Helsinki Citizens' Assembly-Vanadzor

“Sharp criticism is not hate speech, and it is addressed to the RA authorities, not Armenians”, says S. Sultanyan’s defender

April 21, 2022

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On 19 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 evidence, and then, based on the petition of the defense, the hearing continued in camera, as the conversations examined were private and family conversations according to Sashik Sultanyan.


Let us remind that Sashik Sultanyan was charged under point 1 of part 2 of Article 226 of the RA Criminal Code (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 hearing of April 19, 5 videos were examined, where Yezidis residing in Armenia present their problems and complain of the RA authorities. In this context, S. Sultanyan’s defender Ara Ghazaryan drew attention to the condition that complaints expressed in the videos were addressed to the RA authorities and not the Armenian population, which falls out of the scope of the accusation logic. Sashik Sultanyan added that it proved once again that those problems were not invented and that they had conducted human rights activity by providing legal support.


The defense petitioned and the Court examined Sashik Sultanyan’s phone conversations in camera, taking into account the fact that they were private conversations. Evidence examined in camera also contains conversations in the Yezidi language, and a translator will be involved to examine them. Based on this, the court hearing was postponed and the next hearing is to be held at 2:30 p.m. on 20 June 2022. 


Full recording of the court hearing is available here.

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