FARE FIGHT: PROTESTORS CALL OFF SIT-IN, BUT VOW TO STOP HIKE IN TRANSPORT COST

[ Part 2.2: "Attached Text" ]

http://armenianow.com/news/49589/yerevan_transport_fares_protest
SOCIETY | 29.10.13 | 15:15

Photolure

By Gohar Abrahamyan
ArmeniaNow reporter


After the almost 100-day sitting strike, next to the Yerevan City Hall,
against an increase in public transportation fares, civil activists
left the area on Tuesday, stopping the protest, vowing to continue with
"more drastic and active moves".

Members of "We pay 100 drams" initiative Suren Sargsyan, Vahagn
Minasyan and Gor Arakelyan partaking in the sit-in made a demand
last week that the municipality's transport department head Henrik
Navasardyan and YerevanTrans company director Misak Hambardzumyan
were not discharged in seven days' time, they would "take any actions
within the principle of rule of law that would force the solution of
the issue in people's favor".

The activists say they no longer are willing to sit down at a
round table and discuss anything with the authorities, as long as
"corrupt officials who have breached the norms of ethics work there"
and urge all the residents and civil organizations and entities which
"believe that the establishment of the institute of accountability in
the country is significant as well as elimination of the atmosphere
of impunity, the need for systematic changes in the transport sphere"
to "join this statement and after developing a joint agenda, take up
the solution of the above listed issues".

Hayazn and Heritage's Hayq youth-student union members joined it
this Tuesday.

In July Yerevan Mayor Taron Margaryan suspended the application of his
decision to raise the transport fares after a weeklong civil protest
in the Armenian capital. He also stated that a commission of experts
and concerned citizens would be formed to develop all the mechanisms
that would allow completing the decision on "Reconsideration of the
passenger transportation fares in Yerevan city". The civil activists,
not satisfied with this solution, continued the struggle and demanded
dismissal of several high-ranking officials.

The work of the 36-member commission created last month as
instructed by the mayor is aimed, activists claim, at finding more
"convincing" argumentation on why the raise of public transport fare
is necessary. (Presently, public transportation costs 100 drams -
about 25 cents - but a commission is now considering the costs and
may come up with a proposal that would raise the fare to 150 drams
or even 200 drams - about 37.5-50 cents.)

All this while the activists have made numerous claims on attacks
against them, perpetrated with the knowledge of the police, which
takes no appropriate measures to investigate the cases, and this has
become an issue between international human rights watchdogs along
with the international community and the Armenian authorities.

"We pay 100 drams" initiative member Sevak Mamyan told ArmeniaNow
that the sit-in has brought the accountability issue to the agenda,
while during other acts of protests such civic issues were not raised
and officials keep making illegal decisions.

"The greatest achievement of these days is the formation of the
accountability discourse, it was also this hot hearth that has kept
the transport issue on the agenda for this long," says the activist.