Thousands March Across Yerevan in Support of Regime Change

A scene from the protest on Khrentatsi Street in Yerevan on Monday (Screen shot from Azatutyun.am)
A scene from the protest on Khrentatsi Street in Yerevan on Monday (Screen shot from Azatutyun.am)

A scene from the protest on Khorenatsi Street in Yerevan on Monday (Screen shot from Azatutyun.am)

YEREVAN—As thousands marched across the capital on Monday in support of regime change and “Daredevils of Sasoun,” the armed group that for nine days has been occupying a main police compound, Armenia’s National Security Service said if ‘Daredevils’ members surrender they might avoid imprisonment. The lead negotiator of the crisis also hinted that President Serzh Sarkisian would be amenable to meet with jailed opposition leader Jirair Sefilian if the “Daredevils” surrender.

The peaceful demonstration saw thousands march from Khorentasi Street, the site of daily protests since the standoff began on July 17, through the streets of Yerevan circling back to their starting point. The protesters were chanting slogans in support of the “Daredevils of Sasoun” and its leaders, as well as calls for peaceful regime change.

On Saturday, the group released the remaining four hostages but in a rare press appearance vowed to continue its occupation on the police compound, with Sarkisian urging law enforcement to not use force against the group.

However, on Sunday, the authorities were accused of heightening the tensions by allegedly cutting off cell phone connection, electricity and food supplies to the group inside the seized police compound, prompting the “Daredevils” to burn a police van on Sunday night leading into Monday morning.

Meanwhile the clemency offer outlined by the NSS, as well as Sarkisian reported willingness to meet with the imprisoned Sefilian, whose release is the main demand by the group, are all contingent on the “Daredevils’” surrender.

The retired Karabakh Army General Vitaly Balasanyan, who has been negotiating with the armed group claimed that while Sefilian was no longer calling for Sarksian’s resignation, the latter would meet with him to explain “the reality.”

“[Sarkisian] has expressed readiness to invite Zhirair Sefilian and explain to him the reality and prospects immediately after the guys lay down arms and surrender,” Balasanyan said in a statement Sunday that was cited by the Armenpress news agency.

The NSS on Monday said that it would be up to Armenia’s legislature to decide on the clemency measures for the “Daredevils.”

“In case of the existence of conditions defined by Armenian legislation, individuals voluntarily backing away from a crime can be exempted from criminal liability,” the NSS said according to Azatutyun.am.

“In this regard, the militants were handed on July 25 written clarifications and explanations on the sequence of actions which must be taken by them and the route for their surrender,” it added in a statement.

The NSS note delivered to the gunmen was publicized by the Armenian police. It lists articles of the Armenian Criminal Code that allow individuals taking hostages or seizing government buildings to avoid prosecution.

“You still have time to lay down your arms and surrender,” says the document.

The NSS did not specify whether the authorities would also not prosecute anyone in connection with the killing of a senior police officer carried out during the July 17 attack on the police station. A leader of the gunmen has claimed that Colonel Artur Vanoyan was shot dead “by accident.”

Authors

Discussion Policy

Comments are welcomed and encouraged. Though you are fully responsible for the content you post, comments that include profanity, personal attacks or other inappropriate material will not be permitted. Asbarez reserves the right to block users who violate any of our posting standards and policies.

5 Comments

  1. ara said:

    How bad is our Armenian govt.-= the dam turks killed us for centuries and occupy our lands and mtns-torture and kill our people and someone is leading for regime change in Armenia? maybe necessary- but intellect, wisdom and knowledge with arms and might will do that-the right way-govt-listen to our people-make our country better-jobs and indistry- not corruption-will triumph- i know ARA-Afr..

  2. helen takessian said:

    what a terrible shame that so many people marched in support of a bully who did not get his way and resorted to criminal ways.Imagine what a tyrant leader he would become if he became president

  3. zarkim said:

    These police actions seem to be BRUTAL. However, comparing to other countries they are not. In any other country some people would be killed so far. Police actions in Armenia are not brutal. They are necessary.
    .
    The Sassoon have freed all hostages. Now it is Sargsyan’s turn to do something to defuse the situation.
    .
    Armenian Government should make drastic changes. These changes will happen but will take time. May be Sargsyan and other reach people like him could chip in and help.
    .
    This Sassoon movement should be remembered in history and be used to fix problems. Government should find a way to end this situation peacefully.

  4. Հենրի Վարդերեսյան said:

    Քանի որ հարցը վերաբերվում էՀայաստանի Պետականությանը, Ազգային անվտանգությանը և մարդկային կյանքին ապա ամենախելամիտ ճանապարհը ճգնաժամային վիճակից դուրս գալու համար դա բանակցություններն են:

  5. Harutik said:

    Rome was not built in a single day, nor were Western nations. Armenia is a work in progress. In fact, despite its many geopolitical obstacles, Armenia is doing better than most developing nations on earth today. What Armenia needs is sociopolitical evolution and not a Western instigated revolution. The best path forward for sociopolitical evolution is peaceful demonstrations by non-Western affiliated grassroots activists in the country. When you have Western-funded NGOs and individuals involved in the political process, the process immediately loses legitimacy and runs the risk of turning violent. Armenia is too small and too vulnerable and the south Caucasus is too violent for Armenians to repeat the grave mistakes made by Ukrainians, Libyans and Syrians.

    Regarding Founding Parliament: The entire political premise of the armed hostage takers is based on lies. There are no “political prisoners” in Armenia. There are individuals in prison who have been caught planning violence or apprehended in the act of carrying out violence. Moreover, most of these people are foreign funded activists. Also, official Yerevan is NOT planning on returning the “five regions” in Artsakh. These are lies put our by the CIA and their numerous branches inside Armenian society. The armed men who attacked the police facility are foreign funded extremists and because they killed an innocent police officer, they are now also murderers and criminals. Whether they realize it or not these people are serving Western interests in the south Caucasus. This attack on the Armenian government is purely geopolitical in nature. Just like how Russia put to an abrupt end to the US sponsored peace negotiations in 1999, the US today is trying to do the same with the Russian sponsored negotiations during taking place.

    The armed group of extremists released the remaining hostages a day after President Sargsyan went on television to address the matter. There is talk that Armenia’s NSS had also gotten more directly involved during the last two days. Everyone directly associated with the group was arrested. Their much anticipated popular uprising never materialized. Moreover, the group keeps claiming that Russia’s Alpha Group has been on sight in Yerevan waiting orders to assault the occupied police facility. Whatever the case may be, the extremists are now all of a sudden seeking a way out of the terrible mess they created. They are now saying they will abandon their political demands and lay down their arms only if their wonderful leader Jirair Sefilian commands them to. It seems like this armed rebellion by a small group of foreign funded Russophobic extremists is going to fizzle out soon, unless their foreign handlers have something else in mind.

    Their lofty rhetoric and stated goals is merely a smokescreen. Founding Parliament’s main task from day one has been to foment a Ukraine-style uprising in Armenia and in doing so drive a wedge between Yerevan and Moscow.

*

Top