Journalists Face Continued Obstruction Amidst Yerevan Protests

Tigranuhi Martirosyan

Journalist, SMM specialist

Violence against journalists and incidents of obstructing work continue in Yerevan during the protests against demarcation and delimitation. The demonstrations have turned into a movement demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.

Incidents primarily occur during acts of disobedience, when citizens block the streets, and police use force to disperse them. Journalists performing their professional duties also suffer during these actions.

On May 13, it was reported that journalist Mary Manukyan from 24news.am and cameraman Mher Davtyan from ABCmedia.am were injured by the actions of the red berets.

Following these incidents, press organizations released a statement and urged the Ministry of Internal Affairs to take action:

  • Issue a statement and provide information regarding the investigation into cases of violence used by police officers against media representatives.
  • To ensure the unimpeded work of journalists and camera operators during mass events and prevent violence against them.

On May 14, the police car hit and ran over journalist Nare Gevorgyan at the pedestrian crossing while she was performing her journalistic duties for MediaHub.am website.

The journalists told Media.am the details of the incidents.

Mary Manukyan, 24news.am journalist

I was at the crossroads of Tumanyan-North Avenue, covering the citizens’ march. They were walking on the sidewalk, not the road, when the police quickly came and started detaining people. We were broadcasting the situation live. We approached the car where the detained citizens were placed, and I was subjected to violence right there.

First, one of the patrol officers put his hand around my neck and pulled me; I lost my breath. I warned them multiple times that I was a journalist to prevent them from using further violence against me. Despite acknowledging that I am a journalist, the officer in the red beret still pushed me. I fell to the ground and lost consciousness.

The funny thing is, when I watched the video later, I noticed that the same policeman who pushed me and threw me to the ground later came to my aid. Interestingly, another person wearing a red beret blocked the camera to prevent us from filming the incident; I believe what happened was not accidental.

The editors of 24news announced that there was an intention behind what happened and that it was an attempt to silence them. 

I must respectfully point out that our editorial office has been actively covering this process since the beginning of the movement. Some individuals may not be pleased with our coverage and are attempting to silence us.

When I was in the ambulance receiving first aid, the Human Rights Defender’s office called to inquire about the incident, but I did not receive a call from the police.

Mher Davtyan, ABCmedia.am camera operator

I was covering a protest near the Medical University when the incident occurred. I was running and filming the red berets detaining the protesters while live-streaming. Suddenly, I felt a blow from behind on the stairs and fell. Initially, I was concerned about the equipment’s safety, but later, I realized it was also damaged.

When I fell, the live broadcast was cut. I injured my hand and knees.

While filming, my colleagues and I encountered various problems. At one point, the police even attempted to arrest my colleague who was working with me. They also tried to push us away from the street, treating us like protesters. However, the most prominent incident occurred in Kirantz, where the police refused to allow us to enter the village and film.

Nare Gevorgyan, MediaHub.am journalist  

I believe the police car hit me deliberately. I was crossing the pedestrian walkway, and the car initially drove slowly. However, as it approached me, it accelerated and then braked after hitting me. I think the driver meant to scare me. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate the impact as a 4 – not very strong. I wasn’t injured, but I was definitely scared.

It turned black before my eyes, and the police major quickly came to my aid, guiding me off the road and offering me water. Despite the incident, I continued my work and even conducted an interview. However, I began to feel pain in my knee, prompting me to undergo an X-ray examination. The results revealed nerve node damage, and I was prescribed treatment.

The police offered to drive me to the x-ray examination, but I declined as our editorial car was nearby.I also received a call from the Office of the Human Rights Defender, inquiring about the incident.

The investigative committee visited me. Criminal proceedings have been initiated in response to the alleged incident of a journalist being run over. They took my data to invite me to testify.

As I mentioned previously, in my opinion, the incident was deliberate because I was one of the journalists who recorded that anyone, whether on the road or the sidewalk, was being detained. We broadcasted live as the deputies were dragged and their hands were twisted.

I have been covering protests since 2021 but have not seen such aggressive behavior before. I did not notice any negative attitude towards the journalists from the police escorting the marches; on the contrary, they provided security. However, the red berets hinder our work now.

Tigranuhi Martirosyan 

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