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