The September 30 rally of the Armenian opposition was not expected to differ from the previous once. However, the statement issued by the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan warning U.S. citizens against approaching the protest site and rumors about possible sit-down strike, which were not commented by the Congress, made people think that something can go wrong.
The rally started a bit later that scheduled gathered a greater number of people than last time. According to police, about 5 thousand people arrived at Liberty Square.
Four kilograms of RPA party membership cards
Opening the rally, Haykakan Zhamanak newspaper editor-in-chief Nikol Pashinyan said the citizens of Armenia are the greatest power in the republic. “My people, you will win,” he said.
Armenian National Movement (ANM) board chairman Aram Manukyan, in turn, showed those gathered the party membership cards of ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) members, which, he said “were turned in at today's rally.” As he noted, approx. 4 kg of party membership cards were turned in this week. ANM board chairman called on RPA, Prosperous Armenia and Orinats Yerkir members to continue turning in their cards to ANC.
Bayonets of the authorities and pressure of the people
ANC coordinator Levon Zurabyan explained a certain restrain in Congress' actions by concern for detained ANC members “held hostage by the authorities.” “ANC hoped to use the dialogue to achieve its demands. However, as of today, that possibility is exhausted. There's no reason to wait any longer,” he said. “Authorities must be pressured into meeting our demands. Armenian police and national security service attempted to prevent ANC supporters' access to Yerevan, which proves that current regime is based on force and is terrified of its own people.”
Brother against brother, like Cain against Abel
Opposition-coalition dialogue failed, with authorities unable to force Armenian National Congress (ANC) opposition bloc into executing their demands, Republic party leader Aram Sargsyan said. “The authorities are eager to disallow snap elections, hoping to preserve their power at regular elections. Pre-term elections, however, would create equal opportunities for all candidates,” Sargsyan stressed. Dwelling on March 1, 2008 events, the oppositionist compared authorities to a biblical Cain, who killed its brother Abel.
The People's Party of Armenia leader Stepan Demirchyan, in turn, noted that current changes in Armenia are irreversible, with Armenian people wishing to live in a free and democratic country.
For the sake of people in Liberty Square
Armenian National Congress (ANC) leader Levon Ter-Petrossian announced 7-day-long round-the-clock protest actions, reiterating demands to authorities set at previous rally.
Here belong: pre-term president and parliament elections; introduction of ANC-suggested amendments to Electoral Code; discovery of March 1, 2008 events; release of detained ANC supporter Tigran Arakelyan; reversion of a ban on street trading. Ter-Petrossian spoke against construction of new multi-storey buildings in the capital as well as prosecution of media.
As he further noted, “we're not maximalists and have never been. We're ready to reasonable compromises.” According to Ter-Petrossian, the detained ANC supporter Tigran Arakelyan addressed a letter to Congress, urging against seeing his arrest as a hindrance to dialogue resumption.”
Talks with authorities
As ANC leader stated, opposition-coalition dialogue will be resumed stating tomorrow, with Manushak Petrosyan in charge with contacting presidential administration. “Whether to continue round-the-clock actions will be decided in a week,” ANC leader noted. He warned those participating in round-the-clock actions against violating public order, contacting the police or using alcohol. Persons responsible for preserving order in Liberty Square were assigned, as well as a group in change of negotiations with police. In conclusion, Congress officials announced their legal right for any protest actions, urging rally participants against having any concerns about contacts with police.
Rain and tents in the heart of Yerevan
Despite rain and cold weather, supporters of the Armenian National Congress pitched tents in Liberty Square. The police formed a human chain around the Liberty Square without preventing demonstrators from entering or leaving.