YEREVAN—The US Embassy in Armenia issued a statement on Thursday condemning attacks on civic activists. Below is the text of the statement:
“The U.S. Embassy condemns the attacks against civic activists, including a U.S. citizen, that have been ongoing since August 22, 2013. As a result of the latest attack on September 5, two citizens were severely beaten and needed hospitalization, and one underwent surgery.
“Along with the attacks, there have been multiple reports of activists being followed, intimidated, and harassed. We urge the government of Armenia to take swift action to condemn the attacks and to investigate, and prosecute the perpetrators.
“The government should ensure that its citizens can exercise their fundamental rights of freedom of assembly, expression, and speech without fear of retribution.”
On the same note, Human Rights Watch, the international watchdog group also issued a statement condemning what it called “spate of violent attacks against peaceful protesters” in Armenia of late.
In a letter addressed to the Armenian police chief and the head of the Special Investigative Services, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said, “officials should swiftly bring the attackers to justice and make clear that any violence against people for exercising their right to peaceful protest will be neither tolerated nor condoned.”
The group characterized the attacks as “a concerted effort to intimidate activists and should be effectively investigated.”
“If thugs keep jumping on protesters and beating them up as they leave for home, that’s hardly a coincidence,” said Giorgi Gogia, senior South Caucasus researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The police and other Armenian authorities need to be prepared to make clear that they are going to put a stop to these attacks, starting with effective investigations that lead to arrests and prosecutions.”