Monday, 3 March 2008

Eyewitness accounts that Armenia's state propaganda prefers you do not know

Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR)

Armenia’s Bloody Saturday

[...] A cameraman told IWPR said he came to Freedom Square to film on hearing that protests were continuing there.

“The police had flooded the square,” he recalled. “The tents had already been pulled down. Suddenly a group of people began to chant ‘Levon! Levon!’ Police with electric stun-guns attacked them; the people began to run and the police chased them and began beating them.”

The cameraman said he shot footage of the incident but it was seized from him.

Opposition protestors continued to gather wherever they could. An IWPR reporter saw policemen with truncheons attacking and dispersing groups of people who had started collecting on Mashtots Avenue. Some were forced into cars and taken away.

[...] On Leo Street, a fight broke out between local residents and demonstrators, on the one hand, and armed police on the other. A supermarket had its windows smashed and the contents were stolen. The authorities said it was the work of looters, although one local resident said she saw goods being taken away in a police car.

[...] One of those who died was opposition activist Gor Kloyan, a 29-year-old father of two, who was hit in the stomach by a bullet.

Gor had been in the crowd next to a statue near both the mayor’s office and the French embassy. He was taken to hospital but died early on March 2. His relatives were angry with medical staff, saying that they did not treat him swiftly enough. More...

Eyewitnesses Tell of Violence, Shootings

[...] A foreigner living in Yerevan, who asked not to be named, told IWPR he observed the ensuing confrontation, and alleged that men armed with rifles deliberately fired on civilians.

“I was on a balcony overlooking the epicentre of the battle last night. I was within 10 metres of the entire fight,” he said.

“There were special-forces snipers with black ski-masks mixed in with the young, scared policemen, who were not masked. While the police shot tracers into the air, these riflemen directly aimed at and shot protesters. I saw two men fall on the ground below me, one with a massive haemorrhage to his head. He was unconscious and carried off by other protesters.” More...

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