Sunday, April 13, 2008

Pashinian: Analytical essay. Pt 3.

This part of Pashinian's essay covers the police attack on March 1st, its dispersal, and the spontaneous decision taken by the people to reassemble in front of the French Embassy. It also covers the legal side of the event.


Nikol Pashinian's analytical essay: Up to March 1st and beyond. (III)

There needed to be a formal reason for the use of force, but there wasn't any. The government's claim that the assemblies taking place were illegal because they had not been condoned by the mayor's office were categorically not serious. The Republic of Armenia's law regarding "meetings, assemblies, processions, and demonstrations" provides for the possibility of assemblies and processions being conducted that don't have mayoral approval, and we were making use of just that provision. Hence, [they could not] use the "illegality" of the assemblies as [justification for] the use of force.

But what really happened is the following. At daybreak on March 1st, at around 6:20 AM, baton-wielding police carrying shields and wearing helmets surrounded the protesters in their tents. While [the police] were arriving, some of the people in the tents were awake, and this includes the first president. Ter-Petrossian suddenly approached the microphone and said the following: "Assembly participants, this is Levon Ter-Petrossian speaking. Please do not have any contact with the police. If they have come here, it means that they have something to say to us. Come, let us listen to what they want." A thirty-minute pause ensued--an absolute silence. And all of a sudden the police attacked from the Toumanian statue side. No demands, nothing. They were beating [the protesters], administering electric shocks, and not telling [us] what it was they wanted. I am specifically pointing this out because their modus operandi contradicted not only logic, but law: Regarding "meetings, processions, demonstrations, and assemblies," the laws of the Republic of Armenia say that if a decision is made to use force to end and disperse a demonstration, the organizers must first be made aware and a reasonable period of time must be given for the demonstration to be dispersed. However, if the organizers refuse to call an end to the demonstration, then the police are required to twice announce through a PA system, so that the demonstrators are made aware, that force might be used against them. They did none of these things. To boot, no one asked any of us for permission to search [the tents]; had they asked, we would have granted it, because, of course, we knew very well that there were no weapons in the tents. And even if a weapon had been found in a tent, that [discovery] could not have had an impact on the all-day demonstrations, because in whomever's tent a weapon is discovered, that person must be called to account, and that [discovery] must not impinge upon the right of assembly belonging those who do not have weapons. (And let me add that the assembly's groups that were in charge of keeping order were continuously finding cocktail molotovs, metal pipes, and clubs, which, as it turned out, were being planted there by the HSS's [Homeland Security Service] and police department's agents provocateurs.) In short, from the moment the use of force commenced, the protectors of justice put themselves outside of the law. A big fight broke out in Freedom plaza. The demonstrators were protecting themselves with the firewood brought for the nightly campfires or directly with their bare fists. It was apparent that under those circumstances it was not possible to hold out against the police, whose numbers were roughly equal to the number of demonstrators in the plaza at that time. And the police, of course, were armed with everything necessary for that type of confrontation. The fight lasted about 30-40 minutes. Many were immediately arrested, and many retreated while continuing to fight, and the fight moved almost all the way to Republic square on Northern street. As for the first president, a group of about 20 immediately isolated him at the start and took him toward Tumanian's statue [photo of LTP there]. A few of our boys took me from Freedom plaza to a safe place. And this is how 2008's first Spring daybreak turned out. But this was only the beginning of the treacherous and bloody events. The events that followed showed that the Serjokocharianic-tyranny issue was truly not only about the dispersal of the assembly at Freedom plaza, but about violent beatings and the return of the people to their former state of slavery. After the events in the morning, the people, some of them quite unaware of what had happened, arrived at Freedom plaza for the usual gathering. They found Freedom plaza surrounded and, naturally, grouped together nearby, and all of a sudden the police attacked them with their clubs and subjected them to a brutal beating.

It's clear that it is a police force, but please admit that a policeman does not have the right to directly attack you and beat you with a baton or give you an electric shock. The policeman must first tell you what he wants and establish the legality of his request. And yet, on March 1st, we were continually getting news that the police had beaten several groups of people on Mashtots street, on Northern street, and so on. And then these beaten, wounded people decided to gather in front of the French embassy. But here, too, they started to beat them.

1 comment:

parisan said...

thank you for the translation.