YEREVAN—The Armenian Parliament passed its final reading of a bill that restricts the right of students to military draft deferments.
According to RFE/RL’s Armenian service, 86 members of the 105-seat National Assembly of Armenia voted for the legislation on Nov. 15, while six parliamentarians of the Yelk faction voted against the measure.
Hundreds of students from Yerevan State University (YSU) and other universities have held demonstrations protesting the bill for the last seven days. The legislation stipulates that to get a military draft deferment, all male students who wish to pursue their studies must sign contracts with Armenia’s Ministry of Defense and agree to serve three years in the military after completing their studies.
The legislation also notes that if they do not sign the contract, the students will be drafted to the army and serve for two years once they turn 18.
Representatives of the protesting students met with Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan, Education and Science Minister Levon Mkrtchyan, and Defense Minister Vigen Sargsyan last week; however, protests—including the boycott of classes—continued, as the students claimed they were not satisfied with the government’s approach in the matter.
Five students of the group called “For Science Development” declared a hunger strike after locking themselves in a lecture room at YSU on Nov. 14. The students have since ended their hunger strike and joined fellow protesters outside Armenia’s National Assembly on Wednesday.
Leaders of the student protests declared a halt in their week-long protests soon after the passage of the bill. The decision, which was announced by activist David Petrosyan, came after his and four other protesters’ meeting with Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Eduard Sharmazanov, where they apparently reached an agreement to hold a round-table discussion next week.