Thursday, 21 February 2008

Journalists physically attacked during presidential election in Armenia

Reporters Without Borders called today for the punishment of those responsible for attacking or obstructing three journalists as they were covering the presidential election campaign in Yerevan on 19 February. “The authorities must take these incidents seriously,” it said. “The journalists were simply doing their job.”

When journalist Lusine Barsegian, of the opposition paper Haykakan Zhamanak, took photos of ballot-box stuffing and non-secret voting at a polling station, she was beaten by two men who seized her camera and dictaphone after she refused to leave. Witnesses, including a police official, failed to intervene and she was hospitalised. A legal inquiry has been opened.

Samvel Avagyan, who works for the daily [opposition] paper Hayk, had his dictaphone snatched from him when he tried to question people in a bus taking them to polling stations after being given ballot papers by police near a market.

Cameraman Ovsep Ovsepian, of the TV station A1+, was attacked as he got out of his car by thugs who seized his recordings and tried to smash his camera. He was insulted by one of the attackers who spotted a leaflet of opposition candidate Levon Ter-Petrossian in the car.

*see also Human Rights Watch statement - Armenia: Violence at Polling Stations Mars Elections

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