YEREVAN, KOMPAS.com – Armenia entered into the brink of crisis minutes after Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan signed an agreement to end the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Grief and frustration poured out of the Armenian people on the streets of the capital in Yerevan following the shocking announcement on Tuesday (10/11/2020).
The signed peace deal includes lucrative territorial concessions Azerbaijan, and the presence of peacekeepers from Russia for at least the next five years.
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The demonstrators stormed parliament and government offices, followed by protests from opposition parties the day after. They demanded Pashinyan resign and be replaced by a new leader.
The action that began at the Opera Theater was marred by insults PM Armenia. The crowd shouted, “Nikol, traitor!” then headed for the parliament building to call for Pashinyan’s impeachment.
Reported Al Jazeera on Thursday (12/11/2020), riot police were deployed to control the crowd, and they made several arrests.
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Anna Mkrtchyan, 26, a lawyer from Yerevan, was arrested for protesting near the Opera Theater. He was taken to the police station but released several hours later.
“I protest to protect my land, the land now given by Pashinyan to Azerbaijan, where thousands of Armenians were killed.”
“We are fighting for our Homeland and the rights of the people living in Artsakh,” he continued, referring to the Armenian term for Nagorno-Karabakh.
The disputed territory lies inside Azerbaijan but is inhabited by ethnic Armenians. Its tenure has been debated since the 1980s. Many in Yerevan believe Nagorno-Karabakh belongs to their part of the country.
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During the most recent fighting that lasted more than a month, no less than 1,000 people were killed including dozens of civilians on both sides.
Many ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh fled the region, while Azerbaijanis in the area hit by the missile also fled elsewhere.
“I work with abandoned children and I have to meet them today to tell them they will never be able to go home, because their PM has handed them over,” said an unnamed protester.
“If our country is to be handed over, it could be done 44 days ago and we won’t lose thousands of lives.”
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Many feel cheated because they only found out about the peace agreement when it was implemented. They said the signing was undemocratic without the involvement of the people.
Despite rampant street protests, Richard Giragosian, director of the Regional Studies Center consultancy in Yerevan, said the demonstration was not strong enough to push Pashinyan out.
“He has no competitor or credible alternative … Nevertheless, the frustration is real, the disappointment is true.”
The Armenian government and military have also denied claims of crushing defeat, such as the loss of the strategic city of Shushi, or Shusha in Azerbaijani terms.
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