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Armenia: A Blurry Line in Yerevan Between Hate Crime and Defense of “National Interests”

Protected by police, about 20 to 30 people join the Yerevan march organized by Women’s Resource Center. (Photo: Anahit Hayrapetyan)

Reactions to a recent arson attack on a gay-friendly bar in Yerevan are raising concerns among civil liberties advocates that Armenia’s political establishment is indirectly encouraging intolerance and violence toward lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals.

The DIY (Do It Yourself) Rock Pub, a hangout owned by Armenian punk rocker Tsomak (a play on the Armenian word for “mosquito”), went up in flames in the early morning of May 8, when three young men smashed a bar window and tossed a Molotov cocktail inside. Two of the three, brothers identified only by their first names (Arameh, 20, and Hambik, 19), were detained on charges of premeditated arson. The third suspect has not yet been apprehended.

The pair in custody, reportedly the grandsons of an Iranian diaspora member of the nationalist Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutiun party, was released after ARF parliamentarians Artsvik Minasian and Hrayr Karapetian came up with 1 million drams ($2,530) for bail.

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Gayane Abrahamyan is a reporter for ArmeniaNow.com in Yerevan.

Armenia: A Blurry Line in Yerevan Between Hate Crime and Defense of “National Interests”

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