The U.S. Embassy is deeply concerned by the shocking images and credible reports of violence and excessive use of force by the police to disperse protestors during the night of July 29-30. We are just as concerned by credible reports that journalists and their equipment were specifically targeted by the police during these operations, in what appears to be clear violations of the freedom of the press. We urge the Armenian government to take immediate steps to prevent a repeat of last night’s actions and to direct the Armenian security forces to maintain order in a manner that upholds all Armenian citizens’ rights to freedom of expression and to peaceful assembly – freedoms that are guaranteed in the Armenian Constitution and are the core values of any strong and functioning democracy. At the same time, we also urge protestors to responsibly exercise their freedom of assembly by exercising restraint, eschewing violence, and avoiding the active standoff at Erebuni police building.
We welcome the Armenian Human Rights Ombudsman’s efforts to document the reports of violence against protestors, journalists, and passersby, and to advocate for the rights of those in detention. The Prosecutor General’s launch of a criminal case into violence against journalists is a positive initial step, and we call on the government to allow a full, independent, and transparent investigation into all allegations of human rights violations, and to prosecute all those involved to the fullest extent of the law. We also urge the government to take immediate steps to ensure similar violations of Armenians’ constitutional and human rights do not recur.
As friend to Armenia and a partner in its democratic development, the U.S. Embassy is deeply concerned by what the events of last night indicate about the rule of law and protection of civil rights in Armenia. We remain committed to working in partnership with civil society and individuals within the government who are truly committed to strengthening rule of law. At the same time, information gleaned by the investigations into police misconduct, as well as information gathered by credible independent reports, will inform future decisions about participation in Embassy programs and activities.
Amidst the calls for further protests this evening, we strongly urge all parties to sincerely work for a peaceful resolution of the situation.