19 May 2022: Week to Week by Armenia Media with Shahen Araboghlian

By Shahen Araboghlian – Armenia Media | Thursday, 19 May 2022

Week to Week / ՇԱԲԱԹԷ ՇԱԲԱԹ

By Shahen Araboghlian – Exclusively for Armenia Media

Protests in Armenia Continue

Image caption: Arrests continue as protests hold for a month (Image by Karen Minasyan/AFP)

Since the last time I wrote this recap, things have heated up in and around Armenia, with protests demanding the resignation of PM Pashinyan keeping the momentum.

The 9th of May recorded one of the highest, if not the highest number of protestors of the uprisings titled Resistance. Movement head MP Saghatelyan demanded the formation of a new government that safeguards the safety, security, and sovereignty of both the Republics of Armenia and Artsakh. University students and lecturers joined the protests the following day.

Protester arrests have also sharply increased, with police brutality taking centerstage in uprising talks. Violence against protesters has ranged from spitting and throwing water bottles, to beating, kicking, and dragging. The Deputy Chief of Yerevan Police met with the leaders of the movement to discuss solutions, but to no avail.

Freedom House has released the following statement:

“We are disturbed by violence taking place during protests targeting journalists, public figures, and ordinary citizens in #Armenia. We appeal to the people to exercise their fundamental rights peacefully and call on the police to refrain from using disproportionate force. The Armenian authorities and the opposition must respect the unobstructed functioning of democratic and human rights institutions, including civil society and the media, necessary to guarantee the rights of all citizens in the line with democratic norms and standards.”

By the weekend of May 14 and 15, France Square next to the Opera House in Central Yerevan has been fully occupied by the protestors. The protestors have, for days, blocked one of the largest passageways in the city; tents, signs, a stage, and a large screen have been set up. The site has hosted a myriad of events, from discussions by professionals to performances by singers, and more.

Yesterday, on May 17, the movement saw its largest number yet, with Republic Square packed with many protestors. It also saw the largest number of detainees in modern Armenian history, with 414 detained protestors, larger than any previous number combined.

Many significant opposition faces, including politicians, Artsakh War Heroes, and even elderly protestors are on the list of detainees.

Lebanon Elections - How Does It Work & Who Will Represent Armenians?

Image caption: Six Armenians, as guaranteed, have snatched up seats in the Lebanese parliament (Image by Heretiq/Wikimedia Commons).

Lebanon may be the only country (excluding Armenia) where seats for MPs of Armenian descent are guaranteed.

Before the Taif Agreement, Lebanese individuals of Armenian descent had five total seats guaranteed, but after the Agreement, the number was increased to six. Now, five Armenians have to be Armenian Orthodox on their IDs, and one should be Armenian Catholic. In general, though, the Taif agreement decreased the Christian to Muslim ratio from 6:5 to 1:1.

Note: six Lebanese candidates of Armenian descent are guaranteed seats in parliament no matter how many votes they receive; meaning, the fight is often between Armenian political parties (namely the ARF, the SDHP, and the RAG/ADL) versus non-Armenian parties running with Armenian candidates on their lists.

The one Armenian Catholic seat falls under the East Beirut district, while the Orthodox Armenians are divided accordingly: three candidates in East Beirut, one in the Bekaa Valley (Zahle, a town very close to the Armenian village of Ainjar), and one in the Mount Lebanon region.

On May 15, Lebanese resident citizens went to the ballot boxes to make their choice. The winners are the following:

  • Three ARF candidates received seats in the parliament: Hagop Pakradounian (Armenian Orthodox, Mount Lebanon),  Hagop Terzian (Armenian Orthodox, East Beirut), and George Bouchikian (Armenian Orthodox, Zahle).

  • Jean Talouzian (Armenian Catholic, East Beirut) won on behalf of the Sovereign Lebanon (Lubnan Al-Siyada) list, a faux-independent list headed by Nadim Gemayel, a member of the Lebanese Phalangists political party (which was founded by his grandfather).

  • Jihad Pakradouni (Armenian Orthodox, East Beirut) won on behalf of the Lebanese Forces political party.

  • Paula Yacoubian (Armenian Orthodox, East Beirut) won on behalf of Tahalof Watani, a civil society group list. It’s worth noting that Yacoubian has enjoyed close relations with former PM Saad Hariri, having worked as a journalist and anchor at his TV channel Future TV. She announced her independent candidacy for parliament after resigning from the TV station. Saad Hariri and his party have refrained from running for elections in 2022.

The Armenian MFA has congratulated Lebanon on a successful election. “Armenia stands with brotherly Lebanon. Looking forward to deepening our cooperation,” Armenia’s MFA tweeted.

Notable News

  • St. Giragos, a 16th-century Armenian church in Diyarbakir, reopens its doors after extensive renovations.

  • Armenian MFA visits Brussels for talks on May 17 and 18.

  • Armenia Square was inaugurated in Geneva, Switzerland.

  • Lithuanian president to be in Armenia for a two-day work visit.

  • New Syrian Ambassador, Dr. Nora Arissian, was appointed to Armenia.

  • Turkey opposes the NATO membership of Finland and Sweden.

  • Rosa Linn’s song qualifies for the Eurovision Grand Final, and ranks 20th place out of 40 participating countries. Azerbaijan becomes the first country in Eurovision history to qualify for the grand final with no televotes; the singer qualified exclusively with jury votes.

  • Montpellier, France, names a park after Armenia.

  • Shell to launch gas stations in Armenia.

  • World Trade Center has plans to open a branch in Yerevan.

  • Armenian-American Museum in Glendale receives an extra $10 million USD in a new proposal.

  • PM Pashinyan blasted CSTO members for selling weaponry to Azerbaijan, some of which were used in aggressions against Armenia.

Multimedia Corner

Image caption: Read on to find out how you can mix Armenian and French rap, with a dash of Komitas folk (Screenshot from Hov Arek Official Lyrics Video/JINJ).

So many things to enjoy, so little time. Dive into our multimedia corner right here.

  • Read: Zabelle: A Novel is Nancy Kricorian’s magnum opus (so far). More details here.
  • Listen: Komitas, with a touch of modern French rap. What? Listen to Jinj’s newest single, and watch the lyric video here.

  • Watch: Contemporary documentary filmmaking has become something I enjoy, but the Saghsara team has taken it to another level. Here’s the link to their channel, but my favorite episode remains the one where they visit a village of indigenous Western Armenians who moved after the genocide.

  • Learn: Take virtual tours of museums in Armenia! You can visit the History Museum of Armenia, the Matenadaran, and even the Sergei Parajanov Museum. Enjoy!