Mashtots Park belongs to all of us: a call to join the struggle


It is already 3 days that the members of "Menq enq ays qaghaqi tery" ("We are the Masters of this City") group in their words "...are guarding the Mashtots park".

 "We are on a sit-down demonstration from morning to evening and we do not let them carry out any activities by our physical presence, thus we show that the park belongs to the public and is guarded by it", says civil activist Mariam Sarukhanyan.

According to her it is already three days that the construction is not being carried out. They have tried but the attempts were prevented by the demonstrators.

Mariam once again reminds us that this is not only an environmental issue: a struggle for the trees and clean air, but also a struggle for public space.

 "Even if they do not cut a single branch from this garden, it is all the same...This is a public green space and it belongs to the public. We do not want this place to be covered with concrete, we do not want it be someone's building, because it belongs to us-to all of us. This is a matter of rights, why do they make decisions without informing the public and making them a part of it. Why they did not take my opinion into account before building anything in here, any citizen has the right to ask this question", mentions she.

The participants of the sit-down demonstration also carry out gathering of signatures. Many of the passers-by sign it and join the struggle for saving the park. 

 "Where are those show business singers, who sing the praises of Yerevan, why don't they join us?" Mariam asks this rhetorical question adding "Let them come here and sing with us".

Tomorrow three members of "Menq enq ays qaghaqi tery" group will meet the Mayor of Yerevan Taron Margaryan to present their demand.  Anahit Bakhshyan, NA Deputy visited the demonstrators on February 12 and personally called Mayor Taron Margaryam to arrange a meeting.

Before that, the members of the group sent many letters to the Mayor, but they did not get the answer to their questions.

 "According to law, they had to place a signboard with a notice about the builder and the project of the construction. We demand to see that document but they do not submit anything", says Apres Zohrabyan, one of the members of the group.

 "The documents are not presented, because there are none to present, and the construction is illegal", conclude the demonstrators.

We raise an alarm that the construction is illegal, and they haven't shown any documents up to now. Even the Mayor was surprised when Anahit Bakhshyan told him that the construction is carried out on the public green space.  Probably people need to come and see what is going on. May be they present something else to them, or something else, I do not understand...Anyway we will take the plan to show that this is a park. Maybe they do not know, though I highly doubt that", says Mariam Sukhudyan.

Apart from the sit-down demonstration she attaches great importance to the legal struggle. The members of the group welcome civil dialogues and think that this is not an unsolvable problem.  "There are so many places from subway to abandoned spaces. Let them go and inhabit these places with their boutiques, instead of doing it by means of the green space belonging to our children".

She shows the trees that even though are not cut, but have appeared among the boutiques. According to Karine Danielyan, environment protection activist, sooner or later these trees would wither. "Even if they do not cut the trees, they create such circumstances that the tree withers, that is equal to cutting", say the members of the group.

Their physical presence in the park is very important for Mariam Sukhudyan. "The workers sit with the policemen in the warm place and wait. As soon as we leave they will take the space to themselves", this way Maraim calls to join them.

The participants of the sit-down demonstration organized an exhibition of Hayk Bianjyan's photos entitled "Yerevan yesterday, today, tomorrow". They are concerned that tomorrow only photos and memories will be left from Yerevan.

Mery Alexanyan