2020 Armenian protests

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2020 Armenian protests
Protests in Yerevan against the 2020 ceasefire agreement in Nagorno-Karabakh.jpg
Protests in Yerevan Opera House against the 2020 ceasefire agreement in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Date10 November 2020 – ongoing
Caused byA cease-fire agreement signed by Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan
MethodsDemonstrations, civil unrest, street blockades
Parties to the civil conflict

Armenia Anti-government protesters

  • Opponents of the signed agreement[2]
  • Ethnic Armenians displaced from Nagorno-Karabakh as a result of the war[3]
  • Relatives of dead, injured, and prisoner of war soliders.
Lead figures
Detained362+ people[9][10][11][12]

The 2020 Armenian protests (also known as the March of Dignity;[13] Template:Lang-hy[14]) are a series of ongoing protests which began following the Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire agreement on 10 November 2020. After Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced that he signed an agreement to cede Armenian held territories in Azerbaijan and put an end to six weeks of hostilities over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, thousands of people took to the streets, and hundreds stormed the Parliament building in the capital Yerevan.[15] Protests continued throughout November, with demonstrations in Yerevan and other cities demanding the resignation of Nikol Pashinyan.[16]

The protests have been led by a coalition of 17 opposition parties calling itself the Homeland Salvation Movement, among them the former ruling Republican Party, the largest opposition party in parliament Prosperous Armenia, and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation. On December 3, the coalition announced former prime minister Vazgen Manukyan as their candidate to lead an interim government. Besides the 17 opposition parties, numerous public figures have called on Prime Minister Pashinyan to resign, including the current president of Armenia Armen Sarkissian, former president Levon Ter-Petrosyan, both catholicoi of the Armenian Apostolic Church Karekin II and Aram I, and leader of the third largest party in parliament Edmon Marukyan (who announced his own candidacy for the office of prime minister), as well as several regional governors and mayors.[1]

In early December, the ban on mass gatherings and strikes stipulated by the martial law imposed in September was lifted.[17] On 22 December, a general strike was called that re-invigorated the protests.

Background[edit source | edit]

During the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war, which began on 27 September 2020, Azerbaijani forces seized control of many settlements, including the strategically important city of Shusha after a three-day-long battle. The war ended in an Azerbaijani victory on 9 November, and a ceasefire was signed between both parties and Russia.[15] According to the agreement, Armenian and Azerbaijani forces will remain in their positions until Armenia returns territories it occupied surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh (Kalbajar, Aghdam, and Lachin Districts excluding the Lachin Corridor) back to Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan will retain all territories gained during the war, and around 2,000 Russian peacekeeping forces will be deployed in the remaining territory.[18] While the deal was widely celebrated in Azerbaijan,[19][20] it was viewed as a disastrous defeat in Armenia, and some Armenians quickly took to the streets. Protestors called Prime Minister Pashinyan a "traitor", and demanded him to step down, nullify the peace agreement, and restart the war.[21]

Protests[edit source | edit]

10 November[edit source | edit]

On 10 November, when the protests erupted, there were fights as protesters tried to get over to the podium to speak and were shouted down, with some throwing bottles.[22] Protesters also seized the parliament building by breaking a metal door, and pulled the President of the National Assembly of Armenia Ararat Mirzoyan from a car, demanding to know the whereabouts of Pashinyan. He was beaten by the protesters and later taken to hospital, where he underwent surgery and was said to be in good condition.[23]

The Prime Minister's daughter Mariam Pashinyan said on her Facebook page that the demonstrators entered the room of her younger sisters.[24] The AFP news agency reported that the police authorities who were present did little to prevent the disorder and people roamed the hallways of the government building, where the doors had been opened and the contents in the offices were thrown around.[22]

11 November[edit source | edit]

At about 04:00, a group of approximately 40 people attempted to break into the Yerevan office of Azatutyun, the Armenian service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). Executive producer Artak Hambardzumyan said that the group first shouted at the Azatutyun offices, calling its employees "Turks" and traitors, and demanded that its journalists leave the country. The attackers also kicked and punched the office door, unsuccessfully trying to break in and "take Azatutyun’s server."[25] The protesters also ransacked the Open Society Foundation office in downtown Yerevan.[26] On the same day, six people were detained on suspicion of organizing mass riots, and calling to seize power and to overthrow the constitutional order.[27]

The Armenian Prosecutor General's Office urged the citizens to refrain from organizing, holding or participating in rallies,[28] while clashes broke out between the protestors, who were chanting "Nikol is a traitor!",[29] and the Armenian security forces on Freedom Square in Yerevan, where three law enforcement officers were injured.[30] The protesters then moved to the building of the Government of Armenia.[31] The Armenian opposition announced the creation of the National Salvation Committee in response to the arrests.[32] The protests concluded at late night.[33]

12 November[edit source | edit]

At midday, a small group of protesters gathered at the Matenadaran Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts and at the Yerevan Opera Theatre, demanding the release of political prisoners[34] and Pashinyan's resignation.[35] Then, the opposition party Sasna Tsrer held a rally on Yerevan's Freedom Square.[36] The Armenian police, having pulled up additional forces to the area, broke up the rally and arrested its participants.[37]

13 November[edit source | edit]

A rally organized by 17 opposition parties took in Yerevan throughout the day, demanding the resignation of Pashinyan.[38] The protestors also mourned the fallen Armenians with candelight.[39]

18 November[edit source | edit]

More protests erupted near the building of the National Assembly of Armenia, demanding Pashinyan's resignation,[40][41] with the parliamentary opposition boycott the session of the National Assembly.[42]

19 November[edit source | edit]

More protests erupted in Yerevan, with anti-Pashinyan protestors blocking the streets. The police, trying to restore traffic, pushed the protesters to the sidewalk.[43]

20 November[edit source | edit]

More protests erupted in Yerevan, with anti-Pashinyan protestors blocking Baghramyan Avenue, and Tigran Mets Avenue. The police units, as well as the military police, intervened, detaining dozens of activists.[44] More protests were reported in others streets of the city,[45] with reported police brutality.[46] In Gyumri, the protestors, demanding the resignation Pashinyan, also blocked the streets.[47]

26 November[edit source | edit]

Protests erupted in Ijevan, demanding Pashinyan's resignation.[48]

3 December[edit source | edit]

Protests erupted in Yerevan against the ceasefire of the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war and the government. Their demands were new parliamentary elections, a new government and also ceding Nagorno-Karabakh from Azerbaijan. The 17 opposition parties in Armenia, which have been staging protests demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, announced that Vazgen Manukyan, Armenia’s first prime minister, is their candidate to lead a proposed “national accord” government.[4] Police clashes with the protesters and then detained protesters. Hundreds attended the protests.[49]

5 December[edit source | edit]

Mass protests demanding the resignation of the government took place nationwide and chanted against the prime minister. Anti-regime protests saw thousands attend and clap on many streets in cities throughout the country. The protesters marched to the residence of the prime minister. The opposition's candidate for prime minister Vazgen Manukyan gave a speech where he issued an ultimatum to Prime Minister Pashinyan to resign by December 8, and warned him that if he did not leave office voluntarily that "the enraged people would tear him apart".[1]

8 December[edit source | edit]

Protests resumed in Armenia after Prime Minister Pashinyan ignored the opposition's ultimatum to resign. Hundreds attended the demonstrations in Yerevan and opposition supporters staged anti-government protests and rallies in other cities. The opposition organised acts of civil disobedience and blocked streets in Yerevan.[50]

9 December[edit source | edit]

On December 9, around 15,000 people protested in Yerevan in front of the Armenian parliament building while Prime Minister Pashinyan addressed the parliament. Pashinyan stated that he would only resign if the people demanded it, and that the demands of the opposition and other groups should not be confused with the demands of the people.[51]

11 December[edit source | edit]

Several hundred supporters of the opposition protested outside the main government building in Yerevan on December 10 while Pashinyan's government held its session. Police used force to unblock streets and detained 101 protestors in Yerevan.[52][53]

12 - 21 December[edit source | edit]

Small intermittent protests still occurred.

22 December - 25 December[edit source | edit]

A strike was called on 22nd December that included support from the subway workers, Yerevan State University members and 17 opposition parties, again calling for the Pashinyan's resignation. The protests grew in size as the opposition set up tents in Republic Square. While there were arrests made, the protests were peaceful. Thousands of protesters marched in the streets of Yerevan in support of the opposition. Pashinyan rejected calls to resign on 23 December and the next day.

January[edit source | edit]

In January 14, Homeland Salvation Movement announced meetings in the regions of Armenia.

In January 15, Vazgen Manukyan and other opposition figures met people in Gyumri,[54] in January 16 the opposition leaders will be meet people in Vanadzor.[55]

Arrests[edit source | edit]

As of November 11, more than 362 people have been detained by the Armenian police for participating in the protests.[9][10][11][12]

On November 11, the Armenian law enforcement officers detained Gagik Tsarukyan, the leader of the Prosperous Armenia Party (Tsarukyan was released the next day),[56] while Armenia's ex-president Serzh Sargsyan was summoned by the Armenian National Security Service for questioning.[57] Then, the National Security Service arrested Eduard Sharmazanov, the press secretary of the Republican Party and the former deputy chairman of the Armenian National Assembly.[58] He was released the next day and later charged with "organization of mass disorder".[59] On November 12, Artsvik Minasyan, member of the supreme body of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, Arsen Babayan, member of the Homeland Party, and Ara Hakobyan, chairman of the National Agenda Party, were all summoned by the Armenian NSS.[60] Babayan was later charged with "organization of mass disorder".[61] On the same day, one of the organizers of the rallies, opposition politician and ex-director of the National Security Service Artur Vanetsyan, was arrested for plotting to overthrow the government and kill the country's prime minister Nikol Pashinyan.[62] Vanetsyan, alongside the ex-head of the Republican Party Vahram Baghdasaryan, ARF politician Ashot Avagyan,[63] as well as commander of the Sisian Volunteer Detachment Ashot Minasyan were charged.[64] All four were released days later after a Yerevan court ruled their detention unlawful.[65][66] On 13 November, chairman of the supreme council of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Ishkhan Saghatelyan was summoned to the NSS.[67] On 14 November, another ARF politician Artsvik Minasyan was detained,[68] while MPs representing the Prosperous Armenia Party Naira Zohrabyan, Shake Isayan, Iveta Tonoyan, Vahe Enfiajyan, Gevorg Petrosyan, and Mikayel Melkumyan were summoned to the NSS.[69] On 20 November, former head of the parliamentary staff Ara Saghatelyan, ex-adviser to the President of Artsakh Tigran Abrahamyan, ex-MP Mihran Hakobyan,[70] activist Narek Malyan,[71] and almost all members of the Adekvad initiative[72] were detained; Malyan and Hakobyan were released the next day. Mihran Hakobyan was charged with "organizing mass disorder" on November 26.[73]

Analysis[edit source | edit]

Prior to the general strike, the Director of the Yerevan-based Center for Regional Studies Richard Giragosian stated that he does not expect a sharp change of power due to the rather small scale of the protests and the unpopularity of the opposition. However, he stressed that Pashinyan needs to restore peace and confidence in the coming weeks, which, according to Giragosian, will not be easy. However, EurasiaNet editor Joshua Kucera stated that the Pashinyan government is under threat as many Armenians feel betrayed. "He has many political opponents, and they want to seize the moment to overthrow him."[74]

References[edit source | edit]

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