BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN
Good luck upholding the provisions of the recently passed domestic violence law, the ink on which was barely dry when a group of ruling Republican Party of Armenia members serving in the Yerevan City Council thought it was okay to full on attack their female colleagues, pulling their hair and, in one instance, slapping their face.
This was the scene Tuesday at the Yerevan City Council’s inaugural session of 2018 when members of the Republican Party of Armenia did not think twice before physically and verbally abusing their colleagues, whose methods to shed light on the grave conditions in one of Yerevan’s neighborhoods can be characterized as unconventional. But, do unconventional methods warrant such savagery?
Whether one approves of the methods used by members of the opposition Yerkir Tsirani party or not, the use of force against any colleague, especially women, is reprehensible and must be condemned by all factions and people who claim to be serving the people of Armenia.
What Asbarez earlier termed as a “Melee at Yerevan City Hall” is emblematic of a larger issue that plagues the ruling Republican Party of Armenia and we have seen its manifestations at various junctures in recent years when the party and its leaders and members were being challenged for their authoritarian rule and reckless disregard toward the citizens of Armenia. It is always extreme and it is constantly violent.
The water-hosing of demonstrators during the “Electric Yerevan” movement; employing smoke bombs and pellet guns during the “Daredevils of Sasoun—Sasna Dzrer” fracas; and, the March 1 post-election killing of 10 citizens in Yerevan are just a few examples of the ruling party’s responses to dissent and disagreement.
But Tuesday’s events at City Hall have opened a new window into the impunity with which the Republican Party of Armenia operates. Even a female Republican Party of Armenia city councilmember, Naira Nahapetyan, justified the violence by saying that the two women were “attacking Taron Markarian,” as if he is a deity of some sort.
Watch the video below and you will see that there is no hesitation—no pause—as the women are trampled upon, physically attacked and cussed at.
That is why the main opponents of the domestic violence law were Republican Party of Armenia men, who claimed that such a law would violate a man’s ability to “uphold the traditional Armenian family.” After all, in 21st century Armenia, traditions that should have been expunged from our culture are alive and well and being displayed in none other than the Yerevan City Council. Yet, Yerevan Mayor Taron Margaryan, who struts around the city with his Republican Party of Armenia privilege (he is the son of late Prime Minister Andranik Margaryan) and was the poster child for his party’s youthful appeal during last April’s parliamentary elections campaign, not only did not restrain his fellow city councilman but also sat idly and watched as the two women were brutally accosted and physically removed from the City Council Chamber.
One Republican Party of Armenia member, former parliament member Arakel Movsesyan told reporters that it was lucky for one of the Yerkir Tsirani party members Marina Khachatryan that he was not there. ‘’I will not go into details of what I would do, but what the Republican Party of Armenia men have done, they have done well.’’ I guess Marina and her colleague, Sona Aghegyan were lucky to have escaped the incident with a few pulled hairs and a couple of slaps on their face.
Republican Party of Armenia members are all about “development.” Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan talks about “development” as the savior of Armenia. Mayor Margaryan welcomed the construction of a $22 million amusement park in the middle of Yerevan as a type of “development” that would make the city better and more advanced. Yet all of them lack the understanding that “development” is not synonymous with “enrichment.” In order for one to tout “development” one must understand the social and behavioral aspects that make one a fully-developed person, or, in this case, Armenia a fully-developed nation.
No amount of investment will develop Armenia as long as its leaders—or rulers in this case—continue to behave with disrespect toward others, namely the citizens of Armenia.
When the Yerevan City Council is deliberating the upcoming celebration of the city’s 2,800th anniversary, its members should look at the pillars on which the city was founded and reflect on the nadir they have ushered it to. Such a reflection can be deemed “development.”