Senior Police Officer Defends Use of Force Against Rally


YEREVAN, APRIL 14, ARMENPRESS: A senior police official defended
today police claims that the protesters themselves assaulted security
officers with stones and petrol bombs, despite repeated warnings that
their unlawful actions would be met with adequate reaction. Hovhaness
Kocharian, deputy head of a police department, argued today that the
crackdown on the demonstrators in early hours of April 13 did not go
beyond the boundaries, envisaged by the law on police. He was speaking
at a roundtable discussion at American University of Armenia, called
for an in-depth look into last two days’ developments.

Citing a clause from the law, the senior police officer argued that
police have the right to use physical force when arresting a suspect
or preventinga crime, but admitted that in some cases innocent people
may suffer. Kocharian said family members of all people detained on
April 13 morning were informed about the detainees whereabouts. To
conclude he again cited a provision of the Constitution that envisages
restricting some of citizens’ rights in the event of threats to other
people’s freedoms and safety.

Earlier a spokesman for president Kocharian defended the use of
force, saying that the opposition actions amounted to `political
extremism.’ He warned that further attempts to force the president
into resignation would be countered in the same way. The spokesman,
Ashot Kocharian, said the opposition disrupted `the normal work’ of
the president and the parliament, thereby `endangering the country’s
constitutional order.’ `The demonstrators did not obey the legitimate
orders of police officers,’ he said.

A senior member of Orinats Yerkir party, a component of the ruling
coalition, said today the disagreements between the opposition and
authorities erupted after the parliament majority refused to put on
its agenda an opposition motion calling for a referendum on confidence
in the president. He said only strict adherence to the rule of law
would allow Armenia to move ahead towards fuller integration with
Europe, adding also that his party stands for a dialogue between
forces to ease tension and avoid new clashes.

The discussion was mainly attended by representatives of
non-governmental organizations, who all condemned use of force on the
path of democratization.