten people, including eight civilians, were killed and hundreds were injured.
In its first and only report released in May, the five-member group called into question police claims that one of the police casualties, Captain Hamlet Tadevosian, was killed by a grenade thrown by a protester. Its two pro-government members strongly objected to the report, further aggravating their relationship with their opposition colleagues. President Serzh Sarkisian cited mounting tensions between them when he disbanded the investigating body on June 6.
The Fact-Finding Group’s two opposition members have since released more reports. One of them blamed security forces for the death of the other serviceman, Tigran Abgarian. Another report named interior troop officers who killed three protesters by mishandling tear gas.
“The Armenian National Congress urges the fact-finding group to continue its activities, since today, after the publication of its three reports, it has established itself as the only credible instance trusted by our society and the international community,” senior opposition member Levon Zurabian stated on the HAK’s behalf on Friday.
“We also urge the fact-finding group to come up with a final summary report,” he added.
Zurabian said the HAK led by former president Levon Ter-Petrosian considered the termination of the fact-finding group’s activities by the president to be an attempt to “cover up the criminal activities.”
Zurabian also cited the latest resolution of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) on Armenia in which the Strasbourg-based body urged the members of the fact-finding group to submit reports on their findings and called for these findings to be published.
The HAK has criticized the parliament’s ad hoc commission for neglecting the reports submitted to it so far and “failing to study them thoroughly.”
The commission’s chairman Samvel Nikoyan said earlier this week that he considered the documents submitted by the group and its individual members as “one of the theories”.
“I don’t want to refute or confirm any theory,” Nikoyan said. “The commission cannot deal with theories or present a theory in its report. Only people seeking to use that tragedy for escalating the political situation can do that.”
The HAK has also accused members of the commission of “violating the principle of impartiality” by making political statements before the publication of their final report due in September.
The opposition already now calls the commission’s expected report “a fiction” that will “disregard the existing evidence” in favor of the authorities’ ‘official’ version of the events and, furthermore, “will be drawn up in the executive authorities’ rooms” rather than by the commission itself.