YPC Weekly Newsletter

2013


SECURITY AGENCIES AGAIN IMPEDE WORK OF JOURNALISTS

On May 18, another incident of rude impediment of the work of journalists occurred on the Yerevan-Sevan highway, near a Road Police station. The police blocked the road heading to Yerevan in order to suppress the grievance of relatives and co-villagers of the soldier, who was killed on May 15 in one of the military units. The protestors attempted to carry the grave with the dead body to the Government house. Representatives of law enforcement bodies stopped the cars of the journalists and banned their passage to the blocked place. Further, they attacked the journalists and took away the recording devices, stating that they had received an order from “above” to prohibit any shooting. Later on, the RA Minister of Defense Seyran Ohanian and the Head of RA Police Vladimir Gasparian, who arrived at the site of event, told the journalists that they had not made any such order.

The law enforcement bodies took away the camera of the Sevan special correspondent of the Second Armenian TV Channel, and returned the damaged device later. In a report about the protest action, which the Second Channel broadcast on the same day, it announced that the video materials, used in the report, were provided by their colleagues form “Yerkir Media” TV channel. The police also took away the camera of representatives of “Yerkir Media”, but returned it safely only after the intermediation of the RA Police Head. “ArmNews” TV channel informed that it had made a report to the police in connection with obstruction of the work of its film crew. The video camera of Siranuysh Papian, correspondent of Lragir.am, was also seized and later returned with deleted files. Gor Martirosian, Director of “Kentron” TV channel, announced about the details of the incident, which happened with the film crew of “Epikentron” news program. In his announcement he mainly stressed that a civilian, who was swearing at the TV channel’s cameraman, pushed him, snatched out his camera and gave the broken device to a man in uniform. After an hour, representatives of the military police brought back the camera, without the recording chip. At first, they told that “the camera was in a car, and then added, with undisguised cynicism, that they found it under a tree”. Director of “Kentron” also stated that for a while the video camera remained in the car belonging to the Ministry of Defense. Assessing the incident as “an obvious obstruction of journalistic activities, manifest violation and restriction of freedom of speech”, the Director of “Kentron” requested the law enforcement bodies to accept his announcement as a report on crime (as cited in Tert.am, May 18, 2013).

On May 20, Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression, Yerevan Press Club, “Internews” Media Support NGO, “Asparez” Journalists Club of Gyumri, Media Diversity Institute-Armenia and “Journalists for the Future” made a statement to demand from “the representatives of defense and law enforcement agencies to carry out official investigation and to punish harshly the persons, who exercised wrongful acts towards the journalists”. “With regard to the fact that cases of impeding journalistic activities namely by security bodies have increased, we urge to take measures for avoiding such illegal acts in the future”, the six media NGOs highlighted.