EDITORIAL: Raffi Hovannisian’s Barevolution

As Diasporan Armenians, it is almost primordial that we understand the complex issues regarding Armenia’s internal politics. Without doing so, our chasm with native Armenians will ultimately become more than a geographic one. Raffi Hovannisian’s Barevolution is undoubtedly an issue that concerns Armenians all over the globe.

The term ‘barevolution’ is wordplay on the colloquial greeting “barev”, and has been utilised by Hovannisian to dub the long process of decentralising political power in Armenia. This process is necessary for democratisation in young republics, such as Armenia, and would result in a more citizen-driven political system. This process, whatever one calls it, is absolutely necessary and relevant in this context; a significant 200,000 people have emigrated from Armenia since the last presidential election in 2008. The usual culprits persist: political apathy, impoverishment, and the monopolisation of our country’s industries and resources by oligarchs. This abysmal reflection on Armenian society has led to the Barevolution whereby Armenians have placed all their confidence in Raffi in hope of a better life. While actual figures could be much higher, official counts dictate that Hovannisian achieved a significant 36.75% of the vote during the Armenian presidential elections of March 2013. Undoubtedly Hovannisian’s actions are rightfully seen with great optimism, and now the foundations have been laid to solve the crucial issues hampering our compatriots’ lives.

So why is this an issue that concerns the Armenian Diaspora?  With the endless provision of live coverage of the aftermath of the election, and the growth of social media platforms such as Twitter, we have no excuse to remain silent – search #barevolution on Twitter if you have any lingering doubts. The Armenian people have made clear of their anguish, and Hovannisian is toiling day in and out to pressure Sarkisian’s government to reform crucial organs of the political system – the Azgayin Zhoghov (the rather inflexible legislative body), and the Constitutional Court (the rather blinded judicial body). The statistics tell a rather dismal story; as a result of the soaring emigration rate coupled with the meagre low birth rate, the population of Armenia will be a total of one person. Hovannisian has laid the foundation for radical and positive reform, but we have a part to play as well. It was only after intense local protests that the OSCE final report concluded that the “correlation between very high turnout and the number of votes for the incumbent… raises concerns regarding the confidence over the integrity of the electoral process”. If only Diasporans had matched the vigour of local activists, maybe foreign governments would not have rushed to congratulate Sarkisian on his dubious victory.

We must look towards committed individuals, such as Maria Titizian or more recently Tania Sahakian, who have moved back to our fatherland in the name of reporting and improving the dire conditions of our native compatriots. We may have the resources to aid the process of the ‘barevolution’, but most of all we share the fiery passion to change the conditions that our fellow Armenians reside in. To quote Sahakian herself, “Our parents’ generation fought to see an independent Armenia. This generation will be tested to see if they are able to create a stable, democratic republic for all—including the Diaspora.”

Moreover the people of Armenia should be proud of their efforts, regardless of Hovannisian’s unfortunate defeat. I hope that this sets a new precedent; one where our compatriots feel that they have the hope and ability to choose who governs them. The Armenian people, with their effective civil movements, have become far more empowered than ever before. TheBarevolution may not have resulted in a change of Armenia’s government, but it has undoubtedly signalled a new step towards the ultimate aim of democratisation of our homeland.

— Emin Moskofian

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