Dozens of mostly young people were arrested Monday as they peacefully protested in front of Armenia’s National Assembly building to condemn the ruling “My Step” faction lawmakers for advancing the agenda that has allowed the defeatist November 9 agreement to be signed, that while ending the Artsakh war, it forced the surrender of territories in Artsakh and Armenia to Azerbaijan.
This is a continuation of the wave of protests organized by the Homeland Salvation Movement, a coalition of 16 opposition forces, which have been demanding Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s resignation since he signed the November 9 agreement. Pashinyan on Friday called on all parliamentary and extra-parliamentary forces to consultations to hold snap parliamentary elections in 2021. However, the Homeland Salvation Movement and other forces that have been calling for Pashinyan’s resignation said that they did not have confidence that snap elections organized by the government would be free and fair.
Monday’s protesters condemned the My Step alliance lawmakers for effectively destroying the legislative branch in Armenia through their inaction and ineffective leadership. The protesters also demanded that the My Step bloc members resign from the alliance and end the martial law imposed at the onset of the war in September.
As demonstrators outside protested, the ruling “My Step” alliance called a National Assembly Council meeting to discuss removing the chair of the Standing Committee of Human Rights, opposition Prosperous Armenia Party member Naira Zouhrabyan from her position, instead of discussing the pressing issues facing the country.
The protesters began marching along Baghramyan Avenue toward Republic Square.
As the protest progressed dozens of people were arrested, among them Armenian Revolutionary Federation Supreme Council of Armenia president and member Simon Simonian and Artsavik Minasyan, as well as several ARF Youth Organization members.
The Homeland Salvation Movement issued an announcement urging law enforcement to not become “enslaved” to the authorities. The statement also pointed out that the protesters had formed a human “wall of shame” in front of the parliament building, when My Step lawmaker Andranik Kocharyan lashed out at the protesters hurling insults at them. Another My Step lawmaker, Sisak Gabrielyan, got out of his car and began shoving and attacking protesters.
“The police have remained silent about the behavior of the lawmakers,” said the Homeland Salvation Movement. “Instead they have arrested dozens of citizens… While releasing some, they have begun criminal proceedings against others.”