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MEGATHREAD & NEWS WRAP-UP \\ Nov/16/2020: \\ War in Artsakh (Karabakh) \\ Pashinyan's Q&A in Parliament; reveals details; negotiations \\ Azerb. always demanded Shushi through re-population \\ battle for Shushi & rumors; interview with soldier \\ political turmoil & resignations \\ refugees return
Shushi battles / eye-witness account by a soldierQ: did you participate in Shushi battles?
A: Yes. For 4 days. It began on the night of November 3rd. We were attacked by an infantry followed by artillery strikes. They were hitting our artillery and infantry. When we moved down to the village [Qarin Tak?] they began using airforce, drones, artillery, cluster bombs, etc.
We fired at each other for two days nonstop. They had around 800 losses. We were told to leave from there, followed by four Azeri jets bombing the area where we were.
They began firing from another location. Then it stopped. Around November 12th Shushi was ours but Karabakh already wasn't.
Q: where there Azeris in Shushi?
A: Yes. We held one part of the city, while Azeris held another. We left on November 14th.
Q: How did you leave?
A: Russian peacekeepers came and we left without shooting.
Q: how many wounded did you have?
A: none. There were 12 of us.
Q: how old are you?
A: 19. I'm a conscript.
Q: how far away were Azeris?
A: around 100 meters.
[He is part of the group that infiltrated Shushi during the second battle. They held a small part of Shushi until the end, but the administration decided it wouldn't be possible to fully liberate Shushi.]
political turmoil continues // coup guys, howlers, walls, and soldiersYesterday a group of acting/former security service officials and opposition figures were arrested under the suspicion of organizing an assassination against PM Pashinyan. An audio call was leaked. Some of them were kept in jail by a judge, while others were released before the trial.
Hours later Pashinyan wrote: "Today I watched videos shared by dozens of soldiers in the front lines. I'm amazed by their insight. Guys, you are right. I'm waiting for you in Yerevan to finally solve the problem of those howling under the walls. I'm proud of you."
The opposition called it a threat of physical violence and urged law enforcement to take action. An opposition figure wrote, "Pashinyan will soon go underground".
The Human Rights Ombudsman asked the public not to share hateful social media posts.
An opposition figure Andranik Tevanyan urged ruling QP MPs to resign otherwise "they'll be held accountable". "Any MP who leaves the party will be given a humanitarian path to exit. Otherwise, everyone will sign under the agreement of capitulation and self-destruction."
Three QP MPs had resigned amid the turmoil.
Prime Minister office chief of staff: the latest comment by PM was interpreted in various ways. Many thought of it as an attempt to incite a civil war. I assure you it was a misunderstanding. The post was a "thank you" to the heroic men who fought in front lines for weeks, who are now calling for the public not to fall for provocations and to unite for the sake of Armenia and Artsakh.
The U.S. Ambassador spoke with QP Party leader Lilith Makunts. Both reaffirmed their joint commitment to strengthening democracy and the rule of law in Armenia. "Political violence & intimidation have no place in a democratic society," said the Ambassador."
Artsakh president Arayik has called for political peace in Armenia. He added that the process of recovering bodies continues. 150 more bodies were transferred from Shushi.
President Sarkissian has called for restraint and vigilance despite the pain.
Pashinyan: regarding my earlier Facebook post. I wrote that I await them in Yerevan. Some interpreted that as a call for civil war and clashes. If you watch the videos I responded to, the soldiers are returning home after being discharged, without weapons. I chose to publicly announce a meeting with them upon their return. No one is returning from the front lines with weapons.
As for the phrase "those howling under the walls", I chose to use that harsh statement because certain official bodies also used it (maybe referring to a judge who earlier made a statement about "howling", followed by assassination suspect Arthur Vanetsyan being released from jail).
When the frontline soldiers return, we'll find out answers to many questions and put an end to the conspiracy theories about political-military leadership.
I spoke with the police to make sure none of the returning soldiers have weapons.
The ruling Parliamentary party launched a process to terminate BHK leader Gagik Tsaraukyan's MP mandate. They will send a petition to the Constitutional court.
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-armenia-security-premiearmenia-says-prevented-assassination-attempt-on-prime-minister-idUSKBN27U0P1 , https://www.facebook.com/nikol.pashinyan/ , https://factor.am/309898.html , https://factor.am/309896.html , https://news.am/arm/news/613624.html , https://news.am/arm/news/613623.html , https://news.am/arm/news/613619.html , https://news.am/arm/news/613609.html , https://t.me/infocomm/26423 , https://news.am/arm/news/613637.html , https://twitter.com/usembarmenia/status/1328046501529067521?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1328046501529067521%7Ctwgr%5E&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fnews.am%2Farm%2Fnews%2F613633.html ,
The opposition parties resumed their rallies. The demands are the same: Pashinyan should resign, they won't hold any meetings or discussions with him. They marched to the prosecutors' office. "Nikol, the public will pay your pension and ensure your safety, just leave," said an ARF official.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035035.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035048.html , https://news.am/arm/news/613699.html , https://youtu.be/PfGmUBibPSY
Prosecutors will appeal the lower court decision that kept Arthur Vanetsyan out of jail. He is one of the former officials suspected of organizing a coup and assassination of the Prime Minister. The lower court didn't find enough evidence to keep him locked up pre-trial.
Another suspect, Vahram Baghdasaryan, was also released by the court.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035050.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035050.html , https://news.am/arm/news/613670.html
Former general prosecutor Gevorg Kostanyan urged his ex-colleague prosecutors and cops to join their side and disobey the government.
Context: Kostanyan is on the run. He was accused of being the "handler" who went between several law enforcement agencies in March 2008 to coordinate the disposal of bullet shells that the police forced fired at protesters. At the time, 8 protestors were killed. After the arrival of Pashinyan, a felony case was launched over the incident. Former president Kocharyan [president at the time of the incident] and several of his allies were charged.
Prosecutors urge opposition not to pressure law enforcement:
Lately, individuals who have recently been prosecuted in various criminal cases, who evaded justice, and have the prospect of criminal liability, as well as their supporters, have been trying to manipulate the law enforcement bodies with emotional statements to influence their actions.
The prosecutors and law enforcement are apolitical bodies. We condemn any attempts to involve them in political processes.
The police continue to find weapons in cars returning from Artsakh. Kalashnikov and bullets were confiscated in Yeghegnadzor.
Human rights ombudsman condemned opposition and government figures for using provocative language.
Pashinyan about the tense atmosphere and violenceLook at what happened to Parliament Speaker Ararat Mirzoyan (he was severely beaten by opposition activists, doctors saved his life with surgeries). Nothing of this kind has happened to opposition figures in the past 2.5 years (when he came into office). The majority of opposition did not even condemn the November 10th riots.
I expect the opposition to publicly state that they are against political violence and the use of weapons. When the internal atmosphere improves, we'll be able to have a dialogue with the opposition to together overcome the situation.
Pashinyan about the negotiations processArtsakh's legal status must become the heart of the negotiation process with new intensity and new capacity. (Earlier he complained that for the last 25 years, the main negotiations were over giving lands to Azerbaijan with not enough emphasis on Artsakh status)
Pashinyan about soldiersWe have several hundred missing soldiers. I hope for the best. Yesterday several missing soldiers were found alive.
Exchanging POWs will happen after the exchange of bodies. There will be a day of mourning once the process completes.
We must help the wounded soldiers, and soldiers' family members now. There needs to be a continuous communication with them. The soldier must see that the country stands by him. There will be vocational training courses for those who want to change professions.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034971.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034974.html
Pashinyan about cooperating with the opposition[Opposition says they can change the document to make it more favorable.] I have not received such an offer from them on how to improve the document's terms. Going backward and changing the terms of the signed document means changing the military status, which is impractical today.
As for the future negotiations process, the document leaves many points for future clarification. During these clarifications, all the suggestions will be taken into account, and we will try to implement the best ones.
Pashinyan about the negotiation process before the war and his responsibilityBy May 2018 (before he took the office), the negotiation process had already crossed the point of no return. It was all about giving lands to Azerbaijan in exchange for nothing. Some HHK officials (today opposition) were publicly stating that there are complications and we'd need to give away lands.
That means there are three options: either those former officials were oracles, or I'm a traitor, or the former officials already knew where the negotiations had reached.
My administration tried to change the course of negotiations to make it more favorable. Unfortunately, we couldn't. There was already an international consensus that the lands must be given to Azerbaijan without any conditions.
Were we supposed to give away the lands? We tried to resist through negotiations. I also took steps to prepare the army by improving the armament.
I'm blamed for signing and giving away lands today. I'm also blamed for not giving them away sooner.
Our army fought for as long as it was possible.
There is no doubt that I am the number one public official responsible for the situation. I will stand before our people. However, the public should know all these details to make conclusions.
Pashinyan about accusations of keeping other officials in darkWe held two security council meetings during the war, participated by Parliamentary parties, the President, the Church leader.
We held separate meetings with non-Parliamentary opposition parties to discuss the situation. They were aware of the trends.
Some of the decisions had to be made within hours at the request of the military, so we couldn't discuss it with opposition first.
Pashinyan addressing rumors about "giving away Shushi"The army fought a heroic battle until the last second, but the Armenian side lost Shushi because the enemy managed to penetrate the city. Shushi was not handed over. Artsakh president mentioned today about recovering 150 more bodies from Shushi. If the city was "given away", then who ordered them to fight.
There were rumors about traitors inside Shushi who gave specific orders. The law enforcement questioned the person who spread the rumors to learn more details, but the person refused to answers questions.
The truth is painful, but we lost Shushi because the enemy was able to break in.
Pashinyan addressing opposition rumors about U.S.Q: is it true that you consulted with the US before signing the Document?
A: of course not. During this war, I've spoken with the US five times: three with O'Brian and two with Pompeo. We discussed suggestions from the US. On the other hand, there were days when I spoke with Putin five times a day.
Pashinyan about Artsakh armyArtsakh will continue to have it's Defense Army, even after signing of the document. The army will have the same status. It must develop, strengthen, and be the guarantor of Artsakh sovereignty.
NSS border defendersNational Security Services had also sent a group of volunteers and reservists. 46 sacrificed their lives, 191 wounded, 2 missing.
several officials quit/firedForeign Minister Zohrap Mnatsakanyan has submitted his resignation papers.
Artak Davtyan is no longer the head of the military industry.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034999.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035024.html
Pashinyan meets political parties in Parliament for a 2-hour Q&A
Q: were there calculations before the war on how long we could last in the event of war, considering resource discrepancy?We discussed this during the Security Council meetings on several occasions. Our conclusion was that we would have enough resources to resist aggression by the Azerbaijani army.
Q: why weren't there any steps to prevent the war?Preventing a war was always on our agenda, but it has never been viewed as "at the cost of everything and anything". Preventing this war would mean "lands in exchange for peace" proposal. We would have to give away lands.
That would be the continuation of the downward spiral in the negotiations that we've witnessed in the past many years when Armenia would agree to concede, then Azeris would demand more and more. Last year we decided to consolidate our physical power to resist possible attacks.
Q: How can people help Artsakh refugees now?I spoke with the Artsakh president and I'm happy to say that many refugees are now returning to their homes. Over 1,000 by now. The houses should be renovated; our governments will work on it. Lachin corridor will reopen today and the process will expedite.
Q: where was our mistake? What were the shortcomings of air defense? Armament in the past 30 years?Our mistake in the past 2.5 years was our inability to close the existing gaps in the army. Although we did have massive achievements in air defense. We purchased TOR, modernized OSA-AKA units, etc. Practice showed that these weapons aren't enough against the modern high-tech; a technology [Bayraktar] that came into play just in the past few months, and tipped the balance.
Overall, Armenia's two biggest strategic mistakes post-1990s war were believing that we could forever avoid a war, and the idea of "don't give an inch of land".
From 1998, there was only one significant emphasis: the return of 7 regions to Azerbaijan. This was the only clearly defined thing. Let's see what happened in international institutes in the past 25 years: Dozens of documents, resolutions, statements that re-enforced the idea of our requirement to give away lands.
We should have chosen: either we give some lands, or we choose war.
Q: my research shows that the size of our conscript army shrank in half in the past 10 years. It was also our mistake that the ruling and opposition parties haven't done enough to address this. The opposition has its share to blame.We are accused of failing foreign policy and giving away lands. So what did the opposition want: not to give away lands, or to avoid a war? You had to pick one.
Now they say "why didn't you give away lands sooner to end the war sooner?". Because the war would not have ended sooner. It could stop under the conditions that we have today [land concessions]. The army and the govt chose to fight for as long as possible. We made our choice and I don't believe that was the wrong choice. Unfortunately, we failed to achieve the desired outcome.
Q: are there plans for internal stability? Any plan on consolidating efforts before future negotiations?We need to condemn and avoid violence. I publicly declare that we don't want or incite civil unrest, and we ask the opposition to also declare that they don't plan to use force.
If they do, we will have a peaceful dialogue. I have my doubts because when the November 10th riots took place and the Govt/Parliament were attacked, to this day the opposition hasn't condemned it. My appearance today is also an act of dialogue with the opposition.
As for future negotiations, our top priority is the Artsakh status, refugee return, economical topics. All our efforts, including the Parliament, should be involved with the process.
Q: should there be a dialogue specifically with those opposition parties who are currently ready to be peaceful?Dialogue is possible with any political party, as long as there is a willingness to have one. But they need to condemn violence first. I agree, we should all be careful with emotional statements.
Q: about future negotiations & electionsQ: what happened to our country was treason; I don't mean the document signed by you. Only during the war did we learn that the defense/MFA wasn't ready. Admit that you and your team failed. Certain officials should resign. As for the negotiation process, unlike [fellow] opposition members, I still believe that you should be the one to find a way out of this situation, and once the roadmap is clear, we need snap elections. If people vote for you again, so be it, continue with the work, but we need a roadmap for the future.
A: the job of every agency is being analyzed. Our main task right now is to have a discourse under peaceful and democratic conditions. We can't hold elections right now. Once the peaceful atmosphere is restored, and there is no more doubt that the elections would be democratic, we can talk about new elections.
I urge all opposition parties to publicly condemn violence and state that they don't plan to use force to achieve things. At the same time, our law enforcement is able to prevent any possible violence.
Q: we should strengthen the army. We are accused of not doing enough to find money to improve the army. People point where the money is. Any plans to recover them?Today we have many former officials who make speeches about Artsakh. They possess millions of dollars worth of [embezzled] properties. These people have no right to speak about Artsakh. It's the money that they stole that could have formed institutes in Armenia.
We talk about our diplomatic abilities today; our diplomatic potential would have been better had we invested in time. It wasn't done for decades.
After coming to power in 2018, we followed the law, we said there won't be vendettas. We created legal methods to recover resources stolen from the public [asset forfeiture law]. These laws are starting to go into effect today. The recovered resources will be invested in our future potential. We cannot do vendettas, however.
Q: any mental health support for soldiers returning from war?Yes. We discussed it with Healthcare Ministry. The private sector and businesses also offered to help with their resources.
Q: as far as I'm aware, in the prior negotiation packages, the status of Shushi was not part of any.The past 2.5 years of negotiations and meetings had left no doubt that preventing the war would require Armenia giving away lands, and still have no status for Artsakh. We would also need to give up the right to discuss Artsakh's legal status in the near future, and also give Shushi. [Shushi part was later clarified since some people thought he was "lying" about Shushi being part of past negotiations]
The opposition is showing a document and saying "Shushi isn't mentioned in this one". Yes, Shushi isn't in it, that's why that document was never accepted by Azerbaijan. [He is hinting that Azerbaijan has always wanted Shushi as its major goal and that every time Armenia yielded something, Azeris wanted more.]
There are many documents. Was the Kazan document ever signed by Azerbaijan? There was another one before that. Why wasn't neither one of them accepted? Does no one ask?
We had certain outcomes that we could have, under certain conditions. There were many documents. We can print a very favorable document and circulate it today, but it's nothing if it's rejected. Some documents are now circulated for propaganda purposes. The opposition is trying to say that at some point we had a better choice but we rejected it.
We had two options after the 2016 clashes began: give up our rights or defend our rights. Do you not wonder why the 2016 war was stopped but this one wasn't? Do you know under what conditions the 2016 war was stopped? The opposition knew where the negotiation process was as of 2018, when they "predicted" a bad outcome upon my election.
On the first day, I told you while standing here in Parliament: we can stop the war RIGHT NOW and the conditions that would stop it. The opposition decried the conditions. Now they say "why didn't you stop". Are we traitors for fighting?
They rightfully blame us for high casualties, but at the same time, they blame us for saving 30,000 soldiers from encirclement by signing the Document. Let them not play oracle now.
Q: can you clarify the Shushi part, about it being or not being in negotiating documents?I think I might not fully understand your context about the Shushi question, since it's being asked again. Are you asking if Shushi was part of the prior negotiation process? Please clarify. In any case, if we could preserve it, we would.
MP Clarifying: you earlier said that the war could be avoided or stopped if Shushi was given to Azeris. But the Foreign Ministry spokesperson wrote, "the peace negotiations did not contain a question of giving away Shushi". This statement caused various interpretations. Clarify the Shushi part before and after the war.
Pashinan: before the war, during the negotiations, there was always a topic about returning refugees to their homes. When on official-level we tried to obtain clarification on what that would mean, and what would be acceptable by Azerbaijan, it was clear that Azerbaijan always demanded that their refugees return to Shushi. Always. [Shushi region had a large Azeri population before 90s war. Azeris consider it as their crown jewel and the heart.]
During the war, there were options to stop the war. Not in the very beginning, but at some point (5-7 days into war) Shushi became a demand by Azerbaijan. This is an undeniable fact. [tldr: on the 5-7th day of the war Armenians thought the army could defend Artsakh so they didn't accept a deal; later the Azeris demanded Shushi so Armenians decided to continue to fight instead of giving it away]
Q: the war showed that Armenia's only friend was Russia. did Turkey and Azerbaijan go for war thinking there were cracks in AM-RU relations?Myth number 1: the AM-RU relations are bad that's why this happened. In the past 4-5 years, Russia's stance over Karabakh has not changed.
Myth number 2: I was offered to resign to change the outcome of the war, but I refused and cling to power.
I had a very direct and frank conversation with [Russians] and I asked if my resignation would change anything. There are people in Parliament who know all these details. Now I'm giving you details I wasn't supposed to; too much transparency. As for AM-RU relations, they were/are/remain strategic.
Q: refugees?We're working on making it possible for refugees to return home and receive government assistance while already in Artsakh. The future negotiations will include discussions about the status of refugees who lost their homes (Hadrut), and possible options for their safe return.
Q: many countries came out of war and became stronger over time. Can we expect peace in the region?We need to analyze how we used our past 2.5 years, but also for the past 30 years. In the past 30 years, we lived with the idea of "not an inch of land" and "prevent war", while in reality, we had to choose between the two.
We had to pick one and focus on it. We made our choice [prepare for war instead of giving the adjacent regions] in the past 2.5 years and we lost, and I carry full responsibility.
How many of you have visited the adjacent territories [that are will be soon given to Azerbaijan]? What work has been done in those regions in the past 30 years? [the former regime is accused of intentionally investing less money in 7 adjacent regions, expecting that one day they might belong to Azerbaijan].
For 30 years we screamed about the army being the institute with the highest rating, yet everyone tried to avoid serving in it. Was this not supposed to have its consequences?
We need to review our model of patriotism. Let me give a bribe, escape the army, then make a toast to honor the army. Did we not think about this for 30 years?
When we took a $10 bribe to vote for certain political parties for 30 years, when we evaded taxes, the large businesses evaded taxes then gave some donations and received praise in return; was this all going to go without consequences?
I carry full responsibility for what had happened in the past 30 years. No one else does. I will stand in the court of public opinion, but I raise questions and I demand the answers.
When for 30 years the public office was a way to embezzle public resources and we all knew and did nothing, aren't we not supposed to answer for it? We embezzled 30 years of our history.
If Shushi was "sold", then it was sold in the past 30 years. Shushi is a grim-looking poor city. If you wanted Shushi, why did you keep it in that poor condition?
Did you want those 7 regions? Then why did you not invest in them? They criticize me for visiting the Artsakh president's inauguration in Shushi. "Why did you do it in Shushi". For 30 years, the elites called Shushi an Armenian city, yet the president doesn't have the right to hold a ceremony there?
Shushi was sold when for 30 years the headlines wrote "Shushi is Armenian", yet in their minds, it wasn't.
What did you invest in Shushi? A few private donors gave charity. What else was done for Shushi by public officials? Shushi wasn't given on November 10th. Shushi was given when unruly weeds grew there for 30 years.
Q: how can we solve the Artsakh conflict now to prevent passing it to future generations?We need to consolidate our resources. We need Armenians and Artsakh Armenians to live on their lands and create and prosper. It all comes down to education. Bribing to avoid military service is also part of education. We need a change of mentality. For 30 years we never made any major education reforms. The education system was a servant of the acting political party.
Q: when will we have the final number of casualties?Identification and body exchange continues. We don't have final numbers. Some people were wondering if there were battles for Shushi. All you need to do is to look at the number of casualties on both sides in Shushi. 300 Armenian bodies were recovered in the past few days from Shushi.
Some have spread rumors about generals and politicians ordering not to fight for Shushi. The law enforcement invited them to clarify the rumors. When asked by police to testify, the rumor-spreaders tell stories of "someone who I knew was sitting somewhere when someone came" yadda yadda.
Q: mobilization of troops?The mobilization system is outdated. The army structure and its functional roles should undergo significant reforms. We have contractors. Their size increased in the past 7-8 years.
Contract service is also a job place where villages earn extra money alongside their daily work. They have a great role in defending the border. However, during a major war, there is a problem with involving them in various types of activities. The contractors don't have the efficiency of special tasks. Since 2019 we worked on this. The 3rd Army Corps underwent reforms.
Q: any plans to strengthen ties with the diaspora?45 years ago, over 70% of diasporan Armenians were affiliated with one diasporan organization or another. Today the picture is reversed. The majority are detached. We need to rebuild the connection.
Artsakh refugees returning home / aid / schoolThe Armenian government will provide a one-time 68,000 Dram financial aid to refugees in addition to humanitarian aid. An additional 15,000 Drams if the person doesn't have a property in Armenia.
The government receives lots of calls from refugees who want info about how to return home. They no longer need paperwork to be able to reach Stepanakert.
The second group of Artsakh residents has moved back to Artsakh, accompanied by Russian peacekeepers. 19 buses transported 475 people, bringing the total from yesterday to 725.
Stepanakert's N2 school has partially resumed the work. Children can register for classes.
Russian peacekeepers cleared a 1km Lachin road from landmines. 27 damaged vehicles were removed from the roadside.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035046.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1034995.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035028.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035065.html
Turkish Komando 404WarGonzo reporter writes: the elite Turkish "Komando" special forces group routed from near Martuni on the last day of the war. (it was reported that Armenian fend off an attack, but details weren't given). These troops were then redirected towards Shushi.
A special knife belonging to Komandos was confiscated by Armenian troops near Martuni.
[The outlet obtained the names of Turkish commanders. There were 600 Turkish special forces in Azerbaijan.]
https://news.am/arm/news/613725.html , https://t.me/wargonzo/4033
Polls about peacekeepers / Agreement / Nikol traitor or not?Do you support the presence of Russian peacekeepers? 82% Yes.
Do you support the November 10th Agreement signed by AM-RU-AZ? 44% yes, 41% no.
The primary reasons why it happened:
66% believe it was signed for the safety of Artsakh residents and soldiers.
19% believe Pashinyan committed treason.
16% believe it was a diplomatic failure.
11% said it was a military failure.
2% said the former government's past actions were the primary reason.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035005.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1035008.html
demonstrationsArmenians held a demonstration in front of the Turkish consulate in New York with slogans calling Turkey denialist and Azerbaijan a liar. "Artsakh is Armenia. Recognize the Artsakh Republic."
COVIDex-president Serj Sargsyan's wife Rita is in a critical condition. She's diagnosed with COVID.
Armenian-American Nubar Afeyan's MODERNA company has recorded a 96% effectiveness by the COVID vaccine. 30,000 had participated in the trials.
Pfizer had also created a vaccine with similar results.
A Russian vaccine also recorded a 92% efficiency.
You can help Artsakh & Armeniawww.1000plus.am (soldiers' medical help)
www.HimnaDram.org (for Artsakh & Armenia)
www.ArmeniaFund.org (U.S. tax-deductible)
Nov 15, Nov 14, Nov 13, Nov 12, Nov 11, Nov 10, Nov 9, Nov 8, Nov 7, Nov 6, Nov 5, Nov 4, Nov 3, Nov 2, Nov 1, Oct 31, Oct 30, Oct 29, Oct 28, Oct 27, Oct 26, Oct 25, Oct 24, Oct 23, Oct 22, Oct 21, Oct 20, Oct 19, Oct 18, Oct 17, Oct 16, Oct 15, Oct 14, Oct 13, Oct 12, Oct 11 , Oct 10, Oct 9 , Oct 8, Oct 7,Oct 6, Oct 5, Oct 4, Oct 3, Oct 2, Oct 1, Sep 30, Sep 29, Sep 28, Sep 27
A Logical Refutation to Common Pro Lockdown Arguments
Whilst the fear is understandable, what is unacceptable is the way that politicians and world leaders reacted to this. We elect them to make sober, rational, and informed decisions for the good of the country, yet this did not happen. When you are dealing with an outbreak, quarantine is an acceptable response. This is what happened in Wuhan and in Italy. They tried to contain the spread and this was a spectacular failure. The virus spread through Europe, and America was soon to follow.
This was the point where it should have been clear that suppression was impossible. As Professor Gupta noted in her AMA today, #covidzero is an unattainable goal, which is obvious to anybody who is even mildly familiar with the history of infectious diseases. We have only fully eradicated two diseases in human history, so they are essentially asking for a miracle. This was only possible in the earliest stage. Once covid spread outside of the original quarantined areas, it was over, and considering we are not 100% sure of when this virus started, suppression was arguable futile from the start.
So why did we lock down then? The argument presented was to “flatten the curve.” This is probably the most logical the pro lockdown side has ever been because while there are problems with a two-week lockdown, it is not unreasonable. Jonathan Sumption makes an excellent point about this. He says that at this point, there were three possible strategies:
- No lockdowns
- Lockdown only long enough to make sure hospitals are not overwhelmed
- Lockdown until a vaccine
This is where the irrationality of the current pro lockdown side comes into play. In March, we were told to shut up and that we were selfish for questioning it. There was no opposition, something to always be wary of, and anybody who questioned lockdowns was “killing grandma.”
Let’s now talk about this first argument. “Shut up, stay at home, stop being selfish, and stop killing grandma.” Well, telling people to shut up is never a logical reaction. It sure sounds like something a fearful person would say though. “Shut up or you’ll get me killed” is similar to “shut up, that guy is gonna shoot you if you keep talking.” I believe that the efforts to silence our side come from a place of fear for this reason. “Shut up” is not a normal reaction to questioning something that has a drastic effect on our lives.
Now, let’s tackle the “stop being selfish” and “killing grandma.” Why are we selfish in their eyes? The typical argument is that we are unwilling to give up whatever it is (haircuts, drinks with friends at the pub, etc) in order to save lives. This made a little more sense in the “two weeks” period (although not much more), but now let’s fast forward a few months and do a quick comparison. You are now asking people to give up socializing for months, an activity that is non optional as human beings are social creatures. I’ve seen pro lockdowners call others “weak” for not being ok with this. I will not dignify that argument with a response.
What else do people give up in order to lock down for months? Well, you have so many losing their jobs, others losing their businesses, children and college students missing out on upwards of a year of in person instruction, and their freedom of movement, something that is in direct violation of Article 13 of the United Nations declaration of human rights. Speaking of human rights, people have been denied medical treatments, the ability to leave their country, job opportunities, the ability to improve their physical and mental health (gym closures), and finally, a notable fraction of human life has been taken away. Next March, this will have lasted a year. To a five-year-old, that is 20% of their life, and small children experience time much more slowly than adults because they still form memories. Half the life you experience is over by age seven. So tell me, who is selfish?
It gets even worse. The selfish argument completely crumbles when you realise that it is possible for those at risk of covid to simply choose to stay at home. People having parties and going to concerts and football games is not going to affect you if you don’t want it to because you and members of your household can quarantine yourselves, so no, they are not killing grandma. Thus, pro lockdowners are essentially demanding that everybody should stop doing anything that either improves their life or makes them happy because they want to hide from the virus. This is the epitome of selfishness. It is not selfish to want to be around other people. That is called being human.
What other arguments exist from the pro lockdown side? The selfish one is their greatest hit, but let’s run down the hit list. “Bad, but not death.” This is illogical because it assumes that covid is a death sentence when the reality is that the mortality rate is around 0.48% for those under 65! Further to the point, Governor Cuomo’s idea of what isn’t worse than death might differ from yours or mine. Would you rather be in jail for the rest of your life or be dead? I would choose the latter, but there are people that would choose the former. The point is, one person cannot make such a blanket decision for everybody, and as we already established, covid is far from a death sentence.
Another common argument is “listen to the experts” or “follow the science.” Which experts? What science? There are currently over 12,000 medical & public health scientists who favour the targeted protection approach. That is a staggering number and it begs the question, which experts? There are also likely many more that will not come out in support because of peer pressure. Also, experts in what field? If you are sick, then you should absolutely consult a doctor, but would you go to a pediatrician to get open heart surgery? Then why would you go to only an epidemiologist when considering public policy that will greatly affect the economy, legal precedence, and so much more.
There are more arguments, but it would be impossible to cover each possible one without writing an entire PhD thesis on it. The ones mentioned above are the primary ones. There is also the question of partisanship over this, but this is not within the scope of this essay specifically because it is not a rational argument to accuse anti lockdowners of being trump supporters. As evidenced by LockdownCriticalLeft, this is a bipartisan cause (Dr. Jay Bhattacharya also makes this point in his AMA). In addition, I will not address any pro lockdown arguments accusing us of being conspiracy theorists, because this is blatantly untrue except for a few oddballs.
To conclude, the pro lockdown side is not a side of reason and science. Dissent in science is always a large part of the process, and it is when dissent is suppressed that there is a problem. Copernicus, Galileo, Darwin, Bruno, Hypatia, and many more are evidence of this. Dr. Kulldorff, Dr. Gupta, and Dr. Bhattacharya are brave for coming out and taking a stand, but they shouldn’t have to be. We are better than this, and when I read pro lockdowners wishing death on people like me, it does not convince me of your side. If anything, it will make me resolute to never associate with that kind of cruelty, although I do not believe these people are actually cruel. Fear is a very powerful emotion, but we must not mistake it for logic. Continued lockdowns are not logical at this stage of the game. They are a manifestation of cognitive dissonance, sunk cost fallacy, and fear.
 Sumption, Jonathan. “The Virus Has Taken Our Liberty. Must It Take Our Humanity as Well?” The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, July 27, 2020. Accessed November 17, 2020. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/07/27/virus-has-taken-liberty-must-take-humanity/.
 “Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” United Nations. United Nations. Accessed November 18, 2020. Article 13. https://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/.
 Swanson, Ana. “Why Half of the Life You Experience Is over by Age 7.” The Washington Post. WP Company, April 26, 2019. Accessed November 17, 2020. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/07/23/haunting-images-show-why-time-really-does-seem-to-go-faster-as-you-get-olde.
 Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2X1Tgmsv9Ao. I can’t bring myself to listen for when he says it, I’m sorry.
 “Weekly Epidemiological Update - 17 November 2020.” World Health Organization. World Health Organization. Accessed November 18, 2020. https://www.who.int/publications/m/item/weekly-epidemiological-update---17-november-2020. I calculated the mortality rate by dividing the total number of deaths by the total number of cases. There is a slight uncertainty due to active cases, but it ultimately skews lower because of the high rate of asymptomatic cases that have gone untested. There is also question about the accuracy of certain countries in distinguishing deaths from covid-19 and with covid-19. This mortality rate also does not account for age, so while I mentioned that the calculated mortality for those under 65 is 0.48% the real mortality rate is unquestionably lower, and once you get below 40 we’re getting into flu territory. Also, the statistics for deaths by age come from the CDC.
 Signature Count. (2020, October 28). Retrieved November 18, 2020, from https://gbdeclaration.org/view-signatures/
Also, thanks to u/the_latest_greatest for finding source #5 for me.
Edit: Changed the mortality rate to the correct value after u/koista pointed out my error. Argument remains the same as it doesn’t change anything.