Monday, July 02, 2007

Parliament Debates. International Community Chastises. Citizens Galvanize.

A group of activists organized primarily through the efforts of Sksela, Transparency International, together with the cooperation and participation of many NGOs and media outlets (after we sent out mass emails stressing to each that such a dangerous step regarding restricted media specifically required their attention and action), gathered at Freedom Square and marched to the gates of Parliament on Baghramyan Avenue, with covered mouths symblizing the silencing of free and diverse media, and bearing a 10 meter long poster which proclaimed "Nrank kvyarkelen azadutyan dem" ("They voted against Freedom"), in bold letters and then listed the names of the 100+ members of Parliament who voted for the bill on Friday.

The second reading of the bill was scheduled for this afternoon.

Photos Onnik Krikorian's and mine.

Armenian Parliament Debating Foreign-Media Bill (RFE/RL)YEREVAN, July 2, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Armenia's parliament is debating the second and final reading of a bill that would restrict foreign-broadcast media, including Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported.

Several hundred press-freedom advocates, meanwhile, have gathered outside parliament to demonstrate against the law. The bill, which passed its first reading on June 29, would block foreign broadcasters' access to public frequencies and heavily tax the domestic retransmission of foreign-made programs. (more)


Onnik Krikorian said...

Hey, how did you get hold of my photos? At time of writing this comment I haven't posted them.

I'm guessing my Flickr page, and no problem (although a credit would have been nice), but funny to see them online when I haven't even used them yet.

artate said...

Onnik, yes got your photos from a flicker link someone sent me. Didn't have any photos of the march myself and wanted to post this ASAP yesterday. credit is up there now.

Onnik Krikorian said...

Like I said, no problem, but it was funny to discover the photos online before I had even posted any. ;-)

A recommendation for the power of Flickr, one supposes. :-)

Armen Filadelfiatsi said...

I don't see anything wrong with the Armenian government curbing the power of the propaganda arm of the US central intelligence agency, RFE/RL.

I wish I didn't have to say this, because your (diasporans')going to Armenia is otherwise very respectable, but you look a little silly walking around with those gags on.

Please take a look at Iran to understand what press restriction really means before you naively go protesting against what every sovereign nation has a right to do, which is:

1. Protect its markets from foreign goods (in the this case information production), and

2. At least make it a little bit more difficult than a cakewalk for a foreign propaganda outfit to spread misinformation in the country.

"Name one case of misinformation..."

Yes, I've done that at Onnik Krikorian's site (and I'm too lazy to do it again here), so please check those comments if you want an answer to that question.

artate said...

The essential problem in this situation is not that Foreign media, or Radio Liberty specifically, would have been restricted in Armenia; the issue is that such a bill would have been the continuation of a slow and strategic effort to muzzle any type of non-governmental media.

I see your point about maintaining the rights of a sovereign nation, however 2003 years ago A1+, Armenia's only DOMESTIC independent TV station was shut down...strategically in time for the presidential election.

Here we are again, just about 6 or 7 months away from the next Presidential election and another media-restricting bill appears once again.

This argument was not about international relations, it's about allowing the Armenian citizens to have some choices for hearing news that is not pro-governmental or party-sponsored.

Considering that 96% get their news from Television (according to Transparency International's 2006 survey)...0% of which is free since the shutting down of A1+.

Newspapers offer various viewpoints, but circulation is so low that very few people read them. And nternet usage is very low across the population (most who do have access more frequently chat or play games rather than read news), therefore Radio is one of the few modes other than television that is accessible to the general public.

Armen Filadelfiatsi said...

artate said: "such a bill would have been the continuation of a slow and strategic effort to muzzle any type of non-governmental media."

Are you saying there is a conspiracy going on? I don't understand. Who's behind this conspiracy?

Consider, if this effort to muzzle all non-governmental media succeeds, what would be left would be public radio and television, because, technically, that's what "governmental media" is.

I'm having a hard time understanding what you mean by "governmental media." The Armenian government is being run by the 3-4 main political parties that are active in it. They disagree with one another and criticize one another through their organs. So its not at all clear who this monolithic "the government" is that you are talking about.

Plus, I don't see why supporting the government has something intrinsically wrong with it. Each government should be supported or resisted based on its performance. Is there some a priori injunction that "Thou shalt resist all government" that I don't know about? Why automatically criticize government? For the hell of it?

I don't know the story about A1+, so I won't comment on it, except to say that they should have gotten shut down for the stupidity of the name "A1+" alone.

"A1+" What is it? Sounds more like a used car lot or a brand of ketchup.