“Opposition's struggle enters a decisive stage” - peaceful protests in Yerevan continue
The parliamentary opposition is holding rallies of disobedience in Yerevan. The Hayastan (Armenia) and I Have the Honor factions, which previously waged a decentralized struggle, have now joined their efforts. Their goal is the resignation of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. They believe that the prime minister is pursuing a “defective policy of surrendering territories and begging for peace”, and propose to strengthen Armenia’s defense capability instead.
However, it has not yet been announced what kind of actions the opposition will take to “save the country” after overthrowing current authorities.
The reason for the joint struggle of the parliamentary opposition was the statement by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan about the need to “lower the bar on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh“. After that, Nikol Pashinyan announced that he did not intend to agree on anything and would not sign any document without the consent of the society, “behind the backs of the Karabakh Armenians”. The leadership of the unrecognized republic confirmed the words of the Armenian prime minister, but the movement of the opposition to remove Pashinyan from the post of prime minister continues.
On May 1, opposition leaders announced the beginning of large-scale joint actions, and on early Monday morning, many of the central streets of the capital were already blocked by participants in the protest movement. The police report the arrest of almost two hundred protesters.
Find out more about the actions and intentions of the opposition, as well as comments on social media about what people in Armenia think about the events taking place in the country – below.
- Armenian opposition takes to streets, calls society to ‘wake up’
- “Peace agenda is not an agenda of defeat” – position of Armenian authorities on status of NK
- Armenian villagers living near the Azerbaijani border demand a security zone
Actions of disobedience in Yerevan
On May 2, at 8:30 am, opposition supporters began blocking the central streets of the capital. In the center of Yerevan, the situation is now the same as in the spring of 2018 – during the period of the Velvet Revolution, led by Nikol Pashinyan. He fought for a change of power, blocking the streets of Yerevan with garbage cans and benches with his supporters and now the current opposition is demanding his resignation, using exactly the same methods.
The police report that as of 13:00 traffic in Yerevan has been restored, the roads are open. The oppositionists say they unblocked the streets so that their supporters, including those from the regions, could join the evening rally.
Only the France Square remains blocked on all sides. After the Sunday rally, the opposition set up tents and spent the night there, despite the rain.
The police allowed them to gain a foothold in the very center of the capital, but on Monday morning they began to detain participants in the protests, 189 of them were taken to police stations for “failure to comply with the lawful demands of the police”. Legal assistance to detainees is provided by rapid response teams of the ombudsman’s office.
The rally that marked the beginning of the “decisive stage of the struggle”
During the actions, which were called “informative”, the Hayastan opposition faction stated that the “decisive phase of the struggle” would begin with a rally on May 1. This statement was made more than once already on May 1, during a crowded rally of opposition supporters in France Square.
The speakers also said that the struggle begins for the sake of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, that “the logic of Nikol Pashinyan is the policy of a beggar, which the opposition resolutely rejects”.
Opposition leaders carried out “people-alert campaigns” under the slogan “Wake up Armenia.” In his speech at the rally, the head of the I Have the Honor faction Artur Vanetsyan said that “the people have already woken up”:
“We have all become one fist, one single fist, no one can stand against us, no one can stop our struggle”.
He called on the current government to “leave for the sake of Armenia and Artsakh”.
Opposition Vice Speaker of Parliament Ishkhan Saghatelyan stressed that this is not a “seizure of power”:
“It is the constitutional right of the dignified citizens of Armenia to fight and overthrow the “government of Turkish subjects”, remove them for the sake of Artsakh, for the sake of Armenia, for the sake of the Armenian people”.
Apologizing in advance to the citizens for the inconvenience that will be caused in the coming days by the blocking of the streets, the oppositionist assured that this will not be a long process, the resignation of the prime minister is “a matter of days”:
“These days we have to suffer, endure hardships, fall, get up, get into [police] stations, but it will not be very long. Then solidarity, justice, freedom, unity will prevail in Armenia”.
The opposition, counting on the participation of residents of the regions in the actions, regularly warned that law enforcement agencies prevented their arrival, in particular, from the Syunik region. It was also reported that cars were checked and searched. In response, the police stated that they “exercise control in order to prevent and detect crimes and offenses”.
Then there was official information that on May 1 at 6:40 am, as a result of a search of one of the vehicles in the area, two PKK machine guns were found.
Social media comments
Here are some of the comments from social media users about what they think about the opposition movement and the situation in the country:
“The President of Azerbaijan says that Syunik [the southern region of Armenia bordering Azerbaijan], Artsakh, Sevan and even Yerevan are theirs. And this government believes that there are positive signals for peace and friendship. Only the elimination of this government can save Armenia. We have to fight for it.”
“Oppositional defenders of Artsakh in Armenia, go to Artsakh. There, the flags of Artsakh and Armenia have been removed from many places. Go there together, with your whole big group, fight there.”
“Long live the resistance movement, the restoration of the national image of the republic.”
“Internal enemies, go to the border, there is a real enemy there. If a war starts, you will hide in holes like a mice. It’s a shame, where were you during the war? We walked along the well-maintained streets of Yerevan and were proud of our patriotism.”
“These cowards forced the troops to retreat during the war, and in peacetime they are busy with provocations.”
“A task for pupils of the second and third grades. If they bring 100 buses to these patriots and say: “We are all going to the border to save Artsakh” – how many people will be left on the square in a minute?