Hardened Criminals Corralled by Armenia’s Finest: Capital police save Yerevan streets from Emos

Hardened Criminals Corralled by Armenia’s Finest: Capital police save Yerevan streets from Emos


Persecuted lifestyle

Human rights activists in Yerevan say Armenian police are violating the rights of young people by launching an “Emo hunt” in the capital.

Over the past weeks, incidents have been reported when police have detained “for explanatory work” young people whose non-traditional style of dress, hair, makeup identify them as potentially among the internationally-popular cultural phenomenon, Emos.

And on Thursday (November 18) seven teenage girls were held by police for four hours and interrogated about why they had body piercing and were dressed in the colors of Emos – typically a combination of black and pink, often including dramatic eye makeup, reminiscent of the “Goth” movement of the late 1990s in Europe and the United States.

Seventeen-year-old Bella says that she was pulled into a police car by her hair; and that her cell phone was thrown away.

The girls were detained in the Children's Railway (Hrazdan gorge) park, allegedly being suspected of being Emo movement members (though, to date, there is no legislative prohibition in Armenia that makes practicing Emo-ism illegal). The young women insist that they have nothing in common with Emos. One says she was stopped by a park attendant because she was carrying a trinket shaped like a skull, and that when an argument started with the attendant police soon appeared.

“So it turns out that if someone is dressed informal, wears a tattoo, or has a piercing, he/she may be taken to the Police office,” Mikael Danielyan, Head of Helsinki Association in Armenia told ArmeniaNow. “This is an expression of fascism; they simply want to threaten and silence youngsters who dare to have a free spirit.”

Recently news circulated that a teenager, who committed suicide, embraced the emo ideology (which encourages young people to not be afraid of their feelings – even dark ones), prompting the police to take the current measures, seen by many as harassment and abuse of power.

“Now in Armenia, whoever commits suicide is said to be either an Emo or a Jehovah’s Witness. And what about the young men, who, in fact, are more numerous, who commit suicide in the army because of their commanders? Why not fight against those commanders?” Danielyan asks.

“There is simply an assumption that all children who are dressed up informally are potential criminals. This is horrible. This reminds me of 1937, when people were simply caught in the streets and detained,” says Zara Ghukasyan, mother of one of the detained teenagers.