“I actually am sensing a grass-roots youth movement more so than ever in Hayastan now,” Serj Tankian, famous Armenian-American singer–songwriter, former front-man of the “System of a Dawn” rock band said in an interview to Civilitas Foundation, sharing his impressions of Armenia during a short visit to hold a concert in Yerevan on August 12, 2010.
“They were really into their cause and what they’re doing and really working very hard to save the forest and stop the copper-mine from opening” Tankian said, referring to the environmentalists, who met the singer on the day of his arrival rallying support for their cause against a major copper mining project in Teghut, which envisages destruction of a large forest area and potentially poses other serious damage to the environment due to pollution cased by garbage waste and erosion.
Dubbed an “EcoHero” by the environmentalists in Armenia for his February 2010 statement in support of Teghut campaigners, saying “Mining is against our combined interest as a people and nation,” Serj Tankian once again reassured his support for their cause, adding interesting perspectives of how the environmental campaign is important also in terms of democratic development of Armenia.
“I think that’s really really important, whether on environmental level, human rights level, political level. I think there is an awakening happening here,” Serj Tankian said.
The country’s leading environment protection groups and other non-governmental organizations have for years been campaigning against plans by the Armenian Copper Program (ACP) company to develop a massive copper and molybdenum deposit in the northern Lori region. The Teghut deposit is estimated to contain 1.6 million tons of copper and about 100,000 tons of molybdenum.
If implemented, the project will lead to the destruction of nearly 357 hectares of rich forest, including 128,000 trees. Critics say that would wreak further havoc on Armenia’s green areas that have already shrunk dramatically since the 1990s and result in the destruction of as much as 2000 hectares of forest.
Too much freedom?
Interestingly, there is every reason to suspect, that Serj Tankian’s concert in Yerevan, which was broadcast under the sign “Live” on Armenian public TV, wasn’t live at all. It seems, the “Live” broadcast of the concert was delayed by as much as 1 hour. This might be due to technical reasons. Still, I have vague suspicions, that this was due to fears by the management of the tightly controlled Public TV, that the Diasporan singer might use rare freedom on the air of Public TV to spread unwanted messages about democracy, freedom and environmental protection.
However, Serj Tankian managed to put in a couple of interesting messages. “There are no fu**ing walls to stop armenian people”, “Borders are not important, countries are not important – the people are”, “When the majority don’t think, its not a democracy” and various mentions of the importance of environment were some of the messages recorded by @reporter_arm and @myself on Twitter.