YEREVAN—Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, in a televised address to the nation, issued an apology to the victims of the March 1, 2008 post-election protests, during which eight civilians and two police officers were killed by security officials who were ordered to quell opposition revolt against the presidential election results.
The case has gained new impetus since Pashinyan came to power after last spring’s popular protests that overthrew the previous regime. Judicial inquires and investigations have led to the arrest of former president Robert Kocharian who is custody awaiting trial. Investigators have also questions the two other presidents, Serzh Sarkisian and Levon Ter-Petrosian in connection with the incidents but have not filed charges against them.
“Today, on March 1, 2019, I would like to clearly state that there cannot be a return to the morals and relationships of the past. Armenia will not return to the times of corruption, political persecutions, political violence, violations of rights, impunity and obscenity,” Pashinyan said in his televised address.
“Also to affirm our universal commitment to the values of the non-violent, velvet, people’s revolution that took place in spring of 2018, as leader of the Republic of Armenia, on behalf of the state I apologize to all victims of March 1, 2008, all victims of political murders that took place in Armenia since independence, all citizens and political powers that were subjected to political persecutions,” said Pashinyan.
“The victims of March 1 aren’t only Gor Kliyan, Armen Farmanyan, Tigran Khachatryan, Hovhannes Hovhannisyan, Davit Petrosyan, Zakar Hovhannisyan, Grigor Gevorgyan, Samvel Harutyunyan, Hamlet Tadevosyan and Tigran Abgaryan, but also every citizen of the Republic of Armenia, every protester fighting for their rights,” Pashinyan said ahead of issuing the apology.
In response to Pashinyan’s call to hold a commemorations rally for March 1, 2008 victims, on Friday, thousands turned out in Liberty Square to joined the Prime Minister in a silent march through the streets of Yerevan to the site of the killings 11 years ago.
In his televised addressed, Pashinyan had called for all citizens to join him in remembering the victims of the attacks and pledged that the issue would receive its due assessment.
“11 years after these events it is extremely important to provide a political assessment to what happened. And now I find it important to say for the record that in 2008 the actions of the then ruling elite weren’t at all aimed against an individual power, group or person, but the main and perhaps the only targets of this violence and unlawful actions were the citizens of the Republic of Armenia, their rights, dignity and freedom,” Pashinyan said in the televised address.