Mr. Vicken Darakdjian is an independent non-affiliated community activist, engaged in Canadian affairs, participant in the Artsakh 44-day war and supporter of the National Legion in RoA. He was a former candidate for membership in the federal parliament of Canada. He is married and lives in Laval, Quebec.
Vicken Darakdjian, Laval, Quebec, 25 May 2022
In any democratic country peaceful protests are legal and healthy for the citizens to express their views. However, what is taking place in Republic of Armenia (RoA) is far beyond peaceful expression. The protesters are led primarily by oligarchs who were formerly in power; they are followed by their friends, and are allied by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF). They use all sorts of means to denigrate the authorities that legally came to power a year ago; furthermore, they employ a variety of tactics to deny the government a normal working environment to function properly and paralyze the country. Their singular goal is to bring down the prime minister and the government with the illusory expectation of replacing them.
In all democratic countries the leaders are subject to criticism and ridicule, but in RoA the worst imaginable words and curses are broadcast through loudspeakers against the prime minister and his wife. Dippers are thrown on government buildings. Protesters verbally abuse the police, and the female participants spit on them.
Blocking streets and avenues for weeks on has become common occurrence. Provoking the police force through physical confrontation, occasionally women slapping the police and abusing a tragic accident as a ploy to further inflame emotions and instigate violence is in the protesters’ playbook. It is not far fetched to think that the protest leaders assume that radical acts by the police will serve their diabolic plan to blame the authorities and propagate the idea that there is no freedom and democracy.
A good percentage of participants in the protests are women and youth of incredibly early age. Traditionally the police have respected them and refrained from arrests or other forms of retaliation. Organizers view this as a loophole and abuse it to their advantage. If they are detained, they are in custody for three to four hours and then they are released; they are back in the streets to rejoin the protests. They have no fear of consequences.
In desperation, the organizers use any means possible to further their goal. They have involved the parents of the Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabagh) 44-day war victims to gain popular sympathy for a movement which serves the oligarchs. Manipulating the parents and recruiting them for the protests is an ignoble tactic and a despicable act. To shame the organizers for this deed is less than adequate. Wasn’t it the oligarchs who plundered the country? Wasn’t their negligence of the security of the country an important factor in losing the war?
It is already one month that the protesters have been in the streets and avenues of Yerevan, gathered at various squares, raised a tent-camp. They shouted slogans in support of Artsakh and against an alleged plan of a sell-out of lands to the enemies by the authorities. Now they have shifted gears. They fulminate about oligarchy, freedom of speech and democracy, and formation of a “national consensus temporary government”. It is not even a comic situation. Do the protesters realize that the oligarchs are not only behind this movement, but they are also in their midst and active participants marching in front lines? Are they cognizant that without freedom of speech and democracy they could not have staged the demonstrations, and they could not have uttered obscene statements and slogans?
I have not seen a civilized country where peaceful protesters are allowed to verbally abuse or even argue with the police authorities, let alone spit on them and physically confront them without serious penalties and other consequences including imprisonment. After all, freedom of speech and expression of political views has certain limits. Allow me, humbly, to make minor suggestions to the authorities in RoA.
- It should be illegal for youngsters below a certain age — determined by independent non-affiliated educators — to participate in politically motivated protests.
- Citizens who physically or verbally harass the police force should face penalties.
- Women should be treated equally as men when they break the law.
- Instead of detaining and later releasing unlawfully acting protesters, they should be fined for breaking the law; upon second and third occurrence they should face harsher penalties or even jail time.
- Finally, blocking streets and avenues should be banned to allow normal function for the rest of the citizenry.
Latest news indicate that this movement has lost steam. It does not necessarily mean that in contrast to these protesters all other citizens are in favour of the present authorities. In the unlikely scenario that the movement abides by the law, gains momentum by civilized and peaceful means, and lets the parliament and the government function normally, then a critical mass might have a chance to bring down the government either by truly mass protests, a snap election or regular elections following the end of the term of the present duly elected authorities. Let the country function normally; let democracy take root; let change come through democratically accepted means, not by force or sabotaging the national assembly. If this obstructionist path continues and it escalates into violence, then a civil war cannot be excluded. Think a moment, who gains? Not the country, only and only the enemies benefit; they are ready to exploit any opportunity to further strangle not only Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabagh) but also RoA. God help us!
Regarding the impact of the protests on my immediate community in Canada, I venture to point out a couple of observations and make my remarks. Irresponsible individuals, particularly from ARF leadership and all its branches, organize protests, meetings, propagate in schools and brainwash children as young as 10 years old with slogans against the authorities in RoA. They inculcate them to use unbecoming words addressed at the prime minister. I express my disgust against these ongoing actions.
Please, have a look at the above picture. All are students at a tender impressionable age except one, who is assumed to be the teacher. The photo is taken at a demonstration in front of the Embassy of Republic of Armenia in Ottawa, Canada. Check the posters. In the background the word դաւաճան (traitor) is prominently displayed. What is the message imparted to the young generation? Don’t we realize that we create confusion in the minds of these youngsters who hardly understand anything about politics? They can not even yet grasp history, the significance of Vartan Mamigonian and Vasag Syuni. Through such acts they may get less interested in the homeland and have less desire to visit it be of some support, let alone start a new life there where “tavajans” are the rulers. Isn’t it that country for which we collectively worked extremely hard?
During my participation in the 44-days war, I had very unpleasant experiences, but this treatment of youngsters in Canada tops it all. What sort of short-sighted leadership we have who let our youth lose faith in their homeland? Aren’t these the leaders who should inspire us to love and support our homeland? Shame on them. For God’s sake, when will we come to our senses and think of one purpose only? That is, support our homeland without any personal or factional interests.
Homeland is greater than us, because without a homeland we have no identity.
God be with us; long live our homeland.