There is outrage in Armenian society this morning after a night of violent incidents, which saw police charging into crowds gathered outside the besieged police station in Erebuni. Among those hurt are many journalists
More than sixty persons are reported to have been hospitalised, and dozens of others have been detained. Several media outlets, including Radio Liberty, News.am, A1+, 1in.am and CivilNet TV are all reporting that their journalists were hurt during the incidents, or had their equipment confiscated.
The incidents happened after police forcibly moved in to disperse crowds that had gathered close to the besieged Erebuni Police station where several armed men have been holed up for the last two weeks, demanding the release of political prisoners and the resignation of the government. Last night there were also reports of police conducting house to house searches in the vicinity of the police station.
You may see a TV report carried by CivilNet TV here
Many Armenians have this morning taken to social media to express criticism of police tactics, some expressing the view that what is currently happening in the Armenian capital is a sign of a much deeper malaise.
In a recent facebook post, respected Armenian political analyst Richard Giragosian wrote:
"For the past few years, Armenia has long been prone to summers of discontent & dissent, but this time is different, and the context is more serious and with a deeper significance;
Stability is steadily eroding, as the country is now precariously caught between force & farce; with the hostage-taking gunmen serving more as the catalyst than the cause;
Clearly, there is no longer any obvious way out, especially given the now demonstrable over-reaction of the police; the state is impeded and imperiled by its own fear and weakness, with little confidence and even less strength; The new imperative is for resolute change, and for the importance of real choice; Activism has now firmly replaced apathy while the Armenian people are clearly no longer tolerant of a corrupt political ‘elite’ that rules, yet fails to govern the country.
The triggers and trends are not promising for a viably peaceful way out, or way back......Obviously, it is now apparent that the real danger and risk for the sitting Armenian government was to disdainfully dismiss popular demands for change for so long...."
photo: screenshots from Radio Liberty Armenian Service coverage of events in Yerevan on 29 July 2016.
The meeting in Krakow between the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan did not lead to a breakthrough, and none was expected. But there appears to be a change of gear in the negotiations, says Dennis Sammut in this week's Monday Commentary