The International and European Federations of Journalists (IFJ and EFJ) have condemned an attack on Armenian correspondent Sisak Gabrielian by activists of the Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) while he was covering parliamentary elections in Yerevan on 2 April, 2017.
Reporting for the Armenian service of Radio Free Europe (RFE) during the parliamentary elections, Sisak Gabrielian was hit in the face by one of the ruling HHK party activists and forced out of the office by polling station attendants after having noticed and started filming alleged fraudulent activities.
According to the RFE Armenian service, Gabrielian noticed that many residents voting in Kond, one of Yerevan’s oldest quarters, headed to a local campaign office of the HHK before going to a nearby polling station to vote. Some of them would leave with money in their hands.
Commenting on this incident, the office workers claimed that they were “paying wages” to HHK “campaign workers”. When forcing him out of the office, some of the HHK activists hit him in the face and grabbed the mobile phone he was using to film the conversation.
The RFE Armenian service also reported an attack on a female journalist by a group of women outside the HHK office while she tried to film people entering and leaving it.
According to the Union of Journalists of Armenia 8 other journalists also had their rights to work freely violated on election day.
IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: “The work of journalists is crucial to democracy and at election times journalism plays an important role in ensuring democratic rights are respected. Such attacks not only undermine media freedom but democracy too. There must be proper investigations and the perpetrators must be brought to justice”.