Apparently, an Indian student fell from a dormitory window and the pathetic Armenian emergency services took 45 minutes to arrive. A few Indian students have been taken in for questioning by police and have not been heard from for the past six hours. Later, the new Rector of Yerevan’s Medical
University literally gave them “the finger” when they complained. Indian students are now demanding justice and the removal of the Rector from her position.
For having the image of what had happened in reality read Nanyaar?’s post, who is an Indian blogger currently studying in Medical
University and who is also friend of the died Indian student, as well as Hetq Online’s contributor Hasmik Hovhannisyan’s article.
Today (April 20, 2006) at around 13:00 pm, a third year student at the Medical University, 21- year-old Prashant Anchalia fell out of a sixth floor window in Building #7 of the Zeytun Student Dormitory. How and why he fell are not yet clear. The students who rushed to him found him lying on the ground covered with blood, screaming in pain. They called an ambulance and their dean's office. Dean Anna Sarkisyan arrived fifteen minutes later. Although she is a doctor, she made no attempt to provide emergency aid to the student, and even forbade the other students to touch him or take him to hospital in a taxi, rather than wait for the ambulance, which was slow to arrive. Instead, she ordered them to wait for the police to get there. The Police arrived and took some witnesses to the Kanaker Police Station for questioning. The ambulance arrived some 45-50 minutes after the call. According to the students, it was in very poor condition and had no medical equipment, not even an oxygen mask. On the way to the hospital, Prashant Anchalia died. The students went to the Medical
University and asked to meet with the rector, seeking an explanation for why their friend had been treated so negligently. The response of the newly- appointed rector, Gohar Kialyan, came as a shock. Out of the blue, she referred to Indian girls as prostitutes, and showed the students the middle fingers of both her hands, a gesture whose meaning is well known to even five-year old kids. Astonished by her behavior, the students decided to seek help in higher places.
This story seemed so familiar so close to me that I couldn’t not to react somehow. It was last September when our tuition was risen to 25% and the students protested and didn’t attend classes for a week. We turned for a help to ex human rights’ protector Larisa Alaverdyan, then we wrote a letter to Vice-President and held a demonstration in front of Government, but all that went to the dogs as they declared that they didn’t have any power on private universities and couldn’t interfere their internal business. Later some students were threatened, the others didn’t have other place to go, so what they decided was to go back to classes, although they all had announced to leave the university if they didn’t decrease the fee. As a result after a week 3 students and I were the only people who refused to attend classes, but as far as we couldn’t fit into another university we had no option but to go back. This was how we failed because we were not united and no one wished to back us. The next tragedy was my coursemate’s death-she committed suicide falling from the 7th floor of the university.
This is why that Indian student’s death and students’ protest against university administration immediately grasped my attention. These were two issues that I had felt on my own skin. Later I learnt from Onnik that they were going to hold another demonstration, so I didn’t miss the chance to be in the core of the matter and back them as well.
Starting from 12 am they were gathering in the Medical
University yard to decide what would be their next step. The vice-rector who was roaming about all the time came up to them conceiving them to go into the university hall and discuss everything there. It seemed quite weird to me. Why should the vice-rector come out and say that he is even ready to postpone the concert, so that the Indian students could use the hall? This rose a question: is he afraid? No, the story was repeating. That's their usual strategy: if they take the students in, out of people's eyesight, it will be much easier for them to convince and brake them. Though the students let him know that they didn’t want to talk to anyone from administration, he appeared again, this time explaining them that Indians don’t have a deal in what happens, that Armenians are guilty for the situation. Surely, that was not a foreigner who cussed and showed her fingers, that was the new appointed rector of
University. Later the vice-rector went on persuading them that someone was using Indian students to make mischief and dishonor the name of the university. “Don't undergo the provocation” he was repeating on and on. When the students said that that was by their own initiative and asked who was the provocateur, he played dumb and said with a phony expression on his face: “I know and you know”. Oh right, it's nimble to speculate and get away with this answer.
This is another famous song; whenever students protest university administration seeks for people who lead it. During our protest everyone believed that some political parties probably lead our protest. Up to this date the head of our chair thinks that I'm involved in some party and that's why I was leading the protest. Nuts!! Once I asked her: “Is it so difficult to believe that Armenian students are able to protest this way by their own initiative?”. Her answer was: “I admit that everything was so well organized that if this happened in
England I would believe it, but in
Armenia it is not possible. I'm sure someone has backed you”. Arguing with her was no use, let her stick to her stand point as she was right in a way-in Armenia it is not possible. Certainly I thanked her for the high opinion she was of me. We did what we could. Just such a phenomenon is unexpected and unaccepted by our society.
So, another reason that gave way to the vice-rector to think that these students were being provocated, perhaps, was some three Armenian girls' (Nessuna, Hasmik and me) and one half-Armenian journalist's presence and the interest they displayed. Although I expected more Armenian students to come and back Indian students, that didn't happen. Now I assume that if they knitted their eyebrows and kind of got angry at the fact that 3 Armenians were present, what would happen if some more students were there? Yet, everyone were interested who we were. Probably they thought that we were from some party as well. Again for most of them it was difficult to believe that you just want to support people to achieve justice and some of them asked what was our business there.
Not strangely as I expected discrepancies were even between them. Some students were against the decisions, some were for, but in the whole they were solving them united. Then the students decided to march to Republic Square and hold a peaceful demonstration there. On the way a woman called up to me and inquired. I explained the situation to her and she said: “Lav en anum (right they are)! Then where are your Armenian students? Why are you so few? Why don’t they support you? When I was a student and when students at other faculties were receiving higher scholarship then we, we were protesting and protecting our rights. Where are you students now?”. Yes, that was a question that we asked and not once. The only explanation I could give was: “Apathy or they have more “serious” things to do”.
The group of protestants sat in front of fountains and now more people got interested in what was on. The way they were talking and discussing was really impressive. The notes on the posters were even touchy, as “ God knows everything, our friend’s soul wants justice”. When I was helping them to write a note in Russian, incidentally it was: “We are against university administration, and not Armenian people”, an Armenian guy came up to me and asked what was going on. While I was explaining, a group of other guys surrounded me. They turned out to be from the same Medical university. Then one of them said: “If you back Indians that means that you are against Armenians”. “Being for justice does not necessarily mean being against Armenians”, was my reply in a quiet tone. Then I asked them what would they do if someone cussed their mothers and daughters. They went silent. Then a guy looked at the policemen who were from all the sides and asked: “What if the police…”. I interrupted him and asked to look at those Indian students sitting peacefully on the ground and said: “If you are not aware , let me say that there’s such a term “peaceful sitting strike” and that in this situation not a policeman will dare to take any measure”. I also asked whether they were displaying racial discrimination in the university regarding Indian students. They assured that there wasn’t such a thing and escaping to receive more explanations they went away.
Such mentally can sometimes really be exasperating. Armenians helping the Indians were in the spotlight. Was it any crime? I don’t doubt that those guys were there with a distinct aim-to spy. I wonder will they ever be capable to distinguish the wet from the dry. Does nationality have any role in demanding justice. Meanwhile I felt how softening it was for Indians to know that at least some Armenians were with them. I felt so touched when a woman asked whether I was also a student from Medical
University and an Indian girl said that we are their friends and a boy added that we are human beings after all. I also felt how adamant their will was that they didn’t disperse even when it started to rain.
How can’t they understand that what these students want is justice. They have just lost their friend and I know how suffering it feels. What a steel-hearted person must it be that instead of sharing their grief, she shows her middle fingers? She, the rector, has offended deeply and as we say in
Armenia “ The wound cut with a sword will recover, the one cut with tongue will never”.
I must admit that I was quite pessimist of the result of their demand to put down the rector if considered that her husband is a big shot in Armenia and in cases like this with relative-neighbor-acquaintance relations the victory usually goes to the one who is more authorized. Later, after how I had left, I learnt that a group of 6 students went to the rector with the vice-rector, and that the rector apologized for ten times and promised to hold a press-conference on April 25. If this happens I’ll describe all this like a game of chess, where being in check the powerful side offers a stalemate.
Bravo, friends! You showed who you are! You proved that you can be united in a profound grief. Let you be united in merry times! It's time for Armenians to take that example and stay united in every situation.