The Armenian government caused the opposition minority in parliament to withdraw on Friday a bill that would require it compensate victims of violent crimes and their relatives.
The bill sponsored by the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) is primarily aimed at compensating the families of ten people killed in post-election violence in Yerevan in March 2008.
Eight of those victims were supporters of HAK Levon Ter-Petrosian who took to the streets in to protest against alleged vote rigging. The two others were interior troop servicemen killed in vicious clashes with opposition protesters. Nobody has been prosecuted in connection with those deaths to date.
The government argued against such compensation in a written conclusion submitted to the Armenian parliament committee on legal affairs. Hovannes Sahakian, the committee chairman, also spoke out against the bill, citing the lack of public funds. Speaking during committee hearings, Sahakian made clear that the parliament’s pro-government majority will block its passage.
Gagik Jahangirian, an HAK deputy and the main author of the proposed measure, dismissed these explanations, arguing that the owners of cars and shops burned down during the 2008 unrest were promptly compensated by the government. He claimed that the government’s stance is in tune with its failure to punish those responsible for the 2008 killings.
“That crime will not be solved because there is no political will,” Jahangirian charged. “There is a political veto on solving it.” He went on to withdraw the bill, saying that debating it on the parliament floor would be meaningless in these circumstances. But he said he will reintroduce it next year.
Jahangirian’s bill was also backed by deputies representing two other opposition parties, Zharangutyun and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation.