“The April rallies were unprecedented and I could not remain indifferent,” journalist Arman Gharibyan

The Special Investigative Service was silent for nearly 2 months in respect of Arman Gharibyan, journalist and co-founder of the Human Rights Power NGO, after Arman had been subjected to violence by a policeman during a peaceful protest on April 17.

Though a criminal case was instituted, it is not moving forward. The SIS has not yet found the police officer who committed violence.

Arman Gharibyan participated in the protests until April 16 as an observer and his enthusiasm grew when the girls of the Institute of Physical Education blocked the intersection located near his apartment. “It was unprecedented and I could not remain indifferent. This was something that did not happen in Armenia since 2008 when 10 people were killed during the presidential post-election protests. Then, I joined the demonstrators,” Gharibyan says.

“The incident took place on April 17 at aound 9:30 am when we closed the Sayat-Nova-Abovyan intersection with friends by sitting on a pedestrian crossing,” Arman Gharibyan says. He adds that the police officers, orchestrated by some Colonel Hovhannisyan, attacked him without any warning and grabbed his throat and arm. As a result of violence by one of the police officers, he also got a soft-tissue injury (STI) on his right arm.

Arman Gharibyan says at that time the police actions were headed by Chief of Police and Colonel of the Central Police Department G. Hovhannisyan. “I think he specifically ordered the police to target me, as the same group of policemen had taken us out of another street we blocked half an hour before the incident and had not used violence on anyone. Secondly, this colonel personally knew me because there had been another incident a few months before,” Arman says and adds that on January 28, 2018, the Army Day, he and his wife, public figure Anna Nikoghosyan, did graffiti in the city against the then president of Armenia Serge Sargsyan. “It was at 3 a.m. when the police took us to the police station. No administrative proceedings were instituted against us in this case because we did not destroy state property, but we remained in the department for 3 hours and then we were released after explaining our rights and the rights of the police. The next day Colonel Hovhannisyan invited me to the department without Anna Nikoghosyan. It seemed suspicious to me and I went to the police with one of our female human rights defenders,” Arman said. According to him, the presence of his lawyer confused the plans of the Colonel to get information regarding the graffiti incident or maybe to make him afraid, and that incident caused some hostility among them. “It is obvious that he had remembered me because we had a chat right after the incident and I knew he had remembered me. I have a strong suspicion that the use of force against me was instructed by Colonel Hovhannisyan,” Arman says.

It is noteworthy that Arman Gharibyan did not respond to police violence in any way. He only asked why he was grabbed by the throat knowing that they were already on the sidewalk and the traffic was restored. Arman Gharibyan applied to the SIS and underwent a forensic medical examination. A criminal case was instituted and Arman was recognized as a victim.

Arman Gharibyan’s lawyer, David Gyurjyan, says that the above-mentioned actions of the police, committed with violation of the law and abuse of power, caused violation of Arman Gharibyan’s right to freedom of assembly and prohibition on inhuman treatment and contain obvious traits of the crime.

Arman Gharibyan also says that there are video footages, though the one who hurt him does not appear in the shot. However, if everyone is called for interrogation, it is likely that the incident will be revealed along with the identity of the officer who used violence against him.

It is still unclear for Arman why there are no results. “Most likely they do not want to offend the police,” Gharibyan says.

In connection with the unlawful police interference Arman Gharibyan’s representatives have filed an administrative complaint against the RA Administrative Court, and depending on the outcome of the case, they will apply to the ECHR.