LETTER TO COUNCIL OF EUROPE COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

LETTER

TO MR. NILS MUIZNIEKS, COUNCIL OF EUROPE

COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

21.07.2016

Dear Commissioner Muiznieks,

On 17.07.2016 the RA National Security Service (NSS) issued a statement, according to which earlier that day an armed group had seized the premises of the Patrol Service Regiment of the RA Police and taken several policemen as hostages.

The group, which calls itself “Sasna Tsrer” (the Daredevils of Sassoun), has put forward certain demands, including the resignation of the incumbent President Serzh Sargsyan, release of Zhirayr Sefilyan, leader of the political movement “New Armenia” and several other political opponents of the President who had been imprisoned months earlier on fabricated charges and as a result of unfair trials, etc.

Symultaneously, the Police started forcibly detaining hundreds of citizens from various parts of Armenia, including from their hourses, shops, streets and the Liberty Square. A significant number of these citizens have been subjected to violence in police stations and whilst being forcibly taken to police stations. At present there are dozens of arrested people, a significant part of who are charged with participation in mass disorders (Article 225 of the RA Criminal Code). The following describes these events in their chronological order: 

17 July 2016

According to various reports, the police has forcibly detained hundreds of citizens.[1] These citizens state that when detaining them the Police had failed to give any reasons for their detention. In response to journalists’ questions, the Police again failed to state any reasons for detaining citizens and, quite the contrary, even stated that there were no reasons for this.[2]

A number of citizens were kept in detention for hurs in a stadium of the Police Academy. [3]

Nelli Minasyan, a citizen of Armenia reports to have been taken to police from a shop near her house without any explanations whatsoever.[4]

In the same vein, the Police detained by use of violence painter Nikolay Aghababyan by pulling and pushing him, and although initially the policemen stated that their intention was to find out his identity even after Mr Aghababyan showed his ID card, he was forcibly taken to a police station.[5]

Normally citizens were detained in a police station for more than 3 hours.[6] Mickael Nazaryan was detained in a police station for more than 30 hours without any status whatsoever and without being allowed to receive legal aid from his lawyer Hayarpi Sargsyan.[7]

The prohibition on the lawyers’ entry to police stations was of a systematic nature and the Police failed to fulfil the right of citizens to receive legal aid.[8]

There are a number of cases when no information was available on the whereabouts of citizens for hours.[9] There are reports of police officers resorting to inhuman and degrading treatment in respect of a number of citizens. Civic activist Vardges Gaspari states that a police officer put his foot on his mouth to silence him.[10]

18 July 2016

On 18 July, inhuman and degrading treatment of a number of citizens acquired more acute manifestations. Andranik Aslanyan who had been detained and subjected to violence by police officers reports  that police officers tried to force the detained citizens to kiss their shoes, swore and spat at them and Davit Sanasaryan, member of Yerevan Council from “Heritage” party.[11] Davit Sanasaryan lost consciousness after these beatings.[12] He was taken to hospital where it became clear that he had got a brain concussion and injuries on his head and body.[13]

Throughout the day the police continued its disproportional actions forcibly detaining dozens of citizens. At 19.00 the police dispersed the citizens assembled in the Liberty Square for a peaceful action by using force and without giving any reasons for this.[14]

The police also detained citizens from Khorenatsi street, the area in the neighbourhood of the premises of the Police Patrol Service Regiment.[15]

The detainees also included Garo Yegnukyan, member of the political movement “New Armenia” and Lusine Galsyan and Ani Avetisyan, wife and daughter of Varouzhan Avetisyan, another member of “New Armenia” and “Sasna Tsrer” group. [16]

Anushik Haroutyunyan, Elmone and Sime Yeghnoukyans were taken to a police station for writing “There is no other way” on a poster.[17]

The police subjected detained citizens Artoush Chiboukhchyan and Levon Zakaryan to beatings, following which they were taken to hospital with bodily injuries.[18]

While being detained and also in a police station Police subjected to severe beatings another activist, Vaghinak Shoushanyan.[19] [20]

A police officer punched Artak Hambardzoumyan, journalist performing his professional duties on Khorenatsi Street. He later stated that when he asked a high-ranking police officer why people were being detained, another police officer in glasses held the microphone and tried to say something. The journalist tried to take the microphone back and at that moment the police officer punched him on his belly. Artak Hambardzoumyan stated that he had been obstructed from performing his professional journalistic activity.[21]

There were incidents of people being forcible detained while walking in the street, like writer Hovik Vardoumyan.[22]

 

 

19 July 2016

Although on 19 July the Police did not subject citizens to forcible detention, nevertheless persecutions in respect of certain citizens continued. The flat of Vardan Geravetyan, a civic activist was searched in his absence.[23]

In one of Yerevan neighbourhoods called “Sari Tagh” clashes occurred between citizens and policemen in the course of which policemen seized a journalist’s camera and only after the latter demanded it back for a lenghty period of time it was returned.[24]

20 July 2016

On 20 July at about 00.12 unidentified people kidnapped artist Arthur Petrosyan and the person walking next to him on Tigran Mets Avenue. They were forced into a car and taken in an unknown direction. There is a video with the plate number of the car, which is 34 UP 673. [25]

A series of arrests occurreded in a Yerevan neighbourhood called “Sari Tagh” when the law enforcement authorities started the arrests of some participants of the incident of the previous day.[26]

In the evening of 20 July a number of supporters of the political movement “New Armenia” raised the issue of provision of food to the group “Sasna Tsrer” since according to the information that they had the group has had shortage of food in the course of the last two days. They demanded that they be allowed to pass food to the people in the premises of the Patrol Service Regiment. They gave time to police officers until 22.00 to respond to their demands and when this time expired certain people (some sources insist that these were provocators) started throwing stones in the direction of police. In response to this, the riot police started using special means against the people, including explosives and teargas.[27]

Dozens of citizens and policemen were injured as a result of clashes. According to the Ministry of Health of Armenia, 51 injured people applied to medical institutions in Yerevan, of who 29 were police officers.

Two legs of Mnats Aleksanyan, a participant of that assembly were injured as a result of police action. [28]He had to undergo medical surgery. According to the reports of some eyewitnesses, other citizens also got injuries of various degrees.[29] [30] In a video made by Radio Liberty an elderly man’s face is flooded with blood and he tells the journalist that the police had done this.[31]

21 July 2016

After clashes the citizens also closed Tigran Mets Avenue. Early in the morning of 21 July, at around 04.00 the Police warned the protesters assembled on Khorenatsi and Tigran Mets that their assembly is illegal and called upon them to leave the area. The protesters, however, stayed, following which the policemen started detaining them by using force. According to the police 136 people were taken to police stations on a suspicion of exerting violence dangerous and not dangerous to the life and health of the representatives of the power or threat of use of violence.[32]

Policemen in uniform or dressed as civilians chased the people who tried to escape from mass violence by the Police in the yards and entrances to buildings, beat them and took to various police divisions. One of the detained citizens stated that he had been taken from Tigran Mets Avenue by people dressed as civilians. He was beaten in the car. Later citizens in police stations told him that they had been subjected to beatings. They were released in 3 hours and the explanation given to them was that they had been detained on a suspicion of damage to another’s property. He also heard in a police station how one ofthe policemen ordered his subordniates “to bring three girls from Masiv”. In around 20 minutes 3 prostitutes were brought to the police station, and the policemen demanded that they stated that they had been brought from the place of the assembly.[33]

According to Alen Simonyan, member of the political party “Civil Contract” 9 members of the party leadership were detained from Khorenatsi street. They were Arayik Harutyunyan, Vilen Gabrielyan, Tigran Kirishyan, Arthur Ghoukasyan, Artashes Jilavyan, Trdat Sargsyan, Artoush Yeghizaryan, Armen Galjyan, and Sirak Sargsyan. Two of them had injuries: Arayik Harutyunyan’s shirt had been burned and he received a facial injury from an explosive used by the police. Vilen Gabrielyan was subjected to violence when being detained.[34] According to the latter, police officers spat on the people, insulted, beat them and seized the mobile phones of 7 people who were with him in the car. They were first taken to Arabkir police station and since there was no room there for more people they were taken to the policee station in Qanaker. During this whole time some citizens in the car were subjected to beatings.[35]The policemen seized the mobile of civic activist Vardges Gaspari. This action of police was directed by Levon Yeranosyan, deputy head of the RA Police. He swore at citizens and in response to a journalist’s question on why he was spearing, other policemen removed the journalist.

A number of citizens were subjected to violence when being detained. One of the citizens said “help” and lost consciousness. He was not rendered any assistance. Moreover, other police officers joined to detain him and continued to pull the unconscious citizen. One of the policemen kicked him on his belly. [36] In the video it can be heard how one of the policemen says “do not hit.” The citizens were detained not only from the place of assembly but their own courtyards. “This is the street where I live”, says one of the citizens. The policeman’s response is “Go, in the coming 12 years your street will be in a different place” (meaning he will be imprisoned for 12 years).[37]

Another citizen was detained while his head was hooded by a cloth. It is caght on a vidoe how another citizen is being detained and his face is injured and bloody. While detaining one of the citizens a policeman punches him on his head. Police officers punch another protester. Another police officer tells them not to punch and take him calmly. The protester shouts in pain: 4 police officers carry him in their arms. Police officers swear when detaining citizens.[38]  [39]

When taken behind the police line citizens were subjected to violence.[40]

It can be seen in a video that when 4 policemen carry a citizen the policeman passing by them hits him.[41][42]

Protester Arsen Tadevosyan was subjected to beatings. His jaw was broken in two places.[43] After being released from hospital he went to the police station in Shengavit to file a report of a crime where he was arrested for participating in an illegal rally and then transferred to the detention centre in Hrazdan (at a 50 km distance from Yerevan due to the fact that there was no room in the detention center in Yerevan).

Police officers also exerted force on journalists carrying out their professional journalistic duties. A group of pilicemen beat Gevorg Tosunyan, journalist from the online media www.iravaban.net and seized the chip of his camera.[44] In Tigran Mets Avenue he had shot videos on how stones were being thrown at civilians by other civilians.[45] The journalist filed a report of a crime to the police.[46]

By pure mistake some policemen also tried to detain their colleague dressed as civilian. It can be heard in the video how one of the policemen says “Calm down, calm down, he’s one of us.”[47]

In the morning of 21 July a citizen named Aharon Antonyan was taken from the police station in Nor Nork to hospital in an ambulance. According to an eyewitness, he had an injury of his back.[48] [49]

In the morning the RA Investigative Comittee disseminated a statement which said that a criminal case had been instituted in connection with the facts of the previous night under Article 225(2) of the RA Criminal Code.[50]

At present according to official data 16 persons were arrested, however their exact number cannot be indicated as investigative action is underway and there are no updated data.

Since 17 July 2016, the violent actions of the police have entailed numerous and mass violations of the right not to be subjected to torture (Article 3), right to liberty and security of a person (Article 5), right to freedom of expression (Article 10) and right to freedom of assembly (Article 11) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

 

The victims of these violations do not in fact have any effective remedy (prescribed by Article 13 of the Convention) in view of the fact that both administrative and judicial authorities in Armenia are in total control of the same political power – the Republican Party of Armenia.

 

We hereby apply to You, to draw Your attention to the current human rights situation in Armenia, to request You to make an ad hoc visit to Armenia in connection with these violations and/or make a statement regarding the existing human rights situation in the country.

 

Europe in Law Association, Non-Governmental Human Rights Organization

 



[12]http://armtimes.com/hy/read/89859                   

 


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