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Armenia’s Parliament Adopts Military Draft Law Amid Student Protests

YEREVAN—The Armenian Parliament passed its final reading of a bill that restricts the right of students to military draft deferments.

A scene from a student protest outside Armenia’s National Assembly on Nov. 15 (Photo: Vahram Baghdasaryan/Photolure)

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.

4 Comments on Armenia’s Parliament Adopts Military Draft Law Amid Student Protests

  1. Armenia is located in an unforgiving neighborhood that requires Armenians to always be vigilant and ready for war. For the first time in one thousand years we have independence. Not only that, for the first time in well over one thousand years we have managed to liberate significant amounts of our historic territories. Yet, we have able bodied men doing all they can to avoid military service and Western funded activists from the Diaspora are encouraging them. So embarrassing. Turks are laughing.

  2. “Corruption” exists everywhere, especially in Azerbaijan, especially in the United States. Western inspired slogans like “there is corruption in Armenia” is simply an excuse many self-hating Armenians adopt and use it as an excuse to abandon their homeland and avoid any form of responsibility towards their state. That said, this military draft law is meant to eliminate corruption in that it no long gives the sons of the upper class in the country an easy way out of avoiding military service. With this law every 18 year old in the country has to serve regardless of class and/or so-called connections. The bottom line is this: If Armenians are not willing to serve in their country’s armed forces, regardless of the level of “corruption” that takes place in the country, than Armenians as a people don’t deserve statehood. This kind of constant whining and infighting is why we Armenians (and Greeks) lost all of Asia Minor to Turkic peoples during the past one thousand years.

  3. It is legislation that punishes those who continue with their education to an advanced level by increasing the period of their conscription compared to those who do not, and makes it worse by conscripting them as soon as they finish that education, the very time they are likely to be the most financially stressed and needing to find paid employment. It additionally implies that the attaining of that education is somehow unpatriotic, and that only the rich do it, and do it for dubious motives. Having a well-educated population is at least as important for a country’s security as having a well functioning army.

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