Police have launched an investigation into an attack on a trans woman in Armenia by a member of a far-right organisation, who filmed and published the attack online.
The video was published on multiple social networks on 1 August. In it, Vahe Yeghiazaryan, a member of The Army of Light, a far-right religious group, was seen cursing at and attacking a trans woman in central Yerevan.
‘I’m going to shatter two people, honestly, I’m going to shatter [them] live. Let the police come and take me’, he says.
The video was widely circulated by the attacker, the group, and their supporters.
The Telegram channel of the far-right group called the man a ‘real Armenian’, saying that they supported him and encouraged others to take similar actions. The group issued him a certificate for his ‘patriotic activities’, which they also published.
The leaders of the group went to the police station to support the attacker, who was detained following the incident.
The Right Side, an NGO supporting trans people in Armenia, said they had submitted a complaint against the attacker. The group told Epress.am that proceedings had been initiated at the Investigative Committee, but it was not yet clear under what articles.
‘This case is particularly alarming, as the video showing violence is actively circulating on the internet accompanied by hate speech and calls for violence’, Havasar — the Anti-Discrimination and Equality Coalition, an Armenian NGO, wrote on Facebook.
The group called on law enforcement agencies to ensure that hate crimes were properly investigated and prosecuted.
They also called on the Armenian authorities to ‘clearly and unequivocally’ condemn discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. ‘No person in the Republic of Armenia should live in an atmosphere of fear and the threat of violence because of their identity’.
Havasar emphasised that such cases were frequent, listing several incidents in which trans people were attacked in recent months.
In one such case that took place in late June, a trans person was attacked after refusing to leave the area on Zakian street in central Yerevan.
Queer rights group Pink Armenia has also complained that violence against trans people was often ‘not adequately investigated and punished’ in Armenia, leading to increasing numbers of such cases.
In July, the group reported that two men sexually assaulted a trans woman after she refused to have sex with them. The group said the men also attempted to stab her.