Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Shall we re-shut instead of ‘re-open’ the Liberty sq in Yerevan?

That Liberty square has been re-opened is good news, indeed. And I am not referring here to politics. However, apparently, the authorities in Armenia declare it a politics-free zone. Police stop and detain ‘operation’ is in full action resulting in scuffles and arrests. The aim is to halt any sign of protest or opposition activism in Liberty square. Using force is allowed.

It’s during reading such news I wonder that perhaps it was better to have Liberty sq shut having in place ‘alternative arrangements’ for opposition or any citizen, in fact, to exercise their civil rights. Yes, there may be provocations. Yes, some or many ordinary citizens may get annoyed, or as British would say, pissed off by shouts or rallies or whatever, instead preferring the square for cafes and entertainment only.

But there is no such thing as convenient democracy. I do not believe in ‘human rights light’. It’s either there or not.


Ani said...

The excuses the Armenian authorities give for preventing freedom of assembly are nearly word-for-word what Putin said in his widely viewed confrontation with a rock star the other day on the same subject:
Colonel Robert Melkonian, the chief of the national riot police force, defended the use of force against the oppositionists. “They are coming in groups to stage protests here. What for?” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “These people have the right to rest,” Melkonian said, pointing to other Yerevan residents who were allowed into the square. “See, there are more than 100 people enjoying themselves here. There are whole families, children.”

(Google translate): "Regarding the "March of Dissent". There are certain rules, they stipulate that such activities are regulated by local authorities. In addition to those people that go to the march concurring or dissenting, there are other people on the rights which we must not forget. If you decide to hold a "March of Dissent" - I apologize for being too harsh things, say, the hospital where you will interfere with sick children - who are from the local authorities there will allow you to conduct this march? And rightly so, that the ban! And now you want to spend it where people want to go on Friday to the country, for example, simply."

Yes, democracy is messy. Democracies learn to deal with the mess, and are grateful for it.

artmika said...

Why I am not surprised?... Well spotted, Ani.