Armenia clash between police and protestors objecting to Azerbaijan border policy injures 50 News
RG72, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Armenia clash between police and protestors objecting to Azerbaijan border policy injures 50

Multiple police officers and protestors were injured in Armenia’s capital city Friday during protests over the Armenian government’s handling of the Nagorno-Karabakh border dispute with Azerbaijan. Thirty-four police officers and 16 protestors were hurt during the Yerevan demonstrations. The Armenian Ministry of Health confirmed that four people are still hospitalized for their injuries but all the other injured have been treated and released. 

Armenian police claim protesters started the violence by throwing “bottles, stones and metal objects” at law enforcement. However, Ishkhan Saghatelyan, Vice President of the Armenian National Assembly and member of Armenian Revolutionary Federation party, claims that police began the violence, stating “[t]he allegations against the arrested and detained citizens are baseless or unlawful. In parallel to this, the entire internet and media are swamped with evidence confirming the lawlessness, atrocities and inhumane treatment of police officers.” In an update from the police issued Sunday, the police deny Saghatelyan’s claim, saying they did not resort to any violence, using only lights, sounds, and tear gas to disperse the crowd.

Friday’s protest is one of many over the government’s approach to the the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War. The Second Nagorno-Karabakh War with Azerbaijan began in 2020, when Azerbaijan began bombing the region. Nagorno-Karabakh is officially recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but has been claimed by the Armenian-backed breakaway state of Artsakh since the First Nagorno-Karabakh War in 1988. Armenia and Azerbaijan reached a ceasefire in November 2020, which included the surrender of occupied territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijan.

Protests began immediately after the ceasefire, with protesters breaking into and occupying government buildings and calling for the removal of the Prime Minister for surrendering the region. They have continued since, with rallies growing in attendance significantly starting in April 2022, led in part by Saghatelyan. Saghatelyan has been criticized for his role in Friday’s protests by many in the opposing Civil Contract party, with the party’s leader, Vahagn Aleksanyan, saying:

Ishkhan Saghatelyan…provoked the protesters to take obviously illegal, provocative and condemnable actions. After his call “women and children should go aside, there is no closed street in front of us, we are going to the National Assembly” the protesters started pushing, hitting, throwing stones and other objects in the direction of the police. There are dozens of hospitalized policemen who received injuries of different severity from thrown stones and other objects. Undoubtedly, Ishkhan Saghatelyan and the other leaders are fully responsible for what happened.