BELMONT, Mass. – The Armenian Renaissance movement Boston chapter organized a discussion on the dramatic developments in Armenia on April 30, a day prior to a first attempt at parliamentary elections of a new prime minister. Five speakers, four living in the Boston area and one from Armenia via Skype, provided their insights into the situation.
Martin Haroutunian, the representative of the Boston chapter of the Renaissance movement, which was formed about two years ago, welcomed the audience. Haroutunian explained that Armenian Renaissance is a diasporan grassroots movement supporting the Founding Parliament in Armenia and the current movements in Armenia such as My Step and the Revolution of Love and Solidarity, and advocating the release of all political prisoners in Armenia. The Boston chapter is part of a network of chapters all around the globe.
He introduced the moderator, Berge Ayvazian, cochair of the Board of Trustees of the First Armenian Church. Ayvazian said that the evening’s event was designed to disseminate information so people become aware of what is going on right now in Armenia and promote dialogue. The talks were primarily in English, but the discussion also at times took place in English.
Writer and photojournalist Roubina Margossian, the first speaker, joined the audience via Skype from Yerevan and described the present situation in Armenia. Margossian, born and raised in Lebanon, was a correspondent for Kuwait TV from Lebanon and in Armenia previously served as the English-language editor at CivilNet. At present, she is the Managing Editor at EVN Report.
As someone who has attended nearly all the rallies and has been out on the street every day, Margossian said that the atmosphere was almost “post-apocalyptic,” when in the early days of the protests people slept in the streets, with heaters. The situation began changing so quickly, she said, that news agencies were not able to keep up and provide analyses. Attitudes in the general population have changed, especially toward girls and women, she continued. All the past opposition movements in Armenia have left their traces on this one.
Detentions stopped after a while and the last week has been relatively calm, with few detentions. Ayvazian and Haroutunian asked Margossian a number of questions. She said that the maximum capacity of the public square 150,000 people, but since the movement is a network movement, there are similar demonstrations in other cities of Yerevan so there is no accurate total figure for the demonstrators. According to the leaders of the movement, this is not a “color revolution,” but is “color-blind,” she said.