Ongoing police violence against “Tavush for the Homeland” supporters

Police obstruct the entrance of Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II and accompanying clergy to the Sardarabad memorial complex (Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, May 28, 2024)

YEREVAN—Archbishop Bagrat Galstanyan, leader of the “Tavush for the Homeland” movement, led a march to the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Yerevan today to demand clarity and accountability regarding a confrontation between law enforcement and religious leaders yesterday at the Sardarabad memorial complex.

Following the departure of the “Tavush for the Homeland” movement supporters, led by Archbishop Galstanyan, from the Sardarabad memorial complex on May 28 around noon, an unexpected development unfolded as Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and religious dignitaries visited the site. While PM Pashinyan delivered a speech at the memorial in the afternoon, police officers in black berets attempted to obstruct the entrance of Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II and accompanying clergy to the memorial complex.

Footage of the incident, circulating widely online, portrays the confrontation between law enforcement and religious dignitaries. In a video shared by Supreme Reverend Zakaria Baghumyan, police personnel impede the passage of His Holiness into the Sardarabad memorial complex.

Expressing his dismay, Reverend Baghumyan admonished the police, denouncing their actions and urging accountability. “Shame on you, policemen,” he exclaimed. “You must identify these individuals by their faces.”

Father Yesai Artenyan, director of the Information System of the Mother See, confirmed the occurrence. “They obstructed the entrance of His Holiness the Patriarch without justification. I will furnish additional details subsequently,” he explained.

Father Artenyan affirmed that ultimately, His Holiness and the clergy succeeded in accessing the memorial site to pay their respects to the martyrs of the Battle of Sardarabad, who gave their lives for the independence of the First Republic of Armenia on May 28, 1918. 

In response, Archbishop Galstanyan announced on May 29 a decisive course of action: the “Tavush for the Homeland” movement would march to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Speaking from the solemn confines of Saint Anna Church, he articulated the pressing need for clarity regarding the chain of command within the ministry.

“Yesterday’s events underscored a troubling lack of accountability within our security apparatus. We witnessed an unacceptable attempt to impede our access to a site of national significance. Such actions demand answers,” declared Archbishop Galstanyan.

Claiming that he has close familiarity with Minister of Internal Affairs Vahe Ghazaryan’s inner circle, Archbishop Galstanyan said that their delegation sought not only explanations but tangible solutions. “Our objectives are clear, but every instance of malfeasance must be addressed. We will not tolerate impunity. Did directives for yesterday’s disturbances emanate from senior leadership? We demand unequivocal responses,” the archbishop continued.

Demonstrators then prevented Ghazaryan from accessing the National Assembly for a discussion on the performance of the state budget in 2023. Ghazaryan’s failure to engage with Archbishop Galstanyan and the assembled protesters further fueled tensions at the main building of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

As Ghazaryan remained sequestered within the government building, Archbishop Galstanyan addressed the gathered demonstrators, declaring, “You’ve achieved your objective; the minister did not proceed to the National Assembly.”

The protest, which began earlier in the day at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, culminated in the closure of the building, preventing Ghazaryan’s passage to the National Assembly. The demonstrators then redirected their march towards the St. Anna Church.

The Sardarabad memorial complex witnessed a surge of patriotic fervor on May 28 as supporters of the “Tavush for the Homeland” movement converged on the historic site on the eve of the 106th anniversary of the First Republic. Amidst anticipation and resolve, they were greeted by a multitude of citizens awaiting their arrival.

Archbishop Galstanyan had previously declared their intention to mark Republic Day on May 28 by staying at Sardarabad overnight. As evening descended, Archbishop Galstanyan and supporters of the movement prepared to spend the night in the vicinity of the memorial complex. Participants erected tents to shield them from the weather conditions, with the intention to deter any potential visit by PM Pashinyan the following morning.

Walking along the hallowed grounds of the memorial, Archbishop Galstanyan paid homage to the fallen heroes of the Battle of Sardarabad, emphasizing the imperative of honoring their legacy. “We must honor the memory of both our ancestors and the contemporary heroes who sacrificed their lives to shape our destiny,” remarked Archbishop Galstanyan.

Archbishop Bagrat Galstanyan addresses supporters of the “Tavush for the Homeland” movement at the Sardarabad memorial complex (Photo: Hoory Minoyan, May 28, 2024)

MP Garnik Danielyan of the opposition “Armenia” faction claimed that the PM had issued directives aimed at exacting revenge amidst mounting opposition to their government. According to Danielyan, these orders came in response to the failure in the regime’s plans, with the Catholicos of All Armenians identified as a target of vindictive measures.

“They are signaling that they will stop at nothing, resorting even to physical force if necessary. We must brace ourselves for anything from them,” remarked the deputy.

Expressing concern regarding the actions of the current government, Danielyan called for vigilance within Armenian society. Drawing from firsthand experience and correspondence, he shed light on PM Pashinyan’s plans to visit Sardarabad.

“As a member of the National Assembly, I’ve received communications indicating Pashinyan’s scheduled visit to Sardarabad. Just yesterday, I received an invitation for an event slated to commence at 8:30. It was evident that he intended to be present at that time. However, upon realizing our presence, he clandestinely entered the memorial. His motive, it seems, was to capture a favorable image, reminiscent of previous incidents such as Yerablur, where parents of fallen heroes were also beaten and carried away from the scene to allow Pashinyan to enter,” Danielyan said.

Earlier on May 27, a violent altercation unfolded as approximately 60 members of the black and red beret groups resorted to brute force against Ashot Simonyan, a deputy representing the “Armenia” faction in the National Assembly and chairman of the Supreme Council of the ARF in Armenia. Simonyan, who had closed the street with his vehicle to show his support for the “Tavush for the Homeland” movement, was forcibly dragged and assaulted by the police in front of the building of the Supreme Council of the ARF in Armenia. 

Footage circulating on the internet depicts the display of police brutality as officers attempt to apprehend MP Simonyan. Law enforcement officers can be seen resorting to excessive physical force, forcibly restraining Simonyan and subjecting him to aggression. Moreover, the footage captures police officers hurling expletives at the parliamentarian and at onlookers.

In a press briefing following these events, Ishkhan Saghatelyan, representative of the Supreme Council of the ARF and the deputy speaker of the National Assembly, condemned these actions, characterizing them as criminal and devoid of legal basis. He emphasized that they constitute a grave crime and will not go unpunished. 

Saghatelyan asserted that the police’s allegiance lies not with Prime Minister Pashinyan, whom he accused of complicity in genocide, but with President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan. “The police are executing Aliyev’s directives under Pashinyan’s guise,” Saghatelyan claimed.

Saghatelyan added that the crime was reported to the General Prosecutor’s Office and international bodies. He expressed frustration with what he called international double standards, criticizing global silence in the face of what he perceives as blatant violations of democracy in Armenia.

Saghatelyan concluded by highlighting Simonyan’s resilience, who sustained injuries in his confrontation with law enforcement. 

These events were followed by a declaration by professor and Artsakh war hero Gurgen Melikyan, who expressed support for the archbishop as the prime ministerial candidate, a decision precipitated by extensive deliberations and consultations over the past month. Melikyan, notably, announced Archbishop Galstanyan’s candidacy for prime minister by the “Tavush for the Homeland” movement at a rally held at Republic Square on May 26.

“Tavush for the Homeland” protest in central Yerevan (Photo: Anthony Pizzoferrato, May 26, 2024)

“Our movement has its roots deeply entrenched in the soil of Tavush, a region currently under threat. We are the fruits of that resilient tree nurtured by our homeland. Just as a person’s life is intricately linked with the land, so too is the destiny of a nation tied to its native soil. Our movement was ignited by an individual deeply attuned to this sentiment — a man who has dedicated three decades of service to the land. His commitment to service is akin to tending a garden, nurturing life from its very roots,” stated Melikyan.

He expressed the urgent need to rebuild the nation amidst challenging times, emphasizing the immense responsibility incumbent upon those willing to assume leadership roles. “We are on the cusp of a formidable journey, one that demands unwavering dedication. Whoever steps forward to shoulder this responsibility must be prepared for the most arduous service of their lifetime,” Melikyan remarked.

Hoory Minoyan

Hoory Minoyan

Hoory Minoyan was an active member of the Armenian community in Los Angeles until she moved to Armenia prior to the 44-day war. She graduated with a master's in International Affairs from Boston University, where she was also the recipient of the William R. Keylor Travel Grant. The research and interviews she conducted while in Armenia later became the foundation of her Master’s thesis, “Shaping Identity Through Conflict: The Armenian Experience.” Hoory continues to follow her passion for research and writing by contributing to the Armenian Weekly.

15 Comments

  1. Now, these convicts,felons, and March 1 2008 hooligans, disguised as police officers ( MY FOOT) have tear gas canisters at their disposals. When they start using them against the peaceful citizens, hopefully, they’ll grab the canisters and throw tgem back at these nomadic savages.

  2. Mrs Minoyan, you are a great jurnalist but your report is biased.I am a Canadian Armenian who has been visiting Armenia many times and for long periods. There is another side of events that you have skillfully omitted.

  3. SHAME on my people, the Armenians… You have had 4 YEARS since the humiliating defeat of Armenian forces in Karabagh war of 2020, and NONE of you even tried to put an end to this mentally handicapped bum called pashinyan and his kangaroo cabinet idiots – it takes a few bullets bullet to finish him and his idiot ministers off – are you THAT COWARDLY??? Amazingly painful to see the people and nation of Armenia suffer incessantly because of this failed government that YOU, unashamedly, elected to office. Come on, prove me wrong, is there ONE real mensch in Armenia who can do this job for the sake of saving the nation and the Motherland?
    But NO, who cares for Armenia and the country, you’re only interested in fraudulently making money to buy your next Mercedes Benz or BMW and show off to others, you’re only interested in leaving Armenia for good at the first opportunity you get, preferably to the U.S., Germany, Australia, UK or France or Dubai…
    By George, you Armenians prove to be the MOST UNPATRIOTIC PEOPLE that history has ever witnessed. AMOT TSEZI!

    • Correct on all counts. They flee to US so that they can do the things you mentioned. Disgraceful.

  4. Every single diasporan organization including, this one, had a hand in what is happening today. In 2018, you got what you wanted, “democracy” and “freedom from Russia”. Now, you are getting what you deserve…

    • @GURGEN, YOU’RE AN IDIOT. SURE, THE DIASPORA SUPPORTED PASHINYAN BECAUSE HE WAS THE ANSWER TO STOPPING ALL THE SCUM POLITICIANS AND CROOKS WHO WERE PLUNDERING AND DESTROYING ARMENIA, AND STEALING ALL THE DIASPORA’S HARD EARNED MONEY AND WORLDWIDE LOANS AND GRANTS. THINK BACK IN THAT PEA-SIZED BRAIN OF YOURS AND TRY TO REMEMBER WHO WALKED WITH PASHINYAN AND HIS TUKHOV MOVEMENT. NOT ONLY DID THE ARMENIANS OF ARMENIA VOTE FOR HIM THE FIRST TIME, BUT THEY STUPIDLY DOUBLED-DOWN AND VOTED FOR HIM AGAIN A SECOND TIME! THE DUMMIES YOU NEED TO POINT YOUR FINGER AT ARE THE ARMENIANS OF ARMENIA AND NOT THE DIASPORA! THE DIASPORA IS SICK AND TIRED OF PUMPING MONEY INTO ARMENIA WHICH HAS BEEN A DUMPSTER FIRE AND FAILED NATION OF CORRUPT AND GREEDY SCUM BAGS. ARMENIA HAS BEEN INDEPENDENT FOR 30+ YEARS AND STILL LOOKS LIKE A 3RD WORLD TOILET. THE ARMENIANS OF ARMENIA HAD THEIR CHANCE TO GOVERN ARMENIA AND RUINED IT WITH THEIR CORRUPTION, WASTE, MISMANAGEMENT, BRIBERY, TAX EVASION, ILLEGAL LAND GRABBING, AND EVERY OTHER NATION-DESTROYING BEHAVIORS. MOVE THE HELL OVER AND LET THE DIASPORA ARMENIANS TAKE OVER FOR A FEW YEARS. IF THAT DOESN’T WORK, PUT A FOR SALE SIGN ON ARMENIA BECAUSE ARMENIA IS A LOST EFFING CAUSE!!!

    • Bravo Gurgen. Us Gurgens must think alike. Funny how all these previously pro-Pashinyan supporters are suddenly anti-Pashinyan when we were warning them from 2018 that the guy was bad news. I guess it took the loss of our most sacred homeland Artsakh for these idiots to realise their mistake.

      As Bagrat Srpazan says, the first step for the Armenian people in the long road to recovery is repentance. That means every previously pro Pashinyan supporter, including Serj Tankan and Arsine Kanjian must look in the mirror and admit their stupidity and admit that perhaps they’re not intellectual equipped to make objective decisions about the homeland. In the case of Tankian and Khanjian they should issue public apology immediately and support the Tavush Movement otherwise they’ll forever be known as degenerates who fulfilled an important function for our genocidal neighbours.

    • @Truth Armenian

      Try uncapping your letters. It reads better.

      The diaspora brought in Nikol Pashinyan. Nikol is Berge Setrakian’s man. The AGBU spent years demonizing Robert Kocharyan, literally 6 months after he took office from LTP.

      Kocharyan won, LTP was a kapitulant. AGBU and its massive polsahye membership had vested interests in playing nice with Turkey. So, with the aide of US NGOs, like Soros’ open society foundations, Nikol was brought in.

      AGBU and Polsahyes hoped to gain by opening up the border. Soros, OSF, and other western NGOs hoped to gain by turning one of Russia’s allies against Russia, and expanding Russian resources.

      Ultimately, the price is Artsakh, and daily humiliation with Nikol Pashinyan.

      Hope AGBU, Noubar Afeyan, Berge Setrakian, and the rest of the AGBU bandits earned their 30 pieces of silver.

    • Thank you, brother. Sadly, an Armenians’ ego will never admit fault. We as a collective will therefore never repent. If Armenia survives these times, it will do so because of the region’s Russian and Iranian geopolitical factors.

  5. THE DIASPORA IS FILLED WITH THOUSANDS OF HIGHLY EDUCATED AND SKILLFULL ARMENIANS WITH PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCES IN ENGINEERING, DIPLOMACY, LAW, EDUCATION, TECHNOLOGY, MEDICINE, SECURITY, MILITARY, CULINARY, CONTRUCTION, ETC. AND ETC. YET, ARMENIA AND THE ARMENIAN GOVERNMENT ARE RUN BY REJECTS WHO CAN’T SEEM TO GET ARMENIA OFF THE GROUND AND RUNNING!!! IT IS HIGHLY UNBELIEVABLE HOW PATHETIC OUR SITUATION IS WITH SO MUCH WASTED TALENT!!! IF ARMENIA WANTS TO JOIN THE WEST AND BE A FREE, DEMOCRATIC, STRONG, AND PROSPEROUS GOVERNMENT, THEN ARMENIANS OF ARMENIA, WITH THEIR CORRUPT, SOVIET MENTALITIES, NEED TO STEP ASIDE AND ALLOW DIASPORA ARMENIANS TO RUN THE NATION. IT’S BEEN DECADES AFTER THE 1991 INDEPENDENCE OF ARMENIA, AND THE ARMENIANS OF ARMENIA HAVE COMPLETELY TRASHED THE COUNTRY AND RUN IT INTO THE GROUND. ARMENIANS CAN’T GOVERN ARMENIA. PERIOD!
    MOVE THE HELL OVER AND EITHER LET THE DIASPORA TAKE OVER BY SHUTTING YOUR BEAKS AND OBEYING THEIR ORDERS, OR JUST GIVE THE KEYS TO ARMENIA TO JAPAN, SINGAPOR, OR SOUTH KOREA WHO WILL TRANSFORM ARMENIA TO A MODERN AND THRIVING REPUBLIC IN 5 YEARS. ENOUGH IS EFFING ENOUGH!

    • Ummm thats the most illogical thing Ive ever read

      Countries prosper because of systems

      The current system in Armenia is a cesspool, littered with foreign NGOs bribing Armenians to sell what little they have left, to turkic and western interests.

      #AgentPashinyan is the culminating of the west meddling, to expand NATO to the west.

      Your premise also assumes that the so-called west is best. Which aspect? Trudeau denying truckers the right to protest by turning their bank accounts off?

      Do you believe that Armenia should adopt LGBTQIA+, given Armenia has a demographic crisis?

      Fauci funding gain-of-function research in Wuhan, Ukraine, and even in Armenia?

      Your entire perspective is not based on what is best for Armenia

      Armenia’s only worth is to Russia and Iran, as a buffer to Turkic expansionism. Why did NATO force the Greeks to stand down when the Turks were devouring northern cyprus?

  6. There are two diasporas.

    The first comprises Armenians who live in every part of the world except America.

    The second are the American Armenians.

    The first Diaspora could prove some help to Armenia.

    The second Diaspora are nutters who want to serve their American masters by using Armenia against Russia. All of the second diaspora failed their geography exams.

    Armenians must be very wary of the second diaspora.

  7. There is no hope for Armenia if Pash remains. We must stay neutral. Pash will turn Armenia into Ukraine of the Caucuses. Stay away from those who are pushing this agenda.

  8. Staying neutral for a poor, remote, landlocked and a tiny country in the south Caucasus like Armenia is as good as Armenia being pro-Western and pro-Turkish. Armenia’s natural place on earth is in a close union with Russia.

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