The opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) said late Wednesday that it has not decided yet whether to hold demonstrations in Yerevan’s newly reopened Liberty Square, while condemning police for not allowing small groups of its supporters to gather there.
In a written statement, the alliance led by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian described the square as a “birthplace of democratic freedoms,” underlining the fact that it has been the main venue for political gatherings held in Armenia since the 1980s. It denounced as illegal recent days’ police efforts to prevent known HAK activists and sympathizers from even entering the popular area facing the city’s sprawling Opera House.
“The HAK has made no decision yet on staging events in Liberty Square, but it will use all means at its disposal … to defend those individuals, citizens who will decide to exercise their right to hold various individual or group actions in the traditional venue for such events,” said the statement.
Liberty Square was the scene of ten-day non-stop demonstrations that were organized by Ter-Petrosian following Armenia’s disputed presidential election of February 2008. It was dug up for the construction of a large underground parking garage several months later. The Ter-Petrosian-led opposition has had to stage protests in a less convenient and smaller square since then.
The renovated plaza was reopened late last week. Several dozen HAK supporters have since been trying unsuccessfully to gather there.
The HAK’s last major demonstration in Yerevan was held on April 16. It is not clear yet whether the bloc plans to again rally supporters in the coming weeks.