Students Continue Protests as Government Defends Military Draft Law

University students protest against the law on military service
University students protest against the law on military service

University students protest against the law on military service

BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN

For the past three days students from university students in Yerevan have been staging demonstrations protesting a new law passed by parliament that would eliminate deferment from Armenia’s mandatory military service for students attending university, essentially calling for all males to enlist in the military at the age of 18.

The student protesters argue that without the determents currently in place it would become harder to go to college and “become scientists or scholar.”

Prime Minister Karen Karepetyan meets with leaders of student protests against new law on military draft on Nov. 9

Prime Minister Karen Karepetyan meets with leaders of student protests against new law on military draft on Nov. 9

On Thursday, several organizers of the student protests met with Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan, who was accompanied by Armenia defense and education ministers, Vigen Sargsyan and Levon Mkrtrchyan, who had already met with student leaders a day before.

Much to the dismay of the students, Karapetyan was steadfast in defending the measure, which the government argues only impacts a small percentage—15 percent—of students who receive scholarships to study at state universities. Students who pay for higher education already are drafted at 18.

The prime minister also told the students to offer amendments that may be considered at the time of implementing the measure.

“The opposite side did not share our view. Therefore, we will continue our struggle,” one of the protest leaders told more than a 100 fellow students rallying outside the prime minister’s office in Yerevan, reported Azatutyun.am. Another leader urged the students to continue the boycott that began on Tuesday.

On Nov. 8, Armenia's education minister, Levon Mkrtchyan, met with protesting students

On Nov. 8, Armenia’s education minister, Levon Mkrtchyan, met with protesting students

Mkrtchyan, the education minister, gave the students a similar explanation when he met with them on Wednesday.

“When it comes to serving the homeland, no citizen of the Republic of Armenia will have privileges,” Mkrtchyan told several organizers, according to Azatutyun.am. He argued that more than 85 percent of male students attending state-run universities are already drafted for military service at 18.

“There is quite strong political support behind [the bill] … I don’t think that this bill is subject to withdrawal,” added Mkrtchyan.

Should there be a larger discussion about—the elephant in the room—what has given impetus to this bill?

Will children of government officials also enlist at 18 or will they use their parents’ positions to avoid military service? And, is emigration of young people from Armenia impacting service in Armenia’s Armed Forces?

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6 Comments

  1. Vic said:

    EVERY Armenian citizen over 18 (whether living in Armenia/Artsakh or holding Armenian Citizenship and living in the Diaspora) should serve the homeland. Regardless of gender, sexual preference, religious group/cult affiliation, social status or connections / “Kh-Ze-Pe”. Who cares about future “scientists or scholars” when the country’s existence is threatened daily by Azeri forces? Besides, better have those “scientists or scholars” in two years –after they serve– than have the national security jeopardized today!

  2. Gerald Gardner, Memphis TN said:

    Israel is a small country with many enemies bordering it. It has a mandatory service for young men AND women. That is looked upon as an honor, and they get great advantages in future job offers and promotions. A large number of Jews travel from US and Europe, and VOLUNTEER for service 18 months, NOT 12.
    Now we talk about patriotism, fatherland or motherland. Who has a higher calling between the two nations, I wander

  3. Tania said:

    Emigration has reached passed the point of national security, where we don’t have enough people to serve in the military. The elephant in the room is now destroying the room – the time has passed for the matter to be addressed and the number one agenda of all Armenians needs to be THE ELEPHANT!

  4. Antoine S. Terjanian said:

    Յարգելի Ընկեր Խաչատուրեան։
    You ask very important questions at the end of this newsworthy article. I shall dwell on the first one: Will children of government officials also enlist at 18 or will they use their parents’ positions to avoid military service?
    This is important because in a previous editorial you had expressed another suspicion of corruption, collusion and favoritism: You wrote that most of Armenia’s university students who receive scholarships to study at state universities (the notorious 15%) get there through favoritism and are themselves the sons of the nomenklatura / oligarchy.
    If the suspicion you expressed 2 years ago is valid, then this new measure by PM Karapetyan is a step in the right direction. Isn’t it?
    We are all here defending our Hayreniq, while others sit comfortably in California. ․․․պատերազմի դաշտ կ սպասեն մեզի։
    Respectfully.
    A.S. TERJANIAN, Yeghegnadzor, 20 miles from the LOC.

  5. Raffi said:

    TRANSPARENCY is of essence: Will children of government officials also enlist at 18 or will they use their parents’ positions to avoid military service?

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