Friday, June 18, 2010

I am policeman number 9384, I have no name

From 8-10 pm on Friday June 18, several hundred (a1plus figure) to 500 (RFE/RL figure) gathered at the Aram Khatchatryan statue in/near Liberty Square. The organizers of the sit-in had applied for a permit for the peaceful gathering, but it had been rejected, as was the appeal. Feeling that the rejected by City Hall itself was illegal, the sit-in was held anyway. From what I remember, initially no reason was given, then the reason was that there was already an event planned for the area. As Zurabyan made clear at the sit-in, it turns out that Kindergarten heads across the city were directed to bring their pupils to Liberty Square, in essence to make it look like something really was going to happen, and the Square really would be busy. As he points out, this is basically using the kids as a shield - there are a number of levels of sad irony in that truth...

A number of things were different about this sit-in. In no specific order: it was not at the Matenadaran, it was at Liberty Square; it was held even without official permission; many of the leaders of the opposition movement, including those who had been political prisoners because of the March 1-2, 2008 events, were there; people actually SAT...

There was apparently quite a large police presence, as tweeted by Onnik Krikorian:
The amount of police around Liberty Square in Yerevan is ridiculous, it has to be said... #Armenia

The police started speaking through the megaphone at some point, and that's when the a1plus video gets to be really good. The policeman speaking is either on some weird medicine, has no humanity, or has basically become a robot spokesperson for the authorities above him, as we know happens with many good humans who are faced with orders from authorities from on high, especially when their livelihood depends on it. He basically says that what the people are doing is illegal, it is a disruption of the public order, etc... But it is not what he is saying that caught my attention - he is merely repeating what he has been told to say calmly, so that it seems to outsiders that the police and the regime actually are trying to reform and improve... But this guy is beyond calm, he speaks as though his soul has been sucked out of him, like a robot... He may as well be saying something like...

"I am robot #9384. I was told to buy cheese. I need to buy cheese. Cheese is made from milk. I must get cheese."
"I am policeman #9384. I was told to be calm. I am calm. Therefore I look calm. This will appease my chief. See, I am calm."

And if the following came out of his mouth, I would not be so surprised...

"That is a water drop on the human's face. It must be a tear. The human is small, it is perhaps a child. A child with a tear. It perhaps is a sad child, then."

But, really, the best part is when Vladimir Karapetyan goes up to the policemen with the megaphone, and starts doing what appears to be a newscast on them, pointing to them and explaining what they are doing, that what they are doing is instigation, since the police know well that the sit-in ends in 45 minutes, and the only reason they are doing what they are doing is to try to stop others from joining the sit-in. He is dressed and acts like a newscaster, reporting on an crazy tornado or volcano, on some horrible plan crash or incredible human feat - as though the police themselves and their actions are the event for the evening. It is in fact the behavior of the police and the regime that is the aberration, the abnormal, and jaw-dropping.

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