Escalation of violence under presidential voting | Den norske Helsingforskomité

Escalation of violence under presidential voting

(20/02-2008) Over the last two hours there has been a significant increase in violations under the Armenian presidential elections.

Incidents include ballot stuffing, vote buying and beating. The Hotline managed by the CSI and the joined group “Legal Initiative: Elections-2008” has been receiving messages about violations since morning, but the last two hours the messages have grown more serious. There are several incidents where the Hotline’s “Ambulances” that are dispatched on serious allegations have witnessed police violence.

In one recent incident in the southern Erebuni district of Yerevan a young female Member of Parliament was beaten by the police. The whole incident was filmed by one of the CSI’s lawyers, who happened to be at the site after messages about other vote fraud.

Another journalist from one of the “Elections-2008” ambulances was filming an incident of ballot stuffing when the police took her camera from her with force. Earlier in the morning a camera man from the media company a1plus was beaten. The TV-channel a1plus was banned under Robert Kocharyan, but still runs a website.

Several other observers and authorized representatives have also been subject to beatings or transported away from the polling station. One lawyer is in the hospital with a serious condition, but says he will make a statement when he has recovered.

In the military departments there are reports that the soldiers are escorted to the voting box several times.

Outside Yerevan expensive looking cars are parked outside polling stations and approached by voters before and after voting.

There are also unconfirmed messages that a 14-year old boy voted.