President Serzh Sargsyan sent a letter of condolences to the President of the United States Barack Obama on a horrible terrorist act which took place at a club in Orlando, claiming several dozens of innocent lives and wounded. The President of Armenia strongly condemned this horrendous manifestation of intolerance and underscored that the misfortune, that has befallen the friendly American people, proves once again that any expression of hatred is still a serious challenge to the humanity and it is our shared responsibility and mission to address them.4 years ago his party spokesman Eduard Sharmazanov (currently deputy speaker of the Armenian parliament) endorsed firebombers of gay friendly DIY bar in Armenia capital Yerevan.
ՑԱՎԱԿՑԱԿԱՆ ՆԱԽԱԳԱՀ ՍԵՐԺ ՍԱՐԳՍՅԱՆԸ ՑԱՎԱԿՑԱԿԱՆ ՀԵՌԱԳԻՐ Է ՀՂԵԼ ԱՄՆ ՆԱԽԱԳԱՀ ԲԱՐԱՔ ՕԲԱՄԱՅԻՆ 13.06.2016 Նախագահ Սերժ Սարգսյանը ցավակցական հեռագիր է հղել Ամերիկայի Միացյալ Նահանգների Նախագահ Բարաք Օբամային՝ Օռլանդո քաղաքի ակումբում տեղի ունեցած սահմռկեցուցիչ ահաբեկչության կապակցությամբ, որի հետևանքով զոհվել և վիրավորվել են մի քանի տասնյակ անմեղ մարդիկ: Հանրապետության Նախագահը խստորեն դատապարտել է անհանդուրժողականության այս զարհուրելի երևույթը և ընդգծել, որ բարեկամ ամերիկացի ժողովրդին պատուհասած այդ դժբախտությունը կրկին ապացուցեց, որ ատելության բոլոր դրսևորումները, որոնց հաղթահարումը բոլորի հավաքական պարտքն ու առաքելությունն է, նույնիսկ 21-րդ դարում շարունակում են մնալ լրջագույն մարտահրավեր մարդկության համար:
“All those who are trying to protect homosexuals, who are perverting our society, are defaming the Armenian national identity. As an Armenian citizen and member of a national-conservative party, I find the rebellion of the two young Armenian people against the homosexuals, who have created a den of perversion in our country and have a goal of alienating the society from its moral values, completely right and justified. And those human rights defenders, who are trying to earn cheap dividends from this incident, I urge them first and foremost to protect the national and universal values”, said Eduard Sharmazanov.He echoed his colleague, MP from ARF Dashnaktsutyun party Artsvik Minasyan (currently minister of economy) who justified the attack towards LGBT friendly bar, saying the firebombers acted in accordance with the "context of our societal & national ideology, in the right way”. It was then revealed that Armenian MPs from the ARF Dashnaktsutyun party Artsvik Minasyan and Hrayr Karapetyan bailed out one of the detained arsonists, while the other one was released on signature that he won’t leave the country.
DIY firebombers were effectively pardoned. They got conditional sentencing and a symbolic fine.
And now Armenia president condemns Orlando using pretty strong wording, albeit without the mention of “LGBT”. A change of heart or simply a hypocrisy directed at outside world? How genuine Armenia president was when condemning Orlando would be determined by whether his regime would indeed crack down on anti-LGBT hatred inside Armenia.
Following Orlando, a significant proportion of users (not just trolls) on Armenian social networks, particularly the Armenian segment of Facebook, either kept silence or could not resist their ‘happiness’ at killing of LGBT people.
They were effectively proclaiming the killer a hero. These are the same people who change their profile pictures demanding the world to recognise the Armenian Genocide. These are the same people who were outraged when an axe murderer of Armenian was pardoned by Azeri president and turned into a ‘national hero’.
One of the organisers of Orlando solidarity event in Yerevan, executive director of PINK Armenia Mamikon Hovsepyan, said “it was painful for him to witness Armenians’ reaction to the attack, which included advocacy of hatred and insults targeting the LGBT+ community.”
“People without the elementary capacity to think began to justify the criminal. I do not understand how a crime against humanity can be justified. Many in Armenia have been aggressive and have even expressed support for the terrorists, inviting them to Armenia, which is very sad and inhumane. Today we came here to express our solidarity with the families of the victims.” Hovsepyan said.It was disheartening to read PINK Armenia calling fellow Armenians ‘to respect innocent victims & not defend terrorist acts’.
The activist added that he was left “dumbstruck” by Armenian President, head of ruling Republican Party Serzh Sargsyan sending his condolences to U.S. President Barack Obama in connection with the shooting; “It would have been great had [the condolences] been genuine and heartfelt. But I don’t believe it; because the same party that justified 4 years ago [the attack on a LGBT-friendly pub in Yerevan] today extended its condolences in connection with a similar act. I do find it ironic, and yet I’d like to believe that they’ve changed.”
We call on our fellow Armenian friends and citizens to respect the innocent victims, and not to defend terrorism and terrorist acts.Even two main US-based Diaspora Armenian publications (Asbarez and The Armenian Weekly) kept silence on Orlando for 3 days, before posting a more general op-ed or a report from Yerevan. As my Facebook friends noted, it's because no straight Armenian was killed.
Կոչ ենք անում մեր հայրենակիցներին հարգել անմեղ զոհերին, այլ ոչ թե պաշտպանել ահաբեկչությունն ու ահաբեկչական գործողությունները։
I have to say that mainstream media in Armenia, at least on this occasion, overall reported on the events respectfully, including regarding LGBT people (example).
As was mentioned on the Russian service of BBC, in relation to reactions in Russia, this event showed that not everyone in our society a homophobe ("У нас есть четкое понимание того, что общество уже не едино в гомофобии.”). This is applicable to Armenia too. Not necessarily the most optimistic conclusion but a basis for hope.