July 12, 2023, Yerevan
It has come to our attention with deep concern and indignation that Hayk Ghazaryan, correspondent of “Civilnet” news website and journalist of “The Analyticon” magazine, was subjected to physical violence in Stepanakert, the capital of Artsakh, on July 11, 2023. A group of individuals ambushed Hayk Ghazaryan with an intention to abduct him. Failing in their attempt, they resorted to physically assaulting him. The journalist has identified some of those individuals as being affiliated with the circle of Karen Sargsyan, NKR Minister of Internal Affairs. This incident followed another incident just two days earlier, when Hayk Ghazaryan’s legitimate professional activities were obstructed: while covering a protest action in Stepanakert, a police officer seized his phone, which was later returned with the recorded footage erased.
What happened is particularly reprehensible, considering that Artsakh has been under Azerbaijani blockade since December of the previous year, pushing its population to the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe. Under these circumstances, the local authorities should make every effort and display tolerance to form public solidarity. However, the violence used indicates that an entirely different way of serving narrow political and group agendas has been chosen.
It is noteworthy that following this scandalous incident, there was no reaction or assessment from Artsakh authorities. This is another indirect evidence supporting the assumptions that high-ranking officials may be involved in orchestrating the violence against Hayk Ghazaryan. And it is no coincidence that Stepanakert Press Club President Gegham Baghdasaryan took to his Facebook page, stating: “I declare with the utmost responsibility that if anyone lays a finger on “The Analyticon” and “Civilnet” employee Hayk Ghazaryan, they will deal with us, and not only with us. I appeal to the authorities of Artsakh. You still have a chance to get out of this situation while maintaining a certain level of honor.”
We, the undersigned journalistic organizations, strongly condemning the physical violence against Hayk Ghazaryan, demand:
- Artsakh Prosecutor’s Office to take all necessary measures to identify and bring to justice the individuals responsible for assaulting the journalist;
- the Parliament and the Government of the Republic of Artsakh to express a position regarding the violence that has taken place;
- the President of Artsakh to dismiss the Minister of Internal Affairs Karen Sargsyan, in the event that evidence demonstrates his involvement in the aforementioned incident.
COMMITTEE TO PROTECT FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
YEREVAN PRESS CLUB
MEDIA INITIATIVES CENTER
MEDIA DIVERSITY INSTITUTE-ARMENIA
JOURNALISTS’ CLUB “ASPAREZ”
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION CENTER
PUBLIC JOURNALISM CLUB
“JOURNALISTS FOR THE FUTURE” NGO
“JOURNALISTS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS” NGO
GORIS PRESS CLUB