Yerevan police urge protesters to cease blocking traffic with vehicles, cite safety concerns
YEREVAN, APRIL 20, ARMENPRESS. Yerevan police called on initiators of the ongoing rallies to cease actions which restrict the rights and freedoms of others and to re-locate the demonstrations to locations where violations of the law will be ruled out and where police will be able to ensure the safety of the rally participants – in order to avoid any kind of endangerment of public life.
“Despite the numerous calls of the police, rallies violating the law on freedom of assembly continue throughout the capital city and continue to seriously obstruct traffic and restrict the rights and freedoms of others”, police said in a statement.
Police said the unlawful actions of the demonstrators lead to law enforcement agencies undertaking their duties of protecting the rights of citizens.
Yerevan police said the blocking of traffic with vehicles at the illegal calls of the rally initiators pose a serious danger for public safety.
“Police will be forced to use lawful actions to thwart the violations of law”.
Police once again called on the demonstrators to refrain from obstructing on-duty officers.
Opposition protests began in the Armenian capital of Yerevan a week ago.
The rallies are led by opposition lawmaker Nikol Pashinyan, who has called on his supporters to launch civil disobedience.
The rallies began with a sit-in at France Square in downtown Yerevan, followed by sporadic marches in the city streets. The protesters even began blocking intersections and shutting down traffic. The situation escalated when the crowd of protesters and MP Pashinyan himself breached into the headquarters of Public Radio of Armenia, demanding airtime on April 14.
Then on April 16, protesters and riot police clashed in a brief incident on Baghramyan Avenue – one of the main city streets housing the parliament, Constitutional Court and the Prime Minister’s residence. The Yerevan Police Department (YPD) has called on the opposition crowd to refrain from illegal actions and to maintain public order.
YPD said they are entitled to detain protesters who are violating public order and to cease the illegal rally, because the demonstrations are violating the rights of others and endangering public safety.
The protesters largely ignored the YPD demands and continued the rally, initiating sit-ins outside governmental buildings, blocking traffic, obstructing public service staff from entering their offices, even deflating tires of official vehicles parked outside ministries.
About 100 demonstrators were detained for misdemeanors on April 19. Several others have been placed under arrest for causing a brief riot earlier in central Yerevan. 107 people have been detained in about 6 hours Friday.
Police said they will continue lawfully detaining those who are violating public order.
English –translator/editor: Stepan Kocharyan