Saturday, March 10, 2012

Women Occupy Yerevan Park on International Women's Day

March 8 — International Women's Day — will be memorable for me this year because of this group of women who broke through the barricades and occupied one of the kiosks in a central Yerevan park. 

For those who don't know, environmental and civic activists have been coming to Mashtots Park nearly every day for over 3 weeks protesting the construction of shops in what they say (and many will agree) is one of the few remaining green spaces in downtown Yerevan. These same shops (most often referred to as "kiosks" though they're much larger than that) were dismantled on Abovyan St. (another downtown Yerevan street) and "moved" to Mashtots Park. From what I understand, the shop owners have a 10-year lease with the city and they have 3 remaining years left on this lease. So to solve the problem of at once dismantling the kiosks on a downtown Yerevan street (a move the mayor initiated following his removal of street vendors in the capital) and not breaking the contract with shop owners, the municipality decided to "move" them to Mashtots Park. The idea is that the kiosks are temporary (so why the concrete base?) and will be removed when the contract with shop owners is up in 3 years.