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ARMENIA: Conscientious objectors imprisoned inspite of CO law

  • Armenia

Although the Armenian law on alternative service came into force on 1 July, the country continues to imprison conscientious objectors. So far, 5 new conscientious objectors have been sentenced in October 2004, Forum 18 News Service reports.

Karen Hakopyan (ARM14611) was sentenced to 2 years imprisonment - the maximum sentence - on 7 October for "evading a recurring call to emergency military service, or educational or military training, without a legal basis for being relieved of this service" (Art 327 part I of the criminal code).

Arsen Sarkisyan (ARM14612) was sentenced to two years imprisonment on 8 October.

Mher Mirpakhatyan (ARM14613) was sentenced to two years imprisonment on 13 October.

Artur Manukyan (ARM14614) was sentenced to two years on 14 October. All four were sentenced by the court of the town of Armavir, 50 kilometers west of Yerevan.

Hovhanes Bayatyan (ARM14615) was sentenced by Yerevan's Erebuni-Nubarashen court on 14 October - also to two years imprisonment.

All five are presently being held in Nubarashen prison.

Asatur Badalyan (ARM14616) was sentenced on 1 October to 1 1/2 years imprisonment by the court in Kotaik in central Armenia, but he was allowed to stay at home. However, there are fears he will be arrested soon.

Grisha Kazaryan (ARM14617) was arrested on 17 September, and is presently held at Nubarashen prison. His trial is expected for the end of October.

An eighth CO, Nshan Shagiyan (ARM14618) had to give a written undertaking not to leave the city of Yerevan on 16 September. His trial is due at Yerevan's Malatia-Sebastia court on 26 October.

All eight conscientious objectors are members of the religious group of Jehovah's Witnesses, and refuse to perform military service based on their religious belief. Although Armenia passed a law on alternative service - late and not complying with European standards - conscientious objectors are still being imprisoned. On 22 June, the Armenian Parliament's deputy speaker Tigran Torosyan told Jehovah's Witness representatives at the Council of Europe parliamentary assembly in Strasbourg that all conscientious objector prisoners would be freed once the new law on alternative service came into force on 1 July, Forum 18 News Service reported on 3 August. However, not only did this not happen, the new imprisonments make the situation even worse.

War Resisters' International calls for letters of support to the imprisoned conscientious objectors. Karen Hakopyan
Arsen Sarkisyan
Mher Mirpakatyan
Artur Manukyan
Hovhanes Bayatyan
Grisha Kazaryan
Nubarashen Prison

War Resisters' International calls for letters of protest to the Armenian authorities, and Armenian embassies abroad. A protest email can be sent at

War Resisters' International calls for the immediate release of all 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

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