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Relatives of Yerevan Men Arrested After Clashes with Police Start Sit-In Outside Government Offices

Relatives of the Sari Tagh men arrested last summer after clashing with police in their neighborhood began a sit-in on Tuesday outside the Government offices in Yerevan. The protesters argue that the men have already spent nearly a year behind bars, yet law enforcement authorities have presented no compelling evidence to support the charges.

Recall, ten Sari Tagh men are facing charges for allegedly committing violence against law enforcement officers during the clashes that occurred in the neighborhood on July 19, the second day of the stand-off in the nearby police headquarters in Yerevan’s Erebuni district; if convicted, they could face up to 10 years in prison.

The arrestees, on the other hand, insist that the charges against them are unfounded and too vague; just over a month ago they addressed a letter to the General Prosecutor, pointing out the discrepancies between the pre-trial and in-court testimonies of the allegedly affected police officers, none of whom, incidentally, has identified any of the accused. Moreover, the officers have acknowledged that the Sari Tagh men had taken to the street because of their household problems.

Speaking to an Epress.am reporter today, Lala Bernetsyan, wife of arrestee Edvard Zeytunyan, expressed her conviction that the men are in fact being subjected to political persecution for exercising their right to free speech.

According to the woman, the protesters have ended their sit-in outside the office of Armenia’s Prosecutor General and started one outside the Government offices instead, since they no longer expect anything from the Prosecutor’s office.

“They’ve made it clear that the charges against our relatives will not be changed because, according to them, the accusations are justified. To tell the truth, we don’t expect too much from the Government either, but we intend to try everything possible to get our men released. People who fight for justice generally have no place in our country; all of these people are currently behind bars,” Bernetsyan said.