Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Another Gang of Human Traffickers Sentenced
[January 30, 2006]

Armine (not her real name) from Hrazdan spent a year in Dubai as a sex slave in the control of the notorious pimp Anahit Malkhasyan, or Dbr Ano, who was wanted by Interpol. On October 3, 2005, Malkhasyan was killed in a car accident in Dubai under suspicious circumstances. The Office of the Prosecutor General of Armenia closed the criminal case against her.

Armine has two children. Her husband left for Russia four years ago and has never returned or supported his family in any way since then. Armine moved back in with her parents, who were also in a difficult financial situation. Armine looked for a job in Hrazdan for a long time. Most of the people living here are unemployed; the town was built in Soviet times around several factories, which are now shut down. Finally, Armine was offered a high-paying job in Dubai by Gayane Mirzoyan. “Gayane Mirzoyan lived in our building. She told me and my friend over a cup of coffee that there was a high-paying job and asked if we would be interested. We both, Ruzan and I, were in a difficult situation and got excited. We didn't think about anything bad. She said, ‘You'll work either as bakers or as nannies.' So we agreed,” Armine told us in Dubai in February 2005. We tried many time to get Armine's passport from her boss, Anahit Malkhasyan, but without success.

The story of how Gayane Mirzoyan became a pimp is typical of the bosses exploiting Armenian women in Dubai and Turkey. Almost all of them used to work as prostitutes and then became bosses. Gayane Mirzoyan left for Dubai in 2001 to make money through prostitution. She worked under the supervision of Anahit Malkhasyan. A few months later the Dubai police arrested Anahit and deported her to Armenia. Anahit Malkhasyan suggested that Gayane, who was back in Yerevan, to recruit women and send to Dubai. Gayane began looking for women in need in her native town of Hrazdan. The jobs she offered were as a rule “working as waiters in various establishments or as baby-sitters.”

That was how she found Ruzan and Armine. Ruzan was divorced with three children.

At Drbo Ano's insistence, Gayane handed the women's passports over to Avetis Kiziryan. On March 17, 2004 Avetis transported the two women to Vardanants Odjakh a half-built hotel on Yerevan's David Bek Street (This hotel has been mentioned in two separate criminal cases instituted for trafficking in humans. According to our information, it is owned by the chairman of the Christian Democratic Union, Khosrov Harutiunyan). The next day Avetis Kiziryan sent the women to Moscow. In Moscow, Vazrik Simonyan met them and saw them off to United Arab Emirates. The same year, Vazrik Simonyan was sentenced in Armenia for “assisting Armenian women organizing prostitution in the UAE.”

“We were met by Anahit at the Dubai airport. She took our passports on the spot saying that she should keep them and took us to an apartment where we saw other Armenian women. That's when we found out why we had been brought to Dubai. Anahit told us that she had spent $20,000 to bring us to Dubai and that we had either to pay her off or to engage in prostitution. I was beaten by an Arab man with a ponytail. His name was Ali; we Armenians called him Ponytail Ali. When you wound up in hands of Ali or his friends you were in trouble. They would do anything to you. And there was nothing you could do about it,” Armine recalled. It was under these conditions that Armine was subjected to sexual exploitation for a year in Dubai.

Some time after he sent Armine and Ruzan, Avetis Kiziryan also moved to Dubai. Known as Avo by the Armenian women in Dubai, he lived in Anahit Malkhasyan's apartment, as her lover and bodyguard. She never left the apartment without him.

In August 2005 Armine was arrested by the Dubai police and deported to Armenia.

On September 9, 2005 Avetis Kiziryan was charged with human trafficking, in accordance with Article 132 of the Criminal Code of Armenia. He was arrested upon his return to Armenia. Kiziryan had three previous convictions for various crimes. The last time he was sentenced in October 2004 in accordance with Article 38 (Complicity) and Article 268 (Maintaining dens of prostitution or pimping) of the Criminal Code but was released soon afterwards under uncertain circumstances.

Gayane Mirzoyan was also charged with violating Article 132 and a search for her was instituted. She was found and arrested on October 12, 2005.

On January 12, 2006 the Court of First Instance of the Kotayk Marz, Judge Nelli Galstyan presiding, sentenced Gayane Mirzoyan and Avetis Kiziryan to 4 years and 6 months imprisonment each.

Edik Baghdasaryan

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