Armenian Parliament Adopts Law To Limit Demonstrations


Agence France Presse
March 17, 2008 Monday 10:20 PM GMT

The Armenian parliament Monday adopted laws aiming to ban
demonstrations "in certain cases", following violent protests after
elections earlier this month that left eight people dead.

The law states that local authorities cannot permit a demonstration if
the police or the national security service have "reliable" information
that the demonstration could pose a threat to public order, security
or the constitutional rights of Armenian citizens.

The law also states that if the information is doubtful, those who
provided it could face legal charges.

In any case those organising the protest have the right to appeal
the decision banning their event.

A 20-day state of emergency was declared on March 1 after deadly street
battles in the capital Yerevan between riot police and opposition
supporters who had rallied for 11 days against the result of a
presidential election officially won by Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian.

The violence also injured dozens, many from gunshot wounds. More than
50 people were arrested, police said.

"We have revised the law (on demonstrations) to prevent
anti-constitutional actions… and a repeat of such tragedies,"
said lawmaker Rafik Petrosian.

However, opposition members of parliament said such restrictions on
demonstrations were not the answer to resolving the country’s crisis.

"This repressive approach is going to threaten the fragile stability
that exists today in our country," said independent deputy Viktor

Opposition supporters claim the election was rigged to ensure
Sarkisian’s victory over former president Levon Ter-Petrosian, though
foreign observers said the vote was mostly in line with international

The mountainous country of about three million people — wedged between
Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran and Turkey — has seen repeated political
violence and post-election protests since gaining its independence
with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.