Policy Forum Armenia (PFA) condemns police brutality and arrests of peaceful protesters, who were exercising their Constitutional rights of freedom assembly and speech to protest against electricity tariff hikes in Armenia on June 23, 2015.
For years, the constant defrauding of the citizenry and the Diaspora by Armenia's current and past regimes has been a subject of PFA's research. Unprecedented state capture, rigged elections, devastating social and economic policies, and uncontrolled exploitation of Armenia's natural resources have been hallmarks of the ruling oligarchy and subjects of PFA's reports. It is our position that these abuses constitute the primary threat to Armenia’s stability and national security.
Two years ago, the citizens of Armenia united in a widespread grassroots campaign against a proposed bus fare increase – and won. Today, the citizens are again united against exploitation and poor energy policy through the “No to Plunder!” civil campaign and street demonstrations.
The protesters demand cancellation of the energy tariff hike scheduled to go into effect on August 1, 2015. An outcome of years of corruption and mismanagement in the electricity network and tariff-setting policies of government, the proposed tariff hike and subsequent trickle-down effects are expected to markedly worsen the social conditions of the majority of Armenia’s population, at least 40 percent of which live under the poverty threshold.
Therefore, Policy Forum Armenia calls upon:
• the demonstrators to stand firmly on their demands for electricity tariff freeze, set up a structure capable of consolidating the protest across the country, and start forming demands for systemic change beyond the electricity tariff issue;
• the institutions, organizations, and individuals in Armenia and the Diaspora to publicly condemn the abuses by the police and put the pressure on the regime to reform or leave;
• the Armenian Church not to ignore the daily injustices faced by people of Armenia and stand by her flock.
PFA stands with the freedom-loving citizens of Armenia and reaffirms its commitment for building a free, independent, united, and prosperous homeland.