The opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) on Tuesday pressed the pro-government majority in parliament to stop blocking a new inquiry into the 2008 deadly post-election violence in Yerevan.
The National Assembly began debating an HAK proposal to set up an ad hoc commission tasked with investigating the March 1-2, 2008 street clashes between security forces and opposition protests, which left ten people dead.
President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) promised to agree to such a probe in late 2012 on the condition that its launch is postponed until after the February 2013 presidential election. The HAK accepted this and several other conditions set by the ruling party.
The commission was widely expected to be formed in May 2013. However, the HHK toughened its position at the last minute, saying that the commission must not be empowered to question senior law-enforcement officials involved in the official criminal investigation into the deadly unrest. The HAK rejected that condition.
Gagik Jahangirian, an HAK deputy, reminded the parliament majority leaders of their promise as he presented a corresponding bill to fellow lawmakers. Jahangirian argued that the police and other law-enforcement authorities have still not identified any individuals directly responsible for the deaths of eight opposition protesters and two security personnel.
He said investigators are not formally closing the criminal case on those deaths in order to avoid its publication required by Armenian law. Such publicity would expose serious flaws in their work, claimed the former deputy prosecutor-general.
“I’m not saying that all murders will be solved as a result of the commission’s creation,” said Jahangirian. “No, they won’t be. But we could really help to solve at least three or four of them.”
Parliament speaker Hovik Abrahamian and other majority leaders did not immediately reject or accept the HAK proposal. Abrahamian told reporters that the HHK’s parliamentary faction is still discussing it.
The Armenian authorities have said in the past that the violence resulted from former President Levon Ter-Petrosian’s attempt to forcibly seize power in the wake of the February 2008 presidential election in which he was the main opposition candidate. Ter-Petrosian, who leads the HAK, and his associates insist that the authorities deliberately used lethal force to enforce the results of blatant vote rigging.