STATEMENT on the so-called “Dro” and “Group of 31″ cases

The Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutyun Supreme Assembly of Armenia finds that the so-called “Dro” and “31” trials are pursuing political agendas and are aimed against the ARF. Subjecting the preliminary and trial proceedings of both cases to examination, the ARF-Dashnaktsutyun Supreme Assembly announces:

a) Violating the principle of presumption of innocence until proven guilty, without waiting for preliminary investigation results, and without having necessary legal bases, the Armenian Republics Executive Branch has made announcements and evaluations that have resulted in the illegal suspension of ARF activities in Armenia, and have predetermined court proceedings. In fact, the ruling administration of the Republic of Armenia, has handed down a political order upon the judicial system which diametrically opposes the basic principle of a separation of powers within the government. The ARF Supreme Assembly rejects any and all interference in court proceedings in pursuit of political/partisan objectives, and categorically announces that such precedents undermine internal, national stability and the establishment of a lawful, democratic society.

b) Obstacles placed in the path of the ARF’s lawful activities within the Republic of Armenia have purely political motivations, are destroying the multi-party system, hindering the formation of a civil society, and the normative development of Armenian statehood.

c) According to case materials, the so-called “Dro” group, having no organizational or ideological association with the ARF, having operated with its own bylaws and administrative hierarchy, in its principles and activities is an anti-ARF structure, whose leader Arsen Ardzruni deceived and incited several individuals to criminal acts. The testimonies given by Hrand Markarian and Gegham Manoukian, particularly those based on existent evidential materials in the case, exposed this truth, and proved that the charges leveled against the ARF were in fact groundless. They [Markarian and Manoukian] with their moral conduct and approach, characteristic of the ARF, did everything possible to enable the court to reach a just verdict. Within this context, if an attempt is made to politicize a criminal matter, and tie the so-called “Dro” group to Hrand Markarian and through him to the ARF, it would mean the realization of a political order whose goal would be to prohibit the ARF from carrying out lawful activities within the Homeland.

d) The Supreme Assembly deems the illicit incarceration of former ARF Bureau representative Vahan Hovannissian and charging him with complicity in criminal-political activities as a successive operation against the ARF. The myriad violations of law recorded during preliminary investigations, the evidence of use of force and other illegal methods in garnering testimony, as well as Vahan Hovannissian’s preliminary and trial testimonies, have exposed the real bases of what is a fabricated coup attempt, proving that politically motivated attempts have been made to drag the ARF into processes and activities with which the ARF has no involvement.

e) The arrest and one year detention in isolation of five ARF members for alleged involvement in the murder of [former Yerevan mayor] Hambartsoum Galstian and the refusal to drop their cases subsequent to their release due to lack of sufficient evidence, are deemed by the Assembly as political threats and successive manifestations of illegal activities being conducted by the authorities.

f) The ARF Supreme Assembly finds the exploitation of judicial proceedings as a means of pressuring a political organization unacceptable and condemnable, and sees such actions as attempts at disrupting such an organization’s rightful, lawful presence and activities within civic life.

The Assembly demands that the Armenian Supreme Court expedite the examination of the matters at hand, basing its considerations solely upon evidential materials in each case, and rise above political orders in order to hand-down a just verdict. Based upon the ARF value system, the Assembly simultaneously announces that it will continue to struggle through all lawful means, for the reestablishment of its rights and the realization of its goals.

July 9, 1996, Yerevan