YEREVAN (Armenpress) — A monument commemorating the victims of the 2008 post-election unrest, colloquially known as the March 1 events, was inaugurated today near City Hall in downtown Yerevan.
President Vahagn Khachaturyan, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Speaker of Parliament Alen Simonyan, Yerevan Mayor Hrachya Sargsyan, other government officials, members of the public and family members of the victims attended the inauguration.
“I want to underscore that March 1 is not a day of mourning,” PM Pashinyan said in his speech. “Because, of course, we mourn and commemorate the victims, but March 1 has a wider context, and the meaning of the life and struggle of our killed brothers is about something completely different. After the 2021 parliamentary election I had various occasions to say that for the first time in the history of Armenia, elections became not the cause of a domestic crisis but the way to overcome the domestic crisis. This is also my personal conclusion from the 1 March 2008 events because as you know I was personally significantly involved in those events and the conclusion is that March 1 was actually about the lack of democracy, it was about breaking the people’s free expression, deforming it, depriving the people of expression and making decisions. And this is how we must perceive the meaning of March 1. And at least from this perspective the struggle and sacrifice of March 1 reached its goal, because vote rigging is a closed chapter in Armenia and there won’t be a return to it.”
He described the Armenian people as the “guarantors” for never allowing a return to vote rigging and said that the vision of the people is to live a free, happy and fruitful life in a strong, independent and sovereign country.
Deputy Mayor of Yerevan Tigran Avinyan noted that the monument is being opened 15 years since the events. “The meaning of March 1 teaches us a lesson that there should never be a dividing line between the government and the people. And whenever the government and people have these lines it leads to crimes like March 1,” Avinyan said.
The sculptor of the monument, Albert Vardanyan, said his creation “came from his heart” because “everyone shared the pain” of those days. “This is an ode to the people and government, so that we never again see such days.”
Eight protesters and two police officers were killed in the violent suppression of anti-government street protests that followed a disputed presidential election held in February 2008 which saw Serzh Sargsyan take office. Former President Levon Ter-Petrosyan, the main opposition candidate in the ballot, rallied his supporters to protest against alleged vote rigging.
Ter-Petrosyan’s supporters held nonstop rallies in Liberty Square until they were forcibly dispersed by riot police early on March 1, 2008.