Fired Over Referendum?: Yerevan school teacher claims politically motivated dismissal

Fired Over Referendum?: Yerevan school teacher claims politically motivated dismissal

Photo: Via Facebook

Karpis Pashoyan (in the middle) surrounded by his students

The alleged reprisals against a Yerevan school teacher who claims he refused to take part in unlawful activities and stood up against the use of administrative resource in the December 6 constitutional referendum, according to human rights activists, shows that rights of freedom of expression can be infringed upon in Armenia and that people can pay a price for their political views.

Karpis Pashoyan, a 24-year-old history teacher at School No. 145, is known to have actively opposed government-backed proposals on changing the Constitution. He says his recent dismissal from work by the school administration is conditioned by his political views despite the official explanation that he was repeatedly late for classes.

Pashoyan says that it is true that he frequently was late for classes because he continues to study while working, but adds that it wasn’t a problem for the school administration before the December 6 referendum.

The young man who worked in the school since 2014 says that an “ultimatum” to him was issued when he placed a “No” banner on one of the bridges in Yerevan. “Then I was told – either ‘No’ or the school,” he told media, adding that the school principal had been summoned by local government officials and “reprimanded”.

“Ahead of the referendum I took part in the shooting of some political ads. The referendum passed, all that accumulated, and my being late for classes was used as an excuse. They said I was irresponsible. They did not give me a written warning,” he said.
Armenia Helsinki Committee lawyer Robert Revazyan says that what happened to Pashoyan is a clear infringement against freedom of speech and a person’s political views.

“It’s a very serious matter. If those who committed this encroachment are not called to account, we can say that this attitude is encouraged at the state level,” he tells ArmeniaNow.

“A school is a public institution, the government has certain functions here, and if such phenomena are registered in an institution being supervised by it, then it is a human rights violation and the State is to blame here.”

Deputy Director of the National Institute of Education, educationalist Anahit Bakhshyan also commented on the case through her Facebook account, saying that for her “incompatibility of Pashoyan’s civil position and the servility of the school administration” was obvious.

“We have a shortage of teachers of this type due to whom we could turn this country into a country of law,” she said. “As for his being late, it can happen to anyone.”

Bakhshyan also commented on appeals from some of Pashoyan’s students for him to be reinstated in his position. “Children indeed love their teacher and depriving them of their teacher is un-pedagogical,” she said.

Meanwhile, the administration of Yerevan’s Anania Shirakatsi lyceum, one of the leading private schools in the country, has made a cooperation offer to Pashoyan, “hoping that he would turn the students of the educational complex into true citizens like himself”. Pashoyan has reportedly accepted the offer.