“I call on citizens to actively participate in all public events organized in opposition to constitutional change”- Hrayr Manukyan

manukyanHrayr, what work is envisaged by the No Pasaran movement at the moment? What specific steps will be taken in the future? 

Recently, No Pasaran announced that it will be conducting monitoring outside polling places on the day of the constitutional referendum. We will form groups tasked with revealing incidents of multiple voting and registering them. Right now, the initiative is actively engaged in recruitment and organizing such groups. They will immediately report such incidents. In addition, the movement is preparing to hold meetings and events in the provinces to inform citizens of the dangers associated with the constitutional draft bill. The movement continues to actively cooperate with all those political forces, groups and civic organizations opposed to changing the constitution. Availing myself of the opportunity, I call on citizens to actively participate in all public events organized in opposition to constitutional change – rallies, marches, and demonstrations. 

Campaign offices supporting constitutional change are already actively promoting their position. How do you plan to confront the regime, especially in the provinces? 

I cannot speak on behalf of all those opposed to constitutional change. I can only speak about the activities planned by No Pasaran. We are cooperating with activist teams in the provinces to challenge the likely legal violations of the regime. By the way, No Pasaran has recently launched a website – nopasaran.am. It will immediately respond to human rights violations and other infractions in Yerevan and the provinces related to the constitutional change process. It will report such violations to interested international and domestic legal defense organizations and representatives of various international agencies. We will show what is taking place in the civil sector, present public opinion on the matter, and cover the actions of the initiative. 

So, can you say that there is a definite divide between the political and civic in the “No!” struggle against constitutional change? 

Any such a separation is conditional and, if you like, artificial. Constitutional change and the struggle in opposition is a political process. 

Will the No Pasaran initiative utilize free TV airtime? 

It cannot be ruled out that the initiative, in cooperation with opposition groups possessing airtime, will deem it conducive to convey its message to the public via the airwaves. 

In this stage of your struggle, have you encountered any serious impediments? Have you come up against limitations imposed by the regime? 

First, five members of the No Pasaran initiative were illegally detained by the police solely because they wrote the word “No!” as graffiti to convey their civic stance on constitutional change to the public. In other words, their constitutional right to freely express and disseminate their views was violated. The regime employed pressure tactics against a bus driver who was to ferry reporters to a No Pasaran rally in Gyumri. As a result, he refused to drive the bus to Gyumri. Afterwards, while the bus eventually made it to Gyumri, he then refused to drive the reporters back to Yerevan. The regime thus hindered the professional work of press and their freedom of mobility. 

When the initiative was organizing the convention of the “No!” front, Yerevan hotels refused to provide us with premises after being instructed to do so by the regime and various special services. Thus, the application of the constitutional right of citizens to form associations with others thinking alike was prevented. On October 5, during a protest organized by No Pasaran opposite the National Assembly, the police used force against peaceful demonstrators and 21 individuals were detained. This was in violation of the constitutional right of freedom of assembly. Thus, yes, the regime has employed all means to hinder the work of the initiative and continues doing so.