Hayaqve: A Civil Legislative Initiative to Stop the Betrayal of Artsakh and Armenia’s Future

Hayaqve is a civil legislative initiative launched by 66 civic activists. They have submitted a draft law to the Central Election Commission of Armenia which stipulates severe criminal punishment for recognizing Artsakh as part of another state on behalf of the Republic of Armenia, as well as for refusing international recognition of the Armenian Genocide. 

The proposed amendments to the Criminal Code of the Republic of Armenia are: 

Article 1. To supplement the Criminal Code of the Republic of Armenia of May 5, 2021, with the following content, Articles 420.1 and 420.2:

Article 420.1. Recognizing Artsakh as part of any other state
Recognizing Artsakh as part of any other state on behalf of the Republic of Armenia is punishable by imprisonment for ten to fifteen years.

Article 420.2. Refusing to recognize the Armenian Genocide, publicly denying, justifying, or belittling the Armenian Genocide
Refusing to recognize the Armenian Genocide on behalf of the Republic of Armenia, publicly denying, justifying, or belittling the Armenian Genocide is punishable by imprisonment for ten to fifteen years.

Article 2. This law enters into force on the tenth day following the day of its official publication.

The Hayaqve legislative initiative has 60 days to collect 50,000 open votes in favor of these changes to force a parliamentary hearing. Given that all levers of power, including the Parliament, are in the hands of the ruling regime, it is highly unlikely that a favorable resolution will pass at the Parliament. The next step will be to collect 300,000 official signatures to force a referendum. This is the actual target, with the first phase helping to establish the process in the country, to generate support and to further elucidate the collaborationist nature of the ruling regime. 

Armenian citizens must go to their town centers with passports and officially register for this initiative. To reiterate, these signatures must be done at town centers, during business hours, with a valid Armenian passport. There is an online registration option as well, which requires the rarely used Armenian passport card, yet another means to stymie a democratic process. The law is designed to discourage such a movement given the legal obstacles in place, in addition to the fear and intimidation factor, where citizens are to go to their town center and vote against the policies of the ruling regime. Of course, and as expected, the Armenian government has made many efforts to derail and slow the process and reduce the time the initiative has to collect signatures. Nonetheless, the process is well underway, and in three weeks, they have already collected 38,500 signatures. 

This pan-national movement is borne out of the need to restore self-respect for the nation and the need to stand for our values and not cede to the enemy and their manipulations, something that the current regime has been more than willing to do, despite their long-term catastrophic effects on the future of our nation.

The ruling regime and its cronies are hard at work, with two familiar scare tactics at their disposal.  They are making incredible leaps to connect the Hayaqve movement to the nakhkins (նախկիններ), preposterous and laughable leaps; and second, they resort to their favorite bogeyman, Aliyev, who will launch another attack, should such an initiative take hold. Let us make no mistake, Hayaqve is looking for peace and not war. It only aims to reflect the will of our people. It shows the enemy that the Armenian nation is not easily intimidated and clarifies that the enemy will not start a war because they will not win.

It is clear to our people that the ruling regime is the only guilty party in the war. The person occupying the Prime Minister’s seat agreed that they could not win the war, reflecting their ineptitude and collaborationist mindset and not the will or the strength of the Armenian nation. The current dialogue only has one winner, and that is the current regime and their hold on power, the same regime that brought war and destruction to the nation; yet they blame everyone else for their treachery and ineptitude. They may be working in lockstep with the Aliyev regime to rattle the sabers of war as their ultimate scare card – the same cadre who has imprisoned all military leaders who have fought and succeeded against the enemy. This strategy is paying dividends, as they keep ceding Armenian lands to the enemy without the enemy firing a shot. What will these collaborators ask next? That every Armenian give one room in their house to an Azeri to avoid war? The initiative simply states the will of the Armenian people that Artsakh is Armenian and will always be Armenian. This has been demonstrated in the past 30 years and most recently in an overwhelming poll conducted by the Pew Research Center.

Figure 1. Hayaqve locations in Yerevan

To reiterate, there are 12 centers in Yerevan, and nearly 40 centers in the regions have been established to offer Armenian citizens a chance to make their voices heard. All Armenian citizens and Diaspora Armenians who hold Armenian citizenship, 18 years and older, are highly encouraged to register for the Hayaqve in Armenia. They can go to any location with a Hayakve desk with their Armenian passport or ID card during regular business hours (9 a.m. – 6 p.m.). Please refer to Figure 1 for all locations in Yerevan. 

Please visit hayaqve.am or visit their site on Facebook for up-to-date information on centers in the regions.

Also, all those who have an Armenian passport card can register online by following these instructions:

  1. Use your authentication card reader connected to the USB port. The card reader does not require software to work.
  2. The authentication process only works with Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge browsers at the moment. You must also have the Cryptocard monitor software installed on the computer.
  3. Use your PIN code to initiate the authentication process, where your personal info will appear on the screen, along with the list of any initiatives.
  4. Once there, the Hayaqve initiative screen will present pertinent information and the citizen’s personal information. The citizen will have the option to join, reject or print the initiative. The citizen is presented with a code upon joining the initiative. Please keep in mind that each citizen can do so only once. 

Diasporans who hold an Armenian passport are strongly encouraged to stop by one of the centers in Yerevan or the regions to sign the petition. Every signature counts, and we must do our part to stand up for Artsakh and our values.

Ara Nazarian, PhD

Ara Nazarian, PhD

Ara Nazarian is an associate professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Harvard Medical School. He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a degree in mechanical engineering, followed by graduate degrees from Boston University, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and Harvard University. He has been involved in the Armenian community for over a decade, having served in a variety of capacities at the Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society, the Armenian Cultural and Educational Center, Armenian National Committee of America, St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation.

1 Comment

  1. To support the “Hayakve” initiative, the citizens of Armenia are called to sign the “Havasdakir“, the best translation I came with is “statement of confirmation”, which attests the following: “Today you take control of the constitution and the laws of your state, the fate of your generations”. I simply can not relate the signing of the “Havsdakir”, with the objectives of the “Hayakve”, initiative, which quoiting you, “stipulates severe criminal punishment for recognizing Artsakh as part of another state on behalf of the Republic of Armenia, as well as for refusing international recognition of the Armenian Genocide.”

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