“The Police Turned into a Cudgel of the Political Power”: Attorneys
A discussion was held about the clashes between the civil activists and the police and the incidents followed in the Freedom Square at the beginning of 2016 at Media Center today.

The speakers were Arthur Sakunts, Head of Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly – Vanadzor, publicist Zara Hovhannisyan, Tigran Hayrapetyan, Lawyer of Gevorg Safaryan, Vardan Harutyunyan, Chairman of the “Center of Right and Freedom” NGO.

Members of the “New Armenia” political unit tried to place a Christmas tree in the Freedom Square on the night of New Year but there were clashes with the police. Five citizens were detained and later released and Gevorg Safaryan was arrested. Gegham Khachatryan, Commander of the 4th special police force, filed a complaint against Safaryan and on January 3 Gevorg Safaryan was charged for the violence against a representative of the official and he is in custody for two months.

This incident was followed by the beat of Syuzi Gevorgyan, Supporter of “New Armenia” movement, as well as publicist Zara Hovhannisyan was threatened on the Facebook.
Vardan Harutyunyan said that RA officials have used violence against their oppositions for years.

“To attack, beat, torture: all these started during the second stage of Robert Kocharyan’s presidency.

This is the activity style of our officials. The incidents of this year are the logical continuation of the previous ones. The police always acted illegally during the campaigns. Armenia could and should have real Police which would be out of politics, obeyed only to Law and protected the public order, struggle against crime phenomena. But here the Police turned into a cudgel of the political power,” Harutyunyan said.
Hayrapetyan said that Safaryan acted like all other participants of the campaign on December 31.

“Safaryan was charged with obstructing the legitimate activities of the police and assaulting a policeman. Two factors which are obviously unacceptable for Gevorg Safaryan,” Hayrapetyan said.
The campaign participants should be dismissed only if the national security was in danger or the constitutional rights of the citizens were violated.
“But if someone brings a Christmas tree into the Freedom Square, I do not think it is a violation of rights or danger for the national security,” Hayrapetyan said.
The campaign participants applied to the Yerevan Municipality to get permission for placing a Christmas tree.
“The Municipality did not prohibit. They replied that the Christmas tree has nothing to do with the demonstration and we do not discuss that issue. So there was permission. The police actions were illegal,” Hayrapetyan said.

Zara Hovhannisyan said that she uploaded the photo of Gevorg Safaryan on the Facebook page after which a Facebook user, named Andre Makarov, took the photo and perverted it.
“I took the photo from his wall and showed that the photo was perverted. After that he sent me a message and said that I defend someone who is a Turkish agent. I was threatened that I will be killed with my child. Then he blocked his page and there was no contact with him. I applied to the Police at once and the mother of that young man, reading the police report, brought him to the Police. I met him; he had no high intellectual abilities, it was clear that he was directed,” Hovhannisyan said.

Arthur Sakunts noted that such activities were repeated during the previous days.
“Expression mechanisms have always been suppressed in Armenia. This is a result of unpunishment,” Sakunts said.

The police representatives were also invited by Media Center but they refused to participate in the discussion, as they are not eligible to provide information at this stage.

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