The Armenian Association of Social Workers (AASW) supports the recent protests against increasing electricity prices by 17-22% throughout the country. The price rise will affect all members of Armenian society and above all impact the poorest in our country. For over 30% of the citizens already living in poverty, the price increase will be unbearable, with estimates stating this increase will lead to an extra 40,000 dram (85 USD) being added to the average family’s electric costs per year. In addition, such a price-hike could justify other, similar actions against the people in Armenia in the future. For proof, one must not look far – the current price-hike is the fourth in a series of consecutive price-hikes over the last three years.
Therefore, AASW supports its members, other activists, and all those who have chosen to peacefully join this social movement. We strongly urge for negotiation channels to open between the government and representatives of the social movement, including open access to journalists. Open dialogue will be a monumental step forward towards democratic process between our government and our people.
The Association also condemns the actions taken by the Republic of Armenia’s Police which went above and beyond what was necessary in the case of a peaceful movement. The Association also urges all medical personnel to do what is right and provide timely and appropriate care without discrimination. Reports of excessive use of force, as well as actions taken specifically against journalists and their equipment, are inexcusable and must not continue. The fundamental rights to freedom of speech and assembly must be respected and instances of their breaching investigated. Therefore, we additionally call upon the government of Armenia to ensure an open investigation into the excessive use of force by the police.