‘This has to stop’: Armenian ombudsman concerned over pre-election atmosphere

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Armenia’s Human Rights Defender (Ombudsman) Arman Tatoyan expressed deep concerns over the atmosphere during the election campaign, stating it further deepens the polarization in society and undermines the prospect of restoring solidarity in the country.

“This has to stop! All political forces must exclude insults and swear words, any rhetoric related to hatred and violence,” Tatoyan said in a statement early on Wednesday.

“Candidates for prime minister from all political forces running in the elections should take into account that every word they use extends to their supporters, and then they insult each other with the same words.

“Those running for prime minister should be especially attentive to the words used and take into account all their figurative meanings,” he said, deploring caretaker Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s latest warning of “civil and political vendettas and sweeping personnel changes” if reelected and his use of swear words.

“The real danger of such rhetoric is that it further deepens the existing tensions and poses a risk of being carried over into real life. It’s true that the acting prime minister of Armenia emphasized that it is not about physical revenge, but, obviously, it did not neutralize the dangerous impact of the mentioned,” Tatoyan said.

The monitoring of the Ombudsman’s Office revealed that in the social media platforms where materials with the headlines “civil revenge”, “vendetta” and the like were spread, widespread insults, accusations and hate speech were recorded. These headlines confirm once again that the statements about non-physical revenge made no impact, the ombudsman said.

“The social media monitoring also revealed that the topic of a duel between a candidate for prime minister of the Armenia bloc and a prime ministerial candidate of the Civil Contract Party, the caretaker prime minister is also being discussed in the context of violence.

“In addition, during a meeting with the acting prime minister on June 8, one of the citizens claimed that he was sacked because, in his words, he refused to vote for the Armenia bloc’s PM candidate.

“This statement testifies to the violation of labor rights and a number of other rights, in connection with which the Human Rights Defender’s Office will send a notification to the Prosecutor’s Office,” Tatoyan said.