Police deploy stun grenades, injuring dozens of “Tavush for the Homeland” protesters

Police and protesters on Baghramyan Ave. (Photo: “Tavush for the Homeland,” June 12, 2024)

YEREVAN—At least 30 protesters were injured when police fired stun grenades at a “Tavush for the Homeland” demonstration outside of the Armenian National Assembly today.

While Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan participated in a question and answer session with deputies inside the parliament building, movement leader Archbishop Bagrat Galstanyan and thousands of supporters gathered on Baghramyan Avenue, directly in front of the National Assembly. The movement has set up tents on Baghramyan Avenue since June 9 to demand a vote of no confidence in the current regime. 

“The man who failed the state must not be able to freely go to work and cynically ignore the pain caused to our people because of him,” Archbishop Galstanyan said, calling on protesters to prevent PM Pashinyan from exiting the building.

At least 86 protesters have been detained so far in a clash with police. Moments after protesters and police threw bottles at each other, the police fired stun grenades, injuring dozens of protesters as well as several journalists. One person’s hand was blown off after he picked up one of the grenades to throw it back at the police. Ambulances arrived at the scene to provide first aid. 

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PM Pashinyan defended the police’s actions, stating from the podium of the National Assembly that they are fulfilling “functions assigned to them by the law,” while the protests continued outside of the building. “Tavush for the Homeland” published a video depicting the prime minister quickly leaving parliament following the police deployment of stun grenades.

Late on the night of June 11, participants of the movement also erected border markers in front of the National Assembly gates. These markers, bearing the words “delimitation” and “demarcation,” symbolize their opposition to the border delimitation process and the concession of four villages in Tavush to Azerbaijan.

Archbishop Galstanyan, speaking at a rally on June 9 at Republic Square, criticized developments in the negotiation process between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Archbishop Galstanyan said that this proposed agreement, rather than fostering peace, represents a series of unilateral concessions to Azerbaijan’s endless demands.

Addressing the crowd, Archbishop Galstanyan voiced the frustrations of the supporters of the movement, stating, “Azerbaijan’s demands are endless, and the representatives of Armenia are ready to satisfy all of them, as long as they can keep their seat, but we cannot tolerate this. We cannot live in constant humiliation and anxiety. We must change this situation, and we can. We have that potential.”

He called for collective mobilization, declaring, “At this moment, we have to make a decision together. We can solve the problem if, starting from tomorrow, for only four days, 96 hours without a break, without going to work, without rest, without a long sleep, we will be on the streets to impose our will.”

Tents on Baghramyan Ave. (Photo: Anthony Pizzoferrato)

Archbishop Galstanyan outlined specific steps, including initiating a parliamentary session on June 11 for the resignation of the government and the formation of a new one by opposition members. Additionally, he urged the Council of the National Assembly to convene an extraordinary session on June 10 to approve this change in government based on popular demand.

These announcements reflect a growing sense of urgency and determination among the opposition movement to address the perceived shortcomings in the negotiation process and safeguard Armenia’s interests in the face of mounting pressure from Azerbaijan.

The president of the National Assembly Alen Simonyan stated on June 10 that the National Assembly Council has decided to dismiss the request made by the “Armenia” and “I Have Honor” opposition parliamentary factions to convene an extraordinary session. Simonyan emphasized that the resignation of the government is not within the scope of their agenda.

Meanwhile, the negotiation process for a peace treaty between Yerevan and Baku has entered a critical phase. Beginning in early June, discussions on the treaty have once again become prominent in the news cycle.

Between June 4-7, Armenia and Azerbaijan engaged in a fresh exchange of remarks and recommendations concerning the content of the treaty. However, the exchanges have revealed starkly contrasting interpretations of the negotiation process from the Armenian and Azerbaijani perspectives.

In recent statements at a TURKPA meeting on June 6, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said that Azerbaijan will not sign a treaty unless Armenia revises its constitution, which he said include “territorial claims” to Azerbaijan. Armenia’s constitution refers to the unification of Armenia and Artsakh. 

President Aliyev suggested that such “territorial claims” could serve as a pretext for future conflict. He urged Armenia to abandon any “revanchist” ideas, which he said are prevalent not only among opposition groups but also within the current Armenian government.

Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan responded that Armenia has no territorial claims against any neighbors, including Azerbaijan. The foreign ministry emphasized that any discussions regarding Armenia’s constitution are internal matters and accused Azerbaijan of undermining the peace process with its interference in domestic affairs.

On June 12, PM Pashinyan said that amending the Armenian constitution cannot be part of the negotiation process. He said that there are “tendencies to intervene in the internal affairs of Armenia” based on “disinformation.” 

On June 6, Aliyev also proposed that Armenia support the dissolution of the OSCE Minsk Group, the primary international body tasked with mediating the Artsakh conflict. He said that Armenia’s opposition to this would indicate ongoing territorial ambitions.

In response, Simonyan stated that the Minsk Group would only become unnecessary if a peace treaty is signed. Armenia does not see the dissolution of the group as a precondition for the treaty but rather a subsequent step.

Despite these ongoing tensions, Armenia’s Foreign Ministry announced on June 7 that it is ready to finalize a peace treaty within a month, acknowledging that some disagreements remain. That optimism stands in contrast to the continued confrontational rhetoric from Azerbaijani authorities.

In a recent op-ed, MP Arman Abovyan argued that there is a significant disparity in starting conditions for the negotiations between the parties. Armenia and Azerbaijan hold profoundly divergent expectations regarding the aims of the negotiations.

Protestors place symbolic border post in front of the National Assembly gates with the word “demarcation” (Photo: “Tavush for the Homeland” Telegram channel)

The Armenian government appears willing to accept the post-2020 war regional framework, including recognizing Artsakh as part of Azerbaijan and “coming to terms with” the ethnic cleansing of Armenians in the region. Moreover, Armenia has signaled its readiness to open all regional communications, including those linking Azerbaijan’s main territory with Nakhichevan, and to undertake border demarcation in line with the Alma Ata Declaration. These concessions indicate Armenia’s willingness to meet Azerbaijan’s prerequisites for the peace treaty.

However, while Armenia views the treaty as a final step in confirming the existing regional dynamics, Azerbaijan is using it as an intermediate move towards realizing its strategic goal of fragmenting Armenia. Abovyan argued Azerbaijan’s demands, including revising Armenia’s constitution, establishing a corridor through the Syunik region without Armenian control and settling Turkish populations on Armenian territory, reveal its intentions to fundamentally alter Armenia’s national character and territorial integrity.

Azerbaijan aims to dismantle Armenian statehood, evident in its anti-Armenian propaganda and territorial claims. In light of these realities, the Armenian authorities’ optimism regarding a negotiated settlement with Azerbaijan appears misplaced, Abovyan argued.

The negotiations, once envisioned as a path to peace, have now become a forum for discussing terms that threaten the existence of Armenian statehood. It is imperative for the Armenian government to reassess its approach, lest it inadvertently contribute to the erosion of Armenia’s sovereignty and identity, Abovyan concluded.

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.

30 Comments

  1. Brothers and sisters!

    Bishop Bagrat is a Russian agent! Putler (Putin + Hitler = Putler) is making him go against our beloved, twice elected, freedom and democracy loving prime minister. How dare those undemocratic Russians want Armenians to return to Artsakh after our twice duly elected, western financed and democratic leader officially abandoned Artsakh during a high level meeting in Europe on October 6, 2022?

    We need to stop undemocratic Russians from ruining the historic peace process between Armenians and Turks. Undemocratic Russians caused the genocide in 1915. Before undemocratic Ivan showed up in Turkey, Armenians and Turks were best of friends. It can happen again!

    Slava Ukraini! Viva Pashinyan! Down with Russia!

    • Hi Greg,
      You mean to tell me Russians dont want Armenians to abandon Karabakh and that’s why they sent one of their deep cover agents in our church to stop our democratic leader? Well that’s just outrageous. Freedom and democracy loving Armenians made their choice in 2018 and 2021. Our country our choice!

    • Shame on you, Turkish agent, shut your mouth!
      Pashinyan is a criminal and must be brought to the international court together with your masters aliev and erdogan.

  2. Pashoglu and his western turkic cronies are finished. When you use force against the people you are already overthrown. What a sad state of affairs that the people of the former soviet Armenia were tricked by the turks and their western backers. The loss of Artsakh and death of thousands of young men was the result. Shame on our greed and foolishness to allow this to happen.

  3. Pashinyan belongs to the Turks, the Israelis, the Americans and the American Armenians, he is their man.

    The only one speaking up for Armenia is Archbishop Bagrat Galstanyan.

    Revolution now!

    All power to Bagrat!

  4. I see Armenia is enjoying the fruits of democracy brought to you by the United States and brain-dead local collaborator compradors.

  5. If anybody wants proof that Pashinyan is Turks’, Jews’ and America’s man just look at the gigantic size of the American embassy of the American embassy in Yerevan.

    What the heck do need such an immense embassy for?

    What are the Americans doing in there?

    It’s obvious that they’re meddling in Armenia’s affairs.

    Unfortunately, for the Americans, Geography cannot be defeated.

    • @ Robert Whig, the USA after the attacks on the Kenyan and Tanzanian embassies in 1998, has a policy of establishing large embassies which are rather fortified and a wide envelope of space around it the embassy was opened in 2006 in the days when Armenia had an excellent relationship with Russia.

      Geography means that Arktash was encircled by Azeri SSR until Armenia established the lachin corridor in the first war and after 2020 was encircled by Azeri troops while Russian peacekeepers stood doing nothing to enable the full asertation of Azeri control and supervision of the exodus of the Armenian population save for the officials sought by Azerbaijan now in Baku. Geography also means that Russia adjoins Georgia and it’s friend Azerbaijan whom it’s formally settled it’s boundaries with unlike Georgia where Russia is in occupation of parts of its internationally recognised territory. Hence even if Russia was committed to Armenia it’s not in good position to assist due to – er geography …

  6. Armenians have been around for 3.000 years, but we haven’t run our own independent country since 1375. 70 years as Soviet Armenia doesn’t count and this mess, after the fall of the soviet union, just shows how backward and infantile we are at governing ourselves. Bagrat srpazan appears to be the first real leader speaking truth. I hope he succeeds.

    • News flash: we didn’t run our country in 1375 either. French nobility was in charge of Cilicia at the time. In 3000 years, Armenians have been truly “independent” maybe a hundred years. Armenians have the desperate need to revisit their history books, and read without rose colored glasses…

  7. Negotiating with the Azeris and their big blood brother Turks is a search for ‘fools gold’. Every ounce of energy within Armenia and the diaspora should be focused on defense in preparation for the inevitable invasion by the Turks in quest for their pan-Turkic domain. This final genocidal assault to remove the indigenous Armenians from our homeland is coming – maybe next year, in five years or fifty years – but it is coming. Mark my words.

    • There is no need for any Armenian to despair.

      Istanbul is a very nice – built on geological fault lines!!!!!!

      A strong and confident Armenia, bristling with long range missiles, will know where to target to hit those weak points so as to induce an earthquake.

      Armenia can destroy Istanbul at a fraction of the cost of nuclear weapons.

      But for all this to happen, Bagrat must come to power and Pashinyan must be removed.

      The future is bright if only Armenians seize the moment!

  8. Pashinyan is the biggest traitor in Armenian history. I cannot think of a worse one. He is like the Armenian version of Pierre Laval of France and Vidkun Qisling of Norway, who enthusiastically cooperated with the German Nazi occupiers, accepted the dismemberment of their countries’ territorial integrity, and the dismantling of their countries’ independence and statehood. Pashinyan is already on this path and the longer he stays in power (through repression and as a dictator from now on, because he has no chance of being democratically elected and gain legitimacy by a popular mandate), this is the fate that awaits Armenia. Not since World War One has Armenia been in such a perilous situation. To hell how the West and the “international community” in general would react, but Pashinyan must be deposed either through a revolution or a coup d’etat, because he is not going to leave power willingly and let alone through democratic elections.

    • @Robert Whig , your suggestion about using missiles to induce an earthquake is simply delusional. Earthquakes are driven by sustained force deep below the earths surface expressing themselves upward. A missile could only cause a brief shallow tremor . Such comments are embarrassing and idiotic. Earthquakes are erratic and dispassionate.

  9. Yes to Martin, above

    Just the fact that the turks and azeris deny the Armenian Genocide occurred is an indication that these two crooked countries (yes, crooked) are acting in bad faith. And if the puppets currently in power in hayastan fulfill their plan, Armenia will at worst cease to be no more and at best would be fully subjugated by the turks and the population turkified. Pashoglu is a full on instrument by the west to wipe out Armenia and thereby cutoff Russia from Iran in that region.

  10. Robert Whig

    I wholeheartedly agree with all of this, but there is no need to destroy Istanbul with a nuclear weapon, because the expected 7.5-8.0 magnitude earthquake is going to destroy Istanbul either in this decade or in the next decade at the latest, according to most world-renowned seismologists, including Turkish ones.

    The 1500 km long North Anatolian fault line runs parallel only 10-20 km south of Istanbul’s shoreline. This faultline has caused numerous destructive and deadly earthquakes in Istanbul’s 2600 year long existence. Some of these earthquakes also caused tsunamis, which exacerbated the destruction and the death toll, and also increased the death toll if they happened in the cold winter months and at night.

    The last strong earthquake to directly hit and devastate Istanbul, occurred in 1766. The last strong earthquake to indirectly hit Istanbul, as the epicenter was more than 50 km away, but caused widespread damage and a significant death toll of more than 1300, occurred in 1894, when the city had only one million inhabitants. Now Istanbul has 16 million inhabitants, is very densely populated, and most of the buildings are not built to withstand strong 7+ magnitude or even 6+ magnitude earthquakes.

    Istanbul (along with Tehran and a few other Third World cities) is a candidate for the first million death quake in world history. That city is a ticking time bomb counting down for The Big One. Istanbul is 100% doomed.

    • If Armenia is still in existence with a competent leader at the time of the projected Istambul earthquake, no aid should be directed for earthquake relief. In fact it would be an ideal time to attack Azerbaijan and take back Artsakh from those rotten liars, theives, and murderers.

  11. Gurgen
    I dont know what history books your reading, maybe its from the comic section. The french didnt run Giligia. It was an independent state for 300 years. As far as being ‘truly independent for only 100 years’ thats also rubbish, something turkic apologists harp about.

    • Like I said, do yourself a favor and revisit the history books. Also look up the genealogy of Cilicia’s last ruling family. Armenia had three golden periods. First one, under Urartian rule. Second one, under Persian rule. Third one, under Soviet rule. All in all, Armenia was truly indepedent (i.e. not dependent on a neighboring superpower for survival) probably less than 100 years during the last 3000 years. Instead of day dreeming and wishful thinking, read. It may help you…

  12. @Steve M

    Armenia needs a missile program to help that earthquake along.

    A targeted missile strike at the geological weak points along the fault lines is all that’s needed.

    Let the Turks live in fear.

  13. I am mystified by some of the comments, especially, by “Greg”, either he’s a clownish troll who’s putting up “comical” spoof posts or he’s being deadly serious, in which case he’s worse than Pashinyan, as he is a dhimmi who truly believes that the Turks are superior

  14. What happened the last few days in Yerevan was an attempt to steal the power by someone called Pagrad, with Catholicos Karekin the guy who received a metal from Putin {try to give the Pope a medal} and our Tashnags with Kocharian. These people robbed the nation of their wealth, taking their money to Russia, and hide there themselves. Tashnags are looked as traitors and enemy of the people, this is where they got their Stupid policies. May God help us. Today Russia is threatening us.

  15. Pashinyan sent Armenia’s precious aid to Turkey after an earthquake hit that country in February 2023 (as if that country is lacking resources!), when (adding insult to injury) at the very same time, the Artsakhis, who very much needed the aid from Armenia, were subjected to the cruel starvation blockade by Azerbaijan with Turkish support! Did Turkey even acknowledge, let alone thank Armenia for this aid? Of course not! As it turned out, Azerbaijan with the collusion of Turkey, starved and terrorized the Artsakhis, as a prelude to ethnically cleanse all of them and destroy Artsakh. What did Pashinyan do? He sent peace overtures to the two genocidal Turkic archenemies! Nobody should forget any treachery of that disgusting little man.

  16. Gurgen, your response reeks of turkish propanda, are you turkish? Or just a dense cynical armenian? It is you who needs to read the history books. Armenia was independent from its inception to the first century AD. then from the 3rd century AD to 428 AD. It regained independence with the Bagratid kingdom from 850 to 1045 AD and Giligia from 1080 to 1375. There were alliances and influences but they were effectively independent during those periods. Read Hovannian, Toumanoff, Chahin, and Khorrnatsi. At such a critical period in Armenian history for you to be little our proud history is dishonest, cynical and shameful from someone who purports to be Armenian.

  17. I see what I am dealing with. I will just remind you that Armenia was desperately dependet on Rome, Persia and Byzantium for survival during those periods. During the Arsahkuni period, Armenia’s rulers were basically a scion of Persian nobility. Similar to how Armenia today is not “independent” either. Enjoy your fantasy world. Done with you…

    • Gurgen, I know what i’m talking about – you don’t. Your going against all the established historians by minimizing Armenia’s history. Your responses are cynical, and really anti-armenian. In your estimation then, only the Roman and Persian Empires were independent. Laughable. Go support your Pashoglu.

  18. Shame on Pasha Pashinyan! What is the difference between him and tyrannical Erdogan? None! He thinks that he is king of Armenia ignoring and beating up defenseless people?
    And what the democratic international press or politicians are telling about? Silence! Shame on them!

  19. If the people living in Armenia want to maintain their statehood and not be ruled and dictated to by the turks and their western financed overlords, they must overthrow Pashoglu and his silly entourage. Every Armenian will either leave or be turkified – is that what they want? Yes, to survive it will be necessary to re-establish ties and alliances with the Russians and Iranians. That is the reality of having a state in that region. With good leadership, corruption can be removed and Armenians can preserve their Armenian nationhood and culture. Under turkish domination this is impossible.

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