On 3 October 2020, the RA National Security Service started criminal prosecution against Sashik Sultanyan, Head of “Yezidi Center for Human Rights” NGO, based on his interview published on Yezidinews.am website in June 2020.
The investigator referred to several of Sultanyan’s statements to justify the criminal investigation into inciting national enmity among Yezidis, an ethnic minority in Armenia.
On 29 July 2021, the criminal case was sent to the RA Prosecutor General’s Office with indictment along with a petition to approve and send it to Court for examination.
In the vanguard of combating discrimination and promoting the culture of equality in the Republic of Armenia, the Coalition is deeply concerned with such developments and denounces tհe workstyle of the body conducting criminal prosecution, whereby the Criminal Code norm adopted to prevent cross-national hatred is being used to hinder the activity of an organization protecting the rights of national minorities. Throughout its human rights activity, our partner organization has had the vision of raising the level of human rights protection in the RA and building a safer country. During the whole war, the organization used its Facebook page to address its partners abroad by presenting Armenia as its homeland, calling to unite and fight together for the sake of the homeland and victory. This mere fact indicates that neither Sashik Sultanyan nor the Yezidi Centre for Human Rights ever pursued inciting hatred or cross-national enmity. Seeing and raising the current issues do not indicate an intention to incite hatred, rather, it shows an intention to search for solutions and create a more favorable social environment.
Freedom of expression, opinion and human rights activity should be ensured for all the citizens in Armenia, irrespective of their ethnicity, religion or other features.
The Republic of Armenia has ratified a number of international and regional documents, whereby it undertook obligations to take measures for the preservation and development of the Yazidis’ language, culture and identity. Sashik Sultanyan’s and his organization’s activity, as well as the relevant thoughts raised concerned effective implementation of the obligations undertaken by the Republic of Armenia in the frame of the above-mentioned international treaties. Criticism of the Republic of Armenia as a state in the frame of proper implementation of its international obligations cannot be assessed as incitement of enmity against the Armenian nation. The opportunity to voice such criticism is a pillar of a democratic state. Moreover, such criticism is the main toolkit of human rights activity.
Qualifying the use of the criticism toolkit by a national minority representative as incitement of cross-national enmity can itself be assessed as discrimination based on nationality.
The Coalition calls on the RA National Security Service and RA Prosecutor General’s Office to prevent creation of such a precedent sowing the ground for systemic discrimination.