Sunday, 2 November 2014

Tabloid of hate: virulent homophobia awarded by Armenia president’s state medal and stamped by court’s approval

I’d like to start this pretty depressing post on a somehow lighter note, with a joke (AM), posted on Facebook for this occasion by user A.N.:
- Բարև ձեզ։ Բեղիկներով պահպանակ ունե՞ք։
- Ունենք, բայց էսօր գնացել ա մեդալ ստանալու։
In an article “They serve the interests of international homosexual lobby: the blacklist of country’s and nation’s enemies”, Iravunk tabloid listed 60 individuals with the links to their Facebook pages, calling them “zombies”, “traitors” and more.
"On 17th of May, 2014, the editor-in-chief of “Iravunk” newspaper Hovhannes Galajyan published an article on the newspaper’s website titled “They serve the interests of international homosexual lobbying: the blacklist of country’s and nation’s enemies.” In the article, the author presents a “blacklist” containing Facebook hyperlinks of 60 people, makes offensive statements addressed to those persons and calls for “Ordinary people to stop communicating with the lobbyist on the internet, as well as in real life, not to greet them, not to help them with any issues, not to engage in any business relations with them; state officials not to hire those lobbyists for public service jobs, and if they already work there, to fire them under any convenient pretext.” For employers to do the same and for the co-owners of media companies, so those lobbyists won’t be given any chance to make an influence on public opinion and also for “the heads of educational institutions, so they won’t let the lobbyists to participate in the upbringing of younger generations.” […]
On 30th of May, 2014, several citizens whose names appeared in the “blacklist” have sent a letter to the president of the editorial board of Iravunk, Haik Babukhanyan, and the editor-in-chief Hovhannes Galajyan, where they pointed out that the article contains insults, and also requested them to deny the information written in the article. This request was denied and in 03.06.2014 another article was published titled as “And they still dare to request a denial?” in which Iravunk continued to insult and give inaccurate information. In particular, such expressions as “this creature,” “filthy biography” and more were aimed at those who requested denial of the untrue information."
A statement posted by PINK Armenia reads:
“Today the court rejected the case of 16 individuals against Iravunk newspaper. Earlier the Armenian newspaper Iravunk published a ‘blacklist’ of Armenians connected to the LGBT community that it claimed to be enemies of the nation.

Few days ago this homophobic paper’s founding editor and two other workers received Medal of Honor from the president of RA. The president of National Assembly of RA also congratulated the founding editor of the newspaper, who is a MP and a member of Republican Fraction as well.

We believe that high level support of official reflected on the decision of the Court and this shows once more that hate speech and homophobia is highly supported by the high level officials of Armenia, and this creates atmosphere of impunity, gives floor for hate crime and fascism in the country.”
Courts in Armenia are not independent, rarely making decisions that contravene ruling regime’s position. Not only court rejected the lawsuit on the basis of “freedom of expression” (how 'noble' of them!) but obliged citizens to make payments in favour of Iravunk paper to compensate their expenses. Activists will pursue available legal channels to appeal the court’s verdict and, depending on circumstances, may reach the European court of human rights too. reports from the courtroom: “After the judge read the verdict nearly ten people began clapping in favor of the decision. Among them was “Iravunk Media” company director, Republican Party faction MP Hayk Babukhanyan (pictured on right), who just last week was awarded the Movses Khorenatsi Medal by President Serzh Sargsyan for the 25th anniversary of the Iravunk paper.”

To remind, this tabloid consistently and systematically publishes articles and other postings full of hate speech and virulent homophobia.

[Hate: Armenian tabloid Iravunk advocates killing of gays]

As I mentioned in past: “As a rule, one hate goes hand in hand with another hate. If you look at Iravunk’s articles, they are not just homophobic, but racist, full of hate to everyone who is different. If you are not gay, you would have still be hated by Galadjyan-like people. For ‘different’ ethnicity, colour of your eyes (skin), music you listen to, films you watch, T-shirt you wear. Anything, really, which is outside of their sad, little and narrow-minded world.”

To sum up: Ruling regime in Armenia turning hate into a state ideology and awarding hatemongers with state awards. Here is a shameful link to the the presidential press-release from the award’s ceremony and picture via

This picture will be remembered among the most shameful pages of the modern history of Republic of Armenia. Pretty disgusting sight.

And let’s not forget that this story is just part of the growing overall trend. Put this story into a broader perspective of impunity and culture of violence in Armenia supported on a highest state level, like recent re-appointment of Surik Khachatryan (nicknamed “Liska”) - notorious for violent conduct - as governor of Syunik region, and the complete picture is even more depressing.

P.S. This case was picked up by popular international publications buzzfeed (+ here), gaystarnews and more.


artmika said...

Statement (via PINK Armenia): Civil society condemns the promotion of hate speech and discrimination at the state level in Armenia

We, the representatives of civil society, consider discrimination and hate speech, continued physical and psychological persecution of people, as well as violations of the judicial system on these occasions in Armenia unacceptable.

In particular, we express our concerns regarding the verdict of the case 2042/02/14 made by the judge of the Kentron and Nork Marash General Jurisdiction Court Ruben Nersisyan, where the court has decided to reject the request of 16 citizens to make sanctions against the “Iravunk Media” LLC and the editor of “Iravunk” newspaper Hovhannes Galajyan for sullying the honor and dignity of the citizens.

The subject of the suit is described in the article titled “Those Serving the International Homosexual Lobby Interests: the Nation and State’s Enemy Blacklist”, which contains hate speech and discrimination and insults the honor and dignity of the citizens. It also contradicts the fundamental principles of the Constitution of Republic of Armenia the fundamental human rights and freedoms of the citizens, as well as the international obligations ratified by the state.

With this decision the court puts citizens’ safety, privacy and right to non-discrimination at risk, while it also suggests that more dangerous forms of discrimination can take place with little consequences.

We are convinced that such kind of attitude toward citizens, which is being supported at the state level creates an atmosphere of impunity and a platform for more severe forms of hate crimes. MP from the ruling Armenian Republican Fraction Hayk Boris Babukhanyan, who is also “Iravunk Media” LLC founding editor-in-main, seems to believe that the announcements in the newspaper, which clearly contain hate speech and discrimination, are legal. Moreover, awarding Hayk Babukhanyan with Medals of Honor at the highest state level sets a dangerous precedent for Armenia; it not only rewards but also encourages the spreading of hate and violence in society.

The ignorant attitude of the state toward hatred, prejudice and acts of discrimination threatens the public order and national security of the country as well as discredits the international image of Armenia. With the absence of an adequate legal system, the future of protecting human rights looks rather forbidding. Illegal actions will only reinforce the problem at hand and lead to more deeply rooted divisions in Armenian society.

We, the organizations listed below, demand the authorities of the Republic of Armenia to do the following:

- Condemn the discrimination and hate promoting speeches by high-ranking state officials and other citizens by using mass media or other sources of disseminating information;
- Ensure that the courts are investigating the hate-based cases fairly, objectively and comprehensively;
- Ensure the security and privacy of sixteen plaintiffs targeted by this case, as well as protect their rights to be free from discrimination and violence.

The Constitutional order, promoting the development of multiculturalism, should be established in the Republic of Armenia, for it is the only guarantee of citizens’ freedom, justice, and dignity.

artmika said...

The statement above signed by the following groups:

“Public Information and Need of Knowledge” NGO

“Society without Violence” NGO

“Institute for Democracy and Human Rights”

“Democracy Today” NGO

“Women’s Resource Center-Armenia” NGO

“Sexual Assault Crisis Center” NGO

“Helsinki Association” human rights NGO

“Heterosexual Alliance in Defense of LGBT Community Members”

“Women’s Support Center” NGO

“Open Society Foundations-Armenia”

“Cooperation for Development” NGO

“New Generation” humanitarian NGO

“Guarantee” Center of Civil Society NGO

Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Vanadzor Office

Transparency International Anti-Corruption Center

Journalists’ Club “Asparez”

Helsinki Committee of Armenia

“Shahkhatun” NGO

“EcoLur” NGO

“Real World, Real People” NGO

“Spitak Helsinki Group” human rights NGO

“Women’s Community Council of Martuni” NGO

“Women’s Rights Center” NGO

“Youth for Democracy” NGO

“Arevamanuk” Family and Child Care Fund

“Socioscope” Societal Research and Consultancy Center

“Ensuring Equal Rights” NGO

“Limits of Our Rights” human rights NGO

“Yerevan Press Club”

“Bambir” cultural NGO

Anonymous said...

I'm a proud Armenian yet very much embarrassed...

artmika said...

PACE delegates: Armenian authorities fail to condemn incitement to hatred against LGBT people

artmika said...

This case was reflected within the Human Rights Watch "World Report 2015":

Human Rights Watch "World Report 2015": reflections on LGBT rights in Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan

artmika said...

Armenia activists challenge legal system and need your support - #HRArmList