Disproportionate Police Violence Against Protesters: Democracy Watch

Disproportionate Police Violence Against Protesters: Democracy Watch



By Tigran Grigoryan and Karena Avedissian


Police violently suppressed a Tavush for the Homeland protest with stun grenades and beatings last week, injuring dozens of demonstrators and journalists.


While some protestors displayed violent behavior, the majority did not, making the police’s response excessive and disproportionate.


Both Amnesty International, and over a dozen Armenian civil society organizations and figures separately issued statements condemning the police violence. The statement criticized the police for their use of force, particularly the use of stun grenades without prior warning. It also called for the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Investigative Committee to initiate criminal charges against those responsible for the violence against participants and journalists. The statement urged the Ministry of Internal Affairs to respect peaceful protesters’ rights and demanded that the authorities uphold human rights and the rule of law in Armenia.


The statement further highlighted the constitutional and international guarantees of peaceful assembly and protection from inhuman treatment, emphasizing the need for a clear justification for extreme measures and proper oversight of police actions.


The organizations noted a persistent lack of accountability for police violence in recent years, attributing this to systemic impunity reinforced by investigative and judicial bodies. They viewed Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s public support for police actions, which he referred to as proportionate and professional, as encouragement for further violence and an obstacle to objective investigations.


The statement reaffirmed the organizations’ call for police reforms and demanded immediate criminal investigations into the June 12 events.


GG Offices Raided


Armenia’s Investigative Committee conducted a search at the head office of a major taxi company, GG, on Saturday, shortly after the company’s founder called for people to join anti-government protests in Yerevan.


The search also targeted the homes of the company’s founders and senior leadership. Lawyers present during the search reported that all 26 computers at the headquarters were confiscated.


These raids indicate a political motivation as they coincide with GG’s founder’s outspoken support of the anti-government protest movement.


Archbishop Bagrat Galstanyan’s Problematic Rhetoric


The Twitter account of Bagrat Galstanyan, the leader of the anti-government protest movement, posted a tweet on June 12 stating, “No matter where you try to escape, we will find you and come. If necessary, we will come alone; if necessary, we will come with others. We will come on a donkey or by metro if needed.”


The threatening tone, which can be interpreted as a promise of retribution, is not appropriate for a legitimate opposition leader. Political figures positioning themselves as the alternative should be advocating for change through peaceful, democratic means rather than resorting to intimidation. Additionally, the emphasis on pursuing and confronting individuals rather than focusing on policies, principles, or constructive solutions is problematic. Legitimate political leaders should emphasize a vision for positive change and the steps for achieving it.


Serena Bush contributed research for this article.


Democracy Watch is a joint initiative by CivilNet and the Regional Center for Democracy and Security․