Police in Armenia turn violent against women protesters

By: Mushvig Mehdiyev

The parents of dead soldiers in Armenia faced a brutal police crackdown when they attempted to express their anger and sorrow in Yerevan by staging a protest at the gate of the presidential palace.

Armenian police forcibly dispersed the recent rally organized by the mothers of those soldiers who died in non-combat conditions in the army. Police resorted to several ways such as pushing and striking the angered mothers in an effort to oust them from the gates of the presidential palace. The mothers called on the president to meet with them.

The authorities have banned any such type of gathering and protest before the presidential palace since last February after a similar rally embarrassed state officials to the point where they ordered police to violently break up the rally.

After that incident, parents have repeatedly tried to come close to the president’s office, only to be turned away each and every time by a cordon of police.

A recent march of mothers really surprised law enforcers as they did not expect those women to show such determination. They immediately created a live wall in order to prevent them from reaching the country’s top office. After receiving strict orders by mobile phones, police stroke and pushed as they drew the protesting mothers to the opposite side of Baghramyan ave. 26, where the palace of the president is located.

One of the police officers pushed and pulled Nana Murdayan, the mother of Valeriy Muradyan who died in 2010 in non-combat circumstances, from the president’s office. Irina Gazaryan, the mother of Arthur who died in the same year in the same condition, also faced police violence.

As protesters tried to protect themselves and resist police pressure, law enforcers loudly warned “not to strike the policemen”.

Following the coercive dispersal, one of the policemen claimed that the main aim of the mothers had been to “stage a show”. This comment angered the parents, as they explained that all they sought to demand the rights of their children to be respected and their sacrifices honored.

The increasing number of soldier deaths has unavoidably triggered public concern and angered the families of the deceased conscripts.

Poor relations among soldiers and officers in the Armenian army have already turned into a driving factor behind servicemen’s deaths in non-combat conditions. Officers’ willful treatment of soldiers, the humiliations they continue to bare on them have often resulted in armed incidents that ultimately claim the lives of servicemen.

The parents of dead soldiers claim that the defense ministry often accuses a soldier family of murders, suicides and other violence in the army rather than bear responsibility for the deaths their officers caused.

The ministry’s deliberate moves aim to hide the motives and conditions of soldiers’ death amid ongoing chaos and disorder in the army, the parents say.

Among the reasons detailed to explain soldiers’ deaths in Armenia’s army, local media have repeatedly told of poisoning, careless use of weapons, infectious diseases, chronic illnesses as triggering factors for death and accidents.

Armenian soldier, Andranik Grigoryan, who surrendered voluntarily to Azerbaijan on March 22, has brought the realities of living in the Armenian army to the limelight when he revealed the bad treatment soldiers suffer by the hands of commanders.