21 March 2012, 13:30

Statement of the Armenian Civil Initiative "We Are Masters of This City"

On March 14 this year, at about 9:30 p.m., the Police of Armenia made another use of force against a peaceful sit-in protest action in the Mashtots Park in Yerevan. Policemen surrounded our tent, demolished and tore it down by applying violence against one of the participants of the peaceful action who was in the tent, and confiscated the tent and all belongings inside – sleeping bags, blankets, clothes, spectacles, a bag and a jacket of one of the activists. The illegal, cruel punitive actions were undertaken by the police in dark hours and without any warning.

It should be noted here that the police had earlier used this scenario; moreover, they were ordered to use force against the participants of the peaceful assembly, since by 9:15 p.m. the number of policemen in the Mashtots Park had increased greatly, which caused our concern. However, when asked about the reasons, the police bosses said that they were just replacing the staff. At the same time, they mockingly remarked: "Why have you brought so many foodstuffs here? Settled for long?"

Suddenly, behind kiosks, on the left of the cafe "Metelitsa", two or three unidentified young men began shouting in order to distract our attention; and more than 100 policemen, rather than to find out what was happening and who was violating the public order by yells and swearing, rushed to our tent.

This episode allows us, the representatives of the civil society, to state that the police of the Republic of Armenia had undertaken the lowest and meanest action, staged a performance and attacked the participants of a peaceful assembly, who were much less in number than the policemen.

We set up our tent on March 13, 2012, on the day of the start of the declared sit-in protest action, which – according to the Constitution – is legitimate and violates nobody's rights. However, we met violent actions of the police of the Republic of Armenia. Policemen said that we had no right to set up the tent. The irony of the situation lies in the fact that the police had failed to act in the same way, when trade pavilions were installed – with a frank violation of the law – in the Mashtots Park, amidst the public green area.

We hereby state that we fell victim to torture – this was nothing else, when late at night and without warning the people who were realizing their constitutional right to peacefully express their protest were deprived of their tent that protected them from cold and left to freeze in the open air. We shouted to them that there was a man in the tent. He barely managed to jump out, not able to take his spectacles and put on his shoes.

Thus, the police resorted to unconstitutional actions and became an instrument for the protection of illegal construction in the Mashtots Park. All this was accompanied by provocative actions of policemen in civilian clothes, who had staged a scandal aimed to distract the attention of the protesters from the hundred of policemen, who violently smashed down the tent.

Such violent actions of law enforcers indicate that the police practices remain the same as during the dictatorial past; and they disregard the Constitution of Armenia in their frank and shameless way. The violence applied against the protesters also demonstrates that the constitutional order in the Republic of Armenia is again under threat; those responsible for these developments are the Armenian authorities in the person face of the president, politicians and law enforcement bodies.

After committing the act of police terror, the Police of the Republic of Armenia disseminated its subjective statement about the incident, which gave an arbitrary interpretation of what had happened, which had nothing to do with reality. In response to the message about the violent actions of the police, the number of protesters in the Mashtots Park has tripled. In spite of the vile and violent actions of the police, citizens decided to continue their indefinite protest actions and call to bring those who carried out illegal actions to responsibility.

With the account of the aforesaid, we, on behalf of the defenders of the Mashtots Park, hereby declare the following:

We, the self-determined citizens of the Republic of Armenia, will continue our peaceful protest actions until all the illegal structures erected in the Mashtots Park are dismantled.

We hereby address the General Public Prosecutor, the Head of the Special Investigatory Service and the Chief of the Police and demand to immediately conduct a service investigation of the actions of the policemen and those who managed these actions and call the authors and executors of illegal orders to responsibility.

Civil Initiative "We Are Masters of This City"

March 15, 2012

Note: Translation into English was made by the "Caucasian Knot"

Source: Website 1in.am

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