BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN
As a standoff continues after a group calling itself the “Daredevils of Sasoun” seized a police station in Yerevan on Sunday, an appalling reality is taking shape across the city, which warrants addressing because it goes counter to any resolution that might be on the horizon for the crisis at hand. It can be said that the situation stems from the public’s desperation and exacerbation of the current socio-economic situation in Armenia.
Scores of people have been detained or brutally beaten by the police in the hours and days following the seizure of the police station, prompting angry protests from the public. The aim of the protesters is to make sure there is no bloodshed in the country–a legitimate concern given the volatility of the circumstances.
Unfortunately, the use of force against the citizens of Armenia has become commonplace by law enforcement. Throughout the years, we have seen disturbing images emanating from Armenia of police using force against protesters, many of the young and energetic post-independence generation of men and women who have chosen to advance the future of their country by staying in the homeland and fighting injustice rather than leave Armenia for a presumed better life.
What makes the most recent episode more disturbing is the tenuous climate that has been created as a result of the police station seizure and the ensuing hostage crisis. This situation requires a more calm and stable approach from law enforcement than actions that might instigate violence and uncivil disobedience.
It is ironic that the same authorities, which on Saturday called for “stability and order… based on democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms” in Turkey after that country’s failed coup is now employing brutal violence against its own people, who are calling for stability and order based on democracy by using their human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The events of the past three days must become a catalyst for Armenia’s leaders to change course and engage in dialogue with the citizens of Armenia for a better future. After all, wasn’t the adoption of a new Constitution supposed to usher in a more equitable and democratic Armenia?