Struggle for Preservation of the Afrikyan House: the Unlawful Acts of the Police
Members of the civic initiative ‘Let’s Save the Afrikyan Club Building’ intend to file a second demand-letter to Armenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan. The citizens protesting against the dismantling of this building that was granted a historic status assure that they are resolved to continue their struggle till final victory despite the possible criminal prosecution.

At the Media Center hosted panel discussion Sipan Pashinyan, Sona Asatryan and Vahagn Gevorgyan, members of thecivic initiative‘Let’s Save the Afrikyan Club Building’ alongside with Artak Zeynalyan, lawyer, co-founder of ‘Rule of Right’ NGO, and architect Arsen Karapetyan shared their viewpoints on the appropriateness of the actions taken by the police towards 10 members of the initiative and dismantling of the Afrikyan Club building.

The Afrikyan House dates back to the late 19th century. It was included in the state list of historical and cultural immovable monuments of Yerevan as a national monument, based on a Government decision of 2004.

According to the new Government decision the Afrikyan House shall be dismantled and rebuilt at another location. The building is included in the ‘Old Yerevan’ project which will be implemented in the district lying between Abovyan, Byuzand, Koghbatsi and Aram streets.

‘Structure relocation is applied only in case of urgent need, for example in case of building a reservoir. The Afrikyan House is said to be out of the environment and hinder the enlargement of the road. However, all these reasons are not sufficient for the building relocation,’ believes architect Arsen Karapetyan.

Vahagn Gevorgyan, one of the protesters against the dismantling, is convinced that the Afrikyan House will share a similar fate with other historical buildings that were disassembled and never reassembled. ‘The Covered Market is a vivid evidence of what happens to historical buildings. By taking away the metal bars surrounding the Afrikyan House we protested against the dismantling of the building.’

On the evening of June 9 dozens of young people dismantled the metal bars surrounding the building façade as a protest against the demolition of Afrikyan Club building. Vahagn Gevorgyan, one of the protesters, was taken to the police station from the incident scene, with the other 9 citizens taken to the police station immediately from the front of the police station.

‘If citizens take such steps, it must signal to the authorities that they have to revisit the decision on dismantling the Afrikyan House,’ stated Artak Zeynalyan, lawyer, co-founder of ‘Rule of Right’ NGO, arguing that civil disobedience is constitutionally protected and the actions of the police towards the activists were not lawful.

Sipan Pashinyan, member of the civic initiative ‘Let’s Save the Afrikyan Club Building’, was also taken to the police station on June 9,  though as Sipan noted, he was not even present at the dismantling of the metal bars.

With respect to the legal consequences of the incident, Artak Zeynalyan clarified, ‘Administrative Courts are currently examining more than 150 suits involving activists and the police now resorts to the criminal punishment.’

It should be noted that the civic initiative ‘Let’s Save the Afrikyan Club Building’ demands the building to be preserved at its location or joined to the new building. Sona Asatryan urged everyone to join their cause and attend the events to be held in the backyard of the Afrikyan House every evening after 18:00.

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