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Armenian Authorities Must Release Political Prisoners: U.S. Assistant Secretary of State

Armenia Materials 30 July 2008 13:11 (UTC +04:00)
Armenian Authorities Must Release Political Prisoners: U.S. Assistant Secretary of State

Azerbaijan, Baku, 30 July / Trend corr. A.Gasimova/ The U.S. State Department calls on the Armenian authorities to release political prisoners and to conduct an investigation into the March 1-2 events that followed presidential elections in Armenia.

"I urged the authorities to release all individuals detained for engaging in opposition activities or for expressing their political views; conduct a credible, independent investigation into the March 1-2 violence that left ten dead; fully restore freedoms of assembly and media; and initiate a constructive dialogue with the opposition and civil society," David J. Kramer, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor said Before the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Armenian opposition headed by country's first president Levon Ter-Petrosyan, who ran for presidency but lost to Serzh Sargsyan, launched demonstrations in Yerevan on 20 February to protests against the results of the voting. On 1-2 March, the protest resulted in riots and clashes between police and demonstrators leaving 10 dead and 265 wounded.

"Time is of the essence. Societal tensions will only increase if the authorities fail to take swift, dramatic, and substantive measures to heal the serious divisions in the country that the presidential election and its violent aftermath exacerbated," said Kramer.

According to Kramer, While all elements of society have an obligation to engage in constructive dialogue and to act responsibly, the heaviest responsibility lies with those who actually hold power - the government.

"It is in the interest of the U.S.-Armenia bilateral relationship and in the interest of the Armenian people to see the new government in Yerevan succeed in deepening Armenia's democratic development. On a positive note, I found the Ombudsman to be playing an important role on behalf of democratic reform in the country," said Kramer.

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