Stop persecuting human rights activist Sashik Sultanyan

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May 18, 2022, Yerevan

2020 On October 3, 2012, based on the report of Narek Malyan, former advisor to the former Chief of Police of the Republic of Armenia, the National Security Service launched a criminal prosecution against human rights activist Sashik Sultanyan, the founding president of the Yezidi Center for Human Rights. This report was part of an aggressive and targeted campaign against human rights organizations and Open Society Foundations of Armenia, the “relay” of which was in fact accepted by the RA National Security Service and the RA Prosecutor General’s Office.

The wiretapping of Sashik Sultanyan’s and his colleagues telephone conversations, the searches of the office and apartments, the overnight interrogations, the extortion of testimony from the victims of deprivation and the linguistic-psychological examination did not provide any serious evidence against Mr. Sultanyan. During the trial, which has been going on for about 7 months, the accusing prosecutor has not yet presented any evidence that Sashik Sultanyan, by speaking about the discrimination against the Yezidi minority in the Republic of Armenia, has provoked ethnic enmity. And there is one reason why a human rights activist who speaks out against discrimination is not a word that incites “hatred, discrimination, intolerance or hostility.” All the materials presented by the accusing prosecutor in court refer either to Sashik Sultanyan’s human rights activities or to the recording of personal telephone conversations, which in no way substantiate how Sultanyan provoked hostility, what was the possible motive or purpose, what effect his speech had on the audience.

Not having any evidence of Sultanyan’s guilt, the prosecutor claims that the allegations of discrimination are untrue. Instead of revealing or punishing the circumstances of the covert crimes, the law enforcement agencies representing the state actually deny that they are real and persecute those who speak out. In general, the criminal prosecution for raising the issue of discrimination directly contradicts the prohibition of discrimination guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia; it is a vivid example of the accusation of the victim by the state apparatus.

International human rights organizations, the CoE Commissioner for Human Rights, UN special experts on national minorities, as well as Yezidi and Armenian human rights activists in Armenia have spoken out about the inadmissibility of the persecution of human rights activist Sashik Sultanyan. This unfounded criminal prosecution calls into question the assurances of the Armenian authorities on the guarantees of human rights protection in the Republic of Armenia.

2022 The new Criminal Code will enter into force on July 1, 2010. The accusation will presumably be re-qualified. The new Article 329 of the Criminal Code establishes responsibility for public speech aimed at inciting or propagating hatred, discrimination, intolerance or enmity, as well as for disseminating materials or objects for that purpose.

Taking into account that in the materials of the criminal case in the facts presented to the court, which is not substantiated in any way, that Sultanyan’s interview was aimed at inciting or propagating hatred, discrimination, intolerance or hostility, we urge the RA Prosecutor General’s Office:

– to refuse a baseless accusation instead of re-qualifying the accusation.

 

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Vanadzor office of the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly

PEN Armenia
Community Consolidation and Support Center NGO
Protection of rights without borders
Transparency International Anti-Corruption Center
“Free Citizen” Civic Initiatives Support Center NGO
Helsinki Association Human Rights NGO
Yerevan Press Club
Human Rights House Yerevan
Direct Democracy NGO
Women’s Rights House NGO
Progress of Gyumri CSDP
“Union of Informed Citizens” NGO