Armed Group Takes Medics Hostage at Seized Yerevan Police Station

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Gunmen affiliated with a radical opposition group have taken medical personnel hostage in their continuing standoff with the Armenian authorities, police said on July 27.

Vehicles parked inside a police compound in Yerevan seized by opposition gunmen (Photo: Photolure)
Vehicles parked inside a police compound in Yerevan seized by opposition gunmen (Photo: Photolure)

The spokesman for the Armenian police, Ashot Aharonian, said the four medics were taken hostage in the morning after being sent to a police station in Yerevan to provide medical aid to two of the gunmen occupying it. He said the latter were wounded in an overnight shootout with security forces surrounding the compound.

“When the doctors arrived [at the scene] they were taken hostage,” Aharonian wrote on Facebook. “Law enforcers are taking measures to free the hostages through negotiations.”

According to the Armenian Ministry of Health, the hostages include two doctors, one paramedic, and one nurse. The ministry strongly condemned “that immoral action” and demanded their immediate release of the medical personnel “without any preconditions.”

“They even failed to take into account the fact that doctors have been providing necessary medical assistance to members of the armed group since the outbreak of the crisis,” the ministry said in a statement.

The Founding Parliament movement, with which the armed men are affiliated, confirmed that the medics are being held inside the police compound but claimed that they are not hostages.

“The guys are not holding hostages,” Alek Yenigomshian, a senior Founding Parliament member, told a news conference. He said they will let go of the medics if the latter are replaced by another medical team that would treat wounded gunmen there.

International law entitles combatants to medical aid, Yenigomshian said, denying that the gunmen are blatantly violating universally accepted humanitarian norms.

The hostage taking followed the overnight arrest of four other gunmen, including Pavel Manukian, one of the leaders of the armed group. According to the police, Manukian and his son were wounded in a shootout with the security forces.

Yenigomshian insisted, however, that four men were dishonestly tricked by the forces deployed by the police and National Security Service.

The armed group already took several police officers hostage when it seized the police premises on July 17, demanding the release of Founding Parliament’s arrested leader, Jirair Sefilian, and President Serge Sarkisian’s resignation. All of those hostages were released by July 23.

The gunmen holed up there have since continued to reject government calls to lay down their arms and surrender.

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11 Comments

  1. {The Founding Parliament movement…..confirmed that the medics are being held inside the police compound but claimed that they are not hostages.
    “The guys are not holding hostages,” Alek Yenigomshian, a senior Founding Parliament member, told a news conference. He said they will let go of the medics if the latter are replaced by another medical team that would treat wounded gunmen there.}

    So let’s see: they are holding 4 civilians hostage, but they are not hostages, because as soon as 4 other hostages come in and become hostages, the previous four non-hostages will be released.

    Is there any more proof needed that these delusional people are completely divorced from reality?

  2. There is a dirty propaganda war waged by the regime. Medics are there to take care of the wounded. They are not hostages, they don’t feel as hostages by their own account and they are not treated as such.

    On the other hand, the police behaved contrary to any moral guidelines unseen even during the war with the enemy: they shot and arrested the persons who were delivering the wounded to them – this is a truly sickening behavior that shows that the regime is not interested in resolving the crisis in a peaceful manner, and that they are capable of any lowly behavior.

  3. More pressure should be brought to bear on both sides to end the crisis by mutual concessions. Though not condoning the government of President Sarkisian under the Republican party, I find insisting on his resignation and a change of government is not realistic. There is some public support for the armed dissidents’demands, but not wide enough to force the government down. On the other hand, continuing the stand-off could turn into a dangerous situation and bring the country into chaos.
    I think a promise by the government to release Jirayr Sefilian and some light, symbolic, sentence for the group members could be a resonable compromise by the two sides.

    • I agree with Arsen. A realistic proposal. Please let reason play and bring this serious event to an end.

  4. Sassoun, since when did you start believing things said by people who are being held at gunpoint? LOL Are the medics staying in the compound by their free will? You FP characters really make me laugh.

  5. Here is a scenario that happens every so often in Anytown, USA.
    Two robbers holdup a bank.
    A silent alarm sends cops to the bank within minutes.
    Bank is surrounded, and robbers have nowhere to run, so they take the bank employees hostage.
    During the hostage rescue operation SWAT cops kill one robber and safely disarm the other.
    The surviving robber is charges with bank robbery and hostage taking.
    Clear enough.
    But he is also charged with _murder_: yep, murder.
    How? He didn’t kill anyone.
    There is a legal concept in US called Felony Murder Rule: if during commission of a crime someone is killed, you, the criminal, is responsible. Why? because the death occurred during the commission of a crime. When you commit a crime, you are responsible for everything that happens as a result of that crime.

    Criminals are so charged routinely in US, and are routinely convicted.
    Don’t believe me?
    http://www.jsonline.com/news/crime/robbery-suspect-charged-with-felony-murder-after-police-kill-accomplice-b99723761z1-379023631.html
    {An armed robbery suspect has been charged with felony murder in the death last week of an accomplice, who was shot and killed by a Milwaukee police officer.}

    Now we come to the unofficial US spokesman of Founding Parliament (sic) Mr. Sassoon Kosian.
    (Sassoon Kosian // July 27, 2016 at 12:11 pm //)

    { …..by their own account and they are not treated as such….}
    Yes: I am sure when psychopath terrorists who just have _murdered_ a police officer, father of two, and who are armed to the teeth and have shown they are capable of extreme violence, are holding you against your will – everything you say can be taken at face value.

    { On the other hand, the police behaved contrary to any moral….}
    You are joking, Right?. These terrorist criminals invaded a police station and _murdered_ a police colonel and wounded several others.

    {… this is a truly sickening behavior…}
    The truly sickening behaviour is when terrorist criminals murdered an Armenian police colonel, and sickening individuals like Pashinian are supporting these murderers. The fact that SorosaAgent Davit Sanasaryan is leading the mob of supporters of cop-killers is of course not a surprise, though equally sickening.

  6. Dallas… 6 cops murdered… the shooter is holed up in a corner in a parking lot no place to get out… Dallas police did not wait and wait and wait, ten days on and on… Dallas police did not even wait till next morning, no sir, Dallas police put a bomb on a robot, drove the robot to the shooter and exploded the killer to many little pieces… This is a professional police department in a democratic society… Enough is enough… If Armenia is a country, it’s police need to be professionals and do the job if you know what I mean…

  7. I’m not sure if this comment will be posted as couple of my comments in other threads were, surprisingly, not posted. Anyway, I’ll give it a try.

    I tend to think that the armed assault and hostage-taking saga represent a case, in which the interests of the ruling elites and the Founding Parliament might have coincided as a consequence of a certain mutual intent. This hypothesis is also suggested by Karen Vardanyan, Executive Director of the Union of Information Technology Enterprises, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4vrrqtsups; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-uXyn8c-f4; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ie1LFZkTFtU. Mr. Vardanyan suggests that the Founding Parliament is a US-funded civil initiative, but admits that many of its members, such as Jirair Sefilian, Pavel Manukyan, are patriots and valorous war veterans. Yet, he says, they are politically immature individuals, and as such, could have been deluded into believing that they put up an armed fight for the right cause. Now, storming a police regiment, killing an officer, and taking hostages is absolutely unacceptable from the perspective of both Armenian law and Armenian social and cultural values. Yet, it is equally unacceptable to unceremoniously catch unarmed peaceful citizens standing on squares and adjacent streets and forcefully subject them to detention. It is also wrong, I think, to label people “psychopath terrorists”, “terrorist criminals”, and “cop-killers”, because it is up to the Court—and the Court only—to determine whether these people are terrorists, murderers, insurgents, or simply concerned patriots driven to extremity.

  8. This is very unfortunate for all Armenians that we need to deal with something like this at the wrong time. I’m all for “positive change” if anyone has any bright ideas, but what this group is doing is just illegal and going to lead to chaos and lawlessness. And without the rule of law, there can be no viable nation. So first and foremost, they violated Armenia’s law, regardless of who is in charge of the government. This also has to do with public safety. As is being pointed out in the comments, imagine this being an incident in the USA (or even other European nation), this crime would be so serious, the “hostage situation” would not have even lasted a day, and none of the armed group would make it out alive.

    As tragic as this is, I can’t help but notice it has a comical aspect to their method of operation. They initially took hostages but let some go “for good will”. They let some go because they were wounded. One officer was let go so he can get married. I guess Armenians also have their own version of “hostage taking”. That’s why I wouldn’t call these people “terrorists” in the traditional sense, their intention is not to ‘hurt people’. It’s just sad that they are former Artsakh fighters, and now engaging in criminal behavior, for what it seems like to me, out of desperation.

    The previous offer the government made them was more than generous in my opinion, if they gave themselves up no charges would be filed. They should have taken it not just for them, but for the sake of stability in the homeland. However, the one that caused the death of one officer would need to be charged somehow I think.

    With all this, I also think the government did the wrong thing by arresting and jailing Sefilyan on trumped-up charges. I was quite disappointed seeing that. They should have taken Sefilyan for a meeting and resolved issues that way, and I don’t think any patriot wants to jeopardize the security of Armenia.

  9. {They are not hostages, they don’t feel as hostages by their own account and they are not treated as such.}
    (Sassoon Kosian // July 27, 2016 at 12:11 pm //)

    Despite lies and disinformation being spread by Founding Parliament (sic) propagandists, two medical professionals who escaped the police compound confirmed that they were being held hostage:

    [ՊՊԾ գնդում պատանդ մնացած բժիշկն ու բուժքույրը հարցազրույց են տալիս]
    http://www.panorama.am/am/news/2016/07/31/%D5%A2%D5%B8%D6%82%D5%AA%D5%A1%D5%B7%D5%AD%D5%A1%D5%BF%D5%B8%D5%B2%D5%B6%D5%A5%D6%80/1621185

    Time stamp 3:00
    Question: “….if replacement medical personnel did not come in to replace you, would they let you go?”
    Nurse: “No, they insisted that ‘unless we see ourselves replacement med personnel coming in to replace you, we will not let you go'”

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