It’s time for qualitative, organized change
On March 31, the Sardarapat movement organized a seminar in the Writers’ Union in Yerevan discussing “Arab Movements and Regional Developments”. One of the attendees and speakers included the Institute for Democracy and Human Rights President Arpineh Galfayan.
The following includes parts of Ms. Galfayan’s speech:
“The Arab World movements and specifically the uprisings taking place in Tunisia and Egypt have become inspiring milestones, standing as a symbol for freedom and for the promotion of human rights throughout the world.
Fear on behalf of the citizens has diminished and governmental immunity has collapsed and the people of the Arab World have realized the power of self-organization and movement-building. Dictators throughout the world have every reason to feel threatened and to fear the emergence of such social movements, which is why instances like March 1, 2008 in Armenia consisted of autocratic authorities approving the systematic bloodbath of “dissenting” citizens protesting the 2008 corrupted elections.
It has long been known that Armenia’s governmental regime strains and prevents people from attaining tangible, real reform. This is evidenced by the regulation and censorship of TV and media, the ruthless misuse of agriculture, the perpetual corruption of agricultural and consumer economies, the purposeful creation of larger farming markets which eventually are robbed by the country’s wealthy elite, black markets, etc.
Qualitative, organized change is a necessity; however, this cannot simply and solely be accomplished through political means.
What is our current country’s condition? Who are the people of Armenia? How are the people of Armenia capable of living here? Naturally, all or nearly all citizens of Armenia are discontent and disapproving of their government and state; yet the people of Armenia are indifferent and desensitized, weak, overwhelmed, subordinate, incapable of independent thought, rarely open-minded and often fixated on failures, with some exceptions.
The people here have learned to give and take bribes, to sell their votes; what does it mean when a person does not value their Armenian citizenship? They have learned to ignore and defy thousands of homeless people, whom are scattered begging for food and shelter throughout the streets of Yerevan. Let us not even speak of the conditions found in the more deplorable, unlivable, unsanitary regions of Armenia…
Even the overwhelming and continuous monetary increase of consumer goods and public services did not instigate the people of Armenia to act or organize. Behold this nation of people we deal with…These people are capable of systematic organization but the type that breeds corruption, much like what we have seen these past 20 years.
Of course it is undeniable that in comparison to these past few years there is gradual development in the opposition. Volunteer-based, civic activist groups have been formed in an effort to fight for equal rights and in order to arouse in our society the move towards fighting apathy and promoting activism.
These are the very movements and organizations that have helped establish a base through which we must further develop our movement towards liberation. Qualitative change can be realized only in cases when there are conscious and struggling people, working in solidarity towards one collective goal, who plan effective social campaigns with organized groups who will cooperate and help replace the current system with a qualitatively new and better one, void of corruption, democratic, and fair.
This is evidenced through Egypt’s example, where the worker’s strife towards justice was decisive and long planned through effective community development work which ultimately lead to successful outcomes.
Alongside protests, it is also necessary to develop specific visions for a more ideal society specifically paying attention to the political system, the separation of authoritative power, and on issues regarding education, the environment, and socio-economic, foreign, and political affairs.
Other issues that must be questioned and further discussed include the initial steps necessary for the restoration of justice in Armenia, the redistribution of resources (in the legal and socio-economic sense). The most important thing is that said discussions should not take place in closed settings, but rather, they must be held in open forums in order to encompass the voice and active input of every and all citizens.
I would like to direct my attention towards the topic of female participation: in Armenia, many approach subject matters revolving men and women’s equal rights, public sector gender-based inequalities, and decision-making processes regarding women’s participation with much contempt or disinterest.
However, I must emphasize that Armenia will not experience positive reformative change so long as women, who make up over half the country’s population, aren’t granted equal opportunities or the ability to equally participate. Battling gender stereotypes and traditions that promote gender bifurcation has always been essential to the development of a positive and successful movement and thriving society.
Moreover, the driving force of revolutions have always been in the hands of the youth. The youth should not be manipulated or forced to work low-quality jobs but rather should be utilized for movement-building and for strengthening society through demands for decision-making and reformative change.
With a patriarchal, hierarchically, top-bottom governmental system in place, the fight for and maintenance of systemic change in Armenia is a great challenge, especially when there exists discrimination and the unjust treatment and subordination of subcultures and minority groups.
The People’ Movement in Egypt has successfully garnered:
- Active youth involvement
- Social networking and the widespread use of technology
- The decision to adopt a more horizontal, participatory mechanism of governance as opposed to the traditional, hierarchical, and patriarchal system
- Religious, national, social, and cultural tolerance and solidarity
- And finally, a movement inspired by Gandhi’s non-violent struggle which established the promotion of civil disobedience in the name of preserving human rights against an autocratic regime.
Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (IDHR) President
To read the full speech (available in Armenian only), click here: