Wednesday, March 19, 2008

LTP -- Armenia can't support a dictator the way Iraq could -- 3/11 Interview: Pt. 4

Mr. President, the representatives of international organizations are constantly visiting Armenia. Later, we are treated to two different news stories. International newspapers say something totally different, while our newspapers announce that they came, congratulated Serj Sargsyan, then left. What consequences can that have?

That is a matter of belief. Whoever wants to believe in Serj Sargsyan's propaganda, believes it; whoever else wants to believes the international public. It seems to me that that shows us what kind of state we are dealing with. [The Kocharian camp is] truly putting people in an uncomfortable position. People come and talk to them about something; once they leave, they use those people's names to make this or that kind of announcements. Even conflicts... Are you familiar with Bryza's announcement today? I don't know what kind of conversation he had with them, but I can tell that there is the trace of a personal offense there, as well. They've said something and done the complete opposite. That is what I see in this announcement.

What consequences could that have?

We are going to arrive at the era of Brezhnev, when our people are not going to believe anything coming from the official television programs, or they are going to understand from it the opposite. They are going to say something, and the people are going to believe the opposite. We are going to come to such a situation.

As things stand today, a brainwashing process is underway where the people, or, rather, a large portion of the people who do not have access to the internet, are convinced by that information and believe what is broadcast on official channels. Considering the large numbers of those who have been detained, do you believe that, if it becomes possible for the people to assemble, the people will do so?

Brainwashing is not a new thing, of course: This government has been busy doing that for ten years. And the alternative to it was very weak: Three-four newspapers with a total circulation of 15-20 thousand were holding out against 17 television broadcasting companies. What became alternatives were our general gatherings and CDs. They became quite a serious alternative. We will use those, too, if the assemblies are not allowed. We will reach the people with them. And the people like it... It's already become a part of the culture. They even demand it with, "So where is our movie?" Brainwashing never yields results. It is not possible to fool the people through brainwashing. They would have been able to fool the people if the events of these last six months had not taken place, however.

I find, I don't know whether you agree with me, that today we have a totally different public, a different people, than we had six months ago. I consider this our biggest gain. With my sympathizers, with my team, we have performed a miracle. We have created a new public, a public of citizens, a public that is cognizant, an intellectual public with whom [the Kocharian camp] will have to settle [its] accounts, like it or not. Yes, they might try to neutralize us through arrests. That is the most critical question today. The arrests are continuing at the same pace. Those arrests have an exclusively politically repressive nature. In reality, no participants in the clashes have been arrested; only political figures have been arrested.

Seventy percent of ANM's [LTP's party] administration has been arrested, and some of them are in hiding. Of my core staff, three have been arrested and three are in hiding. All of the directors of my territorial headquarters have been arrested. All of those people who have been active during these elections have been arrested. The world understands this, and [the Kocharian camp is] not going to be able to get out from under this. The more they arrest, the harder their job is going to become. It occurs to them: Will they close their eyes? No. The political prisoner is a very small category today. There are political prisoners in very few nations in the world. The age [of the political prisoner] has passed, and Armenia doesn't have the resources it takes. [emphasis mine]

Iraq was able to close its borders for 20 years: it had oil, it had rice, it had [cooking] oil, it had butter; it did not need anybody and could be a dictatorship. Armenia doesn't have those resources: To realize political persecutions, smash underfoot human rights, create such violent electoral conditions, and--at the same time--be dependent upon the rest of the world--It won't last. Armenia doesn't have the resources to institute a dictator. It might be a temporary party for [the Kocharian camp]. But I don't think that they're partying right now.

I am certain that Robert Kocharyan and Serj Sargsyan are far more worried than any of us, because they understand what they have done and for what they have rendered themselves accountable. Blood has been spilled. Alot of blood has been spilled. They very well bear the weight of the accountability for that blood. Yes, very violent elections have taken place. The OSCE reported its observations of those elections in its second report. If you add up the reports of all of the elections from 1995 to 2007, they do not amount to such a damning report. These are clear facts that [the Kocharian camp] can not ignore. The sooner the government recognizes this and refrains from making the situation worse, the better.

After March 1st, we have taken no steps that would make the situation more critical. All of their steps, however, are incessantly toward a crisis. These arrests... They constantly talk about dialog, but do everything to thwart it.

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