CPJ: Armenia: Journalists beaten at an opposition rally

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)

ARMENIA: Journalists beaten at an opposition rally

New York, April 13, 2004 – The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
condemns today’s early-morning attack on several Armenian journalists who
were covering an opposition rally in the country’s capital, Yerevan.

According to local and international reports, four journalists were
seriously beaten. Ayk Gevorgian and Avetis Babajanian, reporters with the
opposition daily Aykakan Zhamanak (Armenian Times); Levon Grigorian, a
cameraman with the Russian TV channel ORT; and Mher Ghalechian, a journalist
with the opposition weekly Chorrord Ishkhanutyun, were all hurt after being
beaten by police, according to the U.S. government-funded Radio Free
Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).

Elina Poghosbekian, editor of the newsletter of the Yerevan Press Club, told
CPJ that Gevorgian was treated for serious injuries but that he is now in
stable condition. CPJ does not currently have information on the status of
the other journalists. Police destroyed the cameras of both Gevorgian and

The rally, organized by several opposition parties, began yesterday evening
at around 6 p.m. with about 15,000 demonstrators marching toward the
residence of President Robert Kocharian and calling for a referendum on his
rule, RFE/RL reported.

Violence erupted at about 2 a.m., when the lights went out in the area.
Police then beat protestors and the journalists with batons, using stun
grenades and water jets to disperse the remaining demonstrators.

Another opposition rally had been held on April 5. Several hundred police
stood by while about two dozen unidentified men smashed the video cameras of
three Armenian television stations and the still cameras of two opposition
dailies. See CPJ’s alert of April 6, 2004.

“CPJ calls on Armenian authorities to investigate these attacks against our
colleagues and bring those responsible to justice,” said CPJ Executive
Director Ann Cooper. “We also urge officials to ensure that journalists in
Armenia are able to do their jobs freely and safely.”