Presentation on theme: "The Public Perceptions on Freedom of Expression in the RA Sociological Qualitative Research 2009."— Presentation transcript:
The Public Perceptions on Freedom of Expression in the RA Sociological Qualitative Research 2009
Focus group Interviews The aim was to reveal the public perceptions on the Freedom of Expression (FoE). In-depth (expert) Interviews The aim was to reveal the state of the FoE in different spheres of human activity (censorship, obstacles to FoE etc.). Methodology of Sociological Research
Methodology of Sociological Research Focus Group (FG) Interviews. 16 Focus Groups Location of FG, distribution Geographic position of the region Capital city Region close to the centre Region at a medium distance Border region Education / Age / Sex Primary / Incomplete Secondary / Secondary Vocational / Incomplete Higher Education Higher Education 18-30Female/MaleMixedFemale/Male 31-50Female/Male 51 and upFemale/MaleMixedFemale/Male Total16 Focus Groups Criteria for composition of FG, distribution Type of settlement in each region Regional centre Town (1) Village (2)
Main Results of FG Main Associative Components of Freedom of Expression (FoE) Fear, psychological pressure, punishment FoE is defined by the exclusion of the above mentioned negative phenomena Neccessity for boundaries to FoE FoE is valued when there are certain restrictions on it The pointlessness of FoE FoE is equated to the ineffectiveness and lack of success of speech and actions in personal lives The impossibility of FoE FoE is perceived as a “fairy tale” which never occurs in real life
Analytical Schema of FG Results Attitude Towards FoE is Different. In case of individual character (personal style, individual qualities, etc.) In particular (non-formal) relationships (family, kin, friends, community etc.) In institutional (formal) relationships Art, literature Political field Economic activity, social security Legal field (social protection)
Analytical Schema of FG Results According to: Individual character In particular relationships Institutional relationships The permissible level of FoE the following main types of thinking can be distinguished: Traditional (patriarchal) Political Liberal
Analytical Schema of FG Results* The following are presented for each type: ideological legitimization desirable principles for regulation of FoE the acceptable and unacceptable limitations of FoE within all relationships The acceptable players responsible for the regulation of FoE in all relationships Where descriptions of characters concur with each other, they are presented together. Presented according to all types: Obstacles to, factors, modes and self-censorship of, FoE Ideal conditions for FoE Effective steps for re-establishment of FoE Necessary personal qualities etc. For FoE The position of RA relative to other countries on the issue of FoE Means for improving FoE *The respondents’ definitions will be directly given in quotation marks in the footnotes.
Traditional and Political Characters Each of these is characteristic of almost half of the respondents Ideological legitimization Preservation of Armenian Identity: Non-distortion of the character of ‘the Armenian’ Defined by traits considered appropriate and inappropriate, suitable and unsuitable to ‘the Armenian’ (dignity, shame, humility, etc.) The survival of the nation (non-destruction). The preservation of ‘the Armenian’ cahracter is considered the guarantee of the survival of the nation. Deviation is regarded as the basis for the destruction of the nation. Welfare of society A free environment for economic activity is considered important to secure welfare Implementation of rights Social and legal protection is considered important for economic activity and social security
Traditional and Political Characters Desirable Regulation of FoE FoE is regulated according to traditional (patriarchal) moral norms and customs:* In the formation of individual character In particular relationships As a means to preserve ‘the Armenian’character In art and literature As a mechanism to preserve ‘the Armenian’ character *”That conservative is better, more sacred, more productive, more reproductive and illuminating than that ‘development’ imported from Europe”.
Traditional Character Desirable Regulation of FoE In the case of political activities (attitude toward the authorities) FoE is regulated according to the following principles (as a means and mechanism for the survival of the nation) All-leveling national unity Diversity within the framework of homogeny Tolerance toward illegalities of the authorities Confronting external threats by “sweeping the dust under the carpet” The authorities as symbols of the state* The authority (president, prime minister, etc.), irrespective of the methods used to reach that position, is considered immune from criticism or ridicule. The latter are considered a threat to statehood. *”He is my president... It doesn’t matter if he is bad, base and a thief, I must respect him”.
Political Character Desirable Regulation of FoE In the case of political activities (attitude toward the authorities) FoE is regulated according to the following principles (as a means to social welfare and security) The state as a mechanism to secure the welfare of society The activities of the state apparatus should be directed toward raising the standard of living of society Intolerance toward the illegalities of the authorities It is possible to overcome social injustice by criticism and protest* *All the TV channels...are carrying out the demands of the authorities in order to keep the people occupied... (so that) women and men watch, and they do not get involved in politics; not be aware of their rights, not be aware of their responsibilities. A generation is being lost, a generation”.
Traditional and Political Characters Desirable Regulation of FoE FoE is regulated according to democratic principles (Legislation) In the spheres of economic activity and social security as an efficient means to secure social welfare In the legal spheres (social security) As an efficient means to secure or protect welfare
Liberal Character Characteristic to overwhelming minority of respondents Ideological legitimization The liberalisation of ‘the Armenian’ The patriarchal system is considered a social injustice. Liberalisation is considered a mechanism for the development of state, culture, etc. Democratization of RA, creation of a civil society Civil society is considered important within the context of the develpment and competitiveness of the state Welfare of society A free environment for economic activity is considered important for securing prosperity Implementation of rights The social and legal protection of the individual is considered important
Liberal Character Desirable Regulations of FoE FoE is regulated according to principles of democracy and civil society (Legislation) In the formation of individual character In particular relationships In institutional relationships On the whole it is characteristic to 18 – 30 year old girls; less frequently, to boys. In particular relationships it is mainly characterised by tolerance of non- traditonal behaviour by others rather than a desire to personally behave in that manner.* *”Recently there was a ‘burial of the red apple’... Elderly women were speaking on TV, saying ‘Oh, a curse on them’... You know, we ourselves also think that after all something is holding you back from taking that step. But... there are girls who want to live freely. Let them live. It’s their life and their right.”
The Three Types of Thinking Observations Traditional and political characters differ only in their attitude toward FoE in the political sphere. The first consider it a danger to statehood*; the second consider it a means for the development (normalization) of the state. All three types state the importance of FoE in the spheres which secure financial prosperity (economy, social welfare). All three types state the importance of FoE in the legal field as a tool for protection of FoE in the spheres securing welfare. The attitude toward art and literature is similar in the individual character and particular relationship, as it is considered a mechanism for the formation of the latter two. *”We are such an emotional nation that emotions always win until something very bad happens. History has shown that freedom is prohibited to such emotional nations; even democracy is wrong for us”.
Traditional and Political Characters FoE in Individual Characters and Particular Relationships Acceptable boundaries to FoE: Individual’s sex life (pre-marital, extra-marital, homosexual etc.)* Personal free style and behaviour Completely equal relationships : Adult-juvenile, parent-child, man- woman (familial,community). Religious (not Armenian Apostolic) belief, etc. All those spheres which may result in the destruction of Armenian traditionalism and introduction of foreign culture (mores). *”France, under the name of ‘developed’, comes to us ‘undeveloped’ Armenians and preaches to us that we can bury the ‘red apple’. And one day they may accept that homosexuality is in reality right, so that they can ruin this nation”.
Additional Slide #1. CRRC 2006. The Acceptable age for Having Pre-Marital Sex
Traditional and Political Characters FoE in Individual Character and Particular Relationships Dangers leading to the destruction of Armenian traditionalism: Mass media (serials, films, advertisements)* The showing of sex scenes and accessories, adultery etc. The glorification of slang, the world of gangsters and criminals, etc. Free style clothing and accessorising In the case of men: long hair, jewellery etc. In the case of women: revealing or masculine clothes, etc. Non-Armenian dances Erotic movements and attire Bars, strip clubs, brothels Sects Homosexuals Drug addiction *Here we come across the ‘third person effect’, according to which, people are inclined to believe that the mass media has a greater effect on others than on themselves; no one in the FG groups mentions the changes in their own behaviour, brought about by the mass media.
Traditional and Political Characters FoE in Individual Character and Particular Relationships The acceptable players responsible for limiting FoE: Society Control function Constitution, Legislation Introducing legal restrictions in areas outside of public supervision (e.g., mass media, bars, etc.) Individual Self-control, corresponding level of discernment Intellectuals Educational function (‘setting an example’) Head of the given institute (parent, teacher, etc.) Control function
Traditional Character FoE in the Political Field Acceptable restrictions to FoE:* Protest demonstrations, marches, political actions etc. Criticism, ridicule, etc. of the authorities (particularly in the mass media) Political opposition (being anti-government) Publication of state secrets (security of the country) Acceptable players responsible for restrictions to FoE: The authorities, Leadership Constitution, Legislation Individual (through self-control), society (controls) National Security Service Intellectuals *”At that time when Kruschev was the king... Kruschev gave freedom of speech, the right to free expression... this was the exact opposite of Stalin’s thesis... It was from that point that socialism crumbled”.
Political and Liberal Characters FoE in the Political Field Unacceptable restrictions to FoE: Protest demonstrations, marches, political actions, etc.* Expression of political orientation Criticism of authorities, etc. Political opposition (being anti-government) Acceptable restictions to FoE: Unlawful acts and willfulness of the authorities Immunity and rights of persons in authority Publication of state secrets (security of the country) Acceptable players responsible for the regulation of FoE: Constitution, Legislation The legitimate authorities, leadership Individual, society Human Rights Defense organisations Intellectuals *”They decide, this shouldn’t be permitted, put a couiple of shows or concerts here (as if) this is where they want to hold it. A1+ said something bad, shut it down, quickly, quickly. Do whatever you need to, (to ensure) information blockade... And an information blockade is in truth a dangerous phenomenon”.
Traditional, Political and Liberal Characters FoE in the Economic and Legal Fields* Uncceptable methods of restricting FoE: Unlawful acts (‘unwritten laws’) of the state (also non-state) system: Towards the individual or kin Physical violence: beatings, imprisonment, etc. Administrative pressure: dismissal from work, reduction in pay, etc. Psychological pressure, threat Abuse of position (particularly in establishing a monopoly) Willfulness, etc. Acceptable methods of restricting FoE: Constitution, Legislation *In the given field, there are no other acceptable limitations than those activities prohibited by law. Here we discuss the methods of FoE that are implemented in reality.
Traditional, Political and Liberal Characters FoE in the Economic and Legal Fields Acceptable players responsible for the regulation of FoE:* State (by fighting against, and preventing, breaches of FoE, etc.) Society (control function) Individual (fighting against, and preventing, the breach, etc.) Court system (by implementing the law, punishing breaches) Human Rights Defense organisations Trade Unions *In in-depth interviews with: pro-government, extra parliamentary (1), pro-government, parliamentary (1) political parties and pro-government(1) media, only the individual is responsible (by fighting against, and preventing, the breach, etc.).
Traditional and Political Characters The Interchange of Principles Regulating FoE Individual character, particular relationships Democratic principles Are viewed as a threat* The consequences are deemed to be: Destruction of the “sanctity of the family” Destruction of “Armenianness” Spread of degeneration Annihilation of the nation Economic, Legal relationships Traditional norms Are viewed as a threat The consequences are deemed to be: Obstacles to wellbeing of society Establishment of social injustice Absence of social protection *At this level of relationships democratic principles are, on the whole, deemed to be similar to unrestrainedness and degeneration.
Traditional, Political and Liberal Characters In Individual Character and in Particular Relationships Real obstacles to FoE: Social control (community, family, etc.) Constitution, Legislation Self-censorship
Traditional, Political and Liberal Characters In Individual Character and in Particular Relationships Reasons for self-censorship:* Ridicule, insult, blame Discredit, gossip Isolation, alienation Physical violence Direct prohibition of actions, speech (silencing) Close social network in the community (tight personal space) Dependence on community relationships (getting a loan, calling for help, etc.) Upbringing (habitualized inhibitions, reserve, humility, etc.) *According to E. Noelle-Neumann’s “spiral of silence” theory, the individual is inclined to avoid expressing himself, if he believes he will not receive social support”.
Traditional, Political and Liberal Characters In the Political, Economic, Legal Fields Main factors impeding FoE: (It is possible to hinder FoE by the following means) Unemployment, scarcity of jobs, low level of welfare Dependance for living conditions on the willfulness of one or more officials Clan norms (close inter-familial relationships and ties between cirlces of friends)* Society’s lack of awareness of rights and laws *”…Communities are becoming nonsensical. For example, if I have done something for this man (the head of the village) then he will watch out for me for 3 years. And if I have been a supporter of the opposition then I will not be able to profit from anything. Why?... During these 10-15 years this pressure has been wearing people down”.
Additional Slide #2. CRRC DI 2008. Most Important Issue Facing Country
Methods of obstructing (also reinstating) FoE: Dismissal from work (individual or kin)* Threats against individual or kin Punishment of kin (also in other establishments) Physical violence against individual or kin Beating, killing, imprisonment etc. Administrative willfulness, vindictiveness Deprivation of pension, benefit and other privileges, non-provision of documents, deliberate carelessness, etc Bribery Hostility, defamation *”My husband is a member of a political party. They were saying to him, ’No, you have to come to this side. If you don’t, we will dismiss you from your job.’... Then, (when) he didn’t go, they dismissed him”. Traditional, Political and Liberal Characters In the Political, Economic, Legal Fields
Additional Slide #3. CRRC DI 2008. Trust Towards Institutions
Reasons for self-censorship:* Fear of losses and willfullness Prevention of lawless acts, violence Defense of kin Uselessness of expression The ineffectiveness of attempts at reinstating FoE Lack of trust in the court, legal defense and other systems Community norms ( pangs of conscience about bringing complaints against acquaintances, etc. ) *According to pro-government extra-parliamentary(1) and pro-government parliamentary(1) political parties responding in in-depth interviews, the reason is the lack of convictions and sense of responsibility in society. Traditional, Political and Liberal Characters In the Political, Economic, Legal Fields
Sources of ‘horrific’ stories: Personal experience Experience of kin or acquaintance Well-known scandalous incidents* (According to pro-government parliamentary (1) political party and pro-government (1) press, during in-depth interviews, the sources are public imagination, gossip and rare, coincidental events) *”Those who spoke (were) detained; those who spoke (were) killed; those who spoke, were put under pressure. They, with such intelligence, university graduates, clever people, what can we...(do)?” Traditional, Political and Liberal Characters In the Political, Economic, Legal Fields
The most effective strategy on encountering breaches of FoE In the overwhelming majority of respondents: Avoiding action Keeping silent In the minority of respondents: Stuggling within the framework of the law Traditional, Political and Liberal Characters In the Political, Economic, Legal Fields
Additional Slide #4. CRRC DI 2008. Do people like yourself have the right to openly say what they think?
In accordance with FG Results: 1.In response to the question on whether they possess the sufficient level of FoE in general, the respondents mentioned that they express themselves freely. 2.However, when the question was specified in details, it turned out that the respondents meant:* those themes, which are according to them, open for discussion, and those are very limited (non-personal, non-political etc.), in a “safe” environment (among like-minded people), in which they feel themselves free, and through “safe” means, which do not assume publicity. 3.There are several areas, which does not fall under the themes of FoE: traditional and political types, opposed to discussions about personal, family issues (in the case of traditional type that also includes politics) do not incorporate the above mentioned issues in the frame of FoE. 4.All 3 types mention the habitualized inhibition of the demand for free expression. Interpretation of the Additional Slide #4 in the Frame of Focus Group Interview Results *“I feel myself free only when I am alone, when I take a bathe”.
Traditional, Political and Liberal Characters The Ideal Conditions of FoE for the Individual All spheres An environment in which the following do not occur: Violence, punishment (physical, administrative, psychological) Coercion, threats (physical, administrative, psychological) Isolation delation, denunciation, etc. The ideal environment is within the circle of like-minded people
Traditional, Political and Liberal Characters The Personal Traits and Conditions Necessary for Free Expression in RA In the overwhelming majority of respondents: “suicide volunteer, “Kamikaze “crazy”, “hole in the head”, “mad”, “reckless” “fearless”, “brave”, “audacious”, “bold” (also, without taking into consideration public opinion) “alone” (without relatives) “having a backer”, “being well covered”, “having the support of a patron” “having money ”, “with a preferred country”* In the minority of respondents: “chameleon”, “two-faced” (able to change opinion in time) “stubborn”, “strong-willed”, “responsible”, “educated”, “intelligent,””someone who knows the law” “just”, “honest” Also “drunk”, in the case of men *”(He/she should have) a preferred country where he must flee; to whit, one way, not return”.
Illusion of FoE: “The Glass Chamber”* The “invisible walls” (obstacles) of one’s individual privacy The rights enforced through the legislature are suppressed by the society in accordance with moral norms. “Invisible isolators” of legal actions The actions and speech, directed to the implementation of law and restoration of rights enforced by the legislature remain ineffective. As a result people refuse to take actions. *In order to describe the unwritten laws inhibiting upward mobility, sociologists and economists use the term «glass ceiling» (Carol Hymowitz and Timothy Schellhardt, 1986).
The Ranking of RA against Other Countries, with Respect to FoE 1.Muslim, African, Central Asian and other countries 2.RA, post-Soviet countries (except the Baltic states) 3.Europe, USA, China, etc 132 Low level of FoE Medium level of FoE High level of FoE
Desired Ranking of RA against Other Countries with Respect to FoE In close to half cases the following is desirable: 1.The maintenance of the present position (2) Movement toward 1 is considered regression because of the excessive retrictions to freedom (particularly for women) characteristic to those countries.* 3rd ranking for RA is considered loss of “national character”, leading to the path of possible annihilation of the country. 132 Low level of FoE Medium level of FoE High level of FoE *”Is the status of the muslim woman attractive?... Is a smart, well-dressed, neatly turned out woman pleasant. or one tottering around like a rag doll...nothing there?.” “ There are countries, where… women do not have the right to show their faces. Their life must be a real disaster.”
Desired Ranking of RA against Other Countries with Respect to FoE For a large part of the remaining half of cases, the following is desirable: 2.“A little” Europeanization (2՛) 2՛ is considered the desired level of rule of law without the degeneration characterisic to liberal countries. Sometimes 2՛ is desired to reach a certain ‘harmless’ level of liberalisation in particular relationships.* Movement toward 1 is considered regression because of the excessive restrictions to freedom (particularly for women) characteristic to those countries 3rd ranking for RA is considered loss of “national character” leading to the path of possible annihilation of the country. 132 Low level of FoE Medium level of FoE High level of FoE 2՛2՛ *”If, so to speak, a woman wants to work, strives for education... Let them give her freedom in those things. But to stray from the path... or go to bars, let them not give her freedom. But..., where there is a calling toward family, a love of studying, a desire for work, let there be freedom”.
Methods for Improving the State of FoE FG Suggestions According to the overwhelming majority of respondents: Eradication of the factors hindering FoE (unemployment, wilfulness, clan norms, lack of awareness of laws) Eradication of corruption in the court system Implementation of the law (especially in regards to high ranking officials)* Establishment and development of institutions which TRULY work for the defense of rights (re-establishment of trust, making the office of Ombudsman an elected one)** *”In developed countries we see that they caught a minister, tried him; a president. Show me anyone in our Armenia who has been tried for his wrongs... Such a thing doesn’t exist”. ** ” The HRD... were an elected body… then it would not pay attention to anything anyone might say, it would be standing by the people ”.
Methods for Improving the State of FoE FG Suggestions According to the minority of respondents: Change in authorities (legitimate authority) Raising the level of civil consciousness in society Overcoming traditional stereotypes through campaigns United struggle against illegal acts (demonstrations, protests etc.)
“Public opinion is not what people think, but what the public is willing to publicly acknowledge they think.” T. Harrison 1940
Methodology of Sociological Research In-Depth Interviews. 31 Respondents Criteria CategoriesSpheres NGO Human Rights (Yerevan) Ecology (Yerevan) Health / Vulnerable Groups (Yerevan) Community Development (Gyumri) Education, Youth (Gyumri) Human Rights (Vanadzor) Political Party Pro- government Parliamentary Pro- government Parliamentary Pro- government Extra Parliamentary Opposition Parliamentary Opposition Extra Parliamentary Opposition Extra Parliamentary Art / Literature CinemaTheatreMusic / Dance Painting / Sculpture Literature Science Humanities (NAS RA) Humanities (IHE) Humanities (IHE) Exact Sciences (NAS RA) Exact Sciences (IHE) Exact Sciences (IHE) Mass Media TV (pro- government) TV (Opposition) Press (pro- government) Press (opposition) Radio (pro- government) Radio (opposition) HRD
General Description of In-Depth Respondents Typification Distributed in the following manner, in decreasing order: Traditional, found in all categories “This is also a form of free expression which does not conform to any… logic. Irrespective of everything, you feel that whether the person in that position has attained that post through fair means or foul, nevertheless there is the issue of stability (of the country)”. “I have decided not to subscribe anymore. On one of the last pages of the newspaper "X" we read: "Devoted to virginity and the ‘red apple’: complexes, typical for the Armenians". It means, that this newspaper is specializing on the issues of promoting adultery and fornication... They want to destroy the family, because they say virginity is unnecessary. If the virginity is not necessary, than the fornication is normal”. Political, found in all categories Liberal, more characteristic in representatives of the arts and literature “Sex is not discussed; it doesn’t exist. With us, procreation occurs vegetatively or, I don’t know... They cut the barrel and bury it in the soil. The sex organs do not exist. No one speaks about it... everything is done in a closed, repulsive, pathological way. Probably, if Freud had been in Armenia, he would have written two extra volumes”. “The girl thinks that if she says,”I want you”, the boy may think, “Who is this, this depraved hussy”... so she doesn’t say it. But... It’s normal that she wants the boy. She’s not going to want a horse, is she? And the boy should accept that (the girl wants him ) as normal”.
Non-Government Organisations Censorship (State) censorship present in mass media “I sent an article to the ‘Republic of Armenia’ newspaper about the accounts of Lake Sevan to show... how much inaccurate information they are giving to the government. The editor... has said, “yes, not bad, it’s good, but a pity that I have already printed an anti-government article this year”. Do you understand? The (official) press which in fact serves the state... is carrying out anti- government and anti-national activities”. Coercion and threats by state structures “It was 97-98 when the ministry of defense began a very severe attack on us through all the television stations when we raised the issue of those killed in the army”. Authoritarianism of high-ranking officials, rigid mind-set, intolerant of other viewpoints “In all discussions... they switch off the microphone. For example, that X... in the Presidency chamber of the National Academy of Sciences, in everyone’s presence, said, ”I won’t allow, respondent’s name, to speak as his viewpoint does not correspond to our viewpoint”.
Non-Governmental Organizations Obstacles to FoE Censorship present in mass media “(Particularly) TV broadcasting… is under, I wouldn’t say complete, but quite severe supervision by the authorities and FoE is fairly restricted.There have been incidents when we have called a press conference and they haven’t come. It is possible to consider this as, in some way, an obstacle to my being able to say what I want to society”. The low level of competency of officials “X, is nagging, sending applications to almost all the heads of communities with a request for some ordinary information. Some of the heads of the villages, may be, are illiterate, don’t know the law and have replied late. So he has taken them to court”. The inadequate level of civil consciousness in society “Let’s assume… if we talk about the rights of prisoners… both in society and among intellectuals, this is very difficult to comprehend. They immediately assume, “Are you defending the rights of criminals?””
Competition between the media “It’s a very funny reason. In Armenia, one television company may not broadcast it, saying ‘That other one is broadcasting it and I’m not on good terms with it...’”. Clan norms existing in the mass media and the artcritic-literary community “This kind of gangish, hoodlumy relationship, an unprofessional approach, unprincipled... And an absence of taste... What a lot of bad things I said, right?” Low level of competence and fettered (not free) thinking in the artcritic- literary community; Art, Literature Censorship
Low level of competency in superiors and leaders “I printed on the poster that entrance for children under 16 was prohibited and the next day he (the director of the theatre), in order to to fill the theatre, brought in an audience of a busload of children from Etchmiadzin. Of course, I did not play the role and the next day, he terminated my contract”. Administrative willfulness on the part of superiors and leaders, and their immunity “It is pointless doing anything because the man has been given unlimited authority and you are absolutely not protected. I do not have those leverages… the directors (of establishments) also consider themselve to be little princes”. Art, Literature Obstacles to FoE
Abuse of position, coercion by superiors and leaders “They can call the singer and say ‘you must come and sing here’. But the singer... in general, a person, must nothing for anyone. They can request, they can ask, they can pay, but it should not be with ‘must’”. Inadequate (state) evaluation (non-appreciation) “They did not even say on TV that Ghukas Chubaryan, an incredible sculptor, had died... He was a huge sculptor... but he was not appreciated... Already the others, seeing that injustice, are becoming disillusioned”. Absence of financing, budgetary tightness “Since there are great thoughts, compositions... There is no one who will help officialy or legally... there is no financer for my idea to be implemented”. Art, Literature Obstacles to FoE
Taboo of themes which may result in the destruction of “the Armenian” character “(During analysis) you come across issues which are not to the liking of Armenians. Because our ethonologists are first and foremost traditional ‘grannies and grandpas’, they see heresy in that... They say we shouldn’t introduce that (e.g. discussion on the ‘red apple’) you are distorting the national culture... What are you passing on to the generations?” The immunity of historic, “national” myths “If anyone, a historian looks at history in another light, there will be an attack on him by all those rigid historians. Even… if there are discussions about the battle of Vardanants as to who is right; who is wrong... The events of 1915… as to whether or not mistakes in our political thoughts had also been present there... now that would be immediately met with bayonets from all the historians”. Science Censorship
The professional obsolescence of the scientific community “(In order to be printed): the majority of (Scientific Committees)… Have last read a book during the soviet period... God forbid, that they read what you have written... You are obliged to... explain that such books already exist in the world... Play the role of a passive person... You say you have only re-written it... Go and argue with Bourdieu... In order to appear competent, they are obliged to accept… But if you don’t approach them correctly, a conflict is unavoidable. They say, go and put it into a scientific format”. Academic authoritarianism of the scientific community “The way to become an intellectual was to read classic literature, theory… Marx… Lenin… You did not need to read anything more… He knew he was right, he was the bearer of the Truth. Our intellectuals, from the point of view of methodology, differed in no way from criminality because that also has its one Truth. It only differed on the level of a terminology tool”. Science Censorship
Science Obstacles to FoE Absence of generation change. Aging of scientific community “Kapiza said something good about Russian education “It is disgraceful that, today, grandfathers are teaching their grandsons.” I must not teach my grandchild anymore, not because I am not a professional, but... independent of my titles, I am already slowly falling behind contemporary standards”. The sacrificing of scientific standards in the name of financial security “Today when science and education is not financed, it is embarrassing to say, that we are reaching out to our students, the fee payer, thinking that he should pay our wages… Dismiss the paying student?... Means that my salary will decrease”.
Science Obstacles to FoE The emigration of scientists or their refusal to continue being involved in science, as a result of insufficient financing Sponsorship and bribery “They ask,’whose son is he, that he should read a lecture?’ And this issue has persisted continuously for a year... The thing is that your brother or father has to be a member of parliament or some such thing for you to be able to find work within your scientific field in your fatherland”. The inadequate level of competence of officials “He, on whom the implementation of that idea depends… is a very limited person. He doesn’t permit it... Let me give you an example: I wanted very much to offer new specialisation in our university… The ministry didn’t do so… If technologies are to advance in our state... that specialisation was neccessary”.
Pro-government Internal “Glavlit.”* “Sensing ” the acceptable boundaries of FoE “When, 5 years ago, Tigran Naghdalyan said harsh things, the nexty day they shot him. Today I am saying the same things but they are not killing me. And if tomorrow someone comes and says even harsher things, but they shoot him, then my freedom is right. If they don’t shoot him, then we will go toward higher levels of freedom”. “It is very important… before implementing FoE… to assess the risks and assess the limit”. The uselessness and ineffectiveness of FoE “You must see the results of what you say. If I say on air that the head of the district, X, is working badly but the next day they give him the “Military Cross” medal, next time I will not speak out, as it will look ridiculous”. The low level of FoE demanded by the journalistic community “(Especially) TV reporters on the whole do not comprehend that it is possible that the boundaries to FoE are much wider than they imagine... that they should have much more FoE than they have today”. Mass Media Censorship *Main Administration for the Protection of State Secrets in the Press under the USSR Council of Ministers was the official censorship and state secret protection organ in the Soviet Union.The censorship agency was established in 1922 under the name "Main Administration for Literary and Publishing Affairs ".
Pro-government and opposition Self-censorship in issues of national security “I will not discuss the army, because I think that we are nation at war, and any mention of the army may damage the army or damage the legal stereotypes in the minds of the young men going in to the army. With that I am causing double the damage”. Coercion, violence and threats by the authorities and law-enforcement bodies “Christ’s commandments are FoE, right? The man said clever things, but there were no results. But there is the other problem. Christ said his FoE nevertheless and it had a result, they crucified the man. Nothing has changed from Christ’s time to the present. Only the technologies have changed. Nowadays, they don’t crucify, they incarcerate; they don’t crucify, they close down; they don’t crucify, they dismiss. In reality that is a big thing”. Mass Media Censorship
Opposition Filtering of information by the authorities and law-enforcement bodies “There’s the police… And these leaflets are posted with their support. “Keep your hands off the Apostolic church”… But the leaflets posted on walls about a permitted meeting suddenly disappear in half an hour. The skinheads of the oligarcs, the police, prosecutor’s office and the whole of the law-enforcement system (hinder it)”. Ordering of information to be, or not to be, published by the authorities “Prior to each election. Grigor Amalyan and the president’s residency, collect all the heads of the mass media and say, “You must do this, you must do this…””. Mass Media Censorship
Coercion, violence and threats by the authorities, law-enforcement bodies and other offices “Don’t think that... for him (name of a media head) confronting that enormous machine, which is called government, with its claws (was easy)… That octopus… that was: (on the one hand) Viktor Soghomonyan, Robert Kocharyan’s spokesman; on another hand, the KGB; on the third hand, there was Grigor Amalyan; the fourth was the police; the fifth was the customs (Inspectorate) and so on and so on. It is trying to put pressure on you from several sides”. The uselessness and ineffectiveness of FoE “There have been occasions when I felt that it is pointless (expressing oneself). There will be no result”. Mass media Obstacles to FoE
The atmosphere of fear and expectation of punishment, in journalists “They have come... requested frames from March 1... We have said, ”But people, you yourselves have shot film”. They have asked us not to speak about this to anyone and have told us that if they speak about our political events they do so in bathrooms, so that no one should see or hear…” The atmosphere of fear and expectation of punishment, in society “Let’s take the complaints… They call… I say, “Fine, we will mention it… but we need you to say it.” They say, ‘No, what do you mean?... What if they should see us, or hear us or recognise us. They will throw us out of the institute altogether’… Or… one says. ‘I have a child’. The other says, ’My son is in the army’”. Mass media Obstacles to FoE
Pro-government Internal “Glavlit”* Avoidance of being taken advantage of by other powers “I cannot be absolutely free when discussing my issues with a representative of another political power as I will have ny doubts that it may in some way, somehow be exploited. And that creates some sort of impedement. An impediment is placed in relationships”. Party solidarity “It is not always that, shall we say, during certain votes, that I am in agreement with the vote that the political coalition is taking… And I, as a representative of the “X” party... must be able to obey the game rules of the coalition… I have tried not to break the game rules... ” Political Parties Censorship
Opposition Coercion, violence and threats by the authorities and law-enforcement bodies “In one case… they saw (that) no, this is getting serious. X (a high-ranking official) came and tried to negotiate. He suggested cetain things: “renumeration ‘with zeros’”, and other “I don’t know whats.”… It was unsuccessful… they began… blackmailing, frightening… That also didn’t work. He began criminal persecution up to and including accusation. That also didn’t work… But I want to say, you encounter such things during your work in that job”. Restrictions, by the authorities, on the dissemination of information (particularly with respect to the media) “It is continually violated… Right now, if I want to call a meeting, they won’t allow it. If I want to disseminate an anouncement about that meeting through the media. They won’t permit it...”. Political Parties Censorship
The inadequate level of civil consciousness of the audience (society, community) “In the plot (not subject to sale) adjacent to X’s land… they are erecting some booths and the local residents… had not allowed... but... they have brought and erected them. (I said) “Let’s go and picket.” What did they reply? “We are intelligent people, we are lecturers, etc. It doesn’t become us to picket.” Here we see their... culture, education... they think that it is unsuitable for them to picket”. High-ranking officials (courts, etc.) being liable to blackmail “For any judge... There exists in NDA a huge file concerning the illegal acts they have committed, (with) which they can put pressure on them at any time. That same judge who understands that he must not go against his conscience… he, nevertheless, will do so… he is so tarnished. The most independent people today… are those, who… do not have a ‘dossier’ on them collected by the special services”. Political Parties Obstacles to FoE
Censorship “Someone had said something about one of the oligarchs. They caught him, took him and beat him. Then they began to search, who did the beating? They couldn’t find him...”. Obstacles to FoE “There can be no obstacle in our specialized field as our professional activity today is the elimination of obstacles”. The Institute of the Human Rights Defender Censorship and Obstacles to FoE
Methods for Improving the State of FoE Suggestions from In-depth Interviews Struggle within the framework of the law, for personal rights Show “success stories” that have occurred in RA (legal cases that have been won, etc.) Publicise foreign cases (punishment of officials, equality in the eyes of the law, etc.)* Restrictions on the government’s censorship leverage and rights *”They (English mass media) announce that the president's son is serving in the army and, to wit, not in the south of France in order that he can go to bathe at Nice, but in Afghanistan; and they all understand that if the prince of England has to serve in the army, then so must they”.
Methods for Improving the State of FoE Suggestions from In-depth Interviews Raising the level of legal awareness in society Restore and propagate the historic (lost) figure of the Armenian as a “freedom fighter”* Creation of precedents (female social and political figures, etc.) *”For example: Women in France were given suffrage in 1944, but in 1918 we had women ambassadors, and three women members of parliament. In other words, from the historical point of view, we do not have a problem”.
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