BAKU: WAN concerned over attack on journalists

Central Asian and Southern Caucasus Freedom of Expression Network
(CASCFEN), Azerbaijan
April 21 2004

WAN concerned over attack on journalists

CASCFEN – In a joint letter of protest sent on April 19, 2004 to the
President Robert Kocharian of Armenia Seok Hyun Hong, President of
the World Association of Newspapers and Gloria Brown Anderson,
President of the World Editors Forum based in Paris have expressed
concern by the attack on journalists. Following is the text of the

“We are writing on behalf of the World Association of Newspapers and
the World Editors Forum, which represent 18,000 publications in 100
countries, to express our serious concern at an attack on four

According to reports, on 13 April Avetis Babajanian and Ayk
Gevorgian, reporters with the opposition daily Aykakan Zhamanak,
Levon Grigorian, a cameraman with the Russian television channel ORT,
and Mher Ghalechian, a journalist with the opposition weekly Chorrord
Ishkhanutyun, were beaten while covering an opposition rally in
Yerevan. Mr Grigorian was knocked unconscious during the attack and
Mr Ghalechian was taken to a police station after photographing
security officers outside the ransacked office of the opposition
Hanrapetutyun party.

The protest rally began on the evening of 12 April when about 15,000
demonstrators marched towards the presidential residence calling for
a referendum on presidential rule. In the early hours of 13 April,
violence erupted and police used batons, stun grenades and water jets
to disperse the crowd.

This is the second assault on journalists covering an opposition
rally this month. On 5 April police reportedly stood by while some
two dozen assailants smashed journalists’ cameras, assaulted
reporters and destroyed film footage of the events.

We respectfully remind you that it is the duty of the state to
provide an environment in which journalists are able to carry out
their professional duties without fear of intimidation. Such
incidents foster a climate of fear that inhibits journalistic
investigation and can promote self-censorship.

We respectfully call on you to ensure that a thorough investigation
into the attack is conducted and that those responsible are swiftly
brought to justice. We urge you to do everything possible to provide
an environment in which journalists are able to carry out their
profession without fear of violence.”