Peace Foundation, MDF, GDI, TSI vs. Kviris Palitra
On January 25, 2016, Georgian weekly newspaper Kviris Palitra published an article titled "Tashi, Bicho, Vartanusha
!” (Clap, Vartanush, Clap; author Eka Salagaia) on its website.
On February 3, 2016, four non-governmental organizations – Peace Foundation, Media Development Foundation (MDF), Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI) and Georgian Democracy Initiative (GDI) - initiated a complaint
to the Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics demanding it to investigate the issue of violation of paragraphs 1, 3 and 7 of the Charter of Journalistic Ethics by the editorial board of newspaper Kviris Palitra.
The authors of the complaint claim that the journalist generalizes the issue to the entire nation, portrays it as the nation misappropriating the property of another nation; the article incites hatred against the Armenian nation that is further encouraged by the language used by the journalist. The latter brings some unchecked facts thus strengthening Armenophobic context. For example:
"Drunken hosts began to sing – I listened and found out that it was our "Kvavilebis Kvekana” (The Land of Flowers) translated into Armenian. I told them that it was a Georgian song, but they categorically denied. They even dared to say that we took it from them…Once an Armenian colleague told Jansug Charkviani that Shota Rustaveli was Armenian, adding that it was beyond any doubt. Charkviani responded: "Can you imagine how he hated his native language that he wrote The Knight in the Panther's Skin in Georgian...”
The journalist also disseminates a respondent’s xenophobic expressions, thus further promoting the generalization of the issue to the entire nation, as well as the spread of stereotypes and discrimination. In particular:
"In Armenia, there are musicians, actors, writers, historians suffering from unhealthy historicism...”
The NGOs believe that the journalist has violated paragraph 7 of the Charter of Journalistic Ethics, which states that "Journalists must understand the dangers of encouraging discrimination on the part of the media; therefore, he/she must exert every effort to avoid discrimination of any person on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political and other opinion, national or social origin, or any other grounds.”
The applicants suppose that the journalist did not recheck the facts and did not observe the principle of accuracy; Armenian ethnicity is presented as an object rather than a subject. Neither did the journalist provide the position of the other party.
Thus, the authors of the complaint claim that by disseminating unchecked facts and neglecting to identify the other party’s position, the journalist violated paragraph 1 of the Charter of Journalistic Ethics, which states that "Journalist must respect the truth and the right of society, in order to receive accurate information.”
Also paragraph 3, according to which:
"Journalist must report information based solely upon facts from confirmed sources. A journalist must not conceal important facts, or falsify documents and information.”
On March 26 the Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics held a hearing on the complaint. According to the Board’s decision
, journalist Eka Salagaia violated the 1st (accuracy), 3rd (concealing important facts) and 7th (discrimination) principles of the Charter of Journalistic Ethics. The controversial article "Tashi Bicho Vartanusha” was released in January 2016 and it was dedicated to performing Georgian dance Daisi by the Gevorkian Dance Academy. To determine the compliance of the article with the ethical principles, a group of NGOs - Peace Foundation, Media Development Foundation (MDF), Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI) and Georgian Democracy Initiative (GDI) applied to the Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics. Only the applicant attended the hearing held by the Board of the Charter of Journalistic Ethics. The defendant did not attend the hearing; neither did it raise any objections.