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The RA Prosecutor’s Office Division of Public Relations, head of the Division – Arevik Khachatryan

05.08.2021 | Clarification on the criminal prosecution against Sashik Sultanyan, President of NGO “Yezidi Center for Human Rights”

Lately a range of organizations acting in the RA, as well as international authorized organizations in the sphere of human rights protection has publicly stated that the criminal prosecution against Sashik Sultanyan, President of NGO “Yezidi Center for Human Rights” is ungrounded, in that way the freedom of speech or interference in the human rights defender’s activity is limited.

 

Taking into account that the statements are grounded on the quotations which are not total, are chosen and extracted from the comments made by S. Sultanyan and there is misunderstanding regarding lawfulness, grounds of criminal prosecution against S. Sultanyan, we consider it important to clarify the following:

 

Enough evidence was obtained in the result of the investigation of the case initiated at the Investigative Department of the RA NSS that the President of NGO “Yezidi Center for Human Rights” has committed actions aimed at inciting national animosity against Armenians and Yezidis having unique national and ethnic identity in Armenia published during the interview on «yezidinews.com» website dated on May 2020.

 

In particular, S. Sultanyan during the interview with the website, gave incorrect information saying that the rights of Yezidis in Armenia are not protected, that Yezidis are considered a backward nation by Armenians, that Armenians make fun of Yezidis, have discriminating attitude toward them, and that Yezidis in Armenia do not have the opportunity to learn their mother tongue because of which Yezidi language is forgotten, Armenians do not allow Yezidis to develop their culture, no religious ceremonies are held in the Yezidi sanctuary built in Armenia, no cultural events are held, Armenians seize Yezidi property, businesses, houses and lands, the condition of Yezidis is worsening, they say Yezidis have no right to own land in Armenia, Armenia does not do anything to protect the rights of Yezidis in this regard, Armenia has not allowed Yezidis to get developed since independence, Yezidi villages are in poor condition compared to Armenian villages. A chauvinist movement started in Armenia in 1990s, during which Armenians said that they alone should live in Armenia, many Yezidi Armenians were shot, many were expelled from their homes, Yezidis lived in fear for a while. Sashik Sultanyan stated in an interview that Yezidis do not have the opportunity to advance in the state system, they hold lower-ranking positions. Besides, there is no village in Armenia where Armenians and Yezidis live together, the head of the community is a free Yezidi, and when a Yezidi was nominated as a candidate for mayor in one of such villages in the 1990s, his house was shot. Sashik Sultanyan informed by means of the media that in the result of above-mentioned, the Yezidis do not see their future in Armenia, they do not consider Armenia their country, they emigrate from Armenia, only adult Yezidis remain in the villages, and 50 years later no Yezidi will live in Armenia any more.

 

That is, S. Sultanyan presented the Republic of Armenia by means of international mass media as a country which implies national discrimination in the fields of political, economic, social, cultural and public life, which was expressed with gross violations and restrictions of the rights and freedoms of Yezidis by the Armenians.

 

S. Sultanyan was charged for the mentioned actions on 21 May 2021, was charged under Article 226, Part 2, Point 1 of the RA Criminal Code. The preliminary investigation of the criminal case was completed, the bill of indictment was affirmed by the prosecutor and was sent to the court with the criminal case on August 2 for further examination.

 

The fact of prosecution against Sashik Sultanyan can’t be interpreted as a restriction of freedom of speech or interference in the human rights defender’s activity.     

 

According to the legislation of the Republic of Armenia during the preliminary investigation some investigative measures can and must be undertaken in secrecy in the result of which different evidence is obtained. During the preliminary investigation only the subject having procedural status may be provided with information, which was done regarding S. Sultanyan after receiving the status of accused. Moreover his defenders submitted motions in the course of preliminary investigation, which were duly discussed.

 

In this sense, allegations that S. Sultanyan's fair trial and the right to effective remedies have been violated are ungrounded. As it has already been mentioned, the criminal case is in the court and the public, all interested sides have the opportunity to form a full opinion through an open, public trial through substantiation of the charge, as well as about the circumstances of the criminal case.