YPC Weekly Newsletter

2008


THE US STATE DEPARTMENT ABOUT FREEDOM OF RELIGION: BROADCAST MEDIA CONTINUE TO LABEL RELIGIOUS GROUPS OTHER THAN THE ARMENIAN APOSTOLIC CHURCH AS “SECTS”

On September 19 International Religious Freedom Report of the US Department
was released. The report was prepared by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights,
and Labor, and covers the period from July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2008.

In the part of the report devoted to Armenia it is particularly said that ”Government
generally did not enforce existing legal restrictions on religious freedom”,
and “the Constitution provides for freedom of religion and the right to
practice, choose, or change religious belief”.

While speaking about the restrictions on religious freedom, the authors of
the report pointed out that in May and June 2008 “the progovernment “Hayots
Ashkhar” and “Golos Armenii” daily newspapers published anti-Semitic
and anti-Masonic accusations against former president and current opposition
leader Levon Ter-Petrossian”. “Local observers viewed the inflammatory
articles as attempts to portray the opposition leader as a traitor to the country
and stir up anti-Semitic sentiment in a country traditionally known for its
welcoming attitudes toward Jews”, stressed the US Department report.

On June 1, 2008 the First Channel of Public Television of Armenia “broadcast
a 10-minute segment on its weekly “360 Degrees” news magazine program,
the sole focus of which appeared to be to disparage and undermine the opposition”:
“The footage incorporated the anti-Semitic and anti-Masonic attacks by
‘Hayots Ashkhar’ and ‘Golos Armenii’.”

On February 27, 2008, after the presidential elections, “Haylur”
news program of PTA First Channel presented a coverage of a post-presidential
election opposition rally, “focusing primarily on an Israeli flag – one
of many nations’ flags in the crowd – with the intention of vilifying
Ter-Petrossian, whose wife is Jewish”.

“Media outlets continued to label religious groups other than the Armenian
Church as “sects” in their broadcasting and transmitted negative
programs about them. Various television stations broadcast discussions in which
representatives of the Armenian Church and/or other participants labeled religious
minority groups as enemies of the state and national unity”, emphasizes
the part of the US Department International Religious Freedom Report devoted
to Armenia.