Keep Your Hands Off Journalists

Gegham Vardanyan

Physicist by education, journalist by occupation

There have been cases of violence against journalists during the Take a Step, Reject Serzh protests and rallies against RA Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan.

On April 19, Armenian journalist organizations issued a statement, which condemned violence against journalists.

Included in the statement is the following” From Armenian police, and those persons working under its protection wearing civilian clothing: to express tolerance and respect the work of representatives of the media, to eliminate unreasonable restrictions placed on the activities of journalists and cameraman, as well as to abstain from statements made to the media which may further aggravate the situation.”

Ashot Melikyan, Chairman of the Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression said on April 20, at a press conference at the Media Center regarding Violence against journalists and interference with professional activities during protests, “If a police officer violates the rights of a journalist, as a rule of thumb, he/she remains unpunished.”

“Don’t hit our journalists, keep your hands off them,” said the Executive Director of the Media Initiatives Center, Nune Sargsyan.

When speaking about the statement released by the police, where they urged journalists “not to obstruct police officer’s legal activities while carrying out their professional activities,” Nune Sargsyan said, “It is absolutely not the duty of the police to assess the work of a journalist.  Are they really an activist or a journalist, how they should behave in that moment and where should they be? These are things that are by no means part of the responsibilities and functions of a police officer.”

Founder of the Freedom of Information Center, Shushan Doydoyan noted, that there are Facebook users with tens of thousands of followers, who are civil journalists and added, “In fact, it has become very fluid as to whether someone with a badge is a journalist or a citizen, who at that moment is broadcasting live spreading information to their tens of thousands of followers. The right to receive information is our constitutional right.”

Gegham Vardanyan

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