Monday, March 2, 2009
“The struggle is good,” the intellectual said. “And it’s important. I only wish the leaders of the opposition were different people. I’m waiting for someone I can believe in. But I hope the turnout at the rally is big, so the president and his men understand, and see with their own eyes, that people are dissatisfied, and want change.”
As I walked up Mashtots, and saw that people were standing all the way down to Nairi Cinema, I knew the turnout was a large one. Making my way up to where the street turns and becomes Koryun (Srjanayin), I saw a group of about 100 university age students marching along the street, holding flags high and shouting “Ankakh Hayastan,” before winding their way through the crowd and up the stone steps towards the Matenadaran. As opposed to the rallies of several months ago, making one’s way to the top steps was difficult. The crowd seemed to be at least 50,000, as people were spread all over the surrounding hillsides and along the steps leading towards the top where Levon Ter Petrosyan and his people gathered.
Before introducing Ter Petrosyan, the speaker read the names of those who died on March 1 of last year, and then asked for a minute of silence. He then introduced Ter Petrosyan as “the president of Armenia.” The crowd, many holding banners and flags, began shouting “Levon, nakhagah…” The former president began by telling of Human Rights Watch’s recent declaration about the illegality and lack of justice of the government involving the trials and imprisonment of many involved in last year’s protests. I remembered one of my own reasons for coming to the rally, besides to remember those who died last year, that being the words of a higher up in the ruling party: “Why have a rally…all they should do is have a memorial evening of sorts…there’s no reason to hold a rally, all is well in Armenia.”
Having another engagement (a memorial for architect Armen Hakhnazaryan, a noted patriot who did much for the study and research of Armenian historical monuments, and who died recently), I had to leave the rally early, barely making my way down Mashtots, as men and women, old and young, continued to make their way up the hill towards the Matenadaran.