Demonstrators from Bright Armenia assembled in front of the Parliament building at 4:30 p.m. on September 16, 2020 (image courtesy of news.am)

A Day of Protest in Yerevan: Demands for Resignation of Minister of Education

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By Mateos Hayes

Special to the Mirror-Spectator

YEREVAN – It was a hot Wednesday of demonstrations in front of the Armenian Parliament on September 16 as angry demonstrators from the opposition party Lusavor Hayastan [Bright Armenia] protested against Arayik Harutyunyan, Armenia’s current minister of education, science, culture, and sport.

Arayik Harutyunyan, the Armenian minister of education, science, culture, and sport (image courtesy of Aysor)

Waving signs declaring “Education is our Right!”, “Arayik Resign!”, and depicting Harutyunyan as an “pandemic for education,” demonstrators protested against what they saw as extreme reforms by the Ministry of Education, which “[threatened to] destroy the national values that represent the national identity of the Armenian people.”

A protestor’s sign reading “Education is Our Right” (photo Mateos Hayes)

Protestors at the rally did not mince words in denouncing Harutyunyan, with one demonstrator, Vahagn Chakhalyan, declared that Harutyunyan “belonged in the trash.” Chakhalyan, the head of Kamq, an ultra-conservative activist group which also participated in the rally, was promptly arrested after this statement. Demonstrators allege that personnel in the ministry of education were inexperienced and may be compromised by foreign powers. They accused the Ministry of Education of attempting to institute “anti-Armenian” material into the curriculum. This protest formed yet another link in the chain of Bright Armenia’s opposition to the Ministry of Education’s reforms since 2018.

A protestor’s sign labelling Harutyunyan an “Education pandemic” (photo Mateos Hayes)

David Khazhakyan, a member of the Council of Elders of Yerevan representing Bright Armenia spoke at the rally, informing reporters that a resolution calling for Harutyunyan’s resignation had been presented to the National Assembly. He categorized Harutyunyan’s tenure as a “parade of failures” and argued that the Minister of Education would have resigned several times over “if he had been a non-partisan.”

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