EXTRACT FROM THE STATEMENT
Regarding the obstruction of professional activities of Ani Gevorgian, correspondent of “Chorrord Ishkhanutiun” newspaper, and Sargis Gevorgian, cameraman of iLur.am
On February 12, around 19.00, in the center of Yerevan, Ani Gevorgian, correspondent of “Chorrord Ishkhanutiun” newspaper, and Sargis Gevorgian, cameraman of iLur.am, were forcibly taken to a police department while they are covering the distribution of leaflets by activists of the opposition party, Armenian National Congress (ANC), tried to inform passers-by about a forthcoming rally of the ANC.
According to Ani Gevorgian, a group of young people was putting obstacles to the activists. (As it turned out later, these young people were mainly students of the National Agriculture University and members of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia.) The two opposing groups sparked off a verbal altercation. The police, having come to the scene of the incident, began forcing the activists into police vehicles, even without trying to find out what was happening.
As Ani Gevorgian informed, the police officers, having noticed that journalists were filming the incident, initially tried to seize cameras. Then the law enforcers forcible took the journalists to the Kentron Police Department of Yerevan, where they succeeded in seizing the equipment.
Ani Gevorgian adds that when she was in the presence of two female police officers speaking by the cell phone with her colleagues, who inquired about her condition, a man in plain clothes entered the room, gave the journalist a slap in the face and took the phone. As it turned out later, the assaulter was Artak Poghosian, the head of the Kentron Police Department. Sargis Gevorgian, a cameraman, also suffered from ill-treatment at the police department. Journalists were released after four hours, without allowing lawyers to speak with them. Video equipment was returned, but the content of the Ani Gevorgian’s camera memory card was erased. Sargis Gevorgian was lucky to save the captured frames.
Over the past years, the cases of impeding professional activities of journalists in Armenia by the police have become more frequent.
We, the undersigned, demand:
– the RA Prosecutor’s Office to consider this statement (as well as numerous publications in the press dealing with the incident) as a report on the crime;
– the RA Police to carry out an official investigation against the chief of Kentron Police Department and his subordinates.
Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression
Yerevan Press Club
Media Diversity Institute-Armenia
“Journalists for the Future” NGO
Armenian Helsinki Committee
Goris Press Club