Has “Lydian Armenia” CJCS illegally obtained personal data of Jermuk citizens?
On May 2, 2019, “Lydian Armenia” CJSC shared on its official Facebook page an announcement with the following title; “Distorted facts in the petition of Jermuk citizens”. The mentioned announcement is manipulative and suspicious, as it arises a reasonable doubt to believe that there has been an illegal leak of personal information of the citizens of the Republic of Armenia. By that, it is necessary to further elaborate on a couple of points already raised by the Amulsar protectors in their May 4th video message.
During the autumn of 2018 a large collective petition, titled “Making Jermuk Community An Environmental and Economic Area and Banning Metal Mining in the Community”, was initiated and signed by around 3000 locals. The petition was sent to the city mayor and the city council, as well as to the Government on December 2019. The Municipal council of Jermuk, pursuant to Article 10 of the Law on Petitions, discussed the matter and expressed its approval of the claims of the petition. Unlike them, the Government has still not responded to the petition in violation of the requirement of the Law on Petitions.
According to Article 7(3) of the mentioned Law, the collective petition cannot be published unless all signatories give their consent. In the case of Jermuk, not all signatories gave their consent. In addition, none of the addressees has published the petition or the list of signatures. The petition itself contains personal data, including phone numbers and home addresses, hence, transfer of these data to any third party is illegal.
Nevertheless, the announcement of Lydian Armenia CJSC opens room for being worried. If their announcement is not based on fake information, then it is obvious, that Lydian, a private company which has an interest in this matter, has somehow obtained the personal data of Jermuk citizens protected by confidentiality regulations. In this situation the following question arises: how come Lydian possesses such information, and does obtaining of these data by Lydian have legal grounds?
With regards to the content of the announcement:
- Lydian claims that the number of signatories is not around 3000, but 2654. We reinstate that 2919 people have signed the petition. Moreover, the initiators of the petition have both the printed and scanned copies of the signature’ lists. Although the official statistics on the population of Jermuk is largely exaggerated, we claim that more than 80% of de facto Jermuk residents have joined the petition. Furthermore, Jermuk citizens, who temporarily live outside their community, have also signed the petition.
- Lydian notes that there are signatures of residents of Herher and Karmrahsen villages too, but they are not recognized as affected communities within the scope of the Amulsar project. With regards to this argument, which is nothing than a legal nonsense, it must be said that the petition is on behalf of the administrative community of Jermuk, which is about banning metal mining in the territory of all communities under its administration and is addressed to the local authorities and to the Government. The fact, whether this or that village has a status of affected area by Lydian’s mining project, is not relevant. In addition, Jermuk enlarged community includes not only Jermuk town, but also Gndevaz, Herher and Karmrashen villages.
- There are signatures of minores (underage people). According to the Article 5(2) of the Law on Petitions, persons over 14 may submit petitions without the consent of their legal guardians. Hence, we confirm that persons under 18 and over the age of 14 have also joined the petition, which is fully in conformity with the law. What is puzzling is how does Lydian claim to possess information regarding the age of the signatories given that their birthdates are not even mentioned in the petition? This may mean that not only has Lydian illegally obtained the personal data but perhaps has also tried to track their identities in a dubious manner. Otherwise, the number of signatures by minors published by Lydian is simply a hoax.
- Lydian’s announcement asserts that most of the citizens had no idea what they are signing. Again, how has Lydian come to such a conclusion given that every single page of the petition has a title, which gives at least a general idea about the petition, and each person has not only been verbally informed about the petition, but has also had the opportunity to personally read it? Has Lydian contacted all the people who signed the petition? If yes, how? It is a known fact that Lydian has not carried out its own petition or petition-like process, while the initiators of the Jermuk petition have gone door to door, explained the objective of the petition, and only then had the residents sign it. Thus, it is reasonable to think that after obtaining the personal data allegedly in an illegal way, they have contacted by the phone numbers specified on the petition list. If such a thing has happened, then it is an attempt of stalking. If such a thing has not taken place, then we can claim that the company is simply spreading false information by alleging that people had no idea what they are signing.
Taking into account the above mentioned, we kindly ask the law enforcement bodies of the Republic of Armenia to consider this as a report of an alleged crime, and to investigate and find out how “Lydian Armenia” CJSC has obtained the personal data of the people who signed the petition. If the May 2 announcement of Lydian is not based on the data of the petition documents, then Lydian must be held responsible for spreading false and misleading information.
Anyone, who has been stalked or oppressed by “Lydian Armenia” for expressing their will opinion, please contact us or voice your problem in another way.
Armenian Environmental Front, civil initiative