Armenians demand clarification of 1999 parliament attack
Eighteen years ago today, a group of terrorists broke into the building of the National Assembly and shot high-ranked figures of the executive and legislative branches of the country. Every year, the public and the political elite pay tribute to these victims.
However, the opposition continues to claim that the case has not been fully investigated and those responsible have not been punished.
On 27 October 1999, an attack took place during a plenary session of the National Assembly while the Prime Minister and other ministers were answering MPs’ questions. Armed individuals killed the speaker of the National Assembly Karen Demirchyan, the Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsyan in addition to deputy speakers and MPs.
Those injured and those who survived were held hostage for a few hours and were forced to watch as the leaders of the country bled out. The bodies of those killed were brought out of the building only late at night.
Before this however, the terrorists made certain demands, including a meeting with the acting president of Armenia, Robert Kocharyan. Finally, Nairi Unanyan, the leader of the armed group, was able to meet face-to-face with Kocharyan.
Since that time, the opposition has been unable to receive an answer to the question: what did Kocharyan and Unanyan discuss? Current MP Aram Sargsyan, the brother of Vazgen Sargsyan, has expressed his surprise at the fact that the conversation was not recorded.
The terrorists who killed the heads of state were sentenced to life. Some of them, official documents say, have died in prison: some by suicide and another by ‘sudden death’.
The opposition believes that the nature of this conversation will not come to light while the current authorities of Armenia remain in power. According to MP Aram Sargsyan, a number of important questions could be answered quite easily.
“Why is it that from the first day the president of those times Robert Kocharyan stated that this was a case of warring factions, and that it is important to clarify who was present in the assembly hall and why was it that some fractions didn’t come on that day to the meeting?
“The heads of state were ‘decapitated’, and there was only one person – the president – who went to negotiate with the organizer of the terror attack, and whose words were not monitored or written down. Why is this so? How did they bring weapons into the National Assembly, who brought them? The attackers themselves or someone before them? There are many questions. This is still a very confusing case, but it would be rather easy to answer some of these questions,” said Aram Sargsyan.
The MP of the ruling party Ara Babloyan believes its logical for the public to think that the case will not be solved while those involved are still in power.