Statement of WHRDIC on violent attack

Image (c) Mossab ElShamy

And defamation of Society Without Violence in Armenia on 15 April 2014

17 April 2014

The Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition (WHRD IC) condemns the violent attack by extremist groups on the women’s rights organization, Society Without Violence, in Armenia on 15 April 2014.

The Society Without Violence works on women’s empowerment, peace building, raising public awareness especially on gender stereotypes and gender based violence, and education, as well as contributing to the formation of an institutional protection for women human rights defenders.

On 15 April 2014, the Society Without Violence organized a roundtable to present a set of recommendations on integrating gender component into the Social Science secondary school subject. The Recommendation Package was developed by Society Without Violence and was developed through a series of 6 roundtables with 140 relevant experts from the field in 2012-2014.

Due to recent threats and attack on women’s rights organizations in Armenia, the event was a closed session for participants but was interrupted by neo-nationalist extremist group members protesting the event.

As the extremist groups tried to enter the conference room, some verbally attacked members of Society Without Violence, while others used physical force on women’ rights defenders and hotel security guards. Members of local and official media who arrived with the extremist protestors filmed the incident, but later falsely claimed that the Society Without Violence initiated the violent attack.

The WHRD IC notes with concern that this violent attack is part of the increasing attacks on women rights organizations due to the growing extremism leading to deterioration of rights for women and lessening of social awareness on gender issues in Armenia. Women human rights defenders in Armenia are targeted with threats and violence for carrying on their human rights works.

We remind the Government of Armenia of its duty to protect women human rights defenders from violence, retaliation and intimidation and its obligation to ensure their full enjoyment of their rights, and call for the relevant authorities to:

  • Take immediate actions to ensure the physical and psychological protection of the staff of Society Without Violence as well as of other women human rights defenders in Armenia.
  • Carry out an immediate, thorough and transparent investigation to the attack and smear campaign against the Society Without Violence and bring all those responsible to justice.
  • Ensure that human rights defenders and all those working to protect women’s rights in Armenia are able to conduct their legitimate activities without fear of violence or rights violations.

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