Serj Tankian says Armenia’s civil society “burgeoning”

Serj Tankian says Armenia’s civil society “burgeoning” –

Serj Tankian, a world-renowned Armenian American musician and human rights activist, has commented on the civil protests in Armenia against rising electricity prices. His Facebook post today came in the wake of a police break-up of a sit-in organized by activists in Yerevan’s Baghramyan Avenue. 

The 47-year-old vocalist of the System of a Down rock band suggested that the latest events raise at least three points. 

“Monopolistic foreign owned utility companies should be made a state asset and strictly regulated and audited by an independent panel,” he wrote in an apparent reference to the fact that the Electricity Networks of Armenia that has requested the rise in electricity prices is owned by a Russian corporation.

On the second and third points Tankian wrote: “Armenia’s civic society is burgeoning and previous successful campaigns at peaceful civic disobedience against unjust programs like the rate hike in public transportation have born fruit.”

Protests by No To Plunder, a pressure group set up mostly by young activists, began last Friday with a rally and subsequent sit-in in Liberty Square. They continued late on Monday with a march attempted towards the Presidential Palace to demand that President Serzh Sargsyan revoke the state regulators’ decision to raise electricity prices in the country by 16 percent beginning August 1. 

The protesters were stopped by heavy police cordons and following a more than nine-hour standoff were dispersed by riot police on Tuesday morning. 

Tankian and the rest of the System of a Down rock band performed a free open-air concert in Yerevan’s Republic Square on April 23, on the eve of the Genocide Centennial commemoration. During the live show taking place just a few dozen meters from Armenia’s main government offices, the musician also leveled some criticism at Armenia’s political leadership over internal issues, mentioning “institutional injustice” in the country.

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