Armenia’s human rights defender has sharply criticised ‘disproportionate’ police actions as clashes between police and protesters demanding Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s resignation intensify.
‘The use of blatant disproportionate force by a police officer, which is not mitigated by the need to apprehend, is inadmissible and unacceptable’, reads the most recent statement from Armenia’s Human Rights Defender Kristine Grigoryan. The statement was released following a particularly violent clash between police and anti-government protesters on 30 May.
The wave of protests, organised by the country’s parliamentary opposition, began on 1 May.
Grigoryan emphasised that in a number of cases ‘the physical force used by police officers during the apprehension of persons’ was ‘obviously disproportionate’ and that there were documented cases in which ‘brutal physical force’ was used against those who had already been restrained by the police.
During the May 30 protest, protesters attempted to force their way inside a government administration building. In the ensuing clashes over a dozen people were injured, and some were hospitalized, including police officers.
Daniel Ioannisyan, Programs Coordinator at the Union of Informed Citizens, an Armenia-based democracy watchdog, drew attention to the ‘apparent criminal actions’ of the crowd trying to storm the government administration, saying that the police might be allowed to ‘take special measures’ to stop the protesters, though only ‘within proportion’.
While over 100 people were briefly detained by police during the incident, eight were arrested and remain in police custory. They may be facing criminal charges.
Since the protests began a month ago, 25 criminal cases have been launched by Armenia’s Investigative Committee concerning ‘unlawful actions’ by the police.