The parents of Armenian soldiers who died in the army in non-combat conditions and their legal representative, Haykuhi Harutyunyan, were forcibly prevented Thursday afternoon from approaching the residence of the Armenian president.
On January 14, the mothers had gone to the office of the head of the state to receive a reply from Aida Asatryan, head of the department for receiving citizens, proposals, appeals and claims at the office, regarding their July 7 appeal for creating an ad hoc parliamentary committee which would discover the real circumstances of their sons' deaths. Asatryan had assured them that they would get an answer in the afternoon, however, they hadn't received one to date.
Today, they came to the office once again in hopes of finally receiving a response. Met with a group of law enforcement officers, who, having lined up as a human-chain, prevented them from moving forward, the parents were forced to walk onto the carriageway to reach the door of Asatryan's department. The official told the parents that their letter had been redirected to the National Assembly's department for receiving appeals, and they had to wait for a response from them.
Leaving the office, the soldiers' parents tried to pass the gates of the presidential residence and walk up Baghramyan Avenue to the parliament building; the police, however, barred them again from doing so.
When asked by the parents' lawyer, Haykuhi Harutyunyan, as to why other citizens were allowed to pass by the residence and the parents were not, the officers replied that the latter “are planning to carry out a protest action here and have no right to.” They added that the parents' presence at the gates violated other citizens' right to free movement, who “have to go onto the roadway to continue their way.” The parents, in turn, countered, saying that the law enforcement officers and their human chain were the ones hindering the people's movement.
The officers then joined forces again to push the parents and their lawyer from the area in front of the office. Harutyunyan tried to resist them, saying that she had a right to be there and she was not holding an action. Afterwards, when police finally managed to drag her away from the area, the lawyer told Epress.am that she had received the police's “special treatment” when she was just standing in front of the president's office, without interfering with the passers-by or their freedom of movement.
“We'll try later to understand the reasons for this special treatment,” Harutyunyan said.
After the incident, the parents went to the National Assembly and met with deputy head of legal department Garegin Petrosyan. The official told them that he had been on holiday and was out of the loop. Petrosyan promised he would find the parents' appeal and inform them about its fate by phone on Friday.