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Masked Raid on Yerevan Prison ‘Aimed at Intimidating’ Protesting Lifers

The attack on the inmates of Yerevan's “Nubarashen” penitentiary was, most likely, intended to scare or intimidate the prisoners serving life sentences who have recently begun fighting actively for the revision of their cases, lifer Aren Chatinyan's mother, Alla Martirosyan, said in a conversation with Epress.am. 

 “Yes, life prisoners were not specifically targeted; however, I'm 90 percent sure it's been done to hinder our fight. We've already started a petition; citizens have been joining our protest and declaring that they are not against the revision of the prisoners' cases. We've also announced we're prepared to start a hunger strike, a sit-in. We do not intend to give in,” Martirosyan stated.

Note, the masked raid on the prison took place on October 23. Human rights defender Zhanna Aleksanyan wrote on her personal Facebook page late on Friday that “the officers of the criminal penitentiary have attacked the institution; the situation was chaotic for about half an hour: the helpless inmates were screaming out of windows and knocking on doors.”

Meanwhile, Armlur.am reported that the inmates had been beaten, and the attackers, in all probability, were masked prison officers. “This led to a panic among the prisoners. The fight got so heated that the frightened inmates began to set fire to various items in their cells, and a fire broke out.”

The penal institution, in turn, has denied any physical violence against prisoners. “Officers of the criminal penitentiary's internal security department raided the cells of 'Nubarashen' prison, discovering and confiscating various banned items. This, naturally, could have caused the convicts' and prisoners' displeasure,” the officials' statement read. 

Following the incident, members of the Group of Public Observers Conducting Monitoring in the Penitentiary Institutions and Bodies of the RA Ministry of Justice visited “Nubarashen” penitentiary. Group Leader Ruben Sargyan told Epress.am they have compiled questions to be sent to the Justice Ministry. In the mean time, he added, he could not provide any further details on the visit. “I can only say that the parking lot was really crowded. There were innumerable prison officers in the courtyard, including high-ranking officials.”