The opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) demanded on Wednesday a fresh parliamentary inquiry into the March 2008 post-election violence in Yerevan that left ten people dead and more than 100 others injured.
The HAK said the National Assembly should set up an ad hoc commission that would investigate the legality of police actions against thousands of its supporters demanding a rerun of a disputed presidential election. The commission would also try to identify those who killed eight protesters and two police servicemen on March 1-2, 2008. Nobody has been prosecuted for those deaths.
The previous Armenian parliament already formed such a commission later in 2008. The commission, boycotted by opposition lawmakers, concluded in September 2009 that the use of force against the protesters, who barricaded themselves in downtown Yerevan, was “by and large legitimate and adequate.” It said that there were only isolated instances of excessive force used by security forces.
The HAK shrugged off this conclusion at the time, saying that it is part of a government cover-up of what was the worst street violence in Armenia’s history.
The Armenian authorities say that the violence resulted from HAK leader Levon Ter-Petrosian’s attempt to forcibly seize power. Ter-Petrosian and his associates insist, however, that the authorities deliberately used lethal force to enforce the results of the “rigged” election.
Gagik Jahangirian, one of the seven parliament deputies representing Ter-Petrosian’s bloc, said the new parliamentary commission would be radically different from the previous one. In particular, he said, the six political forces represented in the current National Assembly would name one commission member each. The commission would also be empowered to question government and security officials as well as to demand and obtain relevant documents from law-enforcement authorities, he said.
The parliamentary factions of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) and the other parties did not immediately back or reject the HAK initiative. They said they will formulate a position after the opposition bloc circulates a corresponding motion in the coming days.
“We will hold negotiations and I think there will be others joining this initiative,” said Jahangirian, who was sacked as Armenia’s deputy prosecutor-general for openly backing Ter-Petrosian just days before the 2008 unrest.
“If there are few or no such backers, which I don’t think will be the case, then that too will be an evaluation of those political forces,” he told a news conference. “This will be a test of who wants to see the March 1 [case] solved.”