Electric Yerevan update 02/07/15
Sorry guys, had no time to post an update as I was too busy attending the debates during the protests + taking care of a sick baby
Here are the latest developments in #ElectricYerevan:
- The old “No to Plunder” steering committee is formally dissolving.
- The Freedom sqaure sit-in (which originated on June 28 through provocations) is declared over.
- The members of the old committee that were at Freedom square are joining the Baghramyan crowd as participants.
- A new steering committee is being formed, which includes members of old group plus wider involvement from other social movements.
- Daily general assemblies will be taking place on Baghramyan Ave.
- #ElectricYerevan name formally adopted by new steering committee.
- Last couple of nights were spent self-organizing into working groups and discussing next steps.
- Demands still the same: (1) The repeal of the electricity fare hike (2) Review of the current fare, to find ways to lower it. (3) The police officers (including plain clothes officers and those who gave orders) responsible for the crackdown against protesters last week must be held to account according to the letter of the law.
The journalists are slowly abandoning the avenue, foreign media says the protest is being dissolved and there are less and less people @ Baghramyan(2000-3000 thousand vs 20000-25000 people several days ago when the “No to Plunder” committee was still together). Molotov cocktails and street fights were expected and many seem to be disappointed but what actually happened is that the government tried to disperse the crowd by splitting the members of “No to Plunder” hoping that people will go home or just stay @ Freedom square thus opening Baghramyan ave.
On June 28 right after the President said he will subsidize the electricity price hike from the budget(i.e. our taxes) faking a solution by a word game, everyone expected police violence after 11PM if the avenue stays occupied. Around 7-8PM at Baghramyan one of the members of “No to Plunder” made an announcement that we need to form groups for public discussion and decide on our future actions(to stay or leave, formulating the demands, etc). They have already stated that they will stay with the majority and support us no matter what we decide on. So I walk away from the stage and try to see what groups are discussing. Not even 5 minutes later, I hear some people shouting “Freedom Square” and I see a line of people led by the member of “No to Plunder” walking all the way out of the avenue and towards the Freedom square taking with them half of the protesters. A panic raised in the crowd as people were deciding what to do next, while around 500+ police officers surrounded the protesters that did stay at the avenue, banging on their shields with batons, trying to scare the crowd and make people leave, and we were basically blocked from both sides with no way out. Yes, this part was really scary, but I knew that if we stay on the sidewalk the police can not touch us + they have no right to attack peaceful protesters, so people just sat on the street and waited.
Half an hour later, almost the whole crowd that left for Freedom Square+ more people came to join the protest at the avenue. This was a thrilling experience indeed. Police was blocking their way from entering and joining the rest but they eventually broke through. I actually hugged an old lady standing next to me out of joy to see my people uniting again.
But there was still a small crowd @ Freedom square together with the members of “No to Plunder” and the media focused all their attention on them purposefully, misinforming people by stating that the protest moved to Freedom square and the few ones left @ Baghramyan ave were drugged, extremist and looking to get beaten by the police. I couldn’t believe my ears on the way home listening to the radio in the taxi. Baghramyan was fuller than ever and the media is telling us it’s all over and the President solved our issues and this is victory!
Of course, nothing happened by 11PM as the police could not dare to attack such a huge crowd full of women and children. But the members of “No to Plunder” were gone(apparently they were blackmailed by the government - you stop this or you and your family will pay for it +reward(position, etc) and in case you tell anyone about this it will be even worse - though they do not admit - I talked to one of them yesterday and he just said they are not leading the movement but are around and try to organize public discussions throughout the country).
After June 28 things got even more hectic. Without a leader and ready made decisions people tried to form groups and discuss the further actions but there were lots of provocateurs inside the crowd that made people’s attention shift from the main topic. Also without the “leaders” we were deprived from all kind of audio equipment (loudspeakers, etc) which they took with them but we got some now.
From June 30 and till today intelligent and competent people gather together and discuss the agenda and further actions and I consider this as a victory as finally we try to self-organize and reach a consensus. Nobody is taking about having a leader and it’s all about self-organisation.
I tried to bring around the alternative/renewable energy but no interest so far unfortunately, looking for interested people who could actually help and I will get back to you both @Matthias and @trythis so that we can maybe have a skype call/google hangout and see how we can proceed. I think we will go for crowdfunding as the Armenian diaspora is ready to help so this is the best way to go + each building that will agree to have the solar panels installed(or any other alternative that is cheaper) will contribute as much as they can.
And here’s an article about the recent developments.
Will keep you posted.