RESPONSE TO ACTIVISTS’ SENTENCING: OPPOSITIONISTS SAYS RULING REGIME “FEELS THREATENED”
By Gayane Lazarian
24.07.12 | 12:40
Kentron and Nor Marash district court in Yerevan has sentenced the
four young activists of the Armenian National Congress (ANC) who
clashed with police last year at the Swan Lake in downtown Yerevan
to between two and six years in prison.
Tigran Arakelian, a leader of the HAK’s youth wing, who has been in
jail since August 9, 2011, has received the longest prison sentence –
6 years – for hooliganism and assault against police officers applying
life- or health-threatening and non-threatening violence.
Another defendant in the same case Artak Karapetyan was charged with
hooliganism and non life-threatening assault against an authority
representative and sentenced to three years. The other two – Sargis
Gevorgyan and Davit Kiramjyan – were charged with hooliganism sentenced
t two years in prison.
During the trial Gevorgyan stated that their conviction is a message
to citizens of Armenia saying that they will be punished whether
guilty of committing a crime or not, if they go against the regime.
“If someone hears these charges I am sure many people will be shocked
to know that, for example, while reporting a policeman’s illegality
you can get convicted by the same policeman’s testimony. Hence, we are
calling upon people to be even more active and report illegalities
of the police and cover them in press, which, I believe, can become
a preventive measure at least to some extent,” he said.
Kiramjyan spoke, too, saying that the verdict is too strict, because
none of them is guilty of criminally punishable activities.
“The prosecutor [Hakob Martirosyan] is trying to create an impression
that a just system has been established in Armenia and each is treated
in accordance with their deeds. But even in that case all of us should
have received the same sentence, if this were fair justice. If the
prosecutor were fair rather than corrupt and chained by those bribes,
if this trial was fair there wouldn’t be claims and reproof now,”
The ANC has released a statement in this connection, saying in part:
“The regime feels threatened by the activity build-up among civil
society, and the vivid proof of that is the public outrage in response
to Vahe Avetyan’s murder at Harsnakar. Among the active participants
of that public protest were some of the detained activists who were
The statement also says that prior to the forthcoming presidential
run the authorities’ goal is to put psychological pressure on free
young people standing up for their rights, as well as other citizens
to keep them from fighting against this administration.
ANC faction member Nikol Pashinyan believes the conviction of his
party activists is clearly political persecution.
“The ultimate purpose of it is to terrorize ANC and civil movement
activists prior to the presidential elections. By this verdict Serzh
Sargsyan did not say anything new, by this verdict Serzh Sargsyan
and his criminal administration continue ruling over Armenia,” he
said adding that within a month they will be appealing the case at
the Court of Appeal.
Helsinki Citizens Association Vanadzor office has demanded an end
to ANC activists’ persecution, saying instead to start investigating
the violence applied by the police against the activists.