Government Breaks Silence, Calls Situation ‘Worrisome’

Demonstrator on Khrentasi Street clash with riot police on Wednesday (Reuters photo)
Demonstrator on Khrentasi Street clash with riot police on Wednesday (Reuters photo)

Demonstrator on Khrentasi Street clash with riot police on Wednesday (Reuters photo)

YEREVAN—As the standoff at a police station seized by an armed group calling itself “Daredevils of Sasoun” entered its fifth day, Armenia’s authorities broke their silence on Thursday calling the situation “worrisome.”

Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan said Thursday during a cabinet meeting that authorities are still attempting a peaceful end to the incident and are negotiating with the “Daredevils of Sasoun,” who are holding four people hostage.

Abrahamyan called Sunday’s armed attack, which left one police officer dead and four others wounded, unacceptable.

“What happened at the Patrol Security Service station is condemnable and unacceptable because it’s impossible to achieve real change through violence,” he said. “It’s a dangerous and futile exercise.”

“The situation is extremely worrisome and the authorities are doing and will do everything to achieve its peaceful resolution,” added Abrahamyan.

The prime minister was the first senior government official to publicly comment on the standoff and he did not use the word “terrorist” to describe the gunmen, who are calling for the president’s resignation and the release of a “Founding Parliament” leader, Jirair Sefilian, arrested last month on charges of planning an armed revolt against the government.

President Serzh Sarkisian has not made a public statement on the matter, nor has he made any public appearances since the group affiliated with the opposition “Founding Parliament” seized the police station in the Erebuni district of Yerevan.

Armenia’s Economy Minister Artsvik Minasyan, a member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Supreme Council of Armenia, on Thursday urged the armed group to “immediately” free the remaining four hostages with out condition and surrender to law enforcement bodies.

The ARF was quick to condemn the attack on the police station when the party’s Supreme Council of Armenia chairman Aghavan Vartanyan told Yerkir Media on Sunday, hours after the attack, that the group has sought the wrong and a condemnable method to initiate immediate reforms in the country.

“Radical approaches undermine efforts for quantitative change. Issues will not be resolved through the use of arms, force, hostages or terror,” said Vartanyan.

“It is sad the headlines in the international press about the coup attempt in Turkey will be replaced with events in Armenia. The rest is the responsibility of law enforcement, which in my opinion, up till now, have not done their best,” added Vartanyan.

Since the standoff began, sympathizers of the “Daredevils of Sasoun” began gathering at Khornatsi Street where police have barricades roads leading to the police compound where the hostage situation is underway.

Scores of people were arrested, some brutally, around Yerevan. The arrests compounded the anger of protesters who initially were calling for the crisis to be averted without bloodshed, as well as Sefilian’s release.

Tension between protesters and police escalated Wednesday night into the early hours of Thursday.

Beginning at around 4:30 a.m. local time Thursday, some 20 to 25 protesters were arrested and dragged across the street by law enforcement beyond the riot police barricade in place to bloc access to the seized station, after demonstrators were asked to clear the Khorentasi Street to allow traffic to flow. The arrested demonstrators allegedly did not adhere to police directives.

Despite pleas for calm by higher ranking police officers, some demonstrators were beaten immediately after being taken beyond the police barricade.

Earlier Wednesday evening, at around 10 p.m., police began firing stun grenades into the crowd, as demonstrators that have gathered there since late Sunday, attempted to approach barricade.

Several members of the crowd began throwing stones and bottles at the police, prompting the firing of flares at the direction of the protesters in an effort to disperse the protesters, who retreated but did not vacate the premises.

Police rejected protesters demands to deliver food and water to members of the “Daredevils of Sasoun” who are holding four hostages and are reportedly refusing food provided by the police for fear of being poisoned.

This was the second day of clashes between protesters and police. On Tuesday night, protesters and residents who had gathered at the Sari Tagh section of the Erebuni district, directly above the seized police station clashed with law enforcement when the latter tried to dismantle makeshift barricades set up by area residents to prevent access to the station.

A police statement released on Thursday said a total of 136 protesters were detained overnight. It said many of them were set free later but gave no numbers. Armenia’s Health Ministry said that 45 people were taken to area hospitals for injuries sustained during the clashes. The ministry claimed that 25 were police officers.

Earlier in the day, Armenia’s Investigative Committee said that 16 individuals could be prosecuted on charges of participating in the “mass disturbances.”

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8 Comments

  1. Norin said:

    The ARF flip flopping between political allies as usual. During the protocols ARF asked for Sargisyans impeachment, now they are in coalition with him, all it took was three lousy government posts given to ARF officials.

  2. Serop said:

    What is unacceptable is the continued oppression of Armenians in Armenia by the Clan of Thieves that between them squeeze every drop of blood from the masses. While they drive in Bentlys , Range Rovers & Mercs, 99% of the population cant even afford to pay the basic monthly electricity bill
    People have had enough, enough of this abusive & oligarchic style of government

  3. zarkim said:

    These daredevils are nothing but a bunch of terrorists. Why?
    Terrorists take hostage, terrorists demand ransom, terrorist demand the resignation of a ruler, terrorists demand the release of a prisoner, etc..
    .
    These terrorists demand the release of a criminal. They also demand Serzh Sargsyan to step down.
    .
    There are appropriate actions that these daredevils can take to raise their concerns. Terrorism is not one of them.
    Serzh Sargsyan had nothing to do with the imprisonment of Jirair Sefilian.
    .
    If every criminal takes hostages and demands the resignation of a king or a queen, then CHAOS will rule.
    President Sargsyan is on the right track and should be supported.

    • zarkim said:

      These police actions seem to be BRUTAL. However, comparing to other countries they are not. In any other country some people would be killed so far. Police actions in Armenia are not brutal. They are necessary.
      .
      Yes, I agree with you. Armenian Government should make drastic changes. These changes will happen but will take time. May be Sargsyan and other reach people like him could chip in and help.
      .
      You want to know what happens in other countries read the following and research using google.
      .
      This Sassoon movement should be remembered and be used to fix problems. Government should find a way to end this situation peacefully.

  4. Raffi said:

    I wonder what the police have done, had this been happened in US. I guess everybody knows the answer.

  5. heros margusian said:

    ACTUALLY ARMENIAN PEOPLE ARE CONFUSED,AND THEY DONT KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING……………..ALL THIS PROTESTS,ARE MUCH A DO ABOUT NOTHING.ONLY AZERIES,AND TURKEY WILL BENEFIT FROM THIS HUGE CHAOS.

  6. taniyel said:

    While all the people who are in the governing body or affilliated with them started to give speeches about the unacceptability of the use of arms to bring changes to the armenian society and started to give us humanitarian lessons about how sacred is each individual lives, yet what they dont tell you is that…..
    Those people in the government did notcome there through legitimate processes. They stole votes, they lied, cheated, threatened, beaten, bought votes, in some instances actuslly killed people.
    In Armenia people who are associated with criminal mafiosi-govetnment elements have besten and killed prominous people in front of public, yet did not get any punishment.
    Armenia had been under siege for 20-25 years by kgb led governments, where all of its infrastructure and manufacturing capabilities had been turned over to russians.
    We are not independent as we might have thought.
    Hile russia donates billions of dollars of non-repayable grants to 3rd world countries around the globe, it squeezes the life juice out of the ordinary armenian citizens. And by making immigration to russia very easy and actually encouraging it for armenian citizens it achieves several goals for its interests.
    Armenia is rich in mineral resources. Russia predominantly and some western powers in particular are exploiting the greediness of armenian ruling elite, enriching themselves at the expense of the country. And Armenia is left to deal with the huge costs of environmental destructions.
    Each year an estimated 1 billion usd is taken out illegally to off-shore accounts.
    The government spends almost the same amount on police force as it does for the military.
    Right now Armenia is nothing but a russian vassal state run by kgb elements.
    I am at a loss of words as to how ARF tolerates this. This situation is no different than when at the beggining of 20th century rusdian czar tried to confiscate armenian church lands and crack down armenian nationalism against which ARF led a successful “armed” resistance.
    I am not a party member and not involved with it, but according to my observation the turning point in ARF history came with the esrly death of Hrayr Maroukhyan. I do not know the circumstances of his death, and smells to me fishy. After that the preponderance of Armenia born elements decided its future policies. I mightbe wrong and expect to be enlighted.
    Coming back to the latedt events, this poluce station takeover might be the last chance for ordinary armenians in armenia.
    If no positive change comes out of it, i am sure that a lot of armenians will be disappointed and forever lose their faith in any future improvements.
    This is the time I believe that ARF should side with the people if they still believe that they are the same party we know of in the history books.

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