Freedom Square, Yerevan
The Freedom Square or Liberty Square (Armenian: Ազատության հրապարակ Azatutyan hraparak), also known as Opera Square and formerly Theatre Square, is a town square located in Kentron (Center) district of Yerevan, Armenia. The square is part of the Yerevan Opera Theater complex, located just to the south of the main opera building, between the opera park and the Swan lake. Along with the Republic Square, the Freedom Square is one of the two main squares in central Yerevan. It is bordered with four streets: Tumanyan Street, Teryan Street, Sayat Nova Avenue and Mashtots Avenue. The statues of writer Hovhannes Tumanyan and composer Alexander Spendiaryan are located in the square.
The semi-circular square is known for its prominent role in modern history of Armenia. Since the Karabakh movement in the late 1980s, the Freedom Square has become a center of popular protests. After Armenia's independence, it has been the main location of anti-government rallies. Called the "symbol of democracy" in Armenia, the square can hold an estimated 42,000–45,000 to 50,000 people.
Since the late 1980s, the square has been closed down a few times, including several times in the year 1988 alone. The square was again closed down on 1 March 2008, after the police violently dispersed peaceful post-presidential election protests in the early morning. For around 20 days, the square remained under occupation by police and armed forces to enforce the state of emergency. Subsequently, it was closed down for rallies for over three years, until 17 March 2011. Meanwhile, an underground parking was built and completed in 2010.
Karabakh movement, 1988
2008 Armenian presidential election protests: Thousands of protesters at Liberty Square on a typical evening (February 24)
- Abrahamyan, Gayane (16 September 2010). "Symbol of freedom or reminder of violence?: Opposition, city authorities continue battle over key Yerevan square". ArmeniaNow. Retrieved 12 November 2013. "The square, which is a symbol of democracy and victory going back to late Soviet times, was immediately turned into a construction site as the city began to build a huge underground parking garage."
- "Ինչքան մարդ է տեղավորում Ազատության հրապարակը [How many people does the Freedom Square hold]". Aravot (in Armenian). 20 February 2013. Archived from the original on 22 March 2014. "Մեծ խտության դեպքում` մինչեւ 42-45 հազար մարդ` միայն ասֆալտին:"
- Martirosyan, Ara (9 November 2008). "Որքա՞ն միտինգավոր է տեղավորվում Ազատության հրապարակում". Azg Daily (in Armenian). Archived from the original on 22 March 2014. "Մի խոսքով, ներկայիս հանրահավաքների առավելագույն թիվը Ազատության հրապարակում կազմում է 50 հազար մարդ, քանի որ շրջակա տարածքները ներկայումս կառուցապատված են եւ այնտեղ մարդիկ գրեթե չեն լինում:"
- Malkasian, Mark (1996). Gha-ra-bagh!: The Emergence of the National Democratic Movement in Armenia. Detroit: Wayne State Univ. Press. ISBN 9780814326046. "Residents awoke the next day [of 22 March 1988] to find Theater Square and the opera house ringed by fresh-faced soldiers...""
- "Troops Sent Back to Armenia Capital After Mass Rally". Los Angeles Times. 10 July 1988. Retrieved 1 April 2014.
- Keller, Bill (22 December 1988). "Armenia Opens To Show Capital Under Tight Lid". New York Times. Retrieved 1 April 2014. "The virtually nonstop, open-air political discussions that raged outside the city's neoclassical opera house have ended. The square beside the opera house is now ringed by tanks and troops, who wear bulletproof vests at nightfall."
- Tavernise, Sabrina (3 March 2008). "Emergency Order Empties Armenian Capital’s Streets". New York Times. Archived from the original on 22 March 2014. "It was clear by early afternoon Saturday that after 10 days of peaceful protests, the demonstrators, who had been beaten by police officers in the morning, were spoiling for a fight."
- "Armenian Opposition Reoccupies Key Square As Protests Grow In Strength". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 18 March 2011. Retrieved 27 May 2013.