Legal Assessment: Clash between the Police and Civil Activists
“Again we have to state that the police in Armenia works not by laws but by instructions. I can clearly state that there was an instruction as other initiatives were also held before such as the demonstration in front of the Russian Embassy a day before.

Isn’t it clear that it was ordered not to hinder the demonstration in front of the Russian Embassy, and in case of the April 22th demonstration it was ordered to beat? The Armenian Law on Freedom of Peaceful Assemblies is one of the best in Europe but it is not important as the police acts not by laws but by instructions. There is an atmosphere of unpunishment for the police,” Avetik Ishkhanyan, Chairman at Helsinki Committee of Armenia, said about this during the discussion at Media Center and added that it was not the instruction of Vladimir Gasparyan but his superior Serj Sargsyan.

The speaker said that their organization makes observation during all the demonstrations. “But when there are unprecedented phenomena such as violence we publish an extraordinary report as it happened on June 23 last year. And again our observers were astonished because of the crude actions of the police. They say it was not possible to negotiate or speak with them. They did not take into account to whom they spoke – journalists or observers,” Ishkhanyan said.

As during the “Electric Yerevan” demonstrations on June 23 no policeman was punished for illegal actions, they continue in the same way. 

“The Special Investigation Service would not initiate a case against the police as they act by their instructions, the so called independent SIS also works by instructions.”
Haykuhi Harutyunyan, President of “Protection of Rights without Borders” NGO, said that the violence of the police had an instructed character and it was obviously expressed in the Police Department of Arabkir where the attorney visited after the calls of their organization.
“The Police Department of Arabkir was paralyzed; the workers did not understand what to do. The reports were prepared later. So, the people were taken there and then the reports were prepared,” the speaker said.
There were also cases when the citizens were detained when they were in that street by chance. “For example, a teenager came from a village to take part in a chess competition. He came out and appeared in that situation. The police detained him without considering he is a participant of the demonstration or not.”
The attorney brought some other examples and concluded that “there was no symmetry in the actions of the police.”
Ashot Melikyan, Chairman of Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression, said, “The police became so impudent that when they see a journalist during any event they consider that their activity is hindered. They always want not to be illustrated. It is already their policy. When they see a camera, they take it and throw away in order to prevent the cameramen from working. Perhaps they were ordered to make obstacles for the journalists as much as possible.”
The journalists asked the speakers to comment on Vladimir Gasparyan’s statement made on April 24 at Tzitzernakaberd who said “I don’t see a woman in you” as a reply to the journalist’s remark that the reforms of the police are not visible. Ashot Melikyan considered this statement to be non-adequate and impudent. “The police institute is like its chief. I wonder how a high official can make such a tactless statement. When he sees a journalist, hatred can be seen on his face, he is used to offending all the journalists despite questions. And it is natural that an establishment which has such a chief will act impudently like on June 23. Instead of doing his job, he makes strange and non-adequate statements.”
Avetik Ishkhanyan said. “The April war made hopes that something may change. I also had romantic hopes. But in fact nothing has changed. The young people who made demonstrations are concerned about the Artsakh fate and their actions were fair. The war showed that our state’s face was protected by the sons of poor families. This showed the corrupted character of the state system, and the same surfeited officials order to break these people, why? I wonder if nothing changed in their thinking after this war. And after all the chief of police does not see a woman in them, and I do not see a human in you.”

To watch the video, follow the link.
Arevik Sahakyan, Program coordinator at “Media Center”
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