Council of Europe officials monitoring the political situation in Armenia have criticized an Armenian parliamentary report that defended the use of deadly force against opposition protesters after last year’s disputed presidential election, a senior lawmaker in Yerevan said on Monday.
John Prescott and Georges Colombier, the two Armenia rapporteurs of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), did not attend the last meeting of the PACE’s Monitoring Committee held in Paris on Thursday. Citing their absence, the committee delayed a planned discussion of the Armenian authorities’ compliance with PACE resolutions adopted after the February 2008 vote.
Armen Rustamian, a member of the Armenian delegation at the Strasbourg-based assembly, revealed that Prescott and Colombier submitted a 20-page report that dwells, among other things, on the findings of an ad hoc commission of Armenia’s parliament that investigated the March 2008 clashes between security forces and opposition demonstrators.
In a 138-page report submitted to the National Assembly in September, the commission dominated by pro-government lawmakers concluded that the break-up of the post-election opposition protests, which left ten people dead, was “by and large legitimate and adequate.” It claimed that there were only isolated instances of excessive force used by law-enforcement officers.
According to Rustamian, Prescott and Colombier do not agree with that conclusion. “They believe it is at least amazing to say, after noting all that, that [the use of force] was legitimate and adequate,” he told RFE/RL.
Rustamian, who heads the parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said the PACE rapporteurs singled out the police mishandling of tear gas equipment, which is believed to have killed three protesters, as well as the Armenian authorities’ failure to shed more light on the other deaths. He said they also believe that the parliamentary commission made a “flawed” analysis of the mass arrests and trials of opposition members that followed the unrest.