12 January 2021, Yerevan
On 9 January a high-ranking official from the Ministry of Defender allegedly refused to introduce himself during a protest act staged by the parents of military conscripts on the premises of the Vazgen Sargsyan Military University and prohibited the media to livestream the protest. Following this, an argument broke between him and Zhora Hovsepyan, cameraman from the website “24News”, when the latter stated that only with the consent of his editor he would stop the livestream. The official allegedly tried to hit the cameraman but the blow reached the camera.
We, the undersigned journalistic organizations, are deeply concerned about the incident. Even if we admit that the university is a specially protected institution and a relevant procedure for journalistic activity on its premises is foreseen, the official had to resolve the issue within the norms of civility rather than resort to fists. The conduct of the nearby police officers prior to the argument transforming into brawl also raises issues.
In view of the aforementioned, we call on the:
- Ministry of Defense – to verify the identify of the high-ranking officer who took part in the incident and conduct an inquiry to establish the lawfulness of his actions;
- Police – to demonstrate maximum professionalism to resolve within the frames of law any conflicts that may emerge in the work of journalists in this rather tense political environment in their communications with public officials and ordinary citizens;
- Media – at times of conflict demonstrate a dignified stance, adhere to the norms of ethics and, if necessary, apply to the law enforcement bodies and officials.
COMMITTEE TO PROTECT FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
YEREVAN PRESS CLUB
MEDIA INITIATIVES CENTER
JOURNALISTS’ CLUB “ASPAREZ”
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION CENTER
MEDIA DIVERSITY INSTITUTE – ARMENIA
PUBLIC JOURNALISM CLUB
“JOURNALISTS FOR THE FUTURE” NGO
“JOURNALISTS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS” NGO
GORIS PRESS CLUB