NAGORNO-KARABAKH: Conscientious objector Armen Mirzoyan sentenced to one year imprisonment
On 30 June 2010, conscientious objector Armen Mirzoyan was sentenced to one year imprisonment for "refusal to perform military duties", Forum 18 News reported on 1 July. He was sentenced at Hadrut District Court in the south of Nagorno-Karabakh, an internationally unrecognised entity in the south Caucasus.
As a Baptist, Armen Mirzoyan is opposed to swearing the military oath, or to take up weapons, but he would be willing to serve in the army of Nagorno-Karabakh without taking up weapons.
Armen Mirzoyan, a 20-year-old Council of Churches Baptist from Mardakert in the north of Nagorno-Karabakh, was called up in January and transferred to military unit 38401 in Hadrut, which is led by Ararat Melkumyan. There he was threatened by commanders after he refused their pressure to swear the oath. His case was then handed over to prosecutors.
Prosecutor E. Agabalyan – the same prosecutor as in his brother's case five years ago – prepared the case against Mirzoyan. Prosecutors had initially sought to prosecute Mirzoyan for evading compulsory military service, which carries a punishment of up to four years' imprisonment.
Prosecutors eventually brought charges under Article 364, Part 1 of the Criminal Code, which punishes "refusal to perform one's military duties" with detention of up to 3 months, service in a punishment battalion of up to 2 years or imprisonment of up to 2 years. (Nagorno-Karabakh has adopted the criminal code introduced in Armenia in 2003.) Armen Mirzoyan's trial began at Hadrut District Court on 24 June. At the end of the second hearing on 30 June, Judge A. Amirjanyan handed down the one-year sentence.
At present it is not known where Armen Mirzoyan is being held, but it is expected that he will serve his prison sentence in Shusha.
Nagorno-Karabakh does not recognise the right to conscientious objection to military service and has earlier imprisoned conscientious objectors. The most recent was Jehovah's Witness Areg Hovhanesyan, who was freed from prison in Shusha in February 2009 after completing a four-year prison term.
War Resisters' International calls for letters of protest to the authorities of Nagorno-Karabakh. Protest letters/faxes should be sent to:
Georgy M. Petrossyan
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Tel: (+374 47) 9 44087
Fax: (+374 47) 9 71551
War Resisters' International calls for the immediate release of Armen Mirzoyan and all imprisoned conscientious objectors.
War Resisters' International