Organizations condemn attacks on Armenian journalists

International Journalist’s Network
April 9, 2004

Organizations condemn attacks on Armenian journalists

Apr 09, 2004

Participants in a workshop on democratic civil society – one day
after unidentified men attacked at least seven journalists in Yerevan
– condemned the violence and urged the Armenian media to unite
against threats to press freedom.

Their condemnation joined protests from numerous Armenian and
international media watchdogs and journalists’ groups.

The Civil Society in Context of Democratic Reform workshop was a
cooperative effort of more than 40 nongovernmental organizations,
according to the Yerevan Press Club (YPC). Under the YPC’s
initiative, the participants issued their joint statement April 6.
Workshop participants included parliamentary lawmakers as well as
journalists and nongovernmental workers. The YPC said the statement
was from the NGOs and journalists.

The violence was `one more instance of regular violation of the
rights for receiving and disseminating information, as well as
freedom of expression,’ the statement said. `We call upon law and
order bodies to punish the instigators and perpetrators.’

The attacks occurred April 5 while Artashes Geghamian, the opposition
National Unity party’s leader, was delivering a speech to voters.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported that its
correspondent and several witnesses watched as `about two dozen thugs
beat journalists and smashed cameras used to film their violent
attempts to disrupt the opposition rally.’ Meanwhile, the witnesses
said, the police did nothing.

International groups who have issued protests over the attacks
include the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
(OCSE), Internews, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ),
Reporters without Borders, and the Center for Journalism in Extreme
Situations (CJES).

Vladimir Pryakhin, head of the OCSE Office in Yerevan, in an April 8
news release expressed hope that the authorities would take action
and punish the guilty.

The civil society workshop participants said that if the culprits are
not brought to justice, `we will have to state that Armenian
authorities are not interested in consolidating the basic democratic
values in the country.’

For more information, see the OSCE news release at
or the RFE/RL
Armenia report at

http://www.osce.org/news/generate.pf.php3?news_id=3990
http://www.armenialiberty.org.

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