Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Armenian police: fighting... posters

Police in Yerevan used force on Monday to remove anti-government posters and other agitation material from the scene of a non-stop sit-in launched by the Armenian opposition nearly two months ago.

They said that they were acting so to protect “rights of property owners”. What a noble cause, one may think. One may be wrong.

As I commented on The Armenian Observer Blog:
  • unless democracy is restored in Armenia,
  • unless freedom of assembly is restored in Armenia,
  • unless freedom of expression and media fully restored in Armenia,
all talks by the authorities about “infringing rights of owners” in this and similar cases would be viewed as merely an excuse (a lame excuse!) for oppressing further dissent and a sign of intolerance.

*photos - Aravot daily


Onnik Krikorian said...

Come on, Mika. Fly posting is illegal the world over and for a reason. Now, if these posters were just lying around and not posted on someone else's property it's a different matter, or if they were flyers being handed out and so on.

Let them carry plackards, erect temporary boards on which to place posters as long as they don't block freedom of movement of passer-bys and so on.

Also, I would suggest the municipality is responsible for removing the posters, perhaps under the supervision of police because I can already guess Levon's supporters would try to prevent them.

As for everything else...

RESTORE democracy in Armenia?

It didn't exist under Levon, nor Kocharian. What needs to happen now is that a real process of democratization is started in Armenia to counter the mess created by the two former presidents.

In a sense, that is happening now. There is more freedom than under Levon or Kocharian although ironically, yes, I would say that Levon's movement is partly responsible for some pressure to change being applied on the government.

The other pressure is coming from the U.S. and Europe. However, I personally think anyone pasting up posters should be prosecuted and fined as they are in other countries and the posters removed.

I want a rule of law country, and that also applies to the conduct of the radical opposition. Or maybe MIAK or a Republican party group can go around pasting posters against Levon everywhere?

Or racist groups? Homophobic groups? Thankfully, we have laws which prevent people defacing public and private property. These laws also apply to Levon's staunchest supporters sitting on Northern Avenue.

artmika said...

Onnik, you are talking about consequences, while we have to deal with the root of the problem. And the root in this particular case is that people’s ability to exercise their right is limited, they are prevented to do so freely, therefore we have Northern avenue situation. Comparison with Western democracies is not justified here as people in West have many channels freely available for them to exercise their rights. Allow people to exercise their rights, release all political prisoners, allow freedom of electronic media (TV), then we can fight with the “illegal posting”. Till then, what the authorities are doing now has nothing to do with protecting individual’s property rights or with a “rule of law country” which I would like to see, but for real.

Btw, when I say RESTORE democracy, I am referring to the very early 90s, when Armenia did have democracy.

me said...

Onnik, I keep read and re-read your post and I've decided that there's not way in hell you're serious.

artmika said...

RFE/RL reports on further developments which followed this initial incident. “Police detained several young men at the scene of an ongoing opposition sit-in in Yerevan on Tuesday as they sought to prevent its participants from placing new anti-government posters and other agitation material there. All of them were released later in the day. [...] In another Northern Avenue incident, a 17-year-old opposition supporter was reported to have been stabbed and wounded in the arm by a government loyalist late Monday. [...] The Armenian police said in a statement the next day that his presumed attacker, identified as Volodya Manukian, was detained for questioning and then set free pending investigation. [...]” More...

Anonymous said...

atrmika - when did Armenia have democracy? Except for a brief moment of patriotic euphoria which was exploited and killed by the HHSh, I would say never. (or not since 1918 at least when even Tatars had seats in the Dashnak-majority parliament).

I think it is wrong to rewrite history of the early 90s as a democracy when - as Armenia was freezing, the oligarch clan of LTP and Telman etc were getting fat melting down what they could of Armenia. You can rot in hell Telman.