Tuesday, July 15, 2003

A little while ago I returned from Stepanagert, where I met up with Raffi, who is on a visit to Artsakh.

We went out for pizza and did a little catching up, since the last time I very briefly saw him was at Artbridge when I was in Yerevan.

After taking Raffi to his hotel, I called a friend to see how he was doing.

His sister answered the phone and told me to rush over right away, as my friend had earlier in the night been taken to the police station and interrogated. I rushed over to see my friend and listen to his story.

It seems that a few hours before my arriving to his house, the police had come by looking for his mother Mrs. Hayrapetyan (this is the woman who had written a letter to the president about her housing situation and I had accompanied to see the mayor about said issue a few of months ago).

Since Mrs. Hayrapetyan was not home, my friend asked the policemen what they needed from her and in turn they asked who he was?

After identifying himself, they radioed to their station and were given instructions to bring my friend to the station.

At the station, my friend was taken to the second floor and was detained for 2 hours being asked questions of his whereabouts on Sunday and asking about letters to government officials including the president in respects to receiving a house.

They went on to accuse my friend of spray-painting some nasty comments on the wall in the neighborhood or maybe even the building the mayor lives in.

My friend denied everything they were alleging and said that he was not alone at anytime on Sunday.

They asked him about his father�s car and when he told him what kind of car it was, they said that they have a witness that saw him with his fathers car at the scene of the alleged crime.

While still in custody, they sent a policeman back to his house to search this storage unit which is under his house for a spray-paint can that would prove he committed the crime. When arriving there, the policeman radioed back to the station to have my friend sent there to open the storage area.

My friend arrived and opened the storage for them to search, which they did with the use of a match to illuminate the area.

After their search, which it should be noted was done illegally, since they didn�t have a search warrant (even here in Artsakh, a request to search must be accompanied by a search warrant), they were unable to produce the evidence they were hoping to find.

And what was this whole fiasco really all about?

Well it seems that the President has decided who will get housing in the "projects" (as Hagop B. refers to the 11 story building which was primarily paid for by a wealthy Diaspora-Armenian), and tough Mrs. Hayapetyan was the first on one of the many lists I saw in the Mayor's office months earlier for those eligible for housing, the Thomasyan/Hayapetyan family were not one of the lucky ones to receive a place in the "projects."

I guess there were others who got cut from the list also and someone out of frustration went to the Mayor�s house or neighborhood and vented their frustrations.

As a proximate result, not only did my friend and his family just maybe get the short end of the stick when it came to not getting a house, but to add insult to injury, my friend's basic human rights were violated tonight by the Artsakh police.

I personally am angered, disappointed and insulted at what has happened and would have felt a little bit compensated if at very least, the police had apologized for their error, instead of them telling my friend when they let him go that they will produce a witness to back their story. Of course if they do this, you can be sure I will be there to make sure that the witness is credible and not another one of these people who will provide testimony for the sake of the people in power to get a job done at the expense of someone who in fact is innocent of the crime they are being accused of committing. We have seen this in the past and you can be sure I wont tolerate this kind of thing of happening if I know such a violation is being attempted.

BTW, if this log does not read well, I will edit it when I�m wake, as right now I'm dosing off.

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