I received the below appeal from a friend in Armenia. The stand-off between the police and the “Daredevils of Sassoun” who have occupied the Erebuni police station has drawn crowds of civil society activists into the streets. For background on the situation read this article from Open Democracy. For an account of Friday night’s events, read this from The Guardian.
The anger and despair in Armenia about the oligarchs (also known as gangster capitalists) who are running the country are at flood levels. While many disagree with the methods of the men currently blockaded in the police station, there is a widespread disgust with state violence used against civil society activists and the unchecked corruption and venality of the current government. The women signatories of the below message are calling for action and support from Armenians in the Diaspora, as well as from global citizens.
Please take into consideration and disseminate this call from the women signatories based in Armenia to the Diaspora.
PLEASE DISSEMINATE THIS MESSAGE NOW!
Yesterday, on July 29 2016, an act of State terror was organized in Erebuni (Yerevan) where people have been protesting for the last twelve days. The local media documented numerous incidents of torture and ill treatment by the Police of RA and its special units, including kidnappings, unlawful detentions, enforced disappearances, setting people’s houses on fire, intimidation and violence against children and elderly. The police also stormed into random people’s homes, terrorizing and beating them and their family members, severely brutalized injured people who were seeking help in hospitals, and beat hundreds of people held in police stations.
To adequately address these acts of police brutality and mass violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms, we, civil society members in Armenia, NEED the following SUPPORT from the ARMENIAN DIASPORA:
- We need PUBLIC FIGURES to COME TO ARMENIA to raise awareness and to stop the violence unleashed by the regime against the peaceful citizens of Armenia (we are specifically calling on Loris Tjeknavorian, Rakel Dink, Serj Tankian, Cher, Margaret Ajemian Ahnert, Garry Kasparov, Atom Egoyan, Patrick Devedjian, David Barsamian, and other influential Armenians and non-Armenians);
- Sensitize the Armenian diasporan media and demand that the media TELL THE TRUTH, covering what is actually happening in Armenia NOW to effectively stops state violence;
- SENSITIZE THE INTERNATIONAL MEDIA to start covering the state terror in Armenia;
- Organize RALLIES in front of ARMENIAN EMBASSIES, block the events with the participation of Armenian officials, do other actions to delegitimize everything done by Armenian officials;
- Organize RALLIES in front of INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS, notably the UN;
- Put pressure on all Diasporan entities, including individuals to cut funding for the Armenian government or government-backed projects;
- Put pressure on international institutions that fund the government through loans and grants;
Any other support by which the Diaspora can help to deprive the current regime of authority and reputation, funding resources and the psychological and authoritative support of institutions, states, etc.
WE NEED YOUR PRESENCE!
UPDATE: On the night of 31 July 2016, the “Daredevils of Sassoun” surrendered to police, ending the 15-day standoff. All 20 were arrested. One of them said, “We have done our part, now it’s the people’s turn to ensure fundamental change in Armenia.”
On August 1st, 2016 Human Right Watch issued a report on the Armenian police’s use of excessive force at the July 29th protest.
New York City
July 31, 2016