On Apr. 27, Epress.am sent a letter containing 6 questions to chief editor of local daily Haykakan Jamanak (“Armenian Times”), imprisoned journalist Nikol Pashinyan, as part of the campaign by local news media to ensure Pashinyan’s right to correspondence is not violated by sending him regular letters and awaiting his response. On May 10, we received Pashinyan’s response to us. We will publish his response to each of our questions incrementally throughout the week. This is the second response in this series.
Question: Do you think there is a general issue around which all Armenian media today can rally?
Response: As I see it, the press can and are obligated to rally around any dangerous phenomenon that threatens to eliminate freedom of speech.
Eliminating the potential hazards and the effects of the notorious amendments made to the RA Civil Code is urgent today. Thus, the task is very specific.
The terms “libel” and “insult” have to be clarified; or rather, the same wording which characterized these terms in the Criminal Code have to appear in the Civil Code.
The criteria previously in the Criminal Code should correspond as well to the amount of fines, including court expenses.
There’s no doubt that the notorious amendments to the Civil Code initiated by the current Human Rights Defender [Karen Andreasyan] aim to destroy free press in Armenia through bankruptcy. By saying free press, by the way, we have to understand not the [pro-]government press, because in Armenia, you don’t know why, by saying free press, they want to understand press that has no sympathy or doesn’t object, doesn’t have its own path or has no aims. Such press, media or newspaper doesn’t exist in the world, hasn’t been and never will be. Press freedom, it is for this; that each has the right to express his sympathy and objection, even to carry out propaganda or a smear campaign, to disseminate information and variations.
Thus, everyone who respects freedom of speech has to do that which depends on him to implement the two noted Civil Code amendments. The journalistic guild is able to do this and if you want, it is a question of honor.
When the media rallies around this issue, it will mean that they accept each other’s principles and style of work. If it turns out this way, all these journalists would work in one news outlet. On the contrary, with joint efforts they have to defend each person’s right to have his own style and principles. It is the opportunity to realize these rights that differentiates a dictatorship from a democracy. The provisions in today’s Civil Code have despotic aims, definitely.