Thursday 13.9.2018 in Latest Developments in Armenia Country Page
On 17th August 2018, thousands of citizens took to the streets to celebrate the 100th day of Nikol Pashinian's election as prime minister. In what the prime minister called a “demonstration of national unity”, thousands of his supporters rallied in Yeveran’s Republic Square. During the rally, Pashinian spoke to the crowd, saying:
“This is going to be a demonstration of national unity, because there are no dividing lines today — the police, the National Security Service, the public, the people, the army, the armed forces, the state government bodies, the government are all on the same side, and no line divides us today.”
Pashinian was elected prime minister by the National Assembly on 8th May 2018 after massive protests took place in the country with citizens frustrated by high levels of corruption and the socio-economic situation. After 100 days in office, Pashinian has implemented several reforms, most of which relate to the fight against corruption, the reform of judicial and security institutions as well as economic reforms. In another positive step, the government opened investigations into the March 2008 protests where several protesters were killed during clashes with security officers.
On 7th August 2018, the Non-Discrimination and Equality Coalition released a statement condemning “the outbreak of extreme intolerance, hatred and violence in the village of Shurnukh in the Syunik region”.
On 3rd August 2018, around 30 people in the village of Shurnukh attacked nine LGBTI activists. It was reported that the attackers were using stones and several activists were injured, two of whom required hospitalisation.
In the statement, the Coalition stated that the responsibility for this violence should be shared both by the villagers and the police officers, who had encouraged hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity, due to their “inactivity and lack of respect for universal values”.
This is not the first case of violence against LGBTI activists: in April 2017, two people suffered injuries in the Goris community. Amnesty International issued a statement saying that impunity for hate crimes against the LGBTI community exacerbates the violence. Amnesty International said:
“Authorities in Armenia have generally failed to respond to discrimination and violence perpetrated on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, and in some cases, have even condoned such attacks.”
The Non-Discrimination and Equality Coalition calls for:
“[A] proper, fair and impartial investigation of the case by the RA Police and for the Armenian government to take action in order to eliminate all forms of hate crimes and discrimination within the country, both by means of legislative reform and regulation.”
In addition, over 100 Armenian organisations issued a public letter to relevant institutions, calling on them to “condemn the recent attacks against Armenian LGBT activists and to promote legislative and policy changes to grant equality and end discrimination against LGBT persons in Armenia”.