September 10 issue of Armenian Times (Haykakan Zhamanak) daily owned by the RA Prime Minister’s family includes two manipulative articles on Amulsar mine titled “Proponents of the “Honest Bricks” ” and “Kyrgyz Amulsar crisis ․ Salton-Surrey rallies”.
The parallels between March 1 and Amulsar
The article “Proponents of the ‘Honest Bricks’” begins with this poignant sentence: “Propaganda manipulations, of course, play a big role in brainwashing.” The author, whose name is not mentioned in the newspaper, mentions that he/she brings small examples as evidence to his/her claims and adds that the same tricks are applied to larger issues, such as Amulsar.
The article builds on one of the public reactions towards Pashinyan’s September 9 statement on the lack of legal grounds for Amulsar Mine’s operation: “Either the roads leading to the mine will remain closed or it will have to turn into a new March 1.”
It is important to note that the reactions to Pashinyan’s live broadcast and mine operation were multifaceted and varied, so it was unlikely that the newspaper would target or criticize this opinion unintentionally.
Ethnographer Hranush Kharatyan seems to have said this sentence at a September 9 press conference at the “Mirror” Press Club. However, the article does not mention the name of the author of the idea, instead the author is referred to as an environmentalist or some activist in quotation marks.
In essence, this editorial article explains in detail that these two phenomena have nothing in common and that “the problem is not the scale, instead it is the logic that is contrary.”
The author notes that in the March 1 events hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets demanding the restoration of lawfulness, and “in the case of Amulsar it is the opposite: the authorities are constantly trying to explain to people that everything must be done within the law, whereas the opponents seem to not care about the law.”
And then he/she concludes with a clarifying question: “Did you understand the logic? In one case several hundred thousand people demanded to respect the law, in the other case several hundred (or thousands) demand to ignore the law. ”
The author also writes that “the authors of this propaganda manipulation” understand the logic very well, but they want Pashinyan to ignore the legitimacy and serious problems in international structures and economics at this stage, or go the other way – to apply force and again to have problems both inside and outside.
The author, however, ignores an environmentalist’s alert that professional studies have revealed new ecological circumstances and confirmed that Lydian did not provide the integrity, reliability and scientific justification of the facts in its EIA, thereby violating the Articles of the RA Law on Environmental Impact Assessment and Expert Examination.
Environmentalists have been warning about other illegalities regarding this case in previous years.
For example, the city of Jermuk has not been involved in the Amulsar mine development project since 2009 as an affected community; there have been no public discussions which as a result has violated the right of Jermuk and Arpa valley residents to participate in decision-making in the early stages of mine operations.
And in this case the problem is not only environmental, but also legal, as the legitimacy of the contracts signed between Armenia and Lydian is in doubt.
In other words, the assertions of the Armenian Times daily that Amulsar mine fighters demand to ignore the law is not true.
Parallels between Kyrgyz Gold and Amulsar
The other rather manipulative article is the “Salton-Surrey rallies. Kyrgyz Amulsar crisis“. Armenian Times seeks to draw desirable parallels between the early August clashes over the Kyrgyz gold mine and Amulsar.
According to eurasianet.org, on August 5, about 300 residents went to the Salton-Sari gold mine in eastern Kyrgyzstan, demanding the Chinese company operating it stop the mining and leave the region. In the meantime, clashes between residents and mine workers have resulted in dozens of people being hospitalized. There have been similar clashes, even in 2011, when the miner began research and was granted permission to operate the mine the following year.
Although the latest clashes took place almost a month ago, the statements of the Armtimes is based one of opposition MP’s statement on September 5 that the Chinese company’s license and contract need to be revised because it does not take into account “the opinion and interest of the people.”
The author then decides to draw parallels between the mentioned case and the Armenian reality and to open the details of the Kyrgyz case, underlining desired points:
✓ Parallel 1․ Prior to the arrival of the Chinese company, locals were engaged in mining, earning money, and many are now deprived of their source of income. The author writes that there is no such problem with Amulsar, the concerns are purely environmental. However, the author forgets to mention that the locals are making a living thanks to the resort town’s name/brand, the flow of tourists, as well as the livestock and farming, which will be at risk if the mine is exploited.
✓ Parallel 2․ The next point begins with an obvious manipulative sentence; “The Salton-Surrey rallies in August also attempted to convey an environmental appeal.” Then an example is brought regarding “active accusation propaganda on social networks regarding the sheep massacre” caused by poisonous mine emissions. This, according to the author, was later denied by an expert examination. The article specifically emphasizes that “even in that case, the Chinese company agreed to compensate for the losses incurred to provide a positive image.”
There have been reports of animal deaths in Jermuk prvioulsy, therefore taking such a parallel, stressing that it has nothing to do with the mine, and stressing the friendliness of a foreign investor would hardly have been a random choice. Instead, the paper omits another argument by residents that Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty has also referred to, that is the high number of deaths that Jermuk residents attribute to the impact of mining.
✓ Parallel 3․ The author claims that in the case of Kyrgyzstan there are geopolitical shades in social networks, which is excluded in the case of Amulsar. The author notes that the situation at the present stage is similar to that of Amulsar and Salton Surrey, and concludes that the solutions will be different, as the Zhong Jing Mining Company is affiliated with the Chinese state corporations and depriving it of license could complicate relations with China.
Without bringing a valid argument the author concludes that “in our case the” country of origin “of the operator is not important; it just has to avoid contaminating the nature.”
In fact, this conclusion is also manipulative, as there have been several publications about external pressure in recent weeks. On September 2, opendemocracy.net wrote how representatives of the UK Foreign Office continued to support Lydian, putting pressure on the Armenian government.
On the same day, the American Chamber of Commerce in Armenia appealed to Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan regarding the events surrounding the Amulsar project of a member of chamber Lydian Armenia Company, and noted that they expected a “fair approach to investment and the application of the law.”
There is also speculation that the banning of the Amulsar mine will have a negative impact on foreign investors and that they will refuse to invest in Armenia.
By the way, this second article is also unsigned.