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Hate Speech and Discrimination: Open Letter Asking Ombudsman to Assess the ‘Iravunk’ Verdict

16 citizens have directed an open letter to the RA Human Rights Defender Karen Andreasyan concerning the favorable verdict related to Iravunk paper. The court rejected the 16 plaintiffs’ demand that Iravunk Media company and Iravunk paper’s editor-in-chief Hovhannes Galajyan be held responsible for spreading hate in regards to the citizens. Instead, the verdict obliged the 16 citizens to compensate 150,000 AMD ($365 currently $275+/-) for Iravunk’s lawyer fees and compensate the same amount in favor of Hovhannes Galajyan. The open letter asked Karen Andreasyan to evaluate the article by Iravunk and state whether there was anything offensive or slanderous in it.

The letter says: “The author of the article titled ‘Those Serving the International Homosexual Lobby Interests; the Nation and State’s Enemy Blacklist’ presented a “blacklist” of 60 individuals with their Facebook page hyper-links, in which we were also included; offensive expressions were made in regards to us, he called for “zero tolerance” toward us, for people to eliminate relations with us, not to hire us, and fire us from state services. The present court decision is threatening our security, immunity, and the right to stay free from prejudice as citizens.

“The compilation of the “blacklist,” the targeting of people, accompanied with hate speech, as well as inappropriate responses by state bodies creates fertile soil for the dispersion of hate within society and a green light for hate-inspired criminal acts.

"We are seriously concerned and worried that a discriminatory attitude and manifestations of hate will not only be not prevented and that they don’t receive their proper assessments, but also be widely encouraged and promoted by public officials. Particularly, Republican Party of Armenia faction MP Hayk Babukhanyan, who is also the founder and chairman of the editorial board of Iravunk Media company, is openly supporting the inciting of discrimination and hate, by claiming the legitimacy of the offensive and discriminatory material in his paper. The fact that Hayk Babukhanyan received the Movses Khorenatsi medal from Serzh Sargsyan only proves that the views segregating and dividing the public in the Republic of Armenia are encouraged by the state.”