President of Armenia bans leading opposition party
Armenian Government Shuts Down Nation's Largest Daily Newspaper
The President of Armenia, Levon Ter Petrosian, in a televised address on December 28, 1994, banned the nation's leading opposition party, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF), jailed its leadership, and shut down Yerkir, the country's largest daily newspaper.
Throughout the evening, government security forces arrested top
ARF leaders, editors of the party press, and leaders of several women's,
youth, athletic, and cultural organizations. Acting without warrants,
police seized computers, fax machines, files, and printing equipment
from the offices of the ARF and its affiliates. In addition to Yerkir,
government forces also closed several other literary, women's, cultural,
and youth publications.
The government's move against the ARF comes amid its increasingly
strident criticism of a broad range of opposition groups and on the eve
of upcoming parliamentary elections, scheduled for Spring. Agence
France Presse reported today that "the decision to suspend [the ARF]
comes as Ter Petrosian is facing growing criticism of his policies in
the run-up to the general elections in May."
In recent weeks the government has jailed a number of opposition leaders
from across the political spectrum. The ARF, along with a growing
number of other political parties, has faulted the government for
failing to adopt a constitution and for its slow progress in
implementing democratic reforms. Over 40 members of the Armenian
Parliament have suspended their activity in the Parliament in protest
against the concentration of power by the President.
DECREE BY THE ARMENIAN PRESIDENT LEVON TER-PETROSSIAN
On December 28, the Armenian President Levon
Ter-Petrossian issued a decree suspending the Armenian
Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutiune), a public and
Taking into account:
that a secret intelligence service with militarized and
diversified structure was established and was put into operation
within the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutiun);
that this intelligence service carried out a reconnaisance
mission both in economic and military spheres and by this
endangered the national security of the Republic;
that it participated in elaboration and using of
international routes of drug trafficking Beirut-Yerevan-Moscow
and other countries;
that ARF-Dashnaktsutiun set up illegal economic
structures, which were involved in racket;
that this organization formed armed units and with their
assistance committed assasinations and plotted a number of acts
that during its illegal activities used the official
structures of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation
(Dashnaktsutiun) and its sister organizations, namely "Armenian General
Education and Culture Union", "Armenian Relief Cross", "Nicholas Abgalian" Students' Union and "Armenian General Sports Union" ;
that the above-mentioned secret organization was set up in
compliance with a resolution by the Bureau - the top
administrative organ of ARF - Dashnaktsutiun and carried out all
its activities with Central Committee's consent;
I, the President of the Republic of Armenia, in order to
prevent further unlawful actions by the above-mentioned secret
organization and ensure the safety of the citizens of Armenia
declare about the suspension of the Armenian Revolutionary
Federation - Dashnaktsutiun, a public and political
organization, until the resolution of the issue in accordance
with law in force.
President of the Republic of Armenia
December 28, 1994, Yerevan.
In response to the December 28, 1994, decision by Levon Ter Petrosyan to
outlaw the Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutiune, on December 29, 1994, the party's Bureau and Central Committee in Armenia, as well as
the parliamentary caucus of the ARF issued the following announcements.
DECLARATION OF THE ARF BUREAU
To all ARF members and the Armenian People
On the night of Wednesday, December 28, the President of the
Republic of Armenia, in yet another televised speech, which by
far overshadowed that of 29 June 1992 [exiling the head of the
ARF Bureau from Armenia], through an illegal decree that
oversteps the authority granted to him by the law, and citing
fabricated allegations that are merely a product of the
imagination, "temporarily" outlawed the activities of the
Armenian Revolutionary Federation and affiliated organizations
throughout Armenia. Some of our leading as well as rank-and-file
members [ungers] in Armenia have been arrested; our centers,
clubs, and editorial offices have been unlawfully searched, as
have the homes of a large number of members; the possessions and
offices of the party have been confiscated by force; and our
official publications, Azatamart and Yerkir, as well as the
Hailour news agency, have been shut down. A foul atmosphere of
unease, insecurity, and terror has been created.
From the very beginning, the regime that came to rule
Armenia pursued a consistently anti-ARF policy based on the
precept that the ARF does not have the right to even exist. The
ARF was unwillingly driven to becoming the opposition in
Armenia, even while its activities were grounded in the
proposition that Artsakh's struggle for freedom must succeed,
and that a national state--and a democratic and just order--must
be created in Armenia. Unwillingness to enter into dialogue with
the opposition also led that regime to adopt positions rejecting
the role of other national parties and questioning their right
to exist--in the homeland or abroad--with the clear objective of
establishing an autocratic order.
Thus, indiscriminate methods were used in the efforts to
destroy the structures of the ARF and obstruct the expansion of
its operations. When the attempts to incite the ARF into taking
adventuristic actions failed, and ARF Bodies demonstrated
restraint in the face of overt provocation, the regime that had
come to rule Armenia resorted, under the direct leadership of
the president of the republic, to the base method of bringing to
light imaginary "evidence."
The anti-ARF campaign became a permanent fixture. For
years the state's propaganda apparatus served to discredit the
ARF. Without verification, new and old anti-ARF writings and
accusations were printed in the official press and echoed on
television and the radio. It was no secret that the government's
investigations were directed against a non-existent "internal
enemy," even as the entire Armenian people was involved in the
national liberation struggle of Artsakh, Armenia was being
subjected to external threats, and the country was infested by a
diverse assortment of operatives seeking to break the national
will of Armenians in the homeland.
After each manifestation of anti-ARF hysteria, the ARF
avoided taking extreme positions and called for dialogue--for
the sake of national unity, the successful prosecution of
Artsakh's liberation struggle, and the consolidation of Armenian
statehood. Nevertheless, the accusations against the ARF and the
attempts to discredit it continued, at a renewed and
unprecedented pace. The repressive measures against the
opposition in general, and the ARF in particular, increased step
by step--at a time when the only means for emerging from the
socioeconomic crisis faced by the people of Armenia was through
the union of all forces and their joint efforts.
The ARF Bureau categorically rejects the direct and
indirect allegations fabricated against the party. At this grave
moment, confronted with what are actions against the nation--
intended to obstruct the role of the ARF in national life and to
repudiate a legacy created by more than a century of endeavor
and struggle--the ARF Bureau:
--Demands that all our members in the homeland and abroad
remain altogether stoical and not resort to any steps that may
endanger the people of Armenia, who, as it is, are living under
tragic conditions economically, socially, and in the everyday
aspects of life
--Renews its commitment to spare no effort for the
attainment of our national goals, for the sake of the
consolidation of a genuine national statehood and the
realization of the just aspirations of the Armenian people
--Resolutely re-affirms that the right of the ARF, and its
responsibility, to operate on the soil of the homeland to carry
out work dedicated to the nation, cannot be subverted by
presidential decree or any other repressive measure.
29 December 1994
ARF BUREAU ANNOUNCEMENT TO ITS RANKS AND THE ARMENIAN PEOPLE
Following the recent, unprecedented propaganda campaign and
countless conspiracies against the ARF as well as the illegal
arrest of ARF members on baseless charges by the authorities--
what was sadly anticipated, has now occurred. The authorities of
Armenia, in particular the office of the president, seeking to
secure and then legitimize a halting of ARF activities,
utilizing fabricated and tampered documents, and by purposefully
misinterpreting seized documents, they are attempting to
discredit the party, its leadership, and those dedicated to the
nation, before its members and the Armenian people.
At any given moment, or day, they may attempt to defame
and besmirch many names, but history may not be abridged in a
single day or a moment. This is not the first time the ARF has
received such a blow. And, after such blows the ARF has always
emerged stronger and wiser.
We are certain, that you -- our people and members -- will not
panic, and you will not succumb to conspiratorial incitements,
and will be able to reestablish organizational structure through
legal means. It is only through a strong structure that one may
attain justice, and only through these structures may our people
participate in long awaited democratic and electoral processes
integral to the stabilization of our statehood, a precept upon
which the ARF was founded.
Our independent state is still surrounded by dangers and
the Artsakh issue has not yet reached its just solution. Our
people, heavily suffering from injustice and depravation, has
reached extreme poverty. Under the guise of veiled democracy,
the true image of despotism has emerged. This, coupled with the
severe paranoia--a salacious penchant for hunting-down a
purported enemy within--displayed by the current authorities of
Armenia, could turn our country into a virtual hell, bearing
dark and vengeful passions.
Beware and remember, the ARF is the party of the nation
and defends only the interests of the nation. Remember,
governments, whether they are ANM or ARF, will come and go, but
the nation, the homeland, is eternal.
29 December 1994
ARF CENTRAL COMMITTEE OF ARMENIA ANNOUNCEMENT TO ITS RANKS AND THE PEOPLE
On December 28, 1994 a presidential decree "temporarily" halted
the activities of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation-
Dashnaktsutiune in Armenia, thus beginning the latest phase in a
relentless campaign of persecution against the ARF. Adamantly
pursued by Armenia's current leadership, particularly during the
past two months, this campaign aims to prohibit all activities
of the ARF. All sorts of methods and tactics to defame and
discredit the ARF are now being initiated. Violations of basic
and fundamental norms of democracy, human rights, freedom of
speech and expression, as well as the breaching of the very
bases for free political and social activities is taking place.
The offices of party media--Azadamart and Yerkir--have been
closed and properties impounded. ARF offices and assets have
been illegally confiscated. Yerevan resembles a city under
At this decisive moment, the ARF, realizing its
responsibility toward the people and history, is certain that
justice will prevail and truth will persevere. The ARF's return
to Armenia is permanent and the party is ready to defend its
rights and ideology with integrity and valor. The party,
particularly calls on its members to remain calm and courageous,
at this critical juncture, and assures all that the ARF has
never--and will never-- deviate from its mission of serving the
supreme interests of the Armenian nation. Even under these
unprecedented persecutions the ARF will be lead by the interests
of all the Armenian people, in the name of strengthening
Although, the party's normal activities have been
disrupted by these illegal and immoral actions, we will still
take this opportunity and wish you--our people--a happy new year
and merry Christmas, in these trying times, and highly commend
your endurance and wisdom to differentiate right from wrong.
ARF Central Committee of Armenia
December 29, 1994
DECLARATION OF ARF PARLIAMENTARY CAUCUS
On 28 December 1994, the first stage of the campaign against the
Armenian Revolutionary Federation was completed, with the
illegal decree and televised speech of President Levon Ter-
Petrosyan of the Republic of Armenia, a speech saturated with
fabricated and false "substantiation."
The ruling political clique, unable to find a way out of
the difficult socioeconomic situation created as a consequence
of the very policies it has carried out, is now implementing a
policy of state terror characteristic of dictatorial states, in
an attempt to make the opposition the scapegoat.
It is conducting a particularly intolerant policy against
the ARF, as a result of the consistently steadfast stance of the
party and the trust that wide segments of the people have placed
in it. The present regime, with the President of the Republic of
Armenia at its head, has used all the resources provided by the
machinery of the state; moreover, it has concentrated power by
bringing the legislative and judicial branches of government
under its control.
In particular, the President of Armenia, trespassing
beyond the bounds of authority granted him by the law "On the
President of the Republic of Armenia," has violated Article 7 of
the Republic of Armenia law "On public-political organizations,"
according to which it is the Supreme Court of the Republic of
Armenia that may halt or outlaw the activities of public-
The Parliamentary bloc of the ARF condemns the policies
that are shaking the very foundations of our statehood and
taking us toward political confrontation, policies that are
being implemented under the leadership of the President of
Armenia; with all determination we declare that the Armenian
Revolutionary Federation has always struggled and will continue
to struggle against all a[nti]-national forces, for the sake of
the advancement of the Armenian people and the realization of
its national aspirations.
29 December 1994
The declaration was read during a press conference held by the
ARF Parliamentary bloc, on December 29, in the Armenian
SUPREME COURT OF ARMENIA BANS ARF-D ACTIVITIES FOR SIX MONTHS
ARF-D EFFECTIVELY BARRED FROM DEFENDING ITSELF IN COURT
In an expected verdict, the Supreme Court of the Republic of Armenia banned the activities of the main opposition party in Armenia. The verdict came after an illegal decree by the Armenian President effectively barred the party from defending itself in court.
At the conclusion of a two-day civil trial session, on Friday, January 13, 1995, the Supreme Court of Armenia ruled to cease the activities of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutiune for six months, the maximum sentence according to the Republic of Armenia law "On Public-Political Organizations."
The basis for the Supreme Court's ruling is the fact that the majority of the members of the ARF-D Bureau (an international body which coordinates the worldwide activities of the ARF-D) are citizens of foreign countries. The Supreme Court ruled that this is in contradiction of the laws of the Republic of Armenia "On Public-Political Organizations" and the "On Legal Status of Foreign Nationals in the Republic of Armenia."
During the first day of the Supreme Court session, on Thursday, January 12, 1995, ARF-D member of Parliament Roubik Hakopian stated that following the President's decree of December 28, 1994, all documents and properties of the ARF-D were illegally seized and "the Armenian Revolutionary Federation is presently forbidden to convene any meeting, nor does it have the right or opportunity to make any official decision, including that of commissioning an attorney. The organizations right and capability to legally defend itself in court has been obstructed. I believe that this inescapable situation and legal dead-end was intentionally created by the President s decree in order to render the Armenian Revolutionary Federation incapable in presenting its case and evidence in court."
The Supreme Court continued its session without the representation of the accused party and rendered its verdict on Friday, January 13, 1995.
The Supreme Court refused to hear the arguments by the prosecution regarding the alleged existence of a secret service within the ARF-D. The Supreme Court ruled that it was premature to accept the existence of such a secret service, since several individuals who have been arrested on charges of being agents of the alleged group have not been tried yet.
On December 28, 1994, the President of Armenia in a televised address issued a decree alleging "that a secret intelligence service has been created within the social-political organization, `Armenian Revolutionary Federation,'" banned the nation's leading opposition party, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF), jailed its leadership, and shut down Yerkir, the country's largest daily newspaper. Acting without warrants, police seized computers, fax machines, files, and printing equipment from the offices of the ARF and its affiliates. In addition to Yerkir, government forces also closed several other literary, women's, cultural, and youth publications.
The President's decree based on unfounded charges and the Supreme Court ruling effectively ban the leading opposition party from taking part in the parliamentary elections of Armenia, to be held by May, 1995.