Armenia: Students Protest, Declare Hunger Strike Over Draft Deferment Bill
Changes in Armenia’s military conscription laws have resulted in large-scale protests among students in the country, including a small group who have announced a hunger strike.
On November 15, Armenia’s parliament passed a law significantly altering the practice of allowing young men to defer their mandatory two years of military service if they enter the university. The bill will require young men who want to delay serving to sign an agreement with the Defense Ministry promising to join the army upon finishing their studies. After graduating, they will be required to serve for three years in a location and under conditions determined by the Ministry.
The new deferment bill comes as part of a broader program to more deeply integrate the Armenian military into society. Officials argue that the program is necessary for a country where any citizen may need to serve as soldier, given Armenia’s longstanding, simmering conflict with neighboring Azerbaijan.
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