At least 72 citizens have been arrested since
the March 5 Presidential runoff election in what
appears to be a round-up of Opposition supporters.
The number may be as high as 103.
Human rights activists are charging that the
arrests violate Constitutional liberties and Opposition
forces are concerned that the arrests are meant
to intimidate their supporters as the May Parliamentary
Last Friday (March 21), 30 arrests were carried
out in the evening following a demonstration protesting
the election. According to Hanrapetutyan Party
and Peoples Party of Armenia information, between
70 and 80 citizens have been arrested.
"Policemen of Shahumian district arrested
my husband on March 22 at 7 in the morning,"
says Amur Petrosyan's wife, Naira. "Three
people entered the house and immediately stood
next to my husband telling him to put on his clothes
and prepare to leave. I asked them why are you
taking him away and they told that everything
is fine and don't worry we will just fine him
and send him back home."
But Petrosyan, like many others, was sentenced
to 15 days imprisonment for participating in an
anti-government demonstration at Republic Square.
Naira Petrosyan says she and her two children
were then evicted from their apartment by a landlord
who said he wanted to "get rid of the headache".
Relatives of the arrested are being required
to pay 6,000 drams (about $10) as food allowance
for the imprisoned, plus 1,000 drams for police
photographs taken to be included in each of the
Representative of the People's Party of Armenia
Dustrik Mkhitaryan charges that the money is not
being spent on food.
Mkhitaryan, who is monitoring the arrests on
behalf of the Opposition says that since March
17, 103 arrests have been made, including those
"whom we don't have information about".
A "Justice" coalition of 10 opposition
parties offers free legal counsel for those who
allege police brutality during arrests.
Most of the women arrested are fined from about
$1 to about $5 and released, while many of the
men are imprisoned for from five to 15 days.
According to PPA spokeswoman Ruzanne Khachatryan,
62-year old Suren Sargsyan came to her office
Monday, complaining that he had been taken from
his home on March 18, without being allowed to
put on shoes.
Sargsyan, a pensioner from Nork who has had two
strokes and is in poor health, told Khachatryan
that police did not allow him to call his family
to ask for shoes and that he was kept in that
condition until the next day when he was taken
Sargsyan further claims that when he refused
to sign a statement of confession that he had
participated in a riot, a deputy in the police
department struck him in the head.
Suren Hovanisyan, of Aragats, remains in hospital
with injuries he sustained when police stopped
a bus on its way to a March 21 rally in Yerevan.
Witnesses say police were blocking roads into
Yerevan. Hovanisyan was injured while police were
chasing the commuters.
Human rights activists say the actions of police
and the orders of arrests themselves violate Armenia's
agreement to improve protection of citizen rights
as part of its membership in the Council of Europe.
But Ministry of Justice press secretary Ara Saghatelyan
says citizens "were brought, are brought
and will be brought" to administrative responsibility
for not obeying social order and for resisting
"From this point of view even the Soviet
Union was a more legal country than present Armenia,"
says head of the Armenian Helsinki Committee Avetik
Ishkhanyan, adding that during the Karabakh Movment,
it was the Karabakh Committee that was arrested,
not participants in their rallies.