Armenian critics of peace deal released from custody

Armenian critics of peace deal released from custody
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on November 10, 2020 he had signed a “painful” agreement with Azerbaijan and Russia to end the war over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. (File/AFP)
Short Url
Updated 13 November 2020

Armenian critics of peace deal released from custody

Armenian critics of peace deal released from custody
  • Prosecutors have charged the 10 politicians with organizing “illegal violent mass disorder”
  • The opposition figures were arrested Thursday and face 10 years in prison

YEREVAN: Armenia has freed prominent opposition figures charged with staging violent unrest over a peace deal with Azerbaijan that ended weeks of deadly fighting over a disputed province, lawyers said Friday.
Prosecutors have charged the 10 politicians with organizing “illegal violent mass disorder” that followed Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s decision to sign the peace accord over Nagorno-Karabakh.
The opposition figures were arrested Thursday and face 10 years in prison. They include Gagik Tsarukyan, leader of the Prosperous Armenia party, and Ishkhan Sagateyan of the Dashnaktsutyun party.
A court in the capital Yerevan ruled Thursday that “Tsarukyan’s detention was illegal,” his lawyer Erem Sarkisian wrote on Facebook. “He was released from custody.”
Lawyers of other detained politicians also said their clients were released after courts ruled their detentions lacked legal basis.
Pashinyan announced the Moscow-brokered agreement Tuesday, ending more than six weeks of intense fighting that left more than 1,400 dead and displaced tens of thousands.
Armenia agreed to cede parts of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region to Azerbaijan as well as other territories it had controlled since the 1990s.
The decision sparked fury in Armenia, where demonstrators stormed and ransacked government buildings.
Thousands have since staged daily demonstrations in Yerevan, demanding Pashinyan’s resignation and the opposition announced a fresh protest on Friday afternoon.
Nagorno-Karabakh declared independence from Azerbaijan nearly 30 years ago but it has not been recognized internationally, even by Armenia.
Fighting between Azerbaijan and the Armenian separatists erupted on September 27 and persisted despite efforts by France, the United States and Russia to broker three separate cease-fires that collapsed as both sides accused the other of violations.


France targets mosques in extremism crackdown

Updated 03 December 2020

France targets mosques in extremism crackdown

France targets mosques in extremism crackdown
  • Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said that if any of the 76 prayer halls inspected were found to promote extremism they would be closed down
  • Inspections are part of France’s response to two attacks — the beheading of teacher Samuel Paty and the killing of three people in a Nice church

PARIS: French authorities will inspect dozens of mosques and prayer halls suspected of radical teachings starting Thursday as part of a crackdown on extremists following a spate of attacks, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said.

Darmanin told RTL radio that if any of the 76 prayer halls inspected was found to promote extremism they would be closed down.

The inspections are part of the government’s response to two brutal recent attacks that shocked France — the October 16 beheading of a teacher who showed his pupils cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad and the stabbing to death of three people in a church in Nice on October 29.

Darmanin did not reveal which places of worship would be inspected. In a note he sent to regional security chiefs, seen by AFP, he cites 16 addresses in the Paris region and 60 others around the country.

On Twitter Wednesday he said the mosques were suspected of “separatism” — a term President Emmanuel Macron has used to describe ultraconservative Muslims closing themselves off from French society by, for example, enrolling their children in underground schools or forcing young girls to wear the Muslim headscarf.

The rightwing minister told RTL the fact that only a fraction of the around 2,600 Muslim places of worship in France were suspected of peddling radical theories showed “we are far from a situation of widespread radicalization.”

“Nearly all Muslims in France respect the laws of the Republic and are hurt by that (radicalization),” he said.
The killing of teacher Samuel Paty, who had shown his pupils cartoons of Mohammad in a class on free speech, at a school outside Paris sent shockwaves through France, where it was seen as an attack on the republic itself.

In the aftermath of his murder the authorities raided dozens of associations, sports groups and charities suspected of promoting extremism.
They also ordered the temporary closure of a large mosque in the Paris suburb of Pantin that had shared a vitriolic video lambasting Paty.

The government has also announced plans to step up the deportations of illegal migrants on radicalization watchlists.
Darmanin said that 66 of 231 foreigners on a watchlist had been expelled, around 50 others had been put in migrant detention centers and a further 30 had been placed under house arrest.

The minister announced the latest clampdown after receiving fierce criticism for pushing a bill that would make it harder to document police brutality.

Images of officers beating up black music producer Michel Zecler in his studio brought tens of thousands of people onto the streets last weekend against Darmanin’s push to restrict the filming of the police in the new bill.
MPs from Macron’s ruling Republic on the Move party have since announced plans to rewrite the legislation.