Human rights violations, which have deep roots

Lilit Aghbalyan

This is a typical situation for newly independent Armenia after elections. Since the independence except the first elections of newly independent Armenia that took place on October 16, 1991, in all the rest elections of RA won the incumbent party. Opposition accepted the elections’ results only once – on October 16, 1991. The defeated party has never congratulated the winning party and the winning party doesn’t admit the defeated party’s victory.

The same scenario was on April 9, 2013. 40 days after the presidential elections, on the inauguration day of the elected president. In the RA, where the population is 2 million 9 thousand according to the official sources:  2 inaugurations took place , of re-elected president Serzh Sargsyan and  Raffi Hovhannisyan who took the second place with 540, 0000.00 electoral votes. While Serzh Sargsyan was swearing in front of state high ranking officials, foreign delegations, spiritual leaders and the cultural elite of the country with his right hand on the Holy Mothers’ Bible and the Constitution of RA, the leader of oppositional Heritage party Raffi Hovhannisyan was  promising  ”A new Armenia” to thousands of Armenians in Liberty Square of Yerevan.

Speech of Serzh Sargsyan, the President of Armenia

“Assuming the office of President of the Republic of Armenia, I swear to unreservedly fulfill requirements of the Constitution to respect human and civil rights and freedoms, to safeguard independence of the Republic, its territorial integrity and security for the glory of the Republic of Armenia and for the benefit of the people of the Republic of Armenia.”    

Speech of Raffi Hovhannisyan, the leader of ”Heritage” party

For the sake of the Republic of Armenia, I, the citizen of the RA, terminate my contact with the current illegitimate government, announce that I do not recognize today’s leaders, I will not obey false laws, I will not obey unlawful orders, I am protected by my rights, I am protected by the Constitution and I am not afraid, I am not for sale, and I will not retreat.  We will fight together by faith and love for justice. Armenia forever…

The process of creating a new Armenia has started with a walking rally from Gyumri (the second city of Armenia) to Yerevan being led by vice president of Heritage party Armen Martirosyan.

Armen Martirosyan who was elected as a National Assembly member in 2007 from Heritage party, but wasn’t re-elected in 2012, believed the last presidential elections to be fake, and  still he decided to take part at the Council Elections of  capital Yerevan leading the alliance “Hello Yerevan”.

On April 9, 2013, the council elections campaign kicked off.  Candidate Armen Martirosyan remembered that day like this:

Armen Martirosyan: “In the morning nothing could be predicted.      I was running my campaign, simultaneously holding protest against April 9 election results and at the same time inauguration ceremony. The protest of 3 actions in one process”.

After Inauguration ceremony at Liberty Square, crowd, ignoring the claim of opposition leader to go to the Memorial of Genocide, began a rally towards 26 Baghramyan Street, the residence of the president of RA.

The clash between the police and the protesters took place during the same day. The protesters met a police barrier. ”Hello Yerevan” alliance 1st candidate Armen Martirosyan tells that he didn’t even manage to realize what happened.

Atmen Martirosyan, Hello Yerevan alliance 1st candidate: “My face was beaten, but after X-rays I was told that I haven’t fractured my nose but there was injury there. I sustained bruises, nose bleeding and was transported by ambulance. Thanks God I didn’t have problems with the organs of vital importance”.

Armen Martirosyan’s two daughters were participating in their father’s campaign, as well as the candidate’s mother Lucia Petrosyan. We had a conversation with them.

Mother of Armen Martirosyan: “We were moving quietly and all of a sudden we were attacked. It was not an appropriate conduct for Armenians. My grandchildren were crying. I was thinking that children’s cry would alert them and they would stop since they were Armenian men. No human qualities were applicable to them. ”Sadist” is very mild to call them. My son did not deserve that. Who said that street is not ours… who that street belongs to?”

8 years old Sona saw how her father was being beaten and now she scared of public events.

“Police came and hit my father and grandmother. I wanted to help my father. Then I saw how a few men were scuffling him. Sometimes I forget, but always remember. Scared.”

In connection with the incident Armen Martirosyan applied to the Police attaching the video of the beating as a proof.  The video was made accidentally by a citizen. The special investigation service filed criminal case.

On April 11, 2013, Justice Minister Hrayr Tovmasyan noted after the April 9th events, here are quotes from the interview in “Aravot” daily:

The police have acted properly and correctly during the entire day; but police have a duty to protect the public safety, actually what was done.

Armen Martirosyan replies: “No public rules were disobeyed for the police to protect. I did not use any force against any policeman. If I had planned to disobey, there was a shield on the ground, I could take and use it for the purpose and act as a self-defense. But I didn’t do it. I was asked if we were going to stop at the front of presidential headquarters, we said — no.”

It’s worth mentioning, that the 29th article of RA Constitution states that everyone shall have the right to freedom of peaceful and unarmed assembly and restrictions on exercising these rights by the employees in the armed forces, police, national security, prosecutor’s office, bodies as well as judges and members of the Constitutional Court may be prescribed only by the law.

This law is the law on conducting meetings, assemblies, rallies and demonstrations.

In The 7th article of this law are mentioned the RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF PARTICIPANTS OF A PUBLIC EVENT.

The police does not mention an infraction of any duties on April 9.

The 8th article of the same law states the authorized body and the police shall  take, in cases and according to procedures stipulated by this law, decisions on terminating a public event or other event conducted in violation of provisions of this law and demand such termination from the organizer of the public event.

Nevertheless, not a single article of the law states, that the police can use force on the peaceful protestors.

These events were preceded by the annual report presentation in National Assembly by the  Human rights defender of Armenia.

Question-Lilit-       On April 9, 2013,  when the right of a citizen or a politician was being violated in Baghramyan street,  you were presenting your annual report in National Assembly of RA,  were you didn’t come across the incident. Then it was too early to comment on it. How do you estimate the incident today?

Ombudsman: As the case is in such a juridical phase, where the decision is exceptionally under the court, the ombudsmen doesn’t have any right to comment on such cases.

Based on Armen Martirosyan’s  report, criminal charges were pressed according to the article 309 section 2 of the criminal code, which includes  actions willfully committed by an official which obviously exceed his authorities and caused essential damage to the rights of citizens, organizations, state or legal interests committed with violence, weapons, or special measures, are punished with imprisonment for the term of 2 to 6 years, with deprivation of  the right to hold certain posts or practice certain activities for up to 3 years.  Currently the case is under investigation in the Special investigation service.

Were the acts of the police in the framework of the law, what is the opinion of the Ombudsmen: The answer to the question will give the defender of human rights in Armenia Karen Andreasyan.

Karen Andreasyan, the defender of human rights in Armenia: As a violation of the law we see exceptionally the incident connected with Armen Martirosyan, where as we believe was a problem of using force equally. The only matter, where we could have an opinion, is that using force by the police even if the citizen violated, was out of law and illegal. And we clearly stated our position.

Of course, we were not successful with talking to a police officer with regard to illegal actions Arthur Ghazaryan. Special Investigation Service representative answered, that for not interfering the investigation process it’s not proper to illustrate the case. Police officers who are currently employed by law enforcement systems avoided the conversation as well. I am talking to a police officer who was employed by law enforcement organs protecting the National Assembly building in 1996 when the same scenario happened and the opposition did not agree with the results of presidential elections and was ready to attack the NA building.

Policeman: “During each mass event the police are ordered not to intervene and communicate with people to avoid the tensions. The policemen themselves don’t tend to use force with the help of sticks or other special measures as they are as well a part of the nation until some offensive words and expressions are heard.”

Question. Lilit Aghbalyan. I’m ever sorry but Armen Martirosyan hasn’t said a single offensive word or expression, moreover, the protesters themselves intended to have a peaceful rally.

Policeman: Surely there are some people among the policemen who believe that they can use the chance and have benefits from the situation and get higher positions or strap.

As the answer to the question why the policemen consider using force to be a chance to gain high ranking positions, Karen Hovhannisyan answered, that there were  cases, when the policeman’s suchlike behavior was considered to be a sign of a good service and promoted a high ranking position. Karen Hovhanissyan prefers avoiding concrete name mentioning.

The incident which happened to Armen Martirosyan didn’t become a barrier on the way of holding May 5 Yerevan Aldermen elections. They took place and again a lot of international observers and observation missions visited Yerevan, among them the Head of the delegation and Rapporteur, Stewart DICKSON. The very next day Mr Dickson presented preliminary conclusions following the observation of this vote by which also the Mayor of Yerevan was elected. Congress Rapporteur Dickson stated that, with the exception of individual incidents in a few polling stations, the elections were carried out in calm and orderly manner and that the vote was technically well prepared, although the counting process, which at times looked chaotic and was slow, needs further improvement.  And not a single word about the incident that took place with the alderman candidate Armen Martirosyan.

On  April 9 the policeman Arthur Ghazaryan who used force against the peaceful protester got neither  a strap nor a high ranking post , but still  he hasn’t been punished as well, he still works in the system and hasn’t been worked out,  as states  the 309th article of the Criminal code of RA. He isn’t detained: the process is under investigation.

Isn’t the violence against Armen Martirosyan the violation of the rights of the opposition and still using force against the citizens is still considered to be a chance to gain posts? The answers to these questions we can get only after the trial. We’ll go on following the process and illustrate it.

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