The first session of Sashik Sultanyan’s court case was scheduled for 25 August 2021 in Yerevan city court. He was charged by an NSS investigator, who qualified as incitement of national hatred the concerns raised by S. Sultanyan about violations of the rights of Yezidis residing in Armenia.
Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly-Vanadzor advocates Arayik Zalyan and Samson Galstyan undertook the protection of Sashik Sultanyan’s rights.
The court session scheduled for August 25 was postponed as the legal defenders were on leave.
Let us remind that the criminal case is based on Sashik Sultanyan’s conversation held with yezidinews.com news outlet in June 2020. During the conversation, he speaks about the problems of Yezidis living in Armenia and expresses his concern that despite the efforts made, some issues concerning guaranteeing the rights of Yezidis who are RA citizens still remain unsolved.
The conversation in the Yazidi language was translated inaccurately and with distortions of the content, as a result of which it became a source of speculations and even a criminal case was initiated. This is, perhaps, the logical continuation of persecutions held against Sashik Sultanyan for years on end. Sashik Sultanyan has been targeted, for many times, for protecting the rights of national minorities and raising their problems. With regard to this criminal case, it is explicitly groundless and directed and aims to hinder Sashik Sultanyan’s human rights activity. During the preliminary investigation of the case, Sashik Sultanyan’s legal defenders Arayik Zalyan and Samson Galstyan raised this issue and made petitions, which were ignored.
It is noteworthy that not only Armenian civil society representatives spoke in support of Sashik Sultanyan, but also the Human Rights Watch international human rights organization denounced the criminal prosecution against Sashik Sultanyan. The Human Rights House Foundation also expressed its concerns over ongoing harassment against human rights defenders in Armenia. UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders and Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of expression made a statement on the illegitimate criminal prosecution by the NSS against Sashik Sultanyan and stressed that it is not incitement to hatred to raise human rights concerns about the treatment of minorities.
The next court session is scheduled on 24 November 2021, at 11:00.