Members and supporters of the Los Angeles chapter of the Armenian Renaissance protested outside the Consulate General of Armenia in Glendale on July 16, demanding the release of dozens of people they say were taken into custody one year ago in Yerevan, Armenia.
It was widely reported that Armenian police used excessive force against peaceful protesters and journalists, and more than 28 have been in custody.
Albert Rostomyan, chapter member, said the Consulate General has not been open and transparent with the diaspora community of Los Angeles regarding the treatment of its citizens in Yerevan, and the protest was meant to express that the chapter will not accept silence.
Consulate officials did not return phone calls or emails asking for comment.
“Some are still detained for supporting the uprising,” Rostomyan said. “This brutal regime is beating people without consequences. We ask the U.S. government to stand next to the people of Armenia against corrupt government.”
The clash between antigovernment protesters and police boiled over during four days in July 2016 in Yerevan, linked to a hostage situation at a police station.
According to various news reports, the gunmen demanded the resignation of President Serzh Sarkisian and the release of one of its own opposition leaders.
The small act by a fringe opposition group sparked a deeper widespread conflict fed by discontent with the government.
Human rights groups stated that in the weeks following the end of the clash, Armenian police arbitrarily detained dozens of people linked to the protests, beating them and handing down unjustified criminal charges against some.
Posters with phrases such as “Serg Sargsyan Dictator” and “Down With Illegal and Corrupt Gov of Armenia” lined gates in front of the consulate Sunday evening. There were also photos displayed of the Yerevan protesters who were arrested last year.
Armenian Renaissance members protested outside the consulate for 13 days in 2016 during the height of the uprising. Many on Sunday called the political prisoners “heroes” and alleged that Russia is ruling the Armenian government.
“The government tried to mark them as terrorists,” said Gurgen Mkhitaryan, an Armenian Renaissance member. “We see them as heroes. We see Armenia as a dictatorship. There’s no freedom of speech.”
Rostomyan said they’ve delivered a letter about what they demand from the consulate and are willing to meet to discuss the issues.
“We’re still waiting, still calling,” Rostomyan said.