The events of the cotemporary Armenian history are included in the Armenian History textbooks for the 9th and 12th grades. In these textbooks, we encounter formulations and thoughts that mislead the reader, in this case, the school-children, or do not address certain historical events at all. We will refer to some of them:
For instance, when referring to the 1996 presidential elections in Armenia, the authors of the 9th grade textbook mentioned the following: “Levon Ter-Petrosyan was elected the president of Armenia for the second time. Dissatisfied with the results of the presidential elections, people took the streets to rally. After these elections, some alienation started to form between the authorities and the people. That political crisis led to Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s resignation in February.”
In the 12th grade textbook, this tendency deepens and we find the following statement:
“Dissatisfied with the presidential election results and considering the elections falsified, people came out for rallies and demonstrations demanding new presidential elections. On September 25, 1996 the protesters invaded the parliament building. This outburst of protest was suspended. The arrests of opposition leaders and active protesters started, political trials were held, and rallies and demonstrations were banned in the republic.”
It is noteworthy that in describing the events that followed the cotemporary era of Armenian history such formulations as “arrests” and “political trials” are no longer used in the textbooks; moreover, the rallies organized by the opposition are no longer formulated as “people took the streets to rally”.
In the 9th grade textbook, while referring to the 4th presidential elections (2003), nothing is said about the processes that followed them, for example about the protests or the events that took place at Baghramyan. This is noteworthy because in 2003, even the Constitutional Court had questioned the public’s support of the authorities.
Nevertheless, the most disturbing and problematic description in the textbooks is the one given to the events of March 1, 2008. In the 9th grade textbook we encounter the following description: “Serzh Sargsyan was elected the President of Republic of Armenia. Rejecting the election results, the radical wing of the opposition, led by Levon Ter-Petrosyan, began peaceful protests on February 20, 2008 which lasted for 10 days and then were dispersed by the authorities. The unstable situation in Yerevan resulted in tragic events on March 1-2. Clashes broke out between the police and the protesters. 10 people were killed. There were also people wounded. A 20-day state of emergency was imposed across the country.”
Although the authors used the term “peaceful rallies” in the 9th grade textbook, this term was omitted from the same text in the 12th grade textbook: “Rejecting the election results, the radical wing of the opposition, led by Levon Ter-Petrosyan, began protests on February 20 which continued for 10 consecutive days.” If in the first case the notion that the authorities dispersed the rallies is sustained, in the second case, this notion is not articulated in the text.
The textbooks contain no mention of the arrests, political trials and persecutions of opposition leaders. Meanwhile, when referring to the 1996 events, which were ten times smaller in size, the authors did not “forget” to mention about them. Moreover, according to the textbooks, in 1996, “people” came out to rally, while in 2008 it was “the radical wing of the opposition”.
However, there is another circumstance about the 2008 events that does not correspond to reality: the authors of the textbook mention that a state of emergency was imposed across the country, whereas, Robert Kocharyan’s order on declaring state of emergency referred only to Yerevan.
It should be noted that, the editor-in-chief of the Armenian History textbook for the 9th grade was academician Vladimir Barkhudaryan (former vice-president of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS)), while the editors of the Armenian History textbook for the 12th grade were the director of the NAS Institute of History Ashot Melkonyan, rector of the Yerevan State University Aram Simonyan, and A. Nazaryan.