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Opposition Downbeat on Lawsuit over Post-Election Clashes


Armenia -- Gagik Jahangirian, a former deputy prosecutor-general sentenced in March 2009 to three years in prison for resisting police in the wake of Armenia's February 2008 presidential election, undated

Armenia -- Gagik Jahangirian, a former deputy prosecutor-general sentenced in March 2009 to three years in prison for resisting police in the wake of Armenia's February 2008 presidential election, undated

Armenia’s main opposition alliance says it has no expectations that a civil court in Yerevan will accept the claim filed by its supporters on Wednesday holding law-enforcement agencies responsible for human rights violations resulting in deaths and injuries over two years ago.

A collective suit by more than a hundred supporters of the Armenian National Congress (HAK) attempts to prove that activities of Armenia’s police, military and national security service before and during the dispersal of street protests in the aftermath of a disputed election in Yerevan constituted a violation of human rights, with deaths and injuries being the consequence of those violations.

They also point out such violations as restrictions of expression, movement and freedom of assembly.

Riot police, interior troops and other security units surrounded Yerevan’s Liberty Square at dawn on March 1, 2008, and cleared it from opposition supporters who had camped there for 10 days protesting the outcome of a presidential election that officially gave victory to current president Serzh Sarkisian.

The opposition supporters regrouped later in the day in another part of the city center and the standoff continued late into the night when then President Robert Kocharian introduced a state of emergency citing casualties among security forces.

Ten people, including two security personnel, were killed and more than 200 others were injured in vicious clashes that ensued.

Senior HAK member Gagik Jahangirian, who served as Armenia’s deputy prosecutor-general before joining the opposition in the middle of its street protests in late February 2008, doubts the court will accept the suit. But he says the goal of the filing is to force the authorities “to conduct a true investigation of the March 1 events.”

“If our administrative court has the courage to acknowledge those violations, then I’d say it would be a very important factor for dismissing and reviewing all criminal cases involving our political prisoners, who have either served out their sentences or are still in jail,” he said, implying that such recognition will have far-reaching ramifications for the entire investigation of the post-election events.

Jahangirian said the lawsuit is on 12 pages and has numerous accompanying documents and video materials.

By law, the administrative court is to decide whether to start a proceeding or not.

“I am sure they will decline our lawsuit, because that would be recognition by these authorities that the government and the president violated the most important rights and freedoms of citizens of Armenia,” concluded Jahangirian.
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