Friday, 29 July 2016

Armenian News... A Topalian... Protest Turns Violent...

Armenia protest turns violent
Thursday 21 July 2016

Protesters clashed on Wednesday with police in the Armenian
capital Yerevan, furious over the government's handling of a four-day
hostage crisis in which pro-opposition gunmen seized a police
building, killing one officer and taking several hostage.

Stone-throwing protesters attacked police officers deployed outside
the building where the gunmen, supporters of jailed opposition leader
Zhirair Sefilyan, have been holding four police officers hostage since
Sunday morning, an AFP reporter said.

Police hit back firing tear gas and stun grenades into the crowd.

"Many officers were wounded" in the clashes, deputy chief of Armenian
police, Samvel Hovhannisyan, told AFP.

Armenia's health ministry said "45 people were hospitalised with
wounds, including 25 police officers."

The protest continued into the early hours of Thursday as some 2,000
protesters built barricades in front of the cordons of baton-wielding
riot police in flak jackets and helmets.

Protesters have called on the authorities to allow an opposition MP to
deliver food to the gunmen who have refused to accept provisions from
the government.

The gunmen, who captured a large arsenal of police weapons, freed four
hostages on Sunday and Monday, but were still holding four hostages as
of Wednesday night.

The hostages include Armenia's deputy police chief General Major
Vardan Egiazaryan and Yerevan deputy police Chief Colonel Valeri

The attackers have demanded the resignation of President Serzh
Sarkisian and the release of Sefilyan.

- US urges restraint -

The US State Department has condemned "the use of violence to effect
political change in Armenia" and urged the government to "handle the
situation with appropriate restraint."

More than 1,500 anti-government protesters rallied in Yerevan on
Monday, calling for a bloodless resolution to the crisis.

Sefilyan, the leader of small opposition group named the New Armenia
Public Salvation Front, and six of his supporters were arrested in
June after authorities said they were preparing to seize government
buildings and telecoms facilities in Yerevan.

A fierce critic of the government, he was arrested in 2006 over calls
for "a violent overthrow of the government" and jailed for 18 months.
He was released in 2008.

Last year, Sefilyan and several of his supporters were arrested again
on suspicion of preparing a coup, but released shortly afterwards.

An ethnic-Armenian, he was born in Lebanon where he fought in the
civil war in the 1980s, defending Beirut's Armenian Quarters.

He then moved to Armenia to take part in the 1990s war with
neighbouring Azerbaijan for control of the Armenian-populated
separatist region of Nagorny Karabakh.

Sarkisian, a former military officer, has been president of the tiny
country of 2.9 million people since winning a vote in 2008 that saw
bloody clashes between police and supporters of the defeated
opposition candidate in which 10 people died. 

Russia Today
Scores injured in Armenia clashes as police station hostage 
crisis continues in capital
July 20 2016

Dozens of protesters and officers have been injured in clashes in the
Armenian capital of Yerevan. People erected barricades next to a
police station that was hijacked by armed men on July 17 and which is
still under their control.

People have been throwing stones at police, while law enforcement
officials lobbed stun grenades in exchange to subdue the crowd.

At least 45 people were injured in the clashes, the Armenian Health
Ministry said, adding that 25 of those injured had been police. Out of
that total, 18 were rushed to the hospital from the scene, while
others checked into medical facilities themselves.

Protesters are said to be the supporters of hijackers who are
currently inside the police station, News Armenia reported, as cited
by Russia’s RBK news outlet.

Police have meanwhile managed to bring the situation under control,
TASS reported. The agency cites police as saying that dozens of people
were detained following the violence.

Office of the Human Rights Defender of the Republic of Armenia, while
respecting the right to assembly, has called on activists to “avoid
activities that could threaten the peaceful nature of the protest.”

A group of armed men seized a police station and hostages in Yerevan
on Sunday, killing one law enforcement officer and injuring two

The attack was launched to demand the release of Armenian opposition
figure Jirayr Sefilyan, who was detained last month after authorities
allegedly uncovered a plot to seize several buildings and
telecommunication facilities in Yerevan.

According to the latest statement from Armenia’s National Security
Service, its special forces are ready to take action, but only when a
need for it emerges.

“Special law enforcement units of the Republic of Armenia continue to
remain on high alert, but there is no need for their engagement as of
yet,” the statement published on the body’s internet site reads.

Interfax reports that supporters of Sefilyan cordoned off the road
next to the occupied police station, carrying banners with pictures of
the hijackers. 

TASS, Russia
Armenia’s arts professionals ask opposition activist to influence 
July 20 2016

YEREVAN, July 0. Armenian actors, musicians and composers
have appealed to the arrested opposition activist, Zhirair Sefilyan to
exert influence on gunmen and get them to release hostages and to
surrender to the police, the arts professionals said in a statement
released on Wednesday.

On Sunday morning, Sefilyan’s supporters attacked and seized a police
regiment in the Armenian capital of Yerevan and have been still
holding hostages. A police colonel was killed in the attack and some
more police officers were wounded. The attackers demand from the
authorities to set free their 49-year-old leader, who has been under
arrest since June on charges of organizing an armed group that had
been preparing the seizure of the Yerevan television center and other
important facilities along with organizing illegal acquisition,
transportation and storage of firearms and ammunition.

"Believing in your intelligence and patriotism, we are certain that
employing your common sense and reasoning, you will interfere into
this irresponsible and hopeless situation, will prevent further
undesirable consequences and will appeal to your comrades to lay down
their arms and surrender to the police," the statement says.

Born in Lebanon, Sefilyan arrived in Armenia in early 1990s as an
instructor organizing self-defense units in Nagorno-Karabakh. Later,
he fought in the Nagorno-Karabakh armed conflict, became the commander
of a battalion and was awarded the Military Cross First Class medal.
Afterwards, he established the radical opposition organization
Founding Parliament, a staunch critic of Armenia’s authorities and
their policies. 
Forecast: Special operation against "Sasna Tsrer" will lead 
Armenia to chaos
Anzhela Stepanyan
Wednesday, July 20, 17:40
Special operation against the participants of "Sasna Tsrer" group 
will lead Armenia to chaos, member of the Karabakh Committee, 
the first Armenian president's national security advisor Ashot 
Manucharyan has told ArmInfo.

To recall, on July 17, Artsakh war hero Zhirayr Sefilyan's armed 
supporters, who are calling themselves "Sasna Tsrer" (The 
Daredevils of Sasun), seized the building of the Patrol-Guard 
Service Regiment in Erebuni district of Yerevan. The access routes 
to the building are still blocked and the police are on combat duty. 
Dozens of people spent the night in the territory adjacent to the 
building to support Sasna Tsrer. On July 19 evening, protests 
developed into clashes between the residents of Sari Tagh district 
and the law enforcers. 4 policemen were hospitalized with injuries. 

"Our people feel the complexity and danger of the geopolitical 
situation around Armenia and Artsakh. That is why they react 
carefully to the situation in Karabakh and other external challenges. 
The people are against the regime but the majority does not want 
to get rid of it by the methods of Zhirayr Sefilyan's group. However, 
Serzh Sargsyan himself and his regime may escalate the situation
into chaos by launching special operation against the desperate 
people", he noted.

The expert considers that the situation can be solved by attracting 
mediators representing intellectuals, who would be able to reach 
agreement with Serzh Sargsyan to settle the problem via political 
means reaching relevant agreement with the rebels. According 
to the analyst's assessment the authorities have lost credibility of 
the society and even an insignificant meditative effort may become 
a  huge achievement for them. 

"Sasna Tsrer" (The Daredevils of Sasun) group demands releasing
Zhirayr Sefilyan, who was arrested on June 20 on suspicion of 
acquisition and keeping of weapons and ammunition. The armed 
group is still holding police as hostages. Deputy Head of the 
Patrol- Guard Service Regiment, Colonel Artur Vanoyan was killed 
in the incident. Armenian MP Nikol Pashinyan says that during his 
visit to the Erebuni Police Department building he saw 26 members 
of the "Sasna Tsrer" group. 
Nanor Sefilyan denied meeting with her husband
July 20,2016 

Nanor Sefilyan, the wife of Jirayr Sefilyan, who is now in custody 
pending trial for illegal arms possession, was disallowed to see her 
husband at the Vardashen prison on Wednesday. She was told that
the investigator had issued an injunction for meetings, the Joint 
Opposition Headquarters of the “New Armenia” Public Salvation 
Front repots.  “We declare that this is a blatant violation of human 
rights,” New Armenia said.

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