Helsinki Citizens' Assembly-Vanadzor

“It is not appropriate for a country like Armenia to prosecute a human rights activist for voicing issues on international platforms”, says Sashik Sultanyan

April 14, 2022

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On court hearing of 12․04․2022 in Sashik Sultanyan’s case


On 12 April 2022, a court hearing took place in Yerevan General Jurisdiction Court in the frame of human rights activist Sashik Sultanyan’s case. 


The Court continued examining the evidence.


Sashik Sultanyan was charged under point 1 of part 2 of Article 226 of the RA (incitement of national, racial or religious hatred) by which voicing violations of the rights of Yezidis residing in Armenia was qualified as incitement of national hatred.


Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly-Vanadzor advocates Ani Chatinyan, Samson Galstyan, and advocate Ara Ghazaryan are implementing protection of Sashik Sultanyan’s rights.


Unlawful criminal prosecution of Sashik Sultanyan was denounced by Armenian human rights organizations and civil society representatives, as well as international reputable human rights organizations. The RA Human Rights Defender also expressed his concern. CoE Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović applied to the RA Prosecutor General to get clarifications regarding this case.


During the court hearing of April 12, Sashik Sultanyan’s defenders again made a petition to temporarily suspend restrictions in the electronic electronic management informative system and allow him to leave Armenia from 30 April 2022 until 4 May 2022, and from 15 May 2022 until 23 May 2022, in order to participate in the Forum dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the UN Declaration of National Minorities, and the European Union Visitors Program in Brussels. 


While the accusing Prosecutor A. Karapetyan partly objected to the petition, proposing to discuss the petition pertaining to the period of 15-23 May 2022 during the next court hearing, the Court upheld the petition for both periods.


The Court went on to examine written evidence. With respect to Sashik Sultanyan’s assessments and observations, the defenders again recorded that those assessments stem from the nature of S. Sultanyan’s human rights activity, and that his criticism concerned not ethnic Armenians, but rather, the RA authorities. Moreover, other facts presented as evidence are mainly private conversations, which cannot be considered public speech, which is the basis of the charge. Sashik Sultanyan added that it is not appropriate for a country like the Republic of Armenia to prosecute a human rights activist for voicing issues on international platforms. 


With regard to others’ assessment of Sashik Sultanyan, defender Ara Ghazaryan mentioned that those were rumors and have no value from the procedural point of view, particularly given that they were based on opinions of persons with a biased attitude towards S. Sultanyan’s activity. Sashik Sultanyan also added that only negative opinions were made public, while positive opinions about him, including opinions of international reputable organizations, were not published in court.


The Court went on to examine other evidence of the case in the form of a video, where Yezidis residing in Armenia speak about their problems, express positive or negative opinions. In this context, defender Ara Ghazaryan mentioned that the mere condition that Sashik Sultanyan’s opinion differs from those voiced in the video does not have probative value in the frame of this case. 


The court hearing was concluded. The next court hearing is to take place on 19 April 2022, at 10 a.m.


Click here (in Armenian) to watch the full video recording of the court hearing.

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