ՄԱՐՏ ՄԵԿ (March First 2008)

Eight years ago on March the first (ՄԱՐՏ ՄԵԿ) 8 innocent civilians and 2 security personnel were killed in Yerevan, by security forces (Army/police/special force?) during a public demonstration by the supporters of then the “defeated” presidential candidate Levon Ter Petrossian for the alleged rigged vote in favor of the current president Serj Sarksyan. (His reelection in 2013 was also alleged to have been rigged and was followed by lengthy demonstrations this time by the supporters of the “defeated” presidential candidate Raffi Hovnissian. Thankfully this time around  there were no casualties).

As the saying goes “down deep” I believe that, both of this elections were rigged, plus, and specially, the referendum vote on Dec. 6. 2015, that I followed closely on the internet, and watched few video clips showing some irregularities, but unless factual evidence is produced and an independent court confirms the violations, I will continue to call them “alleged”.

The March first demonstrations actually started immediately after the February 19 electoral vote count, and continued till March the first when security forces tried to disperse the demonstrators by force, and as a consequence, the tragic incidence happened. So far no any official inquiry is conducted, and no relatives of the victims, or any human rights organization, has taken any legal action, and even no any investigative journalist that Armenia claims to have many, has pursued and documented this crime, and shed some factual light on this tragedy.

Since 2008 every  year on March the first, demonstrations are organised by the opposition parties usually by the initiative of the ANC headed by Levon Ter Petrosyan the first president of the republic of Armenia. They call for a long overdue official inquiry to unearth the evidence and punish the guilty. Indeed a worthy cause to be pursued, and must be pursued more through the courts rather than through demonstrations.

This year it was no different. Six opposition parties participated including ANC. At the end of the demonstration they issued a joint statement that in part reads “We are going to consistently work towards the disclosure of the March 1 crimes so that all those who issued orders,organized and executed [the killings] be brought to justice…,”.

Unfortunately similar statements has been issued after demonstrations, or at different occasions, during the the past eight years and nothing else has been done. For us Armenians if there was one fundamental issue that needed to show what values we stand for, or if we were a people that believes in justice and has the courage to pursue it, this tragic event had to be it.

This tragic event was not just a case of violating the constitutional right of the freedom of speech of the citizens of Armenia through peaceful demonstrations. It was more than that, much more. Ten innocent people, human beings, Armenian citizens, were killed by ARMENIAN security forces, and all of these forces, be it the police, the army, special forces etc, and their leadership, are suspects of criminal acts or harboring criminals.

It shall not be acceptable to say that, the courts of justices in Armenia are corrupt, and people do not believe in them. I have seen independent poles by polling companies with reputable names that of international polling companies that, the vast majority of the people in Armenia, do not believe in the court of justice system in Armenia and will refrain from going to court to claim justice and get a fair judgement. Need I say that, this “belief” makes these unfortunate vast majority to feel like a second class citizen in their own county, and doing nothing about it is nothing more than perpetuate this rotten system.

Unfortunately that seem to be the case. There are many precedent cases where many other known assassinations, political or otherwise happened, that were not pursued and no need to mentioning them here. Let me emphasize that, with today’s  IT technology and smart phones every where, I cannot imagine that, no pictures, or videos, were taken that could be presented in the courts, and even widely circulated through social media to back it up.

It is known fact that, courts in Armenia are politicized and controlled by Soviet trained oligarchs that govern the country. But those are no reasons for doing nothing, or worst yet, pay only lip service to them and be satisfied with it. These are issues that opposition parties must fight with all legal means not only to earn the support of the people of the Armenia, but also, and specially so, to help set a culture of fairness and justice in the country. Unfortunately the many human rights organisations in Armenia with fancy names, and few self claimed human right lawyers, are silent as well, or maybe just complain about it at the wrong places, and case closed. What a shame.

Diaspora could not remain a spectator in this case specialty so, for the legal professionals, and there are many of them. There are many Armenian lawyers, lawyer’s  associations, many retired judges, legal experts, and legal academics, that could support initiatives taken in Armenia or even help the justice seeking Armenian citizens, or none politicized human right organizations, to initiate the action in Armenia, or if possible, pursue it through international courts.

For diaspora Armenians this cannot be considered to be a political issue. It is an issue of  human tragedy, a human right issue, and could support it without being perceived to be interfering in the interior political affairs of Armenia that the diaspora Armenians have no right to do as citizens of foreign country. (Unfortunately, it seems that, the only thing that diaspora Armenians are interested in doing other than charitable acts, is meddling in Armenia’s politics with hollow rhetorics and discredited meaningless slogans)

It has been eight years and this unsolved tragic event is a big stain on Armenian people as a whole, both, in Armenia and Diaspora. Unless this stain is erased through a credible and impartial official inquiry and the criminals brought to justice, Armenia could not claim to be a fair and just country, and Armenians as a whole could not claim to have the courage to pursue justice, and will be considered to be a subservient people . Ըստրկամիտ ժողովուրդ.

Zohrab Bebo Sarkissian.

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