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Armenia: Bar Targeted By Suspected Nationalists In Arson Attack

At around 5.30am on 8 May, 2012, Yerevan's D.I.Y. bar found itself the target of an arson attack. Popular among alternative types and widely known for its gay-friendly policy, it is suspected that nationalists, possibly part of a new Neo-Nazi group, were responsible.

However, allegedly because of the bar's reputation as one of the few spaces for women's rights activists and members of the local LGBT community to gather in, much of the local media failed to report on the incident. Instead, news was spread on Facebook and Twitter.

@unzippedblog: Alleged arson attack towards my favourite #Yerevan bar DIY. Motives not clear yet, possibility of #hatecrime but not confirmed #Armenia

@onewmphoto: No sooner than posting a photo from last week of DIY in Yerevan http://bit.ly/KihKPd I hear of possible arson http://on.fb.me/JthxGQ #shocked

@unzippedblog: #Yerevan bar #DIY under arson attack. Suspected nationalist #neonazi This is a #hatecrime #LGBT #HumanRights #Armenia

@ArmenianWomen: DIY pub has been vandalized and burnt early this morning, according to the owner, they have been targeted by… http://fb.me/1pMuaAvSL

D.I.Y. Bar, Yerevan, Armenia © Onnik Krikorian

D.I.Y. Bar, Yerevan, Armenia © Onnik Krikorian

Closed-circuit television (CCTV) caught the attack on video.

Unzipped: Gay Armenia also made a post, noting how the attack coincided with Victory in Europe Day:

On 8 May 2012 when countries in Europe, former Soviet Union and elsewhere started marking the anniversary of the end of World War II, Armenian neo-nazi elements decided to mark it with an attack towards the oasis of freedom in Yerevan, my favourite venue – DIY bar. A place, where all the alternative types feel at home. A place, welcoming free-spirited people, sub-cultures, experimental things. Gay friendly.

[...]

It took the police 12 hours (!) to finally show up and take the matters seriously. Good news is that thanks to CCTV image and insights provided by DIY owners and employees, at least 2 suspects have now been detained (at the time of writing this post).

Fire damaged bar, D.I.Y., Yerevan, Armenia © Nairi Hakhverdi

Fire damaged bar, D.I.Y., Yerevan, Armenia © Nairi Hakhverdi

Ianyan made specific mention of a campaign to raise money to pay for repairs:

DIY bar sustained heavy damage to its front half, where the bar was located. An air conditioner was completely melted, with the only thing that ironically stayed in tacked being a bottle of Kilikia beer, sources said. Though the fire was put out, police took around 12 hours to arrive at the scene, a move that is being criticized by supporters.

Supporters have been gathering at the bar for the majority of the day, making posters with slogans such as “Your bombs don’t affect us,” DIY – no to fascism” and “I am DIY. Other bar owners in the area have dropped by to share their condolences. Messages of support were also left on the group’s Facebook page. Boxes to collect funds in order to start rebuilding are also being distributed. The bar did not have insurance.

Calculator melted into bar, D.I.Y., Yerevan, Armenia © Nairi Hakhverdi

Calculator melted into bar, D.I.Y., Yerevan, Armenia © Nairi Hakhverdi

Light fitting, D.I.Y., Yerevan, Armenia © Nairi Hakhverdi

Light fitting, D.I.Y., Yerevan, Armenia © Nairi Hakhverdi

Messages of support have also been left on the bar's Facebook page [ar]:

Խոսքեր ուղղակի չեմ գտնում վիրավորանքս ու զայրույթս արտահայտելու կատարվացի ու կատարողների վրա: ԱՄՈԹ!!! ԱՆՈՂՆԵՐԻՆ. հուսով եմ որ օրենքի ամբողջ խստությամբ կպատժվեն նրանք ովքեր կազմակերպել են այդ ամենը:

I simply can't find words to express my outrage and anger at what happened and those who did it. SHAME !!! TO THOSE WHO DID IT: I hope that those who organized all of this will be punished with all of the severity of the law.
Donation box, Yerevan, Armenia © Nairi Hakhverdi

Donation box, Yerevan, Armenia © Nairi Hakhverdi

I am D.I.Y, No to Fascism

Although many media outlets ignored the attack, some online outlets such as News.am and Lurer didn't. CivilNet also posted a video report which features an interview with LGBT and Women's Rights activist Tsomak Oga, one of the bars owners and the front woman for Pincet, a local Armenian Punk Rock band.

With two men identified on CCTV now in police custody, supporters are now closely following what happens next. However, even if the arson attack also put the lives of families living above the D.I.Y., some have also expressed doubts that they will receive adequate punishment for what the bar's supporters are already calling a hate crime.

Later the next day, in part organized on Facebook, clients and friends of the owners gathered to clean up and fund raise to repair damage currently estimated at around $4,000.

D.I.Y., Yerevan, Armenia © Nairi Hakhverdi

D.I.Y., Yerevan, Armenia © Nairi Hakhverdi

D.I.Y., Yerevan, Armenia © Nairi Hakhverdi

D.I.Y., Yerevan, Armenia © Nairi Hakhverdi

D.I.Y., Yerevan, Armenia © Nairi Hakhverdi

Thanks to Nairi Hakhverdi for the photographs of D.I.Y. following the arson attack.

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