Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Statement on arrest of Ani Gevorgyan

Update: See the official statement in defense of Ani Gevoryan by the Committee to Project Journalists .

Haykakan Zhamanak has put out a statement regarding the arrest of Ani Gevorgyan:


On May 31, 2010, Ms. Ani Gevorgyan, journalist of Haykakan Zhamanak (The Armenian Times; daily was apprehended in Freedom Square in the center of Yerevan, while performing her professional duties. Ani Gevorgyan was covering an act of resistance initiated by young activists of the Armenian National Congress.

Later that day, Ani Gevorgyan was charged with Part 1, Article 316 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Armenia, "Violence against a State representative." As of today, June 2, 2010, no detail or visual evidence has been provided by the Police regarding the alleged violence by the 23-year old journalist against the police.

During the same act of protest, two other young female journalists were subjected to compulsory appearance to the police department - Suzanna Poghosyan from Haykakan Zhamanak daily and Lilit Tadevosyan from Hayq daily, were subjected to compulsory appearance. The latter two were released within a couple of hours.

The Editorial staff and management of Haykakan Zhamanak daily consider that:

- Violence against journalists and against young women is unacceptable;

- Ani Gevorgyan's arrest is an act of revenge by the head of the Police of Armenia (Mr. Alik Sargsyan), because Ani Gevorgyan is the journalist responsible for the coverage of activities of the RA Police and the National Security Service, among others. In particular, last week Ms. Gevorgyan published two articles that covered the production of a video clip devoted to the police and revealed fraud related to the production of that clip.

- The arrest of journalist Ani Gevorgyan is a violation of the Law of the Republic of Armenia “On dissemination of mass information" (Article 4. Guarantees for the freedom of speech in the sphere of media), which stipulates, inter alia, that "When conducting his or her lawful professional activities, a journalist, as a person performing a social duty, shall be protected by the legislation of the Republic of Armenia", and which prohibits "interfering with lawful professional activities of a journalist."

- Violence against Ani Gevorgyan and her subsequent arrest violate the Criminal Code of the Republic of Armenia (Article 164. Obstructing lawful professional activities of a journalist), which stipulates that "1. Obstructing lawful professional activities of a journalist, or forcing the journalist to disseminate information or not to disseminate information, is punished with a fine in the amount of 200-400 times the minimum salary. 2. The same actions committed by an official abusing his or her official position, is punished with a fine in the amount of 400-700 times the minimum salary, or imprisonment for a term of up to 3 years, by deprivation of the right to hold certain posts or practice certain activities for up to 3 years, or without such deprivation."


We demand that the Police and the authorities of Armenia,

- immediately release Ani Gevorgyan, Haykakan Zhamanak daily journalist;

- stop criminal persecution against Gevorgyan and bring to justice the police officers who exceeded their powers.

So - what's all the fuss? What are these videos that Ani wrote about? She wrote an article noting the incredible similarities between the newly produced RA police hymn and accompanying video, to the not as new hymn and video of the police of the Georgian Republic. She also points out the massive misrepresentations in the armenian version. Unfortunately the piece is not yet available in English, though as Ani Wandaryan points out in my prior post, the google translate version isn't half bad (here).
Both videos are available online, and I've posted them here (thanks again to Ani W. for both the idea, and sources for the videos). Judge for yourselves.

Georgian Video Armenian Video

And to top it off, here is the video of Ani Gevorgyan being taken off by the police (first several minutes of video):

The Committee to Protect Journalists has an article on their website regarding her arrest - here is an excerpt:

“Based on the video and accounts provided by her editor, we’re deeply skeptical of the police allegations against Ani Gevorgian. The evidence indicates that she was at the rally doing her job,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “We join with our Armenian colleagues in calling for Gevorgian’s release.”

If you use twitter, and tweet about any issue related to her, please attach the hashtag #AniG... Each new hashtag seems to be a step further from democracy - #March1, #Pashinyan, #Khalafyan, #AniG, #DollarArmen, #NonuthinAlik #humanrights #Bazaz... hopefully soon new hashtags will actually be a positive thing...

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