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‘The Poor Refuse to Die;’ Anti-Militarist Protest Action in Yerevan

Another protest action was carried out in Yerevan against the Armenian government’s plans to oblige its working citizens to contribute a monthly 1000 drams to a fund which will supposedly help authorities to raise compensations paid to the families of servicemen killed or seriously injured in action against enemy forces. A banner reading “The Poor Refuse to Die #1000_drams” was hung anonymously in front of the parliament building on central Baghramyan avenue. An accompanying text and a video is also being circulated anonymously through e-mail and social networks:

– When two countries are at war, they are each fighting against their own people, who are paying taxes for the conduct of the war. Every year, hundreds of poor people, forcibly taken to the trenches, kill one another for fear of getting killed.

The situation does not imply any solutions. Those authorized [to find solutions] get salaries from the budget, organize diplomatic meetings at the expense of the budget, pay budget money to various staffs responsible for public relations, situation study, and media propaganda, to eventually explain to us convincingly that the situation does not imply any solutions, and therefore, the hundreds of poor people forcibly taken to the trenches will continue killing one another each year in fear of getting killed.

Can the poor speak out about their unwillingness to die?

Authorities say no, they cannot. “It’s not the right time for it.” War requires sacrifice, and sacrifice “coincidentally” always comes from poor families. The Motherland will not forget. And will compensate. Quote: “The servicemen of our army (and their families) will receive decent benefits after acquiring a certain status (death or disability) as a result of combat action;” “Our goal is to encourage the soldier, to raise the appeal of military service.” Apparently, 5-10 million drams is decent compensation for one’s life or health, and is enough to make service more attractive for soldiers.

Unlike the majority of the people, the authorities are well aware and actually emphasize that the army is purely a class issue. They ought to know that most of the servicemen, and the vast majority of those who serve on the border, come from poor families. Apparently, someone sincerely believes that the poor will die or get maimed more easily and willingly if they are paid 5 million drams in return –“to encourage the soldier and to raise the appeal of military service.” Have we actually been driven to the point where “death and disability” is really “attractive” in exchange for 5 million drams?

We are coming forward with a counter offer!

Let all those with a monthly salary contribute 5 thousand drams each and send lawmakers, ministers, generals of the army, the police, and the national security service, judges, prosecutors, investigators, tax officials, the presidential staff, and their family members to the front. We promise them a “decent compensation:” five times more “decent” – 25 and 50 million instead of 5 and 10 million. They know best how to protect the homeland. They spend more time talking about it; they have had more time to think about the fate of the nation and the homeland. They explained to us clearly and convincingly that war is inevitable and peace is unattainable. So let’s not hold back on appreciation when it comes to the lives of the people who have worked tirelessly for years in their offices, mansions, and resorts, but, alas, have accomplished nothing because the enemy is too canny and aggressive. All must be decided on the battlefield, and now it’s their time to fight.