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Police Representative Justifies Officers’ Use of Excessive Force Against Protesters in Court

Law enforcement officers’ actions on February 11, 2015, against the protesting parents of several Armenian soldiers who died during military service in non-combat conditions were not excessive, police representative Armen Varosyan announced on Wednesday during the hearing of the administrative suit filed by Gohar Sargsyan against the Armenian police. On the above-mentioned day, police used force to end the parents’ protest outside the presidential office in Yerevan and dragged the protesters across the street by their legs and arms, causing soldier Tigran Ohanjanyan’s mother, Gohar Sargsyan, to lose her consciousness. 

In an attempt to justify the police use of force against the peaceful demonstrators, Varosyan stated that the parents’ protest “could have hindered the work of the presidential staff. Besides, the posters they were holding [of their deceased children] were also disturbing.”

Sargsyan’s lawyer, Robert Revazyan, countered that police did not have any legal authority to prohibit the parents from holding a demonstration outside the presidential residence. “The police representative’s claims are baseless. The law does not prohibit the conduct of protest actions; it states that they should not interfere with the normal work of the institution. But even so, the ban can only come from the mayor’s office, and police have nothing to do with it. This issue is not within their jurisdiction,” the lawyer said.

He added that the parents had previously been able to hold similar actions outside the presidential residence, without any obstruction from law enforcement officials; “According to the law, the approach should be the same in similar circumstances. Otherwise, police actions are regarded as arbitrary.”

Commenting on Varosyan’s claim that police officers had not hindered the protest “but simply moved it a little further away from the presidential office,” Revazyan said; “A person’s action at a specific place has a specific addressee. Changing the location reduces the protesters’ chance of being heard.”

Speaking to Epress.am after the hearing, the lawyer insisted that the soldiers’ parents had been subjected to intentional discrimination by police officers, and that the rightful condemnation of their actions could eliminate such phenomena in the future.

Video from the scene: