HENQ – one more youth initiative

The youth initiative – HENQ, abbreviation from their longer Armenian name “New Young Citizens of Armenia” started their second action in Yerevan today – gathering in front of Tumanyan House-Museum at 18:30, the group of about 10 students divided the tasks among themselves and got going.
The action, called “Vonts, chuneq?” (“You don’t have it?”), is based on principle of “We are the State”, according to HENQ. The point of the action was – to go around bookshops, newspaper shacks, DVD stores, movie theaters in Yerevan and ask for non-existing books, movies, newspaper titles, plays, e.g.: “We are the state” film by Carla Garapedian, the director of the “Screamers“, “The country is a country” by Paulo Coelho, “A citizen is wanted” by HyeFilm Studio.
Henq 005
HENQ Prepare for action | Originally posted at The Caucasian Knot ©  Photo: Onnik Krikorian / Oneworld Multimedia 2008
The group were supposed to stir interest about the content of the particular play, book, newspaper and engage in a discussion about issues like: ‘the government does not exist in vacuum’, ‘we are responsible for our state’, ‘we have to take responsability ourselves and try to correct the wrong we see’, ‘we should follow the rules, giving a bribe and saying this country is no good won’t solve anything’. The action that started today will go on for a week. Many of the bookstores, movie theaters will be visited repeatedly in the hope, that rumors will circulate about these new ‘hit’ films, etc. – which everybody is talking and interested about.
Joining the HENQ members – divided into groups of two Onnik Krikoryian and myself went around to some of ‘targets’. It was fun, but I’m really not sure if this activity will achieve anything, apart from creating a possibility to spend the energy for a bunch of excellent young people with vague ideas about the need for civil activity, caring for their country while trying to stay out of politics.
As one of the leaders of the group, Stepan Khzrtian told me, the group is open for all regardless their political beliefs, and noted, that there are already people from ARF Dashnaktsutyun, HIMA and Orinats Yerkir taking part in their actions. They now have a Facebook group with over 160 members, which is also open for anybody to join and from what what Onnik Krikoryian told me, Vahagn Vardumyan, a well known civil activist, who has been highly critical of “Sksela” and “Hima” movements in the recent months, is also actively involved with this new group.
It is hard to draw conclusions as to what this group is really up to and what will they achieve with this type of ‘soft’ activities – at least that’s a view shared by Onnik Krikoryian I beleive. However – civil society is not a ‘competitive market’ – where one brand wins, and the rest loose. In fact, the more diversity, the better. From my perspective – what matters, is that people are active and try to do something to change things for the better. Everything is better then standing back and doing nothing. So – why not – I want to welcome this fresh new start!

Artur Papyan

Journalist, blogger, digital security and media consultant


  1. Thanks Arthur for this post! I’ve been waiting to hear from the blogosphere about the group and their actions and I anticipate and hope there will be more about similar groups in the future. Frankly, I think there are positive developments happening within the youth movement and this is certainly one of them.
    And kudos to all of those who are supporting such efforts. Change cannot happen overnight . I hope Armenian youth can begin to grasp this concept.

  2. I also share the idea of diversity being a very important value, and I hope this groupp will be strong enough to not stop itself on the half way…….. I wish them lots of work and fun to achieve their goals:)!

  3. Just to say that I was unsure about the “soft” nature of the action at the beginning, but at the end when Observer asked one of the girls a question about the presidency, I was quite impressed by the response. It meant she was thinking and more than that, she was thinking in ways I haven’t encountered among many people in the past.
    Is something changing in this new generation? I don’t know, but I hope so.
    Anyway, I also received this from Vahagn, so to set the record straight.

    I am actually not an initiator but […] I do participate in ALL they do, from here, by sharing whatever i have in my mind and soul, and I bvelieve this is when the real Teghapoxutyun can start…

    Well, if they can think out of the box albeit in a somewhat localized fashion then there’s a glimmer of hope. Like I said, the answer to the question Observer asked was a breath of fresh air given the polarized nature of election politics these days.
    And perhaps that’s really where the change does start. With ideas and thoughts rather than slogans which conceal a lack of either. Dunno. Let’s see.

  4. BTW: The Seven Principles of Hetq:

    Principles of HENQ Youth Initiative
    Henq it deep, or go to sleep.
    The national-civic worldview of HENQ is constituted of three basic points:
    1. We are the State.
    2. The interest of the State is our interest.
    3. The responsibility of the State is our responsibility.
    The civic lifestyle of HENQ is based on four main principles:
    1. To value and respect our State, and thus value and respect ourselves.
    2. To follow and respect the laws of our State, and thus respect each other.
    3. To participate in elections and public discussions.
    4. To do volunteer work and develop the State’s interests, that is, our interes

  5. […] to be said that the action was not so well attended, but Observer says he was suitably impressed albeit with some reservations. The action, called “Vonts, chuneq?” (”You don’t have it?”), is based on principle of […]

  6. […] Armenian Observer reports on the second action staged by the newly formed HENQ Youth Initiative while my The Caucasian Knot also covers the flash mob staged today in the Armenian capital and […]

  7. Well i think this form of action if effective in a normal country , but for a uncivilised country like Armenia i dont think it is so effective ? People are hungry …… so the question of what tye of movies or books are available …

  8. Dear Pat,
    People WERE hungry in Armenia during LTP’s government, not now! Maybe your info is too old! People do care for their future and have a willingness to move forward!!!

  9. I think the issue is not about what books and movies are available (although I would suggest that these are issues that do need to be resolved — TV is crap and m reading is considered necessary for people’s own development), but more raising thoughts in the minds of people that the ask for the books and movies. From what they said, some discussions were initiated and if you look at their first initiatives — involving arguing about such issues as what is the state on buses so people eavesdrop as they usually do, but this time perhaps even having to think for themselves — this seems to be the core purpose.
    People really do need to think here, and while poverty is a huge problem it is not as bad as it was and there is a sizable segment of society that might not be rich, but is also not starving and needing to think about such issues and more than that, get involved. Actually, if you examine most of the core members of groups such as Sksela, Hima etc, many are working for international organizations, NGOs or IT companies and earning reasonable if not excellent salaries for Armenia. The secret, perhaps, for youth groups is to attract those who are “comfortable” financially and to use them to communicate new ideas etc.
    Indeed, it could be argued that it is always a “middle class” that drives social change although yes, the impoverished masses need to follow them, However, it is wrong to say that the majority of people are hungry although I hope we are seeing the emergence of some part of society which is hungry for new ideas and ways of living. People can also set by example and force people to think — about abiding by the rule of law, for example. This is vital for both government, opposition and citizens to understand.
    Nevertheless, I agree that politics here is “uncivilized,” and the government and especially the radical opposition typified this. The latter instead played on the lowest common denominator in people — anger, xenophobia etc — in their campaign rather than with ideas so if actions like this can start a process where that situation changes, it should be welcomed. Yes, there are the poor and there are the rich, but there is also an increasing number of people in between who want something different than what’s on offer on both sides of the political divide.
    Of course, it won’t be easy and it won’t be quick and it might even fail, but we’ll never know until we see. However, I think that there is the possibility that a small group might be thinking in different ways although yes, I have already pointed out my doubts about whether “soft” actions can work in this reality. On the other hand, we desperately need the government to allow more freedoms, the radical opposition to become less “radical” and more moderate, and probably the emergence of a third force in between.
    If this albeit small group is just one among others representing the start of that, then good luck to them. But yes, after Sksela became politicized and with an absence of a true-pro-democracy movement in Armenia, I’m not going to get too excited yet. Still, some of the concepts this group voice are fundamental to the development of Armenia. I hope it works.

  10. Actually, just noticed that Observer made it clear that the point was to initiate thoughts and discussion:

    The group were supposed to stir interest about the content of the particular play, book, newspaper and engage in a discussion about issues like: ‘the government does not exist in vacuum’, ‘we are responsible for our state’, ‘we have to take responsability ourselves and try to correct the wrong we see’, ‘we should follow the rules, giving a bribe and saying this country is no good won’t solve anything’.

    Yes, unique ideas for Armenia, but ones that the citizens of this country need to adopt and accept as crucial for their own future.

  11. A very interesting initiative…

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