The leader of a major Armenian opposition party has warned the authorities that they will seek a broader international support in achieving the release of a dozen or so members of their alliance who, the opposition claims, remain jailed for their political views.
Aram Manukian, who chairs the board of the Armenian National Movement Party (HHSh), a key member of the country’s broader opposition alliance, Armenian National Congress (HAK), pledged on Monday to use the entire political “arsenal” to achieve the goal.
At a press conference Manukian presented the text of a recent resolution backing the Armenian opposition’s call for “the release of political prisoners” adopted by a major political party embracing liberal-democratic movements across Europe as substantiation of the intention.
The HHSh-proposed resolution was adopted by the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party (ELDR) during its congress in Helsinki, Finland, on October 13-15.
ELDR, mainly active in the European Union, is composed of 58 national-level liberal and liberal-democratic parties from across Europe, including the HHSh.
ELDR brings together 75 MEPs from among its member parties sitting in the ALDE Group of the European Parliament. Together with the MEPs from the “European Democratic Party” they form the third largest political force.
In its statement related to Armenia ELDR condemned “the continuing detention of political prisoners by the Armenian authorities, despite numerous requests and demands.”
The Party also urged the Armenian authorities “to release immediately all political prisoners and to bring to an end the practice of persecutions of political opponents.”
The Armenian government has denied the existence of political prisoners in the country. It maintains that over a dozen members of the opposition that currently remain in prison were convicted on charges related to their criminal deeds, mainly for their roles in the 2008 post-election unrest.
“The whole world, all structures know the reality, which is that we have no jailed [opposition] member who has committed a crime. All are innocent political figures,” asserted Manukian. “We will engage all those parties, all party representatives that hold leading positions in European structures, the strengths and possibilities of all people, all our acquaintances in this matter. The thing is that Armenia mustn’t have political prisoners.”
The HAK is organizing a picket in front of the Government Reception House on Tuesday with similar demands that also include the punishment of those whom the opposition holds responsible for the 10 deaths in the 2008 suppression of post-election street protests in Armenia.
The government building is due to host a forum entitled “For the Future of Democracy” organized by the Council of Europe on that day.