YEREVAN (A.W.)—Armenia’s Human Rights Defender (Ombudsman) Arman Tatoyan has questioned the use of force by the country’s police against Yerkir Tsirani’s mayoral candidate Zaruhi Postanjyan, who entered the campaign office of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) on the day of the 2017 Yerevan City Council Elections to expose alleged fraud.
On May 15, the office of Armenia’s Human Rights Defender published a statement regarding the incident, in which it said that Tatoyan had carefully examined the details of the incident that took place on Election Day and will act on his findings.
Postanjyan, a member of the outgoing Parliament and the founder of the recently formed opposition Yerkir Tsirani party, was forced out of the RPA’s campaign offices, along with her daughter Lilit Drampyan.
Both the mother and daughter were roughed up in the process. The 22-year-old daughter of the candidate was hospitalized after the incident and diagnosed with a concussion.
“In any situation the police must show a respectful attitude towards citizens, which, after all, is an important factor in the formation of trust towards the police. As for this particular situation, we immediately drafted a report and sent it to the police for an internal investigation to be launched as soon as possible,” read the statement.
The ombudsman stated that his office contacted the police regarding the incident and that an investigation is underway. Meanwhile, Postanjyan issued a statement on May 15 condemning the lack of response from law enforcement bodies to the incident.
The RPA had stated that Postanjyan was not allowed to enter their offices. RPA spokesperson Eduard Sharmazanov added that he personally instructed those managing the office to not let anyone enter.
“[Postanjyan’s] behavior was unlawful. For a whole hour the work of our campaign office in the district of Avan was disrupted because of the uncivilized, inappropriate and abnormal conduct of Postanjyan,” Sharmazanov said, according to RFE/RL’s Armenian service. He also defended the use of force by the police, adding that it was necessary given the circumstances and should have been done earlier.
On May 15, head of the Central Election Commission (CEC), Tigran Mukuchyan said that although the CEC does not ban citizens from entering campaign offices from political parties, a “presumption of responsibility” should be applied. “In other words, if it is a territory where someone works, and if someone else wants to enter it, while the person who legally owns the territory does not want it, the person who wants to enter cannot do that,” he explained.