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‘Army Is the Horror of the Nation;’ Graffiti in Yerevan Against Military Benefits Tax

An anonymous protest action was carried out in Yerevan over the weekend against the recent government plans to oblige every working Armenian citizen to contribute a monthly 1000 drams to a fund from which authorities will supposedly pay larger compensations to the families of servicemen killed or seriously injured in active battles against enemy forces. The graffiti “son died; paid off my loans #1000_drams” appeared in various parts of the city on Sunday. The following text was soon anonymously spread through social networks:

– They get richer at our expense, they play politics at our expense, they rule over us at our own expense, and yet again, they want to do “good deeds” at our expense. They suggest that we donate a thousand drams not to make sure there is no need to die, but that we die worrylessly, that we do not think that we are shedding our blood for the sake of Serzh, Aliyev, Russia, the US, and all kinds of other rich and powerful scum. They suggest that we put the money up so that it is easier for them to deceive us. 

We could talk at length about how disastrous war is; but people in both Armenia and Azerbaijan already know that. Rightless and oppressed people are closely acquainted with war, and we could hardly find anyone who would say they “want war.”

War is beneficial to the authorities: as long as there is war, they will be contented. That is why they do their best to perpetuate war and numb our pain, but never resolve the problem, never cure the disease of nationalism, which constantly claims more and more victims. 

Authorities are the same everywhere – one worse than the other, one more anti-national, meaner and more merciless than the other. But let's talk about ourselves and leave the bashing of the Azerbaijani authorities to the people of Azerbaijan, who also understand all this, who are also opposed to war.

Our authorities have yet to offer anything that people would find credible. How can we trust that the families of killed or injured soldiers will receive any part of these donations, when half of each dram goes to the pocket of one the Sargsyans? How can we trust that this is a good deed, when every suicide, every injury or death at the hands of officers in the army is labelled by authorities a victim of “Turkish bullet.”  True, some of this money might in fact be given to these families to keep their mouths shut. 

The army has never been a good place; and it is unlikely to become one. People flee the country, put up double the amount of their two years' earning, or slit their wrists to avoid being drafted. They say the army is the pride of the nation. No, the army is the horror of the nation. They say Armenia has experienced a rise of national consciousness after the April events; but the army has not become voluntary. Authorities, of course, do not believe their own lies; they continue to forcibly take people to the army, to boast, and live at our expense.

The same can be said of these 1000 drams; they claim it is for the people, but they are forcing it. No matter you have the money or not, no matter you want to or not – no one is asking your opinion. Even mutual aid is not voluntary any more. This act does not represent the will of the people; moreover, it shows how rotten a system can be.

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