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Modern Armenia » 2010 » April


  •    When Diasporan Armenian ‘meets’ Yerevan traffic police (video)   

    Tags: Diasporan Armenian

  •    Mother Says Armenian Police Tortured, Killed Son   

    Mother Says Armenian Police Tortured, Killed Son

    Vahan Khalafian in an undated photograph.

    The relatives of an Armenian man who died in detention last week have accused the police of murdering him, RFE/RL’s Armenian Service reports.

    Relatives of Vahan Khalafian, who died in a police station in the town of Charentsavan, told RFE/RL on April 19 that they reject police claims that Khalafian committed suicide.

    They said a forensic examination of Khalafian’s body provided ample evidence of torture that they believe he suffered on April 13 at the police station in Charentsavan, which is about 40 kilometers north of the capital, Yerevan.

    Khalafian, 24, and three other local men had been detained on suspicion of stealing 1.5 million drams’ ($3,800) worth of goods.

    The police claimed the next day that following an interrogation after his arrest, Khalafian took a “kitchen knife” from a police officer’s drawer and fatally wounded himself in the stomach. They said he suffered from a mental disorder and had been exempted from military service in 2005 for that reason.

    National police chief Alik Sarkisian today denied the family’s claims, saying police officers did not need to forcibly extract any testimony from Khalafian as he had already confessed.

    “I want to make clear that there was no torture,” Sarkisian told RFE/RL. “Such claims about beatings, torture, and the like are made all the time, especially among the popular masses.”

    “There is simply no point in subjecting [a suspect] to torture after obtaining confessing testimony and other factual evidence,” he added.

    Armenia’s Special Investigative Service questioned the police version of events after it took over the criminal investigation into Khalafian’s death last week.

    Khalafian’s relatives said he had bruises on various parts of his body, lacerations on his chest, and two stab wounds on his abdomen. “They made crosses on his chest with a knife and stabbed him in the abdomen twice,” his bereaved mother, Anahit Khalafian, told RFE/RL. “How could my boy make such crosses on himself?”

    “If my son was a thief, they should have jailed him rather than killing him and sending me his dead body,” she said, screaming in anger.

    She claimed that her son was detained by the police only to extort a bribe from him.

    Ill treatment of criminal suspects has long been regarded by critics as the most frequent form of human rights violations in Armenia. Local and international human rights groups continue to accuse law enforcement of extracting confessions by force and intimidation.

    Tags: Alik Sarkisian, Anahit Khalafian, Armenia, Armenian Service, RFE, RL, Vahan Khalafian

  •    United in laugh and homophobia: Armenia “purest” police chief and media outlets   

    There were times when you could read here and there that “there are no gays in Armenia”. Well, those times have passed, and could be remembered with smile on our face. Now there is another trend: “there are no gays in this or that Department/Ministry/field…”

    Couple of months ago, it was Armenian Army representative who made such ridiculous claims, which were instantly laughed at by Russian language gay websites. Today it’s Armenia police chief’s turn.

    Watch this video (AM) towards the end. Pay attention how Armenia police chief and media representatives laughing together when discussing this whole ‘gay/police day’ thingy. They [media, and then police chief] created this fake ‘coincidence’ story, and won’t let it go away despite it being an utter lie and ignorance. Why would they? It’s just a chance to have a good laugh with “the purest” police chief. Apparently, that’s their definition of ‘having fun’.

    Armenia police chief Alik Sargsyan statements are ridiculous, outrageous, and bigoted.

    He says that Armenian police is “the purest”; there are only “real men” working in police; there never was, and God forbid, never will be anyone with “disorders of [sexual] orientation” there.
    This is a very clear display of homophobia, and human rights violation by Armenia police chief.

    In any civilised country, such statements by police chief would lead to media and public outcry and calls for resignation, or at the very least – apology. In Armenia, this leads to a united laugh of media representatives and Armenia police chief.

    Tags: Alik Sargsyan, AM, Armenia, Armenian Army, Department Ministry

  •    Armenian police: shoot to kill?   

    And this is against the backdrop of the very latest reports of alleged murder in Armenian police department of an Armenian citizen who was unfortunate enough to be taken to the police department for interrogation. You think people are safe in police departments? Think again. Only couple of days ago, head of police Alik Sargsyan were attempting at what increasingly looks like a cover up by presenting this case (below) as a ”suicide” and rejecting any possibility of police killing the citizen.

    A murder in police
    The citizen killed at the Police department of Charentsavan is Vahan Khalafyan, an inhabitant of Charentsavan, born in 1986. The information received to date comes to testify that the incident at the police station yesterday constitutes murder. The 24-year old detained young man was stabbed to death and murdered under unknown circumstances. Yet the Police try to cover up the incident and, no less than at the level of RA Police Chief Alik Sargsyan. As expected, the police are trying to present the case as suicide.

    Prosecutors Probe Another Death In Armenian Police Custody
    The Armenian police chief, Alik Sargsian, stood by this version of events at a news conference held on Wednesday. He dismissed claims, made by the dead man’s relative and backed by some Armenian newspapers, that Khalafian was tortured to death. [...]

    Artur Sakunts, a prominent human rights campaigner investigating the affair, openly accused the Charentsavan police of brutally ill-treating Khalafian during the interrogation. He claimed that the three other local residents suspected of theft were also beaten up in police custody.

    Ill-treatment of criminal suspects has long been regarded as the most frequent form of human rights violations in Armenia. Local and international human rights groups continue to accused the police and other law-enforcement bodies of extracting confessions by force and intimidation.

    “Witnesses continued to report that police beat citizens during arrest and interrogation while in detention,” the U.S. State Department said in its annual report on human rights practices in Armenia released last month. It said “most cases of police mistreatment continued to go unreported because of fear of retribution.” Armenian courts usually dismiss torture claims made by suspects, added the report.

    The Charentsavan incident is bound to prompt parallels with the May 2007 death in police custody of Levon Gulian, a 31-year-old resident of Yerevan. Gulian was questioned at the police Directorate General of Criminal Investigations as a presumed witness of a deadly shooting that took place outside a restaurant belonging to him.

    The police claimed that Gulian fell to his death while attempting to escape from a second-floor interrogation room of the police building in downtown Yerevan. Gulian’s relatives, backed by human rights groups, vehemently disputed the claim, saying that he was apparently tortured before being thrown out of the window.

    An Armenian Journalist Notes
    Meanwhile Armenian blogger artakevn quotes his Vartan nephew’s and his colleague’s version on how it happened.

    They Also Beat Him Up
    The autopsy of 24 year-old Vahan Khalafyan, who had been taken to Charentsavan’s police department and later hospitalized with fatal wounds, was performed yesterday.
    Two stab wounds and lacerations were found in the area of Vahan Khalafyan’s abdomen along with traces of violence on his legs. However, the examination of his clothing revealed no tears made by knife. This means that the young man’s abdomen was bared when he was stabbed.

    When I first saw this poster (via Haykakan Zhamanak, via Nazarian), I thought it must be a photoshop. But as per above reports, it’s an actual poster put on display in Yerevan to mark Police Day, and on the same street where 1 March 08 bloodshed happened. I can imagine how staisfied Alik Sargsyan must have felt when looking at this poster. Now I understand what Armenia police chief meant by referring to “real men” that serve in police forces. Is this a new mission for our “real men”: shoot to kill “internal enemies”, or anyone perceived as such? A very different word comes to my mind instantly, and it does not include “police”.

    *pictures – via Haykakan Zhamanak daily

    Tags: Alik Sargsian, Alik Sargsyan, Armenia, Armenian Journalist Notes, Artur Sakunts, Haykakan Zhamanak, Levon Gulian, Meanwhile Armenian, Police Day, RA, State Department, Vahan Khalafyan

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