Photo by hra.am
“Today, a street turned into a forum for raising issues and seeking solutions for issues of public interest”, said Artak Kirakosyan, Civil Society Institute Board Chairman at the meeting with joutnnalists on September.
According to him, this situation was caused by the fact that the government adopts decisions on issues of public importance without any public discussion or consideration of public opinion. Then it appears that the only way to change the decisions is to engage into street protests, as other civilized options do not bring about positive change.
“If you try to raise issues by means of letters or other means, they ignore you. The authorities start to react and try to engage in a dialogue only when groups go out to streets and raise their demands, at times in an aggressive manner,” stated A. Kirakosyan.
He referred to the decisions regarding installation of booths at the Mashtots and increase of the public transport fare as examples of such practice.
“We may call it freedom of speech, but freedom of speech assumes that if someone speaks out, then there are some others to listen to him. Currently your efforts may be successful only if you shout loudly and are able to collect 100 people and some intelligentsia” says CSI Board Chairman.
In his opinion, it is at least odd, that the government’s reaction to this is ‘how good it is that the civil society has been formed in Armenia’ instead of trying to bring the process from streets to normal forum for discussion.
Artak Kirakosyan believes that the street actions have another dangerous trend, as it appeared in the case of the Covered Market: “The other party of the conflict thought: ‘why should we not use the same methods?’ And if it continues this way, the street conflicts of two parties can result in fights.”
CSI Board Chairman does not expect the street protest to weaken; on the contrary, new people will be joining them for this or that reason.
He mentioned that “the authorities currently exercise control over the situation, and have enough influence to force even Samvel Alexanyan to condemn violence, if needed”. However, he thinks that the risks are not estimated correctly.
The risk, according to him, is that the situation sooner or later will result in a brutal intervention of the police against street protesters.
CSI Board Chairman believes that in such a situation the responsibility of the authorities is to create mechanisms to bring the dialogue from streets to civilized platforms of discussion, and seek solutions of issues there.
“If it is not done, we will end up at a dangerous situation, as there are provokers on both sides. Whereas most likely that it is not the provokers but peaceful participants of demonstrations or those who genuinely struggle for the Covered market who will become victims and no difference will be made between them,” says Artak Kirakosyan.
A. Kirakosyan believes that the Office of the Human Rights Defender can play an important role in the process of building dialogue and seeking solutions to the conflict between the society and the authorities. However, he mentioned that the Office has turned into “an ordinary organization on protection of human rights, which raises some issues and sometimes reaches less effect than other non-governmental organizations”.