The Covid-19 pandemic is an important test for democracies around the world, including the Armenian government. The Armenian government declared a state of emergency on March 16th, which was extended for an additional 30 days on May 14th. As of May 22nd, Armenia has reported 5928 infected cases of coronavirus and 74 deaths. It is the record holder in the region in terms of the number of infected people registered per 1 million, thus, being the hardest-hit country in the region. Despite this, some restrictions have been lifted: public transport was put into operation, as well as all shops, public catering facilities, gyms and preschools re-opened. Yet, mass gatherings are still prohibited.
The leader of an opposing movement was invited for questioning by the Police without prior clarification. On May 20, a protest was organised to support our fellow opposition. During the protest all regulations were followed, yet dozens of young people were detained by the RA Police without clear legal justification, including members of YRPA (Youth of the Republican Party of Armenia) such as Chairman Hayk Mamijanyan.
The Republican Party of Armenia expressed solidarity in the early days of Covid-19 and presented numerous suggestions to mitigate the impact of the virus. These suggestions where neglected and the party continuously faces political persecution. The Republicans condemn the practice of undermining democracy in Armenia and require the government to eliminate unjustified and disproportionate restrictions on human freedoms. The party urges the authorities to take urgent and effective measures to improve the social situation of the Armenian citizens, as well as to effectively fight for people’s health.
Youth implication should be supported in all aspects of political life. We already face challenging times, both socially and democratically, each one intertwining with the other. We need to feel safe to gather and express our thoughts, and fight for the future that lays ahead, one which accounts for youth rights.
The international community needs to focus on the increase of authoritarian populism in the country and support the fight against this. Democratic governments should not utilise a health crisis as a political tool as it proves detrimental to the pillar of democracy.