Opposition Protests in Armenia - March 17, 2011
An estimated 12 to 15,000 opposition members protested in Armenia today, eventually making their way to an important stronghold in the city known as Liberty Square. The protest followed a gathering on March 1, where 10,000 demonstrators crowded the city demanding new elections and the release of political prisoners - both the largest since the deadly post-election clashes in 2008
- For the second time in a month, opposition members led by former first president and Armenian National Congress chair Levon Ter-Petrossian rallied on the streets of Yerevan, displaying the largest gathering since post-election clashes in 2008, which left 10 dead."The opposition is predicting a bloodless 'velvet revolution' in what they say is an attempt to emulate mass uprisings in the Arab world, although the ruling party has said it will not submit to ultimatums," AFP reported.
- Police tried to halt transport to the capital to reduce rally attendance according to Armenia Now and others reported bus service coming to a halt, but crowds still gathered at the Matenadaran, also known as the Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts, a recognizable and prominent building in the city.
- A photo from AFP shows protesters clutching the red, blue and orange Armenian flag and chanting.
- After some police negotiation, protesters finally entered Liberty Square, the site of the 2008 clashes where thousands protested against election fraud and the election of current president Serzh Sargsyan, as riot police withdrew.
- There were reports of demonstrators being allowed to enter Liberty Square after negotiations with authorities.
- A video from RFE/RFL showing exchange with police before entering Liberty Square at the 2:20 mark.
- Political prisoners were also freed.
- Because he tried to stop electoral fraud, Harutyun Urutyan was sentenced to seven years in prison, according to the website Wives of Armenia's Political Prisoners below:
- According to the same site, activist Roman Mnatsakanyan was sentenced to three years in prison, though was not released, "having been accused by the prison administration of using a mobile phone in his prison cell..."
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