Political Protests Continue in Armenia

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Around 4,500 protesters gathered in Yerevan on April 13 to protest the re-election of former president Serge Sarkisian to the role of prime minister. (Photo: Sofia Manukyan/The Armenian Weekly)


In the past few weeks, local activists have been gearing up in Armenia, expressing dissatisfaction with the past and current political atmosphere and showing unwillingness to continue in the same direction in the future.

To this end, there have been at least three initiatives organizing protests in Armenia. One of these is #մերժիրսերժին (or, #rejectserge in English). Although it started small, it gained support as it progressed, particularly from youth. It has organized several rallies including a protest action in front of the Republican Party’s (RPA) head office, as well as several car marches trying to mobilize society.

The two other groups are Front for Armenian State that was formed in Nov. 2017 and held protests in the past months, and the initiative #իմքայլը (#mystep) which is the initiative of the political party Civil Contract (which joined a coalition with two other opposition parties in 2017 to form the “Yelk” faction, which holds seven seats in parliament).

The #mystep movement is led by Nikol Pashinyan and consisted of a walking march on March 31 from Gyumri to Yerevan, which culminated in a gathering on April 13 in Freedom Square, to be followed by three days of protests. The last day of protests is April 17, when the vote for prime minister is slated to take place. All three initiatives have joined forces for this protest action planned from April 13 to 17.


Highlights from April 9 Rally

On April 9, the Front for Armenian State organized a rally celebrating the end of Serge Sarkisian’s responsibilities as the President of Armenia.

“Some ask ‘What can we celebrate when we have so many problems?’” said Davit Sanasaryan from #մերժիրսերժին initiative, “but let me remind you, dear citizens, that we have the opportunity to make these eight days without Serge an eternity. Let me also remind you that our initiative is not only against Serge, but against the entire system it sustains.”

Many speakers took the podium, including one satirical performance by a speaker dressed as the famous character from a Soviet-era cartoon ‘Cheburashka,’ also a name used colloquially to refer to the former president. In a speech, the Cheburashka confessed that he failed as a political leader and that time has come for him to leave.” (Photo: Sofia Manukyan/The Armenian Weekly)

This activism is in stark contrast to the silence of past months despite decisions made in the government contributing to the decline of overall life quality (we’ve covered one such issue, labor code amendments).


Highlights from April 13 Rally

During the April 13 rally, Nikol Pashinyan also mentioned the decline Armenia has been facing during Sarkisian’s and the ruling RPA’s rule. “In this fight, our aim is not just preventing a third term of Serge Sarkisian’s ruling or stripping off the powers from Republican Party. The aim of our fight is to return the sovereignty to the citizens of this country.”

A local woman contributes a 10 AMD coin to Serge Sarkisian’s “pension fund.” The satirical sign was created by protesters, who hope that the former president will decline the role of prime minister that he was recently nominated for and will instead, retire. (Photo: Sofia Manukyan/The Armenian Weekly)

Speaking about some of the socio-economic declines in the country such as the widespread loan burden and continuous monopolies stagnating the economy, Nikol Pashinyan expressed his anger at the widening gap between the rich and poor, and as a manifestation of this. He also mentioned the failures in the military sphere.

“It is enough we keep silent about the situation of our soldiers in the army who also have become captives in the hands of this plunderer system. It is 21st century, yet the soldiers have problems of sanitation, their poor families have to take the burden of supplying them with underwear”.

During the rally, Pashinyan also thanked the civil initiatives as well as political opposition representatives who have joined efforts to finally act together against one united goal. “We should stand together hand in hand and they should see in our eyes the defeat of Serge Sarkisian’s system”, concluded Pashinyan. He continued speaking about the activities planned for the upcoming days, after which the protesters occupied France Square and paralyzed the traffic in the city center.

Organizers have promised that the protests will continue until at least April 17.


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Source: Armenian Weekly
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