Outrage over the fatal beating of a military doctor in Armenia spread to Glendale Thursday, with nearly 100 people descending on the Armenian consulate to demand the perpetrators be held accountable.
According to news reports, 33-year-old army doctor Vahe Avetyan and three colleagues were brutally beaten on June 17 at a restaurant in Armenia’s capital, Yerevan. Avetyan, a father of two, died 12 days later, and his funeral took place this week.
The alleged perpetrators are security guards for Ruben Hayrapteyan — a member of Parliament who is counted among Armenia’s oligarchs. A prominent businessman, Hayrapteyan also serves as president of the Armenian soccer federation.
Even in a country where political corruption has been well-documented, the incident has reverberated both in Armenia and its diaspora, estimated at 7 million people worldwide.
Protesters in Glendale Thursday said there have been other beatings, but this one was particularly shocking because Avetyan served in the military and is believed to be an innocent victim. They described Hayrapteyan as a thug infamous for his alleged ties to organized crime.
“He is terrorizing people,” said Armen Barsegyan, who lives in Van Nuys and works in Glendale. “We want to stop all terror in Armenian.”
Protesters hoped to deliver a letter to Armenia’s Consul General Grigor Hovhannissian, whose consulate is on Central Avenue in Glendale, demanding the prosecution of those involved, as well as the resignation of President Serzh Sarkisyan.
With the office closed, they had to make do with taping a photo of the murdered military doctor to the gates.
“We came here to say to our government to do the punishment [mandated] by law,” said Gayana Manukyan. “If we don’t do this protest, it could happen again and again. Each of us could be in this situation."
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