“Discrimination in Armenia: State Propaganda and Impunity” Human Rights Defenders
11.01.2017
12:00
A few days ago a photograph of a black man’s and an Armenian woman's family published by Marashlian photo studio was a subject of heated discussions in social networks. The criticism and even threats are an evident proof of discrimination and intolerance in Armenia. Although the number of supporters of the same family was also significant in the social networks, Marashlian photo-atelier removed the photo from the Internet at the request of the family after "multiple threats".

Zaruhi Hovhannisyan, Coordinator of Violence Against Women Coalition, said that discrimination is often preached on the state level in Armenia. When state officials express discrimination in their opinions, and the state does not respond, this becomes an example for the other members of the society. Hovhannisyan said that even state officials contribute to the dissemination of discrimination who often advocate discrimination in their speeches and then they are not only unpunished but also to get higher positions. He brought an example of Artsvik Minasyan, Minister of Environment, who issued a statement justifying the action after the attack on DIY club when he was still MP.

In general, according to Hovhannisyan, there is discrimination against women and especially women’s private life.

“Women have always been controlled, even in their private life. A woman has been perceived as a community property, men made a decision as to whom she should marry and how to continue this gene,” she said.

Zaruhi Hovhannisyan, Anahit Chilingaryan, Coordinating the Fight against Discrimination and for Equality Coalition, Boris Murazi, Head of Sinjar NGO, participated in the discussion entitled “Mixed Marriages in Armenia and the Public Attitude: Feedbacks on the Photo of Marashlyan Photo Atelierat Media Center on January 11

Boris Murazi also condemned racism and other manifestations of discrimination. He acknowledged that out of community marriage is forbidden in Yezidi community on religious grounds.

“I am married with yezdi woman but if someone decides to marry an Armenian or a representative of another nation, it is solely his right and his private life. No one should attempt to influence the decision. This problem exists in our community but it is more on religious grounds, Yezdi religion prohibits out of community marriage. Here religious leaders should make efforts to resolve the issue," he said, adding that the published photograph and the criticism surrounding it clearly showed that discrimination still exists in the society.  

“There is much work to do here,” Murazi said.

Anahit Chilingaryan said that threats and criticism are caused by the lack of public policy and anti-discrimination legislation.

“There is no clear policy developed and implemented by state authorities, which leads to impunity. Ministry of Justice still wonders if a separate law is necessary or not. It seemed that the Ministry of Justice jointly with the "Eurasia" Foundation was developing a corresponding legislative package. As a response to our inquiry, the Ministry said that the issue is still under discussion although Armenia has an international obligation to prohibit discrimination by adopting a separate law,” the speaker said.  

Arshaluys Mghdesyan, editor/events coordinator at “Media Center”

To contact the author please send an email to [email protected].

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