Beaten,Burnt and Betrayed: Armenians awaiting accountability for police violenceSeptember 26, 2017 Report
This report summarizes the findings of a monitoring mission to Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, organized by International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) within the framework of the Civic Solidarity Platform (CSP) on 28 July to 1 August 2016. The CSP monitors studied allegations of the use of disproportionate and excessive force in relation to predominantly peaceful demonstrations; arbitrary detentions; abusive treatment of demonstrators and journalists and other human rights violations in connection with demonstrations that took place in Yerevan from 17 July to 30 July 2016. The team of monitors recorded testimony from 42 victims and witnesses. IPHR and the CSP monitors take no position on the demands of the demonstrators or the means used by opposition groups to achieve their political aims. The sole purpose of this report is to analyze whether human rights violations took place in connection with the demonstrations, and the nature of any violations found to have been committed.
The protests in Yerevan spiked after a group of armed men belonging to the opposition group “Sasna Tsrer” (“Daredevils of Sassoon”) seized Police Patrol Service (PPS) station located in Erebuni, a southern Yerevan district on 17 July 2016, killing police Colonel Artur Vanoyan, wounding and taking hostage several other police officers.1 The group was demanding the release of their imprisoned leader of the Founding Parliament2 Jirair Sefilian, the resignation of Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, and the so-called “restoration of the Republic”. In recent years members of the group “Sasna Tsrer” being also aligned with the political movement Pre-Parliament and partially comprised of veterans of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabagh, has repeatedly claimed that the elections in Armenia have been deeply flawed, thus questioning the legitimacy of those in power. It has also accused the political elite of being tainted by widespread corruption.
Shortly after of the gunmen seized Erebuni District Police Station demonstrators began gathering on Azatutyun Square in central Yerevan and near the occupied police station on Khorenatsi Street to show solidarity with the gunmen. They did not represent a unified movement, but were led by various civic groups such as the Heritage Party and the Founding Parliament movement as well as civic leaders who had become popular during the Electric Yerevan protests in 2015. Although the police did not disperse the gatherings, they detained dozens of protesters. Despite this, the number of demonstrators continued to grow over the days that followed.
On 20 July 2016 the Armenian Special Investigation Service opened an investigation into allegations of excessive use of force by police. At the time of writing, disciplinary sanctions have been taken in relation to the Head of Yerevan City police and two heads of district police departments. In light of the failure of the Armenian authorities to bring any suspects to justice following the excessive use of force by police at the Electric Yerevan protests in June 20153 , the CSP delegation is seriously concerned that those responsible for the use of excessive force in these recent demonstrations a year later may also escape justice. There were also grounds to conclude that police officers specifically targeted the main leaders of the predominantly peaceful July 2016 protests, detained and charged them with “organizing mass disorders”, in order to weaken and, ultimately, put an end to the protests.
See the full report here
In the framework of the project “Human Rights Training for Conscripts”, the trainings conducted by Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly-Vanadzor continued in Goris, Syunik Region and in Yeghegnadzor, Vayots Dzor Region on June 17 and 18, 2018.
David Shahverdyan, the doctor accused of causing the death of a new mother from Vanadzor, pleaded not guiltyJune 20, 2018
Yesterday, June 19, 2018, the examination of the case of Hripsime Nazlukhanyan, a new mother who died at Vanadzor Medical Center in October 2016, continued at the Court of General Jurisdiction of Lori Region.
Georgian psychologists conducted a training for representatives of Armenian media outlets: How to build up an interview with a victim, what to avoid and what to pay attention toJune 18, 2018
The participants maintain that such trainings are a necessity especially for journalists working with vulnerable groups, as it is highly important to adhere to the ethical norms and not to harm the person when covering those themes.
The RA Prosecutor General refrains from giving a legal assessment to the actions of the penitentiary institution officers with respect to the case of the Iranian detaineesJune 14, 2018
HCA Vanadzor applied to the RA Prosecutor General’s Office in connection with transferring the preliminary investigation of the criminal case initiated with respect to the Iranian detainees in Nubarashen Penitentiary Institution opening the doors of six cells of the penitentiary institution on April 25, 2018 to the RA Special Investigation Service.
The participants were mainly interested in the impartiality of choosing the place of performing military service by lot during the conscription and the corruption risks connected with it, the manifestations of unequal treatment when drawing lots, specific cases of deferment of compulsory military service, the structure of conscription, the issues relating to the structure of conscription committees as well as the amount of reimbursement for transportation costs given to servicemen in the case of basic leave being provided and other issues.
The project “Legal Clinic-2018” has commenced; the participants expect to become skilled in law and more competitive in the labor marketJune 12, 2018
On May 25, 2018 the theoretical stage of the HCA Vanadzor project “Legal Clinic-2018” commenced in Dilijan.
In the framework of the three-day theoretical training, the participants gained general knowledge of human rights and mechanisms of their protection and then consolidated their knowledge through practical work.
I still look forward to a judge of a first instance court, a court of appeal or a court of cassation on civil, administrative or criminal cases or a judge of a constitutional court apologizing publicly.
Today, on June 7, 2018, the RA Administrative Court rejected the claim of the RA Police against Mashtots Avenue protester G. Tonoyan and upheld in part the counterclaim filed by G. Tonoyan and her representative T. Siradeghyan, lawyer at HCA Vanadzor’s representative office in Yerevan.
French-Armenian public figure Alexandre Varbedian’s data have been removed from the “data bank of the aliens considered undesirable in the territory of the RA”June 4, 2018
Today, on June 4, 2018, HCA Vanadzor advocate Ani Chatinyan, the representative of French-Armenian public figure Alexandre Varbedian, was informed in a phone call from the RA National Security Service that Al. Varbedian’s data were removed from the “data bank of the aliens considered undesirable in the territory of the RA.”
Yet another court session was scheduled for May 30, 2018 in the framework of the examination of the claim against the decision of the National Security Service (the NSS) to ban French-Armenian public figure Alexandre Varbedian’s entry to the RA.
The representative of the Judicial Department did not deny at the court that the personal data of only the participants in the hearing on Zhirayr Sefilyan’s case were takenJune 2, 2018
The representative of the RA Judicial Department did not deny that the personal data of only the participants in the court session on Zhirayr Sefilyan’s case were taken and then destroyed. However, he insisted that the participants in all the sessions were searched.
9 criminal cases have been initiated on the basis of the 19 reports submitted by HCA Vanadzor in connection with the protests that occurred from April 17 to 25, 2018. The law enforcement agencies have also provided information on the criminal cases relating to the protests and on their progressMay 31, 2018
9 criminal cases have been initiated (or have been included in the already initiated criminal cases) on the basis of the 19 crime reports submitted by Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly-Vanadzor in connection with the cases of police officers and persons in civilian clothing using violence against participants in the non-violent, peaceful protests and acts of civil disobedience from April 17 to 25, 2018 and journalists covering those events as well as hindering the movement of protesters.