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Samson Martirosyan

Families Evicted from Former Armenian Defense Ministry Building Accuse Government Agencies of Dodging Responsibility

Those evicted last month from the abandoned Ministry of Defense building on the outskirts of Yerevan today rallied outside the Government Building and accused government agencies of passing the buck when it comes to providing them housing.

Yerevan police, early on the morning of February 16, forcibly removed scores of families from the building, arguing they were illegal squatters. 

That same day, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs announced it was considering a rent compensation program to help those left homeless and not financially able to rent housing.

None of those evicted have yet to receive any rental compensation.

Anna, one of those evicted at today’s protest, told Hetq that she and others are being bounced from one government agency to another in their quest for temporary housing.  

Anna told Hetq that twenty evicted families were allocated dormitory housing at no charge for six months. The families will have to fend for themselves afterwards.

Gohar Ashikyan told Hetq she tried to apply to the ministry for rent compensation but was turned away. Ministry officials told her the government hadn’t yet approved the program and they couldn’t say when it would be debated or approved,

"They only make promises. In practice, they don't want to do anything," Ashikyan said.

The woman told Hetq that the thirteen square meter dormitory room the ministry offered isn’t large enough to accommodate her family of four.

In April 2022, the government decided to allocate the building to the State Revenue Committee (SRC) with plans to establish a foreign economic action center.

Former building residents say the SRC claims the building is unsafe for habitation and that they were removed for their own safety. Those evicted say they haven’t seen any paperwork verifying this claim. 

Some of those evicted have also accused the police of damaging and stealing their belongings left inside the building. They don’t believe a police promise to investigate the matter, saying it’s just a ruse to mollify their anger.

Many of those evicted now live in two tents set up near the building site.

During today’s protest, a government official approached and advised them to contact the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs for help.  

Photos: Samson Martirosyan

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