Opposition joins rally of Rights NGO in Northern Armenia

A1+ Website, Armenia
July 18 2008


The Armenian opposition joined a rally organized by the Helsinki
Citizens’ Assembly in northern Lori Region on 18 July.

Addressing the rally in the provincial town of Vanadzor, MP from the
Heritage Party Zaruhi Postanjyan said that the release of "political
prisoners" was the priority task. When issuing verdicts, Armenian
courts totally neglect the requirements of the latest Council of
Europe Parliamentary Assembly resolution that urged the Armenian
government to carry out democratic reforms, the website quoted the MP
as saying.

Also speaking at the rally, the chairman of the Democratic Path Party,
Vardan Grigoryan, criticized the authorities for restricting freedom
of assembly. People cannot take part in rallies since the authorities
are continuing to take pictures of the protesters in order to
persecute them, A1+ quoted Grigoryan as saying.

A member of the opposition Popular Movement, Davit Shahnazaryan, said
that the movement helped "political prisoners" by staging everyday
protests, A1+ said.

Addressing the rally, the coordinator of the Vanadzor office of the
Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly, Artur Sakunts, said there still were
political prisoners in Armenia and that human rights continued to be
violated. Sakunts thanked policemen at the rally for carrying out
their duties, the website reported. "When normal orders are given to
the police, they are carrying those out," Sakunts said. "When they are
told to beat [people], they beat. So, the guilty are not the police
but those who give orders to them."

The website said that the Vanadzor rally had been videotaped by the
provincial Lori and Gala TV channels and by unknown people from the
upper floor of a nearby building. The rally was attended by MPs from
the Heritage Party, Zaruhi Postanjyan and Vardan Khachatryan, and the
head of the party’s Vanadzor branch, Garnik Sahakyan, A1+ said. People
from Spitak and Alaverdi, towns in Lori Region, and from Gyumri in
Shirak Region, as well as members of the Yerkrapah Union of Volunteers
also took part in the rally, it added.

Previously Sakunts reported pressure from the administration of Lori
Region, which he said had made attempts to prevent people from
attending the rally, the website said.

[translated from Russian]