by Karina Manukyan
The Human Rights Defender's Office of Armenia has released a statement on the situation around the dismantlement of the Afrikyan building in Yerevan.
"We studied the situation and arrived at the conclusion that the incomplete compliance of the Armenian legislation with the European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage is a serious flaw in protection of the Afrikyan building and other monuments. Armenia ratified that Convention on 21 November 2008. In particular, the Armenian legislation fails to regulate the issues related to dismantlement of the cultural and historical monuments", the statement says.
"We are convinced that relocating a cultural and historical monument for urban development purposes runs counter to the European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage", says the statement.
The source also stresses the need to urgently amend the Armenian Law "Protection and Use of Immovable Historical and Cultural Monuments" and the related governmental resolutions.
In addition, according to Article 11 of the Armenian Constitution, the cultural and historical monuments are protected by the state.
The Afrikyan building, located on 11 Teryan Street, was built at the end of the 19th century. Based on a Government decision in 2004, the building was included in the state list of historical and cultural immovable monuments of the city of Yerevan as a national monument. According to a new Government decision the Afrikyan building will be dismantled and rebuilt at another location in order to broaden the roadway. The building is included in the "Old Yerevan" program, which will be designed and implemented in the neighboring streets of Abovyan, Byuzand, Koghbatsi and Aram.
Activists reported earlier that the Armenian Parliament ratified the European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage. According to the Convention, each of the parties shall ban the full or partial relocation of the protected monument except when this step is made for the protection of the monument.
In early XX century, before the revolution, the Afrikyans' building was an urban club visited by well- known politicians, entrepreneurs, artists and foreign guests. In 2004 the building was sold to a private company by the Municipality. Industrialists Arakel and Tigran Afrikyan allocated big funds for schools and for road construction. Moreover, they built a water pipeline in Yerevan, which supplied the residents of Yerevan with drinking water.