On August 3, at 21:08, the hotline of the RA Human Rights Defender's Office received a call from the Helsinki Citizens' Assembly Vanadzor Office that the residents of the village of Shurnukh, Syunik Province, demanded that a group of people leave the village, based on the sexual orientation of the group members. The caller also expressed concern about the possibility of the aforementioned group being subjected to violence and asked the Defender to aid in ensuring the rapid reaction of law enforcement bodies.
Immediately after the call, the Defender's office contacted the Goris Division of the Syunik Provincial Police Department. The Defender's office received an explanation that the Police Task Force had already left to the place of the incident.
After that, according to further clarification from the Police, police officers found out at the scene that before their arrival an incident had taken place between the villagers and the people visiting the village, as a result of which two visitors had sustained bodily injuries. The police officers accompanied the injured visitors to the Goris Medical Center CJSC, and the other visitors were invited to write a crime report at the Goris Police Station.
The Human Rights Defender’s Office periodically provided the caller with the information received as well as remained in constant contact with the Police.
Later on, a call regarding the incident was made by a representative of the “Pink Armenia” NGO, and all the available information was presented to him. It was also clarified that all the measures within the Defender’s mandate were taken as prescribed by law.
In addition, the Defender’s office also initiated a written procedure. An official letter was sent to the Police in order to obtain further information and clarifications on the circumstances of the case and the measures taken. Questions have been raised regarding
the causes of the incident and the discriminatory treatment of the victims.
On the same day, a number of issues had been further discussed with the Syunik Provincial Police Department. According to the information available at that moment, the police officers were preparing materials for the case, in the scope of which forensic medical examinations were scheduled.
On the basis of the aforementioned actions, the Defender’s office contacted “Pink Armenia” as well as the two people who had been taken to the hospital. They mentioned, among other issues, that they had concerns about their safety in regards to their sexual orientation.
Also, contact was established with one of the participants of the incident, Mr. Hayk Hakobyan (a resident of Shurnukh village), who expressed his concerns over the potential safety hazards for the members of his family. This issue has been also discussed with the Police.
Taking into consideration the mentioned concerns, another official letter was sent to the Police with a corresponding request.
The public position and arguments of the residents of Shurnukh village have also been recorded.
The Human Rights Defender of Armenia is taking all the necessary steps within his mandate, as prescribed by law, concerning the incident in the Shurnukh village of the Syunik province.
The Human Rights Defender’s Office considers every manifestation of ill-treatment or violence inacceptable, regardless of towards whom or where it happened. The Constitution of Armenia guarantees everyone's equality before the law and prohibits discrimination on any grounds.
In regards to this particular case, the state must make sure that all the circumstances of the case are studied and that the incident is investigated objectively. Measures should also be taken to address the safety concerns of those affected by the incident. The state has such an obligation towards all its citizens.