EDITORIAL: In Solidarity with the People

The wave of protests has not wanes since the February 18 prsidential vote

The February 18 presidential elections this year coincided with an important milestone for the Armenian nation. Twenty five years earlier, almost to the day, hundreds of thousands Armenians took to the streets in Yerevan and Stepanakert to demand the reunification of Artsakh with Armenia and set in motion a series of events that can be attributed to the ultimate collapse of the Soviet Union and the emergence of our modern-day Republic of Armenia.

It was that will—unwavering and committed—that marshaled all Armenians around the world to rise up and envelop the people of Armenia to advance what eventually became the victorious Karabakh liberation movement and saw the birth of the independent Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. The people’s right to self –determination prevailed.
The same cannot be said 25 years later. A popular movement that was sparked as a result of wide-spread voter fraud during the presidential elections became the rallying cry for the formerly silent majority of Armenia’s dwindling population who came out in droves to demand that their voice be heard—their will to determine the future of our nation prevail.

The 2013 popular movement can be deemed as the people of Armenia fearlessly shedding the heavy iron curtain of Soviet society and claiming their rights and demanding a better future for our nation.

The people of Armenia have spoken. Never in the past 20 years has there been a decisive voice of dissent and dissatisfaction from the people of Armenia. That voice cannot fall on deaf ears. That voice is the spark of true—and democratic—regime change. That voice is the free expression of the aspirations of the people. That voice must become a call to arms to all Armenians, in the homeland and the Diaspora, to join, nurture and advance this movement until Armenia is liberated from the chains of oppression that have been strangling its citizens.

The same Armenian nation that galvanized against 75-years of oppressive Soviet rule and WON, can–and must be able to–overcome a group of criminals that have, through intimidation, threats and fabrications forced themselves upon our people and wreaked havoc on our homeland.

As Armenians prepare to enter a new phase of this struggle for democracy, social justice and freedom, all community organizations in the Diaspora must rally around the people of Armenia and their just aspirations. At the same time, opposition forces in Armenia to must come together to embrace the will of the Armenian people and to work collectively toward concrete reforms.

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20 Comments

  1. Varoujan said:

    I am still shocked that a US born educated man, UCLA grad , a former foreign minister now politician, that is trying to bring democracy and the rule of law to Armenia is forgetting about one of the fundamental tenets and that is of due process.

    Even if there is evidence of tampering you can’t claim victory.

    How can you prove you received 51% of the vote, at best he is no more respectful of the rule of law or due process than Sarkissian. The only possible claim he can make is that Serge did not win, but no way you can inaugurate yourself, he’s sounding like an Assad family member.

    I’m saddened and disappointed by his audacity. I would not trust him as a leader, he would be the lesser of two evils at best.

  2. serge hagopian said:

    this is not an editorial; this is an biased, politically motivated rant. to call the Armenian administration “a group of criminals that have, through intimidation, threats and fabrications forced themselves upon our people and wreaked havoc on our homeland” is horrible. while there are urgent changes that need to take place in Armenia, the current administration (and before Sarkis, the Robert administration) protected the nations borders, built up its military, stabilized its economic free-fall, and slowly-but-surly tilted Armenia away from Russia-centric orientation to EU and the West. what have the ARF (publishers of this “editorial”) done during that time in the political-arena inside Armenia? no democracy is perfect, look at the corruption, crony-capitalism in the US. Armenia needs massive changes, agreed. but to have the audacity to call the current and previous administration “a group of criminals” that have “wreaked havoc” on Armenia sounds like a line from Azeri lunatics. i visit Armenia regularly, and have family there, and i’ve seen FIRST HAND the changes over the last 10 years. SHAME ON YOU FOR YOUR BIASED-HATEFUL RANT. maybe the ARF is lowered itslef all the way down to (and is now in bed with) Levon Ter-Petrosyan in there quest to take over Armenia’s political machinery and succeed where the Ottoman Turks and Azeri’s failed to do. shame on you.

    • Jasmine said:

      Serge I have one question for you. Have you been following the news??? It seems like you are really not connected to Armenia and you don’t really have anyyyy idea about horrific events that have taken place under these ‘tshvars’ presidency. Young biys are being killed in the Armenian banak every now and then and their parents have been ananawered and left with nothing. Honest and hard- working peole are being manipulated, constantly threatened and even killed in the bright daylight… For God’s sake a true hayrenaser Hero was killed a few days ago by these same criminals about a week ago, and the list just goes on… And you are defending a government like this??? Ir makes me only think that you are either one of them and have your personal “shaher” in such a corrupt system or you are really not informed about the horrible truth that the Armenians have to face in Armenia under such a corrupt system… You should research more about it… Watch some videos of actual victims or maybe get out of you warm seat and go to villages and see how Armenians live… Beautifying Yerevan is only for fools to believe that things have progressed… Think about why soooo many Armenian leave their homeland… It is for that safe better life that their corrupt government cant give them… Honestly, at this point Armenia needs change! The Armenian people are demanding change! Raffi Hovannisyan or ARF did not bribe soooo many people to stand up and fight for their rights and country… The most they have done was probably just to awaken them and give them hope for a better day.

      • serge hagopian said:

        Jasmine, you’re post represent everything in the “editorial” i replied to and found offensive. first, you begin with personal-attacks against me, and you dont even know me. you’ve implied that “you’re either one of them, or have your personal “shaher” in it”. so, if i dont agree with you, and express my political point of view; i must not follow the news, know the facts, and be part of the “corrupt system”. is that right? God forbid, the 1st Amendment of freedom political discourse run counter to your point of view. furthermore, you assume facts about me; and project your version of the “truth” on me. example: i mentioned i visited Armenia frequently and have family that lives there. to which you replied that there’s life outside of beautiful yerevan; that i should visit the villages. but what makes you think the facts are not exactly like that? my family live in villages in the armavir region, in gyumri, and also in artik. so you see how biased your opinions are; how you assume facts about others; and then insult them by calling them corrupt or ignorant of the facts/news? i mentioned armenia needs changes; i mentioned no democracy is perfect (witness the crony-capitalism in the US), i mentioned all that…but even you must admit that jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire is not the solution. call to change is necessary for progress; but the manner in which you (raffi, and arf) have done have only done one thing: alienated a large portion of people (in an attempt to rally some, they’re turning brother-against-brother)…not all change is for the positive, some time you progress but in the wrong direction. you’re post has only confirmed for everyone to see and read how biased and insulting you are toward others that dont fit your version of the truth. God forbid if Asbarez appreciates the 1st Amendment enough to actually post my reply. i would be truly shocked; they’ve already suppressed my post on another article (although totally polite but counter to their view)

  3. serge hagopian said:

    correction to my post, should have typed in “Serzh Sargsyan’s” and “Robert Kocharyan ” and not Sarkis and Robert. my apologizes for the obvious mistake.

  4. Georgek said:

    Dear Asbarez,
    I am a long time subscriber of Asbarez daily news paper and a very much believer of supporting everything Armenian.

    In this editorial you are saying:

    “…..democratic—regime change…..” What does this really mean?

    Revolution? Army takeover of country? A new election?

    What if Raffi Hovannisian loses and Serzh Sarkisian wins again? You will be asking for a second regime change?

    “..…wide-spread voter fraud during the presidential elections..…”

    Is there any concrete proof, or this is just speculation? Raffi Hovannisian keeps on asking for ballot re-count in various regions and voting stations. When re-counted in each and every one Serzh Sarkisian came on top.

    I do not see anywhere you addressing segment of population who truly believed in Serzh Sarkisian and voted for him. Basically you are putting people against each other.

    You have to be very clear in your comments and requests from Armenian people. Otherwise instead of uniting you will be dividing us.

    Let me mention 2 pieces of news I heard and read past 2 weeks.

    1. Past 2 weeks it was reported by Armenian TV (1tv.am) that Azerbaijan by a very large amount has increased number of troops and armament across the border from Artsakh.

    2. A quote from an expert at the Association of Military Analysts of Russia. He believes a war between Armenia and Azerbaijan to be inevitable. Reported by panarmenian.net April 6.

    Turks and Azeri’s are just waiting to see a division amongst our people inside Armenia.

    I just hope and pray April 9 will end peacefully and without any incident so we can move on building. We want to get back to building.

    Regards,

    Georgek

  5. Shahe Mazbanian said:

    I agree with your editorial view. Armenias security and resolution to Negorno Kharapagh lies only in the hands of Russia. Therefore it has no choice but to accommodate there economy to be beholden to Russia. Lets not forget what happened to Georgia when it started to move towards the west. Yes I want Armenia to be more democratic , but is Armenia ready for that? more importantly would Russia allow it? Look at Russia and you will get all the answers.

  6. Satenik said:

    Raffi should accept that he did NOT win the election and pack his bags and return to the USA. Enough is enough! This is getting quite stupid now. No one takes him seriously!

  7. arziv said:

    Raffi is causing unecessary conmotion with his childish requests. There is absoluletely no doubt he did not win the election. But in true anatolian stubborness he persists in his forlorn folly to create a schism and division. He must gather his resources, sit in the opposition bench and provide a genuine alternative platform. The man promissed he would go on a hunger strike and that Sargysian would become president over his dead body ???? He finished his hunger strike, what happened to the dead body ? Typical bragadoccio and political demagoguery.

  8. Mihran said:

    I am of the same opinion as the editorial for the following main points.

    This is Armenia for you today under reign of corrupt and fraudulent serzh and his RPA party his oligarchic thugs.

    Unless and until they are all thrown out by the people and put on trial for their criminal activities nothing can and will change in Armenia.

    The west and Russia want such a corrupt leader to stay in power as it suits all their designs and agendas in the region,namely concessions on Artsakh issue,the treacherous Turkish protocols to stay on the table as this suits the USA.

    Russia to have a monopoly on Armenia’s mines and other minerals,keep its military base there,in other words we have allowed ourselves to become the tools of these foreign powers and criminal serzh is their executioner.

    I haven’t even touched on the subject of the rampant corruption in all spheres of this regime,injustices on a daily basis,terror, where people loose their lives and properties,fraud in all elections to date,and the net result has been that people are leaving Armenia by the thousands, only in the last 5 years under corrupt serzh over 200000 people have voted with their feet and left Armenia so far this year 21000 have left the country.

    When you have a corrupt regime serving the interests of their Oligarch friends this is what you get, a country based on state terror, fraud,corruption,thuggery,injustice,no wander people are leaving the country in their thousands,soon there wont be many left apart from the pensioners.

    This is serzh’s secure Armenia for you where by every oligarch friend of his has a licence to kill,commit fraud,steal from the state,get elected through rigging in any position,this is secure Armenia for you.

    At this rate there wont be many left in Armenia in the coming years thanks to this corrupt and criminal regime.

    There is no morality left in Armenia under this corrupt and criminal regime.

    This is treachery at the highest level.

    What a disgrace and disaster to our country and nation.

  9. Razmik said:

    Ara’s editorial is a breath of fresh air,I am also in agreement the the very valid points raised by Mihran.

  10. Mary said:

    Thank you Ara for your excellent editorial.

    I am also in agreement with Mihran’s point of view.

    How is it possible that 40 oligarchic families all friends of corrupt Serzh can rule Armenia and own practically everything and have a monopoly on everything in Armenia.

    There hasn’t been one genuine transfer of power in Armenia,its all in the hands of these criminals who are ruling Armenia all these years.

    They have ruined Armenia and as a result the people are leaving Armenia in their thousands,and do you call this secure Armenia.

    The sooner we see the back of these crooks the better Armenia will be.

  11. Arto said:

    Georgek, Asbarez and the Dasnakjoutiuon will not rest until there is an ARF government in Armenia. They will try to foment unrest to get what they want. The problem is that will NEVER happen as the people of Armenia are not that stupid as to wish for their own destruction. Just look at history and every time the Dashnaks were in power.

    And I will be truly surprised if this comment is ever published.

  12. George said:

    The whole world leaders are corrupt including US, the west wants to substitute the corrupt pro Russian leader with a pro West corrupt leader, Armenian’s should be smart to know the diference between mirarge and reality. Armenia’s enemies are waiting to see devide so they can take their shot to open a breach between Russia and Armenia, so far we couldn’t achieve that our beloved America to recognize the Armenian Genocide after receiving so many promises from several US presidents. Does this call a bell?

  13. Steve said:

    I can’t beleive that any patriotic Armenian can sit still and once again allow the oligarchs to claim the mantle of the government of a”democratic” republic of armenia.
    Herek e arten.
    Raffi is courageously speaking on behalf of the nation. It is time to chase the charlatans out. These people have lined their pockets with what little national wealth our fractured country had and they now have the audacity to cloak themseleves and the protectors of the national security. Our national security lies with our youth who have been voting with their feet for the last two decades by leaving Armenia is droves.
    Their is no security in oligarchs, monopolies and a dwindling population.
    Tar and feathers is what Serge, Robert and Levon should now reap!

  14. S said:

    And this will be the end of Armenia and Armenians, Dashnaks said this, Raffi said this, ARF wants that. We are all Armenian, we need to do whats best for the Armenian people. If we will be so divided, there will be no unity and corruption will always win. Put aside your political affiliations and prejudice, people in Armenia want CHANGE! Some are to scared to come out on the streets and say it but everyone wants change, unless they somehow benefit from the current president’s position.
    Stop using scaring tactics with WAR and Azerbaijan, yes we are safe temporarily, but we are in a safe cage and people leave Armenia because they have no hope. Soon it will be just the presdient and his close families left in Armenia. Wake up people!

  15. Gevorg said:

    I would like to point out that the minority of Armenian citizens do not want Raffi, they want somebody who is not Serzh Sarkisian. Serzh is the winner fair and square with more than 50% of the vote. I refuse to believe that 800,000 votes could have been fabricated in favor of Serzh. NO ONE can do such a thing without international provocation, not even the most corrupt dictatorships. If all the opposition parties ran, Prosperous Armenia candidate Gagik Tsarukyan would be in Raffi’s position and we would all be saying there is no difference because he is an oligarch. Raffi happened to be the only opposition candidate running and that is why he is where he is now. Do not forget that Heritage basically has no seats in the Armenian Parliament. I doubt after 71 years of leftist ideals that Armenians would want to go back to that again. I would also like to point out that these oligarchs that you hate employ people in Armenia. They were made by our first president who also happens to be an opposition candidate himself. They will be dealt with in time. There is no need for shock therapy which could possibly hamper any growth we have made. Raffi is a stooge of the West and Serzh is the stooge of Russia. We depend completely on Russia because we have no real ally in the area. It is better we stick with the Russians than to ally ourselves with a country who is 10,000 miles away and is also strong friends with our two greatest enemies. I advise everyone not to do anything that they will regret later. Raffi is temporary. After this little squabble, he will be forgotten. Move forward and hope that recent developments in the electoral process will enable free and fair elections in the future.

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