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Armenian Police Threaten to Throw Citizen Into Psychiatric Ward: Action in Central Yerevan

In Armenia, a person can be forcibly checked into a psychiatric hospital by a police officer’s decision. One widely covered incident occurred last week, when a woman got into an empty fountain at Yerevan’s Republic Square and was subsequently delivered by an ambulance to the Nubarashen psychiatric ward. On May 24, another woman repeated the action, and once again, police were quick to threaten to hospitalize her, but changed their tune after making a few phone calls.

At around 11 am Tuesday, a woman got into a non-functioning fountain at the Republic Square and sat in it silently. She refused to answer the questions of armed police officers who had arrived at the scene shortly after and was soon dragged out of the fountain by force. Eyewitnesses demanded that the officers did not touch and did not use force against the peacefully sitting woman, to which the police countered by saying that “it’s for us to decide; the citizen has to be taken to a psychiatric hospital.”

They took the woman to the doors of the National Gallery and surrounded her, refusing to let her go. “A normal, conscious citizen would not have entered into a fountain. She needs a psychiatrist,” they insisted. “Who defines what’s normal?” one of the witnesses replied. “To me, it’s not normal that a person would want to become a police officer,” she added.

After receiving instructions over the phone, the officers changed their tune, saying that the citizen was free to decide whether she wanted to receive medical treatment.  


Same as last week, most of the media outlets reported the incident from the point of view of the police or other state agencies: “The fountain syndrome; another woman gets into fountain pool in Yerevan;” “According to MOE, the woman was in an unstable mental state and refused to get out of the fountain on her own will;” “Rescuers and police were trying to convince her, but she was refusing to get out, uttering incomprehensible words;” “Having rendered first aid on the spot, doctors took the woman to the hospital…”

On May 17 in this very spot, the police handcuffed political analyst and founder of the Institute for Democracy and Human Rights NGO Armine Arakelyan to keep her from “hurting herself.” Ignoring Arakelyan’s pleas to leave her alone, “rescuers” put the woman in an ambulance and took her to a psychiatric clinic.

Later in the day, the police press service was asked by Armtimes.com to comment on today’s incident; “They said the woman’s identity had not been established, and that at the request of the police she had gotten out of the pool and left, without presenting any complaints,” the website writes.