Blind Protest in Yerevan

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Employees of a subsidiary enterprise No 3 of the Armenian Society of the Blind rallied Friday in Yerevan. The rally was a continuation in a series of actions of protest staged by the blind: a sit-down strike on March 23 and a hunger-strike on April 19.

The deman’s of the rally participants remained unchanged: to appoint head of the enterprise Artak Arakelian–who is also on hunger-strike–and fire chairman of the Armenian Society of the Blind Abel Hakopian–who–according to the rally participants–have lost their confidence.

Both sides describe the talks held between the administration of the Society and strikers as futile.

The strikers refuse to pass the enterprise management to director Martin Sargssian appointed by the Society. According to the strikers–their distrust is caused by the fact that none of the former officials of the enterprise has been punished for economic violations which brought upon heavy social conditions to the employees. They say that the rally is a step of despair since the blind cannot work anywhere but at this specialized enterprise for the blind.

Abel Hakopian–for his part–said that several persons headed by Artak Arakelian took the enterprise by force and have not allowed those blind to work. The enterprise has not been operating for several months because the right of the enterprise not to pay VAT was withdrawn during July 1998-February 1999 period.

Both sides hope to resolve the dispute through court.

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