BY HRANT APOVIAN
“When there remains no way out or solution
It is the fools who will find the means
This is the way that rose and shone like the sun
the great battle of Sartarabad.”
It is very sad. It is disturbing. It shakes the very essence of our collective souls as Armenians. Every life is precious. Every Armenian life is precious and we should safeguard against tragedies. It is enough that we lose young soldiers on the front lines in defense of the homeland. We cannot shed blood at our own hands.
The death of Arthur Sargsyan, “the bread provider,” did not shake the very hearts of the citizens of Armenia, or, for that matter, of those in the Diaspora. Some have said, “It was the death of a criminal conspirator,” others have thought that “he had no business helping the group that took over the police station–the group that took the life of three policemen, whose lives were as precious as Arthur’s life.” The group’s action itself was devoid of any ideological sense of purpose even though it engendered wide popular support feeding on rampant popular frustration with the system.
What is devastating is that the atmosphere of lawlessness, the complete disregard for human life; and especially, the unflinching stance of the authorities in respect to his three week hunger strike, is reminiscent of the British iron lady, Margaret Thatcher’s stance in respect to Irish hunger strikers, who ended up dead as a result. There should be an investigation to elicit weather anyone is responsible for Arthur’s demise. There are credible reports that doctors tried to convince him to no avail, that he needed immediate surgery.
What is even more devastating is that Arthur was a sickly man, an activist dreamer by all accounts and had been a freedom fighter in the great war of liberation of Artsakh.
We do not profess to know about his guilt or innocence. Initially, he may have been accused of aiding and abetting the group that had overtaken the police station. He was subsequently released for health reasons after three months of detention. He may also have had no direct association with the group which would point to his innocence. He might just be an activist trying to help, by bringing food to the occupiers.
It is clear however that his second arrest is a direct result of his ill-conceived calls – after his release – for the citizenry not to go to the polls on April 2nd. The authorities claim that he was detained again for missing his appointment with his parole officer.
It is also clear that the so called opposition is using his tragic fate for its own political ambitions, as a convenient tool against the authorities. That is a new low in a campaign atmosphere fraught with threats, intimidation, and assaults on opposing campaigners. We are witnessing a campaign devoid of any serious discussions about alleviating the rampant inequality, the poverty, the lack of justice and corruption.
One would expect all parties vying for seats in the parliament to have a dialogue that is civil, that provides serious remedies to deep rooted ills in the society. Respect for the rule of law, respect for each other, and above all respect for human life are missing in the political landscape. Some coalitions are so convoluted that one can seriously doubt their long term chances of survival as a coalition. It is difficult to be inspired by coalitions based on personalities rather than by campaign platforms mirroring a long standing and proven ideology that has endured the test of time. However, this is an entirely different anomaly that needs to be analyzed. This article is just about a tragedy.
Somehow, condolences for Arthur’s death do not sound genuine, they ring hollow. One cannot sense the pain, the shock. Unfortunately, his death will not bring an end to injustice. It will not change this mad rush to occupy seats in the parliament by various parties or coalitions. He will not leave a legacy. His death will only add to the general sense of unease, frustration and hopelessness. The brutality will persist until another “fool” will come along.
For Arthur Sargsyan, he had his moment of fame in life. A lost soul like so many others. His death was in vain. One of many other deaths long forgotten, never elicited. A hero to some, a criminal to others, a “fool” who was looking for a way out. He tried to accomplish his dream and did so at his own expense. For his death to have an impact, for his memory to remain alive and become meaningful, hopefully drastic change will come sooner than later. God bless his soul.