Armenia: Right to protest must be respected amid fresh unrest

The Armenian authorities must show restraint when dealing with demonstrations in the capital Yerevan and avoid any excessive use of force, Amnesty International said today after protesters returned to the streets to call for elections.

“Armenia’s security forces must not repeat the mistakes of previous demonstrations, which saw peaceful protesters detained and mistreated simply for exercising their rights and speaking out against the government. Those taking to the streets in Yerevan must be allowed to exercise their right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” said Levan Asatiani, Amnesty International’s Campaigner on South Caucasus who is monitoring the protests from the capital.

Those taking to the streets in Yerevan must be allowed to exercise their right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly
Levan Asatiani, Amnesty International's Campaigner on South Caucasus

“While the police have a responsibility to maintain order, their response to any misbehaviour by protesters must be proportionate. Certainly, those who remain peaceful should not be targeted with arrest or violence. The authorities must also ensure that any allegations of ill-treatment by police and promptly and effectively investigated.”

Some peaceful protesters who took part in demonstrations earlier this month told Amnesty International they had been subjected to beatings and arbitrary detentions by the police as punishment for their dissent.

Background

The Armenian opposition resumed protest rallies on Wednesday after talks broke down with the ruling Republican party about a transition of power. Thousands responded to opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan’s call for fresh demonstrations by descending on Republic Square in Yerevan.

According to media monitors, police special task forces have been deployed in the centre of the Armenian capital.