Stop the “Stop” festival!: Angered Gyumri residents demand cancellation of films of Azerbaijani origin

Stop the “Stop” festival!: Angered Gyumri residents demand cancellation of films of Azerbaijani origin

Photo: Edgar Barseghyan/Via Facebook

Gyumri sees pickets against the Azerbaijani Film Festival to be held on April 12

‘Stop’ Azerbaijani Film Festival which will be hosted by Gyumri, on Thursday raised a big clamor among Gyumretsis; the organizers of the festival even receive threats of physical revenge along with pickets which are being held for several days. Nevertheless, despite the public discontent, the festival will be held in the hall provided by Gyumri’s Asparez Club of Journalists.
Activists in Yerevan rallied against the Azerbaijani film festival to be held in Gyumri

Georgi Vanyan, Chairman of the Caucasus Center of Peace-Making Initiatives, who is the organizer of the festival, says Mayor Vardan Ghukasyan is behind the threats and stirring up public anger.

Ghukasyan has said that the festival – which is scheduled for April 12 is a “shameful betrayal” and his chief adviser Levon Khachatryan insisted that it must be banned “at any cost.”

“I have received threats several times, they call me and threaten, saying that they will kill me if I hold such a festival. Now I know for sure who stands behind the threats, and after the festival I am planning to call a press conference and clarify everything,” Vanyan told ArmeniaNow.

A series of four short films: one documentary and three feature films produced in Azerbaijan in 2007-2008 will be shown during the festival.

The organizers are sure, that “the Festival is an island of secure environment for direct communication surrounded by the conditions of distorted human values, and propaganda that poisons healthy civilized relations.”

This festival was supposed to be held yet in 2010 in Yerevan and Vanadzor, however it was cancelled because no space was provided for hosting it.

Many people in Gyumri urged head of Asparez Club of Journalists Levon Barseghyan not to provide a space, accusing him of “betrayal of the nation.”

Barseghyan clarifies that “the hall of freedom of speech of Asparez Club of Journalists has been given to everybody who wished to have it for 12 years without a preliminary or other censorship.The creation of an opportunity for freedom of expression, as well as the defense of freedom of speech and expression is the main principle of the club,” Barseghyan said.

Along with other youth groups, the Youth Union of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF, Dashnaktsutyun) also released a statement on Thursday, urging to “join their picket, which is based on principles of each Armenian person.”