David Hayrapetyan: “The website www.nohate.am will be launched soon”
Interview with David Hayrapetyan.
Recently the Youth Events Holding Center SNCO has been holding several events with and devoted to Armenian youth. In an interview with Eritasard.am, Director of the Youth Events Holding Center SNCO David Hayrapetyan talked about the Center’s activities, programs and achievements. Eritasard.am: David, Armenia joined the No Online Hate Speech all-European movement last year. Could you present the activities that the Center has carried out this past year? David Hayrapetyan: Taking into consideration the fact that the program will end this year, we can sum up and record the flaws and achievements so that we can raise the level of efficiency of the movement and the level of awareness in the months to come. The online campaign against hate speech began with the launch of the www.nohatespeechmovement.org website on March 21, 2013. Armenia officially joined the movement in April 2013 and announced a contest for the creation of a National Committee to make the campaign more transparent and effective. It should be mentioned that many countries don’t have committees, and the activities are carried out by the plenipotentiary ministry and the national coordinator. As a result, Armenia formed a 15-member national committee consisting of five representatives of state organizations, five representatives of active youth non-governmental organizations and five experts. Taking a glance back at the activities carried out by the National Committee, it can be considered satisfactory, and this is due to the insufficient activity and involvement of the non-governmental organizations. I believe the National Committee must be reestablished on the basis of principles that have been justified in several countries across Europe. Eritasard.am: Could you set aside some events that the Youth Events Holding Center has held? How did you implement them? D. H.: If we take a look at the past activities, it’s safe to say that the Youth Events Holding Center has carried out several events independently and with other organizations in order to reduce online hate speech among the youth and raise the youth’s awareness about the all-European movement. The main idea that I would like to emphasize is that to this day, there was no budget and that all the events were organized by volunteers. The Center held its first event on Day of Victims of Hate Crime on July 22, 2013. It was a flashmob held by more than 50 young people on Northern Avenue, and the video was posted on the No to Online Hate Speech all-European platform and was posted on Facebook. You can watch the flashmob at www.youtube.com. The event was aimed at drawing the youth’s attention to hate crimes committed in their environment and to encourage the youth to be aware and interfere in order to help save a person’s life. On July 23, 2013, the Center and more than 20 active youth held a meeting at Espaces Center to present the movement and the symbol of the day. The H2 Television provided coverage of the mentioned events and posted the program at www.youtube.com. Later, we were granted the right to translate and publish the Hate Speech Handbook. One of the member organizations of the National Committee assumed the task, but refused to translate the handbook. Currently, we’re working with the Council of Europe to translate and publish an updated handbook entitled Bookmarks of Hate Speech. I believe the handbook will be ready in two months and we’ll be able to present Armenian readers and non-governmental organizations that very important instrument in Armenian. Eritasard.am: How were the logo and slogan of the movement determined? D. H.: We confirmed the logo and slogan in Armenian in August after long discussions. The logo has already been accepted and has been posted on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com. On Sep. 21, we participated in the Day of Impact of Peace and Tolerance with an online photo contest. We received dozens of applications that were rated according to the number of “Shares”. Our key objective was to make the photos more visible and popular since the logo of the movement was portrayed in those photos. The winners received symbolic gifts (www.erit.am). We sewed shirts and made cups with the logo in Armenian on them, and they are used as gifts during different events. Eritasard.am: You also organized a contest called “I Make the Internet Better…” What was the purpose? D. H.: February 11th is Safer Internet Day. On that occasion, the Youth Events Holding Center organized a photo and article-essay contest. The participant had to take a photo of himself or herself holding a paper reading “I Make the Internet Better” and post it on Facebook, as well as add thoughts and ideas that had to be as creative and interesting as possible. The articles and essays had to include the participant’s thoughts about Safer Internet Day, its importance and necessity, as well as ideas about how to make the Internet safer. We received ten photos with essays and poem that were translated and sent to be posted in the all-European platform. On the same day, Yerevan State University held a seminar-discussion aimed at identifying the current issues related to the Internet. The discussion was held in several phases during which the youth stated the more important issues and tried to suggest interesting options to solve them. The event brought together 30 active students. Taking into consideration the participants’ excitement and the heated debates, it’s safe to say that the seminar was a success. Eritasard.am: What are your future plans? D. H.: Currently, we’re working on a new program with several non-governmental organizations for the protection of children of ethnic and religious minorities, but only some of the representatives of the target group are considered youth and correspond to our target group. Currently, we’re working actively with our European partners on preparing and launching the Armenian website (www.nohate.am). The domain is ready, and the website will be launched soon. Our activists can now post their thoughts and ideas on the website. Interview by Lilit Sedrakyan