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ARMENIA: Conscientious objector sentenced to 3 years labour camp

  • Armenia

War Resisters' International learned today from Forum 18 News Service that Armenian conscientious objector Hambartsum Odabashyan (ARM13178) was sentenced to three years labour camp on 1st April. Hambartsum Odabashyan is a Jehovah's Witness, and refuses military service on grounds of his faith. Odabashyan was originally sentenced on 3 March to 1 1/2 years in prison, under article 75 part 1 of the Criminal Code which punished "evasion of active military service" with a penalty of up to three years imprisonment. However, the prosecutor appealed against the sentence as "too mild". The court of appeal in the Armenian capital Yerevan doubled the sentence to the maximum sentence.

On 2 April, conscientious objector and Jehovah's Witness Haik Bukharatyan (ARM13179) stood trial at the Malatia-Sebastia district court in Yerevan. The outcome of this trial is not yet known.

Armenia pledged to pass legislation granting the right to conscientious objection when it joined the Council of Europe. However, such legislation was not passed yet, and a Foreign Office spokesperson now pledged that a law will be passed by the end of 2003. While a law is being discussed, Armenia keeps prosecuting conscientious objectors. On average, about 20-30 conscientious objectors are in prison in Armenia, on prison terms ranging from 1 to 3 years. At present, 11 conscientious objectors are serving long prison sentences in labour camps, and seven are in pre-trial detention. A further five are awaiting trial at home. And a further eight have been freed early from labour camps, but have to report regulary to police, and have their passports withheld.

War Resisters' International calls for letters of protest to the Armenian authorities, and Armenian embassies abroad.

War Resisters' International calls for the immediate release of Hambartsum Odabashyan, Haik Bukharatyan, and all other imprisoned conscientious objectors.

Andreas Speck
War Resisters' International

Mr Vartan Oskanian
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Government House #2
Republic Square
Yerevan 375010
Republic of Armenia
tel +374-1-544041
fax +374-1-562543
(to send a protest email, go to

Robert Kocharian
President of the Republic of Armenia
Baghramyan st. 24
Yerevan 375077
fax +374-1-521581, 521796, 151152

A list of Armenian embassies abroad can be found at