Women Urge Hovanessian Release

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–"The recent political trials have proved that we are still far from being a law-abiding state," Chairwoman of the Armenian Relief Society Alvard Petrosian said–addressing a round table on "National Reconciliation and Armenian Women" held Tuesday.

She believes that no national reconciliation is possible as long as people like Vahan Hovanessian and Hrant Markarian are in jail.

Commenting on the current extreme social polarization in the Republic–Chairwoman of the Republican Women Council–Nora Hakobian–referred to the results of the research conducted by the United Nations and a number of international organizations–suggesting that about 4 percent of Armenia’s population possess 96 percent of the national wealth; 12 percent of the population represent the medium layer; while 82 percent are in the state of poverty.

Hakobian said the confrontation of the authorities and the opposition had estranged the people from the authorities and partly from the opposition. In her opinion–the major task for women’s organizations in the current situation is to voice their protest against the tough policies pursued by the authorities and call on all political forces in the country to abide by the true ideals of national reconciliation–without which no solution to the national problems is possible.

Lawyers Gayaneh Antonian and Anahit Yesayan–who were attending the so-called "Dro" and the "Trial of 31" trials–said the maximum imprisonment terms passed in respect of the defendants in these cases proved the political orientation of those trials.

They urged women to voice their protest against injustice and speak in support of the defendants.

Those present put their signatures under a message addressed to Levon Ter-Petrosyan reasoning the need for Markarian’s and Vahan Hovanessian’s release.

According to Hakobian–the National Assembly is to begin considering women’s problems in mid-September. A Confederation of Women’s Organizations of Armenia is to be set up soon to attend the sessions and elaborate their time-limits.

The round table held on the initiative of the aforementioned two organizations was attended by representatives of women organizations of Armenia and lawyers.

The roundtable also signed a letter urging Levon Ter-Petrosyan to grant citizenship to so called Dro trial defendant and ARF leader Hrant Markarian.

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