YEREVAN—The Supreme Council of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) on Tues., Sept. 15 kicked off its month-long protest against the protocols between Armenia and Turkey with a hunger strike and sit-in at the foreign ministry and government headquarters, reported Yerkir.
As 24 ARF members—symbolizing April 24—began their hunger strike at the foreign ministry, some 60 members began a sit-in at the government building. Chanting “No concessions to Turkey!” and “Nalabandian must resign,” the protesters also initiated a petition campaign against the protocols, collecting signatures from passersby in high-traffic Republic Square.
ARF Supreme Council of Armenia chairman Armen Rustamian told those gathered outside that the sit-in and the hunger strike would continue until provisions of the protocols are amended.
“These demonstrations are meant to reject the preconditions forced on us, and demand that the provisions of the document that jeopardize Armenian interests are reviewed,” Rustamian said. “No matter how hard the government is trying to say that there are no preconditions in the document, we believe they serve only Turkish interests. They say the Kars Treaty is not mentioned in the protocols; then why does it say that we have to recognize the current boundaries? These borders are described only in the 1921 Kars Treaty. No other treaty speaks of the borders.”
“We demand that authorities include our proposed changes in the protocols. These documents are anti-Armenian and cannot be signed in their current format. We’ll continue the protest and hunger strike unless all our proposals are considered,” echoed ARF parliamentary bloc member Artyusha Shahbazyan.
ARF Bureau member and parliamentary bloc leader Vahan Hovannesian said that the authorities had agreed to the protocols because they did not understand the inherent dangers and consequences to their actions.
“Officials also have national responsibilities,” he said. “They are responsible for our future generations.” The ARF has not abandoned its calls for Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian to resign, he added. For while in Turkey, the government has reached out to political forces on the matter, such efforts by Armenian officials have not been made in earnest. “The public at-large is not aware of the full scope of the developments,” Hovanessian said.
The ARF’s political affairs director, Giro Manoyan, said the authorities had not intention of amending the protocols.
“We are not given a chance to present our concerns to the people. There are two key provisions that disturb us: the recognition of the borders and the establishment of a commission tasked with addressing historical issues that would enable Turkey to discuss the issue of the genocide,” he said.