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Still No Case For Beaten Armenian Activists

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  • Still No Case For Beaten Armenian Activists

    Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

    Yerevan Police Department

    YEREVAN (RFE/RL)-The Armenian police said on Wednesday that they have
    still not launched formal criminal proceedings in connection with
    last week's assault on two prominent civil society activists which
    was strongly condemned by local and international human rights groups.

    Haykak Arshamian and Suren Saghatelian were beaten up by several
    unidentified men and hospitalized late on September 5 shortly after
    attending a demonstration against Armenia's membership in a Russian-led
    customs union. The incident took place in the courtyard of Arshamian's
    apartment building in central Yerevan.

    A spokesman told RFE/RL's Armenian service ( that
    the police are continuing to investigate the beating but have not
    yet opened a formal criminal case, something which is necessary for
    arresting and charging suspects. The official insisted that this must
    not be construed as a cover-up.

    Arshamian, who is a program coordinator at the Yerevan Press Club,
    dismissed these assurances, saying that the police are not willing
    to solve the case because they realize that government authorities
    may have been behind the beating. He argued that there are many
    surveillance cameras on the street leading to his neighborhood and
    that police investigators could have easily located the car which
    he and Saghatelian say followed them on that night. "They are not
    motivated to solve the case," claimed Arshamian.

    The high-profile beating was the latest in a series of violent attacks
    on activists challenging the Armenian government. At least six young
    men participating in an ongoing sit-in outside the Yerevan Mayor's
    Office have assaulted by unknown thugs since the end of August.

    Reacting to the latest incident, more than 30 Armenian non-governmental
    organizations signed a joint letter asking the UN Office of the
    Commissioner for Human Rights to help stop what they described
    as systematic violence against individuals critical of the
    government. They claimed that the violent attacks are the work of
    "criminal elements" acting with the connivance of the police.

    Amnesty International demanded last week that the Armenian authorities
    investigate the September 5 attack "impartially and effectively." "The
    authorities are obliged to promote the rights to freedom of expression,
    assembly and association. Only an effective investigation will
    demonstrate that they take their human rights obligations seriously,"
    the London-based group's deputy director for Europe and Central Asia,
    Denis Krivosheev, said in a statement.