Statement on Persecutions against Protesters

Late in the evening of April 17, 2018, at the rally held by the initiatives “My Step” and “Reject Serzh” at the Republic Square in Yerevan, it was announced that the peaceful acts of civil disobedience by the rally participants would continue the following day. At the same time, there was a warning against the existence of groups of provocateurs.

Hours after the announcement, clashes were provoked by such groups of provocateurs with police officers, citizens and journalists at the Mashtots-Tumanyan intersection.

These clashes were accompanied by damage to community property and police cars. It is seen from the disseminated video that these acts had not been initiated or committed by peaceful protesters.

We hold that such acts of provocation were aimed at paving the way for the police to carry out criminal prosecution against protesters.

In the statement released on April 18, 2018, the RA Prosecutor’s Office claims that the mass disorders of the previous day at the Mashtots-Tumanyan intersection were organized by rally participants and reports on the initiation of a criminal case under Article 225 § 1 and 2 of the RA Criminal Code.

Nevertheless, although numerous police officers and cars were present while the acts were being carried out by the group of provocateurs at the Mashtots-Tumanyan intersection, as reported by the RA Investigative Committee, no person involved in those clashes has been detained.

Instead, on April 17 and 18, the RA Police forcibly and groundlessly subjected peaceful protesters, including minors, to mass detention and are trying to involve them as suspects in the organization and execution of mass disorders.

Taking into consideration the available videos from the scene as well as the peaceful behavior demonstrated by protesters up to now, we state that criminal prosecution against them is unacceptable and unlawful.

 

We demand that the RA Police should:

identify persons inciting provocation and violence, ensuring the security of citizens, including peaceful protesters,   cease the criminal and administrative prosecution against peaceful protesters andexclude any use of violence against peaceful protesters.

 

We call upon the RA Special Investigation Service to:

immediately carry out investigation in regard to the incidents of violence and other unlawful acts against protesters by police officers (including those in civilian clothing) and   immediately carry out investigation in regard to unlawfully holdings peaceful protesters in police stations for longer than the established period of three hours.

 

Organizations that joined the statement:

 

“Agate” Rights Defense Center for Women with Disabilities NGO

Open Society Foundations-Armenia

Analytical Center on Globalization and Regional Cooperation NGO

Disability Info NGO

Yeghegnadzor Civil Youth Center

Yerevan Press Club NGO

Foundation against the Violation of Law NGO

Journalists’ Club “Asparez”

My Human Rights Defender NGO

Ijevan Civil Youth Center

Real World, Real People NGO

Human Rights Power NGO

Protection of Rights without Borders NGO

“Agricultural Association Lukashin” Consumer Cooperative

Peace Dialogue NGO

Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression NGO

Women’s Rights Center NGO

Women’s Resource Center NGO

Armenian Helsinki Committee NGO

Public Journalism Club NGO

Institute of Public Policy NGO

Advanced Public Research Group NGO

Public Advocates Union NGO

Helsinki Association Human Rights NGO

Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly-Vanadzor NGO

Spiritual Armenia NGO

Hrazdan Civil Youth Center

Human Rights Research Center NGO

Meghri Women’s Research Center NGO

New Generation Humanitarian NGO

Radio “Hay Gyumri”

Veles Human Rights NGO

Pink Armenia NGO

Colorful House Social-cultural and Human Rights NGO

 

Individuals who joined the statement:

Ani Aghagulyan, human rights defender,

YSU PHD Narine Galstyan, student

 

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