I Don’t Know How They Did It: a Clean Sweep in Armenia

I don’t know how they did it. They dispatched their former President (see this report from the UK’s Channel 4 here) and partied in Yerevan until late on Monday night. Safe in my hotel room I heard the noise of the protest march pulse by on Monday morning. At 2pm the chanted slogans and protest claps were replaced by cheers and applause: Serzh had gone. All evening a chorus of car horns and handheld honkers.

On Saturday morning after checking the news I walked to the city center. Yesterday was a public holiday– the annual commemoration for the Armenian genocide. The streets were quiet and beautifully clean. I don’t know how they did it. It is customary for Armenians to mark Remembrance Day through an hour or two of community service, often picking up litter and sprucing up their sidewalks. Did the revelers each stop on their way home to pack a bag or two of trash? If not, the Yerevan municipality should be congratulated for an heroic clean up effort. There was simply no sign that 160,000 people had crowded Republic Square the previous day and for 11 days before. Many thousands in the city had gone to the Genocide memorial on the top of a hill to lay flowers and say prayers. In the city center, people working in cafes answered questions about their century-old and day-old history and proudly and quietly accepted good wishes from tourists. They got on with their jobs, as though revolutions happen every day. I don’t know how they did it.

Note: I am a Peace Corps Volunteer in Armenia. It is not our place to comment on the politics of this country. At the moment, Yerevan is off limits for PCVs. I had special permission to visit the city on Monday because I was working with a group of executives here on Monday night (more of that later). When permission was granted, no-one could have known what a big day this would be. I was given support and advice throughout the day by our excellent Safety and Security Manager and so knew to stay away from the crowds. Appropriately strict rules govern the movement of all Volunteers at the moment, both so we remember what is and is not our business, and so we are always safe.

press image

Press image: Republic Square, Yerevan, evening of Monday April 23, 2018

About Liz Barron

Returned US Peace Corps Volunteer (Armenia 17-19). Permanent address in Washington DC. Deep roots in Northern Ireland and persistent Belfast accent. Blogger, cook, painter, mother, grandma, Scrabble-player and enthusiastic world traveller.
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1 Response to I Don’t Know How They Did It: a Clean Sweep in Armenia

  1. Paul Prentiss says:

    Wow. Amazing story.


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