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Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Armenian cultural workers: Open letter to prime minister Serj Sargsyan

Armenian cultural workers slam government violence towards peaceful demonstrators, demand new parliamentary elections, independent investigation, release of political prisoners and reforms in Public TV

We are used to conformity of Armenian mainstream cultural workers. Conformity to authorities and status quo. They do not normally air their voice to protest injustices in our society, lack of democracy, human rights violations etc. They are normally out there to be used during pre-election periods and then carry on with their unexceptional existence.

But there are exceptions too. After pretty long silence over recent events in Yerevan, not only some of them started voicing their dismay over government’s handling of the situation, but also offered solutions as a way out of this crisis.

First it was Ruben Hakhverdyan. Now joined with few colleagues, well known and respected representatives of Armenain cultural scene, they signed an open letter to prime minister Serj Sargsyan protesting violent dispersion by the government of peaceful demonstrations and suggesting practical steps which they believe could defuse current political crisis in Armenia.

In an open letter, Armenia’s cultural workers stressed that despite the history of election fraud since 1996, this was the first time that the state was responsible for a bloodshed of civilians. Ironically, this happened when Armenians were marking 20th anniversary of Karabakh movement. Instead, as cultural representatives described, it was marked by “sumgaitisation of Yerevan.”

They urge prime minister (‘president-elect’) Serj Sargsyan to call new parliamentary elections. The formation of coalition government will not solve the problem as substantial portion of our society is not represented in the parliament due to previous fraudulent elections. “Only your political will could ensure new and really clean parliamentary elections.” However, it must be noted that during his most recent Q&A Serj Sargsyan rejected the idea of new parliamentary elections. Personally, I am not convinced that parliamentary elections could be enough and acceptable for all sides to defuse the situation, as there are more fundamental problems need to be solved. However, I welcome this initiative of cultural workers to offer practical solutions as a way out of the crisis. This is a position which could be debated and considered as a part of political dialogue, if happens.

Next point is a formation of independent parliamentary commission by new parliament to investigate events of March 1, as well as other instances of political killings and major economic offences during Armenia’s recent history.

They also demand an immediate release of political prisoners.

Armenian cultural workers point out the urgency of reforms within the Public TV Board to ensure pluralism of opinions and media freedom.
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Բաց նամակ ՀՀ վարչապետ Սերժ Սարգսյանին

Հարգելի պարոն Սարգսյան:

Փետրվարի 19 ընտրությունները հերթական անգամ ստեղծեցին մեր երկրում բռնության, անհանդուրժողականության, անվստահության մթնոլորտ, խորացնելով ժողովրդի եւ իշխանության միջեւ առաջացած ճեղքը, բեւեռացնելով եւ բաժանելով հասարակությունը:

Մենք չենք մոռացել, որ այս չարիքը սկվեց դեռեւս 1996 թվականի սեպտեմբերից, երբ կեղծիքով եւ ուժով իր պաշտոնն եր փորձում պահպանել Լեւոն Տեր-Պետրոսյանը: Մենք չենք մոռացել նաեւ հետագա խորհրդարանական եւ նախագահական բոլոր ընտրությունները զուգորթող անօրինականության ու բռնության դրսեվորումները: Սակայն վերջին իրադարձությունները գերազանցել են այդ դառը փորձի բոլոր նախադեպերը: Առաջին անգամ մայրաքաղաքի փողոցներում Հայոց պետությունը թափեց սեփական քաղաքացիների արյունը: Արցախյան շարժման քսանամյակի օրերին կատարվեց Երեւանի ՙսումգաիտացումը՚:

Մենք դատավոր չենք, որ մատնանշենք մեղավորներին, սակայն մշակույթի գործիչները միշտ պարտավոր են պաշտպանել զոհերին, աջակցել թույլերին, նեցուկ լինել վիրավորներին: Խաղաղ ցույցերի բռնի ճնշումը եւ մահակներով վտարումը հրապարակից դեպի քաղաքի փողոցներ անխուսափելիորեն բերելու եր բախումների եւ նման որոշումը կամ գիտակցված սադրանք եր կամ առնվազն կոպիտ ու անթույլատրելի սխալ իշխանության կողմից: Զինված ուժերի օգտագործումը խաղաղ բնակչության դեմ սեփական երկրում անդառնալի հետեւանքներ է ունենալու մեր փոքր երկրի ու ժողովրդի համար:

Պարոն վարչապետ, Դուք, որպես ԿԸՀ կողմից հաստատված նորընտիր Նախագահ դեռեւս կարող եք կանգնեցնել հասունացող քաղաքական եւ սոցիալական ճգնաժամը: Մենք առաջարկում ենք անհապաղ միջոցների չորս կետ, որ մեր համոզմամբ կարող են շտկել իրավիճակն ու մեղմել կրքերը: Դրանք են.

Ա. Արտահերթ խորհրդարանական ընտրությունների անցկացումը: Կոալիցիոն կառավարության հնչեցրած գաղափարը չի կարող լուծել խնդիրը, քանի դեռ հասարակության մի ստվար զանգվածը դուրս է մղված Ազգային ժողովից դեպի Թատերական հրապարակ ԱԺ նախորդ կեղծված ընտրությունների հետեւանքով: Միայն Ձեր քաղաքական կամքը կարող է ապահովել Ազգային Ժողովի նոր եւ իսկապես մաքուր ընտրությունները:

Բ. Նորընտիր խորհրդարանում անկախ հանձնաժողովի ստեղծում 2008թ. մարտի 1,1999 թ. հոկտեմբերի 27 դեպքերի,1990-ական թթ. քաղաքական սպանությունների եւ տնտեսական խոշոր հանցագործությունների հետաքննության լայն լիազորություններով:

Գ. Քաղաքական բանտարկյալների անհապաղ ազատում:

Դ. Հանրային հեռուստատեսության խորհրդի փոփոխություն եւ համալրում հասարակական հեղինակություն ու հարգանք վայելող եւ բազմակարծությունն ապահովող մարդկանցով, ովքեր կերաշխավորեն ազատ ու ճշմարիտ տեղեկատվության սահմանադրական իրավունքը:

Հարգանքով` Տիգրան Խզմալյան,կինոռեժիսոր
Ռուբեն Հախվերդյան, երգահան
Արամ Թալալյան, թավջութակահար
Վահագն Ստամբոլցյան, երգեհոնահար
Գագիկ Գինոսյան,ազգագրագետ,ազատամարտիկ

Հայտարարությունը բաց է

*Thanks to S.H.

9 comments:

Onnik Krikorian said...

Well, firstly, tensions seem to be relieved significantly by the state of emergency. For most Armenians the situation is calm. Obviously, it will be different for opposition-leaning civil society organizations and political parties.

On the other hand, it's anybody's guess what will happen after the state of emergency is lifted. However, regarding your point about new parliamentary elections not being enough for both sides, what do you suggest instead?

Strikes me as being one solution to this problem as a properly representative parliament should counter the presidency better under the new constitution. Of course, that also takes for granted that all sides will treat any new election properly.

For example, Impeachment, Republic, People's party etc should campaign and not try to stir up hatred because they have no policies or vision with which to appeal to voters, and on the government's side, there should be no vote buying, intimidation and other illegalities...

Oh yeah, wait a minute. Neither side is able to do that so one supposes there will be no compromise or political maturity from either for some years. Still, I welcome the idea about new parliamentary elections. Indeed, I think it is the only compromise solution on offer.

The trouble is that neither can change and start thinking about what's best for the future of the country. It's personal, individual based, and abotu coming to power for power's sake.

Archuk Arshakuni said...

Until the very last part with the signatories you make it look like a whole army of writers,musicians and other 'cultural workers' have written this thing. There is only 5 of them! Five! Come down to earth, this revolution is not going to happen.

Azad said...

True, only 5 but very effective! “Cultural workers” are doing what political parties striving for a democratic society are normally supposed to do. They have a set of clear and specific proposals that offer a democratic solution to the current crisis. (Just compare this with Heritage’s statement or Serge + Arthur’s article on the same pages).

artmika said...

Onnik, I do not think that tensions are relieved, it is just on a surface level. It’s like we used to think that we have a stable society, which happened to be illusory.

As I mentioned, I welcome this initiative, as it suggests practical steps which could be discussed as a possible alternative to this political stand-off. However, it may not be enough for opposition demanding presidential re-election and not acceptable for current authorities (Serj Sargsyan rejected the idea even before this open letter). But for the sake of compromise and as a way out of this crisis, it could serve as a basis. On the other hand, it’s one thing to propose, but the most important - to realise it. Unless there are mechanisms in place to ensure free elections, there would be no point in considering it. Besides, taking into account Armenian realities, even with seemingly perfect mechanisms, unless there is will from the authorities’ side to actually ensure that elections are clean, nothing will change. And sadly, I do not see, for now at least, positive steps from the authorities. Instead, what I see is continuing political persecutions, censorship, restricting civil liberties...

Also important - radical reforms in Public TV, especially Information services. Changes in Board are necessary but not enough.

So, in my opinion, overall, sensible ideas in this open letter, which should be considered at least as one of the practical ways forward.

Archuk, I do not think that numbers matter here. As Azad says, “only 5 but very effective.” Besides, it’s open for signatories, so we may hear others joining too. But the essence is more important.

However, as I am writing this comment, new information is coming about new politically motivated detentions and arrests. Instead of relieving tensions and polarisation in our society, the authorities are doing whatever possible to further radicalise it.

Archuk Arshakuni said...

If you're saying this is a letter from 'cultural workers' than numbers do matter. Because these 5 people cannot and do not represent
such people at large and have no right to speak for others no matter how special they are. They are, of course, entitled to their personal opinion and if the letter was titled 'An open letter from Hakhverdyan,Khzmalyan&Co' I would not have an argument.
That is the problem of the whole Levon movement - claiming to represent everyone and everything.

artmika said...

I cannot say anything on behalf of Levon movement, I can say only on behalf of my blog - I completely disagree with you. I would suggest re-reading my post.

The letter titled “Open letter to prime minister Serj Sargsyan”, there was absolutely no intention there to present it on behalf of all cultural workers, it was signed by 5 prominent representatives of the filed and open to others to join. And it is presented as such, no more, no less. My post’s title “Armenian cultural workers…” also does not mean to represent everyone. They are “Armenian cultural workers”. And first 2 paragraphs of my post make it more than clear that those who signed are “exceptions” and “some of them”. So please read it carefully before making one-sided judgements.

Archuk Arshakuni said...

'Armenian cultural workers: Open letter to prime minister Serj Sargsyan

Armenian cultural workers slam government violence towards peaceful demonstrators, demand new parliamentary elections, independent investigation, release of political prisoners and reforms in Public TV'

Your heading is the source of confusion.

artmika said...

It does not meant to confuse anyone. Text that follows the heading explains everything, and those signed the letter are indeed "Armenian cultural workers".

Anonymous said...

i don't think it matters whether it's just 5 people, because for someone who knows the art scene in Armenia, these anmes are worth dozens of names Sirusho, Andre, and all the other Britney Spears and Justine Timberlake clones who campaigned for SS.
The letter may not ahve a very wide appeal, but it certainly does have an appeal to Yerevan's intellectual circles, which are quite important.
It also signifies an important change of mood, because before this most Yerevan intellectuals and artists either supported SS, or were reluctant to comment on the events.
However, since we live in Armenia,
we should consider all opportunities. So, I wouldn't be surpised if the ideas put forward in the letter, actually derive from a different source, for example from a moderate faction in the government, which understands that the current state of affairs cannot last long, and are seeking for a way out. of course this is only a hypothesis, impossible to prove at this point.