Armenia must stop the disproportionate use of force against protestors

The Human Rights House Network (HRHN) is deeply concerned about the disproportionate use of force against peaceful protestors in Armenia, in connection with “Erebuni” protests that began on 17 July.

In a joint letter to the Armenian President, Serzh Sargsyan, 58 NGOs from 11 Human Rights Houses express concerns relating to the “Erebuni” protests and urge all parties to refrain from the use of force.

They direct the following calls to the Armenian authorities:

  • Respect the right to peaceful assembly – Immediately stop the disproportionate use of force and end the unlawful detention of protestors. The State must only use force as a last resort and in a proportionate manner against violent elements. The authorities must take all necessary steps, including meetings and negotiations with civil society, to prevent the use of force against peaceful protestors.
  • Investigate – Investigate all cases of violence and alleged ill treatment, particularly against peaceful protesters and journalists, and bring perpetrators to justice.
  • Counter the climate of fear – Release timely and transparent information about police activities and detentions, and publicly support and protect the right to peaceful protest, including through a public debate in Parliament.
  • Support human rights defenders – Support the work of human rights defenders in the context of peaceful protests, as Armenia committed to doing by co-sponsoring the resolution on human rights defenders adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council in March 2013.
  • Revise operational doctrine of law enforcement ­– Initiate an inclusive process with international experts and independent Armenian non-governmental organisations, in order to revise the operational doctrine of the law enforcement responsible for managing peaceful protests.

Human Rights House Foundation (HRHF) stresses that the responsibility for violent clashes lies with the Armenian authorities: they have failed to meet their obligation to facilitate and support peaceful protests, and in many cases have undermined efforts to ensure events remain peaceful. 

HRHF has expressed concern at the arrest of dozens of protestors, the disproportionate use of force, and human rights violations in the process of detention.

Violations of the right to freedom of assembly have long been a core human rights problem in Armenia, relating to excessive use of force by law enforcement authorities and arbitrary detention. In June 2015, during the protests of “Electric Yerevan,” representatives of the Human Rights House Network documented similar alleged violations of the right to peaceful assembly, including excessive use of force by the police, alleged inhuman treatment, and arbitrary detention.

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