PARIS–On Oct. 2, peaceful Armenian demonstrators in Paris were met with violence as riot police attacked demonstrators, dragging several of them away.
The protesters greeted President Serge Sarkisian at the start of his tour of Armenian communities worldwide, shouting “traitor!”
Sarkisian later put in a brief appearance, walking past protesters shouting through bullhorns and moved onto to a public gathering he had organized on the issue of the protocols. Around 100 delegates from all over Europe were present, with each having three minutes to speak on the issue.
“Sarkisian was about to lay wreath on Gomidas’ statue in Paris, right there, around 1,000 demonstrators were present from Europe, protesting against the protocols,” French-Armenian journalist Jean Eckian told our sister publication Asbarez. “Sarkisian arrived an hour late due to the demonstrators’ intensity. They were shouting “votch!, votch! [No! No!]”. Sarkisian had managed to stay for around a minute only; that’s when the clashes started with the French police.”
“Police arrived on the scene and surrounded the demonstrators, warning them not to shout any slogans and to put down their signs,” said Eckian, an independent correspondent covering the event. “The police started to pull people away, ripping their clothes and hitting them. I saw them pushing one old woman out of the square.”
After Paris, Sarkisian is set to continue what is dubbed a “pan-Armenian tour” with visits to New York, Los Angeles, Beirut, and Rostov-on-Don in Russia to discuss a planned meeting on Oct. 10 when the Turkish and Armenian foreign ministers are expected to sign the deal to establish ties.
Picket in NY, Protest in LA
Demonstrations are organized in every city Sarkisian plans to visit. Hundreds are anticipated to gather on Oct. 3 in New York to protest Sarkisian’s visit to the Armenian community there, while the Armenian community in Los Angeles is planning a massive, day-long protest of the president’s visit at the Beverly Hills Hilton.
The ARF Eastern Region Central Committee has announced a picket this Sat., Oct. 3, from 4-7 p.m. at New York Palace Hotel, 455 Madison Ave. in New York City. During this time, Sarkisian will be speaking to various organizations in the hotel to explain the Armenia-Turkey protocols and listen to responses.