Armenia is a country of protests; daily protests that take place all around the capital, particularly near the Opera and on the main streets with the embassies and government buildings. Within a few days, I saw 3 protests and took part in 2 of them.
The 1st was in front of the Russian embassy, where we were herded to the side, out of the officials’ view, against the inhumane treatment of an Armenian detainee accused of causing the deaths of 18 and the injury of 48 others. His lorry had experienced problems, possibly with the brakes or possibly with the tires, and turned over before crashing into a bus full of people. The Armenian driver of the lorry was taken to the hospital and given a woman’s robe before being paraded around in this during the court hearing, alongside being imprisoned while embarrassingly still wearing the robe and slippers.
The 2nd protest was near the Opera, against the low pensions that war veterans receive today. The amount is truly pitiable, an extremely low step taken by our oligarchical government. War veterans receive 30-50,000 drams, between $75 and $125 a month. Boggles my mind how one can expect another to live with such a measly amount.
The third protest I so enthusiastically took part in began before the parliament building and our march took us from street to street until we were on some of the busiest ones. Here, we stopped the buses, removed any signs that indicated the pay to now be 150 drams, and stuck all over the transports flyers and pictures that condemned the raising of the prices and demanded we all pay the original fare of 100 drams. 100 drams is just about 23-27 cents, depending on the exchange rate. There were buses that had refused to increase the fare and taxis about which would take people to certain places for free. We got honks of support and cheers of approval. We increased our numbers as we walked and cried out at every corner that we, and only we, can protect our own rights. People joined as we walked by, store owners peeked out and stood on their doorsteps to watch or cheer on their support, and the people standing at every stop were encouraged to follow example and refuse to pay the new amount.
Together, with the whole country doing the same thing, we can make a difference. In Armenia, you ride the bus and pay at the end. As such, each and every citizen is encouraged to pay 100 drams before jumping out, encouraging those around them to do the same. Let’s drop this guise of a sheep and stand up tall with head held high. The people hold the power, they just need to realize that it lies in their collective strength!