ARMENIA: Imprisonment of two conscientious objectors for 24 and 30 months


Two Jehovah's Witness conscientious objectors, Anania Grigoryan and Artsrun Khachatryan, have been imprisoned for 24 and 30 months respectively.

This brings the number of people currently imprisoned for their conscientious objection in Armenia to 31.

Although sentenced in June and July respectively, Anania and Artsrun were imprisoned only after their appeals were rejected (on 15th and 26th of November respectively). They are both imprisoned in Nubarashen prison near Yerevan.

They are changed under Article 327, Part 1, of the criminal code, which punishes evasion of the call-up to military or alternative service. There are a further seven conscientious objectors in Armenia who have been charged with this offence recently. They are all likely to be imprisoned if their appeals are similarly rejected.

The right to conscientious objection was affirmed by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Bayatyan v Armenia in July 2011.

Armenia's failure to free imprisoned conscientious objectors and introduce a civilian alternative to military service has repeatedly been condemned by international organisations of which the country is a member, including by the Council of Europe.

In a report of 14 March 2012, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) complained that the process of bringing the Alternative Service Law into line with Armenia's commitments "has taken an excessively long time, especially given that persons that refuse both military and alternative service are being arrested and sentenced to prison, in contradiction with Armenia's commitments to the Council of Europe".

War Resisters' International calls for letters of protest to the Armenian authorities, and Armenian embassies abroad. An email letter to Armenia's Prime Minister can be sent at /node/20768. A list of Armenian embassies can be found here.

War Resisters' International calls for the immediate release of conscientious objectors Anania Grigoryan and Artsrun Khachatryan, and all other imprisoned conscientious objectors.

Hannah Brock
War Resisters' International