Armenian Police Detain 38 Opposition Activists Amid Protests Over Border Deal

Armenian police detained 156 people, including 38 opposition activists, in Yerevan during protests against the government's plan to concede land to Azerbaijan. The detainees were later released, with protests continuing over the disputed territory.

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Bijay Laxmi
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Armenian Police Detain 38 Opposition Activists Amid Protests Over Border Deal

Armenian Police Detain 38 Opposition Activists Amid Protests Over Border Deal

On Monday, Armenian police briefly detained 156 people, including 38 opposition activists, in Yerevan, the capital city, as part of protests against the government's plan to concede land to Azerbaijan. The detainees were later released.

Why this matters: The ongoing protests and detentions in Armenia highlight the country's struggle to balance national security with democratic values, and the fate of disputed territories in the region has significant implications for regional stability and global geopolitics.

The protests are in response to Armenia's agreement to hand over territory it has controlled since the 1990s as part of efforts to secure a peace deal with Azerbaijan and avoid another bloody conflict. The territorial concessions have sparked weeks of protests, with demonstrators blocking major roads in an attempt to force Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to change course.

Archbishop Bagrat Galstanyan, a 52-year-old joint Armenian and Canadian citizen, had urged opponents of the deal to crowd the streets of Yerevan on Monday in a fresh show of opposition to the deal. Galstanyan is a church leader of the Tavush region, which Armenian forces captured in the 1990s and where Pashinyan had agreed to cede control of four villages.

Hundreds of people joined the demonstration on Monday, with police carrying out detentions on the streets. The interior ministry reported that all those detained were later released, and that protesters had failed to close off any streets in Yerevan.

Armenia and Azerbaijan, two former Soviet republics in the south Caucasus, have been locked in a stand-off over disputed territory, primarily Nagorno-Karabakh, since the break-up of the Soviet Union. The two countries last month announced they had begun border demarcation work as part of normalization efforts between the arch-foes. The Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers met over the weekend in Kazakhstan as part of ongoing efforts mediated by the European Union, Russia, and the United States.

The detentions of 38 opposition activists in Yerevan highlight the ongoing tensions and challenges facing the Armenian government as it seeks to secure a lasting peace deal with Azerbaijan. While Prime Minister Pashinyan aims to avoid further conflict through territorial concessions, the move has sparked significant backlash and protests among segments of the Armenian population. As international mediation efforts continue, the path forward for Armenia and Azerbaijan remains uncertain, with the fate of disputed territories hanging in the balance.

Key Takeaways

  • Armenian police detain 156 people, including 38 opposition activists, in Yerevan.
  • Detentions occur during protests against government's plan to concede land to Azerbaijan.
  • Protests sparked by Armenia's agreement to hand over territory controlled since 1990s.
  • Archbishop Bagrat Galstanyan leads protests, urging opponents to crowd Yerevan streets.
  • International mediation efforts continue to secure peace deal between Armenia and Azerbaijan.