Helsinki Citizens' Assembly-Vanadzor

Witnesses in Sashik Sultanyan’s case cannot see any intent of inciting national hatred

June 28, 2022

News

The witnesses in Sashik Sultanyan’s case note that they do not see, in the conversation, any intent to incite national hatred between Yezidis and Armenians. No such case has been recorded after the conversation, and what is even more, the witnesses being interrogated learnt about the conversation from the NSS. 

 

On 28 June 2022, a court hearing of human rights activist Sashik Sultanyan’s case took place in the General Jurisdiction Court of Yerevan.

 

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), whereby 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 protect Sashik Sultanyan’s rights in court.

 

The evidence examined during the previous court hearing included conversations in the Yezidi language, and no translator was involved to examine them. Based on this, the defense proposed and the court changed the procedure of examining the evidence: before involving a translator and decoding the conversation, the court interrogated the witnesses in Sashik Sultanyan’s case. H Tamoyan, a translator of the Yezidi language, was invited to court as a witness. Tamoyan noted that the incorrect translation of S. Sultanyan’s conversation was a result of low level of knowledge and not an intention. S. Sultanyan’s defender Ara Ghazaryan also mentioned that in the translation of the conversation from Yezidi into Armenian, certain words were translated with a different connotation, as a result of which, the content of the conversation was somewhat altered. Sashik Sultanyan reaffirmed that as a result of the unintentional incorrect translation, the content of the conversation could take on a stricter meaning.  

 

After hearing the witness, the Prosecutor petitioned to return to the initially established procedure of examining evidence. The Court upheld the petition and started examining the recording of the conversation. Then the court listened to the recording of the conversation, and witness H. Tamoyan provided the translation.

 

Today, the Court heard 4 witnesses, and at 15:30 on 8 August 2022, the Court will hear the other 5 witnesses in the General Jurisdiction Court of Yerevan.

 

The unlawful criminal prosecution against 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 their concern over the case. Moreover, CoE Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović applied to the RA Prosecutor General to get clarifications regarding this case.

 

The US Department of State also addressed Sashik Sultanyan’s case in its 2021 Report on International Religious Freedoms.  

 

On 27 June 2022, during the meeting with Sashik Sultanyan, U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Lynne Tracy also addressed the criminal prosecution against him. Ambassador Tracy noted that freedom of expression is the bedrock on which enduring nations are built, and is critical for democracy.  

 

 

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