After ten days of peaceful protests, mass marches and acts of civil disobedience, the people of Armenia have freed their country from the grip of tyranny.
The campaign began when the outgoing President Serj Sargsyan announced his intention to be appointed as Prime Minister, with almost unlimited powers and indefinite tenure. Several opposition members of parliament, who had spent time in jail as political prisoners, succeeded in garnering a swell of support across the country as the appointment day approached. Despite police brutality, mass arrests of protesters and periodic threats from the regime, the wave of protests snowballed after Sargsyan’s appointment went ahead, and demonstrators were soon joined by thousands of striking workers and students who left universities and schools to join the opposition movement. The climax came on Sunday when Sargsyan met the opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan and rejected the demand to resign without delay. The meeting lasted barely a few minutes and immediately afterwards a new wave of arrests took place, including that of Pashinyan himself. However, the rally that took place on Sunday night of April 22 in the central square of Yerevan was the largest yet, with conservative estimates putting the number of participants at over 150,000.
The morning of April 23 began with soldiers leaving their barracks to join the street protests, at which point Sargsyan realised the game was up and promptly resigned.
The Armenian Revolution has not only been about preventing a tyrant from staying in power indefinitely. It has also been about changing the political and economic model which suppressed economic freedom, enabled monopolies to flourish, undermined judicial impartiality, corrupted state officials, and imposed severe austerity on the poorest members of society. DiEM25 was among the first movements to provide coverage of the unfolding protests in Armenia, and its solidarity with the citizens of that country was invaluable.
This successful struggle proves once again that in the face of overwhelming people-power there is no alternative to genuine democracy, social justice and economic fairness, and that reactionary elites must yield eventually to grass-roots progressive forces fighting for justice.
Tigran is a member of DiEM25 living in Cyprus
Photo: (Gleb Garanich / Reuters)
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