A group of peaceful activists staged a protest in Yerevan today during a “High Level Conference on Combating Racism, Xenophobia and Intolerance in Europe” organized by the Council of Europe. The conference takes place in the framework of the Armenian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (CoE).
According to the CoE website, the conference was being held to give participants “the opportunity to reflect upon racism and xenophobia in political discourse, the role of human rights institutions in combating racial and ethnic discrimination, as well as topics related to combating hate speech and racial stereotypes on social networks and media.”
At 10:15 am, demonstrators protested outside the Armenia Marriott Hotel, where the conference was being held, pointing to the hypocrisy of Armenia’s authorities organizing such a conference. The activists recalled Armenian authorities’ reactions after the bombing of the gay-friendly bar DIY, threats against women’s rights organizations, and discrimination against members of the LGBT community.
The placards the activists held depicted the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) Coat of Arms, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, RA Deputy Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs Khachik Asryan, and National Assembly Vice-President, HHK spokesperson Eduard Sharmazanov.
When Armenian Minister of Foreign Affairs Edward Nalbandian declared that the conference had begun, the activists entered the hall where the conference was being held with the placards in hand.
Hotel security personnel, Ministry of Foreign Affairs staff, and the police attempted to escort them outside, but activists stood with their placards in front of invited guests and stayed for about half an hour while the conference continued.
Video of today’s protest is here.
(Source: ePress.am, 21 Oct 2013)