Journalists attacked at an opposition rally

New York, April 6, 2004—Journalists covering yesterday’s opposition rally in Armenia’s capital, Yerevan, were attacked by two dozen men in civilian clothes. The men smashed journalists’ cameras, assaulted several reporters, and destroyed filmed footage of the events, the U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported.

The men attempted to disrupt the rally by throwing eggs at Artashes Geghamian, the opposition party National Unity leader, who addressed a crowd of about 5,000 people from atop a van.

Several hundred policemen present at the rally stood by passively as the assailants smashed the videocameras of three Armenian television stations—Kentron, Hay TV and Public Television—and the still cameras of two opposition dailies—Aravot and Haykakan Jhamanak. According to RFE/RL, the assailants forced reporters with the private television station Shant to surrender their videotape of the rally. Several reporters and cameramen were physically injured in the clash, the Association of Investigative Journalists in Armenia (Hetq) reported.

According to RFE/RL, Onnik Krikorian, a British freelance photojournalist, who was hit in the face by one of the assailants, approached the police for protection, but an officer advised him to complain to the British Embassy.