EaP CSF ARMENIAN NATIONAL PLATFORM
On the Ongoing Events related to the Armed Assault by “Sasna Tsrer” Group
July 21, 2016
On July 17, 2016 “Sasna Tsrer” group made an armed assault on the Patrol-Guard Service Regiment of RA Police, declared a revolt and put forward political demands. What happened is the direct result of deep crisis of democratic institutions, first of all the elections, neglect of human rights, public opinion and interests by the authorities, incapacity to guarantee the security and sovereignty of the state, corruption and monopoly taking root in all the spheres, existence of political prisoners, increasing migration and tensed moral and psychological atmosphere.
We, the members of the EaP CSF Armenian National Platform, which unites more than 220 CSOs, realizing the necessity of fundamental changes in the country, will in the nearest future give our detailed and principled assessment of what happened. Meanwhile, we deem it necessary to draw everyone’s attention to two issues, which require immediate resolution.
The peaceful resolution of the situation created after “Sasna Tsrer” group’s assault, based on national and state interests, has no alternative. As a result of clashes of July 17 and the following days, there is already one victim and numerous wounded, and it is of utmost importance that the chain of violence be unconditionally stopped.
In this regard, we demand that the RA authorities clearly guarantee the exclusion of the use of force on their part. We also address the same appeal to the people that seized the premises of the Patrol-Guard Service Regiment of RA Police.
On these days we became the witnesses and some also victims of massive violations of the constitutional rights of citizens by the law-enforcement agencies. In particular:
- Hundreds of people, including minors, elderly and women, were illegitimately and without any reasonable justification subjected to violence, unlawful persecutions and imprisonment;
- There were numerous well-founded complaints about citizens subjected to violence and torture by the police;
- Being in detention, citizens were deprived of food, legal assistance (seeing lawyer) and right to decent medical assistance, as well as the possibility to inform their relatives of their whereabouts.
- The right to free movement and peaceful assemblies in the territory of the Republic was limited; cases of violence against journalists and obstruction of their professional activities were registered.
Based on the above-mentioned, Armenian National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum strictly condemns the conduct of the RA authorities in this crisis and demands:
– to immediately cease acts of use of force against citizens, releasing all the detained;
– in a brief period of time (within no more than a month) to carry out official investigation in cooperation with human rights organizations, and subject to liability those who gave illegal orders and those who executed them;
– until the end of September 2016 to form authorities-civil society dialogue groups, which will address the crucial issues of public concern;
Taking into consideration that the recent unruly behavior of law-enforcement agencies is also conditioned by their impunity of previous years, it becomes more than topical to conclude the covered-up or artificially dragged-out investigations related to March 1, 2008, June 23, 2015 and other events.
In case the RA authorities fail to give an adequate response to the issues pinpointed in this statement within the next few days, we will have all grounds to assume that they deliberately leave the Armenian citizens, searching way out of the current unacceptable situation, with no other option than resorting to civil disobedience.
Local EU statement on recent events in Armenia
The European Union Delegation issues the following statement in agreement with the EU Members States´ Heads of Mission in Armenia
We stress that the use of force to achieve political change is unacceptable and offer our condolences to the family of Colonel Artur Vanoyan, Deputy Commander of the Patrol Regiment of the Yerevan Police Department. We wish all persons injured in connection with the hostage situation at the police station in Erebuni swift and full recovery.
With concern we note reports on excessive use of force and mass arrests by the police. In that regard, we call on the authorities to observe the principle of proportionality in handling public manifestations, which applies to both peaceful and violent gatherings. Likewise, demonstrators need to refrain from violence in the exercise of their civil rights.
We also take note of the statements issued by the Ombudsman and call for a full investigation of all cases of alleged wrongdoing by the police, including mistreatment, denial of access to lawyers and medical care.
Source: EU Delegation to Armenia
by the Steering Committee of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum on the Recent Events in Armenia
Serzh Sargsyan, President, Republic of Armenia
Galust Sahakyan, President of the National Assembly Republic of Armenia
Donald Tusk, President, European Council
Jean-Claude Juncker, President, European Commission
Martin Schulz, President, European Parliament
Federica Mogherini, Vice-President of the European Commission, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations
Ministers of Foreign Affairs, EU Member States
Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General, Council of Europe
Pedro Agramunt, President, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
Nils Muižnieks, Commissioner for Human Rights, Council of Europe
Lamberto Zannier, Secretary General, Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)
Ilkka Kanerva, President, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly
Michael Georg Link, Director, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR)
19 July 2016
The Steering Committee appeals to the Armenian authorities to resolve the occupation of the Erebuni police department in Yerevan by a group of armed supporters of the Founding Parliament opposition group without any further loss of life.
Furthermore, we remind both sides that political tensions can only be resolved through dialogue and without recourse to the violence, which has already led to the death of one policeman and injury of four others. We recognise the restraint by the authorities and the skill of the negotiators, which has led to the release by the occupiers of five out of the nine hostages held in the police department.
However, we stress that political dialogue can only be conducted under conditions of rule of law and democratic governance, which respect the will of the people as expressed in free and fair elections. Such conditions can only be put in place if the leadership of Armenia revises its current policies and establishes a regime without political prisoners and with mutual respect between the country’s rulers and political opposition.
Currently, it is unacceptable that the authorities should breach fundamental human rights by detaining citizens on a large scale as has happened in recent days in Yerevan’s Liberty Square and elsewhere. Some of them were beaten while in detention before being released. Those detained were also deprived of food and water, as well as access to legal aid and communication with their families and friends.
We protest against such repressions, which are not directly related to the resolution of the Erebuni police department siege. Such actions do not only violate basic human rights but also make the peaceful resolution of the present crisis more difficult. Thus, we call on the Armenian authorities to stop such indiscriminate actions in relation to the citizens and to severely punish those members of the security forces who issued these illegal orders and executed them.
Tolerating such actions by the authorities can only deepen the distrust of the citizens towards the institutions of the state engendered by the tragic events of 1 March 2008 and the violence against peaceful demonstrators and journalists on 23 June 2015.
Members of the Steering Committee of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum