society without violenceSociety Without Violence is an Armenian NGO comprised of womens human rights defenders. Its activities focus on the achievement of gender equality.

On April 15, Society Without Violence organized a Round Table on Integrating a Gender Component into the Social Sciences subject in schools. The Round Table aimed to officially present a package of recommendations, which were drawn-up as a result of 6 consultations with 140 relevant experts from the field, which took place between 2012 and 2014.

Taking into account the recent threats and attacks on womens rights organizations in Armenia, including those directed at Society Without Violence, the organization decided that the event would be for limited number of professionals from the field and unbiased media. Accordingly, official invitations were sent out prior to the event, and a confirmation was required for attendance.

However, even though the event was closed to the general public, a number of neo-nationalist extremist group members received information about the event and showed up to disturb it with posters saying: No to anti-family propaganda, Homo-fascism will not pass, along with other aggressive and discriminatory messaging.

Several individuals tried to enter the room, but they were turned away at registration. Khachik Stamboltsyan, the head of Christians against Peoples Numeration NGO and Mkhitarich foundation, apparently caused several disruptions at the event.

The extremists started to verbally attack the organization members; there were even some attempts to use physical force. Some media outlets that were not invited joined in the harassment of Society Without Violence, and recorded the ensuring conflict and disruptions.

Hotel Security was called to come to support the event organizers. When one of the hotel security guards came to help, 4-5 extremists pushed him outside the hotel. Mass media reported that Society Without Violence initiated the violent attacks, while this was obviously not the case.

Moreover, some state official representatives and MPs made the situation worse and blamed Society Without Violence for not allowing the extremists to enter the closed event.

Society Without Violence was obliged to call the Police and fortunately they offered unbiased assistance. However, some of the round table invitees were not supportive after a difficult situation, which was discouraging.

YouAct wishes to express its support for Society Without Violence (Armenia) and all sexual and reproductive rights defenders who face harassment and violence.

Armenia, and all states, must prevent threats, harassment, violence and discrimination against sexual and reproductive rights defenders, and combat impunity by ensuring that those responsible are investigated and brought to justice.