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Police Launch Mass Arrests in Yerevan

Published: 04-08-2015

By Mushvig Mehdiyev - Azernews.Az

The Armenian police launched a massive crackdown on the opposition movement in Yerevan which led to the arrest of several opposition members as well as search of the organization's headquarter.

The Founding Parliament, an opposition organization, issued a statement saying that the unexpected police raid into its offices in various parts of Yerevan on April 7 resulted in the arrests of its members and seizure of its properties.

Members of the Founding Parliament, Pavel Manukyan, Jirair Sefilyan, Toros Sefilyan, Varuzhan Avetisyan, Gevorg Safaryan, Garegin Chukaszyan and Aram Hakoyan were taken into police custody without any explanation.

The Founding Parliament was founded in early 2015 from the remnants of the Pre-Parliament, a radical opposition group which operated for about two years. It is well known for being the initiator of the "Centenary Without the Regime" campaign. It also plans the anti-government push which will take place on April 24, when Armenians will gather to commemorate the centennial of the so-called "Armenian genocide".

Jirair Sefilyan, the group's leader, has repeatedly announced that the anti-government actions intend to organize the deposition of the incumbent regime led by Serzh Sargsyan.

The seven-hour search of the Yerevan central office of the Founding Parliament and the apartments of the members by Armenia police apparatus led to the discovery of "factual proofs" including some 680 booklets, flyers, a watch, pens, papers, money and truncheons, claimed the FP.

FP member Gagik Sarukhanyan said that despite the crackdown there still will be a regime change in Armenia. "The authorities know what they have cooked up – exodus and a bad social situation. There’s no doubt that the end of this regime has arrived," he added.

Another FP member Vardan Hakobyan said the government could not halt the popular movement by isolating certain individuals.

"This was the worst thing the government could have done. Everyone expected this given the government's repressive actions during Berdzor and Gyumri rallies. They have confused peaceful disobedience with widespread disorder. If they want to see people’s rage, they will have it," Hakobyan said.

The Investigative Committee of Armenia reported that the detentions took place within the framework of a criminal investigation conducted in view of possible "mass disturbances" expected during public events scheduled for April 24.

"Besides, the fact of the abuse of events dedicated to the "genocide" centennial for one’s own purposes, is unlikely a moral intention, since such actions bear the hallmarks of a crime. The detained activists have been charged with planning to organize "mass disturbances," the committee said.

Member of the Armenian National Congress, Nikol Pashinyan met with the arrested FP members on April 8. He said Manukyan has already gone on a hunger strike calling his detention completely illegal.

MP from the Armenian National Congress, Levon Zurabyan and Heritage lawmaker, Zaruhi Postanjyan condemned severely the actions of the law-enforcement agencies, describing them as persecution of dissidents. Postanjyan called on President Sargsyan to look into the fate of Gaddafi and Yanukovych, the deposed Libyan and Ukrainian leaders, warning him the same fate could soon befall him.

Meanwhile, Secretary of the ruling Republican Party's parliamentary faction, Gagik Melikyan said foreign forces could be traced behind the FP moves so far, since the opposition movement was completely "against Armenia's people and statehood".