YPC Weekly Newsletter

2008


THE HEAD OF “INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISTS” NGO EDIK BAGHDASARIAN ASSAULTED

On November 17 at about 20.00 in the center of Yerevan an attack was made on
the Chairman of “Investigative Journalists” NGO, the Chief Editor of “Hetq”
online publication Edik Baghdasarian. Having left the building, where the “Investigative
Journalists” office is located, Edik Baghdasarian headed towards his car when
he was assaulted by three strangers. Without saying a word, the offenders started
beating the journalist, struck him with a stone on his head. The attackers then
left, taking Baghdasarian’s photo camera with them. At the hospital that the
journalist was taken to, he got seams put on his head and diagnosed with brain
concussion.

On November 18 Yerevan Press Club, Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression,
Internews Media Support NGO, Journalists Union of Armenia, “TEAM” Research Center,
Media Diversity Institute-Armenia, “Asparez” Journalist’s Club, “A1+”
TV company, Armenian Representative of “Scoop” Danish Network Promoting Investigative
Reporting, Helsinki Committee of Armenia, “Transparency International” Anti-Corruption
Center, “For Sustainable Human Development” Association made a statement.

“In the evening of November 17, 2008 in Yerevan Edik Baghdasarian, the Chairman
of “Investigative Journalists” NGO, the Chief Editor of “Hetq” online publication,
was assaulted and beaten. The journalist had a brain concussion, and several
seams were put on his head at “Surb Grigor Lusavorich” medical center.

Edik Baghdasarian had received threats before, and this allows believing that
this attack is directly linked to his professional activities.

For many times already scores are settled with journalists in this mean manner.
And every time the authorities assure that they will do everything in their
power to identify the perpetrators. Yet the crimes remain undisclosed, with
their organizers and implementers unpunished. This lack of punishment unties
the hands of those who seek to repress the freedom of expression.

We condemn the violence committed against Edik Baghdasarian, and we call on
the authorities to refrain from repeated waste of promises, to really disclose
the crime and punish those guilty”, the statement of twelve Armenian NGOs says.

Different political forces of the country also condemned the incident with
Chairman of “Investigative Journalists”.

On November 18 RA Prime-Minister Tigran Sargsian visited Edik Baghdasarian
at the hospital and expressed his confidence that “those guilty will be disclosed
in the shortest time possible” (cited from the release by the Department of
Information and Public Relations of RA Government). Paying greater attention
to the formation of atmosphere of mutual tolerance and respect in the society,
the Prime-Minister expressed his hope that the dialogue between the government,
media and civil society will provide correct decisions for its accomplishment.
On the same day, November 18, RA President’s Press-Secretary Samvel Farmanian,
stressing that any expression of violence towards journalists is unacceptable,
said that RA President Serge Sargsian ordered the law enforcement bodies to
find those who attacked Edik Baghdasarian as soon as possible and bring them
to trial.

According to the information of the RA General Prosecutor’s Office, Kentron
Police Investigating Department of Yerevan instituted criminal proceedings on
the incident of November 17 by Article 113 of RA Criminal Code (“Premeditated
Injury of Medium Gravity”).

A number of NGOs declared about organizing an action of protest on November
19 in Yerevan, in front of the RA General Prosecutor’s Office. It is aimed against
inactivity of the authorities and demands to disclose and punish those guilty
in attacking Edik Baghdasarian. The statement of the initiative group organizing
the action stressed: “Physical violence against journalists and activists of
the civil society has become common in Armenia. The incident with Edik Baghdasarian
is just another case. (…) Who is the next?..”