On July 17 a group of armed Armenians calling themselves Սասնայ Ծռեր (loosely translated as “Dardevels of Sasoon”) occupied a Police Station in Yerevan. They took hostages and demanded the resignation of the president of Armenia, and the release of some of the political prisoners. Few leaders of the group were well-known opposition political activists and Karabagh war veterans.
It seems there was no criminal intent by the occupiers who within days of the occupation released the hostages without harming them. Nevertheless, a thirty-year-old policeman was killed (reported by a stray bullet while sitting in his car). Fortunately, and thanks to the prudence on both sides, the siege ended on Sunday, July 31, and the occupiers surrendered one by one as shown in a video released by the police.
The occupation of the Police Station was an ill-conceived, and desperate act that could have ended with many unnecessary casualties. (One was one too many that left a widow without a loving husband and two orphans without a loving father). The other “casualties” regrettably are the occupiers themselves that currently are in jail awaiting trial by a court system that the majority of the citizens of Armenia consider to be a corrupt institution that is heavily controlled and influenced by an equally corrupt government.
We do not need regime change by “leaders” who are willing to unnecessarily go to jail or even die for the country and become “martyrs”. We need leaders who want to live for the country and lead it by earning the confidence of the people through peaceful and democratic means and earning the right to better govern the country with confidence and authority.
(History is full of armed revolutions that topple governments and claim to be doing it for the benefit of the people and end up becoming more self-centered and as brutal as the one they replaced without any benefit to the public at large, and Armenia is not an exception).
Needless to say, the Armenian Diaspora was shocked and frustrated that it could not do much to help mitigate the situation. Despite the well-intended critics or equally well-intended supporters of this ill-conceived act of desperation, the fact remains that, Diaspora Armenians have no right to interfere in the internal politics of the Republic of Armenia.
Armenians living in Armenia must be up to the challenge to solve their own internal political problems. After all, unlike the diaspora Armenians, they are the ones directly exposed to the daily challenges of the country and feel the pain as well.
(I do not think that the diaspora(s) (where the majority of the Armenians live) have either the intellectual depth or, true political experiences, to be able to help in this regard either. I have written about this issue in my previous monologues and no need to repeat myself).
Fortunately, there seems to be no shortage of things that Diaspora Armenians as individuals, or organizations, can do to connect with the people of similar interests in Armenia (other than politics) and thus help alleviate some of the difficulties and shortcomings of their brothers and sisters who are continuing to live in our ancestral homeland, Հայրենիք.
A quick google search shows a list of almost one thousand NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations” in Armenia. (Almost half of it in Yerevan and the rest in the regions). The list is long and covers almost every sphere of human interests. Here are a few.
Human Rights and Public Policy – 154 organizations.
Women Issues – 67 organizations
Economic Development – 62 organizations
Environment and Ecology – 51 organizations
Art and Culture – 32 organizations
Science and Technology – 26 organizations etc. etc.
Unfortunately, my favorite, kiva.org, is not on the list. (Kiva is an international non-profit institution that operates in over 83 countries, including Armenia. It helps alleviate poverty worldwide and is just a click away for anyone with a computer and interested to help reduce poverty in Armenia.
Please click on kiva.org and select Armenia under the Eastern Europe heading, do your due diligence, and act accordingly. It is simple, reliable, transparent, and self-explanatory. It is also humbling to be part of millions of benevolent lenders with limited means, and proud borrowers who are not looking for handouts).
Zohrab Bebo Sarkissian