Monday, 24 March 2008

Threat of terrorism in Yerevan? Only political dialogue may avert a devastating turn of events in Armenia

This warning by ex-candidate for Armenian presidency Arman Melikyan voiced on Friday passed without an attention it deserves.

Arman Melikyan considers the situation in Armenia “very worrying”. He believes that the kind of pressure put by the authorities upon opposition without allowing for counteraction will lead to resistance stepping into non-legal means. “This situation will give a birth to terrorism. I am warning about this today. Unless there is political dialogue between parties involved in this stand-off, no one should be surprised if we witness explosions, political killings in Yerevan; we should not turn a blind eye on this.”

He dismissed newly formed governmental coalition’s capability to defuse political crisis in Armenia, as the sides of that coalition are essentially the same parties who were in power over the last 10 years. Instead of solving the problems, this type of coalitions under the current circumstances may transform into additional means of repressions.

There is only seven-member opposition group (Heritage party) in our parliament, and the authorities are doing whatever possible to pressurise and limit their abilities, says Melikyan.

I completely agree with him. Continuous pressures put by the authorities upon political decent, serious limits on possibilities to exercise political will and rights within the legal framework leads to radicalisation of our society and may result in formation of groups or initiatives (if have not already) which could see no other way but non-legal methods to exercise civil rights and achieve changes.

It is still not too late to avert this devastating turn of events. I urge Armenian authorities to follow Melikyan’s and others’ calls. The authorities have to bring back civil liberties, release political prisoners and initiate serious dialogue with the opposition – real opposition, not the one which suites authorities. Today there is still chance to avoid the worst, tomorrow it may be too late.


Anonymous said...

The guy is right: when the government bans peaceful methods of protest it is pushing the other side towards terrorism.
I am actually surprised that the opposition activists have not resorted to some kind of guerilla warfare so far.
The erkrapah fighters are absolutely capable of that, they have experience, they have weapons, and I'm sure they are quite pissed off after what happenned.
if the government policy doesn't change soon, I'm afraid it's only a question of time until we see emergence of some kind of an ASALA-2, targetting government officials and "oligarchs".
Another possible development - people inside the elite themselves might get rid of some of the most notorious figures.

Onnik Krikorian said...

release political prisoners

Firstly, what is a "political prisoner?" Someone detained for their political beliefs or those responsible for rioting or inciting people to violence? There is a difference.

As for terrorism, well, so much for the democratic, non-violent "revolution," I suppose. Actually, BOTH sides should compromise to spare Armenia for instability. Unfortunately, neither is in their quest for power and wealth.

Onnik Krikorian said...

As for Yerkrapah, there is an URGENT need to disarm these guys NOW. There is no justification for the existence of an armed militia that meddles in the internal politics of the country and given that many of their leaders are notorious for terrorizing their local communities they should definitely be disbanded.

Thankfully, I'm told that Manvel Grigorian is being forced to hand in his resignation after 9 April. I can only hope that such a move will also bring peace and normality to this local fiefdom around Etchmiadzin.

reflective said...

Agreed Onnik. The anonymous poster has a strange sense of logic: A coup doesn't work, violence against the people of Armenia is justified, my oligarch is more upstanding than your oligarch.

Enough greed and power-hunger! Thank God very few people aimed weapons against the army/state institutions. Calling for a 9-11 against Armenia will bring you what, exactly, anonymous?

Ani said...

Well, anybody thinking of this should know it would be absolutely the worst move by the opposition. It would put the majority opinion of the population into the pockets of the administration.

Better methods are to let the Diaspora know where their money is really going (into whose pockets instead of what it is supposed to be for), to boycott and refuse when possible, to read everything the administration says and point out loudly and clearly every lie they tell, and when somebody says or does something stupid make fun of them!

Anonymous said...

Nobody's calling for a 9/11 against Armenia.
I am against violence, and I think so far we must be grateful to God, that there has been no large-scale violence after MArch 1, even though the government has been doing everything possible to provoke it.
do you believe that all the 120 people arrested are "responsible for inciting people to violence"?

Ani, do you believe that people in teh diaspora are ready to see the reality in Armenia?
Just look at Onnik! He's telling in his own blog how the police rudely tried to prevent him from taking pictures and almost arrested him, and yet he's ready to accept their version of events that the protestors were themselves responsible for violence.
A victim of police brutality is justifying police brutality.
Why? BEcause he hates LTP so much, that he's blinded by that.

Ani said...

Maybe the Diaspora isn't ready to see the real Armenia but be sure they want to know about their money. Maybe when they come to Yerevan they can look out the window on the way from the airport to see the new strip town of "Serzhville" with its tacky casinos. Then they'll know where there money went. And read very carefully new article on what the economics professor is saying. Money is already drying up. 2008/03/24/manaseryan

Anonymous said...

agreed concerning onnik. the guy hates ltp so much that it skews everything he writes. too bad. i can't really stand ltp either, but i can still admit the sky is blue though levon does as well...

as for anonymous's post - it doesn't read as if he is calling for 9-11 on armenia. people resort to violence when pressured too much - i don't know that that is big news to history. stating facts doesn't mean you support them.

Anonymous said...

"new strip town of "Serzhville" with its tacky casinos"
That was just awesome, thank you!
you made my day!
Btw I heard his brother is somewhere in LA, is that true?
Does he pay taxes? Does he drink while driving?
Does he carry a loaded gun with him? At least, I bet he does drugs or something
May be someone should call the LAPD and tell them to check that guy out? :)

Onnik Krikorian said...

do you believe that all the 120 people arrested are "responsible for inciting people to violence"?

Some, probably. Others, not. Certainly, some have been responsible for terrorizing people in shootouts that have left people dead in their fiefdoms (Lady Hakob) while others have been responsible for human rights abuses and falsifying elections (Jahingirian). However, that is for a court of law to decide.

Just look at Onnik! He's telling in his own blog how the police rudely tried to prevent him from taking pictures and almost arrested him, and yet he's ready to accept their version of events that the protestors were themselves responsible for violence.

No, not true at all. Unlike you I can understand that both sides were guilty of violence and have said as much. Indeed, the fact that I can criticize the police is testimony to that although by far the worst and most aggressive towards journalists in my experience has been Ter-Petrossian's people.

Nevertheless, until the full details are known regarding 1 March, none of us can say we know what happened. I will admit that. You, however, can't because you can't be objective and buy into too much propaganda rather than wait for independent information.

A victim of police brutality is justifying police brutality.

Not police brutality at all. They merely told me not to take pictures and I didn't comply. They left me alone whereas Ter-Petrossian's security manhandled journalists including me in a public area they held an illegal rally in and had no right to do anything of the sort.

Why? BEcause he hates LTP so much, that he's blinded by that.

I pretty much dislike both Serge and Levon. They are the same for me although Ter-Petrossian is more calculating and devious. What does irritate and anger me, however, is while I can understand that the truth lies somewhere in the middle, you people can't. All you want is Ter-Petrossian propaganda whereas I want to know what really happened.

Were all those detained responsible for violence, planning a coup d'etat, etc? Hard to say. Some might have been. Some not. More to the point is do you think that all are innocent despite some having past records of human rights abuses, corruption and even shootouts that have left people dead in their fiefdoms?

Please, people, get real. You act like all these people are saints. What's unfortunate is that there are many among both Serge and Levon's teams who have thieved from Armenia, deprived its people of fundamental rights -- including the right to life -- and have stolen from the state.

I can say it how it is. Can you or do you want to live in a dream world make believing that Serge is evil and Levon is a saint? Both are bad and ANYONE among them who is guilty of crimes HAVE TO BE prosecuted.

Last point, anonymous. Quit hiding. You want to attack me then have the guts to reveal who you are, but understand this. Levon and his people did many things that made the clashes unavoidable and inevitable.

He created the environment for the bloodshed with his rhetoric of hate and for that he should stand responsible before a court of law if the evidence is there. At the same time, I consider that Serge did not win the first round and was also responsible for the situation.

Neither has the right to proclaim themselves president although both did. Ironically, Ter-Petrossian did days before the official pre-election campaign began yet nobody but him and his circle believes he got more than 30 percent of the vote.

Regardless, pity the country which had such candidates for president. That's the problem facing democracy in Armenia and I can say it how it is. Unfortunately, what you want is some make believe world where it's a matter of good against evil.

I personally agree with Vazgen Manukian and others who despaired at the situation. This was a battle between one corrupt undemocratic leader and another. Sad. Very sad, but in the meantime, it's nice to know that my words are getting you on edge given that rather than respond with arguments you once again have to resort to personal attacks.

This was typical of Ter-Petrossian's team for the election. Sowing hate, rumor, gossip and lies to achieve power at any cost and I suppose the 8 people dead was a necessary "expense" for them as well. Certainly, it doesn't seem as though the police were the only ones with weapons on the evening of 1 March.

Both Levon and Serge (or actually Kocharian) have blood on their hands and neither cares about the people. However, given the amount of partisan politics and propaganda disseminated through pro-Ter-Petrossian blogs I will do all I can to illustrate how the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Meanwhile, I say again. Yerkrapah must be disbanded immediately. Moreover, ANYONE directly or indirectly guilty of violence on 1 March must be held to account. Obviously, there should be independent observation of court trials, however, but if someone is guilty they must be punished.

And on both sides.

Ani said...

Anonymous, you’re welcome ;)

Onnik, I regard you very highly, even if sometimes you irritate me you are doing something valuable that almost nobody else is doing, attempting to be fair and impartial.

Armenia is such a strange country. There are so many brilliant and talented people, but the government and media are like some lunatic asylum, with “psychological factors”, “mass hypnosis”, “traitors”, people being threatened with “assassination” and then drinking champagne with the assassin the next week. Who can believe what any of them say, and why should the rest of the world take Armenia seriously and want to make business when they do these things?

And I too mean both sides. If Levon hadn’t claimed early “victory” with 65% and if his campaign could have been more about Armenia’s future and less about Levon maybe more people would have been sympathetic. If Serge hadn’t been a cowardly pig to steal and bribe votes, he might have won a real victory in a second round (for sure he didn’t have 53% the first time!). Then the opposition wouldn’t have been able to have a “dance revolution” for 10 days and maybe nobody would be dead.

If A1Plus hadn’t said there were 500,000 people when there were 50,000, you could feel sorrier when they got pulled off. If OSCE had written a clearer report (on Armenialiberty Feb. 29th there’s a quote by the OSCE guy saying their definition of “mostly fair” was 51% to 75% but that’s not as good as “largely fair” which is 80%--who knew???) then the everbody’s first impression of the election would have been much different. So many ifs….

Onnik Krikorian said...

So many ifs…

And so many more, but now is the time to deal with resolve them all on both sides. Neither the government or the opposition (with the exception perhaps of the Heritage) have shown themselves willing or able to treat the electorate and population with any respect or understand that they want to serve them and not the other way around.

Onnik Krikorian said...

As for the way out, well, first both sides should meet without preconditions even if they think it isn't going anywhere. This arrogant and belligerent posturing by both does not make a solution possible and only the country and the population suffers.

Secondly, I consider that the PACE recommendations seem appropriate and should be adopted by both sides or at least the basis on which to speak.

the recognition by all sidesof the authority of the Constitutional Court and its ruling on the outcome of the Presidential elections;

the lifting of the state of emergency and the restoring of individual human rights and freedoms;

the release of all jailed activists who have not committed violent crimes;

the establishment of an independent inquiry into the circumstances that led to the events on 1 March 2008 and the monitoring of the on-going investigation process;

the initiation of a dialogue between all political forces, in the following areas:

- reform of the electoral framework with a view to regaining public trust in the conduct and outcome of elections;

- reform of the political system with a view to providing a proper place for the opposition in the decision-making process and governance of the country;

- media reform, especially aimed at the creation of a truly independent public broadcaster.

Actually, I think this is the most realistic and acceptable set of recommendations on offer today. However, not that we need any new elections given how the radical opposition and government usually behave, but I would also personally like to see new parliamentary elections held after a period of stabilizing the situation and implementing most or all of these demands.

Indeed, given the 2005 referendum and the current state of the parliament, we urgently need a more representative National Assembly and I think this would go a long way in giving everyone a voice in Armenia.

Certainly, I would hope that the thugs on both sides lose their seats -- Seyran Saroyan and Lady Hakob on Ter-Petrossian's side, for example. Tsarukian and other oligarchs on Sargsyan's. Well, unless they're legitimately voted in, of course.

Anonymous said...

At Onnik
Onnik, just look at what the government is doing to shut down anything that is going on. It was so hilarious watching the officials answer questions that they themselves lied about. Such as Manvel didnt join the opposition, There were no guns used, while we have a video added on March 24 showing bullets flying through the sky, Saying no beating but having videos of cops treating people like shit.. Come on.. All of us know it, and the jig is up. There is even hate between people living in the diaspora, because some people just know the name hayatsan and how life is perfect without knowing anything about the lives there. As for LTP or Serge, LTP is too smart and that's what will destroy the government. He used every method to show the world how the Armenian Govt treates its people. Dont forget, he did the same thing and he resigned. SO, get the clue, that is the same faith for Serzh. Either he will end up being shot or he will resign..

Onnik Krikorian said...

And the opposition said it wasn't armed yet one policeman was killed by a hand grenade and 16 were wounded by bullets. Until an independent inquiry, none of us truly knows what happened that night. We do now that elements within both sides used violence, however.

As for Levon, yes, he's a master at destabilizing a country to further his own personal ambitions, but he did not resign because the people were against him. It was Vazgen Sargsyan and Robert Kocharian as well as resistance to a compromise Karabakh peace deal responsible for that.

As Levon knew this time too, it is not possible to get a large enough body of people to bring about regime change regardless of the extent of discontent in society. Instead, you need a coup d'etat, especially from inside.

Regarding Grigorian, opposition or government, the man is a thug and should have been locked away long ago. Thankfully I've heard he will take retirement on the basis of ill health probably after 9 April although his nephew reportedly rigged the election for Sargsyan in Etchmiadzin.

All of the names above -- Serge, Levon, Manvel -- should have no place in the leadership of Armenia as NONE of them have the support or trust of the population. Some, like Manvel, are loathed, detested and feared for what they are. Feudal warlords who have crushed and terrorized the people in their personal fiefdoms.

The change that many of us want does not involve any of them.