Autumn School 2013

“Democracy Today” NGO annually organizes Tsaghkadzor school for youth of rural communities of Armenia. This year the agenda was concentrated on human rights, peacebuilding and activism. 

Young men and women from rural areas of Armenia were involved in lively discussions about new technologies in promoting peace and democracy. The guest speakers included human rights advocates of Armenia, such as soviet dissident Vardan Harutyunyan, Artak Zeinalyan from the Helsinki Association and Arthur Sakunts from the Helsinki Citizen's Assambley Vanadzor, as well as Art Lab artistic social activism group members. 

Gulnara Shahinian, the founder and a board member of “Democracy Today” NGO, welcomed all participants and invited everybody to feel free to raise any points of interest related to the subject. She wished productive three days meeting. Then everybody introduced themselves and their personal interest in the subject beeing discussed.

Short films on human rights’ history, Armenian activists, war and peace were screened and then discussed. Human rights defender Vardan Harutunyan shared his experience on peacebuilding and underlined its importance, encouraged youth to think about ways that will lead to achieving peace.

The second day started with training on human rights conducted by Artur Sakunts, Helsinki Citizens' Assembly Vanadzor Office. Mr Sakunts introduced the history, the aim and reason of the assembly, then he explained thoroughly the concept of gender, that is frequently misunderstood in our society, as well as he explained the need and importance of international documents for human beings. "These documents are universal for each human being wherever they live", he stressed.

Artak Zeynalyan, a very respective lawyer and human rights defender in Armenia, introduced human rights in international documents. He provided an analysis of the Armenian Constitution and then introduced the most important international documents on human rights. As well, he shared examples from his working experience and concluded: "If one fights and protects his or her rights he or she can make changes."

There were invited activists from ArtLab.  “Art-Laboratory” is a cultural NGO that was founded in 2007 by artists. It advocates social change through arts including street art. The group consists of 10 artists who struggle for justice in social and political processes in their way – through public actions and political artistic manifestations, through street art, videos, etc.

The participants expressed high interest in the discussions. According to them, in those three days they "gained knowledge, new friends and contacts."