Armenia: Limited Justice for Police Violence

One-Sided Prosecutions Year After Attacks on Protesters, Journalists

Riot police and barbed wire block protestors from marching down Baghramyan Street in downtown Yerevan on July 30, 2016. © 2016 Giorgi Gogia/Human Rights Watch
Riot police and barbed wire block protestors from marching down Baghramyan Street in downtown Yerevan on July 30, 2016. © 2016 Giorgi Gogia/Human Rights Watch

(Yerevan) –  The Armenian government has failed to ensure full accountability for police violence against largely peaceful protesters and journalists a year ago, Human Rights Watch said today. At the same time the authorities have indicted at least 32 protesters, convicting 21 of them, with 11 sentenced to prison. Continue reading “Armenia: Limited Justice for Police Violence”

Armenian journalists protest detention of bloggers and journalists in Iran?

First through Facebook, than through Unzipped I found out that a group of Armenian journalists and photographers have issued a statement protesting recent arrests and detention of their colleagues and bloggers in Iran, following disputed presidential election and post-election protests in Tehran.
While I support the statement wholeheartedly, something that fells a little uneasy about this statement is the fact, that the same “Armenian journalists and photographers” didn’t seem to move a finger when their collegues were beaten and threatened in Armenia, but in case of Iran – they dash out like this. Is there something I don’t understand?

Online journalists now jailed more than those in any other medium

Reflecting the rising influence of online reporting and commentary, more Internet journalists are jailed worldwide today than journalists working in any other medium. In its annual census of imprisoned journalists, released today, the Committee to Protect Journalists found that 45 percent of all media workers jailed worldwide are bloggers, Web-based reporters, or online editors. Online journalists represent the largest professional category for the first time in CPJ’s prison census. Continue reading “Online journalists now jailed more than those in any other medium”

Attack on Armenian journalist… again!

The journalist of pro-opposition “Haykakan Zhamanak” (Armenian Times) newspaper Lusine Barseghyan was attacked on August 11, 2008. The girl was beaten by ‘skin-heads’ and was made to understand, that the attack is related to her professional activities.
This is not the first attack on a journalist in Armenia and it is evidently not the last one. Journalist x, y, z were beaten this year because they criticized a, b, c semi-criminal government official, oligarch, mayor, district head, police chef… feudal lord.
There are today two types of people creating news content in Armenia – real journalists and ‘palace poets’ – those, who say they are journalists, but who will only write something, once they have checked if their owner doesn’t object.
Real journalists in this country are further categorized into those who have been beaten, and those, who haven’t been beaten… yet. Because, you see, in order to practice journalism, the journalist has to mirror the reality in the country. And when this or that ‘feudal lord’ sees their ugly face in that mirror, they send their little army of ‘skin heads’ to beat the journalist who held that mirror to their face.
Can anything be done? I guess no. Because the president of this country is the biggest ‘feudal lord’… because the opposition in this country also consists of similar ‘feudal lords’… because nobody is really interested in having journalists mirror the reality in this country – because the reality is ugly and because those, who have some kind of power in this country, make use of that ugly reality to gain profits and retain that power… because everything has been done since th 90’s to make sure, that the media doesn’t gain power and doesn’t turn into media business which serves the functions of informing people, rather then being the servant of power elites. Unfortunately, the only advice I can give journalists in Armenia, is to carry bandages and pain-killer medication with them at all times… because the beatings will continue.

Serge Sargsyan Responds to Levon Ter-Petrossian

Prime-Minister Serge Sargsyan responded to some of the points made by Levon Ter-Petrossian during the opposition rally on November 16, 2007.
Speaking of the 3 year time period, Levon Ter-Petrossian said he needed to put things in normal and then resign from politics, Serge Sargsyan remarked: “Perhaps he thinks, that 3 years are enough to surrender Karabakh. For me the thoughts pronounced in his speech were very strange, but then, it is up to each one of us to decide, what to say and what suggestions to make“.
As far as I’m concerned, it’s a pity that Serge Sargsyan decides for himself “what to say and what suggestions to make”, because when he does it, it’s usually not coherent (remember the lapse about Armenians being the easternmost Christian nation in the world?).
We were just discussing the recent speeches with my collegue, Ashot Melikyan, the Chairman of the Committee to Protect Freedom of Speech, and he was remembering, how, Levon Ter-Petrossian spoke about freedom of speech in the times of his rule, whereas ARF-Dashnaktsutyun 13 media outlets were shut down during his time for their political orientation.
Similarly, Serge Sargsyan, Prime-Minister, a political figure who should be best prepared to answer with facts, figures and political prognoses, prefers to respond by claiming, that Levon Ter-Petrossian will “surrender Karabakh”, which is a dirty trick, to say the least, because at this point we haven’t yet heard Ter-Petrossian’s new proposals about Karabakh, and nobody has any ideas, what exactly LTP will propose as regards the Karabakh issue, as to the old suggestions, which were stated in the article “War or Peace”, I can state, that concessions and compromise do not necessarily mean “surrendering Karabakh”.
It really is a pity, that the quality of political debate is so low in Armenia, and it seems, that issues will once again be the last thing on candidates minds when campaigning for the 2008 Presidential election.

Haylur Quiz of Public Opinion About Levon Ter-Petrossian on October 25, One Day Before Opposition Rally

One day before the rally by Armenian opposition, where the Ex-President of the Country – Levon Ter-Petrossian, now a probable presidential candidate for the 2008 elections is going to make a speech, Haylur reporter Tatevik Nalbandyan has gone on the streets of Yerevan – asking people’s opinion about the Former president.
Interestingly, although there are generally two quite opposing views in the country about the former President, with some seeing him as the only viable alternative to the current ruling elite, the material has been designed like an anti Levon Ter-Petrossian propaganda piece, showing only negative opinions, and not a single reference to the other side.
Needless to say, that this falls far below the criteria of objective journalism, and is especially worrying, because it was broadcast by the Public TV of Armenia, which is supposed to serve the public interest and reflect the Armenian society as a whole, and not just the ruling elite and its supporters.
And although my personal attitude to the Former President is negative, I’d like to have a chance of listening the opposite camp as well – after all, this is what the media in a democratic society is obliged to do: to help its citizens make an informed choice, no?

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