Thursday, 10 April 2008

"Don’t hear, see or speak"

In front of French embassy; one of 8 simultaneous picket actions in Yerevan, 9 April 2008.

*photo by © Clement Saccomani


Anonymous said...

Just compare the protesters from several years ago, during Demirchyan's rallies, with the protesters of today:
5 years ago - unshaved gloomy figures, eating sunflower seeds and spitting on the floor.
Now - young, "Euro-looking" and multilingual guys, and what's even more important girls!
Victory is ours !

Onnik Krikorian said...

Well, a new sight for sure and one nurtured by the people behind Sksela since the 2004 protests on Baghramian, but too few in number, I'm afraid. As a percentage of actual youth it's insignificant.

Still, I agree, it's the start of some kind of new part of youth in Armenia, but will take more years before it becomes an influential segment.

Nevertheless, it is part of some kind of socio-economic-political change. It's not yet ready to take the role of Kmara or Otpor (Georgia and Ukraine) yet.

However, I'm told that Sksela might yet set up a more institutionalized presence soon with an office and funding from the U.S., OSI or Eurasia, but I'm not sure if this is true or not.

Basically, society as a mass is still more like the one you describe in 2003 than this. It will change with time, though.

proudly anonymous said...

Onnik, as you said, it's a start. I was in Yerevan as recently as the summer of 2007, and I came into contact with a pretty broad range of young people, and I did not see anyone who would go and picket at the US Embassy or the Prosecutor's Office. Sure, these few people aren't going to change much, but you have to start somewhere. The important thing is that at least some segment of the population now believes that they have the ability to change things, and that they have the right to voice their dissatisfaction...

From what I understand, a lot of people are in a "revolutionary" mood these days; for example, around 100 EPH students walked out from their classes to protest the appointment of the new vice-"dekan". Again, I only see this sort of activism as a positive.

A great number of young people who were previously apathetic to politics are getting involved; one of my childhood friends who used to be as far away from politics as you can get told me during a recent phone conversation that she and a few of her friends wanted to join Zharangutyun. They were frustrated by how difficult the process was, but said they weren't giving up. Levon's and Nikol's self-congratulatory claims that they have created a new society may be far-fetched, but at least they have planted the seeds.

So no matter where you stand on LTP, whether you're in the "he's a reincarnation of a deity" end of the spectrum, or if you're convinced that he's the spawn of the devil (or worse, a Turkish agent!), you cannot deny the twofold service he's done by his campaign: 1)he's mobilized at least some of the seemingly hopelessly apathetic youth, and (somewhat related) 2) he's demonstrated the embarrassing lack of true opposition forces in the parliament, thus making people realize that this vacuum needs to be filled. And who knows, 5, 10 years from now the kids picketing yesterday will be the ones filling this void.

reflective said...

Agreed proudly, however, misleading demagoguery is a double-edged sword. Many who are being pumped-up by LTP today may unnecessarily (and by design) later slide into hopelessness when they realize that there leaders were promising that "the revolution is just around the corner" when in reality there was no such reality.

I would argue that the misled are victims here. The movement that I hope grows from this is one where people actually cultivate positive leaders, do not make appeals to the worst scum in the oligarch society, do not invoke the name of murderers when campaigning, do not spread racist hate and invective, and do not lie to the people.

Good riddance to the previous presidents of Armenia. May the next generation work toward something positive.

Anonymous said...

well, I haven't been in Yerevan for several months, so I haven't seen the protests myself, but from what I've seen in the photos and videos, there were a lot of young people at the meetings near the opera square and at the March 1 meeting.
also my friends who teahc at universities told me that most students were quite enthusiastic about the strike that LEvon announced.

Armen Filadelfiatsi said...

The confusing thing about Sksela has always been the fact that they don't profess any political viewpoint. I used to think that they had one but were hiding it; now I'm pretty convinced that they don't. What defines them is what they are against.

If you think about it, that's evidence that they really are a foreign-funded group, and a foreign trained one, too. They're the ones that are going to be bringing Armenia its sham color revolution and set it on track to the general misery that every country that has ever adopted a "liberalized" economy has arrived at.

Sksela's interests were aligned with the LTP camp's, but my impression was that they did not go out in full force against Sarkissian with the LTP camp. I think the reason is that they were afraid of LTP succeeding and taking over because he is too closely associated with the movement.

Onnik mentions Sksela setting up shop. At this point, I think it's worth considering whether the reason isn't LTP, not Sarkissian. I think its a sign that he's eaten into Sksela's youth base, which is pretty much its only base.

Sksela can practice social engineering on Armenia's youth, but, too bad for it, it can't inspire the way Levon can, and does.

In the background, NATO and Russia have clashed in Armenia, but they have come to some kind of stasis. Neither wants to rock the boat.

The big question for me is whether what Bruce Tasker said would happen in case Sarkissian is sworn in will happen--a settlement with Azerbaijan that forces people in the surrounding region to flee to Armenia and occupy all the empty apartment buildings.

belinda said...

Just for your information.
These are not SKSELA people only. There were very different young people even youth from political parties...

Anonymous said...

for everyone's reference, this is what Sksela stands for:

Armen Filadelfiatsi said...

anonymous 17:31

That's exactly what I mean: It's all rhetoric; it sounds like a tv commercial.

"The time has started for you to be you, to be crooked or crazy, anxious, fiery, visionary, fearless, brave and correct. The time has started for you to respect yourself and break down walls, walk with your head high, and stand shoulder to shoulder."

What is that? You almost expect it to end with, "Sksela summer camp. We're here for you!"

They claim to be a-political, but the things they do, like encouraging people to read newspapers and participate in democracy, lead to politicization. There's something really fishy about a-political politicization.

There are NGO's going around trying to encourage people to "participate in democracy," when their real aim is to keep them from taking to the streets actually toppling the governments repressing them and taking power.

Stand Up Speak Up is a case in point. The CIA has determined AIDS to be a threat to national security, because high prices for drugs will likely lead to huge protests; Stand Up is there to make sure that doesn't happen by channeling the frustration to "productive" "democratic" means.

Sksela might be something like that, too.

Anonymous said...

I guess you don't know Sksela that well.
I have seen their events and talked to many of the activists.
The reason they never had an explicit political program - they never had an agreement about their relation to the leaders.
My impression is that they had "a pro-Levon" and "anti-Levon wing".
So they decided to refrain from expressing political views, in order to preserve the unity of the group.
In any case, both "wings" are certainly anti-regime.
As for the "foreign hand", according to what I know the initiative was spontaneous, later they cooperated with some funders and NGOs to get funding for specific events. But, to my knowledge, there's no single "funder", which guides and/or controls the actions of the group.


Armen Filadelfiatsi said...

Thanks for that insight, Michael.

My impression is that you have talked to members of the group, but not to the leaders of the group.

The members wouldn't know anything. They're good people trying to do what's right, and it is typical that they would put aside their differences to do good things like get people to read.

The leaders, however, are a different story altogether. I strongly doubt that they would have political disagreements as significant as pro/anti-Levon.

There's something fishy there--again, not the members, but the leaders, the ones who conceived of the group. I am suspicious of what they have in mind as the purpose of the organization, and I can't find a straight answer anywhere in what they've put out.

Anonymous said...

Armen, the group doesn't have a clear structure.
there's a core of 10-15 people who organize the events, and may be a couple of hundreds of people who show up at the events.
So by "members" I meant these 10-15 people, you can call them leaders I suppose.
I think they are genuinely interested in bringing about changes, even if they might not be sure how.
Of course we cannot rule out that KGB has planted a couple of its informers among them, but I guess in post-Soviet countries that's pretty much the case with all the opposition parties or groups.


Anonymous said...

sounds like the difference between the leaders and the off-the-street protesters on March 1.

Leaders were pushing for a coup.
Typical protester was naive or misled into thinking this was about democracy.