ARF of Armenia Condemns “Brutal Use of Force”
YEREVAN—A violent incident on the border of Artsakh and Armenia has caused anger, with condemnations from various social and political circles of Armenia, including the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, dominating the news on Monday.
On Saturday a 30-car convoy of activists from the Founding Parliament (previously Pre-Parliament) movement headed for Artsakh in what the leader of the movement, Jirair Sefilian, had called a trip to inform the people of Karabakh about demanding accountability from the government.
Once the convoy reached the Karabakh border, in the town of Berdzor, the activists were told to turn around and were barred from entering Artsakh. This was followed by a brutal attack by Karabakh border guards and police who beat the activists and damaged their vehicles.
More than a dozen Founding Parliament members, including Sefilian, were injured and were taken to the hospital for treatment.
On Saturday, the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Police issued a statement about the incident saying that the planned trip by Sefilian and his group had generated a “negative response from a broad segment of Artsakh’s population,” adding that unknown individuals had decided to prevent the convoy from entering Artsakh.
The statement went on to say that given these circumstances and possible violations of public order, the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic police had placed units along several sections of the Goris-Stepanakert highway. The official police statement said that the participants were asked by police officers stationed on the highway to turn back because their initiative could cause “social unrest” in Artsakh. “However, several participants of the car rally, opposing our request, resorted to illegal activities and continued provocations, even after warnings to cease and desist by police,” the statement read. “To prevent possible mass unrest, the Nagorno-Karbakh Republic Police was forced to resort to corresponding measures conferred to them by law. Sadly, there were injuries; however, no one’s life is in danger.”
The Founding Parliament members, however, insist that the attacks were unprovoked and allege that the police began brutally beating people, even those who had stayed in their vehicles and had not attempted to cross the border.
This incident has caused anger in various groups in Armenia, which condemned the attacks and the brutal use of force.
“What happened in Berdzor must be condemned and is unacceptable,” said Aghavan Vartanian the secretary of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Parliamentary Caucus and the chairman of the ARF Supreme Council of Armenia.
“I believe, the use of disproportionate force did not yield any positive outcome. For us this is unacceptable,” added Vartanian.
He also said that the incident was dangerous in that outside forces may use what happened in Berdzor to drive a wedge between Armenia and Artsakh and create internal tensions in Armenia.