Helsinki Citizens' Assembly-Vanadzor

Democracy and independence must be protected with exclusively legitimate means

September 23, 2023

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Use of violence, disproportionate and illegal use of force by Police against protesters is inadmissible and condemnable.

 

Protests and objective demands are inevitable and logical in the light of the RA Government’s inadequate responses to security threats and  Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh residents’ rights. At the same time, it is obvious that the authorities’ disproportionate and unclear response to security challenges creates an atmosphere of mistrust and contributes to intensifying tension among the public. The created tense situation is exacerbated  by Kremlin, whose supporters in Armenia try to destabilize the situation overtly using hate speech and calls for violence and use of armed methods, as well as disruption of public solidarity, violations of public order accompanied by violence against individual citizens, which aims to provoke civil clashes.  Uncertainty formed among the public as a result of the RA Government’s inconsistent, disproportionate and unprincipled conduct, as well as improper communication with the public, lack of information about human rights in Artsakh, clear information about activities and steps aimed at ensuring their rights and security, create an information vacuum, which is filled in with misinformation. This situation significantly reduces the state’s and public’s resilience and creates fertile ground for challenges to the state's independence and security. 

 

Such Police response against protest action participants in this situation is not only disproportionate and ineffective, but it also does not amount to a reasonable lawful solution based on principles of a democratic legal state aimed at eliminating current challenges and public uncertainty. Targeting of Artsakh Armenian - who are already in a vulnerable situation in terms of their rights - by some political forces and mass media, is even more condemnable, as they present it as a source of danger on the one hand and manipulate it for political purposes on the other hand. Nagorno Karabakh citizens should be considered as a source of strengthening and not weakening the potential of Armenia.

 

Police violence, disproportionate and unlawful use of force against individual protesters is inadmissible and condemnable. Violations of the right to peaceful assembly intensify tension among the public. Peaceful assemblies should be guaranteed in the Republic of Armenia, while the Police, having the responsibility to ensure proper process of assemblies, also must use means established by law only in most necessary and exceptional cases, when fundamental principles of peaceful assemblies are violated, and their use does not terminate exercise of the right to a peaceful assembly.

 

Condemning use of disproportionate force and unlawful activities of Police, we demand from the RA authorities to:

 

  1. conduct effective investigation into each case of use of disproportionate and unlawful force by Police and hold liable those carrying out such activities,
  2. ensure the whole process of proper implementation of peaceful protests and take necessary measures to hold proportionately and legally liable those disseminating hate speech and calling for physical violence based on ethnic, national, religious and other grounds,
  3. present a clear action plan for ensuring Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh residents’ security, including an action plan with the involvement of international mechanisms and safeguards for the Republic of Armenia to undertake an obligation to ensure safe transfer of and basic living conditions for those leaving their main residence place under the imperative of life and security threats, and to implement it within reasonable terms.
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