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Yerevan Police Use Disproportionate Force Against Protesters Condemning Morning Violence Against Oppositionists

Several dozen activists and rights defenders were on Tuesday evening subjected to brute force by law enforcement officers as they rallied outside the Yerevan City Hall to condemn the violence used by the Republican members of the capital’s Council of Elders against Yerkir Tsirani representatives Marina Khachatryan and Sona Aghekyan. Police officers violently pushed the protesters out of the City Hall building, causing many of them bodily injuries.

Recall, during a Tuesday morning meeting of Yerevan’s Council of Elders, Khachatryan attempted to carry jarfulls of sewage water and waste from Nubarashen district to mayor Taron Margaryan’s table. The oppositionist’s actions were prompted by the Monday protest rally of residents of a number of apartments blocks close to the Nubarashen prison in Yerevan, who temporarily blocked the road to the prison, complaining that sewage leaks from the prison were causing foul stench in the entire neighborhood.

The demonstrators also condemned the indifference with which the Council of Elders went on with the meeting after the incident had ended – “as if nothing had happened.” Some of the posters they carried inside the City Hall building read: “Your nose couldn’t handle the stench, but your eyes are used to the beating?”, “An abuser belongs in jail,” “The whole country is in dirt because of you.” Law enforcement officers, however, did not let the protesters stay in the building for long; they began forcibly pushing and pulling them out after about half an hour. Some of the demonstrators nonetheless managed to remain there and continued the action at the entrance to the museum of history inside the City Hall building. However, they were also soon pushed out by police officers.

Once on the street, the demonstrators made the following statement: “We, those gathered outside the Yerevan City Hall, see no other way but to come here and demand that the Council of Elders is cleared from men in power who beat and sexually harass female oppositionists. We demand that these criminals are brought to responsibility. Today we  occupied the main entrance to the Yerevan City Hall and the entrance to the Yerevan History Museum to present the above-mentioned demands. The police used disproportionate force against us; some of us suffered physical and material damage as a result. This statement therefore is also a crime report. Thus, we assert that the pressure and violence against women is ubiquitous and systematic, and today’s incident is a part of it.”