The state should ensure the investigation of all circumstances of the incident. Human Rights Defender on Shurnukh’s Incidents

The Ombudsman’s Office has issued a statement on the steps taken by the Human Rights Defender’s office regarding the incident in the Shurnuk village, which states,

On August 3, at 21:08, the hotline telephone line of the Human Rights Defender’s Office of Armenia received a call from the Helsinki Citizens’Assembly Vanadzor Office informing that the residents of the village of Shurnukh of the Syunik region demand from a group of people to leave the same village because of their sexual orientation. The caller also expressed his concern over the possibility of these individuals being subjected to violence and requested the Ombudsman’s assistance for a quick response of the law-enforcement bodies.

Immediately after the call, the Defender’s staff contacted the Goris Division of Syunik Regional Police Department. A clarification was received that the Police Operative Group had already left for the crime scene.

After that, according to the further clarification by the police, police found out that before their arrival, an incident took place between villagers and persons who visited the village, as a result of which two of the latters received bodily injuries. Accompanied by police officers, the injured persons were taken to Goris Medical Center CJSC and other persons who visited the village are invited to Gori Police Department to submit reports on crime and are in police department.

The information received by the Human Rights Defender’s staff has been regularly transmitted to the caller, as well as the operative connection with the police has been maintained.

Later, a call on the case was received by the representative of Pink Armenia NGO as well. All the mentioned information has been submitted. It was also clarified that within the scope of the Defender’s competence, all the measures envisaged by law are being taken.

In addition, the Defender’s Office also initiated a written procedure. For more information and for clarifying the circumstances of the case and the measures taken with respect to it, corresponding letter was sent to the police. Among other things, questions have been raised related to the causes of the incident and discriminatory attitudes towards the victims.

On the same day, a number of issues were further discussed with Syunik Regional Police Department. According to the information provided at that moment, the police has been preparing materials on the case, as well as forensic medical examinations have been appointed.

Based on the described actions, the Defender’s staff contacted both Pink Armenia and the two people who were taken to hospital. Among other things, they mentioned that they have concerns about their safety connected with their sexual orientation.

We also contacted Hayk Hakobyan (Shurnukh village resident) who expressed concern about possible safety risks of his family members living in Shurnukh. This issue was further discussed with the police.

Taking into consideration these concerns, another letter was sent to the police with the corresponding mediation.

The public positions and arguments of the residents of Shurnuk village have been studied.

The Human Rights Defender of Armenia has taken all the necessary steps in connection with the incident in the village of Shurnuk in Syunik province, which are within the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman.

We consider unacceptable the ill-treatment, including any manifestation of violence, no matter against whom and where it was commited. The Constitution of Armenia guarantees everyone’s equality before the law and prohibits discrimination on any ground.

For a particular case, the state is obliged to investigate all the circumstances of the incident and to conduct an impartial investigation of the case. Measures should also be taken to address the concerns of those affected by the incident. The state has such a commitment towards all its citizens.”