Despite its name, local newspaper Iravunq (the right) does not aspire to protect human rights, presenting viewpoints that segregate and split society. Moreover, Iravunq and its editorial staff violate the interests of a part of the community, presenting them in a negative way and dehumanizing various social groups, reads a letter issued by Public Information and Need of Knowledge (PINK Armenia) NGO addressed to the following reputable media organizations in Armenia: Yerevan Press Club, Information Disputes Council, National Press Club, Analitik Center, Media Initiatives Center, Asparez Journalists' Club, and Media Center.
Last month, 16 citizens launched a civil lawsuit against Iravunq for damaging their honor and dignity, demanding 5 million AMD in compensation. However, the newspaper continued to publish articles containing hate speech, making those who work in the area of LGBT rights protection a target and publishing their personal details.
In the letter, PINK Armenia provides the background to the case and what happened after the lawsuit was launched.
"On May 17, Iravunq editor-in-chief Hovhannes Galajyan published an article on the newspaper’s website with the headline “They serve the interests of international homosexual lobbying: a blacklist of the country’s and nation’s enemies.” In the article, the author presents a “blacklist” containing the Facebook hyperlinks of 60 people, makes offensive statements addressed to those persons and calls for “ordinary people to stop communicating with these lobbyists on the internet and in real life, not greet them, not help them with any issues, not engage in any business relations with them; state officials not to hire those lobbyists for public service jobs, and if they already work there, 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 the chance to make an influence on public opinion and also for “the heads of educational institutions, so they won’t let the lobbyists participate in the upbringing of younger generations.”
"The information in the above-mentioned entry, its entire essence and certain phrases contain calls for discrimination, offend the honor and dignity of the people mentioned in the article. In addition to this, it contains data that does not correspond to reality, it denigrates and insults the honor and dignity of those persons, and discredits the professional reputation of the latter.
"On March 30, several citizens whose names appeared in the “blacklist” sent a letter to the president of the editorial board of Iravunq, Haik Babukhanyan, and editor-in-chief Hovhannes Galajyan, where they pointed out that the article contains insults and asked them to publish a retraction. This request was denied and on June 3, another article was published titled “And they still dare to request a denial?” in which Iravunq continued to insult and give inaccurate information. In particular, such expressions as “this creature,” “filthy biography” and more were aimed at those who requested denying the untrue information. These two mentioned articles had a lot of publicity and were spread in different social networking websites.
"On the occasion of the joint lawsuits of16 Republic of Armenia citizens, and the individual lawsuits of Iranian citizen Romik Danial and New Generation NGO employees, Iravunq continuously publishes personal information about each of the defendants, insults them, and makes them vulnerable, on the occasion of which in the 62nd print edition of Iravunq (June 6–9, 2014) another article was published in the “Anti-national” section titled “When grantsucker defenders of homosexuals get support from the government” in which they referred to the activities of New Generation NGO. On July 1, Iravunq again continued denouncing the activities of New Generation NGO with another article titled “HRD Ijevan ‘defunct’ branch as lobbyist of homosexuality.”
"In the 09.07.2014 issue of the paper, another targeted article was published about Romik Danial in their Criminal section titled “All that was missing was a citizen of Iran to protect homosexuality”. Romik Danial’s pictures were also published in the article, which endangers his life in the territory of Armenia; particularly as a citizen of the Islamic Republic of Iran as by the laws and practices of Islamic Republic of Iran a person can be subjected up to death because of being homosexual. It turns out, to put it mildly, that as a result of insult and misinformation this person can no longer visit the Islamic Republic of Iran as he might be subjected to punishment up to death .
"In the 11.07.2014 issue of the paper, in the section “Obscenity with no limits” another article was published titled “Another three of Conchita’s witnesses joined against the persecution of free speech”, which included details of the personal lives of 3 applicants, New Generation NGO employees Arman Sahakyan, Hovhannes Mkrtchyan and Grigor Gevorgyan.
"In the 15.07.2014 issue of the paper (edition no. 78), in the section “Conchita’s witnesses” another article was published regarding the case of Perchuhi Kazhoyan titled “When the daughter of a public official is engaged in lobbying homosexuality”.
"All the aforementioned articles with their nature, contents and purpose contradict the Constitution and laws of the Republic of Armenia; violate the fundamental rights and freedoms set forth in the RA Constitution, laws and international laws — particularly, the right to non-discrimination, the right to liberty and security, and the right to respect for private and family life.
"Moreover, the writings published by the newspaper are ethically unacceptable and contradict the standards set forth in the RA Constitution and laws for legitimate activities of the mass media.
"Considering the aforementioned, we ask you to
– express your position as a club that has established a reputation in the field of mass media regarding the aforementioned issue,
– publicly condemn the activities carried out by Iravunq within the scope of this issue, and
– within your jurisdiction intervene in this case, ceasing the continuity of propaganda containing insult, discrimination, and violence," reads the NGO's letter.