Responding to Heritage party chairman Raffi K. Hovannisian's call to action, hundreds of political leaders, human rights activists, and rank and file citizens packed the Government Hall of Sessions on May 21, 2011 for a Citizens' Assembly.
In his opening remarks, Hovannisian offered an accounting of the past twenty years of independence - a disappointing history of fraud, corruption, and injustice - before illuminating the mission of the meeting: to launch a balanced, brave, and ultimately decisive conversation toward the creation of a fourth republic.
"It is with this objective that we face the imperative of clarifying a new civic and national agenda," Hovannisian said. "We will use every possible avenue to push forward and return power to the people."
The town hall meeting was organized around three panel discussions, each of them followed by a public question and comment session. The first panel, devoted to human rights and justice, was led by Avetik Ishkhanyan of the Armenian Helsinki Committee, literary critic Siranush Dvoyan, and Armen Hovhannisyan of the "We are Against Reopening the Foreign Language Schools" initiative; the second, regarding public and civic activity, by ethnographer Hranush Kharatyan, author and activist Taron Arakelyan, and Marat Atovmyan of the Armenian Young Lawyers' Association; and the third, on legal and political solutions, by former Deputy Speaker of the Armenian National Assembly Karapet Rubinyan, former Haik editor-in-chief Gegham Nazaryan, and Russian Armenian University law professor Tigran Nahapetyan.
Amid passionate discussion and debate, Raffi Hovannisian invited his fellow citizens to another meeting, to be held on June 4 at 3 p.m. in Yerevan's Liberty Square, where "these extensive deliberations and our quest for freedom will continue."