The Helsinki Citizens Assembly of Vanadzor has gone to court in an attempt to overturn a decision by the Narek Osyan, who heads the Lori Regional Examination Division, not to press criminal charges regarding the incident that took place on April 16 outside the Assembly’s office.
On that day, a crowd gathered outside the office after an Azerbaijani film festival had been called off due to a locally organized protest. The crowd started throwing eggs and rocks. 2 rocks broke the windows and penetrated into the office. One of the rocks hit a staff member of Assembly in the leg.
The Assembly first petitioned Lori Prosecutor Artour Poghosyan to have the decision changed but Poghosyan rejected the appeal.
Yesterday, the Assembly’s petition was heard by Judge Marineh Melkonyan at the Vanadzor Court.
Assembly attorney Karen Toumanyan presented his client’s appeal and stated that on April 16 an attack had taken place on the Assembly’s office. Toumanyan said that the evidence existed to file criminal charges.
Toumanyan argued that an organized group had damaged the Assembly office as a premeditated act. He said that attack was launched even though the perpetrators knew that people were inside the building.
He also questioned the conduct of local police who failed to intervene during the protest and the fact that staffers of the Lori Regional Administration were on hand as well.
Toumanyan also stressed that the film festival had been given the green light by the Vanadzor Municipality and presented documents as proof.
The issue of “national dignity” was also raised in the courtroom and whether or not it was natural for some to be offended by the content of the Azerbaijani films.
Examiner Osyan said the term “national dignity” was a relative one, adding that, “It might be an insult for one person to stand beside an Azerbaijani, while another person might make friends. In this case there were people who had participated in the war and had loved ones killed. While the content of the films did not spread religious or racial animosity, the festival itself was perceived as an insult.”
The fact that many protesting that day were members of the Yerkrapah Volunteers Union was also noted.
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