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Guy Fawkes Night in Armenia to Raise the Issue of Political Prisoners Arrested on Same Day

A rally was organized yesterday, November 5th, in solidarity with political prisoners Shant Harutyunyan and his friends, who were arrested last November 5th right after their rally had begun. The participants of yesterday’s rally carried placards with small photos of Shant Harutyunyan and wore Guy Fawkes masks, standing near Liberty Square on the intersection of Mashtots Ave. and Sayat Nova St (French Square). One of the rally participants, who was detained by police, told an Epress.am reporter that the participants were standing in the middle of pedestrian crosswalks holding their signs and later moved to the French Square where the statue of Jules Bastien-Lepage sculpted by Auguste Rodin is placed and stayed there holding their posters without disturbing traffic. Police pushed the protesters toward the nearest bus-stop, where they took them into custody at the Kentron Police Division.

Herbert Gevorgyan, Suren Sahakyan, Dvin Isanyans, Ara Petrosyan, Tigran Parsilyan, Artak Gevorgyan, Max Sargsyan and Vahakn Minasyan were all taken into custody.

Yerevan deputy Police Chief Valeri Osipyan told journalists that those in custody violated the order because the participants standing on pedestrian crosswalks limited other citizens’ rights. Osipyan refused to answer other questions and advised journalists to call the police media relations department.  The rally started at 6:40 at Liberty Square, and many of the participants wore Guy Fawkes masks. They noted that they wished to repeat last year’s Guy Fawkes Night rally and also raise the issue of the presence of political prisoners in Armenia. The rally participants held photos of political prisoners and called out their names.

When the rally reached Republic Square, near the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, police officers also detained Gohar Saroyan who was wearing a mask. Subsequently, police created a wall in front of the protesters and demanded that they continue their rally by taking off their masks. The protesters took their masks off and continued toward Nalbandyan and Tumanyan streets moving toward Liberty Square.

The detained rally participants were released a few hours after being taken into custody.

Recall, that exactly one year ago, Shant Harutyunyan’s supporters also wore Guy Fawkes masks when their rally was halted by violent skirmishes with police a few minutes after starting and resulted in 20 activists taken into custody. The rally was motivated by 16th-17th century Englishmen Guy Fawkes, who participated in the failed-assassination of King James I and was arrested on November 5, 1605.

On October 17, Judge Mnatsakan Martirosyan officially sentenced Shant Harutyunyan to 6 years imprisonment, Albert Margaryan also received 6 years, Vahe Mkrtchyan 7 years, Liparit Poghosyan 5 years, Vardan Vardanyan 5 years, Hayk Harutyunyan 4 years 6 months, Alek Poghosyan 4 years, Mkrtich Hovhannisyan 4 years, Armen Hovhannisyan 2 years, Sevak Mnatsakanyan 1 years 6 months, Tigran Petrosyan 1 year, and Misak Arakelyan was fined fifty times the minimum salary.

Shant Harutyunyan’s son, Shahen Harutyunyan, was sentenced to 4 years imprisonment, but the judge determined to conditionally not apply the sentence, instead he set probation for 4 years. Tigran Petrosyan was released from prison today because he had already completed his sentence.