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Armenians rise up against their government

21 July 2016 14:38 (UTC+04:00)
Armenians rise up against their government

By Rashid Shirinov

The recent seizure of the police office has raised the Armenian population and opposition organizations.

They came to the building and main spots of the capital chanting “Get Up, Armenia” and “We are the masters of our country” to express their protest to the Armenian government. The protesters shout out numerous anti-government slogans, including “Free, Independent Armenia”, “No Robbery” and “There is no alternative”.

The move greatly infuriated the authorities, who started massively detaining and arresting Armenian protesters, including human rights activists. To date, a few hundred of people ware kept in the police precincts of Yerevan and the figure continues to rise. For the last day alone, 136 citizens were delivered from Khorenatsi Street to police stations. Many of them claimed the violation of their rights and the use of physical violence by the police.

Despite mass arrests, Armenian opposition does not give up. On July 18, they hold rallies demanding the release of opposition supporters who were detained by police the day before. Although the police dispersed the rallies, opposition activists came back to the square for the second time. Now they brought the deputy chief of the Armenian police, Lieutenant General Hunan Poghosyan, who asked them to provide the list of detained opposition members.

For today, over 50 people applied to medical institutions of Yerevan after the clashes between the police and protesters. Twenty-eight of the 51 people appealed to medical facilities are policemen. As many as 18 people were hospitalized by ambulance, others asked for help on their own, the Armenian Ministry of Health claimed.

On the evening of July 20, the protesters began to throw stones and other heavy objects at the guards. In turn, the police started shooting in the air, and then used stun grenades against them. As a result, several people were injured.

The situation worsened when one of the demonstrators was detained by the police. The protesters demanded to take him back. All demonstrators who stayed for the night at the crossroads were taken to police stations.

Some media reports also focused on Armenian police attacks on journalists. They in particular emphasize the attack on Gevorg Tosunyan who was injured on July 21 by Armenian police while dispersing the protesters.

Discontent in their authorities of ordinary Armenian citizens can also be seen through the ongoing reduction of the country’s population. So, for the first half of 2016, almost 20,000 Armenian citizens left the country and never came back, Armenian newspaper Zhoghovurd states. Last year, more than 50,000 people left Armenia. Overall, from 1991, the figures on country’s population have never seen a positive trend.

Following the results of an appropriate survey, almost 32 percent of Armenian citizens are ready to leave the country in search of job, 30 percent due to hopelessness, 20 percent due to lack of justice, and 17 percent because of livelihood problems.

All this is obviously related to the wrong policy of Armenian government led by its President Serzh Sargsyan. The Armenian opposition party Heritage stated that the Armenian authorities are to be blamed for the attack on police department. “Preventing the solution of problems of the country through the electoral process and in the framework of the law, the authorities follow path of lawlessness and violence,” the party claims.

Paruyr Hayrikyan, head of the Union for National Self-Determination, believes that Serzh Sargsyan can resign after the recent events at the police station. He mentions the silence of the Armenian President after Sasna Tsrer (the armed group) seized the building of station. The politician claims that Serzh Sargsyan has already begun the process of his resignation.

“Because if this happened in any other country the president would have to immediately show up if he considers himself president. Apparently, he has already started to implement the requirements of Sasna Tsrer,” Hayrikyan says.

To cut long story short, Armenian population seem not to believe the current government anymore. They do not see any opportunity to affect the policy implemented in the country, which leads to the deterioration of the country’s social and economic situation. Therefore, all those who are not ready for strict antigovernment actions, try to leave Armenia in search of a better life.

On July 17, a group of armed men entered the territory of the Armenian police patrol department in the Erebuni district of Yerevan and took several people hostage. The attackers demand the release of Armenian opposition figure Jirair Sefilyan, who was arrested nearly a month ago on charges of illegal possession of arms. They also claim resignation of Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan.

The police states that during the seizure of the building one policeman was killed and four were injured. Currently, the attackers hold four policemen in hostage, including the deputy chief of Armenian police major-General Vardan Yeghiazaryan and the deputy chief of Yerevan police, Colonel Valeri Osipyan. The armed group refuses to lay arms down and surrender to the authorities.

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Rashid Shirinov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @RashidShirinov

Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz

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