Helsinki Citizens' Assembly-Vanadzor

Retaliation by the NSS against Sashik Sultanyan through an illegal and ungrounded criminal case

July 30, 2021

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Parts of the conversation - which is the basis for the criminal case - are presented in a bad light with substantive and logical distortions and deliberate exaggerations. The investigator selectively conducted interrogations and was guided by his own ungrounded judgments instead of familiarizing himself with the facts invoked in the conversation. 


On 3 October 2020, the RA National Security Service instituted a criminal case - on the basis of inciting national enmity - against Yazidi Sashik Sultanyan for speaking up about violations of the rights of Yazidis living in Armenia.


On July 29, the NSS announced that the preliminary investigation of the case was completed and noted that during the investigation, “sufficient combination of evidence” was obtained showing that Sashik Sutanyan did actions aimed at inciting national enmity between Yazidis and Armenians. 


Let us remind that the criminal case is based on Sashik Sultanyan’s conversation held with news medium in June 2020. During the conversation, he talked about problems of the Yazidis residing in Armenia and expressed his concern that despite the efforts made, some problems were still unresolved. 


The conversation in the Yazidi language became a source of speculations as a result of incorrect translation and distortion of the content. Moreover, 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. Illegal persecution was launched against him sooner, i.e., in April 2020, when, without any status in the frame of a criminal case, operative-intelligence measures were taken against him with abstract justifications. 


With regard to the criminal case, it is explicitly biased and directed and aims to obstruct Sashik Sultanyan’s human rights activity. HCA Vanadzor advocates Arayik Zalyan and Samson Galstyan, who undertook Sashik Sultanyan’s rights protection, raised this issue during the preliminary investigation and made petitions. Yet, as we can see, those petitions were ignored. 


What the NSS investigators qualify as incitement of inter-ethnic hatred is simply part of human rights activity: to identify issues, speak up about them and present solution recommendations. And this is what S. Sultanyan did. Moreover, issues pointed out by him, discrimination manifestations were exclusively presented in the context of international obligations undertaken by the Republic of Armenia. And given this condition, they cannot be intended to incite inter-ethnic hatred. Furthermore, throughout his activity, S. Sultanyan always expressed himself from the position of Armenian-Yazidi friendship and contributed to its consolidation. 


Most, including international organizations, alarm about violations of the rights of national minorities, and yet, a criminal case was initiated against Sashik Sultanyan. Moreover, the issues pointed out are not made-up, rather, they are based on precise studies, human stories. However, investigators conducting the preliminary investigation were guided by the information that could consolidate their positions. Whereas the studies and victims’ stories were left out of the investigators’ view despite being at the disposal of the investigators, including in the confiscated computer.


It is noteworthy that the NSS mentions in their announcement that “the latter, being aware and sure” that the rights of Yazidis are protected in Armenia, made those announcements. It is not clear based on what sources this statement was made. Quite the opposite, in the context of violations of the rights of national minorities international organizations, including CoE monitoring bodies have, for many times, spoken about violations of Yazidis residing in Armenia.


The NSS investigator could familiarize himself with those materials by simply doing a search on the internet. But instead, he preferred to make his individual ungrounded conclusions by thus justifying their actions. Moreover, Sashik Sultanyan mentioned violations of the rights of certain persons while speaking about individual cases, and yet, those persons were not invited to interrogation. 


Certain parts of the conversation are reformulated in the criminal case materials in a way that makes it possible to substantiate the selected accusations. The invoked parts are presented with considerable substantive and logical deviations, intentionally exaggerated and in a negative light. 


It is strikingly obvious that the NSS investigator had a specific intention regarding Sashik Sultanyan, did directed actions and it seems that this conversation was a good opportunity for retaliation against Sashik Sultanyan. 


On July 26, HCA Vanadzor advocates made a petition and once again demanded to discontinue this obviously false criminal case proceedings or at least interrogate Armenia-based Yazidis who have publicly spoken about being subjected to discrimination, their violated rights, as well as to have a proper translation of the conversation with the involvement of a licensed translator to have the content of the conversation correctly translated.


We reaffirm that this criminal case is directed and aims to silence Sashik Sultanyan, who raises problems of national minorities. Loyal to its principles, HCA Vanadzor will continue contributing to the protection of national minorities’ representatives and formation of the human rights institute and will pursue discontinuation of this obviously illegal criminal prosecution. 

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