A group of journalists and members of organisations for the protection of freedom of speech in Armenia have issued a joint statement in which they expressed their outrage in connection with the violence taken against journalists covering the elections. The group demands that the authorities take immediate steps for a thorough and impartial investigation of these incidents and bring the perpetrators to justice, Armenia Today said.
They said on February 18 presidential elections were accompanied by violent attacks against journalists and incidents of preventing them carrying out their professional activities.
"A group of young people who came to the polling station 17/05, used force against a journalist representing the 'Journalists for Human Rights' organisation, Artak Ambartsumian. A few people seized his hand preventing the recording of a video and took him away, while others were throwing papers in ballot boxes.
'Later, at 7 pm, a group of people standing near Serzh Sargsyan's election headquarters located in Yerevan prevented the journalist of the Hraparak newspaper Gayane Saribekyan entering the headquarters, taking her video and photo cameras away by force and swearing whilst demanding she left. Some other threats and obstruction of journalistic work were also registered', the statement said.
The group said these facts once again confirm that pressure and violence against media representatives and journalists strengthens during tense political situations in Armenia.
'The authorities and in particular the law enforcement agencies, usually turn a blind eye to such incidents and give strange 'justifications' to close such cases instead of detaining and punishing those responsible. Thus, an impunity creates new crimes', the statement said.
Presidential elections were held in Armenia on Feb.18. Incumbent President Serzh Sargsyan won the presidential elections winning 58.64 per cent of the vote. The First Foreign Minister of Armenia Raffi Hovannisian ranked second winning 36.75 per cent, while former Prime Minister Hrant Bagratyan ranked third after receiving 2.15 per cent of the vote.