Armenia Uses Force to Disperse Protests
In response to police brutality and the mass arrest of peaceful protesters in the Armenian capital of Yerevan on June 22, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“Freedom House condemns the arrest of 237 peaceful protesters by police," said Susan Corke, director of Eurasia programs. “The thousands of Armenians who marched in Yerevan to protest widespread corruption were exercising their constitutional rights to freedom of assembly and expression. The images of hospitalized civilians, beaten journalists, and broken filming equipment show that these rights are being trampled. We call for a full and transparent investigation of these unprovoked incidents of police brutality and use of force against peaceful demonstrators."
Demonstrators took to the streets of Yerevan on June 22 to protest a price hike by Russian-owned power provider Electricity Networks of Armenia. Protesters were blocked by police in riot gear on their march to the presidential palace, and chose to stage a sit-in instead. At dawn on June 23, police violently dispersed the protesters as well as journalists at the scene. At least 18 people were injured. More protests occurred last night without incident and continue.
Armenia is rated Partly Free in Freedom in the World 2015, Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2015, Free in Freedom on the Net 2014, and receives a democracy score of 5.37 on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 as the worst possible score, in Nations in Transit 2015.
Photo: Serzh Sargysan, President of Armenia, at the European People's Party Summit (Flickr/Creative Commons).
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.