The initiators of a new bill claim they are going to solve the draft evasion problem
A group of young people marched along Yerevan’s central streets in protest against abolition of temporary deferment from the army for university students. They were holding posters with the following slogans: ‘Deferment for the sake of science should exist’. They demanded that the existing legislation shouldn’t be changed and that the students who have turned 18 could finish their studies first and only afterwards be drafted for the military service.
The Armenian government has recently introduced a bill on amendments to the law on military service, under which only students who conclude a contract with the Defense Ministry will be eligible for temporary deferment from military service.
At present, all students who study in state universities for free are eligible for temporary deferment form military conscription.
“They claim that many students use this temporary deferment to evade military service. Probably there is such a problem. But we believe that this will, first of all, affect those students who are willing to engage in scientific activity,” a Yerevan State University student told JAMnews.
As the protesters pointed out, they support the idea that every young man in Armenia should serve in the army. The only thing they insist on is that the interests of those who see themselves as future scholars be taken into account.
The Armenian Defense Minister, Vighen Sargsyan, also shares the opinion that temporary deferment for students shouldn’t be used for evading military service.
As he told journalists, in order to solve this problem students were offered to conclude a contract, under which they should undergo military training in a study area and serve at a place designated by the Defense Ministry.
Those who will conclude a contract with the Defense Ministry will serve for a period of three years instead of two years.
“The right for temporary deferment isn’t abolished, but rather linked to a type of service. A citizen who, after getting a university degree, wants to be useful and serve as an army officer, will be given such an opportunity,” said Vigen Sargsyan.
Human rights advocates also expressed concerns over the proposed bill. According to Artur Sakunts, the Chairman of Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly-Vanadzor, it will lead to further militarization of the community.
The Armenian National Assembly is expected to consider the bill in the near future.