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Deadly Clashes During Protests In Armenia Alarming

Deadly clashes during protests in Armenia alarm Secretary-General Ban

3 March 2008 - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today voiced his deep concern about the deadly clashes between demonstrators and police forces in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, where the results of recent presidential elections have been disputed.

"It is his hope that these events, during which eight people died, will be thoroughly investigated," Mr. Ban's spokesperson said in a statement.

"The Secretary-General calls on all parties to exercise full restraint and to find a way out of the current crisis. He also urges the Armenian authorities to take all necessary steps to ensure a return to normalcy, including through a speedy lifting of the state of emergency."

The statement was issued a day after Louise Arbour, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, also voiced alarm about the violent clashes in Yerevan and urged authorities to exercise maximum restraint.

She noted that Armenia is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which states that, even during states of emergency, fundamental rights such as the right to life and the prohibition of torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment cannot be suspended.

Protests began in Armenia after Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan was declared the winner of the 19 February presidential poll, a result that is disputed by the opposition candidate Levon Ter-Petrosyan.

ENDS

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