BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN
“Water us and we will sprout and grow.” This seems to be the sentiment on the streets of Yerevan. The dramatic energy that has electrified our nation’s capital for the last 48 hours is being advanced through the determination of Armenia’s youth to counter the government’s ongoing efforts to force the people of Armenia to bear the brunt of systemic corruption and illegal governance.
This spontaneous and popular civic resistance must be welcomed by ALL Armenians, because it is emblematic of a new generation, which aspires toward a better future for itself and the Armenian nation in general.
The “No to Plunder” movement, which grew from a unilateral decision to raise energy prices and yet again burden the financially-strapped population, is a clear indication that the people of Armenia will not sit idly by as others, who have demonstrated reckless disregard toward the populace through their governance, shove another rate hike down the throats of the people, when it is apparent that the underlying reason for the electricity rate hike was mismanagement and corruption by the Armenian Public Services Regulatory Commission, which is accountable to Electricity Networks of Armenia—a Russian monopoly.
The use of brute force by Armenia’s police, which deployed water cannons to disperse protesters from Baghramyan Avenue early Tuesday morning, has not deterred the public, who has returned to the site of the protests on Tuesday evening in larger numbers and is continuing their demand for justice—social justice—in the wake of government indifference and police brutality.
The organizers of the effort must be commended for their resolve to advance the cause and their determination to not instigate discord with law enforcement and maintain civic order. The police seem to have gotten the message. On Tuesday evening, Deputy Police Commissioner Valeri Osipyan told protesters that they were not planning to retaliate, as long as the protest was peaceful. The government also met the protesters’ demands and released all those arrested Tuesday morning, with the police keeping a wider distance from the crowd, which has buffered itself by building a barricade using street trash bins.
The fact that the actions of the protesters are being put to a vote by participants shows the organizers’ maturity and their understanding of democratic principles, deterring those who are using this movement to advance their own personal or political interests.
As the dramatic developments continue to unfold on the streets of Yerevan, the Diaspora stands in solidarity with this movement and those who are advancing the cause of justice and democracy in the homeland. All Diaspora-Armenians who are currently in must take ownership of the developments in the homeland and must join the movement on Baghramyan Avenue.