Notes From Hairenik

As I have stated many times in private conversations, citizens of Armenia need to protest against infractions of their civil and social rights. The more they are active and express their opposition to actions that threaten their own rights, the more changes will take place in the favor of the people, which is how democracies operate.

On Saturday October 29, a hundred or so people gathered in an area of the “Circle Park” alongside Khanjian/Moscovian near the Komitas Music Chamber, where apparently more cafes were being constructed—around the hall there are already at least two cafes, one of them being ostentatious and obnoxious. There are remnants of a decent park but apparently this was to go as well, until the people put a stop to it. The organization that mainly put together the protest was a coalition called SOS Yerevan, in cooperation with several other groups such as the AUA ECRC (Environmental Conservation and Research Center and Transparency International. The protest was followed by a concert in front of the Opera House.

Onnik Krikorian on his blog has posted several photos as well as some information about what happened. One of the commentators, Jeffery Tufenkian of Armenian Forests NGO, had this to say:

… although we never would have believed it would happen so soon, we already have had some success with our first target; they began tearing down at least the portions of the cafe being constructed nearby the Komitas Chamber Music hall (Kamarayin). They were tearing up the pavement they had just put down and the crane nearby the starting point of the rally on Saturday was there to REMOVE the skeleton of the roof they had just built the week before.

Unfortunately I was on my way to Vanadzor that day and could not attend the protest, but I’m sure it was a sight to see. It is another example of how people can bring about real changes in their own societal structures and even ways of life. In this case, residents and employees in the area, namely musicians, refused to see additional cafes occupy their green space as well as tolerate the eye sores and bad music that emanate from them.

A guy I know also from Boston in a debate once said that the construction of cafes on parks throughout Yerevan is good, since 15 years ago they were used as trash dumps, and the cafes opening shows signs of “progress.” Then he went on to say that if people want parks, they should buy plots of land and turn them into green spaces. I wonder what he would say now when people are opposing violations of their existing public green spaces, which are--as seen by recent events--clearly not regarded as being “dumps.”

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Blogger Hasmik said...
It is great to see that different organizations in Armenia are mobilizing movements to protest against social issues.

I really hope that these protesters will multiply and it will be taken to another level where they will be protesting in front of the police department on corruption....