Two prominent retired army generals urged President Serzh Sarkisian on Tuesday to pardon Sasun Mikaelian, one of the Armenian opposition leaders arrested and imprisoned after last year’s post-election unrest in Yerevan.
In a letter to Sarkisian, Generals Gurgen Dalibaltayan and Arkady Ter-Tadevosian said Mikaelian’s health has “drastically deteriorated” lately and cited his prominent role during the war in Nagorno-Karabakh.
“Regardless of the reasons why he ended up in prison, at risk is a human life, the life of a man who was utterly dedicated to the freedom fight in Artsakh and the defense of our country’s borders,” they said. The generals, who also participated in the war, referred to the jailed oppositionist as a “beloved commander” of Armenian troops with a “heroic past and undeniable record.”
Mikaelian was controversially sentenced in June to eight years in prison for his alleged role in the March 2008 clashes in Yerevan between security forces and opposition protests. He was also convicted of illegal arms possession, a charge that effectively disqualified him from a general amnesty that resulted in the release of dozens of fellow oppositionists also arrested in the wake of the unrest.
Later in the summer, Mikaelian, who strongly denied the accusations as politically motivated, was taken to a prison hospital in Yerevan after complaining of heart problems. He described his condition as “extremely bad” when he was visited by representatives of Armenia’s state human rights ombudsman, Armen Harutiunian, last month.
After the visit Harutiunian asked law-enforcement authorities to consider letting Mikaelian undergo treatment in a civilian hospital. The Armenian Ministry of Justice turned down the request, saying that the oppositionist’s condition is “satisfactory and stable.”