Become an OC Media Member

Support independent journalism in the Caucasus: Join today

Become a member

Pashinyan accused of hate speech towards Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians

18 June 2024
PM Nikol Pashinyan at the Parliament. Photo: primeminister.am

The former Human Rights Defenders of Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia have condemned what they called ‘hate speech’ towards Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.

On 12 June, Pashinyan accused Armenia’s opposition of ‘not caring’ about the fate of Nagorno-Karabakh, and that they needed the Armenian population of the region to support them and keep them in power.

In a speech in parliament, he accused the opposition of bribing Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians to join the anti-government Tavush for the Motherland movement’s protests.

‘Today you brought them as material for the demonstration, for ֏5,000 ($13) to attend the demonstration. This is you, this is your truth, these are your politics’, he said.

Pashinyan also called Nagorno-Karabakh’s generals ‘cowardly deserters’, stating they should ‘end up in prisons and spend many years there’.

Following Nagorno-Karabakh’s surrender to Azerbaijan in September 2023, practically the entirety of the region’s Armenian population fled to Armenia.

In a joint statement on Monday, former Nagorno-Karabakh Human Rights Defender, Gegham Stepanyan, and former Armenian Human Rights Defender, Arman Tatoyan, condemned Pashinyan’s ‘directed hate speech’ towards Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians. 


They said there was a ‘vicious phenomenon’ of blaming and targeting Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians ‘for everything’ and ‘in every issue’, which they said had caused widespread hatred towards them.

They said that following the prime minister’s speech, ‘insults and hate speech against the people of Artsakh [Nagorno-Karabakh] and mockery of them intensified on various social media platforms.’

‘Freedom to spread hate speech’

In their statement, the former human rights defenders also criticised the police and Armenian media for targeting Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians with hate speech.

They stated that many examples showed that the campaign against Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians is ‘spread and even directed’ by the Armenian Public TV, which became a ‘participant in the generation of hatred towards a section of Armenians’.

‘Such a policy of the Public TV, as a company founded by the government, makes it obvious that this is the intended policy of the authorities’.

Tatevik Khachatryan, a journalist from Nagorno-Karabakh, agreed that government-affiliated media and the authorities were discriminating against Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh.

‘What amazes me more is their freedom to spread hate speech and show discriminatory attitudes’, Khachatryan told OC Media. ‘If before it was done between the lines, with media affiliated with the government and so on, now it is done by [Pashinyan].’ 

Khachatryan added that she was keeping a close eye on the public broadcaster’s coverage of Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians, and that she was highlighting instances of discrimination.

‘Now our tax-fed television has become the mouthpiece of the government in the worst sense of the word.’

The former human rights defenders’ statement also cited testimonies accusing police officers of targeting and harassing Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians detained in the latest wave of anti-government protests.

They noted that the police used ‘humiliating expressions’ accusing them of losing Nagorno-Karabakh and ‘having no place’ in Armenia as ‘guests’.

They also criticised the prosecution of four former Nagorno-Karabakh regional administrators and heads during the protests, stating that the detained former officials were denied their right to protest in Armenia.

The former officials were charged in May with fraud and forging illegal documents, with one of them additionally being charged with bribing people to join the Tavush for the Motherland protests.

Read in Georgian on On.ge.
Right now, online media in Georgia is in dire need of safety equipment, legal support, and technology as we cover increasingly challenging circumstances. Support small, independent media outlets in Georgia via our collective fundraiser.

Interested in directly assisting OC Media? Consider becoming a member.