8 June, 2021, Yerevan
On 7 June, the very first day of the snap election campaign, an incident of targeted pressure on Lia Sargsyan, correspondent with the news website “Yerkir.am”, occurred. A group of inhabitants of Echmiadzin meeting with Nikol Pashinyan obstructed her professional journalistic activity by insulting and threatening her and pulling the microphone from her hands.
This incident is the continuation of numerous cases of violence and pressure of the last months in respect of media workers. In the post-revolutionary and especially post-war period when the process of polarisation of the media was even more stressed, the political forces and various segments of the society treat the media and their workers as their own or alien depending on their ideas and preferences.
The media, in their turn, providing services to this or that political force or figure, have become the constituents of political processes, while journalists by their activities, including in the social media have frequently been performing functions typical of politicians, in blatant disregard for professional principles and norms of ethics.
At the same time, as in the incident above, we are observing the opposite, when a journalist adheres to the requirements of impartiality and objectiveness, does not create artificial tensions and demonstrates a dignified attitude in times of conflict. Such attitude is especially important during extreme tensions of the electoral campaign.
We hereby reiterate that in a country undergoing difficult transformations, the politicians, their proponents and anyone concerned about the future of our country must demonstrate restraint, tolerance and capability for civilised debate, while the media are expected to contribute to the making of such an environment.
Considering the aforesaid, we call on:
- The political parties and party blocs participating in elections to publicly call on their supporters to abstain from creating conflict situations and pressures on journalists, regardless of what media outlet they represent;
- The heads of the media outlets, while covering campaign activity to take note of the possible difficulties and instruct their workers to act exclusively in line with the professional principles;
- Journalists and cameramen, when covering campaign activities, abstain from provoking arguments and conflicts and initiating political debates with the representatives of various political forces and their supporters and objectively cover the campaign activity;
- The law enforcement authorities, to demonstrate sensitivity and prevent any incident of violence and pressure on the media workers covering the campaign, ensure the safety and unobstructed activity thereof, excluding any selectivity and discrimination.
We will continue monitoring the developments, registering all cases of violations of the rights of journalists and the media and will make a final statement at the end of the campaign.
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 FUTURE
JOURNALISTS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
GORIS PRESS CLUB