Monday, November 24, 2008


We Demand Justice

On November 17, 2008, Mr. Edik Baghdasaryan, a highly respected journalist, Chief Editor of the Armenian daily Hetq (Track) and the President of Investigative Journalists’ Association of Armenia, sustained severe head injuries after being attacked by three assailants as he was leaving his workplace; the attackers also stole Mr. Baghdasaryan's camera. This incident occurred following epeated “warnings” and "threats" received by the Hetq staff.

This assault on Mr. Baghdasaryan highlights a disturbing trend of physical and other violence on Journalists since the February 2008 presidential elections. On August 11, 2008, Ms. Lusineh Barseghian, the correspondent of the Armenian daily Haikakan Zhamanak (Armenian Times), was assaulted and also sustained head injuries outside her home. A week later, Mr. Hrach Melkumian, Acting Head of the Yerevan Office of the Armenian Service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, was also attacked. None of the culprits has been brought to justice. The police is unperturbed at best and appear to be intent on harassing the journalists and their staff. The circumstances related to Mr. Gagik Hovakimian, Ms. Anna Zakharian, Mr. Gagik Shamshian, and Ms. Gohar Vezirian, are all examples of police intimidation, harassment, arbitrary arrest and unlawful detention. Violence against Armenian journalists and their staff seem to be a common-place occurence these days.

We strongly condemn these acts of violence and intimidation, and call upon the authorities to investigate these crimes and persecute the culprits. The international community has also taken note of the frequent violations of basic freedoms of the press. For example, the Paris-based organization, Reporters Without Borders (RWB), has dropped Armenia from 77th to 102nd position on a list of 173 countries ranked by their press freedom. The perception of foreign observers following the beating of Edik Baghdasaryan was succinctly captured in a letter addressed to Mr. Edward Nalbandian, the Foreign Minister of Armenia, by the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Mr. Miklos Haraszti, who wrote: "Violence against journalists is not 'crime as usual', because it undermines a basic institution of democracy - the free press".

We, the undersigned, deplore any undertaking that hampers the growth of democracy. The world will be watching and expecting concrete and prompt action from the authorities in Armenia.

Ani Boghossian BA, Toronto, Canada
Antranig Bedrossian BA, B. Comm. CMA, Montreal, Canada
Aram Adamyan MSc, MBA ACCA, Toronto, Canada
Ardavast Avakian, Boca Raton, Florida, USA
Arsine Attarian, Activist, Montreal, Canada
Artin Boghossian PhD, Toronto, Canada
Artur Gevorgyan MSc MD, Toronto, Canada
Avo Bedrossian MASc., P. Eng., Ottawa, Canada
Berge Minassian MD, FRCP(C), Toronto, Canada
Prof. Davit Zargarian, Ottawa, Canada
Prof. Dennis R. Papazian, USA
Dikran Abrahamian BA, MD, Penetanguishene, Canada
Edgar Manukian PhD, Toronto, Canada
Haig Baltadjian DDS MScD, Montreal, Canada
Haig Misakyan P. Eng., Toronto, Canada
Hagop Sevakian, Management Consultant, Toronto, Canada
Hasmig Kurdian MEd, Toronto, Canada
Kevin McGill, Activist, Canada
Koko Yerevanian P. Eng., California, USA
Nader Rastegar MBA, London, United Kingdom
Ohannes Hagopian PhD, Ridgewood NJ, USA
Raffi Chitilian B. Eng., Montreal, Canada
Rita Charchyan, Toronto, Canada
Ruth Cooper BSW (Hons.) RSW, Waubaushene, Canada
Shirley Fersch RPN, Penetanguishene, Canada
Unus Ali BA, Midland, Canada
Vigen Ghazarian CFA, Toronto, Canada
Viken L. Attarian P. Eng. MSc MBA, Montreal, Canada
Virginia Misakyan B. Comm., Toronto, Canada

Copies of this document will be forwarded to the Catholicosates in Etchmiadzin and Antelias, Honourable Edward Nalbandian (Foreign Minister of Armenia), Honourable Hranush Hacobyan (Minister of Diaspora), Mr. Armen Harutyunyan (the Ombudsman and Human Rights Defender of the Republic of Armenia), PEN Canada, PEN International, Journalists for Human Rights, and other Human Rights organizations. The initiators would appreciate your endorsement if you are agreeable with the content of the text. Please submit your details at We Demand Justice.

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