HRW Calls on Armenia to Investigate Beating of Protester

BERLIN, Germany—On Sept. 23, Rachel Denber, the deputy Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch (HRW), called on the Armenian government to investigate the beating of a protester on Sept. 21.

2000px-Hrw_logo.svg“No peaceful protester should have to fear a brutal beating just for expressing their views,” Denber was quoted as saying. “The effectiveness of the investigation into the vicious assault on Smbat Hakobian will be a true test of how seriously the Armenian government takes its commitment to free expression and peaceful assembly.”

Hakobian was beaten by five men at a construction site following a small rally in Yerevan organized by the Alliance of Freedom Fighters, an opposition group. The demonstrators had taken to the streets to protest against the Armenian government, on Armenia’s Independence Day. A photo of Hakobian’s bloodied face was shared widely on social media.

HRW also highlighted other cases of mistreatment of protesters in Armenia over the last year. “People in Armenia shouldn’t be risking serious injury to take part in a peaceful protest,” Denber said. “The government needs to make clear that anyone who interferes with peaceful protesters will be held accountable to the full extent of the law.”

Below is the press release issued by HRW.

 

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Armenia: Activist Brutally Beaten
Stop Interference with Peaceful Protest

A member of an independent political group critical of the Armenian government was savagely beaten after a protest in Yerevan, the capital, on September 21, 2015, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities should immediately investigate the beating of Smbat Hakobian, a member of the Alliance of Freedom Fighters, and bring those responsible to account.
“No peaceful protester should have to fear a brutal beating just for expressing their views,” said Rachel Denber, deputy Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The effectiveness of the investigation into the vicious assault on Smbat Hakobian will be a true test of how seriously the Armenian government takes its commitment to free expression and peaceful assembly.”
Human Rights Watch interviewed by telephone an activist who was one of the first people to assist Hakobian after the beating. She said she found Hakobian covered in blood at a construction site not far from the protest site. She said she called for help and began to administer first aid.
An ambulance then took Hakobian to a hospital, where, she said, he was treated in the intensive care unit for serious injuries to his head and face, broken ribs, and damage to his lungs. She said the police arrived only an hour later. The woman asked not to be identified for fear of reprisal.
She said that Hakobian told her that shortly after the march, a group of five men he did not recognize dragged him into a gated construction site and brutally beat him. Activists said there are numerous video cameras in the area that could potentially aid in identifying the attackers.
Several dozen demonstrators, mainly supporters of a small opposition party and members of the Alliance of Freedom Fighters, had marched to the headquarters of the ruling Republican Party to mark Armenia’s independence day and express their discontent with the government. They said they had received official permission for the protest. The Alliance of Freedom Fighters consists of Armenian veterans of the war fought over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh war who are outspoken government critics.
The attack on Hakobian is the second on a prominent member of the group in Yerevan in the last year. In late 2014, unidentified attackers assaulted three members who had participated in a series of opposition rallies. No one has been held accountable for those attacks.
Other protesters have also faced physical violence in the last year. In late June, police used force against demonstrators opposed to a proposed 17 percent increase in electricity rates. Those demonstrations continued to protest the police use of force. In September, police also forcibly dispersed a second protest over electricity costs.
Armenia is a party to the European Convention on Human Rights and has clear obligations under the convention not only to respect the right to peaceful assembly, but also to ensure the security of those exercising that right and protect them from unlawful interference by others.
Armenia also has obligations to carry out effective investigations into attacks on bodily integrity and personal security and to ensure that police use of force is in compliance with international standards. Those standards limit use of force to situations in which it is absolutely necessary to respond to physical threats to the police or others and then is strictly proportionate and nondiscriminatory.
“People in Armenia shouldn’t be risking serious injury to take part in a peaceful protest,” Denber said. “The government needs to make clear that anyone who interferes with peaceful protesters will be held accountable to the full extent of the law.”

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5 Comments

  1. {“HRW Calls on Armenia to Investigate Beating of Protester”}

    If the falsely named HRW was so concerned about human rights, where are their “calls” to investigate:

     The deaths of 3 Armenian civilian women murdered by Azerbaijan, while on their own property, minding their own business.
     The murder of Garen Petrosyan, 31, a civilian who got lost and was abducted by the criminal Aliyev regime and rendered into one of their dungeons, where he was tortured to death by filthy nomads.
     The murder Manvel Saribekian, 20, and Armenian shepherd who was abducted by Azerbaijani criminals at the border, and tortured to death in one of their dungeons.
     The death of Mamikon Khojoyan, 75, who had dementia, and who got lost and ended up on the Azerbaijani side of the border. He was beaten by nomad Turk goons, his arm broken, and foreign substances injected into his system. He later died in Armenia as a consequence of his mistreatment at the hands of Turkic savages.

    There are lots more such examples of HRW practicing selective outrage. Fact is, HRW, AI, and all similar outfits are Western imperialist Neocon front organizations, whose agenda it is to sow mistrust of government, mistrust of civic institutions, lawlessness, civic unrest – utter chaos – in the target countries under the guise of being concerned about ‘human rights’.

    Again, if they are so concerned about human rights in general, why the total silence about Armenian victims of terror and torture at the hands of the criminal Baku mafia.

    {““People in Armenia shouldn’t be risking serious injury to take part in a peaceful protest”}

    Peaceful, defenseless women in Armenia, going about their lives in their own back yards in Armenia shouldn’t be risking sudden death at the hands of Turkic nomads from Uyguristan, Ms. Denber.

    • No this is to be construed as some of us Armenians having the presence of mind and not buying the fake “watch” of the self-appointed Human Rights organization’s lecturing Armenia and Armenians from their hypocritical self-appointed perch.

      The highest rung of human rights is the right to life.
      Let me repeat that: there can be higher human right than the right to life.

      When HRW lectures Armenian authorities and demands this or that for a beating of person by unknown parties, while at the same time remaining completely silent about the murders of Armenian civilians, some by torture, by a known party – the State of Azerbaijan – then we construe that as being proof that HRW is not actually concerned about human rights at all, but is actually an organization who has an agenda other than what their name grandly, but falsely, construes.

      And we construe that agenda being anti-Armenian and anti-Armenia.
      We construe that agenda being to cause harm to the Republic of Armenia.

      Thanks for asking.

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