YPC Weekly Newsletter

2006


ATTACK ON “IRAVUNK” EDITOR

In the morning of September 6 Editor of “Iravunk” newspaper Hovhannes Galajian
was attacked as he was leaving home. YPC was informed by Hovhannes Galajian
that two young men with their heads shaved attacked him from behind, threw him
on the ground and started kicking him, aiming at his head. They never uttered
a word. However, soon they realized they were attracting the attention of pedestrians
and ran away. According to Hovhannes Galajian, he did not receive any serious
injuries. Right after the incident the journalist reported it to the Police
Division of Arabkir community of Yerevan and underwent medical examination later.
“Iravunk” Editor says he has no personal enemies so he relates the incident
to his professional activities.

On September 7 the weekly supplement to “Iravunk”, “Iravunk-Hetaknnutiun”,
published a suspect composite of one of Hovhannes Galajian’s attackers. The
news on the incident also quoted the testimony of the nearby newspaper saleswoman
that the attackers “waited for quite a long time and conversed in Russian”.
The piece also told that about a week before the incident an unknown man called
Hovhannes Galajian at his editorial office, poured threats and insults. At this
point, as the piece noted, it is hard to say whether the two cases are related.

In the same issue of “Iravunk-Hetaknnutiun” the Chairman of the Editorial Board
of “Iravunk” Haik Babukhanian qualified the incident with the Editor as “another
attempt to silence and intimidate “Iravunk” newspaper”. Recalling other incidents
that happened to newspaper staff and him personally, Haik Babukhanian placed
the responsibility on the supreme authorities of the country, the administration
it has formed and particularly, the heads of the law enforcement bodies, “who
connive at criminalism and created a climate of fear and terror in the country”.

“Iravunk-Hetaknnutiun” also published statements by several political forces
that condemned the attack on Hovhannes Galajian, including the “Constitutional
Right” Union, of which “Iravunk” newspaper is the organ.

On September 7 Yerevan Press Club, Journalists Union of Armenia, Committee
to Protect Freedom of Expression, Internews Armenia, Helsinki Committee of Armenia,
Center of Law and Freedom made a joint statement.

“In the morning of September 6 our colleague, the Editor of “Iravunk” newspaper
Hovhannes Galajian, was attacked and beaten.

During the past months the cases of threats and violence against journalists
and media have become more frequent, yet those guilty have either not been found
or have not been punished. Yerevan Press Club, Journalists Union of Armenia,
Internews Armenia, Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression, Helsinki Committee
of Armenia, Center of Law and Freedom have repeatedly announced that the unpunished
violations of freedom of speech and press generate new crimes: people, incapable
of civilized dialogue, choose the way of intimidating journalists and media.

In our country it seems to become a sad tradition of striking the media at
the times of political tension. Such attitude towards media, intensifying in
the view of upcoming parliamentary elections, endangers the possibility to ensure
transparent elective process.

We condemn this yet another act of violence against the journalist, and we
demand that the law enforcement bodies find and punish the implementers and
orderers of this perpetration”, the statement of six journalistic and human
rights organizations says.

The RA Human Rights Defender Armen Harutiunian called on the law enforcement
bodies to be consistent in the disclosure and punishment of criminal elements
as strictly as the law provides in all cases of impeding professional activities
of journalists, particularly, any violence against them. In his statement of
September 7 the Ombudsman qualified the attack on “Iravunk” Editor as “another
incident, deserving condemnation and directed against freedom of press”. The
recent attacks on journalists, the impeding of their work “inflict a serious
blow on the reputation of our country and threaten the full-fledged ensurance
of the right to free expression and access to information in Armenia”, the statement
of Armen Harutiunian stressed in particular.