Saturday, April 22, 2006

Indian Students Seek Justice in Vain

I happened upon a huge crowd of Indian students walking up the Baghramyan Street. I thought it was one of their national holidays; they are always accompanied by processions and music. Well, I thought, the procession would be a great part of a new project, Indians in Armenia, that Hetq photographer Onnik Krikorian and I have launched recently.

But as soon as I approached, it became clear that the crowd gathering at the National Assembly building was not celebrating a festival at all; it looked more like a demonstration.

“What's the gathering about?” I asked one of the students, expecting to hear some common Armenian university problem.

His answer was beyond all my expectations. It was something horrible. Later in the several hours that I spent with them at the National Assembly others added their stories to his tale, and gradually the whole picture emerged.

Today (April 20, 2006) at around 13:00 pm, a third year student at the Medical University, 21- year-old Prashant Anchalia fell out of a sixth floor window in Building #7 of the Zeytun Student Dormitory. How and why he fell are not yet clear. The students who rushed to him found him lying on the ground covered with blood, screaming in pain. They called an ambulance and their dean's office.

Dean Anna Sarkisyan arrived fifteen minutes later. Although she is a doctor, she made no attempt to provide emergency aid to the student, and even forbade the other students to touch him or take him to hospital in a taxi, rather than wait for the ambulance, which was slow to arrive. Instead, she ordered them to wait for the police to get there.

The Police arrived and took some witnesses to the Kanaker Police Station for questioning.

The ambulance arrived some 45-50 minutes after the call. According to the students, it was in very poor condition and had no medical equipment, not even an oxygen mask.

On the way to the hospital, Prashant Anchalia died.

The students went to the Medical University and asked to meet with the rector, seeking an explanation for why their friend had been treated so negligently. The response of the newly- appointed rector, Gohar Kialyan, came as a shock. Out of the blue, she referred to Indian girls as prostitutes, and showed the students the middle fingers of both her hands, a gesture whose meaning is well known to even five-year old kids.

Astonished by her behavior, the students decided to seek help in higher places.


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