Earlier this year, Serj Tankian, the former lead singer of the System of a Down band, expressed his support for the group’s activities aimed at conserving wildlife in Armenia after receiving its request to write a song that would highlight environmental problems in the country.
Leading environmental groups and non-governmental organizations in Armenia have resisted plans by the Armenian Copper Program (ACP) mining company to develop a massive copper and molybdenum deposit under the Teghut forest in the northern Lori province.
Critics have said the controversial mining project will wreak further havoc on Armenia’s green areas that have already shrunk dramatically since the 1990s. The proponents, meanwhile, have insisted that the environmental cost of the plans will be more than offset by lots of new jobs in the economically depressed area.
Now the SOS Teghut Group activists describe Tankian as an “eco-hero” and hope his voice will be heard by the government. The 42-year-old American-Armenian singer and songwriter is known for his civil advocacy reflected in his compositions and his stance on animal rights and environment protection.
After a three-hour wait near a bridge on the road leading to the Zvartnots airport a group of Teghut group activists finally managed to meet Tankian near Armenia Marriott Hotel in central Yerevan.
“It feels great, very exciting. It feels like home,” Tankian said when asked about his feelings after arriving in his historical homeland.
“It is the third time I’ve visited Armenia… It is very interesting,” added Tankian, who was scheduled to give an eagerly expected concert in Yerevan later on Thursday.
The pressure group activists treated the vegetarian rock singer to a slice of melon and presented him with a campaign T-shirt, thanking him for his support and voicing a hope that he would address “environmental issues” in his songs.
Tankian, for his part, thanked the environmental activists for their work which he said is “important to everyone”.
When asked to give advice to the environmental activists, Tankian said: “I myself take advice from activists.”
Members of the Teghut group believe Tankian’s voice will be heard by the government, which has given the green light to the controversial mining project in Teghut, especially given the fact that, they say, Prime Minister Tigran Sargsian is known to be a big rock music fan.
Late last month Teghut activists picketed a commercial bank in Yerevan that plans to fund the project. Police then used force, with at least one activist reported to have been injured in the scuffle.